Pope ex­tends priests’ spe­cial per­mis­sion to ab­solve ‘grave sin’ of abor­tion

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

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

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