Fr. Frank Pavone

Document Publication: National Catholic Register

June 28, 1998

Special to the Register

Truth and sin have very little in common, but there is one characteristic they both seem to share: Start flirting with either one of them, and they draw you all the way in. 

Norma McCorvey's life and conversion, so powerfully summarized in her recent book Won by Love, illustrate this fact dramatically. The deceit of the abortion industry drew her in and brought her to the depths of anguish, misery, and confusion. That deceit began when she was told by attorneys that they could help her. Instead, she never received the help she needed, was never asked to come to court, and was simply used to advance a so-called "pro-choice" agenda. It was hardly a road of glory and joy. Anyone who reads Won by Love, or Norma's first book, I am Roe, will discover that Norma is someone acquainted with sorrow, grief, and plenty of suffering. Not knowing which road to take, and feeling worthless, she took the low road - the path to drinking, drugs, and lesbianism.

She was used for a time as an icon by those in the "pro-choice" movement, but they were plagued by her straightforwardness. On one occasion, when she was being shown a new abortion device, she shocked the clinic administrator by bluntly asking, "Is that what you guys use to suck the children out of their mothers' wombs?"

Then she began flirting with the truth, a little here and a little there. As St. Peter was brought to repentance at the moment he heard the cock crow, Norma heard several cocks crow. In many instances. it was a normal human event that became a deep interior summons to life. Rev. Flip Benham, the founder of Operation Rescue, apologized to her one day for some unpleasant things he had said on a previous occasion. His admission to her that he, too, was a sinner, opened her eyes to the fact that pro-lifers were not self-righteous.

On another occasion, she was moved by the hug of Emily, the little girl whose invitations to Norma to come to Church finally prevailed upon her. This is significant. Many in the abortion industry fail to recognize the value of the unborn child's life because they fail to recognize the value of their own lives. The hug and invitations of this little girl gave Norma a message that many others in her life had denied: You are lovable; you are good: your life is valuable.

Conversion is not an easy road. Norma began realizing many things she didn't like, such as how cold and callous the abortion industry really is, being more concerned for itself than the good of the woman. She even began persuading women not to have the abortions for which they were calling to make an appointment. Little by little, truth drew her in and proved itself more attractive than the abortion industry. Her rediscovery of the value of her own life helped her rediscover the value of the unborn.

Norma was not sure who God was, but what enabled her to continue to walk the road of conversion was that she was not afraid to ask. She would call Pastor Flip Benham or fax him questions. A particular Bible passage that troubled her was he death of Uzziah the Hittite (cf. 2 Sm. 11). Through many re-readings of the tale, and long hours of prayerful meditation, she realized it was the result of an act of disobedience of God's law. Through this passage of Scripture, Norma began to realize that abortion, too, was an act of disobedience to God's law.

She finally accepted Christ in faith, was baptized, and became a believer. At the beginning, however, she still thought some early abortion could be acceptable. She was open to truth, however, and truth did not let her go. It drew her further, and she became convinced that abortion is wrong at any stage, no matter what the reason. She even wears a T-shirt at pro-life gatherings that reads: 100% Pro-life, Without Exception, without Compromise, Without Apology

The truth has continued to draw Norma further. In my contacts with her in recent years, I noticed her interest in Catholicism. Shortly after her baptism, she asked me to bless her home. Not being used to the custom of Holy Water, she and her friend inadvertently drank the entire spare supply I left with them. Later, troubled that she had done something wrong - something that would incur God's anger - she asked of potential consequences. She was relieved to learn that she wouldn't be punished -- in fact that it would likely do some good!

She attended with interest a Mass I celebrated in Dallas, and the following summer came with me to EWTN to tape a television interview. During that interview, she asked me to bless the cross she wears, a cross that was made out of what used to be a "pro-choice" bracelet.

Some months ago, Norma asked me to teach her to say the rosary. As we continued to talk about her faith, I realized she felt very strongly the call to fully embrace Catholicism. I simply answered her questions, which she raised in her own time and her own way. Then one day she sent me an e-mail message in which she told me "The Big Boss" told her she was to join the Church.

I look forward to welcoming Norma here to Rome to complete her initiation. The warm embrace that the Church extends to her is a sign of hope to everyone, but I especially see it as a sign of hope to our brothers and sisters who are still are still enmeshed in the abortion industry. We vigorously oppose what they do, but we do not hate them; we embrace them, too. The door of the Church is open. Truth continues to lead her children forward.

Priests for Life
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