VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians cannot hope to abolish abortion and euthanasia unless they live out their faith, extending their concern for victims of such practices to those who suffer from poverty, illness and oppression, said the preacher of the papal household.

“The first Christians, with their morality, helped the state change its laws,” Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa said Dec. 20. “We Christians today must not do the opposite and think it is the state with its laws that should change people’s morals.”

Father Cantalamessa gave the third of his 2013 Advent reflections to the pope and his closest aides, focusing on the mystery of the incarnation as contemplated through the eyes of St. Francis of Assisi.

St. Francis emphasized the humility and poverty of Christ’s humanity, and thus underscored Christ’s presence in each member of poor, the preacher said.

Father Cantalamessa argued that Christian objections to abortion and euthanasia should lead naturally to a concern for social justice.

“We weep and protest — and justly — for children prevented from being born,” Father Cantalamessa said, “but should we not do likewise for the millions of children born and made to die of hunger, illness, or forced to make war and kill each other for interests to which we in rich countries are not unconnected?

“Is it not because the former belong to our continent and are the same color as we are, while the latter belong to another continent and have a different color?

“We protest — and more than justly — for the aged, the ill, the deformed who are assisted — at times pushed — to die with euthanasia. But should we not do likewise for the aged dying from cold or abandoned to their solitary destiny?

“The libertarian law of ‘live and let live’ should never turn into the law of ‘live and let die,’ as is happening all over the world,” the preacher said.