Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has welcomed Pope Francis’s decision to grant all priests the faculty to absolve penitents of the sin of abortion during the Year of Mercy.
Under current canon law, abortion is a “reserved” sin, and can be absolved only by the diocesan bishop or priests to whom the bishop delegates that authority.
“Recognizing the seriousness of the sin of abortion and the implications this can have for those involved, Pope Francis is making particular outreach to women, noting that many women were under great pressure and felt that they had no choice,” Cardinal O’Malley said in a statement.
“For many years in the United States, including in the Archdiocese of Boston, diocesan bishops have granted their priests the faculty to absolve the sin of abortion. As part of the outreach of the Year of Mercy, the Holy Father will now grant all priests worldwide the faculty.”