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Church extends authority to absolve sin of abortion for papal visit
August 18th, 2011
02:13 PM ET

Church extends authority to absolve sin of abortion for papal visit

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - The Vatican has given authority to priests who are in Madrid during the pope’s visit there to give absolution to women who confess to having had an abortion - and has empowered priests to lift excommunications for such women.

Typically, only certain priests have the power to grant absolution for the sin of abortion and to lift excommunications that have resulted from terminated pregnancies, according to a Vatican spokesman.

“All the priests that are administering the sacrament of confession during World Youth Day have the general authority to give absolution from the penalty of excommunication for abortion if someone comes to confession… if someone has this need,” Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi told CNN on Thursday, referring to the event that brought Pope Benedict XVI to Madrid on Thursday for a four-day visit.

Madrid Archbishop Antonio María Rouco Varela announced the extension of such authority to more priests in a statement on the archdiocese's website, saying the move was made in hopes that "all of the faithful who attend the celebrations of the 26th World Youth Day in Madrid can more easily attain the fruits of divine grace, that the doors to a new life open for them."

The church has set up 200 confessional booths in a Madrid park for priests to hear confessions in.

Varela said the Roman Catholic Church “has conferred to all the priests legitimately approved to hear sacramental confessions, who are in the archdiocese of Madrid during August 15 to 22, the delegated power to remit during the sacrament of penance the excommunication… corresponding to the sin abortion, to the faithful who are truly sorry, imposing at the same time a convenient penance.”

Benedict’s Spain visit coincides with a weeklong series of religious events that the Roman Catholic Church organizes every three years.

Lombardi said that the Vatican often extends authority to absolve certain sins and to lift excommunications at big papal events. Any woman who knows that the church considers abortion a sin and goes through with the procedure is automatically excommunicated, Lombardi said.

"This is not only for women," Lombardi said. "If a man has given the pressure on the women to do an abortion then he's guilty in the same way."
A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Spain said that the extension of priestly authority around abortion applies only to priests who are in the Madrid archdiocese for World Youth Day festivities.

On Thursday the pope was greeted by a large crowd of followers, including youths from all over the world, but his visit was not without controversy. With Spain suffering a deep economic crisis and nearly 21% unemployment, the amount that the pope's visit is costing the country has been top news in recent days.

The pope arrived in Madrid as protests took place in the city over that cost. The economic crisis has previously sparked protests in the country.

- CNN's Al Goodman and Mariano Castillo contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Abortion • Catholic Church • Spain

soundoff (1,031 Responses)
  1. sosofresh

    gotta love the humility of the church... "we have the power to decide by who, how and when someone can be saved from an eternity in hell... just don't miss the window that we set – ONE WEEK ONLY – ONE LOCATION – OUR ABORTION FORGIVENESS RATES CAN'T BE BEAT!!" could they be any more presumptuous/pompous?

    August 19, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • GodPot

      It's because you don't know about the silent "B" Catholic's use in the word "humility" which is really spelled "humbility" or the ability to hum, which is very important for their choirs...

      August 19, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  2. icon1099

    What a joke the Catholic church has become. Funny how Spain becoming an enlighten nation has dropped Catholicism and religion in masses. Looks like the Catholic church is on a bit of a PR campaign to loosen up the rules to attract back the shunned, knowing they have no chance at the enlightened.

    August 19, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Chuck Bastian

      Dear Icon1099
      It is clear to me that you think God and the Church and Religious people are limited or pvt companies. God does not need any PR. The Catholic Church does not need any PR. I do not need any PR unless I want to be a politician or an atheist.

      August 19, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • brad

      After Spain kicked out the Muslim Moores after severall hundred years during the reign of Ferdinand and Izabella, Catholic Spain became one of the most powerful nations on earth. As a Catholic country, she was even able to put down the Aztec empire and its tens of thousands of human sacrifices to its gods. What is Spain today under secularism? Not very much.
      Got your passport?

      August 19, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • GodPot

      Speaking of what a joke the Catholic Church has become...

      Some children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The nun made a note, and posted on the apple tray: "Take only ONE. God is watching." Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. A child had written a note, "Take all you want. God is watching the apples."

