MERCY

Pope Grants Priests the Right to Forgive Abortion

FILIPPO MONTEFORTE

In a highly unusual gesture, Pope Francis on Monday extended indefinitely the right of Catholic priests to forgive a woman the sin of abortion, a provision he had instated in September 2015 ahead of the Vatican’s Year of Mercy that no longer required soliciting forgiveness from a bishop. Francis closed the Holy Doors of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome this weekend, ending the Holy Jubilee Year and all of the perks and benefits that go with it. With his decree Monday, priests can now continue to forgive abortion during a confession by a Catholic woman if she is deemed duly repentant for her sins. “I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life,” he wrote. “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.”

—Barbie Latza Nadeau