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 / Updated  / Source: Reuters

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis made his toughest remarks to date on abortion when he called the practice "horrific" on Monday.

"It is horrific even to think that there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day," the pontiff said during his yearly address to diplomats accredited to the Vatican, a speech known as his "State of the World" address.

Conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church had previously accused the pope of not speaking out forcefully enough against abortion.

While showing no signs of changing the Church's position against abortion, Francis has not spoken out against it as sternly or as repeatedly as his predecessors Pope Benedict XVI and the late John Paul II since his election in March.

Both of those popes often delivered sermons against abortion, which the Church considers murder.

Conservatives were alarmed when Francis told Italian Jesuit magazine Civilta Cattolica in September that the Church must shake off an "obsession" with teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality.

- Reuters