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May 07, 2004

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Charles M. de Nunzio

Annie was kind to answer one of my questions with that lengthy post, even though (as she explains) she herself wasn't one of these gung-ho pro-abortion activists my question was envisioning. Her reply makes a ton of sense to me.

And, heading off hasty conclusions at the pass, the e-mailer referred to in the last paragraph of this excerpt is not me. I have much admiration for the "Silent No More" women and wish them well; they are doing a very necessary work.

Tom

"There is no unified, serious, consistent outcry or effort against abortion......from the lay members of the Catholic Church...
"Wow, what a great statement and so true. What is our strategy for our lay people? How do we respond in an intelligent direct yet thoughful manner to pro-abortion types? What is our plan? What should it be? Any ideas?

James Kabala

OK, I may be condemned for this, but here goes:

I repudiate the crazy and cruel statements made by the anonymous e-mailer, but I really worry sometimes about the diminishment of personal responsibility that a lot of the "post-abortive" stuff implies. It seems so influenced by political correctness and feminism: men like the abortionists themselves or the pro-abortion politicians mentioned are held fully guilty for their acts, and rightfully so, but the women who had their children aborted are supposed to be treated as victims instead of perpetrators. If they repent, they should be met with forgiveness like any other sinner, and programs like Rachel's Vineyard to bring about emotional healing are great, but I don't think that they have a right to demand that they should be treated as if nothing had ever happened. I fear that I may sound like the elder brother of the Prodigal Son or the laborers who worked all day and got the same pay as those who worked one hour, but I think that it is an insult to women who did the right thing to act as if the differnce between them and women who did not should be completely wiped away. It will be and should be in Heaven, but not on Earth. If a committer of some other grave sin (murder, rape, child molestation, etc.) repented, he ought to be welcomed back into the Church, but he would be regarded as absurdly presumptuous if he demanded that people erase their memories of his former crime.

Anna

I partly agree with James Kabala. But I think we DO have to forgive and forget as completely as we can.

Doing right should be, is, its own reward, but it is difficult to follow the sexual/reproductive teachings of the Church. People see their 20s and 30s going by w/out experiencing marriage, sexual intimacy, children; other people sacrifice a great deal to bring an "unplanned" child into the world...or perhaps they live with the bittersweet aftermath of giving a child up for adoption; others try unsuccessfully to conceive a child year after year.

All of these people need support, encouragement and sympathy too, and perhaps people who have aborted their babies present the greatest challenge to their compassion. But we must try.

People who have had abortions - indeed all of us - should remember that we all have our own obstacles and sorrows and sin with which to contend. Don't assume that everyone is focused on you and your sin. Get outside of yourself a bit and realize that we all have troubles and are trying to find our way Home.

gerald kerr

Jesus Christ is the Divine Mercy. He forgives. Why can't we?

I suspect that the responder who was prolife, profamily, proeverything good and holy is blowing smoke. He could be a prochoicer in disguise trying to muddy the waters and sow the appearance of judgmentalism in the prolife vinyard. If he really is a prolifer, he needs a good horsewhipping for being a rigid jerk.

Emily

"I don't think that they have a right to demand that they should be treated as if nothing had ever happened."

Could you clarify how exactly you would want to treat me differently?

Would I be allowed to receive and extend the sign of peace? Would I be allowed to sing in the choir?

Do you want those of us who have had an abortion to wear a special garment so that newcomers and visitors don't accidentally treat us the same?

Should we be required to participate in an annual stone-throwing ceremony in the parking lot? Would real stones be used or would they be symbolic stones made out of paper mache? Would our remaining children be allowed to watch the ceremony?

Or is it your recommendation that I be allowed to participate in the life of the church, but would be shunned from your social circle?

Is the only time that we'd sit down to a meal together be the annual Pro-Life banquet when I get invited to speak about the horror of abortion from a personal perspective?

Or would you recommend that we be treated just the same on the surface, but every so often--perhaps in line at the grocery store, perhaps on the sidelines as we watch our kids compete in the swim meet, perhaps as I prepare myself to receive the Lord in the Holy Eucharist--you or one of your friends would lean over and whisper into my ear, "I haven't forgotten what you did."

