Pope Francis made an announcement today that is sure to shake up Catholic churches and priests all over the world.
According to Catholic dogma, procuring an abortion has always been considered a grave sin for which a woman cannot be forgiven, a sin for which she could be excommunicated from the church and doomed to hell.
Should a woman, or even a young girl, become pregnant as a result of rape or incest, procuring an abortion was only an option if she was also ready to also commit an unforgivable sin. Should a pregnant Catholic woman’s life be in danger due to the pregnancy, or even if doctors confirmed that the fetus was dead or dying and had no chance for survival, the pregnant woman was doomed to deliver the dead fetus and possibly risk her own life carrying an already-dead body inside her.
In a letter released to the public on Monday, Pope Francis just ended that barbaric dictate by the Catholic church, although he did still insist that having an abortion is a sin and would not define the medical procedure as anything less than murder.
‘I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life. In the same way, however, I can and must state that there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father.’
Pope Francis also called on Catholic priests to be a “guide, support and comfort” to women seeking counsel regarding making the decision to terminate a pregnancy and after she had made the decision and completed the procedure. He also added abortion to the list of sins that can and should be forgiven by Catholic priests everywhere.
‘I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion.’
After granting forgiveness for obtaining an abortion during the Catholic Year of Mercy, which ended the day before Pope Francis’s announcement, the pope made the declaration permanent and forgiveness available to Catholic women everywhere in Monday’s letter.
For more on the surprisingly progressive new Catholic leader, see video below:
Featured image via Getty/Pacific Press