Pope: Women who repent can be forgiven for abortion

By News Staff

Reporting by Liz Tufts

ltufts@abc6.com

Pope Francis is temporarily changing the way the Catholic Church treats women who’ve had an abortion.

Traditionally, women would be automatically ex-communicated from the Catholic Church, and only a Bishop could lift that ban. Today, the Pope gave all Clergy the full authority to forgive on their own during the upcoming year of mercy.

 "This is not a new initiative for most of the dioceses of the United States. Bishops have given permission to priests to accept forgiveness and lift the ex-communication," says Bishop Thomas Tobin, of the Catholic Diocese of Providence.

Bishop Tobin says this is something they’ve been practicing for years. Today’s announcement, though, comes with a stronger message to the entire world.

"The message is abortion is wrong, it’s a terrible sin, but people should not be afraid to approach the church, to receive confession, receive the grace of forgiveness and peace, and making a new beginning," says Tobin.

The Pope says many women who got an abortion did so because they "believe they have no other option."

Bishop Tobin says it’s a gesture that will give women a chance at a new beginning, "What the Holy Father has done, I think, extended that world wide, and to encourage priests to be forgiving and encourage people who have been involved in abortion to come back to the love and mercy and forgiveness of God and to make a new beginning."

© WLNE-TV 2015