Pon­tiff al­lows all priests to ab­solve ‘grave sin’ of abor­tion

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD -

VATICANCITY— Pope Fran­cis told Catholics world­wide he is al­low­ing all priests to ab­solve the faith­ful of abor­tion — women and health work­ers alike — even while em­pha­siz­ing that it is a grave sin in the eyes of the church to “end an in­no­cent life.”

In an Apos­tolic Let­ter made pub­lic Mon­day, Fran­cis said he was ex­tend­ing in­def­i­nitely the spe­cial per­mis­sion he had granted to all rank-and-file priests dur­ing the just ended Holy Year of Mercy.

“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, the pope wrote in the 10-page let­ter, signed Sun­day, the day the Holy Year ended. But, he added: “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, ab­so­lu­tion had been a mat­ter for a bishop, who could ei­ther hear the wo­man’s con­fes­sion or del­e­gate it to a priest con­sid­ered an ex­pert in such sit­u­a­tions, a po­ten­tially in­tim­i­dat­ing sce­nario for many of the faith­ful.

In his let­ter, the pope ap­peared to ac­knowl­edge that. “Lest any ob­sta­cle arise be­tween the re­quest for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and God’s for­give­ness,” he wrote, “I hence­forth grant to all priests, in virtue of their min­istry, the fac­ulty to ab­solve those who have com­mit­ted the sin of pro­cured abor­tion.”

A top Vatican of­fi­cial, Mon­signor Rino Fisichella, said Mon­day that the pope’s words ap­plied to all those in­volved in an abor­tion — “from the women ... to the doc­tor and who­ever sup­ports this pro­ce­dure.” The pope is “ab­so­lutely not” less­en­ing the grav­ity of the sin of abor­tion, he added.

RI­CARDO AR­DUENGO / AP

A boy walks Mon­day through the ru­ins of a mar­ket that was gut­ted overnight by a fire in the Port-au-Prince sub­urb of Pe­tionville where hun­dreds of poor ven­dors sell veg­eta­bles, clothes and other wares.

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