1 September 2015

Pope Francis has called on priests to pardon women who have abortions, and the doctors who perform them, during the upcoming Jubilee year, overruling hard-line traditionalists within the Catholic Church.

The pontiff expressed compassion and said he was “well aware of the pressure” that some women were under to have an abortion.

The announcement by the Vatican on Tuesday came just weeks before the pope will travel to Cuba and the USA, countries with higher abortion rates than in Western Europe.

Pope Francis, 78, has repeatedly urged the Church to show greater compassion. The pontiff announced earlier this year a Jubilee year – traditionally a time for remission and forgiveness, which will run from December 2015 to November 2016 and will be celebrated not only in the Vatican but across the world.