PSA BEFORE I GO TO BED ABOUT THE POPE AND ABORTION AND CRAP
1. Abortion is held by the Catholic Church to be a sin, because it defines embryos as human individuals.
2. The Catholic Church has NEVER held this to be some kind of UNFORGIVABLE SIN, unlike what many headlines are implying.
3. In the Catholic Church there are not only Sins against morality, but Crimes Against Canon Law. Sins can be forgiven via the sacrament of confession or via an act of perfect contrition. Crimes against canon law have various associated sentences.
4. Abortion is also held by the Catholic Church to be a CRIME. It incurs penalty of latae sententiae excommunication.
5. Latae sententiae excommunication basically means that at the moment of the act you are automatically excommunicated.
6. Excommunicated doesn’t mean DAMNED ETERNALLY. It means that you are no longer considered in communion with the Catholic Church and cannot participate in its sacraments until you’ve jumped through the hoops to get back in. So the sin isn’t UNFORGIVEABLE, you just have to jump through hoops before you can actually go to confession.
7. Slapping the pope is also a crime which incurs latae sententiae excommunication.
8. In this case the hoops are pretty much contacting your bishop and telling him you’re super sorry that you went and excommunicated yourself.
9. The bishop can actually appoint people to receive this apology, and in the US (and many other countries) pretty much all bishops have decided that all priests in their dioceses can accept this apology already.
10. Popes sometimes declare a “Year of _______” for the entire Church to focus on.
11. Pope Francis has declared a “Year of Mercy,” and further that all priests can receive people who have had abortions back into the Church.
12. Because of 9, most priests were able to do this anyway.
13. Also, Canon Lawyers aren’t really sure that people who have had abortions have been ACTUALLY incurring excommunication, even if in the abstract Canon Law says that abortion incurs excommunication.
14. Moral Theologian Charles Camosy says this about 13: “Not every sin is a crime according to Canon law. The crime has a higher bar to meet: an intentional and free choice to kill the innocent. Any such acts (whether abortions or something else) are serious crimes and would mean automatic excommunication. …[Canon Lawyer Edward Peters and others] argues that women “rarely, if ever” commit the crime of abortion. This view stands on strong moral-theological ground. Many women are physically coerced into having abortions, and almost all women are coerced by patriarchal social structures which force them into ‘choices’ for which they do not have the same resources as do men.”
15. By “patriarchal social structures” I believe Camosy means everything from “conservative families will freak out if their teenager is pregnant” to “pregnancy costs women AN INSANE AMOUNT OF MONEY” etc etc.
TLDR: Abortion has never been an unforgivable sin, Pope Francis is practically changing very little.