“Interrupting a pregnancy is like eliminating someone,” Francis said in his address to worshippers on Wednesday. “Getting rid of a human being is like resorting to a contract killer to solve a problem.”
“Is it just to resort to a contract killer to solve a problem?” he asked, to which the crowd shouted: “no”.
Francis’ comments departed from the prepared text for his homily delivered during his weekly audience on Saint Peter’s Square.
“How can an act which terminates a budding life, innocent and defenceless, be therapeutic, civilized, or simply human?” Francis said in his weekly public audience.
The leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics also said parents should not reject sick children.
“When during pregnancy parents discover that their child is affected by a disease, they need real closeness, real solidarity, to face reality overcoming understandable fears. Instead, they often receive hasty advice to terminate the pregnancy,” he said.
In his address, the Argentine pontiff complained of a “depreciation of human life” as he cited wars, exploitation and “a culture of wastefulness” as problems, other than abortion.
Even though he is widely considered more liberal than his predecessors, Francis has not changed church teachings on family planning and sex.
This year, he opposed a bill that would have legalised abortion in Argentina.
In August, a campaign group said thousands of Argentinian Catholics had renounced their membership of the church to protest against his opposition to the bill.
In April, he said helping the poor and the destitute should be as important as fighting against abortion.