Pontiff defends 'right to life' on his US trip: Clinton stands impassive as the Pope speaks out against abortion on arrival in Denver

NO ONE can have expected his views to have changed, but nor can they have expected the Pope to be quite so quick to register his opposition to President Bill Clinton's stand on abortion during his trip to the United States.

As the pontiff yesterday began his second day in Denver, Colorado, onlookers were still registering surprise at his decision to tackle his biggest gripe with the US leader, minutes after touching down.

He avoided using the a-word, but no one among the thousands gathered to greet him was in any doubt of his meaning when he urged Americans to 'guarantee the right to life'; Mr Clinton, an abortion-rights advocate, stood impassively beside him.

'In each man, woman and child, in every immigrant, in every native- born son or daughter, the ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being,' he said, 'especially the weakest and most defenceless.' Perhaps the US's greatest cause was to 'guarantee the right to life and protect the human person . . . If you want equal justice for all, and true freedom and lasting peace, then, America, defend life'.

The President was careful to avoid confrontation with the Pope, whose remarks were a surprise to US officials. They had not expected him to launch into the issue publicly but to raise it during his meeting with the President. Mr Clinton showed no reaction, and later paid tribute to a 'great speech'.

In raising the subject, the Pope, who is on his third trip to the continental US, was on safe ground with many of the 58 million US Catholics. While large numbers differ with the Vatican in other critical areas - including contraception and the ordination of women - several surveys have shown that the majority agree with his views on abortion. But it will have done nothing to narrow the rift between both sides of the abortion debate in the US, which has resulted in deadly violence.

Around half a million people are expected to reach Denver by the time he ends his four-day trip. He has come for World Youth Day, an annual jamboree which some have dubbed the 'Catholic Woodstock'. On Thursday evening, 85,000 rain- soaked young people welcomed the Pope at a stadium, waving white handkerchiefs and stamping their feet. Yesterday he celebrated a mass for US bishops, held in the cathedral where Buffalo Bill was baptised, and was planning to retreat to the Rocky Mountains to hike and rest.

The Catholic Church has never much balked at using its spiritual leader for commercial advantage, but Denver entrepreneurs seem to be breaking new ground. Crowds of youngsters have been spotted wearing life-size foam rubber versions of the papal headgear. 'Popescopes', periscopes for viewing the passing entourage, have been selling well, along with stacks of Pope-adorned souvenirs. There is even a new bumper sticker: 'I partied with the Pope' - unlikely to be spotted on the back of the presidential limo.

Profile, page 14

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
video
Arts and Entertainment
tv

First full-length look is finally here

Arts and Entertainment
Stanley Tucci as DCI Eugene Morton, Sophie Grabol as Hildur Odegard and Christopher Eccleston as Professor Charlie Stoddart in 'Fortitude'
tvGrace Dent: Still, it's compelling and cinematically sublime
News
news

Rap music mogul accused of running two men over in his truck

Arts and Entertainment
EastEnders actor Danny Dyer has been rejected from Game of Thrones three times
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Turner performing at 93 Feet East
musicReview: 93 Feet East, London
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
Tax now accounts for ‘nearly 80%’ of the price of a bottle of whisky
news

Arts and Entertainment
Peppa Pig wearing her golden boots
film

"Oink! Oink! Hee hee hee!" First interview with the big-screen star

Life and Style
tech

Biohacking group hopes technology will lead people to think about even more dystopian uses

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Continuous Improvement Manager

£41500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...

Recruitment Genius: Data Entry Administrator

£10670 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: Regional Gas Installation Manager - South East England

£36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Regional Gas Installation Manager is r...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service and Breakdown Engineer - South East

£29000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Service and Brea...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee