Pope Francis indefinitely extends priests' ability to forgive women who have abortions

But the Pope says he wants to 'restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin'

Samuel Osborne
Monday 21 November 2016 12:15
Comments
Pope Francis marking the end of the Roman Catholic Church’s jubilee year in Rome on Sunday
Pope Francis marking the end of the Roman Catholic Church’s jubilee year in Rome on Sunday

Pope Francis has said all priests will be able to forgive abortion, extending indefinitely a temporary measure he had put in place for the Vatican’s jubilee year.

“I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion,” the Pope wrote in a letter marking the end of the “Holy Year of Mercy”.

“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,” he wrote.

The Pope says it’s wrong to equate Islam with violence

The 79-year-old Argentine said he wanted to “restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life”, but “there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with [God]”.

Pope Francis, who has made a more inclusive and forgiving Roman Catholic Church a characteristic of his papacy, made the announcement in a document known as an apostolic letter after the church’s “Holy Year of Mercy” concluded on Sunday.

The measure represents a significant softening of the church’s stance on the issue of abortion.

The Catholic Church historically deemed abortion so great a sin that those who undertook them or carried them out were automatically excommunicated.

In the past, only a bishop or a special confessor could grant absolution for an abortion in most parts of the world.

However, as Pope Francis brought the jubilee year to an end by closing the bronze-panelled Holy Door in Saint Peter’s Square on Sunday, he gave an interview in which he criticised abortion as “a horrendous crime”.

In a document last year, Pope Francis described the “existential and moral ordeal” faced by women who have terminated pregnancies and said he had “met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonising and painful decision”.

Additional reporting by agencies

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in