Pope Francis has extended the power of Catholic priests to forgive abortions, making the announcement in an apostolic letter released on Monday.
It continues a special dispensation granted last year which gave all priests, rather than just bishops and specially designated confessors, the power to absolve the sin of abortion, reports CNN.
Notabley the Catholic Church’s stance on abortion has not changed — it is still viewed as a “grave sin.” But it makes it easier for women who have had abortions to be absolved for their actions, and rejoin 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,” the Pope’s letter states.
“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.”
The letter continues: “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.”
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