Excerpts from (St.) Mother Teresa’s speech to the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., Feb. 3, 1994 (attended by then Pres. Bill and Hillary Clinton)
“I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. If we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love, and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even His life to love us. So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.
By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. By abortion, that father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. The father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. Abortion just leads to more abortions. Any country that accepts abortion isn’t teaching its people to love, but to use violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.
Many people are also concerned about all the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions who are being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. This is the greatest destroyer of peace today – abortion.
The child is God’s gift to the family. Each child is created in the special image and likeness of God for greater things – to love and to be loved. We must bring the child back to the center of our care and concern. This is the only way that our world can survive because our children are the only hope for the future.
Jesus said, ‘Anyone who receives a child in my name, receives Me.’ By adopting a child, couples receive Jesus; but, by aborting a child, a couple refuses to receive Jesus. Please don’t kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child! I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child. Our children’s home in Calcutta alone saved over 3,000 children from abortion. These children have brought such love and joy to their adopting parents and have grown up so full of love and joy. I know that couples have to plan their family and for that there is natural family planning. The way to plan the family is natural family planning, not contraception. Through contraception, a husband or wife turns the attention to self and so destroys the gifts of love in him or her. The husband and wife must turn the attention to each other – as happens in natural family planning – and not to self, as happens in contraception. When living love is destroyed by contraception, abortion follows very easily. I know that there are great problems in the world – that many spouses do not love each other enough to practice natural family planning. We cannot solve all the problems in the world, but let us never bring in the worst problem of all, and that is to destroy love. This is what happens when we tell people to practice contraception and abortion.
The poor can teach us so many beautiful things. Once, one of them came to thank us for teaching her natural family planning and said: ‘You people are the best people to teach us natural family planning because it is nothing more than self-control out of love for each other.’ Poor people maybe have nothing to eat, have not a home to live in, but they can still be great people when they are spiritually rich. Abortion, which often follows from contraception, brings a people to be spiritually poor, and that is the worst poverty and the most difficult to overcome. Those materially poor can be very wonderful people. This is the greatness of people who are spiritually rich even when they are materially poor.
Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put into what we do. We must always remember what God tells us in Scripture: ‘Even if a mother could forget the child in her womb’ – something impossible, but even if she could forget – ‘I will never forget you.’ God will never forget us and there is something you and I can always do. We can keep the joy of loving Jesus in our hearts, and share that joy with all we come in contact with. Let us make that one point – that no child will be unwanted, unloved, uncared for, or killed and thrown away. And give until it hurts – with a smile!
If we remember that God loves us, and that we can love others as He loves us, then America can become a sign of peace for the world. From here, a sign of care for the weakest of the weak – the unborn child – must go out to the world. If you become a burning light of justice and peace in the world, then really you will be true to what the founders of this country stood for.
And where does this love begin? -In our own home. How does it begin? By praying together. My prayer for you is that through this love for one another you may grow in holiness. Holiness is not the luxury of the few; it is a simple duty, for you and for me, because Jesus has clearly stated, ‘Be ye holy as my father in heaven is holy.’ So, let us pray for each other that we grow in love for each other, and through this love, become holy, as Jesus wants us to be, for He died out of love for us.”