by Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The decision by Pope Francis to allow priests to absolve women who confess to “the sin of abortion” is welcomed by pro-choice Catholics, who want abortion care to be accessible for all, regardless of a person’s station in life.
Catholics for Choice president Jon O’Brien believes the Pope is taking a “much more pastoral, rather than political approach.”
“What’s important though, is the symbolism of it,” said O’Brien.
O’Brien says the Holy Father “is far more interested in the sacrament of reconciliation than his predecessors.”
“He’s actually saying ‘let’s sit down, let’s talk.’ and I think that is very important in a Church that has been so divided on this issue,” O’Brien said.
A year ago, Francis said that priests could forgive the sin of having an abortion during a special Year of Mercy.
Many saw it as a temporary “mercy” window, but not O’Brien.
“Perhaps it’s less directed at women who’ve had abortions, and much more directed at his fellow brother bishops and priests,” he said.
In his lengthy Apostolic letter over the weekend, Pope Francis said he would extend that option indefinitely.
Archbishop Charles Chaput of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and his predecessor, Cardinal Justin Rigali, are strong pro-life advocates in the Catholic Church.