What changes when Pope Francis grants priests the authority to forgive abortions?

Source: Religion News Service

The Roman Catholic Church will allow priests all over the world to grant forgiveness for abortion. This announcement came from Pope Francis at the end of the Jubilee of Mercy — a holy year dedicated to forgiveness.

When the holy year concluded on Nov. 20, Pope Francis made permanent the permission that he had provisionally given priests to forgive the sin of “procuring abortion” through the sacrament of reconciliation, more commonly known as “confession.”

Numerous questions were raised following the pope’s decision: Could priests not forgive abortions already? Or, is the pope softening the church’s stance on abortion?

As a Catholic academic who studies the diversity of global Catholicism, I believe the pope’s actions are significant: The pope is ratifying a practice that is already in place in much of the Catholic world; he is also broadening the possibilities for Catholic priests to show care for the laity under their charge.

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