The Society of Centurions

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director of Priests for Life
August 31, 1998

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 solved.

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 healed."

May it be so, Amen!

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