VATICAN CITY - He came out against war, spoke out against capitalism, and now Pope Francis is tackling the issue of abortion. He announced any Catholic woman who terminates a pregnancy could seek forgiveness from her priest, instead of needing to go to the bishop.
St. Thomas University Theology Professor Randall Smith says that's really nothing new.
The Vatican released a statement to clarify its position saying in part: "forgiveness of the sin of abortion does not condone abortion nor minimize its grave effects."
The pontiff's decree will only apply during the upcoming holy year of mercy -- which stretches from December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016.