CBCP: Abortion remains a mortal sin

aborted babyCatholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (Excerpts) September 3,2015 by Most Reverend Socrates B. Villegas, Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan and President of the CBCP

NEWS that Pope Francis will allow priests to absolve from the sin of abortion has recently gone viral, and, quite misleadingly, some news items even announce that the Pope has shown “more understanding” of abortion. To properly appreciate Pope Francis’ gesture, some things have to be made clear.

Abortion remains a serious wrong. Because the Church holds that human life—willed by the Creator to be in his image and likeness—starts at the moment of conception, which almost all have rightly understood to refer to the moment of fertilization—then, terminating unborn life after fertilization occurs trespasses the sacred ground that human life is. God breathed into Adam the breath of life, teaching us all, in this age and ages to come, the sublime lesson that the spark of life is never ours to ignite or to extinguish but comes from that unquenchable Flame that the Eternal God is.

Because one who deliberately procures it for herself or performs it on another goes against so basic a conviction of the community that is the Church, such a person brings upon himself or herself that is technically called “excommunication”, but what actually means that by his or her choice, a person separates himself or herself from the life of the Church and from the community of brothers and sisters who uphold the inviolability of life.

None of this has changed. The CBCP wishes to make this absolutely clear. Choosing to terminate innocent, unborn life is not among a woman’s options because her right to privacy and to make decisions about herself do not extend to the life in her womb over which she enjoys no dominion at all. Dependent on her, yes, but entrusted to her stewardship, not handed over to her power! Abortion remains a grave and serious wrong. In the traditional language of older catechisms, it is a MORTAL SIN, a deadly sin. Not only does it bring death on another; it brings about the spiritual death of one who commits it with full knowledge of its malice and the consequences of this absolutely abhorrent act…

Under the present discipline of the Church, abortion is a “reserved sin” — one that can be absolved only by the bishop as the head of the particular church. He absolves the sin, and lifts the penalty. The Holy Father, it seems, is inclined to allow all priests who are otherwise not impeded in the exercise of their ministry, to absolve the sin. This does not make the sin less grievous

The proper, Catholic response to the Holy Father’s gesture is for all of us, sinners, to approach the mercy of God that constantly reaches out to us, that seeks out the lost. We will all seek the pardon and peace that come when, in full contrition of sin and a firm resolve to turn away from a life of Godlessness, we kneel and repeat the words hollowed by the tradition of penance in the Church: “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned….” ∎

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