Pope Francis is known for being one of the most progressive leaders of the Catholic Church in recent history, and on Tuesday, he wrote a letter saying that Roman Catholic priests could forgive women who looked to be absolved for having an abortion during the Holy Year of Mercy, according to the BBC. Previously, if women were looking to be pardoned for having an abortion, a bishop had to ask an expert priest to make the decision.
After speaking to many women who had abortions, Pope Francis said that God’s forgiveness should not be denied to someone who is sorry. “For this reason too, I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it,” he said in his letter. Basically, like a parent who is hoping you reach the right decision on your own, Pope Francis is putting the responsibility on the priests. It’s likely that he decided to word this letter this way to not upset more conservative members of the Catholic Church.
This obviously doesn’t mean that the Pope Francis is in any way cool with pro-choice. Last year, he called abortion “a horror” and “frightful.” Still, this seems to be the first time a pope has ordered pardons for abortion, which is, as Jezebel points out, a “remarkably chill” move.
The jubilee year will begin on December 8 and run through November 20, 2016, according to NPR. Earlier this year, the Pope said the jubilee year would be called the Holy Year of Mercy.