.- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo emphasized Nov. 15 how important the Church’s post-abortion counseling ministry Project Rachel is and said that it must play a role in the New Evangelization.
“Project Rachel Ministry is at the heart of the Church’s mission at this time in her history,” Cardinal DiNardo said at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ fall general assembly, which is being held in Baltimore Nov. 14-16.
Cardinal DiNardo, who is chairman of the bishops' pro-life committee, told the gathering that he believes Project Rachel must play a central role in the New Evangelization.
He explained that many women who have had abortions despair of ever being forgiven by God, and consider abortion an unforgiveable sin.
The Church must reach out to these discouraged women and encourage them to seek forgiveness, he said.
Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel, said that the report shows the bishops’ commitment to working towards healing for those who are suffering from a past abortion.
She told CNA that the U.S. bishops worked closely with her from the time that she initially began Project Rachel in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in 1984.
The involvement of the bishops grew as the ministry rapidly expanded, she said.
Several years ago, Thorn turned over Project Rachel’s service mark—a trademark used for services—to the bishops, who had greater resources to continue its work. The ministry is now available in more than 110 dioceses across the country.
“It really is a ministry of the Catholic Church,” she said.
In a Nov. 15 press conference highlighting the work that Project Rachel does, Cardinal DiNardo explained that abortion affects more people than just the woman who has one.
Rather, he said, the fathers who lose their children are also harmed, along with the doctors who perform abortions and the friends and family who may influence the decision.
“There are millions of women and men who struggle, often for years, with profound grief and with remorse and with guilt,” he said. Many of them also suffer trauma-related symptoms, including flashbacks, nightmares and panic attacks.
Isolated and ashamed, fearing that they can never be forgiven, “many then become trapped in despair.”
“But that is not God’s plan for us,” Cardinal DiNardo insisted.
Rather, he explained, God longs to draw humanity to his loving heart, healing and renewing all who are wounded.
Through Project Rachel the Church offers a way “out of the darkness of despair over a past sin” and into “a new life of hope, joy and peace.”