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Cardinal: ‘We Must Love All People, Even Those Who Advocate Abortion’

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File photo of Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley. (credit: Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

File photo of Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley. (credit: Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A U.S. cardinal who is an adviser to Pope Francis is responding to concerns among some Roman Catholics that the pope hasn’t spoken out enough against abortion.

In a speech Tuesday to the Knights of Columbus, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley said Francis emphasizes love and mercy to show what underpins church teaching. Francis does so to “open hearts” in an increasingly secular world, the cardinal said.

“We oppose abortion, not because we are mean or old-fashioned, but because we love people. And that is what we must show the world,” O’Malley said. “We must love all people, even those who advocate abortion. It is only if we love them that we will be able to help them discover the sacredness of the life of an unborn child.”

Francis has made few direct remarks about abortion, marriage and other contentious social issues since his election five months ago. Many Catholics have welcomed the shift in focus as rejuvenating for the church, while others worry that the pope isn’t doing enough to combat abortion. Francis’ immediate predecessors as pope, Benedict XVI and John Paul II, made the abortion issue a priority in their pontificates.

O’Malley spoke in San Antonio at the annual meeting of the Catholic men’s organization. He is one of eight cardinals the pope has appointed to advise him on governing the church and reforming the scandal-plagued Vatican bureaucracy.

“The Holy Father is showing us very clearly that our struggle is not just a political battle or a legal problem, but that we must evangelize and humanize the culture, then the world will be safe for the unborn, the elderly and the unproductive,” O’Malley said. “If we are going to get a hearing in today’s world, it will be because people recognize that authenticity of our lives and our dedication to building a civilization of love. “

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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