The Society of Centurions
Fr. Frank Pavone
Priests for Life
I often say that I believe in the "dead-end rule." This is the
rule that says that if you go down a dead-end street and don t see the sign that
says it s a dead end, you will soon learn by personal experience that the road
is a dead end.
For decades, the pro-life movement has been putting up dead-end signs along
the road of abortion. Many choose to ignore those signs; others don t see them
at all. But the fact is that individuals who become involved in abortion, and
nations which embrace it as policy, eventually learn by painful experience that
abortion is a dead end. Just try naming one societal ill which abortion has
There is a special group of people who have come to the dead end and have
resolutely begun walking the other way. They call themselves the Society of
Centurions. They are former providers of abortion who have abandoned that
practice and now embrace the sanctity of life. Their number includes physicians,
nurses, paramedical personnel, technicians, receptionists, and security
personnel. The Centurions form an international society, and a United States
branch, the Society of Centurions of America, has recently been formed.
Some Centurions speak publicly of their journey into the abortion industry,
and how by grace they were rescued from it. But that is not the focus of the
Society. The focus, rather, is their own personal healing. Periodically,
Centurions from around the world come together, and under the expert guidance of
Dr. Philip Ney, a practicing child and family psychiatrist, walk the
long and painful road toward healing. Dr. Ney has written a fascinating book,
The Centurion s Pathway, describing this road. He explains how the wounds of
personal abuse often pave the way for a person to abuse others by practicing
abortion. He also describes how former providers need to personalize each of the
children they have destroyed. Some, for example, will name and even make
illustrations of each of the children they were responsible for aborting.
My friend Joan Appleton, who was once the head nurse of an abortion facility
in Falls Church, VA and now is on the staff of Pro-life Action Ministries in the
Twin Cities, coordinates the Society of Centurions of America. She has recently
written an account of her own journey, called Raising Cecilia.
The Centurions brochure puts it beautifully:
"The Centurion who stood at the foot of the cross of Christ suddenly became
horrified at the crucifixion he was ordered to carry out. When Christ died, this
Centurion dropped his sword and fell to his knees exclaiming, Surely, this was
an innocent man!
"Those of us who have participated in the killing of unborn children are the
Centurions of today. We have dropped our swords against the unborn child. Now we
must recognize the depth of our guilt and deal with the ramifications…To
revitalize our humanity we need to forgive and be forgiven, to reconcile and be
May it be so, Amen!