That Planned Parenthood was selling baby organs (oh excuse me, “tissue” according to the PP public statements, but not according to my biology teacher) didn’t even raise a lick of hair on my eyebrow. I’d researched detailed abortion procedures for my novel, heard Jill Stanek describe partial birth abortions and knew fetal parts were used in facial creams, flavor enhancers and early vaccine production. Of course someone had to link the provider and consumer.
Quite frankly, the fact of abortion is more gruesome than the sale.
My burning question when I heard the news was not if Congress would investigate the allegations, what other involvements would crop up or be covered up, how Planned Parenthood would spin the news to defend itself, or whether taxes would continue funding them?
Rather, my question was: what do aborted fetal parts and Catholic relics have in common?
I asked because I’ve been exposed to a collection of relics lately. My husband just built an altar with a space specifically carved for a relic. I’d been to a healing service with Padre Pio’s glove and a relic of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos. After Mass, I venerated St. Teresa of Avila and St. Alexus’ relics on their Feast Days.
Relics, as Catechism teach us, are either body parts of a saint (first class) or an object that touched their bodies (second class). In venerating relics, we ask for their intercessions from their secured positions in heaven. The Council of Trent 1536 says:
“The sacred bodies of the holy martyrs and of the other saints living with Christ…should be venerated by the faithful. Through them, many benefits are granted to men by God.”
Throughout Catholic history, the sick have been cured by God’s grace, through the veneration of relics. Stories of leukemia, arthritis, and tumors disappearing are still reported. Not unlike the woman from scripture who hemorrhaged for twelve years, was healed after touching Jesus’ cloak. Or the people who were cured from disease by touching Elisha’s bones (2 Kings 2:9-14) or objects touched to St. Paul (Acts of the Apostles 19:11-12).
Like the saints, aborted babies were fearfully and wonderfully made. God created them with dreams and missions to further His kingdom: perhaps becoming the scientist-priest who finds the cure to cancer; or the tech whiz who invents the app that can transport your car to Venice with the click of a button; or becoming the random paramedic who would one day save your life in a restaurant.
Unlike the saints, these aborted babies never had a chance to choose faith and serve mankind with their God-given talents for a lifetime. That is the real catastrophe of abortion. That they were used without their consent for “medical research”, when they should have been the future saints of the Church, whose miraculous relics could have been the very body of Christ in healing the sick. Tragically, we too are the sad victims of their fate.