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Pope Francis. (FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

Religious ruling

Pope Francis extends priests’ right to absolve ‘sin’ of abortion

November 21, 2016

Pope Francis has announced that he will continue to allow Catholic priests to forgive women who get abortions, thereby extending a special dispensation that was granted last year.

According to CNN, Pope Francis condemned abortion as a “grave sin” in an apostolic letter released Monday, but he also emphasized the importance of absolving penitents.

“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 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.

“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 Catholic Church has long been resolute in its conviction that abortion is a “moral evil.” But Pope Francis authorized priests to absolve the practice in December of 2015, in honor of the Church’s Year of Mercy, which came to an end on Sunday. This period of prayer emphasized God’s forgiveness, and allowed exceptional leniency for sins.

The Pope’s extension of the dispensation is in keeping with his mission to create a more tolerant, accessible Church. He has apologized for the Church’s hostility towards gays and lesbians, for instance, and has encouraged priests to extend mercy to divorced Catholics.

Read more at CNN.


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