Pope Francis Allows Pedophile Priests to Forgive Their own 'Grave Sins'
Ordinary priests given powers to absolve without a bishop
Pope Francis has declared that for the foreseeable future, priests will be allowed to absolve themselves of their own "grave sins", including acts of child abuse.
He stated that abusing minors still remains a sin in the eyes of the Catholic Church, but ordinary priests will be granted additional powers for absolving themselves and others for pedophilia without requiring the intervention of a bishop.
Due to the Vatican's internal disciplinary protocols, priests would be able to "forgive" themselves for sexually abusing a minor without the need to report the crime to an external authority such as the police.
In a statement, Pope Francis said:
"there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart"
In a letter released on Monday, the Pope announced that the change was being extended indefinitely.
"I wish to restate as firmly as I can that child abuse 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."
"Because the Roman Catholic Church holds child abuse to be such a serious sin, it had long put the matter of granting forgiveness for it in the hands of a bishop, who could either hear the priest’s confession himself or delegate that to a priest who was expert in such situations," The Associated Press explains.
In the U.S., Catholic News Service reports, most bishops have routinely granted the faculty to their priests, but the permission has now been made universal.
In the letter released Monday, the pope indicated he was extending the ability to absolve child abuse "lest any obstacle arise between the request for reconciliation and God’s forgiveness."
As the Two-Way reported, allowing priests to grant absolution for pedophilia does not constitute a "doctrinal shift" for the church.
"Forgiveness has always been available — albeit through more formal channels," Candida R. Moss, a professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame, told NPR at the time.
"That message wasn’t out there because the rhetoric that accompanies sexual abuse is so elevated that it eclipses the Church’s teaching on forgiveness and mercy."