The Movie “Unplanned”: Before You Take Your Kids to See the Film, Check out this Important Feedback from an Expert on Siblings of Aborted Children

March 22nd, 2019

By Kevin Burke, LSW

Theresa Bonopartis is the Director of Lumina, offering hope and healing after abortion. A special area of her outreach features the “Entering Canaan” sibling retreat weekends which focus on the struggle of siblings who learn of a parent’s previous abortion, and the realization they have lost a brother or sister.

I asked Theresa, based on her years of ministry with sibling survivors, to share some thoughts on the movie Unplanned:

Theresa:  The impact of abortion on sibling survivors is very complex and varied.  Many parents tell their children about a past abortion, and then believe they are fine once this secret has been disclosed.

But when it comes to abortion the parents are often the last to know the interior struggles of the child they have told. I hope what I share can help them better discern if their child should see the movie:

  • Many kids see the suffering of a parent who has had an abortion. It is not unusual for them to express a sentiment of “now everything makes sense” surrounding their life once they find out about a sibling. Wanting to shield the parents they love from further pain, they often hide their own pain and conflict at the expense of their own healing.
  • They are also wanting to be loved by them. The knowledge that their protectors were involved in the death of a sibling is often very hard to reconcile but they do not express this to their parents. Many times they are left with multiple questions but feel unable to ask for fear of causing more turmoil.
  • As Kevin shared in his recent blog, the movie has some disturbing and necessarily graphic material.  Discern carefully if this is the best way to educate your child about abortion. Chances are they know the destruction of abortion just from their personal experience and so there is not a need to subject them to what could be additional trauma that they are already trying to reconcile many times on their own.
  • Sibling survivors can manifest the impact in many different ways. Many feel guilty for being alive, wonder if their name would be the same or if they would even be here had their sibling lived. It is unrealistic to think that there are no implications to knowing. Most either become very pro-life or as in the case of children of abortion supporters they join their parent in justifying abortion for any reason.

If your child does knows of a past abortion, and sees the film, they may benefit from connecting with others who have this type of abortion loss in their families. It has been our experience over the past nine years of offering these retreats that it is very helpful to share and learn they are not alone, in an environment that does not judge their parents, but offers support, and helps with understanding. Many of the friendships made have been long lasting.

We have a support network where siblings can connect with others who understand their loss.  Our Next sibling retreat is August 16-18  and will be led by Father Fidelis Moscinski, CFR, and a sibling with abortion loss; both have extensive experience in this ministry. Scholarships are available.

  [For More information: Please call us at 877-486-4621 or email ]

Abortion: It’s Not Really About Rights…It’s About Relationship – The Feast of the Annunciation and the Baby Chris Project

March 20th, 2019

By Kevin Burke, LSW and Theresa Burke, Ph.D.

March 25th is The Solemnity of the Annunciation, the celebration of the coming of the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary to announce her special vocation to be the mother of Jesus Christ.

The feast reminds us of the mysterious and intimate relationship of Mary with her developing son from the moment of his conception.

A National Pro-Life Coalition  is urging all citizens to observe March 25 as the Day of the Unborn Child. The Coalition is launching a special project on the Feast of the Annunciation called “Baby Chris” that will follow the development of a child in the womb for nine months until Christmas Day.  The project will feature an app that shows the developmental facts and stunning imagery of the child for each week of pregnancy.

This project has special significance for the millions of our fellow citizens touched by abortion loss. This includes the parents of preborn children, but also grandparents, and other family and friends who are often influential in abortion decisions, and in some cases, directly participated in the child’s death.

The Distorted Lens of Choice

Pro-abortion advocates see the abortion issue through the lens of “reproductive rights/choice,” and feminist empowerment. Funny thing about the pro-abortion language of bodily autonomy and choice — a woman’s body is not pro-choice!  Once conception occurs, and the pregnancy is developing normally, a woman’s body is focused on nurturing and protecting the life within her womb.

Of course she may be struggling with the circumstances of the pregnancy, and feeling pressure from others to abort. But on an emotional and physiological level, a woman has to sever an intimate communion between mother and developing child when that relationship and pregnancy is terminated.

The often unacknowledged shame, guilt and loss are connected to the violation of something deep within her identity and an intuitive sense that an intimate relationship has been severed. (Fathers can experience a similar grief of failing to protect the mother and baby entrusted to their care.)

Even when there is a sense of relief after the procedure painful feelings can surface later in life:

  • “The biggest impact abortion has had on me is that every time I look at my children I have now, I think about that little face I never saw and the child I have never known.” — Aimee

The common symptoms[1] we see after in the aftermath of the procedure call attention to a repressed and forbidden grief, and a relationship that has been damaged by abortion.

  • “I lost what I was trying to save with the abortion. I sacrificed my children on the altar of my ambition. Addictions came into my life as I tried to run from the pain. My misery drove me to my knees.” — David

Recovery from abortion loss requires an understanding that a relationship has been broken, and is in need of reconciliation and repair.

