Do You Agree With Abortion Forgiveness?

Kelli - Sacred Heart

Kelli - Sacred Heart

Pope Francis is capturing the media’s attention with his visit to Cuba and the United States this week.  So, a young woman currently working as a journalist in New York City, who is part of Columbia University’s M.S. program, interviewed me over the phone on Monday about Pope Francis’ announcement regarding abortion forgiveness for women.

My positive reaction to the pope’s decision shocked this journalist at first. It seems almost everyone she has interviewed so far were, to use her words, “judgmental” and against Pope Francis’s  decision.  Thus, it was my turn to be shocked. In my opinion, what could be more fitting than to open the Jubilee Year of Mercy 2016 by welcoming women who have suffered an abortion back into full communion with the Church?

Who were these practicing Catholics  she interviewed who refuse to extend  forgiveness to women who are burdened with guilt after having an abortion? Have they never sinned? Are they so perfect they fall into the trap of demanding only the pure be part of their Church club?  How can a Christian not be willing to forgive an act of abortion, especially when the sinner is contrite, coming to confession seeking reconciliation?

When we begin the inner spiritual journey to encounter Christ in a deeper way, we discover our own sinfulness. On the other hand, if we live on the surface, we can be blind to the reality or our own inner, sinful nature. We can easily slip into pride, intolerant of others who are weak. Conversely, the pope is acting and speaking as a compassionate pastor and confessor who understands the terrible circumstances which drive young women to seek an abortion as well as the awful guilt which burdens them afterward.

In the New Testament, Pharisees acted as if they were perfect because they thought they followed the letter of the law. New Testament Christians realized they could not purify themselves. It then followed that circumscribed Jews, who had been given the law, were no better than uncircumscribed Gentiles because all were sinners, all needed to be saved.  St. Paul’s letters stressed over and over again, mankind needed Jesus to die on the cross for their sins and rise again in new life so all men and women might rise with Christ to live a new life in God. Today, just like St. Paul,  Pope Francis reminds us this powerful forgiveness is for all, not just the good Catholics.

Only the humble can accept forgiveness and the Love of God, then love and forgive others.

In his new book, “Walking with Jesus: A Way Forward for the Church”, published by Loyola Press, Pope Francis sees faith as a journey which emphasizes the mercy and love of God for all, especially the poor, the marginalized and the sinner. The pope quite rightly states: No one is excluded from life’s hope, from God’s love. [Emphasis mine.]

The challenge for us as the faithful is not only to forgive and love others but to allow ourselves to be forgiven and loved. When we act like a Pharisee, as if we are perfect, we demand perfection from others. When we act like Christ, we allow His mercy to flow through us. This is why Pope Francis has offered forgiveness to women who have had an abortion through any priest when they come with contrite hearts, desperately desiring full communion with the Church.

My only conclusion here is those who refuse to forgive women who have had an abortion do not know their own desperate need for mercy. May God have mercy on us all.

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106 thoughts on “Do You Agree With Abortion Forgiveness?”

  1. Our Human nature is so unlike God’s that we find it difficult to believe that God forgets repented sin. Reconcile with God, remove the yoke and get on with living a life of Grace.

    1. melanie jean juneau

      Yes, God forget repented sin. I think it takes humility to let His Mercy and forgiveness to really sink so we know longer feel guilt we. Only the little ones walk in freedom and joy

  2. I had an abortion in 1980. I have suffered guilt and isolation from the Church since then. I continued to say my prayers, drove by Churches but dared not go in. After Pope Francis offered mercy to those of us who suffered abortion, I attended Mass. I came back the next week. Today I received the Sacrament of Reconciliation! After 35 years, I have come home. So, yes, I think the Holy Father was very merciful to allow us to come back. I am grateful and I feel blessed to be able to receive Holy Communion once again.

    1. melanie jean juneau

      What a moving witness to the power of Mercy. I am filled with joy that you can once again receive Holy Communion. You are in my heart and prayers.

