Date
4 December 2016
Pope Francis wants the sacrament of confession to “regain its central place in the Christian life”. Photo: AFP
Pope Francis wants the sacrament of confession to “regain its central place in the Christian life”. Photo: AFP

Pope Francis extends power of priests to forgive abortion

Pope Francis has indefinitely extended the power of priests to forgive the “grave sin” of abortion.

The pope’s move allows priests to forgive women who have had abortions and any other people involved in the process, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Such power is formally reserved for bishops, but many bishops around the world have already conceded that power to their priests, the newspaper said.

In making the move, the pope wants the sacrament of confession to “regain its central place in the Christian life” so that “everyone is afforded the opportunity of experiencing the liberating power of forgiveness”, according to a document released by the Vatican on Monday.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella told reporters that priests will also have the power to lift the excommunication automatically incurred by anyone who has an abortion or participates in the process, including doctors who perform the procedure, the Journal said.

Catholics will have to confess and repent their actions to a priest in order to be forgiven, the report said.

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