A Safe Path to Recovery

The heart of effective abortion healing programs like Rachel’s Vineyard, SaveOne, and Forgiven and Set Free is how they provide a safe path to emotional and spiritual recovery.  These programs affirm, with love and compassion, what was lost.  They restore in faith the broken relationship between parent and child.  This often begins a process of healing other broken relationships that have flowed from that abortion shockwave.

The Feast of the Annunciation and the Baby Chris Project provide an ongoing opportunity for outreach in our Churches, prayer groups and with family and friends to focus on the heart of the abortion issue, and the heart of our Christian faith; the intimate spiritual, emotional and physical connection of a mother and her unborn child.  They remind us of the need to protect the innocent preborn child, and to bring the mercy and healing of Jesus, Son of Mary, to all those wounded by abortion.

[Here’s a beautiful and comforting song by Alison Krauss for anyone dealing with the loss of a loved one.]

[1] Drug and alcohol abuse, promiscuity or intimacy problems, anxiety/depression and sleep disturbance, trauma related symptoms.

[The Image of Mary and Jesus from “Vessel of the Preborn Jesus in Watercolor” by Lea Marie Ravotti]

The Movie Unplanned: You Had an Abortion – Should You See this Film? Self-Care and Opportunities for Outreach

March 14th, 2019

By Kevin Burke, LSW

The movie Unplanned tells the story of Abby Johnson. Johnson is a former Planned Parenthood director at a facility where over 22,000 preborn children were aborted. Johnson was a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood and believed strongly in the ideology of “reproductive rights.” She personally experienced a first-trimester abortion and later a chemical abortion.

All this changed when Johnson was present during a surgical abortion at her Planned Parenthood and witnessed the reality of the procedure. This scene is one of a number of very graphic and powerful presentations in the film Unplanned, which lifts the veil on “choice” as we get a closer look behind the walls of a Planned Parenthood facility.

The disturbing scene takes place in the procedure room during a first-trimester abortion.   You witness the bloody remains of what was once a developing child sucked into a tube and deposited in a jar. What is particularly moving, and jarring, is the sound of the fetal heartbeat as the procedure begins – and the deadly silence when the procedure successfully destroys the little boy or girl.

Another trauma triggering scene accurately depicts the suffering of women that experience a chemical abortion in their home. Ashley Bratcher, who portrays Abby Johnson in the film, shares in The Stream:

“Mentally and physically, the most difficult scene so far has been where Abby had an abortion by taking the RU-486 pill,” says Bratcher. “On Friday, it was almost like torture, reliving this moment in her life for hours. Every single take, I physically went there. I allowed myself to be emotional to the point that I literally threw up during one of the takes.” [1]

Abby Johnson describes her RU-486 abortion, re-enacted in the movie Unplanned:

“… I started to feel pain in my abdomen unlike anything I had ever experienced. Then the blood came. It was gushing out of me…The only thing I could do was sit on the toilet. I sat there for hours…bleeding, throwing up into the bathroom trashcan, crying and sweating…. I filled the tub and climbed in…The cramps kept coming, but the water helped soothe them somewhat. I opened my eyes after 15 minutes and was horrified. My bathwater was bright red… I stood up slowly and straightened out my body. As soon as I was completely upright, I felt a pain worse than any other I had experienced…Then I felt a release…and a splash in the water that was draining beneath me. A blood clot the size of a lemon had fallen into my bath water. Was that my baby?[2]  

Other Traumatic Triggering Scenes

So many women and men who lost children to abortion are troubled by the question: “what happened to my baby?” For them, this scene will be very painful:

  • Two large barrels containing the remains of aborted children, marked as “medical waste,” are being prepared for removal.   A nearby group of pro-life advocates plead with the disposal company employees to allow them to pray over the children’s remains before they are hauled away.

Another scene depicts a Planned Parenthood employee lifting a tiny severed arm out of the bloody remains of an abortion procedure – to ensure that no fetal tissue was left inside the mother that could lead to infection.

Grandparents of aborted children may also find that the film connects them in a deeper and more immediate way to their grief and pain:

  • A father brings his pregnant daughter for an abortion.   As he sits in the waiting room, he is kept in the dark about his daughter having serious complications after the procedure.
  • In another heart-breaking scene a mother pleads with her daughter not to enter the Planned Parenthood facility. The mother’s pleas fall on deaf ears as the daughter walks into the facility to end the life of her grandbaby.  

Women with Abortion Loss Who Viewed the Film

We have consulted with a number of women who have experienced abortion loss, have been through a healing program, and are involved in outreach to women and men hurting after abortion.

After viewing Unplanned they shared that the experience was deeply painful and disturbing. One woman was angry feeling that she was not properly warned of some of the more graphic and traumatic scenes.

