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SAO PAULO (LifeSiteNews) — A Brazilian cardinal has criticized his country’s former president and presidential candidate Luiz Lula da Silva for his views on abortion.

Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, archbishop of São Paulo, described Lula’s pro-abortion comment in a March 24 interview with radio channel Super 91.7 FM as “unfortunate.”

Lula said that though he was personally against abortion, he would treat it as an issue of “public health” should he be elected president for the second time in the upcoming Brazilian presidential election next October.

“I, Lula, father of five children, am against abortion and always have been. Now, [as] the head of state, [I would need] to treat the matter as public health,” he said.

The father of five explained that due to the fact that abortion in Brazil is a crime, many women “run to other countries to do it in secret,” and many others “die on the street” as a result.

“It is up to the state to give these people the ability to get decent [medical] treatment; that’s the role of the state,” argued Lula.

Commenting on his statement, the archbishop of São Paulo recalled that “abortion, whether practiced individually or promoted by the state, always ends up causing the taking of human lives.”

According to a survey conducted by the Orbis Institute for Brazilian newspaper Diáro do Poder, less than 17% of the Brazilian population is in favor of abortion.

Though Lula claimed to be “personally against abortion” in his interview with 91.7 FM, this isn’t the first time he has used pro-abortion rhetoric, or defined the killing of babies as “healthcare.”

During an interview with TV Brazil back in 2008, when he was still the president of Brazil, Lula argued that “many people die from clandestine abortions, because the government is prohibited from carrying them out.”

“I believe that a woman who has an abortion never does it because she wants to or for pleasure, but because she is constrained by a situation and it is at that time that the government should attend to those people,” he said.

CNA’s Portuguese language partner, ACI digital, has asked the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil to comment on Lula’s remarks, but the latter refused, stating that “it does not comment on the discourse of candidates.”

In 2010, during the last year of his term, Lula introduced a massive legislative reform package in an unsuccessful attempt to secure abortion as a “human right,” to impose socialist and LGBT ideology in schools and the media, and to ban crucifixes from government facilities, among other measures.

That same year, Lula’s personal secretary, Gilberto Carvalho, made threats against the Catholic Church, warning the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops (NCBB) that if Catholics continued to attack the Labor presidential candidate at the time, Dilma Rousseff, for her pro-abortion views, the Catholic Church’s agreement with the Brazilian government might be revised.

According to CNA, a recent electoral survey placed Lula in first place of the next election with 43% of likely voters.

The former president and founder of the Worker’s Party (PT) already served as president from 2003 until 2011 and is also known for his support of gay civil unions and adoption by homosexual couples.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s current president and pro-life candidate, Jair Bolsonaro is placed in second position with 29% of likely voters. He is known for slamming neighboring Argentina’s decision to legalize abortion in December of last year, describing it as state “consent” to killing children.