      Four mothers having lunch.
      Mother 1: My son is a priest. When he enters the church, everyone says, Good morning Father. (And she's very proud)
      Mother 2: My son is a bishop; everyone says, Good morning Your Excellency. (And she's very very proud)
      Mother 3: My son is a cardinal; everyone says, Good morning Your Eminence. (And she's extremely proud).
      All 3 look at Mother 4 and see what she has to say.
      Mother 4: Oh, my son is not a priest. He's just a layman. But he's 350 pounds & 7 foot 6 and when he enters the church, everyone says, OH MY GOD!!!

      Why did all the priests begin to giggle?... from the mass hysteria

      1st Man: 'My wife got me to believe in religion.'
      2nd Man: 'Really?'
      1st Man: 'Yeah. Until I married her I didn't believe in Hell.'

      August 19, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Frogist

      @brad: Wasn't the Spanish inquisition during Isabella and Ferdinand's reign?

      August 19, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  3. GodPot

    There is no debate as to whether killing babies should be illegal. There are no liberal's who would be pro-baby killing. The real debate is when does a baby become a baby, and for some they feel it's at the "twinkle in the eye" stage, i.e. moment of conception, and for others it's when the mass of cell's inside the womb are able to live outside the womb (the current legal definition). So if we are going to debate this, let's debate the real question, not hurl insults back and forth of "you hate women!" and "you kill babies!" because it does not get anyone anywhere.

    As for the Pope absolving abortion, at what point do you need absolution for a Catholic? After the women takes a really good shower or if the guy pulls out early? ("Abort! Abort! Life Not Ready to Maintain Other Life! Abort! Abort!) Or is it anytime after actual swimmer in egg action meaning a morning after pill gets you on the docket for an abortion absolution?

    August 19, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • J.W

      My feeling is that the debate on abortion will never end for this reason. We will never agree on exactly when the baby is a human.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • William Demuth

      GodPot

      Your wrong on that!

      I support aborting ANYONE whose parents are either incapable or unwilling to support their own.

      In a world where poverty, ignorance and even starvation is rampant, I REFUSE to believe society can insist a child be born and immediatley thrown to the wolves.

      The truth is we breed like rats, and the rats are getting dangerously hungry.

      August 19, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • GodPot

      Well, that is why in America we have a democracy where majority rules make the final decision as to when a baby is a baby which many may not agree with but most recognize it as a workable compromise, though there will always be those who believe their invisible deity will not accept compromise and thus they must continue to argue their faith. I just wonder why they are not fighting just as hard against other forms of "killing humans" like the death penalty (no one can say no innocent people have died on death row) the poor and sick and many elderly being allowed to starve and freeze because the religious right doesn't want to shoulder that burden through their taxes. To them the many immigrants that die crossing our borders each year is just a fiscal job's & crime problem, not a discarded human life problem. The African aid's epidemic is just God's way of clearing away the sinners to them, the prejudged, the cursed, the afflicted, the gays, all just a problem of human waste to them, and yet they fight tooth and nail to save a few centimeters of cell's on some person they don't knows uterine wall.

      August 19, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • GodPot

      @William – "I support aborting ANYONE whose parents are either incapable or unwilling to support their own"

      Well, I wouldnt be all that against aborting those parents 🙂 j/k , but seriosuly, let the kid's have a chance, it's their parents that are the dumb aces.

      August 19, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  4. Geekalot

    So, contraception is bad, abortion is bad. Having unwanted and potentially unloved children is A-OK. Forcing all these baby makers into poverty, well, that's OK too. How about 10 billion people walking around on this Earth? 15 billion? Yep, that's just fine.

    All you people who talk about contraception and abortion as sins are being blind to the larger picture. How is it just and right to overpopulate our planet and create ever greater numbers of malnurished, uneducated people living in squalid conditions?

    August 19, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • ChristianRight

      "I condemn condoms! Liberal's are all cruel evil child killers! I don't want my taxes going to pay for stupid peoples unwanted children! Now would someone please pass the foie gras and bacon wrapped veal..."

      August 19, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Christian Right: You forgot how us poor people are waging class warfare on all the job creators while we enjoy luxuries like our refrigerator and microwave.

