Pope blasts abortion as symptom of 'throw-away culture'
VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Francis offered an olive branch of sorts to the doctrine-minded, conservative wing of the Catholic Church on Friday as he denounced abortion as a symptom of today's "throw-away culture" and encouraged Catholic doctors to refuse to perform them.
Pope Francis issued a strong anti-abortion message and cited Vatican teaching on the need to defend the unborn during an audience with Catholic gynecologists.
It came a day after he was quoted as blasting the church's obsession with "small-minded rules" that are driving the faithful away and urging it focus instead on being merciful and welcoming - an interview that has sent shockwaves throughout the church.
Even before the interview was published, conservatives had voiced disappointment that Pope Francis had shied away from restating church rules on such hot-button issues as abortion, homosexuality and gay marriage.