James Kabala

Emily,
I don't want to be nasty, but you're demanding something that goes beyond human nature. It's natural that people who have committed especially egregious sins will be looked at warily even after they repent. If Paul Shanley sincerely repented tomorrow, do you think that he would be let back into the priesthood as if nothing had ever happened?
In the early Church, penitents for severe sins were kept away from the sacraments for years, sometimes even until their deathbed. I am glad that those days are over, but I don't believe in going to the opposite extreme: i.e., that forgiveness should mean a complete abolition of all consequences of one's actions. I feel sorry for you, but I don't belive that the Church should capitulate to the therapeutic culture and to the idea that the worst sins are those that make people feel uncomfortable while the primary, if not only, virtue is "being nice".

Naomi

James,

There is a great big ol' difference between a woman who has repented of abortion and a man who has repented of child sexual abuse.

The woman who has aborted in the past presents zero risk to any living children in the parish. I do not know how many women "relapse" into multiple abortions after repentance and counseling, but I'm willing to bet the number is quite low.

By contrast, the recidivism rate amongst pedophiles is quite high. In this sense, not all sins -- not even all mortal sins -- are equal.

I don't know who, if anyone, among my parish friends, has had an abortion. If she wants to share that pain with me, I'll be honored with the confidence.

Perhaps, James, you've been preserved by God's grace from serious sins. You go right on being thankful for that. I'll rejoice with God for you.

Me, I'm grateful to be able to love much, having been forgiven more dreadful things than I care to recall.

James Kabala

Maybe pedophilia was a bad example.
If I keep this up, I'm going to be goaded into attacking specific individuals, so I had better apologize if my language was too strong and withdraw from the discussion.

amy

Why not forgive?

Did Jesus ever instruct us to withhold forgiveness, mercy or compassion? Ever?

If a woman who has procured an abortion or a MAN who pressured and paid for an abortion or PARENTS who trucked their unwilling daughter down to the abortion clinic have been reconciled to God through His Church, I can trust that whatever penances have been given by his ministers of this sacrament have been accepted, and that it is none of my damn business.

Lynn

Amen.

James Kabala

I didn't say not to forgive. I just am bothered by the idea that a good person's reaction to a person who has had (OR helped procure; I am trying to get men off the hook) is supposed to be "You poor, poor thing," not "Welcome back to the Church and the Sacraments, but we can't pretend that this sin never happened or that it won't affect my opinion of you."
If O.J. Simpson suddenly admitted his guilt and claimed to be repentant, I still think that most people would be extremely reluctant to join his golfing foursome. Maybe in the eyes of Christ, it would be the non-golfers who would be worthy of condemnation, not O.J., but I suspect that the truth is more complicated. Aren't we all disgusted when we see people like Mike Tyson or Roman Polanski welcomed back into their high-profile careers as if they had never done anything wrong? I guess that there is no evidence that Tyson or Polanski is repentant, but what if they were?
Futhermore, I think that the idea that all, or nearly all, women who have abortions were bullied into it and bear little or no personal responsibility is poltical correctness, not reality. The dominant tone of our culture these days is that men are responsible for all evil and women are never anything but victims, and I think that the constant emphasis on the supposed pressurers behind every aborter, even when expressed by as wonderful and admirable a Christian as Amy, is a symptom of this same cultural misandry. I would treat a man who assisted a woman in obtaining an abortion the same way that I would treat a woman who actually had one, but I refuse to believe that evil male bullies are the real reason behind every single abortion, not just some.

Holly Dutton

Dear Mrs. Welborn: Did you see my article in MichNews recently? My article was in response to Illinois Catholic prolife writer Matt C. Abbott's article, "The Morality of Prenatal Diagnosis," MichNews, April 22, 2004. Abbott's article so inspired me I just had to respond. I e-mailed Abbott a response. Abbott e-mailed back, saying he was really impressed by my response and asked if he could use parts of it in his future columns. I e-mailed Abbott back, giving him permission to do so. On Monday, April 26, 2004, Abbott published my response to his article in MichNews under the heading, "Straight Guy with the Catholic Eye: A Powerful Testimony." Log in at www.michnews. On the left-hand margin is a sidebar containing MichNews columnists' names in alphabetical order. Log in under Abbott, Matt C. and you will be able to find my response to his article. I enjoy your column in Our Sunday Visitor very much. The lady you wrote about this week, Annie Banno of Connecticut Silent No More, is a pro-life e-mail friend of mine at Emily's AfterAbortion Blog. I enjoy Annie's comments greatly, too. I am glad you decided to publish Annie's remarks about the dilemma postabortive people face in deciding which side of the abortion debate to join. I know how Annie feels, because I was there myself for many years after my 1973 abortion. To further complicate matters, my abortion was one of those "hard" case abortions, done for sexual assault, medical problems, or a combination (mine was a combination). As you probably know, one of the biggest proabort lies is that "hard" case abortions do not harm women because they are done for supposedly "justifiable" reasons. However, as my family, friends, and I painfully discovered, even having an abortion for "justifiable" reasons does NOT necessarily make it ANY EASIER to deal with! Please log in on my commentary at MichNews and let me know what you think. And, please keep it up with that great pen of yours, Mrs. Welborn! I really appreciate your courage, compassion, and wisdom in Our Suday Vistor, and want to see them keep on coming in those great columns! Sincerely, Holly Dutton

diane

Excuse me James - what church do you belong to? Are you familiar with what our Holy Church teaches on forgiveness? Are you familiar that Jesus Christ has said that when one receives forgiveness, our sins are as far as from East as is West?

You know what? I'll be honest. Catholics who express stuff like this scare me more than pro-choicers. I'm going to answer some of your comments directly.


but I don't think that they have a right to demand that they should be treated as if nothing had ever happened. >>>

(fortunately) *you* do not define how Jesus commands His disciples to treat others after forgiveness has been restored. The Catholic Church has said that full pardon and repentence is offered after a true and holy confession - that all of us become fully restored and are welcomed back fully into the grace and beauty of Jesus in the Sacraments is *exactly* what our deposit of faith tells us occurs.

I fear that I may sound like the elder brother of the Prodigal Son or the laborers who worked all day and got the same pay as those who worked one hour>>>
Your fears have been realized.

but I think that it is an insult to women who did the right thing to act as if the differnce between them and women who did not should be completely wiped away.>>>W
Well, then I would suggest that you review your own sins confessed in the confessional and really, really ask yourself if you want to be "treated differently" than your fellow brothers who refrained. Like it or not? Your serious sin is absolutely no different than the sin of these women. In the eyes of Christ, it is all abomination. So if you want that for them, then you must be willing to want it for you.

Furthermore, the women who refrained from abortion already *have* the freedom and the lack of pain that the abortion caused. That *is* their gift - and is the gift that Jesus offers in the confessional. I am completely shocked that you would attempt to diminish what occurs in the confessional by such a suggestion.

It will be and should be in Heaven, but not on Earth. >>>

Really? Then why did Jesus say (in regards to confession) "What you bind on earth, you bind in heaven, and what you loose on earth, you loose on heaven" if it was *not* to be the same?

If a committer of some other grave sin (murder, rape, child molestation, etc.) repented, he ought to be welcomed back into the Church, but he would be regarded as absurdly presumptuous if he demanded that people erase their memories of his former crime.>>>>

Then frankly, my brother, we are all lost. I'm going to be honest with you, and it's going to be hard to hear. Please forgive me in advance if I cause you any unecessary pain. It's not my intention to do so.

But Catholics like you who believe this scare me more than a pro-choice person advocating for abortions to be legal.

And the reason for that is because you want to perpetuate the shame and fear that drives pregnant girls into secrets. And those secrets become abortions. I deal with girls like that everyday - and it's attitudes like yours, possessed by their dads, that drive them toward their abortion because they know that secretly, *full* forgiveness will never be truly offered by you.

Please please be careful.

Maureen

There are times when sinner and victim are one and the same person. It is presumptuous of us to treat repentant sinners as if they are some kind of scum. "Thank God I am not like them."

No, I'm not like them. I didn't live their hard lives; I've had a pretty nice one. So what's _my_ excuse for the horrible things I've done, and the good things I've failed to do? Won't God be harder on me than on them?

Maybe I should be begging God to be like them -- cognizant of my own sin and littleness.

Maureen

Lynn

I agree, Maureen. Only God knows a person's heart. And God knows that we are all sinners and in need of forgiveness, from God and from each other.

