Friday, 22 January 2016

Collateral Damage

Who did not see this coming?

From the New York Times:

Pope Francis has announced that all Roman Catholic priests have the power to offer absolution for the “sin of abortion” during the church’s Holy Year of Mercy, which began in December. Without changing the church’s orientation on the issue, Francis described “the scar of this agonizing and painful decision” in the hearts of many women he said he had met.

For some women, his words were a source of consolation in the emotional and therapeutic labyrinth they had to navigate.The first thing I thought when I heard it was, ‘Well, at least now he will absolve me,’ ” said a 38-year-old mother of two adopted children who decided, without her husband’s knowledge, to have an abortion for personal and economic reasons. She traveled more than 50 kilometers, or 31 miles, to have the procedure

“It was not the right moment, and I knew it,” she said of having a baby. “Who are they all to judge me?”

Poor baby. Having been judged unworthy of life, I hope his/her end was quick.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I that woman wouldn't be able to be absolved as she doesn't view it is a sin. Not sure why you don't want sacrament of penance available in the usual way to this large class of sinners- is their sin unforgiveable?

  3. If they are sorry, of course it is forgivable. I certainly want the sacrament of penance available in the usual way, and in fact in many diocese, bishops have already given priests the facilities to absolve people involved with abortions. What I found (and find) distressing was the way the new dispensation was publicized with the inevitable assumption by the world's media (and therefore an unfortunate number of the world's Catholics) that it meant abortion wasn't considered that big a sin anymore.

    The other problematic quote was the "Who are they to judge"; priests are now reporting "penitents" now saying variations on that in the confessional, e.g. when asked if they are sorry for their sin.

  4. What Anamaria said. The poor baby and husband; but most of all, the poor woman - 'who are they all to judge me?' is pretty irreconcilable with a penitent spirit.

    However, I thought Pope Francis was recognising that abortion has become so widespread that requiring everyone who has had or procured or taken part in an abortion to seek absolution from their bishop would be an impossible demand on the bishop's time, and mean many would be too ashamed/poor to make an appointment with the bishop and travel to him.

    On top of all that, it's doubtful if many catholics even realise a priest cannot normally absolve abortion (I wonder what priests say in that situation - do they offer to contact the bishop or leave it to the penitent? Do they absolve all other sins?)

    So in that sense, this is a great mercy, and should be used to try draw those who have had abortions back into full life in the church. But that rather begs the question of whether parishes and dioceses are prepped to handle an influx of scarred people who need lots of support while re-establishing themselves in the church. Our parishes barely cope with 'normal operations'...

    Given abortion stats show most abortions are to women in the 18-25 band, it suggests there is a need for some intensive counseling and 'big sisters' to support those young women; outreach on university campuses, etc. But has the Vatican discussed this with dioceses? Hopefully.

    There are a lot of people needing a lot of mercy - I just hope we are ready to help them properly.

    Southern Bloke.
    P.S. Just realised since Pope Francis announced this, I have not heard any talk from the pulpit about it in my home parish or any other parish I have visited. Does not bode well for a big uptake if they don't even announce it. Will raise it with soon-to-arrive new parish priest.

    1. Yes, something must be done for women between the ages of 18-25, preferably BEFORE they discover themselves pregnant. Maybe some tough talk about "Here's the percentage of women who get pregnant within a year of going to college/uni" or "Guess what, you will never be as fertile as you are between the ages of 18 and 25." The final year of high school could have a strong don't-get-pregnant-at-uni component (while assuming a percentage will get pregnant anyway, so with a strong pro-motherhood message) and post-abortion counsellors should offer their services to university students, perhaps via the college newspapers. I once sat with a weeping, post-abortive post-secondary student, who was retroactively devastated by what she had done, so I know whereof I speak.

      There is so much talk about mercy, but not about what mercy actually is. For example, it is merciful not to kill an unborn child, even when you are under a lot of pressure to do so. It is merciful not to destroy someone's reputation, even if you somehow think they deserve it. It is merciful not to stab your old boss/mentor in the back, even if he's Michael Voris. What a post-abortive woman who deeply regrets her abortion woman needs is a shoulder to cry on and the sacrament of reconciliation. What a post-abortive woman who DOESN'T regret it needs is not really my place to say. Surely mercy is not saying "Yeah, you made the right choice for you" to the woman who is grateful she had an abortion. It might not even be being extremely careful never to bring up the topic to women who might never have had one. I heard an anecdote about someone suggesting at some media outlet meeting that they write about some abortion issue, and one of the women at the table went grey. The idea was swiftly dropped, which was on one hand merciful (i.e. kind), and on the other not.

      What is merciful is making sure that any man or woman who desperately wants to make his or her peace with God knows how to go about it. Open confessionals and excellent confessors....Other than that, what can be done?

      There's as much cheap mercy as there is cheap grace, I imagine.

    2. *Oh, sorry. I meant "never bringing up the topic to women who might have had one." Generally I don't, believe me.

    3. Yes. Definitely yes. That sounds like a very good program for the 18-25s. I was shocked to read a mainstream media article about 'how successful Catholics schools are' in my city, only to find the astute (lapsed Catholic) journo ascertained and wrote about how 22 of 25 students interviewed at one rich Catholic high school did NOT attend Mass, and just 2 of those 25 agreed with the Church's teachings. And that was the principal's hand-picked group of students!@$! The need for your program of education and real mercy is kinda desperate I reckon.

      Of course, it takes tact. I learnt that the hard way as an under-grad, in pub discussions with lapsed Catholics who were proud of their mother's 'right for them at that time' choices to abort their siblings.

      A vital outreach for Catholic women especially, as post-abortive women don't seem too keen on discussing such things with men, strangely...


    4. Tact is right. When I was a teenager I listened to another teenager tell me how his mother had an abortion when they all first came to Canada because she didn't know what else to do, and I pointed out that this "choice" wasn't a free choice then, was it? He cried.

  5. I have heard priests complain that people come to confession and detail all the offences that other people have committed against them rather than stating their own sins. "Who are they all to judge me?" thing sounds a bit like that. Not really a sorrowful sentiment.


  6. The bright spot in all this is that the theme of the original article is how few Italian doctors want to do abortions and how they don't HAVE to do them, either.

  7. Yeh, it's kinda funny watching the 'free choice' liberals contorting themselves to reconcile their desire for abortion for all, with the refusal of medical practitioners to carry out those abortions...

    Tho I shouldn't laugh; the same liberals have got our Parliamentary health select committee investigating legalising euthanasia. 1 week to go for submissions. Scary thing is our MPs are overwhelmingly liberal, so mostly anti-life on all issues unless there is big majority public pushback on that issue. Sign of a broken system. Only plus is the chair of the committee is an ex-seminarian orthodox catholic! :)