The Church

“For the lips of the priest should guard 

knowledge and people should seek instruction

from his mouth, for he is the messenger

of the Lord of Hosts.”  (Mal 2:7)

The Catholic Church, together with other mainline Christian denominations and orthodox religions, deplores the taking of human life.  In their belief each individual creation has its own intrinsic value. It is to be accorded the respect due to it because of its divine origin.  They acknowledge the personhood and humanity of each created being and from conception to natural death the individual is deemed to be of inestimable value. Each individual is unique, and unrepeatable – even those infants destined for abortion.

This having been said it’s important to also understand that the Church has the most important and vital role to play, if the elimination of the moral leprosy of abortion is to be achieved.

Secular society cannot defeat this monster called abortion because this is a spiritual war.  As a spiritual war, it must be defeated with a spiritual army and spiritual means. It’s the same war of life and death as played out in the “Garden”.  The same protagonist leads the assault against God’s uttered command, life.

Christianity has from the very beginning spoken out against abortion.  One of the earliest extant documents The Didache was very specific about this instruction and command, “you shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.” Throughout the centuries the Church has continued to defend and protect life from the moment of conception to natural death.  At no stage in its 21 centuries has the Church loosened this belief or watered it down. This is one of the many beliefs which it has steadfastly refused to negotiate.  The right to life of every individual is non-negotiable.  

The Catholic Church under the leadership of more recent Popes St John Paul II, Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, together with some other Christian denominations (there have been some breakaway denominations) has openly spoken against, and encouraged the fight against abortion.  These Popes, Pastors, and Rabbis have never failed to speak against this crime and have called for a united effort in order to fight this scourge, which seems to have assailed late twentieth century humanity and is continued into the twenty-first century.  

The words of the Popes and Pastors have been direct and charitable when speaking about the issue of abortion but  in no way diminished the reality that abortion is a heinous crime and a sin against “Life” However, the Shepherd must  also speak with great compassion and mercy to those who have fallen prey to this sin. The shepherd needs to offer words of hope, love and encouragement to those who have acquiesced to an abortion. 

The shepherd tend wounded by offering an olive branch so that those wounded and in pain may be able to return “home.” The shepherd who imitates his Lord does not judge but understands that often there are circumstances leading to the abortion decision, fears, uncertainty, threats, even loss of knowledge about life  that following the abortion, immediately or in the future experience profound suffering. A shepherd in the mold of the Lord is able to offer gentle mercy to a sinner who already knows or believes that they are or have placed themselves outside the ambit of mercy. 

The shepherd Pastor is attentive to the pain of the woman/women whilst not condoning the abortion.  This Pastor is hope-filled and is a conduit between the woman and God, and offers the words “your child is living in the Lord”. (EV 99).  

Today there is a clear understanding that post abortion grief exists, and affects a large percentage of females and to a lesser degree male who have participated in this procedure.  Part of the pain and grief is the fear which takes up residence in the individual’s psyche. It’s a fear which has neither name nor face, but strikes terror at the knowledge that the individual has participated in the death of a child.  This fear is so palpable that to try to alleviate it leads to the withdrawal from the Life in God, and immersion into self-destructive behaviour. It means to live in exile wandering through a desert of pain, and being fearful to turn back to look on God and be healed. God always invites the return.  

A Christ centred Pastor enters the Holy Ground of suffering to lead the captives out. This Holy Ground made up of suffering and love is the womb where redemption and healing can be found. The go’el (redeemer) has entered this territory.   It’s the place where God calls, and human beings either respond or turn their backs and walk away. The go’el (redeemer) responded. In this space of suffering and love, has trodden the Saviour in his redeeming work. It’s a sacred space that requires acquiescence, silence, respect and response.

A place which Jesus has purchased through His death and resurrection for every individual to access eternal life  and by entry through baptism of a Christian that access is claimed. Baptism restores the direct link to the Father and is the initiating   entry by which every child of God enters into His household 

Each baptised Christian is baptised into the death and resurrection of Jesus, and severs forever the connection with the sin of Adam. Never again can a baptised person return to a state of original sin, even when serious sin is present.  A sinner may never merit Heaven due to serious sin; however, if baptised will always remain free of the sin of Adam, that is, Original Sin. Jesus cancelled this particular sin for he is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). The fruits of redemption apply to individuals who believe and are baptised.  The Saviour passed judgement on the sin of the world.

