The Pope Just Changed How Women Can Be Forgiven for Abortions. Here’s What That Means.
In a theological sense, the letter doesn’t alter the Church’s understanding of abortion, which it has condemned for centuries as “gravely contrary to the moral law” — a teaching the Church’s catechism calls “unchangeable.” Rather, Francis’ expansion of forgiveness is an attempt to counter what he describes as a “superficial” culture he argues leads women to have abortions — an action that makes them automatically excommunicated by the Catholic Church.
“The letter really tells us about the approach Francis is taking generally to his papacy, being more pastoral and less political than his predecessors,” he said. “However, Francis gets it wrong, because Catholics who have abortions at the same rate as other women have stopped looking for forgiveness a long time ago. They recognize the reality of their lives is one they can embrace, and they recognize as good Catholics they can make decision about contraception and abortion in good conscience. They don’t need to be forgiven or look forgiveness.”