BOSTON (CBS) – Catholic women who have abortions can seek forgiveness from their parish priest during the Church’s upcoming mercy year, Pope Francis announced Tuesday.

The news sent shockwaves through the religious world, but in Boston, Cardinal Sean O’Malley already allows this arrangement.

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Father Robert Reed celebrates mass Sunday mornings on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 and says in the past, abortion was considered such a grievous sin in Catholicism that anyone involved was automatically excommunicated and had to seek reinstatement from a priest.

“Abortion, because it’s murder, because it’s the taking of a human life, is obviously a very grave or we would say ‘mortal’ sin,” Reed said. “And so the sacrament of reconciliational confession can restore that relationship once again.”

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He also talks about why Francis may have made the change.

“The holy father is very much a parish priest, he understands the struggles of people’s lives, both women and men,” Reed said.

The year of mercy begins on Dec. 8 of this year until Nov. 20, 2016.

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WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Karyn Regal reports: