In a year that has been terrifying for women’s rights, there’s one small, positive development. Pope Francis has granted Catholic priests the right to forgive abortion in confessions. The announcement comes after Donald Trump and Mike Pence, two men who vehemently oppose abortion, were elected into the White House.
Pope Francis is widely considered perhaps the most progressive popes in recent memory, and he’s proven that again by his new ruling. He explained in apostolic letter on November 21 that all Catholic priests can forgive a woman who comes to them seeking forgiveness for abortion in confession. Prior to this ruling, abortion was considered one of the “mortal sins” — something that could never be forgiven.
While this is a huge step for the Catholic Church, especially in a time when abortion rights are being threatened so heavily in the United States by Donald Trump and Mike Pence, he’s unfortunately still not lessening the church’s stance on women’s bodily autonomy. His bottom line, as he explains in the letter: abortion is still a sin, but at least a forgivable one.
“I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life,” wrote Francis in his apostolic letter. “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. I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion.”
This is a continuation of the Church’s Year of Mercy, which formally ended on Sunday, November 20. Throughout the year, Francis encouraged forgiving abortion and other sins, and has now decided that abortion should formally make the list of forgivables. It’s unfortunate that the church still believes that abortion is a sin at all, though.
HollywoodLifers, are you surprised that Pope Francis is encouraging priests to forgive abortion? Tell us in the comments!