The majority expressed that while it was challenging to watch, there is great value in this intimate encounter with Abby’s story, as it is the story of so many women (and men who accompany their partners and daughters to abortion centers.)

All agreed that there should be information available to those who might need to talk to someone or attend an abortion recovery program after seeing Unplanned. (There will be hotline numbers and other resources included at the close of the movie when it opens in theaters March 28th.)

Jody Duffy of PATH (Post Abortion Treatment and Healing of Atlanta) said their ministry will have trained abortion recovery volunteers who will be present at the two screening locations of Unplanned in the Atlanta area on March 28th.  Jody shares:

“The PATH volunteers will be available to speak to anyone who may be triggered by the movie and will also have information on hand about our Rachel’s Vineyard retreats and SaveOne Bible studies.”

Should You See The Movie – Recommend It to Others?

A movie like Unplanned has great potential to advance the cause of life and raise awareness and understanding in our nation.  The movie also has the potential to have a positive impact on those in pro-life advocacy and abortion recovery ministry.

Some women and men involved in this type of outreach can sometimes experience a type of vicarious trauma.  Therapist Donna Gardner shares an experience that can help us better understand the hidden grief of pro-life advocates:

“I recently spoke with an older group of pro-life veterans who spent years in prolife ministry and advocacy. I asked them to close their eyes and bring to mind one particular situation; think of that one baby lost to abortion that especially touched you deeply. They all began to tear up and express the grief that has been hidden in their hearts for many years.”

Such a powerful story like Unplanned can connect us to our own need for deeper emotional and spiritual healing from the grief and pain associated with the destruction of the unborn and the traumatization of their parents.  Some will benefit from attending an abortion recovery program,  or a special time of prayer and fellowship to process their feelings and share their own stories of grief and loss.

Such a painful journey of faith can nurture a renewed commitment to our pro-life vocations and fresh energy and zeal for activism and outreach, grounded in humility and faith.

For those who have personally experienced the abortion procedure, it’s ok if you decide after prayerful discernment, that this is not a good time to see such a graphic movie presentation on abortion.

You can still be involved in promoting the film, making viewers aware of healing resources, and praying that the film touches those who most need to encounter this powerful story of Abby Johnson and Unplanned.

[1] The Stream.  Josh Shepherd, Finding Abby: Actress Who Portrays Johnson in Film Unplanned Nearly Lost to Abortion. Published on October 4, 2018

[2]  Abortion Pill Risks. Abby Johnson’s Story.

Out of the Ashes – Into the Light: The Season of Lent Is the Perfect Time to Let God’s Mercy Touch this Secret Shadow from Your Past

March 11th, 2019

By Kevin Burke, LSW

I would like to suggest a Lenten experience that will bless you abundantly, and change your life.

This will require humility, courage, and some sacrifice and pain.

But let me assure you, the blessings to you, your loved ones, and your relationship to God and the Church will continue to flow well after Lent ends – and into eternity.

Consider taking a deeper look into how abortion has touched your life.

This invitation is not only for the mother of a child lost to abortion. This is addressed to the fathers of aborted children; to grandparents who have lost grandchildren to abortion; to those countless friends and family who, like me, have been accomplices in the death of an innocent child in the womb.

You may have confessed this sin, and received the forgiveness of Christ and his Church. This is of course an essential first step.

But abortion is a complicated experience of loss. If you have been in any way responsible for (or unable to prevent) the death of a baby in the womb, be assured this has hurt you emotionally and spiritually.  Often an abortion recovery program is needed to help women and men come to a deeper place of healing and peace.

Programs like Rachel’s Vineyard feature beautiful scripture meditations and special exercises that help you safely open up this painful event from the past.  The weekend promotes healthy grieving, and participants experience a peace that only God can bring to the wounded soul.

Catholic retreats include Eucharistic adoration, Mass, and the sacraments of Reconciliation.  Gathered with other women and men who have been hurt by abortion, and the guidance of an experienced and loving retreat team, you will experience the “Church at her very best.”

It is natural to feel anxiety about shining light on this dark shadow from the past.  Don’t be afraid.  You are not alone, and there is safe and confidential help for you.   Take the next step.

[The testimony at the beginning of the blog is from Chuck and Linda Raymond. The couple shares about how an abortion loss they experienced as teenagers impacted their marriage, and how they came to attend a Rachel’s Vineyard weekend. 

The one below is my testimony at the steps of the Supreme Court in January 2019 and my role as an accomplice in the death of a child in the womb.]

Have a blessed Lent!


Oprah’s Mega Church Series “Greenleaf” Explores Sexual Abuse and Homosexuality in the African American Church – But Ignores This Very Large Elephant in the Sanctuary

February 27th, 2019

by Kevin Burke, LSW

Oprah Winfrey’s African American mega-church drama Greenleaf premiered in 2017.  [Please note: though the series is rated as appropriate for viewers age 14 on up, it is not appropriate viewing for children and teens, and for adult viewers be aware some scenes are morally offensive.]

