By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation
It may be hard to understand how a priest from Poland could relate to the secret heartache of women who have had abortions.
But Pope John Paul II was such a man.
The Pontiff, who has been declared a saint of the Catholic Church, spoke eloquently and convincingly to women who have suffered the tragedy of abortion.
He understood their pain and longed for their healing.
In his encyclical, “The Gospel of Life,” Pope John Paul II specifically addressed women touched by the trauma of abortion:
“I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope.”
Pope John Paul II was able to honor the lives lost from abortion, while also ministering to the mothers left behind.
The prelate wrote about mercy, forgiveness, and reconciliation. He encouraged women to face abortion and its aftermath honestly. But he did not condemn them.
Pope John Paul II also wrote, “To the…Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life.
“Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life.”
“The Gospel of Life” is now 25 years old. Yet its message is as timely today as it was on the day of its release. Women who regret their abortions are showing the rest of the country a path forward, away from fear and despair, toward a future that does not include legal abortion. Their tear-driven testimony should inspire all of us to work even harder toward bringing the sad chapter of Roe v. Wade to a close.