VATICAN CITY, Italy - Pope Francis calls abortion a "grave sin," however, in a letter to priests, the pope also writes that all priests now have the authority to indefinitely forgive abortions.
The Vatican made Francis' letter public Monday. Click here to see the letter in its entirety.
It reads, in part, "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 Catholic church's "Year of Mercy" began in December and ended Sunday.
During that period, Francis had made a temporary change to allow priests the universal right to forgive abortions.
This new move now extends that right indefinitely.
Prior to the "Year of Mercy," the Roman Catholic Church has granted forgiveness, but because abortion is considered a "moral evil" in the Catholic faith, bishops had to intervene.
Bishops could either hear the confession of a woman asking forgiveness for abortion, or delegate that confession to a priest.