On Monday, Pope Francis announced in a letter that Catholic priests now have the power to 'forgive abortion'.
According to CNN, Pope Francis stated in his letter, "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 79-year-old Pope added: "May every priest, therefore, be a guide, support and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation. 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 provision I had made in this regard, limited to the duration of the Extraordinary Holy Year, is hereby extended, notwithstanding anything to the contrary," he said.
The Pope has always been open for forgiveness, compassion and mercy. In 2014, the Pope said, "It is horrific even to think that there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day. Unfortunately, what is thrown away is not only food and dispensable objects, but often human beings themselves, who are discarded as unnecessary." Earlier, he had said that women seek abortion because they believe that there is no other way. This is a major shift in Catholic Church policy.
In the past, it was only a bishop or a designated chief confessor of a diocese who could grant absolution for an abortion. The change Pope Francis has made is likely to exist for the rest of his papacy.
Interestingly, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is opposed to abortion, while his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, supports women's right to have an abortion.