Priests given permission to forgive 'sin of abortion'
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 yesterday 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.
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.
But in 2015, Francis said he was allowing all rank-and-file priests to grant absolution for an abortion for the Holy Year, which ran from December 8, 2015 until November 20, 2016.
By letting all priests absolve abortion permanently, Francis is further applying his vision of a merciful church to those women who felt they had no choice but to make "this agonising and painful decision".