Pope Francis has made it clear that the protection of unborn life is a fundamental concern

Pope Francis meets a child in St Peter's Square (AP)

LifeSiteNews draws attention to an article by the admirable auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan. It was Bishop Schneider, from a devout German Catholic family exiled to this former Soviet satellite state where he was born, who wrote “Dominus Est”, a heartfelt plea for reverent reception of Holy Communion: kneeling and on the tongue. Growing up in a remote area in which there were only a tiny fraction of Catholics and where priests could only rarely visit to celebrate Mass and the other Sacraments made Schneider aware of the profundity of Communion – something which in the West we often take for granted.

Here he writes that the high rates of abortion in Kazakhstan are a legacy of the “atheist and materialistic Marxist ideology” of the Soviet era. He is also highly critical of EU attempts to force member states to accept abortion, warning that there is a real danger of the loss of “the national, cultural, moral and religious values of the European peoples… a danger of losing all those human and spiritual riches that the Christian faith has produced on the European continent during 2,000 years.”

Yet he is also hopeful that pressures from the West, which he describes as “the new hedonistic mentality”, will not prevail in his homeland, despite the long-term effects of Communism, commenting that among “the peoples of the East, natural law on sex and marriage between man and woman is so deeply rooted that the homosexualist ideology will not have a real or substantial chance…”

Bishop Schneider’s highlighting of the evils of abortion that he sees in the social malaise of Kazakhstan is supported by Pope Francis’s new apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. Far from thinking that the Church is wrongly “obsessed” with the subject, as the media spin on his interview in La Civilta Cattolica in August chose to interpret it, the Pope makes it clear in Section III, paragraph 213 that protection of unborn life is a fundamental concern, that underlies all other considerations of human dignity: “Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenceless and innocent among us…”, he writes, pointing out – as Bishop Schneider knows from his own diocesan experience, that “this defence of unborn life is closely linked to the defence of each and every other human right…” In other words, if you campaign about human dignity wherever and however it is attacked, you have to begin at the beginning – with the dignity of unborn life.

According to Bishop Schneider, the pro-life movement in Kazakhstan may be small but it is also effective, slowly helping people to understand that to save a life matters “since before the eyes of God one soul is like an entire world.”