Pope Francis on 1 September called for women who undergo abortion to be forgiven along with medical practitioners who perform the procedure. Calling on priests to pardon abortion, the 78-year-old Pope said "words of genuine welcome" should be used while ensuring the women and practitioners are made aware of "the gravity of the sin committed.

"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," said Pope Francis, reported AFP News.

The Pope further added that, "the tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness... many others... believe that they have no other option."

In the past, abortion has always been considered a serious sin and anyone found guilty has been dismissed from the Church. The Pope made the ruling after being "well aware of the pressure" that certain women go through when aborting a baby. "[I] met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonising and painful decision," said the Pope.