Pope Francis last fall drew attention when he called on the Catholic Church to broaden its focus beyond abortion and other divisive issues.
But organizers of today's annual Walk for Life in Lincoln say they have no doubt that the pope remains firm against abortion.
“I don't feel he's weakening the church's position,” said Julie Schmit-Albin, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life, which sponsors the walk.
Francis provided evidence of that when he sent his support to abortion protesters who participated in Wednesday's March of Life in Washington, D.C. He tweeted: “I join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers. May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable.”
In September, Francis said in an interview with an Italian Jesuit magazine that the Catholic Church's moral structure might “fall like a house of cards” if it doesn't stop obsessing over such issues as abortion and same-sex marriage and start concentrating on compassion.
Catholic leaders and theologians have said the pope's comments weren't a sign he's backing away from the church's opposition to abortion. Instead, the pope was saying that the church must also speak out more on problems such as poverty.
Sandy Danek, president of Nebraska Right to Life, said the pope just wants to ensure that the church isn't narrowly focused on abortion and same-sex marriage.
“He's saying the church is bigger than that,” she said.
She said abortion opponents have long worked on addressing problems related to the abortion issue. For example, the Lincoln chapter of Nebraska Right to Life has a fund that helps low-income mothers pay for housing and food.
Danek said the pope has made other comments since the September interview that make clear there's been no shift in church teaching on abortion.
For example, on the day after his interview in the Jesuit magazine, the pope reinforced the church's position during an audience with Catholic gynecologists. In a strong message, he encouraged Catholic doctors to refuse to perform abortions.
Today's Walk for Life in Lincoln marks the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion, Roe v. Wade.
The event starts on the north side of the State Capitol with a short program at 10 a.m. About 10:45 a.m., participants will walk to the Nebraska Union at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to hear keynote speaker Emily Horne of Texas Right to Life.
This story includes material from the Associated Press.