The Catholic church’s stance on abortion has come under the spotlight during a trip by Pope Benedict to Brazil. The pontiff was asked by reporters whether he supported Mexican church leaders threatening to ex-communicate leftist parliamentarians who last month voted to legalise abortion in Mexico city.
The pope said “yes, excommunication was not arbitrary, but is allowed under church law”. He went on to say abortion is “incompatible with receiving communion”.
The comments came ahead of his arrival to Sao Paulo, where he will be holding talks with the Brazilian president. There is currently great debate within the church about whether politicians who support abortion or gay marriage can still be considered proper Catholics.
Gay protesters turned out to condemn the church’s policies, waving placards that read “Jesus loves gay people”. In recent months the Vatican has been accused of interfering in Italian politics by urging lawmakers to oppose a draft law that would grant rights to gay couples.