Earlier this week on Tuesday September 1, 2015, in a letter to a Catholic Archbishop, Pope Francis made several statements concerning abortion and the women who have been wounded by it. The recent media hype surrounding Pope Francis’ comments has caused question and possible hurt to some of our members. We reached out to the Catholic Church and asked them to clarify Pope Francis’ statements. Mrs. Dawn Fitzpatrick, Director of the Respect Life Office of the Archdiocese of Chicago, explained:
“The Holy Father made an important announcement for Mercy around the world yesterday [Tuesday]. What he did was show that the mercy of Jesus Christ is limitless and available to those who have had abortions or share in the guilt of abortion. He gave temporary permission during the year of Mercy (which begins on December 8, 2015) for all priests around the world with the faculties to hear confessions to provide absolution when they hear a confession regarding abortion, providing the confessor is contrite and seeking forgiveness. This is nothing new for those of us in the United States. Priests have been able to do this here for a long time (as many as 30 years). The blessing is of Jesus’ Mercy is a wonderful thing! If you or someone you know is suffering from the post-abortive hurt, please call Project Rachel at 312-337-1962 and we will help you to find the forgiveness and healing you need.”
Mrs. Fitzpatrick also explained the history behind this proclamation, stating that in other parts of the world (not the U.S.), individuals in dioceses in which the Bishops did not delegate to priests the authority to absolve the sin of abortion, would need to receive absolution from their Bishop after a heartfelt confession. Prior to 1983, abortion was a sin that required absolution from the Pope.
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, from the Diocese of Springfield, also commented on Pope Francis’ statements. He says, “Pope Francis is assuring those who have incurred the automatic censure of excommunication for having procured an abortion that God’s mercy is available to them from any priest in the Sacrament of Penance anywhere in the world.”
Pope Francis said, “I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision …only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope…The forgiveness of God cannot be denied…” Therefore, the Pope’s message is one of healing.
In light of this, we also reiterate that if you, someone you love, or someone you may know is suffering from the grief that follows an abortion, there is healing. Sometimes the grief begins right away. Sometimes the grief can be buried deep within our hearts for decades until the pain comes to light. Wherever you are in your journey of healing, you’re not alone. You can visit our web page on healing for more resources. Please share the message.