The Vatican issued a strong ruling about the sanctity of life this week when it said a man’s involvement in performing or helping someone procure an abortion is an obstacle to orientation as a Catholic priest.
According to the National Catholic Reporter, the Vatican published the ruling on Thursday after Pope Francis approved the interpretation of church law during a Pontifical Council in May.
The Catholic Church considers the sanctity of life “so absolute” that the new ruling even includes men who were not Catholic at the time of the abortion, according to the report.
The Catholic Church is a strong advocate for the right to life of unborn babies across the world. Pope Francis frequently speaks out against abortion and encourages Catholics to support pregnant and parenting moms and their babies.
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“All of us are called to respect life and care for it,” he said during a trip to Poland in July. “On the other hand, it is the responsibility of the State, the Church and society to accompany and concretely help all those who find themselves in serious difficulty, so that a child will never be seen as a burden but as a gift, and those who are most vulnerable and poor will not be abandoned.”
The report has more details about the new ruling:
Canon 1041 of the Code of Canon Law defines as “irregular for receiving (holy) orders” a person who has “committed voluntary homicide or procured a completed abortion and all those who positively cooperated in either,” as well as “a person who has mutilated himself or another gravely and maliciously or who has attempted suicide.”
A question was submitted to the Vatican asking if the canon also applies to a non-Catholic and therefore would require a special dispensation if the man were later to become Catholic and seek ordination as a Catholic priest. The pontifical council answered, “Affirmative.”
Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, told reporters the sin involved can be forgiven if the person is contrite, “but a warning sign remains,” and a special intervention of the bishop is needed before the person can be ordained.
Pope Francis often has spoken about unborn babies since he was elected in 2013. Initially, some feared he would water down Catholic Church teachings on abortion and other issues, but he has been a strong advocate for life.