In response to the article “Pope: Forgive women who’ve had abortions”:
Pope Francis is reflecting more compassion by recognizing the agony that women go through in making this painful decision.
However, if the church would change its teaching on contraception, many abortions could be avoided.
Pope Francis should ask forgiveness from women for centuries of sexism in the church that has contributed to abuse of, violence against and poverty of women worldwide. In this Year of Mercy, many Catholics would welcome a papal letter asking for forgiveness for the centuries of patriarchy that have kept women subordinated. That would open doors to gender equality, including affirmation of women priests as well as women in leadership in all areas of church ministry and governance.
In addition, Pope Francis could broaden this Year of Mercy by offering amends by the hierarchy for the clericalism at the root of the sex-abuse crisis. He could announce concrete steps to hold bishops accountable for the decades of cover-up of sexual abuse against children and young adults. He could begin with the bishops who have been given safe haven in the Vatican, like Cardinal Law.
In this announcement of mercy, Pope Francis lifted the excommunication against the ultra- conservative Lefebvrites and restored the faculties of their priests. Pope Francis should also lift the excommunication against women priests and our supporters and all in the church who follow their consciences.
His compassionate spirit gives me hope that real reform could be a reality in the Catholic Church.