      August 19, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  5. Civiloutside

    So... Two equally repentant women, one living in Spain and one living in, say, Lichtenstein, have vastly different odds of achieving salvation because the Pope decided to make absolution more available in Spain while he was visiting? Shouldn't that be a pretty clear signal that it's a sham?

    August 19, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  6. Doc Vestibule

    Brand name indulgences at discount prices!
    Gitcher indugences here!
    Avoid purgatory for the low, low price of 10% of your annual gross income!

    I wonder if the Vatican has any job openings for a pardoner...

    August 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • Chuck Bastian

      Do you have a job for those who kill their babies?

      August 19, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  7. J.W

    For everyone who says bad things about the Bible think about Psalm 23. One verse says "Although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." Without this Coolio may have never written Gangsta's Paradise. The first line is "As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." Without Psalm 23 he would not have known how to get started. Without Gangsta's Paradise, Weird Al would have never written Amish Paradise, plus Coolio would not have become famous and we wouldnt have gotten his other great hits. Think about how different your life would be.

    August 19, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @J.W.

      ROFLMAO !!! O.K... I hope that 'this' is one of those times where your particular brand of humor is showing.

      Because that was god-dam-n fcking funny !!! 😀

      Regards,

      Peace...

      August 19, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • HAH!

      loved it!

      August 19, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • J.W

      Yeah that was just a joke. Unless you found that convincing in which case it was serious. LOL

      August 19, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Frogist

      @JW: I support anything that means Weird Al makes more music... Star Wars, over-eating, Lady Gaga... It's all good.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • J.W

      Yeah Frogist Amish Paradise was one of his most popular songs. Also without religion there would be no Amish people. Now you see how wonderful religion is. Also without all the jokes about religion that make people laugh, the rate of depression would increase as well.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      Coolio and Weird Al would have both been at a loss in this case if not for Stevie Wonder.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  8. Keith

    1 Timothy 2:5 "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;" Enough said.

    August 19, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      quote mining...such difficult work-NOT!!!

      August 19, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Bizarre

      "1 Timothy 2:5"

      Paul of Tarsus again (or possibly some other first century David Koresh type, writing under that name)... why would you believe him?

      August 19, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Jim

      I'm pretty agnostic at this point in my life, but what about John 20:23, "If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." That was Jesus speaking directly to Peter (and the apostles) granting them the authority to forgive sins on his behalf. I guess, though, that it's like quoting Mother Goose fairy tales to back up a belief system.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Juggling Squirrel-Jesus

      Animals 2:37-39
      There are many gods, but ignorant humans shall ignore the animals gods. Rejoice, though, rodentia, for the heirarchy in heaven treats thee far more fairly. The humans have it coming to them.

      See? Quoting random things is fun!

      August 19, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  9. Colin

    You know, there is something fun about blogging about how there is no god while flying.

    People beside you can get very nervous that your heresy may bring down the plane. I point out that an omnipotent being could smite me at any time and does not need to wait until I am vulnerable and that a benevolent being would not kill a few hundred just to get at me, but it doesn't seem to help.

    August 19, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Frogist

      LOL@Colin!

      August 19, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • BRC

      You should follow it up with the fact that airplanes are pretty sensitive to major shocks, and most smity gods do like lightning...

      Keep people on their toes, it'll keep the ride from getting boring.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Civiloutside

      It's ok. Lightning strike protection is mandated in modern airplane designs. The FAA thwarts god once again!

      August 19, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • BRC

      Darn science, improving the quality of life and making things safer. Is there anything it won't screw up?

      August 19, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  10. ReligionIs4Dolts

    The pope excuses and protects all catholic priests from being accountable for p&dophilia and r@pe, but everyone ELSE is guilty of sin if they commit such acts. Gotta love the diplomatic immunity that comes with that opulent gold papal throne!

    August 19, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Jamie C. Baker

      They have that immunity because the public following that religion gives it to them. The day that changes (if ever) will be the day they are fully held accountable.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  11. Lioness Promulgamations Riptidious Gultudinate

    I amba dliet multigansettous fulminatium in toto. In Kansas. Any more. Amenium.

    August 19, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Frogist

      I understood two words: Toto and Kansas. But considering GodPot's Europe rant the other day maybe that's understandable.

