Here’s something you don’t read every day, from Aleteia:
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, I realized I was “that man.” Prudently, I was able to seek out my girlfriend and apologize for hurting her and not being a real man decades before. It was only then that I found out the abortion involved twins. She had held that secret until the day I apologized to her, opening up a flood of grace in her healing process and mine. You may ask, “How does a man guilty of such a sin become a priest?”
Read on for the answer. God’s grace and abundant mercy are truly astounding.