In an audience with Catholic gynaecologists on Friday, Pope Francis denounced abortions as a symptom of today's 'throw-away culture' and encouraged Catholic doctors to refuse to perform them, reports AP in The Sydney Morning Herald.
Francis issued the strong anti-abortion message and cited Vatican teaching on the need to defend the unborn a day after he was quoted as blasting the church's obsession with 'small-minded rules' that are driving the faithful away.
In an interview that has sent shockwaves through the church, Francis urged its pastors to focus on being merciful and welcoming rather than insisting only on such divisive, hot-button issues as abortion, gay marriage and contraception.
Even before the interview was published, some conservatives had voiced disappointment that Francis had shied away from restating such church rules. Francis explained his reason for doing so in the interview with the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica, saying church teaching on such issues is well-known, he supports it, but that he doesn't feel it necessary to repeat it constantly.
'Every child that isn't born, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord,' he said.
Catholics support Francis' stance (Perth Now)
Francis says social communications for bringing people closer to Christ (Vatican Insider)