Pope Francis is allowing all priests to absolve women of the “grave sin” of abortion, extending indefinitely special permission he had granted for the duration of the just-ended Holy Year of Mercy.
“there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled” with God.
But 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 the Roman Catholic Church holds abortion to be such a serious sin, it had long put the matter of granting forgiveness for it in the hands of a bishop, who could either hear the woman’s confession himself or delegate that to a priest who was expert in such situations.