Pope Francis says abortion can now be forgiven by priests...

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Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. (Isaiah 40:2)

The Roman Catholic Church exists to dispense sacraments. Roman Catholics are taught that they are saved by their own righteousness—not the righteousness of Jesus Christ—and the principal way to get all the righteousness they need is to get their priest to give them the sacraments. The principal sacrament is the Mass, so when women who have had abortions are barred from the Mass, it's a really big deal. 1

Which is the reason today's announcement that Pope Francis has finally granted parish priests the right to forgive the sin of abortion is a really big deal...

Despite the hundreds of millions of abortions committed by Roman Catholics, until now the Vatican has required women who have committed an abortion to receive forgiveness from someone higher up in Rome's hierarchy, usually a bishop. So instead of getting your forgiveness from one of 220,000 parish priests, you had to find one of 3,000 bishops who was willing to meet with you and hear your confession.

That's worldwide. There are one billion Roman Catholics and only 3,000 bishops, so you'll recognize why it's such a hardship for women to confess their abortions to a bishop before they can receive the sacrament. Barred from the sacrament, the sinner faces longer purgatory before she is holy enough for Heaven.

This and many other spiritual abuses are why Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Cathedral Church of Wittenberg 499 years ago.

Of course, Rome's requirement that a bishop had to meet with you and give you absolution for your abortion has long been a charade. The Washington Post reports:

Priests already have the right to hear confessions of all sins, and to absolve Catholics who confess. However some sins are also considered crimes, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops public affairs office said in an e-mailed statement, and come with a penalty that historically and technically couldn’t be removed except by higher-ranking clergy, like bishops and chaplains. Abortion is one of these crimes under Catholic teaching.

However, the bishops’ conference said, most U.S. bishops have “routinely granted” priests the right to remove the penalty and let the confessed woman return to good standing.

In other words, most women wouldn’t know of this additional layer of canon law because the process has been essentially streamlined and they are absolved once they confess.

"Technicalities" that have "routinely" been left behind in order to "streamline" the Vatican's traffic in the sacraments.

Two observations: first, returning to this Pharisaical hypocrisy is what Federal Vision men like Peter Leithart and Rich Bledsoe are hankering after. Yes, they have their fantasies about what Rome is, but this crass sacramentalism is no aberration and anyone who has read the Reformers knows this was the crass sacramentalism of Rome half a millenia ago, also.

But second, it may be argued that Rome's pastoral care for souls who have committed abortion is more Biblical and compassionate than the normal care received by souls under Reformed pastors today because Reformed pastors today don't warn their sheep to repent of their abortions and they don't meet with their sheep to care for their souls, personally. 

In other words, as destructive as the sacramentalism of Rome and its Pope Francis is to the souls under their care, the death of pastoral care combined with the grace mantra of the Reformed church's preaching is no better.

  • 1. Yes, I've been reading Roman Catholics for thirty years now, so I know they wouldn't like how I've worded the preceding, but I've worded it this way in order to keep tender souls from being deceived by Rome's sneaky talking points.
Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

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