Pope Francis eases forgiveness rules for abortion

Pope of Catholic Church says priests can forgive abortion during Holy Year of Mercy

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Pope Francis loosens abortion rules within the Holy Year of Mercy.

Updated Sep 2, 2015

Pope Francis stated in a letter released by the Vatican on Tuesday, that he will give all priests the authority to forgive women who have had abortions during the upcoming Holy Year of the church.

The Roman Catholic Church’s, upcoming Holy Year of Mercy begins on December 8 and will end on November, 20, 2016.

The Pope’s order, which allows all priests to grant forgiveness to women who utterly regret going through with an abortion.

Normally in Catholicism, abortion is considered such a great sin that it can cause an automatic excommunication, which can only be removed by assigned church officials.

But in countries such as the United States and Britain, priests can already forgive abortion without the need for permission from a senior.

In his letter, Pope Francis said many women who went through with abortion did so because they "believe that they have no other option".

“The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented,”  he added.

The Pope also said he had "met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonising and painful decision".

Doctors who carry out abortions were not clearly mentioned in the letter, but some experts believe that they will also be welcomed to seek forgiveness.

Within an hour of publishing the letter, the Vatican was forced to release a second statement as a response to queries, stressing that the church did not “condone abortion nor minimise its grave effects”.

Although the easing of the rules does not change Catholic Church policy, Pope Francis is already marked as a liberal-minded reformer with his pastoral approach on other taboo topics.

The Holy Year normally takes place every 25 years, but this rule can be broken if the pope feels the need to attract attention to a certain issue.

TRTWorld and agencies