After the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s office denied a request from a leading pro-life Catholic priest to give the babies abortion practitioner Kermit Gosnell killed in brutal infanticides, official now say the babies will be cremated and buried.
Gosnell was convicted last month of first-degree murder and he has 30 days to reconsider his decision not to appeal the conviction. Once that process is over, tomorrow, the city will follow its normal procedures by conducting cremation and burial of the bodies of the 47 babies, according to city spokesman Mark McDonald said.
UPDATE: Father Pavone told LifeNews he is upset by the decision.
Speaking from Rome, where he will be concelebrating Mass this weekend with Pope Francis for the Day of Life, Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, said:
“There is no need for the Medical Examiner to have some hidden, secret burial as if we are to be ashamed of these babies. These babies are not unclaimed. They are claimed and have been named by us, because they are our brothers and sisters. We will therefore have a national funeral service for these babies, even without the bodies. We will involve the entire pro-life movement and all people of good will, and more information will be announced shortly. Moreover, we want to know exactly where the remains of these children will be placed.”
McDonald did not say where the cremation and burial would take place.
After Gosnell’s arrest in 2011, then-Archbishop Cardinal Justin Rigali petitioned the district attorney’s office for the bodies of those aborted. The bodies were being retained for the trial, but after it ended and Gosnell was sentenced to life in prison, Rigali’s successor, Archbishop Charles Chaput, renewed the request to bury the bodies.
Francis Maier, special assistant to Chaput, said no city officials contacted the archdiocese with a status on what they planned to do with the bodies. Maier said officials in the DA’s office and medical examiner’s office have not responded, but he assumes someone will.
“I’m in the dark about what’s going on,” he said. “We’ve repeatedly tried to no avail.”
As LifeNews reported, the medical examiner’s office denied without explanation a request from Father Frank Pavone, the director of Priests for Life, ave the bodies of the babies after the all of the court proceedings are finished.
“In April, we requested permission from the Philadelphia Medical Examiner to bury these children,” Fr. Pavone stated. “The nation was stunned to learn how Dr. Gosnell killed these children, and then stored their bodies in cat food containers and freezers. Now we have an opportunity to treat them better, by at least honoring their bodies with a proper funeral and burial.”
Pavone’s request for the bodies received wide publicity as the trial entered its final weeks. As the jury deliberated, Priests for Life held a service in which these children were given names.