September 23, 2013 — A day after criticizing the Catholic Church's focus on "small-minded rules" on abortion and other issues, Pope Francis on Friday denounced abortion during an audience with Catholic gynecologists, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Winfield, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/20).
Francis in an interview Thursday said that he has chosen not to publicly discuss abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage because the Catholic Church has grown "obsessed" with preaching about those matters. He said the church needs to "find a new balance," adding it should be a "home for all" and not a "small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people" (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/20).
On Friday, the pope criticized what he called today's "throw-away culture" that justifies disposing of lives and said physicians in particular had been placed in situations where they are asked to "not respect life." He said, "Every child [who] isn't born, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord."
He urged gynecologists to follow their consciences, adding, "Things have a price and can be for sale, but people have a dignity that is priceless and worth far more than things."
Church Officials Respond to Thursday's Interview
Greg Burke -- the Vatican's senior communications adviser -- said Friday that the pope in his Thursday interview was "not condemning his processors." Burke explained, "What [Francis] is saying is 'We've spent a lot of time talking about the boundaries. We've spent a lot of time talking about what is sin and what's not. Now let's move on. Let's talk about mercy. Let's talk about love.'"
Similarly, U.S. Cardinal Timothy Dolan in an interview with "CBS This Morning" said every "pope has a different strategy" of communication. He added, "What I think he's saying is, 'Those are important issues and the church has got to keep talking about them, but we need to talk about them in a fresh new way. If we keep kind of a negative finger-wagging tone, it's counterproductive.'"
Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I. -- who recently expressed disappointment that Francis had not spoken out about abortion -- on Friday praised his leadership. "Being a Catholic doesn't mean having to choose between doctrine and charity, between truth and love," Tobin said (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/20).