Pope lets all priests absolve abortion


Associated Press

VATICAN CITY

Saying nothing is beyond the reach of God’s mercy, Pope Francis told Catholics worldwide he is allowing all priests to absolve the faithful of abortion – women and health workers alike – even while stressing 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 long been a matter for a bishop, who could either hear the woman’s confession himself or delegate it to a priest considered an expert in such situations, a potentially intimidating scenario for many of the faithful.

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