It was particularly disappointing given that Pope Francis spoke in the House chamber, where all but five Democrats had recently voted against a bill that would require health care practitioners, in dealing with babies who survive abortions, to “exercise the same degree of professional skill, care and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health-care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age.”

No one doubts the pope’s opposition to abortion or the Catholic Church’s consistent teaching on the issue.

Nonetheless, the pope let the opportunity to speak more forcefully on the issue slip by.

When he addressed the sanctity of life before Congress, he spent far more time on the Church’s opposition to the death penalty than abortion. Yet the states executed only 34 persons last year, while some 1.06 million babies died from abortions in 2011, the last year for which comprehensive statistics are available according to the Guttmacher Institute.