James Kabala

I am going to make one last effort to defend myself, and then I will give up again, this time for real. I realize that I may have hurt people's feelings and probably should not have posted in the first place, but once I did I have to defend myself against implications that I am an ogre or a Pharisee.
I believe that justice demands that certain sins have to carry some kind of permanent earthly penalty, even if they will be forgiven in Heaven. I don't have a long list of such sins, just the obvious ones: Murder, rape, child abuse (sexual or physical), wife beating, treason, maybe a couple more. And yes, since abortion is a form of murder, it would be covered also.
I don't think that this is a un-Christian position; in fact, I think that this is one of the cornerstones of our civilization. You can't get out of a life sentence without parole for murder just by becoming repentant after several years in jail. I don't believe in the death penalty, but I think that people like Pat Robertson who do were incredibly hypocritical when they called for Karla Faye Tucker to be pardoned just because she now claimed to be born again. Then-Governor Bush was right to not give a commutation; a just sentence does not become unjust through the criminal's repentance. Furthermore, isn't the Church's doctrine of Puragtory based on the idea that we must still pay for our mortal sins even after we repent of them?
This isn't an attack only on women who have had abortions; it applies just as much, if not more, to repentant abortion doctors. If someone like Bernard Nathanson is pro-life now, then that means that he believes that he ought to be in prison, or otherwise he is just "personally opposed". If I were an ex-abortionist, obviously I couldn't force myself into a jail when the government doesn't want me there, but I would try to make my life as much like prison as possible. I guess I would allow myself to read or even watch TV, since you can do those things in prison these days, but I would never go out to a movie, a play, a concert, or a fancy restaurant. Ideally, I would never leave my house except for necessities, although I don't know if I would have the courage to go that far in reality.
I am NOT suggesting that women who have had abortions should have to conduct themselves this way; I know that most pro-lifers do not believe that the mother herself should go to jail. I do think, though, that they (AND their accomplices: husbands, boyfriends, parents, "friends," etc.) should have to do some kind of heavy penance. And if the women who have posted here already are doing such a penance, then I salute them and beg for their forgiveness

James Kabala

One last note: I saw another instance of the "Blame everything on men" philosophy in Diane's mention of pregnant girls who fear the wrath of "their dads." Never "their moms?"

diane

James, in the predominant group of girls who express fear of being shamed and condemned by a catholic parent because of their sexual sin and unwanted pregnancy?

I would say roughly, 85% of the rejection was feared to come (or had come) from the father. Of course both parents can be a part of the problem - I think that goes without saying. Regardless, now you have the background for my focus on the father.

I'll address your response, as I have some questions about it, one catholic to another.


I realize that I may have hurt people's feelings>>>

It's not about hurting peoples' *feelings*. I think these women have had to deal with enough condemnation and have dealt with worse. For me, it is challenging your theology and your reasoning.


I believe that justice demands that certain sins have to carry some kind of permanent earthly penalty, even if they will be forgiven in Heaven.>>>

You need to offer up either Scripture or something from the catechism that would come close to defending or explaining *why* you believe this. Otherwise? I would really discuss this with your Priest, as I think it has potential to cause serious spiritual damage.


I don't think that this is a un-Christian position; in fact, I think that this is one of the cornerstones of our civilization. >>>

Our civilization is *not* part of this civilization. We are called to be in the world, not *of* the world. God's mercy is beyond human understanding and it's our duty as Christians to conform to *it* - not civilization's response to it.

Furthermore, isn't the Church's doctrine of Puragtory based on the idea that we must still pay for our mortal sins even after we repent of them?>>>

Yes, but in HEAVEN according to the final mercy and judgment of God!! You keep mixing the worldly system of justice and God's system of mercy and justice and pulling out combinations of both to justify this position of yours that has absolutely no founding in our deposit of faith,

This isn't an attack only on women who have had abortions;>>>

Then you are backtracking because that is who you referred to originally, and owe those women a complete apology.

If I were an ex-abortionist, obviously I couldn't force myself into a jail when the government doesn't want me there, but I would try to make my life as much like prison as possible. I guess I would allow myself to read or even watch TV, since you can do those things in prison these days, but I would never go out to a movie, a play, a concert, or a fancy restaurant. Ideally, I would never leave my house except for necessities, although I don't know if I would have the courage to go that far in reality.>>>

Again - please show me from the catechism, once someone has been fully restored and healed due to God's Mercy, where we are called to continue to live a life out of the mistake of our past.

