By Hannah Brockhaus
Pope Francis said Sunday that abortion is not a lawful way to solve problems, even in extreme and desperate situations, and that awareness of the need to help women in difficult pregancies is on the rise.
During a March 31 Spanish television interview, Pope Francis was asked about the permissibility of abortion in an extreme case: a woman who has been trafficked and becomes pregnant by rape. He said he could understand the desperation the woman in such a scenario might feel, but that “it is not lawful to eliminate a human life to solve a problem.”
“Is it permissible to eliminate a human life to solve a problem? Is it permissible to hire someone to eliminate [the child]?” the pope asked back at the interviewer, who declined to comment.
Francis said that women in crisis pregnancies should not be left “on the street,” but “thanks to God,” there is an increased awareness in the last decades of the need to help women in difficult situations. “A whole work of accompaniment, of giving dignity, has been unfolded,” he said.
Pope Francis spoke during a TV interview with Spanish journalist Jordi Évole, which aired on Spain’s La Sexta channel Sunday night.
The interview covered a range of topics, including immigration, clerical sexual abuse, and homosexuality.
Évole asked Pope Francis about his now-famous comment about homosexuality: “Who am I to judge?”
“Sin is an act, of thought, word and deed, with freedom,” he responded. “Tendencies are not sin. If you have a tendency to anger, it is not a sin.”
“Now, if you are angry and hurt people, the sin is there,” he clarified.
About the Vatican abuse summit, held in February with the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences, Francis said he understands some people were dissatisfied with the outcome because “one sometimes seeks results that are made concrete at the moment.”
He stressed that he, however, does not do things for their news-worthiness, noting that he could have “hanged 100 priests, abusers, in St. Peter’s Square” and it would have been a headline-making, “concrete” action.
Instead, he said, “the concrete things of the summit were to initiate processes and that takes time.”
“In any case, I understand people who have remained dissatisfied,” he continued, “because when there is an error you have to keep quiet, pray, cry, and accompany.”
Francis also insisted that the mentality of hiding abuse has changed in the Church since 2002. A “different consciousness has been taken, a different way of proceeding,” he explained.
Speaking about the popular Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi, the pope said, “in theory, it is a sacrilege” to call such a person a “god.” Though he added that he thinks people mostly say it the same way they might say, “I adore you” to someone, not as a statement of worship.
These kinds of phrases “are expressions of the people: he is a ‘god’ with the ball on the court, did you see?” the pope said. “They are popular ways of expressing one’s self.”
“Only worship God,” he stated. Although it is nice to watch Messi play, “he’s not God.”