ZAMOSC, Poland -- June, 1999 -- His right temple stitched and bandaged after a fall, Pope John Paul II argued Saturday against abortion and euthanasia in a powerful plea to his countrymen to respect human life.
Using some of the strongest language so far of the 13-day pilgrimage to his homeland that began June 5, John Paul called abortion and euthanasia signs of "a real contempt for man."
The 79-year-old pope carried out his two scheduled events - a Mass in the 7th century village of Sandomierz and a speech at a prayer meeting in Zamosc, both in southeast Poland - despite a fall as he left the Vatican Embassy in Warsaw on Saturday morning that gave him a head injury requiring three stitches.
The pontiff arrived in Sandomierz with a bandage visible just below his skullcap. He had trouble climbing the stairs to his chair and was helped by two aides. But he sounded strong and did not appear to be in pain.
In Zamosc, a Renaissance town in the Polish countryside, the pope spoke of the glory of creation, saying respect for "the laws of nature" needed to be extended to mankind itself.
"Is it really possible to oppose the destruction of the environment while allowing, in the name of comfort and convenience, the slaughter of the unborn and the procured death of the elderly and the infirm, and the carrying out, in the name of progress, of unacceptable interventions and forms of experimentation at the very beginning of human life?" he asked as the audience of 150,000 applauded.
"When the good of science or economic interests prevail over the good of the person, and ultimately of whole societies, environmental destruction is a sign of a real contempt for man," John Paul said.
Opposition to abortion and euthanasia has been a major pillar of his papacy.
Aides to President Aleksander Kwasniewski, an ex-communist who has sought to overturn the country's pro-life laws, said he would not sign a bill in the olish parliament that aims to limit abortions on unbron children with fetal abonormalities.
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