Pope Francis closes the Holy Door to mark the closing of the Catholic Jubilee Year of Mercy in the Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Tiziana Fabi/Pool

Pope Francis closes the Holy Door to mark the closing of the Catholic Jubilee Year of Mercy in the Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Tiziana Fabi/Pool

Pope Francis on Monday extended indefinitely to all Roman Catholic priests the power to forgive abortion, a right previously reserved for bishops or special confessors in most parts of the world.

Francis, who has made a more inclusive and forgiving Roman Catholic Church a characteristic of his papacy, made the announcement in a document known as an “apostolic letter” after Sunday’s close of the Church’s “Holy Year of Mercy.”

He said he wanted to “restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life” but “there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with (God)”.

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