    2. Thank you very much! I am so pleased that you were moved by my story. I feel such joy today! And I am looking so forward to receiving Communion on Sunday. Thank you for your kind words. And thank you for your prayers. You are now in mine as well.

    3. melanie jean juneau

      The joy you are experiencing is a sign that the Holy Spirit is within you. You are in the heart of God. I can’t stop beaming.

    4. *hugs!!* I am so happy to read your post. You just made me cry. Welcome home!!!! 😀 😀 I’m adding you to my rosary intentions! 🙂 This is so wonderful to see. Welcome hoooooome!!!!! *huge grin!*

    5. Thank you, Tweck! I didn’t realize I would get positive feedback. Thank you for being kind. I will add you to my rosary intention also. Hugs to you.

    6. Certainly!!! And thank you!! I need the prayers, that’s for sure. I rejoined the Church 5 months ago after a 23 year absence, so am overjoyed to be back myself. 🙂

      So welcome home from a new revert!!! Yaaaaaaaaaaayyy!!

  3. Everyone is on a journey and makes choices moment by moment. I am glad my birth mother did not abort me. I am adopted and have had wonderful parents who raised me in the Roman Catholic faith tradition. Our purpose if to Love… Our function is Forgiveness – that is how we advance spiritually and as a civilization. “Perception is a mirror, and what I look on is my state of mind reflected outward.” We will all be judged when we physically die; God is; and our job is to live up to His direction. The devil is always looking for an opportunity to help us sin; God is eternally offering His Love – its our choice.

    1. melanie jean juneau

      Well said; we are all on a journey and when we die, we will be forgiven as we have forgiven, Chilling actually. Good thing God is more merciful than I am. in fact, I can choose to forgive, but I need His Love and His mercy to flow through me. I can do nothing on my own

  4. All sins can be forgiven. The only sin that is unforgivable is a sin against the Holy Spirit according to scripture. Correct? Correct. Murder, adultery, bank robbery, child abuse, etc, etc can all be forgiven and will be forgiven if the person is sorry and tries to not do those things again. Sorrow can either be perfect or imperfect (Love of God; fear of punishment). So, abortion can and will be forgiven for those who seek forgiveness.

  5. If a repentant murderer on death row can confess his sin to a priest and obtain absolution I see no reason why a repentant woman who has had an abortion should be denied it.

  6. Anyone who says that abortion is a sin that cannot be forgiven does not know the teaching of Jesus Christ and His Church. One who sincerely repents and goes to confession and receives the absolution is forgiven. The gang-banger who killed people on the streets of LA, a member of the SS who killed people at Hitler’s command…a woman who had an abortion…a former abortionist…the drug dealer who killed someone for drugs…all these can be forgiven through true, sincere repentance and confession, and sometimes they even join the most tremendous lovers of Christ, because they know how much he did for them! Look at St Paul, what he was and what he became after he repented…who killed Christians before his conversion. To reject sincerely repentant sinners is not a Christian attitude and can really damage vulnerable souls who are repentant and don’t know what to do to be forgiven and set free.

    1. melanie jean juneau

      I love this last sentence you have written because it sums up the devastation caused when a person feels they will only be condemned, never forgiven. “To reject sincerely repentant sinners is not a Christian attitude and can really damage vulnerable souls who are repentant and don’t know what to do to be forgiven and set free.”

  7. WayfarinStranger

    “It seems almost everyone she has interviewed so far were, to use her
    words, ‘judgmental’ and against Pope Francis’s decision. Thus, it was
    my turn to be shocked….
    “Who were these practicing Catholics she interviewed who refuse to
    extend forgiveness to women who are burdened with guilt after having an
    abortion? Have they never sinned? Are they so perfect they fall into
    the trap of demanding only the pure be part of their Church club?”

    In defense of the “judgemental” Catholics the writer had interviewed prior to you, this seeming refusal of mercy may have less to do with what people said than with what she heard.

    “Yes, if there is sincere repentance…” and “No, unless there is sincere repentance…” say essentially the same thing, after all.

