By: Thérèse Bermpohl
There are scores of women and men suffering after abortion. They fear condemnation by their community and, even worse, the refusal of forgiveness. Well over half of the women who have had abortions say they felt pressured or coerced by family members, the father of the child and friends. Many say that they didn’t feel they ever had a real choice and they were never made aware of other options. These same women are often brought to despair after their abortions, feeling ostracized from the Church, believing that their sin is “the unforgivable one.” Reports indicate that as many as 1/3 of all women have had an abortion and, according to the Guttmacher Institute, 27% of those choosing abortion identify themselves as Catholic. Chances are, we all know someone who has been affected by abortion and is in need of God’s mercy.
As we get ready to celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy Sunday, it’s a good time to recall the words of Jesus, spoken to St. Faustina, “Let the greatest sinners place their trust in my mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy.” Let this Divine Mercy Sunday remind us of the need to reach out to those suffering with the grief and heartbreak of abortion.
Without condemnation, let us offer them words of hope and consolation. I echo the words Pope Benedict XVI spoke to the Kenyan Bishops when they visited the Vatican, “The community should be open to welcome back all who repent of having participated in the grave sin of abortion, and should guide them with pastoral charity to accept the grace of forgiveness, the need for penance, and the joy of entering once more into the new life of Christ.”
The Project Rachel staff at the Diocese of Arlington is ready to assist all those wounded after abortion with a confidential phone line, priest referrals, counseling, retreats and aftercare (Aftercare allows women who have attended either the PR Retreat or the Day of Recollection to continue their healing journey with evenings of prayer, confession, discussion and fellowship). To learn more about our programs, please contact us at 703-841-2504 or visit our Web site.