I am a sinner. I think, therefore I am, therefore, as a believer in a higher power – God – I am a sinner. I know this because throughout my life I have done what I wanted. Not everything has been bad, but some has. Along the way of life, I have offended someone, I have taken offense, I have reacted, I have been selfish. I have killed someone’s spirit, I have lied, I have cheated, I have acted out of greed, I have acted out of lust. I have been violent, I have stood by and done nothing. Therefore, I have sinned. It is who I am as a human being, nothing more and nothing less.
To put this in context as a Christian and as a Catholic – I have refused to give to the poor and needy, I have not fed the hungry, I have not clothed the naked – I have turned the other cheek when someone asked for help, and I have refused to turn the other cheek when I have been attacked. I am an imperfect being, made so, in my belief, by the simple fact that I was born into original sin. You may not believe that, and that is fine, but I believe the fact that none of us is perfect is a perfectly acceptable statement. We all mess up, we all, at one point or another, offend someone. It is our nature, it is who we are.
As a believer in Christ, I believe that the price, or better yet, the debt of sin has been paid. This was done when Christ was crucified for our sake. His death is what paid the price for all of us – regardless of our sin. In turn, His resurrection destroyed death, enabling us to live forever with Him in His Kingdom. The key here, with sin, is His death.
Christ, the Son of God, paid the penalty for our sins, so that we may be free. This accounts for everything that had already been done and for everything that will be done. Short of Blasphemy against the Spirit of God (Matthew 12:31), the entire invoice has been paid. This includes murder as well as lying. This includes rape as well as theft. This includes incest as well as drunkenness. There are some requirements for us to RECEIVE the grace of forgiveness – we must go to the brother we offended, we must confess our sins, we must be truly contrite and intend to not sin this way again – yet the price has been paid. God remembers no more – the actual judge of our life remembers our sins no more, because he paid the penalty of death for us. In other words, God does not hold our sins against us, he does not hold them over our heads – he doesn’t say, “yes, but, remember when you *fill in the blank*.” That is what we do, both to ourselves and to others, this is what the spiritual forces that St. Paul describes in Ephesians does. This is part of the “good fight,” the race that we run as believers, and as humanity as a whole – to walk in light, love and forgiveness.
I say all of this because of His Holiness, Pope Francis, declaring the indefinite extension of priests being able to forgive abortion without permission to do so. This has a lot of my Protestant friends, and even some of my Catholic friends, in a tizzy. Protestants declare how dare a man say that someone can forgive something that Christ has already forgiven, and in turn, some Catholics are concerned because it seems this Pope blanket forgives and accepts everything. When it comes to forgiveness, i will say this – and I will probably take heat for it – what man says is irrelevant. Yes, to his disciples Christ declared they have the power to loose and bind, to forgive or to hold onto, but why do you think that was? Remember, St. Paul, who was a murderer of Christians, was accepted into the fold and declared that we are all sinners, we have all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God (Romans 3:23). I believe that Christ intended his Church to hold mankind accountable for sin. By spreading the Gospel – the Good News – the Truth: That Christ was born of a Virgin, was crucified, died and was buried. On the third day he rose again – humanity, touched by grace, would see this as a call to repentance. Your debts are paid in full, repent and rejoice, for the Kingdom of God is at hand. John the Baptist was correct (obviously to us believers), repent, for we are all sinners and the Son of God has come to pay the debt, both retro and proactively. Essentially – repentance is the key to the door to paradise. Conviction within us, causing use to come before God with a contrite heart, leading us to his mercy and grace – to his love, which is the ultimate sacrifice for forgiveness. What the Pope does with his declaration, in my opinion, is say the door is open to all who truly repent and desire amendment of life. This door has always been open, but no longer will you be questioned or harassed. In other words, you committed an abortion – or any other sin, or, you paid for an abortion, encouraged it, or any other sin, repent and received the grace and mercy of God. Do not be afraid – for your debt has already been paid, and go and sin no more.
With this declaration, the Pope is not just declaring one sin to be forgivable, but the potential path of sin that lead to the ultimate act – which, as I see it, is the ultimate reason for the stigma attached to this, and most “grave” sins. Murder is murder, and we would all (mostly) say that premeditated murder is “worse.” To abort a child is to admit to sexual activity without the purpose of procreation. The unintended consequence of one act leads to another stage of life which in turn leads to more consequences. As we know, as believers, the consequences of sin are death, in this case, the death of a baby. This is not to say that all abortions are between a man and a woman having sexual relations outside of marriage, but it says the intent of the act does not recognize the end, and therefore leads to the justification of termination. In other words – two people chose not to be careful (natural family planning) or two people chose to live in sin (fornication), and because of this, an unintended consequence happened. That being said, this does not apply to just abortion, but to sin in general.
I believe that is all of our responsibility to walk in forgiveness – not just a priest absolving sin, we must all “absolve” sin in the sense that we cannot allow ourselves to judge someone, especially someone who is walking in repentance and seeking forgiveness. We can hold it over their head if we choose, but we all must remember that we havde all sinned. Dust we are, and to dust we shall return.