Media distorts Papal message on abortions
The announcement that Pope Francis will make it easier for those who have had abortions to find forgiveness and absolution is not, as some media outlets have reported, a dramatic turnaround for the Catholic Church. It is a welcome development, but a development in the same direction that the Church — and the pro-life movement — have been traveling since their inception.
In order to understand Pope Francis’ statement on forgiving the sin of abortion, you must first know a little about the teachings of the Catholic Church. Priests have the authority to forgive sins in the sacrament of confession. But some sins are so serious that, under certain circumstances, the priest needs special authorization from his bishop. Abortion falls into that category.
However, because abortion is so widespread, many bishops — including those in the United States — give their priests the authorization to fully reconcile to the Church anyone who confesses, with sincere repentance, the sin of abortion.
So in practice, most people don’t know the difference. They sin, they repent, they go to confession, and all is well between them and God and the Church.
But Pope Francis is now extending to priests worldwide — who do not already have it – the authorization to reconcile those guilty of abortion. This is a special provision of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which begins December 8th.