The Vatican's Academy for Life on Friday praised the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on abortion, saying it challenged the world to reflect on life issues, but also called for social changes to help women keep their children.
The Vatican department also said in a statement that the defence of human life could not be confined to individual rights because life is a matter of "broad social significance".
The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday took the dramatic step of overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that recognised a woman's constitutional right to an abortion and legalized it nationwide.
"The fact that a large country with a long democratic tradition has changed its position on this issue also challenges the whole world," the academy said in a statement.
U.S. President Joe Biden, a lifelong Catholic, condemned the ruling, calling it a "sad day" for America and labelling the court's conservatives "extreme".
Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, who heads the Pontifical Academy for Life, said the court's decision was a "powerful invitation to reflect" on the issue at a time when Western society "is losing passion for life".
"By choosing life, our responsibility for the future of humanity is at stake," Paglia said.
The Roman Catholic church teaches that abortion is murder because life begins at the moment of conception and ends with natural death.
Pope Francis has compared having an abortion to “hiring a hit man” to eliminate a problematic person.
The academy statement also called for changes in social conditions to make it easier to defend life in all its stages.
"This also means ensuring adequate sexual education, guaranteeing health care accessible to all and preparing legislative measures to protect the family and motherhood, overcoming existing inequalities," it said.
"We need solid assistance to mothers, couples and the unborn child that involve the whole community, encouraging the possibility for mothers in difficulty to carry on with the pregnancy and to entrust the child to those who can guarantee the child’s growth," it said.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; writing by Angelo Amante; editing by Giulia Segreti, Leslie Adler and Nick Macfie)