The Greenleaf Church is run by a large household of relatives.  Bishop James Greenfield and his wife Lady Mae act as King and Queen of family and flock as they hold court in opulence from their lake front mansion.

But behind the scenes chaos and darkness lurk in the deep waters of this ecclesial dynasty. Sexual abuse of family members and minors by Lady Mae’s brother Mac, and homosexual conflicts and divorce in one of the children’s marriages, threaten to plunge the family into scandal.

Oprah uses the framework of family and church to bring out themes related to secrecy, denial, cover-ups and loyalty issues that often accompany sexual abuse in families.

Another strong narrative is the challenges faced by Churches that remain faithful to scripture and tradition when confronting same-sex relationships and “marriage.”

Not surprisingly, the tired cultural stereotypes of the liberal media determine the “good guys” and “bad guys” as the themes related to same-sex attraction/marriage, and the response of the Church to active homosexual relationships unfold in the series.

The Elephant in the Greenleaf Sanctuary?

One controversial area that Greenleaf ignores; the higher rates of abortion among African Americans and how this impacts their families and faith communities.

David Williams is an African American pastor and evangelistic speaker to youth, young adults and men. David contributed an important chapter in my book Tears of the Fisherman, entitled The Legacy of Racism and Abortion in the African American Community.”

David offers  his insight and provides  historical context, from a sound biblical and faith perspective, to some of the church related issues in the series Greenleaf. On a more personal level, David, as the father of an aborted child, intimately understands the impact of abortion on African American women and men.

David invites the Christian Churches to confront not only sexual secrets and abuse featured in Greenleaf, but also to recognize the role of abortion in perpetuating the historical oppression and trauma suffered by the African American family.

Here are some excerpts from David’s chapter:

The Legacy of Slavery: Intergenerational Trauma – Intergenerational Sin                

By David Williams

The institutionalized abuse of slavery had a profound impact on the family structure of the African American community that I believe makes it more susceptible to abortion.

Families were systematically and cruelly dismantled for generations according to the business needs of the slavers. Men would be torn from their wives and children. They were bred like animals to create the optimal labor value for the slave businesses.

Women were routinely sexually abused, raped and separated from their children. Many mothers would abort their unborn children rather than have them born into slavery.

African Americans were not seen as persons created in the image of God but something less than fully human. Because of this they were treated as nothing more than property to be done with however their ‘masters’ saw fit…

However it also left a legacy that ingrained in us certain unhealthy mind sets about marriage, family, sex and abortion.

Now babies in the womb, who are created in the image of God, are viewed by our nation as less than human… the majority of abortion providers are in urban centers and… over 30% of abortions are by black women. [1]

The abortion industry and their allies think the solution for the high rate of out-of- wedlock pregnancies and other social problems in poor minority communities is abortion and more birth control.

What they fail to see, or ignore, is that this attacks us in those areas of historical traumatic vulnerability…this feeds the very problems the pro-abortion forces say they are rescuing us from. But the truth is, we are being exploited and targeted in a very direct way by the abortion industry…


After preaching at a predominantly white congregation on the topic of living holy lives and avoiding sexual sins[3], I was approached by a middle age white woman with an interesting question. She asked me why sexual sin is tolerated in the African-American church.

I must admit that I was taken aback by the question for hadn’t I, an African American man, just preached ‘that there should not even be a hint of sexual immorality among God’s holy people’?

She went on to share with me that she had in recent years been involved in relationships with African-American men. Both of them said they were Christians and one of them was a Pastor. She told me that she had to break off both of the relationships because these Christian men were pressuring her to have sex. This was a sad commentary and I was actually a little embarrassed by it…

The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17:

 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Sadly, some of us are deeply religious but unchanged by the transforming power of the resurrected Christ. We must acknowledge and forgive those who have hurt us, confess our sins and renounce the sinful lifestyles of previous generations, and most importantly…grieve our losses. This is especially true for men that have been wounded by abortion and perhaps other abuse and loss in their lives.

Learning to grieve these losses and the sin that flows from these wounds can be the most challenging part of the recovery journey. Men, taught to be strong and never vulnerable, can struggle with the feelings of weakness, shame and fear that are part of allowing our grief to surface, and the feelings and memories that accompany that grief.

Healing abortion and other sexual sins and wounds such as abuse, allows the light of Christ to enter the most intimate places in our hearts and souls.

This open and honest accountability of our lives lowers the dynamics that can feed acting out behaviors; such as sexual immorality, extra-marital affairs, addictions and pornography.   We are strengthened as men, husbands, and fathers and as church leaders.

In my speaking ministry, as I share about my abortion loss and healing, Pastors and ministry lay leaders have opened up to me about their own shame, pain and guilt from being involved in an abortion decision. Yet many are reluctant to enter into a healing program or be public in any way about this secret in their past. They may love the Lord, and truly desire to do His will; yet their failure to humbly bring this loss to the Lord for repentance and healing, weakens them personally and in their vocation.

