lunedì 21 novembre 2016

The Wall Street Journal
(Francis X. Roca) Pope Francis on Monday indefinitely extended the power of priests to forgive the “grave sin” of abortion, one of his signature gestures from the Catholic Church’s just-ended Jubilee Year of Mercy.
The pope’s move, which allows priests to forgive women who have had abortions and any other people involved in the process, is largely symbolic. The power to forgive penitents for abortion is formally reserved for bishops, but many bishops around the world have already conceded that power to their priests.
In a document released by the Vatican Monday, Pope Francis wrote that his gesture was aimed at helping the sacrament of confession “regain its central place in the Christian life,” so that “everyone is afforded the opportunity of experiencing the liberating power of forgiveness.”
The focus on forgiving abortion may also reflect the pope’s belief that the church has recently overemphasized that issue in its moral teaching.
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,“ Pope Francis told an interviewer in 2013. “It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”
Archbishop Rino Fisichella told reporters at a Vatican briefing that priests will also have the power to lift the excommunication automatically incurred by anyone who has an abortion or participates in the process, including doctors who perform the procedure.
Catholics will have to confess and repent their actions to a priest as a condition of the forgiveness.
“I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life,” Pope Francis wrote. “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.”
In the same document, the pope made permanent another of his Jubilee gestures, permitting Catholics to confess their sins to priests of the ultra-traditionalist Society of St. Pius X (SSPX).
The SSPX’s founder, the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, incurred automatic excommunication when he ordained four bishops without Vatican permission in 1989. Pope Benedict XVI tried and failed to draw the group back into the fold, among other ways by restoring the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass and lifting the excommunications of the four bishops.
Pope Francis isn't a supporter of liturgical traditionalism, so his olive branch to the group surprised many when he announced it last year. But a continuing estrangement with the group would raise the prospect of a permanent schism.
In Monday’s document, the pope encouraged hopes for an eventual reconciliation with the SSPX, noting that he was extending the permission for confessions “until further provisions are made.”