    And there is the matter of how she may have phrased her questions, and how nuanced the answers were.
    On any subject as complex as the theology of mercy and sin, any “yes or no” question almost has to be answered either “yes, but…” or “no, but….”

    I don’t think as many as half of the msm news article or editorials I read on this subject exhibited any understanding of the Sacrament of Confession whatsoever, or of the faculty to administer the sacrament.
    Nor were the authors aware that none of this was even a change for many American dioceses.

    1. melanie jean juneau

      Good points; I did not consider the complexities or nuances surrounding this journalist’s questions or how she interpreted what she heard. Yet the main premise of this article is that all of us have a temptation to judge rather than forgive in mercy. This is why we need Christ and the Sacraments.

  8. I really don’t see what the big deal was about what Francis did. It had HUGE secular media coverage, but I think it was slanted to make non-Catholics or poor Catholics believe that abortion was an unforgivable sin.
    If a convert has had an abortion there is no need to go before the bishop, because they weren’t Catholic to begin with (to be excommunicated). Streamlining the process for repentant Catholics really seems logical. After all, ALL mortal sin technically incurs excommunication as it completely separates us from grace.
    In a country, where sorrowfully, over 50 million abortions have occurred, there are many in need of forgiveness. Streamlining the process for those desperately needing the sacrament is logical.

  9. Victor S E Moubarak

    Great article Melanie. Thanx.

    Abortion is rarely decided upon
    lightly. A lot of women continue to bear the pain and guilt of what they
    have done for years if not for ever.

    The Catholic Church
    excommunicates women who have abortions and also the medics involved,
    (if Catholic). However, the Church does not excommunicate someone who
    commits murder. He can confess, repent and is forgiven. At no time is he

    The Pope’s message has been misunderstood (not
    for the first time). It is said that forgiveness and return to Communion
    will be allowed during the Jubilee Year. How about someone who
    confesses before, or after, the year is over?

    Our Church needs to clarify on where it stands on excommunication. Why excommunicate for one sin and not another.

    Christ never excommunicated anyone. He came to forgive, time and again.

    God bless you.

    1. melanie jean juneau

      As i was writing this article, I wondered about this very same dilemma – “The Catholic Church excommunicates women who have abortions and also the medics involved,
      (if Catholic). However, the Church does not excommunicate someone who
      commits murder.”elanie jean juneau

    2. Marion (Mael Muire)

      To have an abortion is to commit murder – in the moral sense, though no longer in the legal sense. Back when most abortions were illegal, the medical term for abortion was criminal abortion, and the medical term for miscarriage was spontaneous abortion.

      In our own day, there are many voices contradicting that of God, saying that the child in the womb is “a clump of cells”, that to “get rid of it” will not “hurt anyone,” that the mother is “taking care of herself well” by choosing death for her baby. And many, many people are so unfortunate as to listen to all these lies. The whole point of the mechanism of excommunication is to get people to listen to a truth they otherwise are not seeming to hear. Few, even in our culture of death, would suggest that it’s a good idea to hire a contract killer, or to set off a bomb in a building full of people. But many do hold out abortion as “a good solution” for the mother of a baby whose burgeoning life represents some inconvenience to the adults in what should be his or her family. Excommunication is an ecclesiastical form of the wake-up call, the red flag, and the warning siren, all in one, and it’s often put in place against grave sins that are being defended, embraced, and celebrated by the larger culture, and where even few Christians seem to want to listen to the Church’s voice. Sins like abortion.

      That’s why abortion is an excommunicable offense.

    3. melanie jean juneau

      Good points but the question still remains- how is premeditated murder any different than abortion? I think the point is if abortion is an excommunicable offense, so is murder

    4. Marion (Mael Muire)

      I tried to explain that above.

