The Pope has re-emphasized his opposition to abortion in the wake of the controversial U.S. ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, describing the medical procedure as akin to “hiring a hit man.”
The pontiff made the comments during a 90-minute interview at the Vatican with news agency Reuters on Saturday, although the article was not published until Monday morning.
The interview came just a week after the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24 threw out the 1973 ruling that enshrined women’s rights to medical abortions nationwide.
Pope Francis was asked about the court’s decision, but said he did not have enough information to speak about it from a legal perspective. Instead, he reiterated the Catholic Church’s teachings that life begins at the moment of conception.
He reportedly compared abortion to “hiring a hit man” and said: “I ask: Is it legitimate, is it right, to eliminate a human life to resolve a problem?”
It is not the first time the Pope has drawn the controversial comparison. Back in May 2019, whilst speaking at a Vatican-sponsored anti-abortion conference, he said: “Is it licit to throw away a life to resolve a problem? Is it licit to hire a hit man to resolve a problem?”
But he also said his opposition to abortion wasn’t a religious issue but a human one, during the same event. And despite his strong words condemning abortion, he has also previously expressed sympathy for women who have chosen them.
He also made it easier for them to be absolved of what Catholics see as the sin of abortion.
Regarding his comments comparing abortion to a hit man, the Holy See Press Office, which represents the Pope and the Vatican, told Newsweek: “It is not the first time that the Pope has said [this]. The reason is clear. The position of the Catholic Church on abortion is equally clear, to be found in the Catechism [summary of Catholic beliefs] and can certainly refer to the Catholic Church in the United States.”
Earlier in the Reuters interview at the weekend, the Pope was asked about a debate in the U.S. over whether a Catholic politician who supports others’ rights to choose abortion should be allowed to receive Communion.
House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi, for example, was barred from receiving Communion at churches in her home diocese of San Francisco back in May.
A month before their meeting that year, The National Catholic Reporter asked Pope Francis about how the church should respond to parishioners who supported abortion rights.
The Pope reportedly said he would “never” deny anyone Communion.
“No, I have never denied the Eucharist to anyone, to anyone! I don’t know if someone came to me under these conditions, but I have never refused them the Eucharist, since the time I was a priest.”