Tue, Dec 6, 2016 | updated 11:18 AM IST

Pope extends Catholic priests' right to forgive abortion

Updated: Nov 21, 2016 19:17 IST

New York [USA], Nov. 21 (ANI): Pope Francis has extended the powers of Catholic priests to forgive abortions.

He made the announcement in an apostolic letter released Monday, reports CNN.

It continues a special dispensation granted last year for duration of the Year of Mercy, which finished Sunday.

The letter states: "I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life. In the same way, 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."

"May every priest, therefore, be a guide, support and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation," the letter said.

"I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion," it concluded.

The Catholic Church has long held that abortion is a grave "moral evil," with the Church's strong position on the issue driving many Catholic pro-life groups.

But last year, Pope Francis announced that priests around the world would be authorized to forgive the "sin of abortion" for the duration of the Church's Year of Mercy, which ran from December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016. (ANI)