Consecrated to the Heart of the Redeemer under the patronage of the Theotokos and Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

22 January 2013

We Can Grow Beyond Roe

Today marks the fortieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court that legalized abortion at any stage of pregnancy.  It is no surprise that this has become one of the most hotly-debated matters in our country, with no room for middle ground.  One major political party has legalized abortion in its platform, while the other doesn't.  Recent elections, presidential and otherwise, reveal this near-even split in loyalty and position.

But this matter concerns far more than  "loyalty and position."  It concerns the person, formed in her mother's womb with the faculties of one made to her parents' genetic likeness, and above all, to the Creator's image and likeness.

With and without legal protection--before and since 1973--millions of babies have been lost to abortion.  The current estimation exceeds 50 million, and the ticker increases along the lines of the national debt clock:

What we must "owe" to Roe!
There is no way to quantify the pain--physical, emotional, and spiritual--that a great many women and men experience after their involvement in an abortion.  As a priest I have had the privilege of assisting people along the path of healing, inside and outside the sacrament of Reconciliation.  Pro-Life advocacy must always be fortified by Post-Abortion ministry, lest so many mothers and fathers remain mired in the cauldron of condemnation. 

Speaking of which: the Diocese of Allentown conducts Project Rachel which assists women and men with counseling and a healing retreat opportunity. The toll-free number, which connects you to a real person, is (866) 3-RACHEL.  For more info on the retreats, consult Rachel's Vineyard (

In his encyclical Evangelium Vitae ("The Gospel of Life"), Pope John Paul II reinforced the Church's ardent desire for souls:
I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone's right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life. 
When and how will we recover--or acquire for the first time?--reverence for the unborn child?  What about our equal deficit of respect for life outside the womb?  Our country's embrace of abortion, alongside pandemic violence in schools, streets, social networks, and homes, will not altogether end, but rather will be transcended one encounter, one choice at a time.  Reverence for life is played out in each person's humble and determined subjection of the passions to the intellect and will.  

For this we are eternally grateful: Right now, in the wake of our mistakes, the Lord desires to move us toward repentance, serenity, and change.  If we wish, we can become compassionate witnesses to, and steadfast coworkers in, the goodness of our own existence (3 Jn 1:8).  Perhaps the shipwreck can become a harvest.

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