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Monday, November 21, 2016
Pope Francis extends Catholic priests' right to forgive abortion
(CNN)Pope Francis has extended the powers of Catholic priests to forgive abortions, making the announcement in an apostolic letter released Monday.
It continues a special dispensation granted last year for the duration of the Year of Mercy, which finished 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. 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," the letter states.
"May every priest, therefore, be a guide, support and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation," the letter continues.
"I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion.The Catholic Church has long held that abortion is a grave "moral evil," with the Church's strong position on the issue driving many Catholic pro-life groups.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that every human life "from the moment of conception until death is sacred" -- and that any Catholic who procures an abortion incurs automatic excommunication, a penalty that often only a bishop can lift.