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Vatican Radio gives Novartis bitter pill

Vatican Radio has withdrawn its invitation to Daniel Vasella, the chairman and CEO of the Swiss pharmaceutical giant, Novartis, to act as a guest commentator.

The broadcaster said the fact that Novartis manufactures contraceptives played a role in the decision.

In a statement published on the German-language pages of its website, Vatican Radio said it had decided not to have an external "commentator of the month" in February due to the Lefebvre affair.

It said it had only found out through the media that Novartis produced contraceptives, and this had "influenced" its decision. "There can be no doubt as to the Vatican's position regarding artificial contraception," the statement added.

The 56-year-old Vasella was to have given his opinion each Saturday on different themes from an "ethical perspective".

A Novartis spokesman said the company had taken note of the Vatican's decision.

A Novartis subsidiary, Hexal, manufactures contraceptives and not the Basel-based company itself.

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