She will often say, "This is the hardest thing I will ever have to confess."
The woman who has had an abortion and is sorry for it knows how wrong it is, and
looks for those who also know the evil of that choice. For too long she has been
surrounded by those who tell her, "It’s no big deal" or "It’s your right." But
that doesn’t take the pain away. Now she goes in search of those who will
understand the pain she feels. She comes to us. She comes because our teaching
gives meaning to her grief. She comes because we do not deny that abortion kills
children. It is only they who do not deny that fact who can adequately deal with
its consequences. (This is why silence from the pulpit does not help
those who have had abortions. Silence only creates an atmosphere in which denial
about abortion can flourish. Healing only begins when we break out of denial.)
The challenge for us as priests forgiving a penitent of the sin of abortion
First, we must save her from despair. We must assure her that sins repented
of, confessed, and absolved are truly and completely forgiven. "I have brushed
away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like a mist" (Isaiah 44:22); "You
will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins" (Micah 7:19. One preacher has
commented that God then puts up a sign, "no fishing!"). She should not doubt
that she is forgiven.
At the same time, we need to avoid making her feel that "It's all over" and
that she should "forget about it." She will no more forget about it than will a
mother who has lost her child at any other age. She should know this is normal.
remember her child. Ignoring or forgetting about the child is precisely part of
the denial process that leads to abortion. Healing now involves
re-establishing the bond between mom and child. Mom can be encouraged to name
her child, to pray for her child, even to write a letter to her child asking
Absolution of the sin of abortion is one thing. Healing the wounds of
abortion is another, and it takes longer. The mother may want to take advantage
of post-abortion counseling. She can be given the 1-800-5-WE-CARE post-abortion
hotline number. She can be invited to return for counseling, although we should
make the invitation general ("Come back and talk to a priest") rather than "Come
back and see me," out of respect for her right to preserve anonymity.
Post-abortion healing will be a larger and larger part of our ministry in the
years to come. "Project Rachel" offers priests training in this area. So does
Priests for Life. Good books and tapes are available. Let us be confident as we
extend the hand of mercy to all who have been involved in abortion.
Priests for Life is on the World Wide Web at http://www.priestsforlife.org.
The Website became available in May and we are receiving lots of visitors and
messages! Practically all of our materials and publications are posted there,
and our Website provides some highly unusual services which will constantly be
updated and expanded.
But first, for those who are unfamiliar with this new world of communication,
a word of advice: Do not be afraid, and Do not miss out on this
important advance in human communication and interaction. The World Wide Web
is a vast network of information, images, and dialogue that puts individuals and
groups in immediate contact with each other. It bypasses many other media. The
pro-life message must have a prominence on the Web that it lacks in other
communications media! If it does not, it will be nobody's fault but ours.
It doesn’t take much to gain access to the World Wide Web. A good
introduction to it is in the book Internet for Christians: Everything You
Need to Start Cruising the Net Today! By Quentin J. Shultze. It is available
from Gospel Communications, 1-800-253-0413.
The Priests for Life website is a source of information for clergy and laity,
whether of the Catholic Church or other communities. Visitors can understand the
abortion issue more deeply, and what they can do about it. Not only are there
special suggestions for what priests and laity can do, but there are numerous
links with other sites that provide practical information on how to carry out
specific activities. As of this newsletter’s printing, we are developing
features like locating the nearest crisis pregnancy center, e-mailing a letter
to the editor to any of a large list of media outlets, and finding pro-life
groups in any part of the country. All of this can be done from our site!
We actually have a map on our Website. Click to your state and you can hook
up to resources there. In fact, you can request us to post information there for
your pro-life group!!! Send information to us by e-mail, or by fax or mail, and
we will consider it for posting.
We want to thank Catholic Online for the help they have given us to get our
Website started. We ask all of you to make Internet users aware of our Website
address. We hope to meet you soon on the Web!
Put Down Your Cross and Follow Yourself
At the heart of liberty is the right "to define one’s own concept of
existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." So
wrote the Supreme Court in the 1992 Planned Parenthood vs. Casey decision, which
re-affirmed the so-called "right" to abortion.
