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ROME — Pope Francis told reporters Wednesday that the Catholic Church is intransigent on the matter of abortion because it is “murder.”

Aboard the papal plane returning from his visit to Hungary and Slovakia, the pope noted there is no way to sugarcoat the reality of the evil of abortion, since it means deliberately taking the life of an innocent human being.

Regarding abortion, “it is more than a problem, it is a murder,” Francis said, and “whoever performs an abortion kills, any way you look at it.”

“Pick up any embryology textbook for medical students,” the pontiff continued. “By the third week after conception, all the organs are already there, all of them, even the DNA … It’s a human life!”

“This human life must be respected, this principle is so clear!” he added.

AUSTIN, TX – MAY 29: Pro-life protesters stand near the gate of the Texas state capitol at a protest outside the Texas state capitol on May 29, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Thousands of protesters came out in response to a new bill outlawing abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected signed on Wednesday by Texas Governor Greg Abbot. (Photo by Sergio Flores/Getty Images)

As he has often done in the past, the pope compared abortion to hiring a paid assassin to take out a person who gets in your way.

“To those who cannot understand, I would ask this question: is it right to kill a human life to solve a problem? Is it right to hire a hitman to kill a human life?” he asked.

“Scientifically, it is a human life,” Francis noted. “Is it okay to take it out to solve a problem?”

The pope went on to underscore that the reality of abortion as murder is the reason behind the Catholic Church’s intransigence on the issue.

“This is why the Church is so hard on this issue, because if it accepts this it is as if it accepts daily murder,” he said.

The official teaching of the Catholic Church is remarkably frank about the immorality of killing the unborn.

“Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion,” declares the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.”

“Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law,” it adds.

FILE - In this June 1, 2020, file photo, Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden bows his head in prayer as he visits Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Del. Photos in a campaign ad for President Donald Trump show that former Vice President Biden is “alone, hiding, diminished.” The ad blurs details that show Biden is praying in a church. The ad was tweeted by @TeamTrump on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

FILE – In this June 1, 2020, file photo, Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden bows his head in prayer as he visits Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

The Catechism also notes evil committed by those who “formally cooperate” in abortion, such as those who promote its legality or seek to expand abortion rights.

“Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense,” the Catechism states. “The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life.”

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