Pope Francis compared abortion to hiring a "hit man to solve a problem" and complained about a "depreciation of human life" on Wednesday
The pontiff departed from the prepared text of his homily at his weekly audience on St. Peter's Square to make the comments, some of his strongest against abortion.
"Interrupting a pregnancy is like eliminating someone," Francis said. “Is it fair to hire a hit man to solve a problem? It is not fair. We cannot take out a human being, even if it is small.”
The pontiff's address was dedicated to the commandment exhorting the faithful not to kill. He also denounced war, exploitation and a culture of wastefulness.
Francis said some people justify abortion as a right, but he asked, “How can an act that suppresses innocent and defenseless life as it blossoms be therapeutic, civil or simply human?”
It was the second time in recent months that Francis expressed the church’s long-standing opposition to abortion in stark terms.
In June, Francis denounced how some couples resort to prenatal testing to see whether their unborn babies have malformations, then choose to have an abortion, which he said was the “white glove” equivalent of the Nazi-era eugenics program.
Francis framed abortion and euthanasia as part of what he calls today’s “throwaway culture,” where the sick, the poor, the elderly and the unborn are considered unworthy of protection and dignity by a society that instead prizes individual prowess and success.
Official church teaching against abortion is absolute, providing for no exceptions. Francis has acknowledged that women sometimes are driven by circumstance to abortion, and he extended the ability of ordinary priests – not just bishops – to absolve them of the sin of abortion if they repent.
Francis’ comments came during a three-week meeting of bishops from around the world on young people. Sexuality, including premarital sex, is among the topics of discussion.
Catholic teaching on abortion has been in the headlines lately, including during the divisive confirmation process of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a Jesuit-educated Catholic who opponents said could vote to overturn legalized abortion in the USA.
Senators in Argentina rejected a bill in August that would have legalized the procedure in Francis’ home country.
Contributing: The Associated Press