In a letter released today (Sept. 1), Pope Francis extended to priests worldwide the authority to absolve women for the sin of abortion.
Below is a statement from Bishop Richard J. Malone, bishop of Buffalo, followed by a Catholic News Service story, which provides much-needed context to the Holy Father’s letter:
After consulting with the Canonists of the Chancery, I have confirmed that the faculties granted to all priests of the Buffalo Diocese include the faculty of remitting the excommunication attached to the procurement of abortion. This has been the case in our diocese since the 1980s during Bishop Edward Head’s tenure. By extending this faculty to every priest throughout the world, Pope Francis is reminding us of the limitless power of God’s mercy and compassion.
I know that the priests of our diocese will continue to welcome all those who wish to receive God’s forgiveness and continue on their path of conversion. In anticipation of the upcoming Year of Mercy, the Diocese of Buffalo has scheduled another day of Hope and Healing for those touched in any way by abortion. This will be held on , at Christ the King Seminary; details are available on the diocesan website:
Catholic News Service: For Year of Mercy, pope extends possibilities for absolution
"The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realizing the extreme harm that such an act entails," while many other women believe that "they have no other option" but to have an abortion, the pope wrote in the letter, released Sept. 1 by the Vatican.
The pressures exerted on many women to abort lead to "an existential and moral ordeal," Pope Francis said. "I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision.”
When such a woman has repented and seeks absolution in the sacrament of confession, he said, "the forgiveness of God cannot be denied.”
Although church law generally requires a priest to have special permission, called faculties, from his bishop to grant absolution to a person who has procured or helped another to procure an abortion, the pope said he decided "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.”
Pope Francis urged priests to welcome to the sacrament women who have had an abortion, explain "the gravity of the sin committed" and indicate to them "a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father who renews all with his presence.”
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters the pope's letter "highlights the wideness of God's mercy" and is "not in any way minimizing the gravity of the sin" of abortion.
services/englishnews/2015/for- year-of-mercy-pope-extends- possibilities-for-absolution. cfm