When those who are in leadership in African-American churches (and this is not just an issue in African-American Churches) fail to address these wounds, it not only affects their own life and family but the lives and families of those that God has called them to minister to. If I am living in secrecy and shame regarding the sins of my past, in particular sexual immorality and abortion, then there naturally is a tendency not to go there with others, and tragically, to act-out those unresolved conflicts in my ministry relationships.

I believe that as long as we live with these secrets, acting as if all is well, then we miss out in experiencing the healing grace and forgiveness of Christ. I think that this circumvents our ability to freely and fully minister God’s word to others. The unspoken and at times, unconscious thought becomes “who am I to speak up about abortion when I also am guilty and wounded by it.”

This keeps too many silent.

Thus abortion continues to ravage lives in the African American community [4]and leave in its wake multitudes of broken women and men who sit in church feeling guilty, condemned and afraid to confess what they’ve done and seek healing…

We need to approach this wound with great sensitivity, personal humility, and love. We condemn the sin, but never the wounded and repentant sinner.  We offer the merciful love and healing power of Christ.  Not talking about it or failing to address it won’t change this truth.  This is a false compassion because this silence hurts us all.

I can attest from my own personal experience that when you open up this area to the grace and healing of Christ, you will be freed to preach the Gospel of Life and the Gospel of the healing power of Jesus over abortion wounds.

You will have the privilege of being used by God to lead others to forgiveness, healing and hope. Your ministry will be empowered and blessed in ways that you could never imagine prior to taking that step.

Don’t be afraid, take that next step and reach out for the forgiveness and healing you hunger for.  God is waiting with open arms and a heart filled with love and mercy for his wounded sheep.

[David is an evangelistic speaker to youth, young adults and men as he partners with various ministries, locally and nationally. In his ministry to men, David speaks, writes and connects men affected by abortion to ministries and resources for help and healing. David is a member of MAN (The Men and Abortion Network). To contact David please email him at  or visit his ministry website]

[You can learn more about the book Tears of the Fisherman and order a copy here.

[1] Black Genocide.

[2] Ibid

[3] Listen to message at David Williams Speaks:!purityholiness/ccy5

[4] Human Life Alliance.  Did you Know?

[1] According to 2010 census data, African Americans make up 12.6% of the U.S. population but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that black women accounted for 35.4% of all abortions in 2009. Abortion is the leading cause of death among African-Americans alone accounting for more loss of life than HIV-AIDS, violent crime, accidents, cancer, and heart disease combined. [1] Since 1973, 13 millions African American babies have died in their mother’s womb. [2]


Too Distracted to Feel: Do You Suffer from the Cyber Addict Blues?

February 26th, 2019

By Kevin Burke, LSW

The zombies roam with heads glued to their screens / Avoiding eye contact so they’re never seen / Their brains are fried at the end of the road / This cyber-crack that we all smoke / The world is shrinking and our souls are too / We’re all victims of the cyber addict blues -“Cyber Addict Blues

CNN reports that fifty percent of teens and twenty-seven percent of parents feel they are addicted to their mobile devices.

The nature of many modern jobs means that cell phones and ipads keep workers perpetually connected and accessible to their employers and clients. The 24/7 demands of some jobs leave little time to disconnect, to be emotionally present to loved ones, and refresh the soul.

From CNN:

GG Benitez, a mother of three, said that as the founder and chief executive officer of her own public relations firm, she feels the pressure to always be available due to the fear of losing any potential press opportunities for her clients:

 “I had taken my son to a movie, and he turned around to me and said, ‘Are you serious, Mom? We are at the movies and you are still on your phone?…”

Some of the latest research also suggests this immersion in the virtual world of social media, emails and texting may also be a way people can self-medicate anxiety, depression and other painful feelings:

Holland Haiis, who wrote Digital Detox Program, shares:

“The dopamine in our brains is stimulated by the unpredictability that social media, emails and texting provide…”

Staying Numb and Distracted from Complicated Grief and Loss

We have learned from our over 20 years in ministry around the world in Rachel’s Vineyard that abortion is often a deeply repressed area of pain and complex grief.  People expend a lot of psychic energy to keep the memories and feelings buried, but over time this exacts a high cost.

Perhaps this constant immersion in our devices is working hand in hand with this denial.   In a perpetual state of distraction, we struggle to recognize an area of hurt or loss, like abortion, that is crying out for reconciliation and healing.

Experts suggest setting strong boundaries around the use of technology and replacing the dopamine rush of social media with a walk, jog or bike ride.  Taking time for meditation, contemplation and prayer will help free our minds, souls and bodies from an unhealthy attachment to virtual reality.

Follow His Example

You may be thinking, “Yeah sure that would be nice but I am way too busy, and I just can’t find the time.”