The same clause was quoted in a 1996 decision in San Francisco which found a
"liberty interest" for physician-assisted suicide. It is amazing, as you read
through the assisted suicide ruling, how frequently abortion and the
abortion-related decisions of the courts are mentioned!
Both feed off each other. If I can own the life of my child to the extent
that, at least in some circumstances, I can extinguish it, then certainly, at
least in some circumstances, I can extinguish my own! This is especially true if
I’m the one who decides the meaning, value, and purpose of that life in the
If I decide the meaning of life, then I also decide the meaning of suffering
and death. The Ninth Circuit ruling on assisted suicide reversed a lower court
ruling which said that assisted suicide would put terminally ill people at a
disadvantage because instead of giving them care, we would be giving them death.
The Ninth Circuit's reasoning, instead, was that if some people could have death
by refusing treatment, as is already permitted, it is unjust to deprive others
of death brought on by lethal drugs. To one court, death is a burden; to the
other, death is a benefit!
This so-called "liberty" to end suffering by causing death is a total
reversal of Our Lord's words, "Take up your cross, and follow me." This does not
mean we look for suffering. On the contrary, we do our best to relieve the
sufferings of others. But this does mean
that suffering has a meaning -- not a meaning that we decide, but a
meaning God has put there. To support those who suffer, and give them loving
care, is to enable them to bear their cross with Christ. To give them a
prescription for death is, rather, to enable them to throw their cross away.
Death is not a benefit. It is a curse on the human race.
Only by union with Christ does death lead us to life. But that is a benefit
not because we choose death, but because we choose Christ, who conquers it!
Mark Your Parish Calendars: December 9th
Priests for Life will once again play a major role in promoting the National
Night of Prayer for Life, now in its seventh year. This year it will be held on
the night of Monday, December 9th. We encourage you to hold an
evening of adoration and reparation. We will be glad to provide Rosary
Intentions and Pro-Life Eucharistic Reflections. (Call or write Priests for Life
If you will hold the Night of Prayer, you are encouraged to contact the
national co-ordinator, so she may have a record of how widespread the event is.
Contact Anne Murphy, 395 Clift St., Central Islip, NY 11722 or call
Helpful Guidelines Issued Regarding Political
Priests for Life strongly encourages all priests to obtain a copy of the
February 14, 1996 memorandum from Mark E. Chopko, General Counsel of the USCC,
regarding what activities during election campaigns are and are not permitted to
Catholic organizations exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of
the Internal Revenue Code. The Office of the General Counsel is at 3211 4th
Street NE, Washington, DC 20017-1194, tel. 202-541-3300.
Together with reading the 13-page memorandum, priests may consult the above
office in matters of doubt, and are encouraged to consult diocesan legal counsel
This should be done not only to make sure we don't do what we
shouldn't, but also to make sure we do all we can.
In short, political campaign activity is prohibited, but lobbying is not; it
is, however, limited.
Activities which are permitted (let’s DO them) are educating
candidates on the issues, educating voters about the issues in an
unbiased way, publicizing incumbents’ voting records (see the
guidelines for the conditions), conducting candidate questionnaires,
sponsoring nonpartisan voter registration/Get-out-the-vote drives, holding
nonpartisan public forums, debates, or lectures, and, of course,
personally (in our capacity as individual citizens) becoming politically
active, while avoiding misunderstanding between our personal and
organizational roles. Titles may be used for identification purposes.
What we ask you is this: READ the guidelines, FOLLOW the guidelines, and DO
NOT BE AFRAID! This is the time for us to be active and to call our people to be
Walk With Christ For Life
The pro-life office of the Diocese of Fargo, ND invites all pro-lifers to
join Bishop James Sullivan for the Annual Walk With Christ for Life on Sunday,
August 18 in Fargo. A service will begin at St. Mary's Cathedral at 1 pm,
followed by a procession to North Dakota's only abortion center, followed by a
Mass and picnic in Wahpeton. Call 701-235-6429 for more information.
