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Pope has extended ability to absolve abortion sin to priests

Posted at 5:30 PM, Nov 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-21 20:30:48-05

During the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis enabled priests to absolve women who confessed to having an abortion, an ability only bishops had prior to the start of the Year of Mercy.

The Year of Mercy ended on Sunday and now the Pope is extending that ability indefinitely, creating what Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe pastor Fr. Larry Toschi says is a "small technical change".

"He's certainly presented the merciful face and done the gestures and the speech to communicate this in a way that has caught the world's attention more," Fr. Larry said.

"But I'd say the teaching of the church has been pretty steady and the practice also."

While the Pope's message is meant to be universal, many U.S. bishops had given the priests in their diocese the ability to forgive abortion sins before the Year of Mercy. 

Fr. Larry says this is part of the Pope's mission to bring people back to the Church.

"Sometimes there's a false image of the Church that's protrayed because we speak clearly about the value of life in the womb," Fr. Larry said.
 
"There's sometimes understood or concluded that we don't forgive. Of course the Church is about forgiveness and mercy."