The ad, originating from the Instituto de Bioetica, or ANIS, appears on Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp.
According to reports from Italian Vatican analyst Marco Tosatti and others, ANIS launched the campaign to encourage women to have an abortion without a guilty conscience in a country where more than 60 percent of the population is Catholic.
The advertisement references a recent Apostolic Letter at the closing of the Year of Mercy, Misericordia et misera, in which the Pope states in no. 12 that every priest worldwide can offer absolution from the excommunication that is tied to the act of performing or collaborating in an abortion.
While the Church’s teaching holds the gravity of an abortion as so severe that it sanctions the sinner with an automatic excommunication, the advertisement gives the impression that the severity of an abortion is lessened.
But this is not the case at all. The only aspect that changed is the priest, after hearing the confession of the sin of abortion, can now – without recourse to the bishop, which was necessary until now – forgive the sin and lift the excommunication at the same time. Both the sinfulness as well as the punishment (excommunication) remains; the only thing that changes is the mode of absolution.
In Brazil, the ad banner was published along with an interview with anthropologist Débora Diniz titled “Pope Francis and the pardon of abortion.“ In the article, the author misinterpreted the recent Papal letter and said that “now women are not threatened anymore with the pains of hell” after an abortion.
What has changed is the regulation of who can absolve the sin of abortion. Now any priest can administer the sacrament of reconciliation for abortion.
But Diniz comes to a far different conclusion: “The next step will be that our legal system is inspired by Pope Francis and therefore considers abortion a crime without punishment.”