Pope Francis condemned abortion in no uncertain terms today, saying that abortion kills babies whose lives begin at conception and must be respected.

Speaking with members of the media on board a flight from Slovakia to the Vatican, Pope Francis said, “Abortion is murder. Those who carry out abortions kill.”

The head of the Catholic Church made it clear that unborn children are human beings started at fertilization.

“At the third week after conception, often even before the mother is aware (of being pregnant), all the organs are already (starting to develop). It is a human life. Period. And this human life has to be respected. It is very clear,” he said.

“Scientifically, it is a human life,” he added.

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Reporters asked Pope Francis about the scandal in the United States over Joe Biden — who claims to be a “devout” or “faithful” Catholic but aggressively promotes abortion and making American taxpayers fund abortions. The nation’s Catholic bishops voted this summer in favor of drafting a document on communion that could rebuke pro-abortion politicians like Biden depending on how it’s worded.

The head of the Catholic Church said he had never been in a position to have to deny communion to a radically pro-abortion politician.

“I never denied communion to anyone. But I never knew that I had in front of me anyone such as you described, that is true,” he said.

But the Pope added that communion is meant to be something extraordinarily special for Christian people and that the sacrament should not be taken lightly.

“Communion is not a prize for the perfect … communion is a gift, the presence of Jesus and his church,” the pope said.

“A pastor knows what to do at any moment but if he leaves the pastoral process of the Church he immediately becomes a politician,” Francis said.

After two days of debate in June, the USCCB announced the results of the vote, with 168 bishops voting yes to create a new document on communion and public life, 55 voting no, and 6 abstaining. With a majority voting in the affirmative, the bishops will now draft the document and then discuss and debate it at another annual meeting scheduled for November.

Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, made it clear on Wednesday that the bishops would not draft a document that specifically denies communion to pro-abortion politicians and it may not even hand down a policy on how to deal with pro-abortion politicos who want to remain in good standing with the Catholic Church. Instead, the document will likely consist of guidelines that are more of a a “teaching document on how communion can be more consistent, while leaving the actual decision about receiving or denying communion to individual bishops. it would encourage pro-abortion politicians to get in line with the Church’s pro-life teachings.

“The statement will be addressed to all Catholics,” the outline approved today reads, though it notes it would also “include the theological foundation for the Church’s discipline concerning the reception of Holy Communion and a special call for those Catholics who are cultural, political, or parochial leaders to witness the faith.”

The text of the proposal itself has not been written, and would ultimately require approval by a two-thirds majority vote during the November meeting — something potentially achievable given the 3-1 majority vote to begin the drafting process. But how far it will go to rebuke Biden and pro-abortion politicians is another question.

When asked at a press conference on Thursday following the vote if Biden should be able to receive communion because of his pro-abortion views, Bishop Rhoades said, “I can’t answer that question.”

“We will be looking at that whole issue of Eucharistic consistency. … When you look at cannon law, that is a decision of his bishop,” he added.

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