Pope Francis, who started off on a positive note as a devout populist, won the enthusiastic endorsement of the Catholic League, which called him “the perfect pontiff for our age,” adding:
He can do something few others can: espouse the Church’s traditional moral teachings — which are profoundly countercultural — while speaking with a relevancy almost impossible to duplicate.
That was shortly after he was chosen to succeed Pope Benedict XVI, who had resigned on 28 February 2013.
Since that much-heralded start, Francis has taken up a number of positions that have ruffled the feathers of his more conservative followers. In June of this year, he called for global governance of the climate and oceans in an encyclical.
Now he has come out with another announcement that is likely to have an even more profoundly negative reception. Station KSDK notes that the pope announced he will permit Roman Catholic priests to absolve women who have had abortions if they seek forgiveness during the church’s upcoming Holy Year of Mercy.
The pontiff said he will allow priests “discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion [sic] those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it” during the special year, beginning December 8.
“I am well aware of the pressure that has led [women] to this decision,” he wrote in the announcement. “I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal.”
Abortion is considered a grave sin by the Catholic church, and those who seek it are usually excommunicated. In normal circumstances, forgiveness can only be granted by senior church figures.
Pope Francis announced in March that the holy year, which runs until Nov. 20, 2016, was a way to promote inclusiveness, saying the church could “make more evident its mission to be a witness of mercy.”
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