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Miami Archbishop Offers Absolution For Abortions

September 6, 1986

MIAMI (AP) _ Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy issued a pastoral letter Friday offering absolution to people who have had abortions or assisted in performing them.

The proposal to give priests the power to absolve, or forgive, those who have participated in an abortion is part of a wide-ranging jubilee plan to coincide with a 1987 visit by Pope John Paul II to South Florida.

The archbishop was unavailable for comment on the letter, but his auxiliary bishop, Augustin A. Roman, told The Miami Herald the move is ″unusual and quite important.″

The absolution will be offered in the sacrament of reconciliation, which includes confession and penance. The special services will be held on the first Friday of each month, according to the proposal mapped out in the letter.

McCarthy’s archdiocese includes Dade, Broward and Monroe counties, an area with 1.1 million Catholic residents. The letter said he hopes the actions will prompt inactive Catholics to return to the church.

″This is our attempt to have outreach and reconciliation among″ the inactive Catholics, said the Very Rev. Gerard T. LaCerra, chancellor of the archdiocese.

McCarthy also pledged to develop new procedures of due process and new methods for resolution of conflicts and complaints within the church.

The archbishop apologized to anyone he might have offended, and asked other clergy members to do the same. He also proposed special ″pope parties″ to bring together all religions and races.

McCarthy asked parishes to renew the emphasis on confession and reconciliation, and he encouraged the start of new evangelical programs to bring inactive Catholics back to the church.

The letter also proposed voluntary fasting and abstinence on all Fridays throughout the year, and the building of a permanent memorial to the pope’s visit.

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