VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis denounced abortion on Saturday as the "white glove" equivalent of the Nazi-era eugenics program and urged families to accept the children that God gives them.
Francis spoke off-the-cuff to a meeting of an Italian family association, ditching his prepared remarks to speak from the heart about families and the trials they undergo. He lamented how some couples choose not to have any children, while others resort to pre-natal testing to see if their baby has any malformations or genetic problems.
"The first proposal in such a case is, 'Do we get rid of it?'" Francis said. "The murder of children. To have an easy life, they get rid of an innocent."
Francis recalled that as a child he was horrified to hear stories from his teacher about children "thrown from the mountain" if they were born with malformations.
"Today we do the same thing," he said.
"Last century, the whole world was scandalized by what the Nazis did to purify the race. Today, we do the same thing but with white gloves," Francis said.
The pope urged families to accept children "as God gives them to us."
Francis has repeated the strict anti-abortion stance of his predecessors and integrated it into his broader condemnation of what he calls today's "throw-away culture." He has frequently lamented how the sick, the poor, the elderly and the unborn are considered unworthy of protection and dignity by a society that prizes instead individual prowess.
He has also decried how women are often considered part of this "throw-away culture," sometimes forced to prostitute themselves.
"How many of you pray for these women who are thrown away, for these women who are used, for these girls who have to sell their own dignity to have a job?" Francis asked during his morning homily Friday.
Francis has dedicated much of his pontificate to preaching about families, marriage and the problems that families today encounter. He is expected to highlight these issues during his August trip to Ireland where he'll close out the Catholic Church's big family rally.
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