Pope Francis on Monday allowed all Roman Catholic priests the power to forgive abortion, a power previously reserved for bishops or special confessor.
Francis, who has made a more inclusive and forgiving church a characteristic of his papacy, made the announcement in a document known as an “apostolic letter” after Sunday’s close of the Catholic Church’s “Holy Year of Mercy”.
He said he wanted to “restate as firmly as he can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life.”
“Lest any obstacle arise between the request for reconciliation and God’s forgiveness, I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion…. I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life.
In the same way, however, I can and must state that there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father. May every priest, therefore, be a guide, support and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation,” the Pope said.