Deep East Texas Catholics happy with pope's statements regarding forgiveness

Deep East Texas Catholics happy with pope's statements regarding forgiveness

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - In the Bible, Luke 15:11-24 tells a story of forgiveness. On Tuesday, Pope Francis offered priests the right to grant that same forgiveness to men and women involved in abortions.

"Pope Francis is definitely trying to open the doors wide to the mercy of God in terms of letting people know that they're welcome back, just like the prodigal son," said Deacon David Darby of the Diocese of Tyler. "No matter how bad the sin, you can come back to God."

However, priests in Deep East Texas have already been practicing this form of forgiveness for 26 years. A lot of it has to do with convenience because the bishop is located in Tyler.

"Because we are so far away, it isn't practical for a repentant sinner, who realizes what they've done in abortion or help procure an abortion, to go to Tyler because that's 85 miles away," Darby explained.

Still, Darby said the pope's announcement Tuesday was important because several people in East Texas just aren't aware of the rules. The pope's word is more powerful than the bishop's.

"Our bishop may say something, and very few people know it, but when the pope says it, it's world-wide news, so everybody hears it," Darby said.

Darby also said he believes this may lead to an increase in overall confession, not just ones regarding abortions and that will hopefully encourage more East Texas Catholics to come back to the church.

"It just opens up the doors to the confessional to a lot of people who haven't thought about it in a while, realizing that the pope is encouraging people to come back to God and his forgiveness," Darby explained.

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