From the Vatican
A Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis according to which
An Indulgence is granted to The Faithful On The Occasion Of The Extraordinary Jubilee Of Mercy
Pope Francis has opened the door for women who have had abortions – an act considered a grave sin by the Catholic Church – to be absolved in the church’s jubilee year of mercy, which begins on 8 December and runs until 20 November 2016.
“The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented,” the pontiff wrote in an extraordinary letter that was released by the Vatican on Tuesday. “I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal,” he added.
Although the letter does not change official church doctrine, it will be seen as further evidence that Francis is approaching his papacy as a liberal-minded reformer and is seeking to reach out to Catholics who believe the church – and its usually uncompromising attitudes towards abortion.
Pope Francis will give all priests discretion during the Roman Catholic Church's Holy Year to formally forgive women who have had abortions -- the Argentine pontiff's latest move towards a more open and inclusive church.
“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.”
In Church teaching, abortion is such a grave sin that those who procure or perform it incur an automatic excommunication, which can only be lifted by designated church officials.
However, from Dec. 8 to Nov. 26, during an extraordinary Holy Year or "Jubilee" on the theme of mercy, all priests will be able to do so if the women repent "with a contrite heart", the Pope said in a letter published by the Vatican.
Francis described the "existential and moral ordeal" faced by women who have terminated pregnancies and said he had "met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision".
The Pope's letter did not mention those who perform abortions.