Pope Francis on Wednesday compared having an abortion to hiring a “contract killer”.
“Interrupting a pregnancy is like eliminating someone,” Francis said in an address to worshippers in the Vatican.
“Getting rid of a human being is like resorting to a contract killer to solve a problem,” he said.
“Is it just to resort to a contract killer to solve a problem?”
His comments departed from the prepared text for his homily delivered during his weekly audience on Saint Peter’s Square.
In his address, the Argentine pontiff complained of a “depreciation of human life”.
He cited wars, exploitation and what he called a culture of wastefulness, as well as abortion.
Referring to abortion of unborn children with disabilities, Francis criticised advice given to parents who were told to terminate their pregnancies.
“Sick children are just like every other needy person on earth, just like an elderly person who needs help, or the poor who struggle to make both ends meet,” he said.
AFP was quoted as saying that Francis this year opposed a bill that would have legalised abortion in his home country of Argentina.
In August a lay campaign group said thousands of Argentine Catholics had renounced their membership of the church to protest against his opposition to the bill. (AFP)