No, the Pope did not say abortion was OK or that the Church gives blanket forgiveness for it. I’m sure this has been said enough times, but for the really, really ignorant in the media (NcR – that means you!), I’ll say it again:
Basic Catholic knowledge to have: Abortion is an excommunicable offense in the Catholic Church. Absolution of excommunicable offenses are usually either reserved to the Pope or to the local bishop, depending on what the offense is.
What the Pope said is that CATHOLIC WOMEN, DOCTORS, CLINIC WORKERS, ETC., WHO HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN ABORTION OR HAVE MATERIALLY COOPERATED IN THE PROCUREMENT OF ONE, AND WHO ARE CONTRITE (this should be obvious) CAN NOW APPROACH ANY PRIEST WITH FACULTIES (faculties have now been granted now to SSPX priests, we must assume that other priests still need the faculties from the local bishop unless danger of death where emergency faculties are granted to any priest) TO GO TO CONFESSION AND ASK FOR ABSOLUTION. In other words, the Holy Father has made it easier for a these people to wash their souls. There are no free passes or change in doctrine involved.
What the Holy Father DIDN’T say is that priests should simply walk around the neighborhood saying, “You are forgiven, you are forgiven, and you are forgiven.” He didn’t wave a magic wand and say, “Abortion is not longer a sin!” Nor did he say, “All people involved with abortion are just peachy!” Nor, “Abortion isn’t as bad as it used to be!” Please see previous paragraph.
It’s really sad that we even have to explain this, but seeing the media reports, it is definitely needed. There are steps that we must take to have our sins forgiven according to Christ’s Church (the one that binds and looses).
So let’s recap for ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and the rest of them…
1) There is no change in doctrine about abortion or the Sacrament of Confession.
2) Abortion is still an excommunicable offense (see http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05678a.htm to learn about excommunication).
3) It used to be that those suffering from the sin of abortion could only receive absolution from a bishop. Pope Francis has said that absolution for the sin of abortion can now be given, at least during the Year of Mercy, by any valid priest (again, this is not a change in doctrine, but simply a change in discipline).
4) Abortion is still a grave sin.
5) To be absolved for the sin of abortion during the Year of Mercy
- the person seeking absolution must be seeking absolution from a valid priest with faculties
- the person seeking absolution must be contrite for sin (and resolving to sin no more
- the person seeking absolution must confess their sins to the priest in person (Skyping and emailing not allowed)
- the penitent must confess all grave sins they can remember since last confession or anything grave sin skipped in previous confession
- the priest must actually say that the penitent is absolved
I think that about does it. If not, I’m sure somebody will point it out.
The only difference now is to whom the person can confess. Other than that, all pretty standard. Find the teachings on confession here (http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c2a4.htm) and here (http://www.intratext.com/IXT/ENG0017/_P3F.HTM).
It’s really not that hard news people! At least try to find one knowledgeable Catholic reporter in your crew!