Monday, May 11, 2015

A Pro-Life Year of Mercy

by Father John McCloskey

Recently, Pope Francis announced an upcoming Year of Mercy that will begin on December 8, 2015, the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second Vatican Council (and of course the feast day of the Immaculate Conception, which holds special significance for us in the U.S., who enjoy the patronage of the Immaculate Conception) and conclude on November 20, 2016, the Feast of Christ the King.
What is mercy? One dictionary defines it in the following way: "kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly; kindness or help given to people who are in a very bad or desperate situation."
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:
Christ has willed that in her prayer and life and action his whole Church should be the sign and instrument of the forgiveness and reconciliation that he acquired for us at the price of his blood. But he entrusted the exercise of the power of absolution to the apostolic ministry which he charged with the "ministry of reconciliation." The apostle is sent out "on behalf of Christ" with "God making his appeal" through him and pleading: "Be reconciled to God." The greater the sin standing between us and reconciliation with God, the greater God's mercy in extending to us the offer of reconciliation.
It seems to me, then, that deliberately taking innocent life by deliberate abortion of the child in the womb is one of the greatest sins possible. The guilt may lie with the father, the boyfriend, the woman who allows it, and most particularly the doctor who performs it; nonetheless, God's mercy never fails, if asked for.
Therefore, what is needed during this time of grace and mercy is a crusade to outlaw all elective abortions by all legal means and of course ongoing efforts to help people perceive doctors who perform abortions as who they really are: killers who deserve punishment. At the same time we should never stop praying for abortionists to undergo a change of heart, because no category of sinner is excluded from God's mercy. And they will receive that mercy if they ask for it. Recall Dr. Bernard Nathanson, the notorious abortionist who was responsible for thousands of unborn deaths and even aborted his own child. After he became convinced of his wrongdoing and, by the mercy of God, repented of it, he spent the rest of his life attempting to convince others of the evil of abortion through books, presentations, and his film The Silent Scream. God is merciful, and great sinners, being in most obvious need of that mercy, are sometimes more willing to recognize and take hold of that mercy than someone who considers himself or herself in good spiritual health.
However, it seems to me that the greatest effort to extend Christ's mercy should be directed toward helping those millions of women in our country who are suffering in their hearts knowing they have been instrumental in destroying life that they brought into existence. We must pray for them, console them, and bring them to repentance. If they are Catholic, we should encourage them to seek mercy and healing in the confessional, where they can begin their recovery as women who have come to know that God loves and forgives them even of the most grievous of crimes, as he forgave the Good Thief on Calvary. We also should not forget the men who share the guilt of abortion if they collaborated with and/or even forced the mother into aborting their child.
Don't forget that by the time this year of mercy concludes in November 2016, a new United States president will have been elected. We as Catholics should do everything possible to help elect a truly pro-life (with no exceptions) president who will not be afraid to go further than merely paying lip service to the cause of the unborn. Any president who could put an end to legalized abortion would surely go down as the greatest in our history. And perhaps our example could then spread throughout the world, reviving the realization that all conceived children should be safeguarded because, after all, children are the hope of the future.
We thank Pope Francis for this year and we also thank him for giving us such a great example of what it means to be pro-life in every way, not only extending mercy to those who are already alive and developing in the womb, but also recognizing and proclaiming that, while marriage has several purposes, including the holiness of the spouses, God has established it as the best means for couples to bring children into the world. And those couples who cooperate with God's purposes will strive to raise children who will give glory to God and by fulfilling his loving purposes on earth and then enjoying an eternity in heaven. True mercy is to give them the same chance of doing so that you yourself have received!
First appeared on The Truth and Charity Forum in March, 2015.

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