Consider the example of a man who was in constant demand by multitudes of his fellow countrymen for his remarkable gifts of healing, deliverance and preaching:

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (Mark 1:35)

And Jesus also respected when he needed to give himself some space to grieve a painful loss:

When Jesus heard [that John the Baptist had been beheaded], he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. (Matthew 14:13)

Is there a need for more light and fresh air to flow into your life and less time spent immersed in the virtual world of social media and technology?

After you read and share this article, and watch my video 🙂  – follow His example.

[Cyber Addict Blues – Song and Music Video By Kevin Burke and Henry Gennaria]

How Saint Peter the Apostle Can Be a Source of Consolation and Inspiration for Men Who Suffer Regret and Grief after Abortion

February 22nd, 2019

by Kevin Burke, LSW

February 22nd the Catholic Church around the world celebrates the Feast of the Chair of St Peter.  The feast celebrates the papacy and St Peter as the first Bishop of Rome.

The life and vocation of St Peter  inspired my book on men and abortion, “Tears of the Fisherman.”  Here’s an excerpt from the book that reveals why St Peter can be an important source of inspiration and consolation to men who come to regret their participation in the death of their unborn children.

Simon Peter – Bumbling Backwater Fisherman?

Jesus saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men’.
Mark 1:16-18

The late Father Jerome Murphy-O’Connor was a leading authority on biblical archaeology and points out that fishing was big business along the Sea of Galilee. Simon Peter, contrary to common misperception, was an educated, successful and shrewd businessman:

When read carefully against the background of this ancient [fishing] industry, the scattered references to Simon Peter and Andrew coalesce into a coherent picture. They came from a prosperous, assimilated Jewish middle-class family. Speaking both Aramaic and Greek, they were brought up to serve in an administrative as well as a practical role in an essential major industry. They knew how to plan and organize. As experienced businessmen, they were astute enough to move their home in order to take advantage of a tax break. Such shrewdness, one can be sure, also manifested itself in the way they handled competition from the many other Fishermen on the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River. They were anything but “uneducated, common men.”[1]

Jesus of Nazareth, prior to his public ministry, worked for years with his foster father Joseph in the construction trades and was familiar with the practical needs of managing a business and dealing with the public.[2]

When Jesus called Simon Peter, he saw a successful manager and leader in a family fishing business, with employees and responsibilities. These gifts would prove in time to be essential to Peter’s vocation as foundational leader of the early Christian Community.

However Jesus also saw those areas of Peter’s heart and soul that would require a painful infusion of humility, to soften his pride and allow him to honestly face his weakness, fear and mistrust. This was a necessary and essential journey for Peter if he was to fully embrace his vocation and mission.

As the Apostles gathered for what would be their final Passover meal together, Peter felt secure surrounded by Jesus and the other apostles.  Jesus turns to Peter and with great love and urgency addressed the leader of the Twelve Apostles:

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Imagine Peter’s shock and humiliation when Jesus announces in front of his fellow apostles that Peter is vulnerable to Satan’s attack and his faith will be sorely tested.   Worse, Jesus seems to suggest (“once you have turned again”) that for a time Peter will lose his faith in the one he boldly proclaimed as the Christ.

We can imagine the injury to Peter’s pride and even hurt feelings that Jesus would see him in such an unflattering light. Peter now makes a bold proclamation to re-establish the integrity of his leadership among the other apostles, and his unquestioned fidelity to Jesus:

 …Peter said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to both prison and to death!” 

Just a few short hours later all hell is breaking loose.

Peter must have been shocked that Jesus did not resist arrest, and now his once powerful Master was weak, vulnerable and seemingly…powerless. Peter was separated from his fellow apostles.

His beloved leader was no longer eloquently preaching and performing spectacular miracles like raising Lazarus from the dead. Jesus was beaten and abused by the Temple guards and facing the horrible torture and humiliation of Roman scourging and crucifixion.

Peter was shaken by these events. He rightly feared that as the designated leader of the Twelve Apostles that he too could face similar abuse and the suffering of the cross.

Isolated, under great stress, and afraid he denied the One he pledged to sacrifice his life to protect.

Be Not Afraid

Peter had to face his own issues of fear and trust on the Sea of Galilee and at that fateful Passover in Jerusalem during the last hours of his Master’s life.

If you are a man with an abortion in your history you may want to avoid experiencing the emotional and spiritual vulnerability that is so essential to healing.  But like Peter, the Lord provides the grace for the journey and He will prevent you from sinking back into shame, sin and denial.

The Tears of the Fisherman will provide a kind of GPS for your soul as you learn of other men’s journey of recovery so you can begin to take steps to try and make some sense of it all.

You will find essential information and hope as you enter these stormy waters and encounter your own painful memories and feelings. What may surprise and I hope inspire you, is that the men you will read about in these pages emerged from their healing journey not weak and beaten down, but as stronger, faith-filled and compassionate men.