I do think, though, that they (AND their accomplices: husbands, boyfriends, parents, "friends," etc.) should have to do some kind of heavy penance.>>>

Why in the *world* would you assume that they have not done penance? that is part of a good confession!


Diane

James, I am in tears right now over some of what you've posted tonight.

Please know that I realize that you are just sharing your feelings and mean no harm at all.

This is a very difficult topic and there is a range of experiences and opinions, all of which represent the various journeys we are on with Jesus.

But I volunteer with girls who come to me and share with me how fearful they are of their parents. How angry their parents are, and how they speak of "sinners" as some group of people that "aren't really a part of this family". They are confused by what they hear said at Mass about God's love, and then what they hear at home.

I didn't want to believe them. I didn't want to believe it was that inconsistent.

I didn't really believe that there are catholics who really believe that those of us who, by GOD'S GRACE ALONE have not committed the sin of abortion, are somehow warranted a different kind of respect and status in the Church. This church that was founded by Jesus who was killed on a Cross for even the smallest of sins - that even profanity was worthy of a nail through the hand.

But tonight, after reading your thoughts, I have to accept the reality that its true. And if there is just one here who was so willing to speak it? How many more are there.

I don't think I can type anymore. My heart is broken. May God have mercy on us all for how we are destroying His Witness. And may God find a way to love and be there for His little ones.

Lynn Gazis-Sax

I'm completely mystified as to where this idea of certain sins requiring a permanent earthly penalty is coming from. I mean, the way I see it, yeah, there are certain sins that carry permanent legal consequences, but that's because that's the only way we can be safe from the risk of recidivism. Of course I don't expect the Manson murderers, however repentant, to ever be let out of prison - that's where we're safe from them. Of course I wouldn't want Paul Shanley, even if repentant, back in my husband's childhood parish - no one could be sure the kids there would be safe from them. And yes, when there's a legal penalty for any act, you don't get out of it by saying you're sorry.

But I can't imagine any reason whatsoever that I'd want to inflict any ongoing penalty (beyond what prudence requires for keeping others safe) on someone who has already repented, gone through confession and done any penance, and has already paid (or can't pay) whatever the law requires. And I'm sure I have no call to think myself the least bit superior to Emily or Annie.

Will B

I found many aspects of the comments on this page to be disappointing.

First, I sense a lot of anger from many of the posts. This may not be the case all of the time; I often find that when people are writing an e-mail or a blog they sometimes sound angry when they really are not. Let me say, also, that I believe a certain amount of righteous anger is understandable in this situation. So, those of you who really are angry, I am not saying you are wrong to be upset.

However, I would suggest that anger is not always conducive to a constructive dialogue. I noted on this page of comments many personal attacks; if you are trying to convince someone, such as Mr. Kabala, that his position is mistaken, than personal attacks and condescending language will not achieve your goal. Such language is not beneficial to anyone.

Second, I find the level of theological discourse on this page to be somewhat disappointing. While both sides of this debate have made claims of knowledge regarding Church teachings, I do not recall one citation of either the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Documents of the Second Vatican Council, or the works of Catholic theologians (if any of the responses above are from Protestants, I don't expect you to use most of these sources; it just seemed like most of the responses were coming from Catholics).

Many points have been brought up in the course of these comment posts, but I believe at the heart of this debate lies a misunderstanding of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Mr. Kabala, I believe that you make several comments, with regards to the state of the repentent woman who sought an abortion, that are incorrect in light of church teaching. I would direct your attention to the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the section regarding the Sacrament of Reconciliation; I believe sections 1468-1470 specifically address the way the community should receive repentant sinners. In general, the section of the Catechism regarding reconciliation makes clear that all those who are received back into the community will have made the proper penance. I would also recommend for reading Scott Hahn's wonderful book on confession "Lord, Have Mercy" (Forgive the quotation marks, but I am incapable of underlining the title with my browser).

