A bone-weary Pope John Paul II ended his U.S. tour in Detroit by saying that America’s greatness will be measured by its treatment of the “weakest and most defenceless ones, those as yet unborn.”  “America, defend life!” he urged.

The Pope raised the abortion issue in a farewell speech before he flew to Edmonton  and Fort Simpson, Yukon.  In every country he visits, Pope John Paul II reiterates the teaching that abortion cannot be condoned for any reason.

Earlier on his United States tour, speaking to the U.S. bishops in Los Angeles, the Pope once more stated that it is a “grave error” to think that an individual’s dissent from church teachings “poses no obstacle to the reception of the sacraments.”  The pontiff cited dissent on “sexual and conjugal” morality, divorce and remarriage … (and) abortion.”  He also told the bishops:

v     “to safeguard and promote (the) Catholic character” of Catholic colleges and universities;

v     “Present as effectively as possible” the teaching against artificial contraception;

v     Promote the advancement of women but maintain the church’s “quite clear” teaching that “woman are not called to the priesthood”;

v     Resist “the prophets of doom” who say vocations won’t come until the church rules on celibacy are relaxed;

v     Uphold the church’s “unpopular” teaching on homosexual activity “in the pastoral care that you give to homosexual persons”;

v     Respect the primary “right and duty of parents” in any sex education programme.

The Pope strongly praised efforts in U.S. dioceses to teach and promote natural family planning and urged every bishop to give such programmes t\their personal “interest and support” in their own dioceses.

John Paul II also reiterated traditional teaching on the nature of the Church.  “The Universal Church cannot be seen as the sum of particular churches, or as a federation of particular churches,” he said.  “The Catholic Church is not a democracy, in which pluralism and surveys and majority vote decides the Faith.  The vertical comes before the horizontal in relation to God our Father.”