2 September 2015, 2:18 pm — POPE FRANCIS has given all priests authority to absolve repentant women
who have committed the mortal sin of abortion during the coming Extraordinary
Jubilee Year of Mercy of the Catholic Church.

In the “Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis according to which an
Indulgence is granted to the Faithful on the Occasion of the Extraordinary
Jubilee of Mercy,” published Sept. 1, the Pope called on priests to be sources
of understanding and guidance toward a path of conversion for women who have
resorted to abortion and are seeking forgiveness.

In the Catholic Church’s teaching, abortion is a sin punishable by
automatic excommunication, and this can only be lifted by certain Church
officials including bishops and chief confessors of dioceses.

“The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented,
especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a
sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father. For this
reason too, I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to
concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the
sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek
forgiveness for it,” Pope Francis said in the letter addressed to Archbishop
Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the
New Evangelization.

The Pope said he was aware of the pressure that had led some women to
abortion, which according to him was an “existential and moral

“The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial
awareness, as if not realizing the extreme harm that such an act entails. Many
others, on the other hand, although experiencing this moment as a defeat,
believe they have no other option. I think in particular of all the women who
have resorted to abortion.  I have met so many women who bear in their
heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision. What has happened is
profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to
lose hope,” he said.

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Pope Francis urged the faithful to participate in the
“Jubilee” or “Holy Year” through spiritual and corporal
works of mercy, to attain indulgence or the removal of the temporal punishment
due to sin.

“I have asked the Church in this Jubilee Year to rediscover the richness
encompassed by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The experience of
mercy, indeed, becomes visible in the witness of concrete signs as Jesus
himself taught us. Each time that one of the faithful personally performs one
or more of these actions, he or she shall surely obtain the Jubilee
Indulgence,” he said.

He invited the faithful to make a brief pilgrimage to the “Holy
Door” in their local churches with a deep desire for conversion, to
experience the grace of the Jubilee.”

“To experience and obtain the Indulgence, the faithful are called to
make a brief pilgrimage to the Holy Door, open in every Cathedral or in the
churches designated by the Diocesan Bishop, and in the four Papal Basilicas in
Rome, as a sign of the deep desire for true conversion. Likewise, I dispose
that the Indulgence may be obtained in the Shrines in which the Door of Mercy
is open and in the churches which traditionally are identified as Jubilee
Churches,” the Pope said.

“It is important that this moment be linked, first and foremost, to
the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist
with a reflection on mercy,” the Pope added.

For those who will not be able to enter the Holy Door, such as the sick,
Pope Francis offered his prayers and said the graces of the Jubilee would
extend to them through the new means of social communication.

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“For them it will be of great help to live their sickness and suffering
as an experience of closeness to the Lord who in the mystery of his Passion,
Death and Resurrection indicates the royal road which gives meaning to pain and
loneliness. Living with faith and joyful hope this moment of trial, receiving
communion or attending Holy Mass and community prayer, even through the various
means of communication, will be for them the means of obtaining the Jubilee
Indulgence,” he said.

Pope Francis said he was also concerned over those in prison. “The
Jubilee Year has always constituted an opportunity for great amnesty, which is
intended to include the many people who, despite deserving punishment, have
become conscious of the injustice they worked and sincerely wish to re-enter
society and make their honest contribution to it. May they all be touched in a
tangible way by the mercy of the Father who wants to be close to those who have
the greatest need of his forgiveness. They may obtain the Indulgence in the
chapels of the prisons,” he said.

Holy Years, which usually take place every 25 years, are some of the
Church’s most important events, where grave sins are pardoned under certain
conditions by the Church.  

It will begin on December 8, 2015 and end
on November 20, 2016. K. N. A. Sevilla


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