Abortion is a sin, but, like any sin confessed from a heartfelt desire to return to God, it can be forgiven.
While the Catholic Church is firm in her belief that abortion is a grievous sin against God, the Church also teaches that abortion can be forgiven.
For many years abortion was a sin that required the absolution of a bishop, as it was viewed as a sin that needed a more extensive reconciliation with the Church.
However, as a result, many would keep this sin private, afraid of the longer process to absolve their sin.
Individual bishops eventually extended this ability to offer absolution to all priests in their diocese and then, in 2016, Pope Francis signed a decree that allowed all priests around the world this ability.
Given this need, lest any obstacle arise between the request for reconciliation and God’s forgiveness, I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion. The provision I had made in this regard, limited to the duration of the Extraordinary Holy Year, is hereby extended, notwithstanding anything to the contrary.
He did this not to lessen the gravity of abortion, but to highlight the forgiving nature of the Church and God, who is always ready to welcome sinners back into the fold.
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 person confessing the sin of abortion still needs to be sorry for that sin and feel true repentance, pledging to not sin again.
While the Church condemns abortion, she does not wish to keep the mercy of God from these individuals. They are children of God and are called to come back, recognizing their wrongdoing and restoring their relationship with God.
Healing is possible, and in the Catholic Church it begins with confession.