Today Pope Francis authorized priests to absolve, indefinitely, the sin of abortion. The measure had been authorized only during the Holy Year of Mercy that concluded this Sunday.
“I grant all priests, because of their ministry, the power to absolve those who have committed the sin of abortion,” said the Pope in the post-Jesuit Apostolic Letter in which he reports to the Catholic Church the results of the previous year and plans for the church’s mission and evangelization in the coming year.
“There is no law or precept that can prevent God from returning to embrace the son who returns to him recognizing that he has been wrong, determined to start from the beginning. Sticking to the letter of the law is tantamount to trivializing divine faith and mercy, “said the Supreme Pontiff.
Up until now a priest could only absolve an abortion after being authorized by a bishop or by the pope himself.
- Read more: Pope Francis to Businesses: Aim to Serve, Not to Profit
- Read more: Pope Francis Turns Down Position on FARC Deal Committee
“In order that no obstacle may arise between the request for reconciliation and the forgiveness of God, from now on I grant to all priests, by virtue of their ministry, the power to absolve those who have committed the sin of abortion. What I had granted in a limited way for the Jubilee period, I extend it now indefinitely,” said Pope Francis.
The pope made clear that the measure announced on Monday does not mean that the Catholic Church approves of abortion. In this sense, Francis emphasized that “abortion is a serious sin, because it ends an innocent human life.” However, he said: “With the same force, however, I can and must affirm that there is no sin that the mercy of God can not reach and destroy, where he finds a repentant heart that asks to be reconciled with the Father.”
The pope also extended the provision he had authorized during the Jubilee to acquit sins to the priests of the Fraternity of St. Pius X, the so-called Lefebvrians. The followers of Marcel Lefebvre do not recognize the novelties introduced in the Second Vatican Council, which is why they have been outside the Church since 1988.
Francis justified this decision “for the pastoral good of these faithful” and so that “full communion can be recovered with the help of God.”