Lime 5 released in January 1996 by Mark Crutcher, is the powerful book
exposing how unsafe legal abortion is for women (not to mention children). It is
now available through Priests for Life. Call us for details. This is a book all
pro-lifers should have and read.
We encourage Priests to promote it in their parishes.
NEW FOOTAGE OF THE PRE-BORN
I recently saw scenes of a nine-week old pre-born child waking up from sleep!
I nearly fell of my seat! These were not scenes from ultrasound, but rather of a
rarely-used technique called embryoscopy. You too can view this scene and many
others, thanks to a series of videos available from Priests for Life.
This is the newest and most powerful way to demonstrate the humanity of the
pre-born child. These videos do not show an abortion or the
results of abortion. In fact, they are "abortion-neutral" and made for
educational purposes. Several versions are available, including a children’s
version. Every detail on these videos is backed up by accurate scientific
authority, and the narration is given by a board-certified OB-GYN.
You have never seen this footage before, because embryoscopy is very rare. An
is inserted transvaginally in the first trimester and rests upon the amnion,
or transparent membrane of the amniotic sac. The relevance of these scenes over
and above fetoscopy (camera pictures of babies in the later stages of pregnancy)
is that 90% of abortions occur in the first trimester. Embryoscopy shows us
these beautiful, living babies!
Abortion thrives on rhetoric, which hides the reality of the humanity of the
child. Videos like this break through the rhetoric! We urge parishes and schools
to obtain and use this brand new footage! Contact us for details.
Partial Birth Abortion Education
Over 90 pro-life leaders around the country signed a statement drawn up by
Fr. Frank Pavone, condemning partial birth abortion (and all abortion)
and pledging to educate America about the partial birth abortion procedure. The
statement calls "for an end to the myth that partial birth abortions can be
necessary for a woman’s health." It also asks, "If we cannot reject this as
wrong, what will we reject? If this does not disturb us, is there anything that
will?" Copies of the statement and the signers are available from us.
Priest Profiles: Monsignor Bob Guste
Forty-five years ago, Monsignor Bob Guste was ordained as a priest of the
Archdiocese of New Orleans. He has served as a parochial vicar in three parishes
and was pastor of two of them until he was assigned to work in Evangelization
and Spiritual Renewal. For the past fourteen years, he has given parish missions
and retreats to promote the Gospel and to renew the faith life of the people in
Monsignor Guste has been interested in social justice for over fifty years.
Living in the south before the civil rights movement, he found a vast arena for
work in social justice. In 1957, he wrote a book on race relations particularly
regarding the Church in the south. Monsignor's long-standing interest in human
rights led him naturally to stand up for the unborn. He notes that the greatest
violation of human rights is abortion, the killing of the unborn child.
Monsignor notes that often the social justice issues are separated from the
fight against abortion. He not only finds this curious, but very misdirected. He
was struck and touched by Pope John Paul II's connection of social justice to
the pro-life effort. The Holy Father made this connection during his recent
visit to the United States. As Fr. Guste says, "one cannot be for human rights
and social justice without being pro-life."
Monsignor also strongly notes the connection between contraception and
abortion. There are many, many more abortions by contraception than there are by
surgical intervention. Following John Paul II, Fr. Guste urges all of us to
notice that where contraception abounds, abortion increases. The culture of
death grows through the contraceptive mentality. Once one has the idea that he
or she can control procreation, abortion follows--the ultimate control over life
and death. When preaching about contraception and the life issues, Monsignor
Guste always promotes Natural Family Planning.
Fr. Guste has written three books on evangelization and the Church which are
available from Queenship Publishing in Santa Barbara, CA (800-647-9882).
Priests for Life salutes Monsignor Guste for forty-five years of ordained
priesthood at the service of human dignity and human life.
--Fr. Richard Hogan
More help --
Priests for Life recommends to all clergy the religious outreach newsletter,
Life, of the National Right to Life Committee. It contains bulletin
inserts, suggested prayers for the General Intercessions, and concise news
updates regarding the religious response to abortion and euthanasia. Subscribe
by writing to Choose Life, National Right to Life,
419 Seventh St. NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20004.
Material in this newsletter may be reproduced and distributed to spread the