Today, Pope Francis announced that during the Jubilee Year of Mercy, all priests will be permitted to lift excommunications for procuring an abortion to those who seek forgiveness for this sin.
In the letter Pope Francis specifically turns his attention to women who have resorted to abortion and “bear the scar of this agonizing and painful decision” saying the forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented. “For this reason – he writes - I have decided to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it”.
As my colleague Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air explained, while this is certainly a big deal for the global Church, priests in the United States (with the exception of the Diocese of Lincoln, whose bishop retained the faculty) have been able to lift excommunications incurred after procuring an abortion with permission from the bishop since the mid-1980s.
The Catholic Church considers abortion to be a crime and a sin. The punishment for the crime is a latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication as the person is no longer in communion with the Catholic Church. To lift this excommunication, a priest would have to refer the matter to a bishop--in a general sense, to avoid breaking the seal of confession--but in the United States the majority of bishops have already extended permission to their priests to lift the excommunication without needing to refer it to him. Now, Pope Francis extended that same permission to every priest in the world during the next year.
But none of this matters for MSNBC, who apparently has no observant Catholics on its staff.
First they came up with this:
They’re talking about abortion, and no. Just no. -> pic.twitter.com/7HG8DiYw8b— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) September 1, 2015
Which is not even close to what Pope Francis actually said.
Their next attempt was certainly more click-baity, but not much better:
Again, for the majority of American Catholics, nothing changed today. While I think it's certainly a positive to both remind people that abortion incurs an excommunication from the Church and to remind women and men who have procured abortions that there is a way to absolve this sin, the media coverage of the Bishop of Rome's announcement likely caused more questions and confusions than necessary. The media's job is to inform the public about events, not confuse or outright lie.