Pope ex­tends spe­cial per­mis­sion on abor­tion

Lesotho Times - - International -

VAT­I­CAN CITY — Pope Fran­cis is al­low­ing all priests to ab­solve women of the “grave sin” of abor­tion, ex­tend­ing in­def­i­nitely spe­cial per­mis­sion he had granted for the du­ra­tion of the just-ended Holy Year of Mercy.

Fran­cis wrote in the Apos­tolic Let­ter made pub­lic by the Vat­i­can on Mon­day 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 God.

But he also wrote: “I wish to re­state as firmly as I can that abor­tion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an in­no­cent life.”

Be­cause the Ro­man Catholic Church holds abor­tion to be such a se­ri­ous sin, it had long put the mat­ter of grant­ing for­give­ness for it in the hands of a bishop, who could ei­ther hear the woman’s con­fes­sion him­self or del­e­gate that to a priest who was ex­pert in such sit­u­a­tions.

But in 2015, Fran­cis had said he was al­low­ing all rank-and-file priests to grant ab­so­lu­tion for an abor­tion for the du­ra­tion of the Holy Year, which ran from Dec. 8, 2015 through Nov. 20, 2016.

By now let­ting all priests ab­solve the sin of abor­tion on a per­ma­nent ba­sis fol­low­ing the end of the Holy Year, Fran­cis is fur­ther ap­ply­ing his vi­sion of a mer­ci­ful church to those women who, as he has writ­ten in the past, felt they had no choice but to make “this ag­o­niz­ing and painful de­ci­sion.”

“May ev­ery priest, there­fore, be a guide, sup­port and com­fort to pen­i­tents on this jour­ney of spe­cial rec­on­cil­i­a­tion” for faith­ful who had abor­tions, Fran­cis wrote.

He ex­plained his ra­tio­nale thusly: “Lest any ob­sta­cle arise be­tween

the re­quest for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and God’s for­give­ness, 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 pro­vi­sion I had made in this re­gard, lim­ited to the du­ra­tion of the Ex­tra­or­di­nary Holy Year, is hereby ex­tended, not­with­stand­ing any­thing to the con­trary.”

How to form con­sciences on abor­tion fig­ured in how bish­ops in the United States ad­vised their flock dur­ing the re­cently ended U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cam­paign.

Some pas­tors urged their con­gre­ga­tions to keep the sa­cred­ness in life in mind when de­cid­ing which can­di­date would get their vote.

The “sa­cred­ness of life” phrase is widely seen as re­fer­ring to abor­tion. U.S. Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump voiced his op­po­si­tion to abor­tion while cam­paign­ing, while his Demo­cratic op­po­nent, Hil­lary Clin­ton, sup­ported women’s right to have an abor­tion. — AP

POPE Fran­cis kisses the al­tar as he cel­e­brates a Mass on the oc­ca­sion of the clos­ing of the Holy door of St. Peter’s Basil­ica at the Vat­i­can last Sun­day.

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