COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – A Columbus pastor weighs in on Pope Francis' call to forgive women of abortions, an idea that many believe will expand the traditional practices of the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis made the announcement through a letter for the upcoming Holy year of Mercy.
The right to forgive women for abortions, traditionally reserved to Bishops will be extended to the Priests during the Holy Year of Mercy.
"The church doesn't take it lightly when life is destroyed," says Jeremiah McCarthy, Pastor of Saint Anne's Catholic Church of Columbus.
McCarthy says the Catholic Church is not changing its stance on abortion.
"The church still obviously promotes the sanctity of human life," said McCarthy.
According to the CDC, by age 45, one third of American women will have had at least one abortion and in 2011 more than one million abortions were performed.
McCarthy says even though the Catholic Church remains pro-life they are putting emphasis on reconciliation and forgiveness for women who have had to make the tough decision of having an abortion.
Maureen Wilcox says she is still healing through helping others.
"When I was 19, I didn't feel like I had any other option and so it seemed like the right thing to do and soon after that I had realized that I had killed my child," Wilcox said.
Wilcox is a board member for Seneca Choices for life and says the Pope's declaration
"It's a great thing because it removes the judgment and public condemning that's often associated with women who chose to have an abortion," Wilcox said. "I was forgiven of that but I felt that I had to keep that secret because I was judged,"
Wilcox is now a mother of six says when she works with women post abortion the common symptoms she sees are; guilt, depression, shame, embarrassment and anxiety.
40 Days for Life is a Columbus organization that fights to prevent women from feeling those emotions. The volunteer driven effort is holding public prayer in front of the abortion clinic Sept. 23 through Nov. 1.