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
Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

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

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week