In 2016, women who’ve had abortions and doctors that have performed them will be able to receive pardons from Pope Francis.
In the Catholic Church, abortion can result in automatic excommunication and only be forgiven by high-ranking clergy or by making a pilgrimage to Rome during a Holy Year. However, Pope Francis is sending “missionaries of mercy” all over the world to forgive and offer reconciliation to those hurting from abortion.
At a press conference, Rino Fisichella from Jubilee Year Monsignor said that the Pope meant the gesture ‘”as a concrete sign that a priest must be a man of mercy and close to all.” He added that those priests who apply to be missionaries must be especially skilled and good confessors.
The theme of the Holy Year, which begins on December 8th, has been widely interpreted as a signal by Francis that the church should be less judgmental.
In a document known as a ‘bull of indiction’ explaining how he wants Catholic to celebrate the Jubilee year, the pope said that ‘the church must be ‘an oasis of mercy’. It went on: ‘The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love.’
The United Nations has previously condemned the Vatican for excommunicating the mother and doctor of a nine-year-old girl who had an abortion in Brazil in 2009 after she was raped by her stepfather and became pregnant with twins.
But the move is not likely to be approved universally. Italian cardinal Velasio De Paolis said it could cause ‘confusion’ among the faithful. He said: ‘Regardless of this decision by the pope, the church will continue to consider abortion a sin.
‘I hope it does not cause confusion.’
He told La Nazione: ‘He is the pope of mercy and wants to show the benevolence of the church towards sinners. This does not cancel the sin of abortion.’
Although some pro-abortion Catholics have argued that Pope Francis’ gesture is a sign that the Church is becoming more “progressive” on abortion, this is completely false. As LifeNews previously reported, Pope Francis said that Christians should offer grace and mercy to post-abortive women but simultaneously stand strong against abortion.
At a meeting with Catholic bishops in South Africa, Pope Francis said, “Abortion compounds the grief of many women who now carry with them deep physical and spiritual wounds after succumbing to the pressures of a secular culture which devalues God’s gift of sexuality and the right to life of the unborn. The sacrament of reconciliation, in particular, must be rediscovered as a fundamental dimension of the life of grace.”
Additionally, in 2013, Pope Francis reiterated the Catholic Church’s pro-life stance and promised that they will never compromise on their opposition against abortion. He said, “I want to be completely honest in this regard. This is not something subject to alleged reforms or ‘modernizations’. It is not “progressive” to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.”