Religion offers salvation and forgiveness from sin. But for years, the issue of abortion remained a hotly debated topic, with the Vatican opposing such practices. However, recently the Catholic Church has loosened its stance, resulting in the Pope granting priests the ability to forgive abortion.
It has never been truer: “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” The announcement reverses nearly two thousand years of the Church’s strict views on abortion. The hope is that the message will bring about unity and diversity to the Catholic Church.
It all began last year when Pope Francis issued a directive spanning from December 8, 2015, to November 20, 2016 as the “holy year of mercy.” During this period, priests were given the temporarily ability to absolve women who have had abortions.
The holy year has come to an end now. And the Pope has issued another letter allowing priests the indefinite ability to forgive abortion. Some see it as a message targeting church leaders, and urging greater compassion from the top. That sure is a new twist on trickle-down policies.
A Kinder, Gentler Pope
However, Pope Francis maintained that abortion was a grave sin, but not one that God’s mercy cannot forgive:
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.
Three years into his reign as Pope, the move continues the trend that the Pontiff has set so far. Instead of relying on promoting guilt and ideas of eternal damnation, the Pope has preached unity and forgiveness. During his tenure, he has even urged church leaders to accept divorced and LGBT followers.
Forgive Abortion and Unite the Church
Although this announcement has been a welcome change for pro-choice Catholics, it still doesn’t change the church’s official stance on abortion. Abortion has been considered a sin in the church almost since its inception, and the Pope’s letter does not change that fact.
However, this opens the door for a more holistic and diverse Church. For instance, attending church on a Sunday, one would see LGBT couples, and those who have remarried. Moreover, nearly everyone is using contraceptives in today’s day and age. The Pope’s announcement is a step in the right direction, albeit there is still quite the journey ahead of us.