In the apostolic letter “Misericordia et Misera” Pope Francis, among other things, grants to all priests the power to absolve those who have committed the sin of abortion procured. Choice in line with the objective of the Extraordinary Jubilee: revive the message of the Gospel of mercy so to restore credibility to the Catholic Church.
This power had been entrusted to all priests by the Pope already for the Jubilee period, but now it is permanently recognized. Abortion before was a sin that the Church considers very serious and that involves the censorship of excommunication, so absolution was reserved to the bishop and the priests delegated by him.
The change made by Francis, so allows those who have procured an abortion easier access to the confessional. the Pope himself explains that he wanted this new practice “because no obstacle stand between the reconciliation request and God’s forgiveness.”
To simplify recourse to the confession does not mean downgrading the sin, but take note that anyone who wants to confess this crime to a priest has already launched a decisive penitential path, the grace of God, can only accelerate. It is hard to think that someone go into a confessional to confide a crime so heinous, only to trick the priest. He would not have any advantage, and ultimately, he would take a fool of himself.
The experience of post-abortion pastoral, also teaches that does not recover quickly from the trauma caused by that sin. Especially women who were carrying a new life and have suppressed, but also the men who have contributed in any way to the murder, long-suffering the consequences of that choice. Often, they recur several times to confessor support and they need a spiritual and psychological support. At the end of this journey, however, these people often become the best promoters of a culture “pro-life” that is anti-abortion. It is proved by the fact that in the US, where in many dioceses the priests have this power for over twenty years, the anti-abortion movements are very popular.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation, as recalled by Francis on the Eucharist, is not, in this view, “an award for perfect”, but “a generous remedy” that favors the redemption of the repentant sinner, deeply saddened by what has done and determined not to fall into that fault. The papal choice empowers priests and impels them to be closer to the people of God and the suffering of the people, in mercy and truth.
Francis leaves the excommunication, which underlines the seriousness of the crime of abortion. But, favoring an already widespread tendency in many dioceses of the world, he gives to the priests a chance that will allow a greater number of confessions of this sin, will increase the spread of God’s grace and then the culture of life protection. Only an erroneous conception of the Church, unfortunately, widespread among Catholics, seen as an institution that should prohibit and punish, prevent to grasp its meaning. Its primary purpose is not to punish sinners, but start them toward the salvation offered by Christ.