Pope Francis offered an olive branch of sorts to the doctrine-minded, conservative wing of the Catholic Church on Friday as he denounced abortion as a symptom of today’s “throw-away culture” and encouraged Catholic doctors to refuse to perform them.
Francis issued a strong anti-abortion message and cited Vatican teaching on the need to defend the unborn during an audience with Catholic gynecologists.
It came a day after he was quoted as blasting the church’s obsession with “small-minded rules” that are driving the faithful away and urging it focus instead on being merciful and welcoming — an interview that has sent shock waves throughout the church.
Even before the interview was published, conservatives had voiced disappointment that Francis had shied away from restating church rules on such hot-button issues as abortion, homosexuality and gay marriage. 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.