Will God Forgive an Abortion?
WILL GOD FORGIVE MY ABORTION?
It is no stretch to think many women, after having an abortion, think to themselves, “Will God forgive me?” or “Will I go to hell?” or “Can I ever forgive myself?”
Does God forgive abortion is a question not lost on the Church.
The Catholic view on abortion is clear: “Abortion is murder…It’s a human life, period.” (Pope Francis)
But less understood is God’s infinite mercy! And how “It is up to us…to give voice to God and to show the face of his mercy“. (Pope Francis)
Do Catholics support abortion? No. Can you be forgiven for an abortion? Absolutely!
“Formal cooperation in an abortion is a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life”. However, “the Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy.” (CCC, 2272)
GOD’S INFINITE MERCY
Pope St. John Paul II said, “I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly, what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.” (Evangelium Vitae, 99)
And, this same advice applies to your aborted child! “To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child.” (Evangelium Vitae, 99)
AFTER ABORTION CARE
The Church understands that “Decisions that go against life sometimes arise from difficult or even tragic situations of profound suffering, loneliness, a total lack of economic prospects, depression and anxiety about the future. Such circumstances can mitigate even to a notable degree subjective responsibility and the consequent culpability of those who make these choices which in themselves are evil.” (Pope St. John Paul II, 18)
Understanding this, the Church realizes “It will likewise be necessary…to provide [for] women who having unfortunately already had an abortion are now experiencing the full moral and existential tragedy of it. Many dioceses and volunteer organizations offer psychological and spiritual support for full human recovery. The solidarity of the Christian community cannot dispense with this type of co- responsibility.” (Pope Benedict XVI)
IT IS NOT ALWAYS EASY TO SAY “YES” TO LIFE
The Church defends the human dignity of the child and also the mother. Respect for life means “The Church’s pastoral concern will [extend to] those families in particular which are in difficult or irregular situations.” (Pope St. John Paul II, 65)
The guilt of abortion should not be born alone. “Whatever the cause, single parents must receive encouragement and support from other families in the Christian community, and from the parish’s pastoral outreach.” (Pope Francis, 252)
“The Church, our mother, is committed to supporting with all her strength the good and generous presence of fathers in families” (Pope Francis)
So, “For Christians…an urgent and indispensable field for the apostolate and for Gospel witness is always open: to protect life with courage and love in all its stages.” (Pope Benedict XVI)
REMEMBER – YOU CAN HELP OTHERS
“[A]s a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life”. (Evangelium Vitae, 99) You can join in Pope Francis’ call to women who find themselves in a similar situation to yours:
“With great affection I urge all future mothers: keep happy and let nothing rob you of the interior joy of motherhood…Don’t let fears, worries, other people’s comments or problems lessen your joy at being God’s means of bringing a new life to the world…Try to experience this serene excitement amid all your many concerns, and ask the Lord to preserve your joy.” (Pope Francis, 171)
Perhaps the best example of God’s infinite mercy is the Mass celebrated by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral on December 8, 2021, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Mass was in celebration for Dorothy Day’s cause for canonization advancing to Rome’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Dorothy Day, who had an abortion, is being proposed for sainthood!
Catholic social teaching is built on three foundational principles - Human Dignity, Solidarity and Subsidiarity. Human Dignity, embodied in a correct understanding of the human person, is the greatest. The others flow from it. Good governments and good economic systems find ways of fostering the three principles.
This means a correct understanding of the human person and of each person’s unique value. All Catholic social teaching flows from this: the inherent dignity of every person that comes from being made in God’s image.
Solidarity is not “a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of others. It is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good”. (Pope St. John Paul II, 38) Love of God and love of neighbor are, in fact, linked and form one, single commandment.
Subsidiarity “is a fundamental principle of social philosophy, fixed and unchangeable, that one should not withdraw from individuals and commit to the community what they can accomplish by their own enterprise and industry. So, too, it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and a disturbance of right order to transfer to the larger and higher collectivity functions which can be performed and provided for by the lesser and subordinate bodies”. (Pope Pius XI)
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