Mr. Kabala, you are right that it may be difficult for individuals in a community to forgive and forget a grievous sin such as abortion; however, it is the demand of the Christian virtue of charity (often translated lately as love) that we fully forgive and love those who have repented. G. K. Chesterton in his book "Heretics" speaks about why charity is a virtue, and I can only paraphrase him badly since I do not have my copy of the book with me as I type this (but to quote Chesterton "A thing worth doing is worth doing badly"). What makes charity a virtue is the ability of charity to forgive that which seems unforgivable.

By the way, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is available on the Vatican's website. I cannot wait to read your book on the Da Vinci Code, Mrs. Welborn. I am glad that Catholic writers are starting to address the disturbing statements and claims that have been made by Dan Brown.

God bless you all.

Diane

Thanks Will. I love that you posted doctrine and appreciate that.
Good morning Will. I'm a bit at a loss as to how to react to your first few sentences - I referenced at least two Scriptures in my response to James, but perhaps you missed those.

Regardless, I don't feel the need to defend my comments. Primarily because it will detract from your very beautiful response, and secondly, I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree that anger and constructive dialogue are mutually exclusive (if that is what you were implying). Nor does it automatically come with shame or condemnation attached to it.

Regardless, very encouraged by your response today.

Annie Banno

James, this is Annie, the one Amy quoted. I am disheartened that you see in any of what I (or others who regret) said to be asking to be “treated as victims instead of perpetrators.” There is no one on earth who is harder on us than ourselves. We are not “demand[ing...to be] treated as if nothing had ever happened.” I am saddened and upset to hear that when we admit our wrongdoings and our regret that you think we are angling for this. We have never tried to insinuate that any difference between those who have not aborted and we women who did “should be completely wiped away.” We are not asking you or anyone to erase those memories, and we most certainly are not asking to have you or anyone stand there and intone, “Poor thing” to us. We are asking to be accepted in our sincere repentance, as Christ Himself accepted it from us.

Where exactly in any of my words, did you get the message that I expected the memory of what I’ve done to be completely erased, or that I wanted to be treated as a victim or as if nothing had happened? I honestly want to know.

We ourselves live every single day of our lives with this memory. We will never outlive it. If you could be in my shoes, you would know that it is a memory none of us can ever forget. The pain, the remorse, the horror of it, James, that is our “permanent earthly penalty.” And it is more than I would ever wish on my worst enemy.

I have a problem with “forgive and forget” too. My priest gave this one a great heave-ho, and I agree with him. He said, “Yes, forgive sin, our own and others’, but if we forget that we sinned, we could be prone to doing it again, or to condoning it in others, having forgotten.” No, we should remember, not forget, our sins as a safeguard against committing them again or condoning them in those around us. I’ve heard enough girls walk into the abortion clinic where I’ve gone to offer help, blithely saying, “Oh, God forgives, right? He’ll forgive me for this abortion!” as though His forgiveness is a figurative pencil eraser to justify before the fact in cold-heartedness.

James, when you say things like “I don't believe that the Church should capitulate to the therapeutic culture,” you sound a bit like the person who wrote me that condemning, hateful email. And for the record, everyone, it was not a man who wrote that email to me, but a woman. Surprised me too.

Annie Banno

Besides, Charles, I don't think you're a "reader of my column!" (Yet!)

8^)
Thanks for asking the original question, Charles, and for your thoughts in reply, as well as Amy for posting, and all for commenting.

Carolyn

James has the most compelling argument. But I can't imagine any postabortive woman reading it not simply going one step further and withdrawing from the Mystical Body of Christ.

I recall the big scandal on my block in the mid-'60's when a neighbor went off to college and came home pregnat-but didn't stay long since her parents who were active in the parish soon kicked her out. The fool-she took all that talk of love seriously instead of discreetly busying herself with doing whatever it took to keep up appearaces. Abortion is all about making theory and practice alike retroactively. No woman with an ounce of sense would settle for a lifetime of sackcloth and ashes if there was any other way. Not keeping up the appearance of virtue is her worse sin and James shows us why.

Maureen

James does have a point. Sins and crimes demand some sort of Earthly justice and punishment, as well as reparation. Abortion is murder, so....

But first off, it's not our business to say what that punishment should be. If these women have gone to Confession, it's the priest who has to say that.

