Later this year, Pope Francis will be dispatching “missionaries of mercy” to absolve Catholic women who have had abortions. The gesture will mark a Holy Year of Mercy the pope is planning and will begin in December. According to a Vatican spokesperson, abortion will still be considered a sin by the Church, punishable by excommunication, but the move is the first time a pontiff has called for priests around the world to forgive women for terminating pregnancies. The spokesperson reportedly said, priests designated at “missionaries of mercy” must possess “an understanding of human fragility.”
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