Spanish Church says abortion kills Down Syndrome children
Many children with Down's Syndrome are being eliminated because of abortion, a Spanish Church spokesman said ahead of a weekend visit by Pope Benedict XVI.
The pope will bless the first stone for construction of a new home for children with Down's Syndrome and other mental disabilities in Barcelona on Sunday.
It is being built by the Roman Catholic Church's Nino Dios foundation, which used to work only with Down's Syndrome children but has since broadened its work.
"We know that the number of these people has declined mostly because a good number of them are eliminated before they are born," said the press director for the Spanish Bishops' Conference, Isidro Catela.
"He will extend his hand in this way to the defence of life, the life of everybody, whether or not they have greater or less intellectual capacity," he told a news conference.
The pope begins his visit to Spain on Saturday with a stop in Santiago de Compostela, one of the Roman Catholic Church's holiest sites and a draw to pilgrims for more than 1,000 years.
The Bishop's Conference condemned an abortion law passed by the Socialist government this year, in a press statement on the pope's visit.
The law allows abortions up to the 14th week of pregnancy on demand and up to the 22nd week if there is a risk to the mother's health or if the foetus is has serious problems.
The bishops said that under Spanish law, health was defined as being of "physical, mental and social well-being".
"If such well-being is considered to be threatened by he who is going to be born, he can be treated like an obstacle to quality of life, whose elimination therefore taken to be lawful," they said.
Before blessing the children's home, the pope will consecrate the Church of the Sagrada Familia of Holy Family, the emblematic building of architect Antoni Gaudi that has been under construction since 1882.
The Bishop's Conference said that when the temple was first planned in the late 19th century the Church "already warned that the natural and Christian family, based on marriage, constitutes the basic cell of society."
Gay couples plan to gather and kiss in a so-called flashmob protest when the pope arrives to consecrate the Sagrada Familia to protest the Vatican's opposition to same-sex marriage.
In 2005 Spain passed a law to allow same-sex marriages, making Spain only the third member of the European Union, after Belgium and the Netherlands, to do so. Since then, thousands of gay marriages have been performed in Spain.
© 2010 AFP