Also according to CNN, the pope, who is visiting Spain, has given Spanish priests the right to absolve Catholics of abortion. Until now, only a few select priests have the right to absolve Catholic women of this mortal sin and the automatic excommunication that follows. CNN explains:
“All the priests that are administering the sacrament of confession during World Youth Day have the general authority to give absolution from the penalty of excommunication for abortion if someone comes to confession… if someone has this need,” Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi told CNN on Thursday, referring to the event that brought Pope Benedict XVI to Madrid on Thursday for a four-day visit.
Madrid Archbishop Antonio María Rouco Varela announced the extension of such authority to more priests in a statement on the archdiocese’s website, saying the move was made in hopes that “all of the faithful who attend the celebrations of the 26th World Youth Day in Madrid can more easily attain the fruits of divine grace, that the doors to a new life open for them.”
Here’s the stipulation:
Varela said the Roman Catholic Church “has conferred to all the priests legitimately approved to hear sacramental confessions, who are in the archdiocese of Madrid during August 15 to 22, the delegated power to remit during the sacrament of penance the excommunication… corresponding to the sin abortion, to the faithful who are truly sorry, imposing at the same time a convenient penance.”
Now remember, the Catholic church considers abortion a “grave evil” that, if not expiated through confession, becomes a mortal sin that can send a person to Hell. So what’s happening is that the Pope has proclaimed that God is excusing people from Hell if they happen to confess to priests who happened to be around Madrid in one specific week. How does the Pope know that? This kind of shenanigan makes a mockery of the Church’s policy toward abortion, and of the supposed moral authority of the Vatican.
There have been lots of protests in Spain because the Pope’s visit is very expensive, angering those Spaniards who suffer from the country’s financial austerity. Here’s one poster from a Spanish trade union site, which sums up many people’s feelings about the Catholic Church: