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Evangelicals insist that it is God who forgives sins, not the Church. Theologian Leonardo de Chirico: “It is a liberal move with a medieval tool”.
The Catholic Church will forgive the sin of abortion. Pope Francis “decided” this change should be included in the Jubilee Year starting in December. Evangelical theologian and Vatican expert Leonardo de Chirico thinks it is “a liberal move with a medieval tool”.
“I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, 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”, wrote Pope Francis in a letter to the President of the Pontificial Council.
The Pope added: “The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father”.
Thomas Rosica, assistant to the Vatican Press Centre, commented on the context of the letter, saying that “many bishops have granted priests permission to forgive the sin”.
In the same text, the Pope encourages believers to pray for deceased relatives and offers indulgences for them, too: “The Jubilee Indulgence can also be obtained for the deceased. We are bound to them by the witness of faith and charity that they have left us”, Francis wrote.
“IT IS GOD WHO PARDONS, NOT THE CHURCH”
Vatican expert and evangelical pastor in Rome Leonardo de Chirico commented on the decision of the Pope.
Q. Why this change in the Catholic church?
A. Pope Francis wants to maximize “mercy” to all and wants to use the medieval practice of indulgences to promote it. A liberal move with a medieval tool.
Q. What does the Bible say about the forgiveness of sins?
A. The papal announcement has to do with the doctrine of Purgatory. It is about reducing the time of purification after death. In spite of the 1999 Joint Declaration on Justification between Lutherans and Catholics which many people thought was a landmark, we are back to the prerogative of the Catholic Church to administer God's grace in exchange of a religious work (crossing a "holy door"). This means that we have a fundamentally different doctrine of sin, grace, salvation and the church. According to the Bible, it is God who pardons sin and the church may witness to the confession of sin but does not have the power to administer grace and to set rules to earn pardon. Sola gratia and sola fide mean that Jesus paid all that was due for our sins and that we have to believe in Him.
Q. What do evangelical Christians think about the sanctity of life and the forgiveness of sins?
A. Evangelical Christians have the highest respect for the unborn life. But this extremely important value has nothing to do with promoting indulgences. Instead of promising plenary indulgences, the Pope should begin to preach the biblical gospel centered on Christ alone and based on the Bible alone.
Read more about the special Jubilee Year promoted by Pope Francis in Leonardo de Chirico’s article “Jubilee of mercy (and Indulgences)”.