By stepping out of the illusory safety of denial, keeping your eyes fixed on the Lord, you will become a better father, husband and workmate.

If you are a friend or family member of a man with abortion loss, a counselor or a clergy/minister, this book will help you understand the wider impact of abortion on men, their relationships, family and work life. It will also give you the sensitivity and understanding to effectively guide them to recovery and peace.

Is there a more important mission of awareness, education and healing for a nation with over 58 million abortions since 1973?

As our journey continues, we travel to an ancient Garden, and a drama that unfolded at the dawn of human history.

Read more

Endorsement for Tears of the Fisherman:

Tears of the Fisherman is the best book that I have read thus far on the subject of men and abortion. The reason I can say this is from my own experience with an abortion in 1972 after 39 years of suffering as I struggled to forgive myself. Every single chapter spoke to me as a man with the clear understanding of forgiveness for others and myself. – Brendon Fassett, New Life Solutions, Largo Florida

[1] Jerome Murphy O’Connor. Fishers of Men. Bible Review, June 1999.

[2] The Greek word used in the New Testament for “carpenter” (tekton) seems to indicate more of a “general contractor.”   The term can also be used for civil engineers who build bridges and other structures, which given the region were more likely built with stone.

The Abuse Scandals That Have Attacked the Moral Authority of Catholic Bishops – Have Also Attacked the Children in the Womb

February 21st, 2019

Kevin Burke, LSW

February 21-24 2019 the bishops of the world will gather in Rome for an international summit to address the clergy abuse scandals in the Catholic Church.

The history of the tragic cover up and enabling of abusers by many Bishops and their Chanceries is now well documented. This has understandably attacked the moral authority of the Church and her leaders.

At a time in our nation’s history when we need the Church and its leaders to have a prophetic voice, especially in defending the lives of children in the womb, their voice has been muted by their complicity in the abuse of minors and vulnerable young adults.

The Church must embrace repentance and humility for the grievous sins of the past. But we also desperately need a Church that is strong and bold in proclaiming the truth.

Imagine if a Bishop stood up at the Vatican Summit and addressed his fellow clergy:

[ “My brother Bishops, We have grievously failed and sinned in our vocation to protect the vulnerable   sheep entrusted to our care. This includes not only the minors and young adults abused by clergy, but also the the millions of preborn children that die in the womb each year.   We have also failed to adequately warn our people of the emotional, spiritual and physical damage caused by their participation in the death of children in the womb.

We apologize to the victims, born and unborn that we have failed to protect from the wolves that desecrated and devoured their precious bodies, wounded their hearts and souls, and attacked their innocence. 

Yes we have grievously failed in our vocation as Shepherds.

Yet, the way forward is not to compromise the moral and theological truth, and teaching authority, that has been entrusted to us by Jesus Christ. The way forward is to enter into a time of even greater commitment to defend the life of the vulnerable children entrusted to our care, born and unborn.

We commit to addressing the causes of the abuse of minors and vulnerable young adults with unrelenting clarity and honesty. We will listen to the victims, share their stories, and if they are open, guide them to healing programs for abuse.

We commit in the same way to expand our preaching, teaching and activism, and empower our clergy and laity, to defend the life of our brothers and sisters in the womb.

As leaders in the Church, we will commit to a more radical witness to stand in solidarity with the children in the womb, and support and to empower those movements that are working to end abortion and heal those wounded by their participation in the death of the unborn.

We owe it to our people, and to Christ our King, to be a prophetic witness to the dignity of preborn children, and protect those minors and young adults entrusted to our care.”  ]

Hope and Healing for the Future

As laity, we need to have an ongoing expectation of accountability and transparency from our spiritual leaders. No more secrecy, cover-ups and obfuscation. Directly confront the institutional issues, and culture that tolerate and perpetuate this evil.

This does not mean pressuring for change in the Church to promote our own political and ideological agendas. It does mean honestly looking at common themes we find in many abuse situations, and the dynamics within the Church, and among her clergy, that can enable and perpetuate such abuse.

While remaining strong in our lay witness, we can still ground all our words, action and prayer in the deepest humility, knowing our own sin.

Most of us have failed to do enough to protect the unborn. Perhaps we have failed at times in our personal vocations to protect those entrusted to our care, and in other ways have aborted God’s will in our lives.

St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, pray for us.

Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us.




“For What I have Done…And What I Have Failed to Do” – I was an Accomplice in the Death of an Unborn Child. Maybe You Were Too.

January 25th, 2019

By Kevin Burke, LSW

 I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do… (The Confiteor)

Each year in January after the March for Life in Washington D.C., I am blessed to accompany those women and men of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign as they share their testimonies.

I am deeply moved and inspired as they tell their unique and intimate stories of pain, grief and shame from participating in the death of their unborn children. Their public witness also reveals the power of God’s mercy and healing.