“No-one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13).  The aborted babies have laid down their lives (for their parents, society) like their friend Jesus, “the Word became flesh” (Jn 1:14).  This army of martyrs, “slaughtered for the word of God” (Rev 6:9), die just as surely for “the Word”, as indeed “the Holy Innocents” around Bethlehem (Mt. 2:13-18) died when the “Word”, was born into the human condition.  The aborted infants die because “the word of God” finds no rich soil (Mk 4:8), is unwanted and instead falls on rocky ground (Mk 4:5). In this arid land the cry of the innocents and oppressed is stifled. Life loses its sacredness and the blood of the martyrs (babies) flows freely.

The Holy Innocents (Mt. 2:13-18) who perished at the hands of Herod died because “the Word” had arrived.  He was born. Something new and never experienced before had occurred. All of creation would change because of this new birth (as happens with every new birth). There was a new song and a new expectancy in the air.  There was also a new threat to the Prince of this earth. (Jn 12:31) The innocents who perish through abortion die because the word falls on deaf ears of parents and society and onto “stubborn and rebellious heart” (Jer 5:23).  Therefore both cohorts of sacrificed innocents die as witnesses to “the Word” (Rev 6:9), and as victims of Satan’s hatred for the “word” – Jesus. Satan, through Herod, acts to destroy “the word became flesh” (Jn 1:14) as soon as he is born. Again Satan, through abortion perpetrated by modern day Herods destroys again images of the “word”, and ensures that the uttered word of God will not be born of flesh. Satan attempts to kill and destroy what belongs to God and is of God. In his fury to achieve his ends he continues the Passion of Jesus Christ through God’s own creations, the aborted babies who suffer a cruel death, because they are bearers of the likeness of Jesus and the wounded mothers and fathers who made that decision. 

Moreover, their reflection of Jesus “the word” in his (and their) moment of agony, guarantees for them a place of rest and eternal life.  Aborted infants have surely earned for themselves the white robes (Rev 6:9-11) with the same baptism of blood as their divine Lord, and their own martyrdom must surely be a crown adorning their heads.

The greatest concern, however, should not be for the infants who have died as witnesses for the Lord but for their parents and society that have passed the unjust and cruel judgement upon them.  While the children die because of lack of fertile soil, and the “word” fails to take root, it can also be seen as a prophecy being fulfilled. Truly because of the despising of “the word” in these days, the prophecy of Amos is being fulfilled. 

The time is surely coming, says the Lord God

When I will send a famine on the land:

Not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water

But of hearing the words of the Lord.     (Amos 8:11)

The famine of hearing the word of the Lord brings with it its own fruit, a society with a “culture of death”.  It’s a society whose value systems cater for the temporarily convenient, ultimately a society doomed to destruction because on its altars of sacrifice are burnt offerings for Moloch (Ez: 16:20-22).  The innocents who have washed their robes in the blood of the lamb and who are “now living in the Lord” are securely anchored to Jesus and in Jesus. The society whose ethos has decreed their destruction and martyrdom hears these words: “woe to you Chorazin! woe to you Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” (Mt 11:21).  For a society, which has the mystery of the Gospel preached, and still persists in human sacrifice, “it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for you”. (Mt 11:24).

The Church is both human and divine in its origins and life.  It’s human because it is made up of human beings who are mandated to gather and journey towards God. It’s divine because Jesus Himself instituted it, in order to continue and complete the works necessary to bring home the whole body of the redeemed. Indeed, it’s the Mystical Body of Christ, the People of God.  The Church exists in time, to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28), to fill, first the earth with Heavenly creatures, and then Heaven with earthly creatures in the image and likeness of Jesus. The Church is the earthly womb from which will be born into eternal life citizens for Heaven. Therefore, if the Church is “Mother” and “womb” then surely this Heavenly womb gathers to itself the infants rejected by their earthly mother, and gives birth to them in the eternal realm?  We know that every child conceived (including the aborted one) is never an orphan, even if abandoned by its own earthly parents, because every child has a Heavenly Father (God) and earthly Mother (Church). Therefore even if the earthly human parents reject it, then assuredly the Heavenly Parents will welcome the child home. 

The Church through its priests, pastors, must speak out loudly, bravely, consistently about the evil of abortion.  It’s important to speak fearlessly about this issue, because all other “rights” disappear into nothingness, when the “right” to life has been violated.  No other human “right” is as important as the “right to life.”

Silence cannot accomplish this.  By their silence, pastors/shepherds who should know better condemn women and society to solitary suffering.  This type of suffering is not redemptive suffering but scape-goating type of suffering. The women who will suffer agonies as a result of their abortion decision redirect their suffering into self-destructive pain.  It’s merciless. It’s their belief that only their aggravated suffering will suffice to atone for the “killing of my baby”. It’s a demonic call to suffering, rather than redemptive. Marie, a client told me that for 17 years she went to reconciliation weekly.  Even at times when she felt she had nothing to say to the priest. This she did because “I liked to hear the words ‘I absolve you from all your sins’.” However, whilst she regularly sought reconciliation with God and with her baby, she never spoke of, or confessed her sin of abortion, because she was so ashamed.

Pastors by virtue of their ministry, have the power to bring the healing of God to abortive men and women. However, this will not happen by silence.  In most cases the pastors remain silent, out of a lack of understanding, or because of the perceived compassion for those who have aborted, but this is a false compassion.  It’s the type of compassion Peter offered Jesus (Mk 8:31-33), who rebuked him soundly for his lack of understanding.  It’s the seductive and compelling voice of Satan who whispers “leave them alone they are suffering enough” while the voice of Jesus whispers, “come to me all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt 11:28-30). The rest is found in and with Jesus, who will give rest to souls. The silence, which Satan offers and encourages, gives no rest but isolation, alienation and despair.  The living waters of Jesus wash clean. The stagnant waters of Satan, poison. 

Priests, pastors, Rabbis, please offer the Mercy of God to your congregations.  Go into the vineyard and find these broken, weary women and men, and like the Good Shepherd lead them back into the fold.  No less than this is asked of you. Remember that while the sin of abortion remains hidden and unforgiven it works its poison not only on the woman but also on her family, friends, community and society.  “How does this happen?” you might ask. The answer is: guilt, shame, and fears. These negative emotions will alter her behaviour and impair her coping mechanisms. The myriad of ways that an abortion experience affects the individual are well documented.  It requires large amounts of energy to continually deal with these negative emotions. This leaves the woman incapable of experiencing any joy in life. In her suffering, those around her and those who love her will also suffer. Thus is perpetuated the cycle of abortion victims.

The Church, in its battle against abortion has the charism necessary for the healing of post abortion grief. 

Imagine; up to 40,000,000 babies annually die, yet we are crying out to God for vocations to the religious life. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you as prophet to the nations.” (Jer 1:5)  This clearly suggests that God calls and appoints an individual to a holy service long before the individual is even born – Could it be that in his attempt to destroy the Church Satan has found a treacherous way, that is, by killing future priests, pastors, servants, long before they are born?  

This is not new. We have a precedent.  The birth of Moses and the birth of Jesus were both accompanied by the attempted extermination of the innocents.  However, in both episodes it was the response of the humans involved that averted the intended slaughter of God’s chosen One. Although with the birth of Moses, and Jesus, there was a slaughter of young ones, today the saving response to the slaughter of the preborn infants is not forthcoming.  If there is a response it is only a whisper when it needs a mighty roar. Today the human response to the death of the innocents is that “it’s a right” of the woman and more grotesquely a “human right”.  

Perhaps as a society we can interpret from the incidents of Pharaoh and Herod and the death of the innocents, in both Old and New Testaments, that God will not be mocked.  He tolerates, He loves, He forgives, He is patient and kind, but He will not be mocked. His previous human and world changing initiatives (the Covenant at Sinai and birth of Jesus), were heralded by the death of infants and the land flowed with their blood.  We know this, because there is a record of it. Are the deaths of billions of babies, through abortion (both surgical and chemical) the precursor to another dramatic encounter with God? 

 May it be so.               

Anne Lastman

Clinical Counsellor,

 BA (Psy/Rel.stds), Grad Dip Ed., MA Rel. Ed., MTS., Memb Australian Counselling Assoc., (Level 4) Memb Aust Counselling Association College of Loss & Grief, (Level 3) Memb. Assoc of Psychotherapists and Couns. Singapore(APACS.)

  • Anne Lastman publishes regular original articles for the FIAMC portal.