Catholics are continuing to react to Pope Francis’ recent comments about the church’s treatment of issues like homosexuality and abortion. After the pontiff made his bold statements about the need to step away from “small-minded rules” and to be more inclusive, he clarified his stance on at least one of the controversial issues.

If some took the pope’s comments in La Civilta Cattolica to mean that he has no serious qualms with abortion — or that he is loosening the church’s opposition to it — then a speech he have on Friday will correct the record. In it, Francis affirmed that he stands against the procedure and encouraged Catholic doctors to avoid performing it.

Pope Francis Clarifies His Stance on Abortion Following Controversy

Pope Francis delivers his speech during a meeting with young people on September 22, 2013 in Cagliari, Italy. Credit: Getty Images

“Every child that isn’t born, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord,” he told an audience that included Catholic gynecologists, decrying a “throw-away culture” that fails to respect life.

If these comments alone weren’t enough, Francis implored the doctors in attendance to stick with their convictions and to help brings lives into the world rather than take them, reports CBS News.

“Things have a price and can be for sale, but people have a dignity that is priceless and worth far more than things,” he added.

These comments about the sanctity of life and abortion come after Francis told La Civilta Cattolica that it is unreasonable for the Catholic Church to act so narrowly when it comes to social issues.

Pope Francis Clarifies His Stance on Abortion Following Controversy

Pope Francis greets a woman during a meeting with young people on September 22, 2013 in Cagliari, Italy. Credit: Getty Images

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible,” he said during the original interview that sparked controversy. “The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”

The Vatican, too, issued clarification on the abortion front following Francis’ statements.

“The pope is not condemning his predecessors,” Vatican senior communications adviser Greg Burke told the Associated Press. “What he is saying is ‘We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the boundaries. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about what is sin and what’s not. Now let’s move on. Let’s talk about mercy. Let’s talk about love.’”

While it’s clear that Francis is prepared to move the church in a new direction — one that he presumably hopes will spark growth and increased adherence to a higher power — it seems he’s also attempting to correct any misrepresentation or confusion surrounding his previous comments on the abortion front.

As for gay marriage, this issue has yet to be grappled with by the pontiff since offering his original comments on the matter.

(H/T: Christian Post)