But this year was different.

For the first time I felt called to share my own personal experience of abortion and carried a sign that revealed something I have never shared publicly; “I Regret Being an Accomplice to Abortion.”

Rachel’s Secret

I was a young man in my early 20’s when a relative I will call Rachel approached me with her secret struggle. Rachel was unmarried and pregnant from a brief relationship that had recently ended.

Rachel trusted me. I was a few years older, was beginning to revert back to my Catholic faith, and was just starting a graduate counseling program.

I had the beginnings of a religious awakening in my college years but within a liberal, social justice framework.  This was the time of death squads in Central America, the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, and the complicity of our government in the suffering of the poor and oppressed in that region.  I volunteered in prisons and soup kitchens in the Philadelphia area.  I met many fine committed Christians.

But there was one glaring omission from the social justice zeal to advocate and serve the poor and oppressed – the innocent unborn child in the womb. My theological formation at this time left me ignorant about abortion, the reality of the procedure, and the impact on those that participated in their death.  That is not to in any way excuse my actions.  I share it to provide my mindset at the time and the context for my response to Rachel.

After listening to Rachel share her secret, I told her, “I will support you whatever you decide. If you are open to parenting or adoption, I can connect you with counselors who can help you.” 

What I failed to do was to encourage her to maintain the pregnancy. I did not to tell her that she would be a great mother – that in reality she already was a mother!

I could have scheduled an appointment with a pregnancy counselor and accompanied her to the meeting to offer my support.  I could have emphasized to Rachel that “this child is an unexpected blessing” and “our family will love and welcome this child, and be there to support you.”

But I had absorbed a particular social justice religious perspective that is often silent and/or neutral about abortion, as well as the values of the counseling profession. This reinforced the diabolical propaganda of respecting a women’s inviolable right of “reproductive choice.”

In this context, abortion is a very private and personal decision, and I should not interfere in any way with her decision making process.  To be honest, I also feared that she might resent me later if she felt burdened with a child.

Rachel had the abortion, and I was an accomplice in that child’s death.

Years later, when I learned about how abortion hurts women and men, I came to understand and see how that procedure impacted her life. It breaks my heart.  I have shared with her my apologies and information on abortion recovery programs.  I attended a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat for my own reconciliation and healing.

I will now be Silent No More about being an accomplice to abortion. I hope that others will reflect on their own role in the abortion decisions of friends and relatives.  I pray they will come to a place of understanding and consider attending an abortion recovery program to reconcile with God, grieve those lost children, and pray for their parents.

Grace comes from facing the truth, and over time it often leads us to commit more deeply to advocating for the lives of the unborn and reaching out in love to those who have been hurt by abortion.

“I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do; and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.”

Planned Parenthood Claims they are Partners in Fighting for the Legacy of Dr Martin Luther King. Is this True?

January 22nd, 2019

By Kevin Burke, LSW

On January 21st, the national holiday memorializing the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Planned Parenthood claimed that King’s “life & legacy” are “undeniably intertwined” with abortion rights activism:

“We honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life & legacy as the fight for racial justice, economic equity, & reproductive freedom are undeniably intertwined… we are proud to stand w/ our partners who are on the frontlines of this fight. #MLKDay

Alveda King, niece of Dr Martin Luther King, said this message dishonored the legacy of her uncle:

“To dishonor a prophet by raising a political banner which supports killing innocent babies on MLK’s birthday is so inhuman.”

When we consider the number of African American unborn children that die in the womb, we can see the comments of Planned Parenthood in a more sinister context.

In 2016 Planned Parenthood facilities ended the life of 321, 384 unborn boys and girls – 881 babies a day. A disproportionate number of these procedures are performed on African American women.

Each year in New York City, 6 out of every 10 African-American children die in the womb from abortion. Many of these children are destroyed in Planned Parenthood abortion facilities.

In other large cities across our nation, families of color are targeted by the abortion industry. Social Worker and Civil Rights Leader Erma Clardy Craven shares

Several years ago, when 17,000 aborted babies were found in a dumpster outside a pathology laboratory in Los, Angeles, California, some 12-15,000 were observed to be black.”

Planned Parenthood associating their work with the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement for African Americans, is like Hitler and the Nazi party honoring a prominent Jewish leader that fought anti-Semitism and the persecution of Jews.

It reflects the arrogance and moral blindness of an organization that has the audacity to claim they are fighting for the legacy of Martin Luther King.

As thousands of unborn black boys and girls are vacuumed from the safety of their mother’s womb, starved to death in chemical abortions, poisoned and dismembered in tortuous later term abortions…their tiny dead bodies disposed as “medical waste” in Planned Parenthood facilities across the U.S.

Shame on you Planned Parenthood.

Shame on us for tolerating this genocide against the African American Community.

[Let us truly honor the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King, and fight to end this slaughter of the innocents.]