April 20, 2008 / 4:44 PM / 10 years ago

Vatican's pro-life crusader Cardinal Trujillo dies

ROME, April 20 (Reuters) - Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, the head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family who campaigned against condoms and embryo experiments, has died aged 72, the Vatican said on Sunday.

Trujillo’s outspoken opposition to birth control sparked controversy when he said condoms were no guarantee against AIDS and that relying on them was like "betting on your own death".

A Vatican official said he died on Saturday night in hospital after suffering various health problems.

The Colombian cardinal said in an interview in 2006 that liberal attitudes to abortion in western society could one day lead to the Catholic Church facing legal action for its opposition to the practice.

"I fear that faced with current legislation, speaking in defence of life, of the rights of the family, is becoming in some societies a crime against the state, a form of disobedience of the government, a discrimination against women," he told the Catholic Italian weekly Famiglia Cristiana.

He also said scientists who experiment on embryonic stem cells should be viewed in the same light as abortionists and should be barred by the Church from taking Communion.

"Destroying an embryo equals abortion and that excommunication goes for the woman, the doctors and the scientists who eliminate the embryo," he said. (Reporting by Robin Pomeroy, editing by Tim Pearce)

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