Monday, November 21, 2016

Pope Francis Extends Priests' Authority To Forgive Abortion

As reported by Vatican Radio, Pope Francis yesterday issued an apostolic letter, Misericordia et Misera  (“Mercy and Misery”), which extends a number of initiatives begun in the just-ended Jubilee Year of Mercy.  One portion of the Pope's letter may color legal and political debate in the United States:
... [L]est any obstacle arise between the request for reconciliation and God’s forgiveness, 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, notwithstanding anything to the contrary. I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life. 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.
The Washington Post reports that in a press conference a Holy See official, Monsignor Rino Fisichella, said that the pronouncement covers doctors, nurses and others involved in an abortion, as well as the woman obtaining the procedure.

In a separate matter, the Pope's apostolic letter also validated continued hearing of confessions by priests of the controversial right-wing Society of St Pius X. (See prior related posting.)