Second...and I don't said this clearly enough in my posting above, so I apologize... there are some crimes which are their own Earthly punishment. Suicide, for example. If by the grace of God somebody survives a suicide attempt, we do not treat them harshly. Once that would not have been so; after all, suicide is the ultimate form of murder and the ultimate slap in the face to God's gift of life. But nowadays, we feel that gentleness is the way to keep the poor person from trying again, not throwing the person out of town.

Surely, living with oneself after suicide or abortion is more than enough punishment in this life to satisfy anyone's sense of justice. To help someone find hope and joy again afterwards is a corporal act of mercy.

kyle

It seems to me that a little humilty on every side could clarify this. Does anybody have an actual right to participate in the life of the church and in the sacraments? Probably in a canon law sense yes, but in the really important sense, ths sense of deserving to partake in the body and blood of Christ, to experience the presence of God?

Obviously, the answer is no. That goes for a post-abortive woman, it goes for James and it goes for me. All have fallen short. This is not an entitlement, it's a gift, a grace.

Mark Shea is fond of writing on his blog that forgiveness is the great scandal of Christianity. I can see where James is coming from: I'm stricken with what it means that 4,000 unborn children are murdered every day. Even one is a fact so large it sucks all the oxygen out of the room for me. So something in me recoils at the whiff of victimhood for those who voluntarily participated.

And yet, I've sat in the confession booth and spilled out my deepest shames and walked out trying, in faith, to trust that through no merit of my own, I had been washed clean.

As I came back to faith and converted into the Catholic Church over the past year, a two-(or more)-stage process, I kept thinking about two parables: the prodigal son, for obvious reasons, and the one about the servant who had a huge debt forgiven him but walked out the door and pummelled a guy who owed him a pittance. Like the prodigal son, I'm lucky to have a job with the field hands. But like the ungrateful servant, I have a real tendency to forget how lucky I am and feel entitled.

Does anyone need reminding how things turn out for that ungrateful servant?

James Kabala

Obviously this whole thread was a mistake. I should have known that post-abortive women would read it and that it would be just like rubbing salt in their wounds. I apologize to everybody involved. Right now, I guess that I am the one who needs to do penance. Does anyone have the address of a good post-abortive organization that I cannot donate money to in reparation? I am a just a low-paid graduate student, but I will do what I can.

James Kabala

Obviously this whole thread was a mistake. I should have known that post-abortive women would read it and that it would be just like rubbing salt in their wounds. I apologize to everybody involved. Right now, I guess that I am the one who needs to do penance. Does anyone have the address of a good post-abotive organization that I cannot donate money to in reparation? I am a just a low-paid graduate student, but I will do what I can.

James Kabala

Obviously this whole thread was a mistake. I should have known that post-abortive women would read it and that it would be just like rubbing salt in their wounds. I apologize to everybody involved. Right now, I guess that I am the one who needs to do penance. Does anyone have the address of a good post-abortive organization that I cannot donate money to in reparation? I am a just a low-paid graduate student, but I will do what I can.

James Kabala

Sorry about the multiple posts.

diane

Oh James, I don't think it was a mistake at all. You offered your thoughts and yes, they were reacted to, but it also offers others to come together and really talk about what Mercy is and what it is not in our beautiful church. And that is a very beautiful thing! And it's a necessary thing in this time when the Evil One seeks to rip us away from the Church and one another.

We all are on this journey - there is no condemnation of you. Just a challenge of your posture toward this issue, and postures always move and change as a result of a commitment to becoming more like Jesus.

I hope you don't walk away from this feeling as though you've done something wrong. If anything, you've exposed a chance for more healing and clarification in some silent, quiet places.

You know your heart before the Lord more than any of us. I think it would be a topic to really bring up to your Priest - he will guide you with regard to Penance, etc. of if you even have to do that.

Take care! Be at peace.

Annie Banno

James, you don't need to donate to "do penance." If you really want to, though, Lumina in the New York City area could sure use help [addy is Lumina, PO Box 242, Harrison, NY 10528], or if you want to specify a certain state, Rachel's Vineyard allows you to donate using PayPal online. You can help one PA woman who can't afford it, attend a healing retreat, with either group.

James, you wouldn't be the first person to have posted such thoughts. Check out this discussion, a year ago. Same vein...

But PS: I agree with Diane's last post. God's blessings be with you.

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