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Statement from Jon O’Brien About Pope Francis Extending Permission on Abortion Forgiveness

November 21, 2016

Catholics for Choice president Jon O’Brien issued the following statement reacting to Pope Francis extending permission on abortion forgiveness:

As a Catholic, I welcome today’s announcement from Pope Francis who again has taken a much more pastoral, rather than political, approach to abortion – one of the most contentious issues in the Catholic Church. He is far more interested in the sacrament of reconciliation than his predecessors, bringing us into a relationship through fixing fences and healing hearts.

Too many people will fail to understand the real intention and impact of Pope Francis’ decision today to extend and encourage the discretion that priests have to formally forgive women who have had abortions. That said, in the last year we have not seen Catholic women lining up at local churches to ask for forgiveness. And it is still sad that he talks about abortion in relationship to sin.

Pope Francis’ real message today is perhaps not for women at all but rather for his brother bishops and priests who sometimes have seemed hell-bent on punishing Catholic women for their conscience-based decisions when they don’t comport with the hierarchy. Perhaps Pope Francis is urging them to reconcile with women.