In an Apostolic Letter, made public by the Vatican on Monday, Francis wrote that:
“There is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled.”
This includes, to Pope Francis and now the church, abortion.
It’s important to note that he also wrote:
“I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life.”
Because of the gravity of such a sin, the Roman Catholic Church had long put the matter of forgiveness of abortion into the hands of a bishop, who could then either hear the woman’s confession or delegate it to an expert priest.
“May every priest, therefore, be a guide, support, and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation.”
Francis wrote, for the faithful who felt they had no choice but to make “this agonizing and painful decision.
He explained his rationale for the decision:
“Lest any obstacle arise between the request for reconciliation and God’s forgiveness, I henceforth grant to all priests… the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion.
This furthers Pope Francis’ vision of a merciful church, including to the faithful women who may have felt there was no other choice for them and are suffering in their faith as a result.