Source: Huffington Post
Pope Francis ended his Holy Year Of Mercy by permanently giving all Catholic priests the ability to grant forgiveness for abortion ― a power that, in most parts of the world, has been restricted to bishops or specially-appointed confessors.
In an apostolic letter, Francis made it clear that he still thinks of abortion as a “grave sin.” According to church teaching, abortion results in the automatic excommunication of the woman and all those involved in the procedure. But as he has often done during his papacy, Francis is placing an emphasis on mercy.
While this could be a significant boon in some parts of the world, it’s possible that for many American Catholic women, not much will change in practice. Many American bishops have already given the priests in their dioceses the ability to forgive abortion.
Despite the church’s stringent teaching on the subject, research indicates that Catholic women get abortions at about the same rate as all American women. According to a Guttmacher Institute survey conducted between April 2014 and June 2015, about 24 percent of abortion patients identified as Catholic.
HuffPost reached out to a broad range of Catholic women for their reactions to Pope Francis’ announcement. Some praised it wholeheartedly, while others questioned whether women who have had abortions would even feel comfortable seeking counsel from a priest. Nearly all agreed on one thing: This announcement from Francis is a change in tone that could heal Catholic women who are struggling with feelings of guilt after an abortion, and are looking for transcendent meaning and forgiveness.
Below, nine Catholic women speak up.
Jenny Uebbing, Catholic Blogger
“My initial thoughts were of women in my life who have suffered the pain of an abortion. I have several friends from childhood and college who distanced themselves from their Catholic faith after committing what they determined to be the unforgivable sin of having an abortion. Pope Francis loudly affirms what the Church has always and will always teach: for the penitent soul, there is always hope. And none of us are beyond hope, not ever. ‘Neither do I condemn you. Your sins have been forgiven, go and sin no more.’ It’s beautiful to see the Gospel being made fresh in a culture that is weary and longing for hope.”