Do You Agree With Abortion Forgiveness?


Pope Francis is capturing the media’s attention with his visit to Cuba and the United States this week.  So, a young woman currently working as a journalist in New York City, who is part of Columbia University’s M.S. program, interviewed me over the phone on Monday about Pope Francis’ announcement regarding abortion forgiveness for women.

My positive reaction to the pope’s decision shocked this journalist at first. It seems almost everyone she has interviewed so far were, to use her words, “judgmental” and against Pope Francis’s  decision.  Thus, it was my turn to be shocked. In my opinion, what could be more fitting than to open the Jubilee Year of Mercy 2016 by welcoming women who have suffered an abortion back into full communion with the Church?

Who were these practicing Catholics  she interviewed who refuse to extend  forgiveness to women who are burdened with guilt after having an abortion? Have they never sinned? Are they so perfect they fall into the trap of demanding only the pure be part of their Church club?  How can a Christian not be willing to forgive an act of abortion, especially when the sinner is contrite, coming to confession seeking reconciliation?

When we begin the inner spiritual journey to encounter Christ in a deeper way, we discover our own sinfulness. On the other hand, if we live on the surface, we can be blind to the reality or our own inner, sinful nature. We can easily slip into pride, intolerant of others who are weak. Conversely, the pope is acting and speaking as a compassionate pastor and confessor who understands the terrible circumstances which drive young women to seek an abortion as well as the awful guilt which burdens them afterward.

In the New Testament, Pharisees acted as if they were perfect because they thought they followed the letter of the law. New Testament Christians realized they could not purify themselves. It then followed that circumscribed Jews, who had been given the law, were no better than uncircumscribed Gentiles because all were sinners, all needed to be saved.  St. Paul’s letters stressed over and over again, mankind needed Jesus to die on the cross for their sins and rise again in new life so all men and women might rise with Christ to live a new life in God. Today, just like St. Paul,  Pope Francis reminds us this powerful forgiveness is for all, not just the good Catholics.

Only the humble can accept forgiveness and the Love of God, then love and forgive others.

In his new book, “Walking with Jesus: A Way Forward for the Church”, published by Loyola Press, Pope Francis sees faith as a journey which emphasizes the mercy and love of God for all, especially the poor, the marginalized and the sinner. The pope quite rightly states: No one is excluded from life’s hope, from God’s love. [Emphasis mine.]

The challenge for us as the faithful is not only to forgive and love others but to allow ourselves to be forgiven and loved. When we act like a Pharisee, as if we are perfect, we demand perfection from others. When we act like Christ, we allow His mercy to flow through us. This is why Pope Francis has offered forgiveness to women who have had an abortion through any priest when they come with contrite hearts, desperately desiring full communion with the Church.

My only conclusion here is those who refuse to forgive women who have had an abortion do not know their own desperate need for mercy. May God have mercy on us all.

First published on Catholic Stand

12 thoughts on “Do You Agree With Abortion Forgiveness?

  1. Forgiveness is always available for ANY sin if the person confessing is truly repentant. With abortion there are many more people involved besides the person receiving the abortion. What we also need to remember is that all who assist her are culpable too, so the sin of abortion effects many more than just the woman who is having her child destroyed. (I believe most dioceses in the U.S have allowed priests to administer absolution to repentant women for close to 30 years).

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    1. yes.. a priest mentioned this in CatholicStand. .. When I first read the news releases, I was surprised and thought I must have been misinformed all along because the writers stated only certain assigned priests could revoke excommunication for women who have had an abortion. The articles also stressed this decision was only valid for this coming Jubilee Year of Mercy. Yet I have a couple friends who are devoted, practising Catholics who had an abortion in their teens and who had confessed numerous times ( guilt clings). I had always assumed they must have been forgiven and of course not still excommunicated.

      I kept the article because of the reaction of some “conservative Catholics” and you are correct, abortion affects and implicates many more people than the woman and her unborn child

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    1. I know as a convert myself, the first time we go to confession, we receive absolution for our entire former life. We can’t withhold mortal sins and mention the venial sins we can remember.As a couple commentators pointed out, since 1983, every diocese in the States except one, as given permission to priests to forgive an abortion,

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  2. It is my belief that Christ charges us to forgive and to love. It is not for me to judge the actions of another person, though, as a human man, I will naturally form my own opinions. We are all human, therefore we all sin. To put it more plainly, we all have baggage.

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  3. thank you…great article. Sadly, what the journalist experienced is true in many circumstances.
    We need to reach out to not only women, but men who have been involved in abortion, parents, friends etc..our world is very wounded but God’s mercy is there for the taking for the contrite heart..

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  4. Great article Melanie. Thanx.

    Abortion is rarely decided upon lightly. A lot of women continue to bear the pain and guilt of what they have done for years if not for ever.

    The Catholic Church excommunicates women who have abortions and also the medics involved, (if Catholic). However, the Church does not excommunicate someone who commits murder. He can confess, repent and is forgiven. At no time is he excommunicated.

    The Pope’s message has been misunderstood (not for the firsr time). It is said that forgiveness and return to Communion will be allowed during the Jubilee Year. How about someone who confesses before, or after, the year is over?

    Our Church needs to clarify on where it stands on excommunication. Why excommunicate for one sin and not another.

    Christ never excommunicated anyone. He came to forgive, time and again.

    God bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

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