ucanews.com reporter, ManilaUpdated: June 01, 2016 03:19 AM GMT
Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan. (ucanews.com file photo by Roi Lagarde)
Pope Francis' announcement that Catholic priests will be authorized to forgive the "sin of abortion" when the Church begins the Year of Mercy in December is "a concession" to the sinner, a Philippine archbishop said.
"The very fact that [abortion] was given special attention by the Holy Father for the Holy Year means that it is something terrible," retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan said in an interview.
Pope Francis announced Sept. 1 that during the upcoming Year of Mercy, which begins Dec. 8, priests will have the full authority to absolve Catholics who seek forgiveness for having an abortion, which is considered a grave sin and punishable by excommunication according to the Church's Code of Canon Law.
Church officials in the Philippines have sought to clarify the pope's statement among Filipinos.
Archbishop Cruz, who is also head of the legal office of the Philippine bishops' conference, stressed that the pope's statement is not intended to say that abortion is any "less evil" than before.
"This provision is not to say that abortion is OK. It is only meant to say that the mercy of God is bigger than the sin of abortion," the archbishop said.
Traditionally during Holy Week celebrations, a bishop can delegate to priests the faculty to absolve from excommunication abortion cases — but only a very limited number.
"So when the pope says priests may absolve abortion, that's a very big concession," he added.
In his homily during the celebration of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation Sept. 1, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila slammed abortion as an attack on human dignity.
"Even people are measured by our profitability. That's why children being conceived in the womb could be aborted," Tagle said.
"That's why children are considered as liabilities and elderly people are not cared for. They are not profitable anymore," he added.