Pope Francis extends priests’ ability to forgive abortion

Pope Francis closes the Holy Door to mark the closing of the Catholic Jubilee Year of Mercy at Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on Nov. 20. Photo by Tiziana Fabi/Pool via Reuters

Pope Francis closes the Holy Door to mark the closing of the Catholic Jubilee Year of Mercy at Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican on Nov. 20. Photo by Tiziana Fabi/Pool via Reuters

Pope Francis on Monday extended the ability of Roman Catholic priests to absolve those who have had an abortion, while reiterating that it is still a sin.

Pope Francis had granted priests the power temporarily during the Holy Year of Mercy from Dec. 8 to Nov. 20 — a period of time meant to draw attention to and actions of mercy, but he put in a letter Monday that it would be indefinitely extended.

“I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion. The provision I had made in this regard, limited to the duration of the Extraordinary Holy Year, is hereby extended,” he wrote.

He also reiterated “as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life.”

Previously, only a bishop or a diocese’s designated chief confessor could grant absolution for an abortion.

The pope also said in the letter that the Catholic Church would have a “World Day of the Poor” on a Sunday in November to draw attention to their needs.

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