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Pope Addresses KofC-Sponsored Conference on Outreach to Those Hurt by Divorce and Abortion

Says divorce and abortion create much suffering and applauds initiatives to help those harmed by both


Contact: Andrew Walther, 203-824-5412, andrew.walther@kofc.org


ROME, April 8 /Christian Newswire/ -- Meeting with members of the International Conference "Oil on the Wounds: A Response to the Aftermath of Divorce and Abortion," held at the Pontifical Lateran University and co-sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, Pope Benedict XVI told the international group of experts and attendees Saturday that both abortion and divorce harm many people, while he applauded pastoral and social initiatives that reach out to those harmed by both.


"Abortion and divorce…bring great suffering to the lives of so many people of so many families and of society," the pope said. Pope Benedict applauded initiatives of loving mercy to help those harmed, saying: "I convey my profound appreciation for all those social and pastoral initiatives which center around reconciliation and the care of the persons which have been wounded by the drama of abortion and divorce. Those, together with so many other ways to provide help, are the essential elements of building a 'civilization of love' which, today more than ever, constitutes the need of humanity."


Many children are deeply affected and often harmed by the divorce of their parents, and a great number of women and men experience emotional pain and psychological effects as a result of their experience with abortion, according to the international panel of experts, who have studied these issues, and came together at the Rome conference to discuss pastoral solutions to those affected.


Speakers came from more than half a dozen countries, including several from Italy and the United States.


The conference was held April 4-5 at the Pontifical Lateran University. On April 5, the conference participants met with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican.


"As an organization founded to protect families, we think it is absolutely necessary for society to take note of the effects of divorce and abortion, two things that do the most damage to the integrity of families in our society," said Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, who served as moderator of the opening session of the conference. "It is our hope that this conference – and the pope's message of encouragement – will spur a greater ministry within the Catholic Church to these children whose stable family structure has been shattered, and to these parents, who grieve the abortion of their unborn child – often in isolation and silence."


Speakers on divorce include Prof. Rafaela Iafrate from the Centro Ateneo Studi e Ricerche sulla Famiglia in Milan; Elizabeth Marquardt, author of the book Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce and researcher Joan B. Kelly, who has done groundbreaking research on the subject, and is co-author of Surviving the Breakup: How Children and Parents Cope with Divorce.


On the topic of abortion, speakers include Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel – an international network of outreach to parents with aborted children; Mother Agnes Mary Donavan, of the Sisters of Life in the United States; Dr. E. Joanne Angelo of Tufts University School of Medicine and Dominique Vandier, of the Association Agapa, in Paris, France.


The conference is the result of a discussion begun with several papers delivered by Carl Anderson last year at the Lateran University on these two topics. Anderson served as founding Vice President and first dean of the U.S. session of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, DC.