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Office for Communications


September 2, 2015

For more information:
Marlene Mulford: Office:(217) 698-8500
Cell: (217) 622-4996
Email: mmulford@dio.org

Statement of Bishop Thomas John Paprocki Commenting On
Pope Francis' Year of Mercy Plan for Post-Abortion Healing

In preparation for the upcoming Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has issued a letter on September 1, 2015 allowing all priests worldwide “to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.” This Jubilee Year of Mercy will begin December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, continuing through to the Solemnity of Christ the King in November of 2016.

Emphasizing the seriousness of the sin of abortion and the implications this can have for those involved, Pope Francis is assuring those who have incurred the automatic censure of excommunication for having procured an abortion that God’s mercy is available to them from any priest in the Sacrament of Penance anywhere in the world. Under the provisions of canon law, remission of certain serious canonical penalties, including the excommunication for procuring an abortion, was reserved to the diocesan bishop. For many years in the United States, diocesan bishops have granted their priests the faculty to absolve the sin and the related censure attached to the procurement of abortion. As part of the outreach of the Year of Mercy, the Holy Father will now grant the faculty to all priests worldwide.

Here in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, the faculty or permission to remit the excommunication attached to the procurement of an abortion (per canon 1398 of the Code of Canon Law) was delegated to all priests in 1989. The faithful who have already confessed and received absolution for the sin of abortion and remission of the excommunication attached to the procurement of an abortion need not go to confession again, as their previous reception of the Sacrament of Penance was authorized as valid and licit under church law.

Pope Francis has generously extended this faculty to all Catholic priests everywhere in the world so that the reality of God’s abiding mercy in the Sacrament of Penance may be more widely experienced.