      August 19, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  12. ReligionIs4Dolts

    "God" absolves pope Ratzinger for being too old and senile to run "His" corporation, but "He" is nevertheless powerless to demand a recall vote (since after all, the pope is an elected position....pure politics).

    August 19, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  13. a person of the Name

    @ colin I was raised outside of the church. I didn't find it hard to believe at all. I did try many different churchs before I found what I was looking for but I tell you God is very real. There is nothing like being in His presence.

    August 19, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Colin

      Hey APOTN – You express a common sentiment of believers. The "god high" that many feel is obviously a real human emotion and I would love to hear any views on what psychology underwrites it. A few theories:

      It alleviates the fear of death.
      It is a misfired instinct
      It is a social meme
      It is the dominant-submissive nature of humans, given our evolutionary history
      It gives easy answers for the simple minded
      It promotes community and allows groups to identify outsiders and rivals

      I expect it is a combination of a few of the above.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • icon1099

      Colin..also let's not forget the ego factor. It makes the believer feel special that he has a personal relationship with the supreme being.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  14. ReligionIs4Dolts

    I especially liked it when pope Ratty decided that reckless driving is now a sin. And this is backed up by ancient scripture in which chapter/verse? And didn't this same pope recently excuse the use of condoms, so long as they were used by h0m0s during @n@l s&x? But of course, @n@l s&x or the use of condoms heteros&xually would be unacceptable. HA HA HA HA! The former INFALLIBLE popes are rolling in their graves, no doubt. These ridiculous religious circuses must be stopped before mankind can advance! IDIOTS!

    August 19, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Jayleigh

      You have it wrong. He said using the condoms in marriage to protect wives against Aids from their infected husbands was acceptable. This is to try and help protect the African women form getting aids from their cheating husbands. Not sure if you heard, but there is an epidemic in Africa.

      I am not catholic/christian, but lies from anyone should not be used to bash a cause.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      It is still hypocrisy! Can't have it BOTH WAYS! Either a man's sp&rm is sacred and MUST NOT be spilled in vain, or it isn't. So which is it?

      August 19, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Juggling Squirrel-Jesus

      "He said using the condoms in marriage to protect wives against Aids from their infected husbands was acceptable"

      So, the RCC is ok with this limited case. But if the husband doesn't know he's infected or can't afford to get tested, well, that's just too bad for the wife then. And heaven forbid anyone fornicate with someone who's infect. I guess the RCC is basically in favor of the death penalty in that case.

      Stop making excuses. This pathetic attempt at trying to seem open-minded is a ruse at best.

      August 19, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  15. Colin

    Ratzinger sent a letter to a Bishop in Toowoomba, Australia recently, stating that he was infallible on the issue of women not being allowed to be priests.

    Watch this space. The number of priests is dropping like a rock in the West. The RC will have to reverse position on this, too. I guess the RC will have to pretend this contradiction away, too. It must be great being a Catholic priest. You can ignore facts that you do not like.

    August 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      If they are losing priests then that is a good thing. Sign the church is dying from within?

      August 19, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Colin

      ACTS – When they finally start to disappear en masse, I think I’ll miss them. One feels like a kitten who has captured a mouse. You want to play with it a little more before it expires. Once the Catholics disappear, we will have to fall back on to the fundamentalists – and that is like arguing rocket science with a po.odle

      August 19, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  16. a person of the Name

    @ rainer good book.

    August 19, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  17. Rainer Braendlein

    Someone, who is influenced by the true gospel, will feel highly responsible for his acts. God will judge everybody according to his or her acts (at Judgement Day for instance a practising fornicator cannot require Jesus to let him get into heaven by claiming he had believed in him. Jesus will blame him for his real behaviour.)

    You are right, I am alone responsible for my acts.

    The USA are befallen by a false gospel: Believe in Christ and get stuck a label on your forehead: "HE IS FORGIVEN!"
    This false gospel can lead to a reckless conduct.

    The true gospel:

    Jesus Christ wants to deliver people, which are affected by the original sin. Jesus can provide the divine power to overcome sin, according to Romans 6. The first purpose of the gospel is not forgiveness, but an improving life.

