Pope Francis on Wednesday compared having an abortion to hiring a “contract killer”, reported AFP. “Getting rid of a human being is like resorting to a contract killer to solve a problem,” he said in his weekly address in the Vatican. “Is it just to resort to a contract killer to solve a problem?”

Francis said interrupting a pregnancy was equivalent to “eliminating someone”. “How can an act that suppresses innocent life be therapeutic, civil or even human?” he asked. The pope cited instances of exploitation, wars, abortion and a culture of wastefulness and spoke about a “depreciation of human life”.

In August, senators in Francis’ homeland of Argentina rejected a bill that would have allowed women in the country to get an abortion in the first 14 weeks of their pregnancy. The South American nation is predominantly Catholic.

Francis in June said getting an abortion to avoid birth defects was similar to Nazi eugenics programmes. “Children should be accepted as they come, as God sends them, as God allows, even if at times they are sick,” he said. “In the last century the whole world was scandalised by what the Nazis did to pursue the pureness of the race. Today, we are doing the same thing, with white gloves.”

However, in 2016, the pontiff extended beyond the Year of Mercy – which was observed
from December 8, 2015, to November 20, 2016 – the permission granted to Roman Catholic priests to forgive the “grave sin” of abortion.

The devil to be blamed for sex scandals

Meanwhile, Francis has urged Catholics around the world to recite a special prayer every day in October in order to defeat the devil, which he blamed for creating divisions in the Vatican and for the sexual abuse crisis, Reuters reported on Monday.

“[The Church must be] saved from the attacks of the malign one, the great accuser and at the same time be made ever more aware of its guilt, its mistakes, and abuses committed in the present and the past,” he said in a message on September 29.

The church has faced faces allegations of cover-up of child sexual abuse in several countries. During his visit to Ireland in August, Francis said he was ashamed of the Catholic Church’s failure to address the cases of sexual abuse by members of the clergy. He had earlier apologised for his “grave mistakes” during the handling of such cases in Chile.