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Read the text of Teresa's speech at the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.

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Abortion, Contraception Condemned

By Gustav Niebuhr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 4, 1994; Page A16

Mother Teresa yesterday condemned abortion and contraception at the annual National Prayer Breakfast that included President Clinton, Vice President Gore and a host of congressional leaders.

The nun, 83, who isknown for her work with impoverished and ill persons in Calcutta, said that the "greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion," and added that "every abortion is the denial of receiving Jesus." She called for adoption, rather than abortion, and natural family planning instead of contraception.

The remarks drew sustained applause from several hundred people at the breakfast held at the Washington Hilton. Clinton, who spoke briefly immediately afterward, praised the founder of the Missionaries of Charity, but did not directly respond to her statements on abortion. Instead, he thanked her for her "moving words and, more importantly, for the lifetime of commitment" that he said she had "truly lived."

Clinton focused his remarks mainly on a call for the cultivation of "certain personal characteristics that very frankly all of us in this room who have ever been elected to do anything have abandoned from time to time."

He called for humility, honesty and fairness. "Sometimes I think the commandment we most like to overlook in this city is thou shall not bear false witness," Clinton said.

"If Christ said we would all be judged by how we treated the least of these -- the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the strangers, the imprisoned -- how can we meet that test in a town where we all spend so much time obsessed with ourselves and how we stand on the totem pole and how we look in the morning paper?" Clinton said.

Mother Teresa devoted much of her speech to a plea for love within families and in society. She referred to the work of her order with the poor and dying and repeatedly cited the example of Jesus, who "died on the cross to show that great love."

"If we are not willing to give whatever it takes to do good to one another, sin is still in us," she said. ". . . It is not enough for us to say, 'I love God.' But I also have to love my neighbor."

Mother Teresa's speech was also praised by Cardinal James Hickey, Roman Catholic archbishop of Washington, who said in a statement that her "cry to love and her defense of unborn life are not empty phrases, because she serves the suffering, the hungry and the thirsty, and she welcomes the unwanted child with open arms."

© Copyright 1994 The Washington Post Company

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