Those who have been following Pope Francis’ reign already know that the Argentine has been controversially liberal when it comes to the Catholic Church’s stance on social issues. In addition to progressive remarks about the LGBT community, Pope Francis has now decreed that priests have the option to forgive abortions in the upcoming Holy Year for the Roman Catholic Church.
In a Vatican letter released Tuesday, Pope Francis granted the forgiveness of abortion and encouraged priests to give it to those who come with a “contrite heart.”
“The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father. For this reason too, I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.”
Outsiders shouldn’t necessarily take this as a sign that Pope Francis has changed his opinions on abortion. As often before, the holy figure still commented on what he sees as a diminished reverence for human life. Furthermore, he still described the procedure as a “tragedy” that causes “extreme harm.”
“One of the serious problems of our time is clearly the changed relationship with respect to life. A widespread and insensitive mentality has led to the loss of the proper personal and social sensitivity to welcome new life. The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realizing the extreme harm that such an act entails.”
As opposed to a full policy shift, Pope Francis appears to have made the call to forgive abortion largely out of pity. Pope Francis spoke of the many Catholic women he has met who suffer from rectifying their decision to procure an abortion and their faith.
“Many… experience this moment as a defeat, believing that they have no other option. I think in particular of all the women who have resorted to abortion. I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision. What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope.”
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