VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis offered an olive branch of sorts Friday to the doctrine-minded, conservative wing of the Catholic Church as he denounced abortion as a symptom of today's "throw-away culture" and urged Catholic doctors to refuse to perform them.
He issued a strong antiabortion message and cited Vatican teaching on the need to defend the unborn during an audience with Catholic gynecologists.
It came a day after Francis was quoted as blasting the church's obsession with "small-minded rules" that are driving the faithful away and urging it to focus instead on being merciful and welcoming — an interview that has sent shock waves throughout the church.
On Friday Francis denounced today's "throw-away culture" and urged the gynecologists to abide by their consciences and help bring lives into the world.
"Things have a price and can be for sale, but people have a dignity that is priceless and worth far more than things," he said.