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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Pope Francis is now allowing all priests to absolve what they consider to be the “grave sin” of abortion.

The Catholic church law teaches that any woman who gets or anyone that helps someone get an abortion are automatically excommunicated.

Before, a bishop or someone designated by a bishop had the authority to absolve the sin of abortion. Pope Francis changed that within the last year when he extended the power to priests around the world.

On Monday, through a letter titled “Misericordia et misera,” he extended that special power indefinitely.

He had originally granted it in 2015 for the “Holy Year of Mercy” which just ended.

Pope Francis wrote in the document, made public Monday by the Vatican,”there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father.”

The letter does not change the church doctrine. The Catholic church will still teach that abortion is a “grave sin,” however, it does show a softer side of the church under Pope Francis.

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