Vatican has issued an order that will permit priests of the Roman Catholic Church to grant forgiveness to perpetrators of abortion. The course of action, which has been introduced by Pope Francis last year, will now be permanently instituted.
Based on the church's Jubilee of Mercy program, the power to provide pardon on abortion offenders will no longer rest exclusively on bishops nor will it only be allowed to special confessors. The move has sustained the papal goal to make the Catholic religious organization to be more open and merciful.
Pope Francis has reiterated that abortion is a serious and critical sin because it takes away innocent lives. In line with this, the head of the church has also professed that since God's mercy is far-reaching, unconditional and absolute, those who ask for mercy with a repentant heart will be forgiven for incurring such grave sin. The supporting apostolic document has been released after a mass that indicated the end of the jubilee celebration.
The road taken by Pope Francis follows the one directed by the late Pope John Paul II. The latter has given priests the authority the same responsibility during the jubilee event in 2000.
It should be noted that in accordance with the Canon law, all those who commit abortion will be automatically excommunicated unless they will confess and receive pardon. For a very long time, abortion has been a reserved sin which means that its getting forgiven from this grave act can only be done by a bishop.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, welcomes the move, saying that the Pope has utilized the church as a channel of mercy that covers everyone. He adds that it may also be appropriate to amend the Canon law.
The archbishop has also noted that steps in granting clemency, which the priests will need to fulfill their new duties, are included in the Pope's letter.
Not all, however, is comfortable with the Pope's recent pronouncements. Cardinal Raymond Burke has questioned the basis for the current directive. The American church official's criticism has initially stemmed up from the papal document that allowed divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion.
In an interview with the Italian newspaper Avvenire, Pope Francis has pointed out that the present reproach may be meant to instigate confusion and division among the people.