By John Bowden
Pope Francis shared some of his toughest words on abortion to date during remarks to tens of thousands of onlookers in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday, comparing the procedure to “hiring a hit man to solve a problem.”
In his mass to thousands of Catholics gathered in the square, Pope Francis asked the the crowd whether it was right to ever “take out” a human life, according to Reuters.
“I ask you: ‘Is it right to ‘take out’ a human life to solve a problem? What do you think? Is it right? Is it right or not?” Francis asked, to which the crowd responded “no.”
“Is it right to hire a hit man to solve a problem? You cannot, it is not right to kill a human being, regardless of how small it is, to solve a problem. It is like hiring a hit man to solve a problem,” Francis continued.
“[H]ow can an act that suppresses an innocent and helpless life that is germinating be therapeutic, civilized or even simply human?” he added.
Francis, seen as a progressive on some issues for the Church including its attitude towards the LGBT community, has staked a traditionalist position on abortion rights since ascending to the papacy.
However, Francis did allow priests in 2016 to begin offering forgiveness for the practice, while at the time reaffirming the Church’s stance that abortion is a “grave sin.”
“I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life,” Francis wrote in a letter in 2016.
“In the same way, however, I can and must state that there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father.”
In April of this year, the pope called on Catholics to tend to the sick and needy with the same vigor with which they oppose abortion.
“Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned,” he said at the time.