In a new set of guidelines today (September 1, 2015), Pope Francis has made significant moves for the upcoming Holy Year of Mercy, allowing all priests to forgive the sin of abortion and granting SSPX (Society of St. Pius X) priests the faculty to forgive sins, the National Catholic Register website reports.
"One of the serious problems of our time is clearly the changed relationship with respect to life," the Pope said in a September 1 letter addressed to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, charged with organizing the Jubilee.
In today's society "a widespread and insensitive mentality" has become an obstacle to welcoming new life, with many who don't fully understand the deep harm done by the "tragedy of abortion," the Pope said.
A woman who obtains an abortion automatically incurs a latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication, as well as those who assisted her in the process. Normally, the sin of committing an abortion can only be absolved by a bishop, or certain priests appointed by him.