Today it was announced that Pope Francis has made quite a significant decision regarding forgiving the sin of abortion within the Catholic Church.
What was initially just temporary has been extended into the future. NPR reports on the decision:
Pope Francis has declared that abortion, which remains a “grave sin” in the eyes of the Catholic Church, can be absolved by ordinary priests for the foreseeable future — instead of requiring the intervention of a bishop.
The change was implemented on a temporary basis, for one year only, as part of the Catholic Church’s “Year of Mercy,” which began last December and ended on Sunday.
“I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life,” the pope wrote in the letter. “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. May every priest, therefore, be a guide, support and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation.”
I am not Catholic so won’t discuss the specific duties of bishops and priests. However, I do appreciate the Pope’s affirmation. He not only confirmed that abortion is indeed a sin which ends an innocent life, but that God’s ability to clean a truly repentant heart is unchanged.
Far too often, conservatives view abortion as an evil which cannot and should never be forgiven. I am as pro-life as they come, but this is entirely false. Whether you’re religious or not is never the issue. Forgiveness should always be made available no matter what wrong has been committed. Yes, this includes murder.
Of course, this does not mean consequences are erased. Abortion is a serious crime against God’s creation. It discards new life in favor of choice. The Left praises it as more proof of female empowerment, but it is the opposite. Abortion not only violently takes a tiny, growing person, but corrupts a precious function of the female body. Though the Left says otherwise, the ability to grow, carry, and deliver a baby is a gift, not a curse. Someone should tell Senator Tim Kaine and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Both are Catholics (in the loosest sense of the word) who have publicly declared they are pro-abort.
One of the problems within the pro-life movement (and there are several) is that sanctity of life is preached in a way to guilt others into the pro-life fold. This tactic includes yelling, distributing pictures of aborted babies in campaigns of shock, and sometimes wishing unmoved hearts would have been aborted instead.
And we wonder why there are few true converts?
Instead, pro-lifers should extend a forgiveness that has always been available and work to speak the truth in love. This isn’t the easiest thing to do, but it is necessary. I’ve had countless engagements with angry pro-aborts on social media and in real life. Having the truth on our side is everything, and speaking said truth with a firm – and not insulting – resolve will do more in the long run. Increasing the pro-life community is a trickle-up effort. Shaping how society views unborn life will be done as hearts are changed from the ground up, instead of changing laws from the top down.
Pope Francis’ new declaration is anything but. Forgiveness for the sin of abortion has always been available to those seeking it.
The real question is, will we graciously extend it?