      I ask 100 people at random: “I’m thinking about offing my next-door neighbor. You good with that, or not?” Here we are asking about what? Murder. Most likely 98% will answer, ” no way! Don’t do it! That ain’t cool!” The Church doesn’t need to excommunicate those committing murder because most people who even think about offing somebody will 1) face jail time if caught, 2) get told by family, friends, and society “don’t even think about it!”

      Now, it’s your turn. When it comes to abortion, is the message from family, friends and society at large the same? Or different? And if different, what resources does the Church have to get her own very different message out?

    5. melanie jean juneau

      The Church does not need to resort to threats of excommunication to get people’s attention, She speaks the truth while offering unconditional mercy to those who seek reconciliation.

      Pope Francis understands this truth. He could have beat everyone over the head in his speech to the American Congress but he did not condemnation those in power or threaten them with excommunication if they do not abolish the death penalty, abortion or same-sex marriage. Instead he appealed to American role models and the best of American ideals, lovingly encouraging them to do what is right for the weak and vulnerable.

    6. Marion (Mael Muire)

      “The Church does not need to resort to threats of excommunication to get people’s attention . . .”

      This is certainly a defensible opinion, Ms. Juneau, and many people would agree with you.

      I suppose that the same might be said of other excommunicable offenses, as well. “The Church does not need to resort to threats of excommunication to get people’s attention when they: . . create their own ordination ceremonies for women as priests; . . consecrate their own bishops without the approval of the Pope; . . . set up their own ecclesial teaching authority specifically in opposition to what the Church has been teaching . . . ” etc.

      All perfectly defensible opinions, with which many would agree.

      However, we weren’t discussing (at least I didn’t know we were discussing) whether excommunication is a remedy suitably deployed in the the case of abortion. I thought we were discussing why previous Popes have deployed excommunication in the cases of those involved in procuring or undergoing abortion, but did not excommunicate in cases of other forms of murder.

      So we were talking about why the Church had made the distinction between abortion and other forms of murder, why the Church had excommunicated for abortion, but not for shooting somebody.

    7. melanie jean juneau

      I am in tears, my heart is breaking over the fact that I have to argue and quibble over words when the I am pleading for our Mother Church to act like a mother with a heart who forgives not like a legalistic organization. This is why Pope Francis is opening the Year of Mercy with changes to attitudes towards the awful suffering women experience after an abortion.By the way, we are talking about women who are repentant, who desire full communion with the Church.

      MOST WOMEN WERE UPSET and YOUNG, teens whose rational decision-making process was not mature ( the frontal lobe which makes rational decisions is not fully developed till the mid-twenties). Such abortions cannot automatically an excommunicable offense. Pope Francis understands the complexity and terrible guilt surrounding abortion.

      It is nothing like a sect breaking off from Rome to do their own thing- in that case, they are asking to be excommunicated and Rome is protecting truth, preventing the faithful from being led astray by false teaching

    8. Marion (Mael Muire)

      And who cries for the babies who must undergo being salted and poisoned to death, or hacked to pieces, or pierced with a scalpel, and sometimes born alive, and left to die in a trash can?

      I’ll tell you what: you cry for the pain the mothers of these infants go through; I’ll cry for those without a voice and without a choice – the helpless infants whom society should have been protecting.

      If a woman is in a “state” after an abortion, she should be. So should the father be, if he was an accomplice. I doubt that the state they’re in compares to the horror inflicted on that baby before he or she gave their life back to God.

      It’s good and right that the Church show mercy to post-abortive women. I also support any efforts the Church can make to persuade women to show mercy to their babies.

    9. Marion (Mael Muire)

      P.S. I am a faithful daughter of the Church. If the Church decrees that men and women who have committed abortion may receive absolution from their local parish, then I accept that without reservation. Viva Papa Francis!

    10. melanie jean juneau

      Yes, you are right; I should never answer comments late at night. I still maintain the Church is right to correct its stance on abortion. Excommunication is mainly for false doctrines, to alert and protect the faithful from being mislead; it should not make it almost impossible for people to reconcile with the Church.( ordinary priests could not forgive an abortion).

