Pope Francis continues his papacy’s streak of open-mindedness. NBC News reports he has granted all Roman Catholic priests an extension on forgiving abortion. While Pope Francis reiterated abortion is still a “grave sin,” he argued that no one is exempt from being forgiven for any sin.
The declaration was made in an “apostolic letter” after the Church’s “Holy Year of Mercy” on Sunday. This extension continues a temporary dispensation (which will now likely last as long as Francis holds his position) to priests to have the power to forgive the sin of abortion. In the past, only a Bishop or a “designated special confessor of a diocese” would be allowed to grant this ablution. The extension is designed to make it easier for women to rejoin the Church if they have an abortion. In standard Roman Catholic teaching, abortion would be a sin that would result in immediate excommunication from the church. But Pope Francis hopes this is an opportunity for people to know they will never be an outcast in the Church:
“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. I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion.”