By Megan Friedman published
In an unprecedented move by the Vatican, Pope Francis has indefinitely extended the right of priests to forgive people who have had abortions. CNN reports that the right was first extended at the beginning of the Year of Mercy, but that ended Sunday. In some geographic areas, this right had already existed, but a new pronouncement by the Pope made it universal and permanent.
In an apostolic letter made public Monday, Francis did not say that abortion was approved, but that it, like any sin, can be forgiven:
"I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion. […] 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. May every priest, therefore, be a guide, support and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation."
According to Catholic News Service, if a woman obtains an abortion while knowing that she will be punished, Catholic law requires she be excommunicated from the church. Previously, priests had to refer abortion cases to bishops who could then lift the excommunication and forgive the woman, or anyone else involved in the procedure. Now, no such steps are needed.
The AFP reports that Francis discussed mercy and sin at length at the close of the Year of Mercy, even naming 1,000 "super confessors" that can forgive sins that usually only the Pope can forgive. "God has no memory of sin," he told 70,000 faithful at the Vatican. "And he believes that it is always possible to start anew, to raise ourselves up."
Follow Marie Claire on Facebook for the latest celeb news, beauty tips, fascinating reads, livestream video, and more.
Meet the Cast of 'Encanto'
Meet the faces behind Disney's latest hit animated film.
By Quinci LeGardye
The 32 Best Reality Shows of All Time
We were rooting for you! We were all rooting for you!
By Amanda Mitchell
Are Harry and Beaux Together After 'Too Hot to Handle'?
Spoilers ahead, obviously.
By The Editors
The Supreme Court Is Hearing Arguments in a Case That Could Overturn 'Roe v. Wade'
'Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization' is the most consequential abortion rights case in decades.
By Rachel Epstein
EMILY's List President Laphonza Butler Has Big Plans for the Organization
Under Butler's leadership, the largest resource for women in politics aims to expand Black political power and become more accessible for candidates across the nation.
By Rachel Epstein
Want to Fight for Abortion Rights in Texas? Raise Your Voice to State Legislators
Emily Cain, executive director of EMILY's List and and former Minority Leader in Maine, says that to stop the assault on reproductive rights, we need to start demanding more from our state legislatures.
By Emily Cain
Your Abortion Questions, Answered
Here, MC debunks common abortion myths you may be increasingly hearing since Texas' near-total abortion ban went into effect.
By Rachel Epstein
Trump Vows to Appoint Pro-Life Judge to Supreme Court
In a new interview with 60 Minutes, the President Elect confirms his stance on Roe v. Wade.
By Sally Holmes
The Future of Afghan Women and Girls Depends on What We Do Next
Between the U.S. occupation and the Taliban, supporting resettlement for Afghan women and vulnerable individuals is long overdue.
By Rona Akbari
How to Help Afghanistan Refugees and Those Who Need Aid
With the situation rapidly evolving, organizations are desperate for help.
By Katherine J Igoe
It’s Time to Give Domestic Workers the Protections They Deserve
The National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, reintroduced today, would establish a new set of standards for the people who work in our homes and take a vital step towards racial and gender equity.
By Ai-jen Poo