Pope to priests: You can forgive abortions ... for a while
Pope Francis says Roman Catholic priests will be allowed to forgive women who have had abortions, and doctors who carry out the procedure.
However, the measure is just a temporary one for the coming Jubilee Year, which runs from December 8 this year to November 26, 2016.
In Catholicism, abortion is viewed as such a grave sin that it warrants automatic excommunication.
The Pope said many women believe that they have no other option.
He added that he had met many women who bear the scar of what he called an agonising and painful decision
The relaxing of the rules is being seen as a major shift Catholic Church policy, reflective of the Pope's outspoken views on compassion and mercy.