VATICAN CITY (KDKA) - It's not just an important day for Catholics at St. Mary of Mercy Church downtown, but for Catholics all over the world. Pope Francis is allowing all priests to absolve women of what he calls the "grave sin" of abortion indefinitely.
"I think forgiveness is always a good thing," parishioner Jacob Temple said.
That's what Bishop David Zubik is trying to stress.
"For a whole year, Pope Francis has called on all of us to take a look at how we need to be more compassionate, understanding and forgiving of each other," Bishop David Zubik of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh said.
The Year of Mercy ended on Sunday, but Pope Francis wants to see the forgiveness of others continue. Bishop Zubik says catholic priests in the Diocese of Pittsburgh have been able to absolve women of abortion since the 1980's, but that wasn't the case until Monday in other countries.
"In Europe for example, they still have to go with the old practice and the pope's saying I'm not gonna leave it up to the bishops to give permission to priest to give absolution. It's now universal," Bishop Zubik said.
"I think we should all be forgiven. Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins so no one's perfect. We're all sinners," parishioner Sandy Eyth said.
However, others question if Pope Francis really has the right to make this kind of decision. They say forgiving a sin is ultimately up to God.
"Francis has no right to forgive any person that intentionally keeps doing," parishioner Ylphonseus Ilochi said.
Bishop Zubik says God works through those ordained in the church.
Even though Pope Francis has now given catholic priests all over the world the power to forgive abortions when someone comes to confession, the catholic church wants to remind its followers that it still considers abortion a sin.
In his apostolic letter made public by the Vatican on Monday, Pope Francis stated 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."
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