Pope Francis on Saturday reiterated his unswerving opposition to abortion, saying he is against it even when an unborn child has been diagnosed with a serious illness.
At a Vatican-sponsored conference titled Yes to Life: Caring for the Precious Gift of Life in its Frailness, the pope said the use of abortion was equivalent to hiring a hitman to take another person's life.
It is not the first time Francis has used such language. At a general audience last year, he said, "Is it right to take someone's life to solve a problem?"
He added, "Is it right to hire a hitman to solve a problem? You cannot. It is not right."
Addressing medical professionals, ministry providers and families from 70 nations participating in the three-day conference, the pontiff said the Catholic Church's teaching on terminating a pregnancy is clear. He said an abortion cannot happen, even in cases when the fetus is very sick and likely to die.
"No human being," he said, "is ever incompatible with life."
The pope also said, "Fear and hostility toward disability often lead to the choice of abortion, configuring it as a practice of prevention." He urged doctors and priests to support parents in cases of difficult prenatal diagnoses so they do not feel abandoned or afraid in carrying difficult pregnancies to term.
Francis concluded by saying, "Taking care of these children helps parents to grieve and not only think of it as a loss, but as a step on a path taken together."