Catholic church in NJ buries two abandoned infants

Cemetery Credit Sherry V Smith via wwwshutterstockcom CNA 11 2 15 Sherry V Smith/Shutterstock

A New Jersey Catholic church buried Friday two infants who were found dead at a recycling center a few months ago.

A small group of Church leaders and city officials gathered for a funeral May 8 at St. Peter's Catholic Cemetery in New Brunswick, fewer than 10 miles southwest of Metuchen.

The service was put together by the Diocese of Metuchen and St. Peter the Apostle University and Community Parish. The attendees included Bishop James Checchio of Metuchen and New Brunswick Mayor James Cahill.

"As we process this heartbreaking tragedy, I ask the faithful and all people of good will to pray for the souls of these infants and to pray for their parents too, that they may experience healing from this misguided, tragic decision," Checchio said.

"This is another reminder to us that every human being is made in the image and likeness of God and every life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment life begins at conception until natural death. As a Church, we will continue to advocate for the sanctity of all human life so that each person, no matter their stage in life, will be treated with the dignity and care which these infants were denied in life."

The two babies were found Feb. 19 at the Colgate Paper Stock Recyclable Processing Facility.

An autopsy report has not been released, and it is unknown whether the babies are related. The bodies have also not been claimed by any parents nor have authorities announced any criminal charges.

"Since the investigation is still underway, we don't know the full circumstances that led to the loss of life for these precious babies, but the loss of an infant is always deeply heartbreaking," said Jennifer Ruggiero, the director of the Metuchen diocese's Office of Human Life and Dignity.

"If, indeed, the parents felt they had no other options and nowhere to turn for help, hopefully raising awareness about the help that is out there will help to prevent future tragedies," she added.

Ruggiero pointed to New Jersey's Safe Haven Infant Protection Act, which allows parents legally and anonymously to leave infants less than 30 days old at any hospital, police or fire station, rescue squad building, or ambulance. The infant can be abandoned without fear of arrest or prosecution as long as there are no signs of intentional abuse.

On March 25, the USCCB started a campaign titled "Walking with Moms in Need – A Year of Service." Ruggerio expressed hope that the campaign would spread the word about initiatives such as Safe Havens. As part of the campaign, she said, the diocese has stationed informational posters at schools, pregnancy centers, parishes, and other agencies around the diocese.

"The purpose of this initiative is to have parishes across the country access, expand and communicate the many services that are available to pregnant and parenting moms in need," Ruggerio said.

Msgr. Joseph Celano, pastor of St. Peter the Apostle University and Community Parish, presided over the rite of committal. He expressed sadness over the loss of life but also hope that these children are now in the company of Christ.

"We know that the Lord Jesus accompanies us and accompanies these children with tender mercy and love," he said, according to the diocese. "Even in our own grief for the loss of these two children, we believe that one short sleep passed, and they will wake eternally."

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