Aleteia has an interesting article written by a priest who, as a young man, encouraged his then-girlfriend to have an abortion.
The article is about repentance and forgiveness. It talks about the mercy of the Church. I would like to emphasize that the Church is merely the conduit of the real Mercy, which is the Divine Mercy, the mercy of Christ and Him crucified.
Many years ago, I referred young women for abortions. Then, after my conversion, I worked as a volunteer at Birth Choice, an Oklahoma crisis pregnancy center. Based on my experiences, I would say that the number one determiner of whether or not a young woman seeks an abortion is the father of the baby.
This is not absolute, of course, but in most of the cases I encountered, two things that predicated toward the woman either having an abortion or not was how she felt about the baby’s father and how the baby’s father reacted to the pregnancy. The most pro life thing a young man can do is accept responsibility for his unborn child and love the mother of his child. If men did that, it would reduce the number of abortions by a huge amount.
The priest is Father Stephen Embarrato.
I write today as a priest who was guilty of an abortion decades ago. No sooner had I heard about Pope Francis’ letter giving universal faculties to priests to absolve the sin of abortion and lift any excommunication, did I find myself being interviewed on the radio and being asked curious questions about the Pope’s letter.
Is this a new teaching? Is the Church finally forgiving people who have been guilty of an abortion? Later in the day, I was able to read some of the media headlines and I understood why these questions were being asked. A Yahoo headline, “Pope tells priests to pardon women who have had abortions.” MSNBC reported, “Pope says priests can allow this Catholic sin.” The general comments I heard from people on and off social media could be summed up with, “How could the Church be so against abortion that it would refuse mercy to people for this sin.” It is almost as if in one single day we entered an abyss in which the Church was void of mercy when, in reality, the Church is all about mercy…and I am a living example of how the Church, continuing the work of Christ on earth, extends God’s mercy to all who seek His mercy.
In the 1970s, long before I became a priest, I encouraged my girlfriend to have an abortion. Guilt followed almost immediately as did the confession of our sin to a priest. Our healing came much more slowly and we eventually parted ways. Thirty years later, in the seminary, while counseling a young man about his complicity in his girlfriend’s abortion,