POPE Francis once again shook the Catholic community and the world, last Tuesday, Sept. 1 with his announcement that priests around the world will be authorized to forgive women who received an abortion but have already repented with a contrite heart.
A CNN report, however, clarified that the Pope’s policy does not change church doctrine and applies only to the Year of Mercy, a centuries-old Catholic practice during which believers may receive special indulgences for their sins. This begins on December 8, 2015 and runs through November 20, 2016. However, Vatican officials speculate that it is possible the pontiff will allow the abortion policy to continue in perpetuity.
Sympathy drove the Pontiff to this abortion policy, as the Pope said in a statement that “women who have resorted to abortion,” believing that they have no other option. “I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision.”
A big majority of kababayans in America support this policy of the Pope, as evidenced by The Filipino Channel’s daily newscast Balitang America’s daily online opinion poll “Isyu Ngayon”.
70 percent said that Pope Francis once again reflects the inclusive character of the Catholic Church under his leadership, which will invite more people to go back to Church and get the help they need to live a reformed and restored faithful life.
30 percent of those who voted did not agree with the Pope, contending that abortion is a sin, and that the Pope’s statement does not support that Catholic doctrine.
Even the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) clarified its position on this issue, saying that it still considers abortion a mortal sin, or a sin that brings a soul to hell if not confessed to a priest.
“Abortion remains a grave and serious wrong,” CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas stressed in a statement. Socrates clarified that what the Pope did was just to temporarily make it easier for Catholics who have had abortion to confess by allowing all priests to absolve this sin.
“Under the present discipline of the Church, abortion is a ‘reserved sin’ – one that can be absolved only by the bishop as the head of the particular church. He absolves the sin, and lifts the penalty,” Villegas said.
Villegas explained that “Choosing to terminate innocent, unborn life is not among a woman’s options, because her right to privacy and to make decisions about herself do not extend to the life in her womb, over which she enjoys no dominion at all. Dependent on her, yes, but entrusted to her stewardship, not handed over to her power!”
Archbishop Villegas stressed that the Catholic Church maintains that aborting a baby merits excommunication, which means a person “separates himself or herself from the life of the Church, and from the community of brothers and sisters who uphold the inviolability of life.”
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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos