'Mercy and love' at heart of Church's teaching on abortion
By Elise Harris
Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel.
Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel.

.- A message of healing and compassion should always be at the center of the abortion debate and is the basis of Church teaching on the issue, according to the founder of a post-abortion apostolate.

“We always need to speak the healing message,” because “this question of God’s mercy and love, it really is the message of the Church,” Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel, told CNA Aug 7.

Thorn's comments came the day after Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley delivered an address at the Knights of Columbus supreme convention in which he said Pope Francis “speaks of love and mercy to give people the context for the Church's teaching on abortion.”

Some news outlets cast those comments as saying that Pope Francis “prefers to talk love, not abortion,” as though the Archbishop of Boston had set up a dichotomy between the two.

But in his San Antonio address, Cardinal O'Malley united the love and mercy shown to women who have had abortions with the truth of abortion's intrinsic immorality. “Mercy without truth would be consolation without honesty,” he reflected.

He said that Thorn's apostolate, Project Rachel, is “just that kind of a combination of mercy and truth that the Church's pro-life efforts need to be about.”

Thorn indicated that Pope Francis refraining from often mentioning abortion does not mean he prefers talking about love to abortion – saying she is “not concerned” that the Pope has said little directly about abortion since his election as Bishop of Rome.

“We’d like him to say all things to all people right away, and I don’t think that’s going to happen,” she said, adding that many people think, “he’s coming in on his white horse and that he’s going to change everything tomorrow, but that isn’t feasible.”

She emphasized that it didn’t happen that way with either Blessed John Paul II or Benedict XVI, saying that instead it was “step by step.”

Thorn quoted Pope Francis while he was yet the Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, saying, “if we want maintain a solid and enviable basis for human rights we absolutely must recognize that human life must always be defended from the very moment of conception.”

She went on to speak about how the Church’s teaching on abortion is a way of loving women, saying, “the Church loves the woman because we have spoken the truth of the aftermath of abortion from the beginning.”

Emphasizing the Church’s compassionate approach to the issue, she recalled that in the U.S. bishops' first pastoral plan for pro-life activities in 1975, they had called for “a ministry of healing for women.”

Although the topic of abortion was not widely spoken about at that time, Thorn said the bishops knew about the need for a healing apostolate because they “had heard confessions, and they had heard pain in a woman’s heart.”

“It’s a hard issue,” she said, and “it can take many years” before women who have had abortions are ready to process their experience, and that they will often seek to justify the act.

The thing to remember, Thorn said, is that “the woman who’s had an abortion is always a mother who has lost a child in a traumatic and un-natural fashion,” and that “the Church is there to walk with women and men” who are suffering from abortion's aftermath.

Reiterating the importance of compassion for women suffering the effects of an abortion, Thorn lamented that “sometimes people get so upset about abortion – they’re so angry – that they really believe that God shouldn’t be offering forgiveness.”

Sharing from her own experience, she said that “when women and men are healed, they always become pro-life, always,” stressing that men also need to go through a process of healing after an abortion.

“It’s one heart at a time. That’s how Jesus dealt with people when he was dealing with the wounded women in scripture: it was one at a time.”

To those who might complain that Pope Francis has not talked enough about abortion, Thorn responded that he “hasn’t been Pope long enough for us to know what he’s going to say,” but that “when the time is right, this is going to be spoken about.”

Tags: Abortion

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic

Liturgical Calendar

April 21, 2014

Monday within the Octave of Easter

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 28:8-15


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Acts 2:14, 22-33
Gospel:: Mt 28:8-15

Saint of the Day

Holy Thursday »


Homily of the Day

Mt 28:8-15


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: