Pope Francis speaks during a meeting with the youth on Piazza Vittorio in Turin, Italy on June 21, 2015. Photo by Stefano Spaziani/UPI | License Photo
VATICAN CITY, Sept. 1 (UPI) -- Pope Francis on Tuesday said priests can forgive women who have had an abortion if they seek forgiveness during the upcoming extraordinary jubilee.
The Vatican issued a statement saying priests may use "discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it."
The pontiff also explained that for a woman, having an abortion is a decision caused by "existential and moral" pressures, adding that to properly forgive the women, priests should express words of "genuine welcome."
The extraordinary jubilee, announced in March during a homily at St. Peter's Basilica, will not only be an opportunity for women to seek forgiveness. The first of its kind to be announced since 1983, it will also serve as a way of stimulating Italy's stagnant economy through tourist dollars.
The holy year is scheduled to begin Dec. 8 and will run through Nov. 20, 2016.
Since 1300, the Catholic church has held a holy year every 50 years and since 1475, an ordinary jubilee was held every 25 years to ensure each generation can experience at least one in a lifetime.
Popes have the ability to call for an extraordinary jubilee at a date of their choosing. The last extraordinary jubilee was held in 1983 when Pope John Paul II called one to celebrate 1,950 years of redemption. The last ordinary jubilee was in 2000.
Jubilee years invite Catholics to travel to the Vatican to receive forgiveness for sins.