Pope extends priests’ special permission to absolve ‘grave sin’ of abortion
Pope Francis is allowing all priests to absolve the “grave sin” of abortion, extending special permission he had granted them in 2015 for the just-ended Holy Year of Mercy.
Francis wrote in Misericordia et misera, an apostolic letter concluding the Year of Mercy, that “there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach,” while staunchly reiterating that “abortion is a grave sin.”
In his letter, Pope Francis formally gave all priests permanent permission to grant absolution to those who confess to having procured an abortion. While many bishops around the world, and almost all bishops in the United States, routinely grant that faculty to all their priests, Pope Francis had made it universal during the Holy Year.
Without formal permission, priests had been required to refer the case to their bishops before granting sacramental absolution to a woman who had an abortion or those directly involved in the procedure.
“I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion,” he wrote.
“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. I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life. 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. May every priest, therefore, be a guide, support and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation.”
In the letter, released yesterday, the Pope also extended his decree that allow SSPX priests to hear valid confessions.
“For the Jubilee Year I had also granted that those faithful who, for various reasons, attend churches officiated by the priests of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X, can validly and licitly receive the sacramental absolution of their sins,” he wrote.
“For the pastoral benefit of these faithful, and trusting in the good will of their priests to strive with God’s help for the recovery of full communion in the Catholic Church, I have personally decided to extend this faculty beyond the Jubilee Year, until further provisions are made.”
Although the Vatican and the society continue talks aimed at formally restoring the society’s full communion with the Church, Pope Francis said he was extending the pastoral provision “lest anyone ever be deprived of the sacramental sign of reconciliation through the Church’s pardon.”
Acknowledging and sharing God’s mercy is a permanent part of the Christian life, so initiatives undertaken during the special Year of Mercy must continue, Pope Francis explained in the letter.
“Mercy cannot become a mere parenthesis in the life of the Church,” the Pope said.
Mercy cannot become a mere parenthesis in the life of the Church