Catholic priests can now forgive the "grave sin" of abortion, Pope Francis announced Monday in a letter. "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," Francis wrote in a document called an "apostolic letter."
Previously, the power to absolve women of abortion was only granted to bishops or a designated confessor. Francis had temporarily extended the power to priests for the "Extraordinary Holy Year," but on Monday he made that extension permanent. The change, The Independent said, "represents a significant softening of the Church's stance on the issue of abortion."
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