In his “State of the World” speech Monday, Pope Francis spoke about abortion in no uncertain terms, calling it “horrific."
While the pope had maintained that the church needed to address other issues besides homosexuality and abortion, he gave the latter its due in his annual speech.
“It is horrific even to think that there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day,” he said diplomats assembled at the Vatican.
"Unfortunately, what is thrown away is not only food and dispensable objects, but often human beings themselves, who are discarded as unnecessary," he added.
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BBC reported that Catholics in the Vatican were concerned with the pope’s reticence on the abortion issue. While no one expected him to diverge from the church’s stance on abortion and contraception, he had told the Italian magazine La Civiltà Cattolica and other Jesuit news sources that he did not feel the need to talk about these issues “all the time.”
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible,” the pope said in the interview.
“I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”
The pope also spoke about the treatment of immigrants and the elderly and the need to protect children from exploitation.
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"We cannot be indifferent to those suffering from hunger, especially children, when we think of how much food is wasted every day in many parts of the world immersed in what I have often terms the throw away culture," the pope said, speaking about immigrants crossing into the U.S. and Europe illegally.
Retired church historian Father Alistair Sear said the pope used the speech as an opportunity to make a point that would stick.
"Nobody would say [Francis] shies away from controversy, but he is making a point of making strong statements on many of the modern church's hot button issues," Sear said.