Pope is allowing Roman Catholic priests worldwide to absolve women from the “sin of abortion,” including those who have helped in the process. The forgiveness shall come to those who admitted to the sin and are truly repentant of what they committed.
The priests’ absolution of the sin of abortion will only take place for the Holy Year of Mercy, which runs from Dec. 8, 2015, through Nov. 20 2016. After the said period, the absolution of abortion remained exclusive again to the bishops and to those chosen priests who are of good standing.
“I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it,” Pope Francis wrote in a letter released by the Vatican on Sept. 1.
“May priests fulfill this great task by expressing words of genuine welcome combined with a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed, besides indicating a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father who renews all with his presence,” the Pope said in the letter.
In explaining his rationale behind the decision, the Pope explained that women who underwent abortion have also experienced existential and moral ordeal. Many of them, according to the Pope, decided for abortion believing that they have no other option.
“I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision. What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope,” he wrote.
“The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father,” the pope continued.
The Church had long been forgiving the women who confessed of undergoing abortion. The absolution, however, was reserved to Catholic bishops and a few chosen priests. Pope John Paul II in fact had already spoken about the Church’s willingness to forgive the sin according to Rev. Thomas Rosica.
Writing for The National Catholic Review, Rev. Rosica noted that Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical, The Gospel of Life, reminded women who have had an abortion that God still loves them and is willing to forgive them.
“If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation,” Pope John Paul II wrote as quoted by Rev. Rosica.
Rev. Rosica also noted that under the current church law, “in many” an abortion “may be absolved as would any other serious sins.” He also explained that while the Church had already dissolved the reserved sins which only the bishop could forgive, there are still reserved cases where a sin comes with canonical penalty.
What is unique about Pope Francis’ recent announcement, as highlighted by Rev. Rosica, is his immense pastoral approach and concern. The Church, nevertheless, still view abortion as “grave evil” but is willing to offer hope for healing from the pain and traumatic experience, the reverend explained.
Speaking with ABC 8, Bishop Kevin Farrell, the leader of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, explained that the Pope’s statement is aimed at bringing the people “back into the church once again.”
“So that no woman would ever fear that God does not love her,” Farrell explained.
According to the report, some U.S. priests of good standing have already been allowed to absolve abortion. With the Pope’s permission, priests worldwide will now be allowed to do it too.
“We’re all about forgiveness,” Farrell said. “We’re all about mercy, and we shouldn’t be putting obstacles to the mercy of God… that’s what Pope Francis has been trying to get at.”