    Jesus has borne our sins on the cross. This we must believe, and this is dedicated to us at Holy Baptism: Our old man of sin has died together with Jesus and we have resurrected with Jesus to a new life.

    Everybody, who is baptized, has got the power to live a Christian life. After baptism faith means obedience (Bonhoeffer).

    Baptism is a divine act. At every baptism God creates a new man – this is the mystery of baptism

    Read "The Cost of Discipleship" by Dr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer!

    August 19, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  18. Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

    My god he looks sickly evil

    August 19, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  19. James

    It is so disturbing to see such vitriol being poured out against the Catholic Church and against Christians in general. It disheartens me to think that so many people have not experienced the love of God. I ask you to please withhold judgement against Catholics or, for that matter, anyone who professes a love for God until you understand why they believe and the way in which they believe. I implore all who read this to open their hearts and minds to a simple man who wants nothing more than for us to understand each other.

    There are many misunderstandings and erroneous statements about the Catholic Church which are scattered throughout these comments. To illuminate some of these errors, I humbly ask that you examine the Catholic Catechism:

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM

    May God Bless ALL of You!

    August 19, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      James

      It is so disturbing to see such vitriol being poured out against the Catholic Church and against Christians in general. It disheartens me to think that so many people have not experienced the love of God. I ask you to please withhold judgement against Catholics or, for that matter, anyone who professes a love for God until you understand why they believe and the way in which they believe. I implore all who read this to open their hearts and minds to a simple man who wants nothing more than for us to understand each other.

      There are many misunderstandings and erroneous statements about the Catholic Church which are scattered throughout these comments. To illuminate some of these errors, I humbly ask that you examine the Catholic Catechism:

      http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM

      May God Bless ALL of You!

      --------
      Noted

      August 19, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • The Lambly Winged Lion of The Gods Does Roar Almightily

      @ James, you sir did state, "It disheartens me to think that so many people have not experienced the love of God." Why then James did you in your ending post declare, "May God Bless you"? Why didn't you state, May GOD LOve You!??????

      August 19, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @James

      I condemn the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit! The RCC is a nasty wormhole of heresies.

      Dr. Martin Luther and Dr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer agree with me.

      August 19, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Rainer

      Oh, good christ -Rainer... give it a rest.

      Peace...

      August 19, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • Bizarre

      Rainer Braendlein,

      You sound exactly like a Catholic - they "condemn" stuff all the time.

      Your "condemning" means as much as a voodoo curse.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  20. ReligionIs4Dolts

    Heebah Jeebus and Hocus Pocus! Just because the RCC has decided to grant absolution for abortion, all of a sudden it's OK? Formerly the RCC says "abortion bad." Now the magic words of some select priests make this former sin irrelevant? Just because they say so? HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Anyone who follows this garbage needs a lobotomy or a new brain!

    Now how does Ratzinger make this work with the Infallibility Doctrine? Are all former popes who stuck to the old "abortion is always bad" talking point wrong? .......when you've said for centuries that all words of all popes are forever correct (because the RCC made up a doctrine to "prove" it....just because the RCC said so makes it so????) HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!

    WHAT A JOKE!

    August 19, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Gloria

      You seem to have completely misunderstood. Absolution for those who confess to having an abortion does not mean "abortion is ok". It means you are sorry for this and I forgive you.

      If you forgive someone for hitting you does that make it ok that they hit you in the first place? By forgiving do you mean that getting beat up wasn't so bad? No, but when you forgive them you cleanse them from their mistake and move on with your life.

      August 19, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Gloria

      You Said to @ReligionIs4Dolts: " You seem to have completely misunderstood. Absolution for those who confess to having an abortion does not mean "abortion is ok". It means you are sorry for this and( I )forgive you.
      If you forgive someone for hitting you does that make it ok that they hit you in the first place? "

      What does someone having an abortion have to do with 'you' or the RCC in your example forgiving someone...?

      A person that has an abortion may feel bad about it, but to infer that they 'need' some kind of forgiveness from the RCC is ridiculous.

      In your example you talked about someone hitting you, and then forgiving them. How does this apply here...? Did someone 'hit' the RCC...?

      I mean, come on... your example is a reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal streeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetttttttttttchhhhhhhhh !

      Peace...

      August 19, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.