CHERYL CHUMLEY Pope Francis said in a letter published by the Vatican on Tuesday that priests would now have the discretion to forgive women who’ve had abortions, at least during Holy Year.
The directive is a somewhat shocking Church change that upends the previous practice of near-automatic excommunication for those who’ve undergone the procedure.
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Long-standing Church practice is to regard abortion such a grave sin that those who perform it, or women who undergo the procedure, face near-automatic excommunication, Reuters said. Only those who receive forgiveness from a chief confessor of a diocese, the “penitenziere,” in Italian, or by a Christian missionary, could stay in the Church, the news service reported, citing Vatican spokesman Father Ciro Benedettini.
He’s giving all priests the discretion to forgive women who’ve had abortions, and to direct them toward absolution, at least during the Roman Catholic Church’s looming Holy Year that runs from December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016.