Pope Francis is allowing all priests to absolve the “grave sin” of abortion, extending special permission he had granted them in 2015 for the just-ended Holy Year of Mercy, reports the Catholic News Service.
Releasing Misericordia et misera, an apostolic letter concluding the Year of Mercy, the Pope wrote that “there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach,” while staunchly reiterating that “abortion is a grave sin.”
In his letter released yesterday, Pope Francis formally gave all priests permanent permission to grant absolution to those who confess to having procured an abortion. While many bishops around the world routinely grant that faculty to all their priests, Pope Francis had made it universal during the Holy Year.
Without formal permission, priests had been required to refer the case to their bishops before granting sacramental absolution to a woman who had an abortion or those directly involved in the procedure.
“I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion,” he wrote.
“The provision I had made in this regard, limited to the duration of the Extraordinary Holy Year, is hereby extended, notwithstanding anything to the contrary. 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 also extended his decree that allows SSPX priests to hear valid confessions.
“For the Jubilee Year I had also granted that those faithful who, for various reasons, attend churches officiated by the priests of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X, can validly and licitly receive the sacramental absolution of their sins,” he wrote.
“For the pastoral benefit of these faithful, and trusting in the good will of their priests to strive with God’s help for the recovery of full communion in the Catholic Church, I have personally decided to extend this faculty beyond the Jubilee Year, until further provisions are made.”
Photo: Pope Francis signs the apostolic letter at the end of a Mass after closing the Holy Door of St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Sunday (AP)
Pope extends priests’ special permission to absolve ‘grave sin’ of abortion (CNS/The Catholic Herald)
Pope extends powers to forgive abortion (Reuters/The Courier Mail)
Full text of the Pope’s apostolic letter (The Catholic Herald)