Pope Francis Addresses Opposition to Abortion

Pope Francis sat for a lengthy interview with Reuters at the Vatican on Saturday, and the discussion centered on the controversy over abortion sparked by the end of the Roe v. Wade era in the United States.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on June 24, expressly overruling the 1973 decision in Roe, returning the power to regulate or prohibit abortion to the individual states.

Francis first said that he did not have sufficient information to address the legal issues presented by the Dobbs case. He went on to reaffirm that the Catholic Church teaches that human life begins at the moment of conception.

The pope said that as a result, abortion is comparable to “hiring a hit man” to eliminate a human life to “resolve a problem.” He asked the reporter rhetorically if that decision is legitimate.

His comment Saturday was very similar to questions he asked three years ago at a conference opposing abortions. He asked then, “Is it licit to throw away a life to resolve a problem? Is it licit to hire a hit man to resolve a problem?”

Francis went on to say that his opposition is based on human rights and does not have religious motives — which seems unfortunate. Several years ago, he expressed sympathy for women who made the choice to abort their unborn babies. He has also made it easier for Catholics to seek absolution from the sin of abortion as defined by the Church.

In what was certainly a reference to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the pope was asked whether Catholics who publicly profess their faith while also supporting abortion should be allowed to take Holy Communion.

The pope said that “all I can say” is when the Church or a bishop loses a pastoral nature, “it causes a political problem.”

Pelosi was recently barred from taking communion in her home diocese in San Francisco by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. He wrote that despite repeated attempts to speak directly with Pelosi to help her “understand the grave evil she is perpetrating,” she has refused to discuss the matter with him.

Cordileone also cited the “danger to her own soul she is risking” and the scandal she has caused as reasons for refusing her admittance to communion “until and unless she publicly repudiates her support for abortion” and seeks absolution through confession of her sins.

The archbishop’s ruling is only effective in the San Francisco Diocese, and Pelosi regularly takes communion at a parish in Washington, D.C. During a vacation trip to Italy and the Vatican last week, she received the sacrament of communion at a papal Mass.