      Just because I weep for women does not mean I do not weep for their unborn children as well. I have nine kids. but one miscarriage and I still grieve because she never experienced life on earth. Yet she is part of our family and I will see her when I die. I sometimes say I have 10 children because she is part of the communion of saints, both the living and the dead, This sense of communion brings me joy- her spirit is alive is God.

    11. Marion (Mael Muire)

      The Church “should not make it almost impossible for people to reconcile with the Church.(ordinary priests could not forgive an abortion)

      It has never in all the two-thousand years of our history been anything like “impossible to reconcile with the Church following an abortion” and consequent excommunication. In fact, as we all learned recently, since the early 1980s, most U.S. bishops have delegated the authority to local pastors to lift these excommunications .

      I’m sorry for the loss of your baby who died before she was born, and I’m happy for you that you have nine living children.

      Please, weep no more, but rejoice in the Lord’s Day, thanking Him for His many gifts, and beseeching Him to keep you and yours on the path He wants for you. And please, ask this for me and mine, too. And I will pray for you all, as well.

      God bless us, every one.

    12. Miss Marion, I appreciate your writings and your faith is to be admired.

      A neighbor who is a Baptist, always has terrible things to say about Catholics. I’ll never understand that. Christians seemingly would realize they’re on the same team. She didn’t know I was raised Catholic, but delighted in calling Catholics “Cafeteria Catholics.”

      Again, I do admire your absolute faith.

    13. Marion (Máel Mhuire)

      Thank you, Miss Edie, for your kind remarks. Any faith I have is a gift from God. Please pray for me, that He continues to put up with me, and I will gladly include you and yours in my prayers, as well.

    14. Marion (Mael Muire)

      . . . And people whom the Church excommunicates may be forgiven. Time and time again. Excommunication is to get someone’s attention, someone who is about to go off the edge of a cliff, if they continue to listen to the voices of the larger culture, who are telling them to “keep going; this will be really fun!”

      “At that time some people who were present there told him (Jesus) about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He said to them in reply, . . . ‘I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them . . . I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!’” (Luke 13:1-5, edited) Our Lord’s warning here was the very essence of excommunication – a warning to repent, and to change our lives, even though His ministry in that day and place did not allow for the form of the warning the Church now gives to her erring children. But, in purpose and intent, they are the same thing! A call to repentance.

  10. I am a degreed, licensed professional in a large Midwestern city. Years ago, I had a lady show up at my office on a matter completely related to abortion. We got to talking about her personal situation, and slowly facts started to come out. Before long, the entire sad story spilled out:
    She had been injected with that contraceptive device comprised of matchstick-like hormonal inserts into her arm. The ob-gyn who inserted them forgot to do a pregnancy test beforehand, which is the standard of care. It turns out she was already pregnant when she had the contraceptives inserted.
    In order to save herself from a possible malpractice lawsuit, the ob-gyn emotionally manipulated this woman, beyond belief, over a prolonged period of time, to have an abortion, telling her that the baby would be a “monster,” horribly deformed, mentally retarded, etc. It took until the 6th month to get her way, but by golly they did “the procedure.”
    After subjecting the dead child to a full autopsy, this ob-gyn had the supreme nerve to tell the poor woman, “oh by the way, your baby girl was 100% normal!” This woman, finally able to tell her story to a sympathetic, non-judgmental listener, broke down and sobbed, years after the fact, like I have never seen anybody do so before or since. And believe me when I say that as a rape survivor, I have spoken to some pretty traumatized people (rape survivors, both male and female) over my professional career.
    This lady had made a valid sacramental confession, and received absolution, etc. However, even years after the fact, she was still completely unable to forgive herself. This abortion that she was manipulated into completely poisoned her entire life, and I believe it had longterm ill effects on both her physical and emotional health, probably for life.
    I have spoken to any number of older women who, once again, even in their 60’s and 70’s, would break down and sob, in the most heartbroken manner possible, over an abortion which had occurred decades ago. Their attitude in old age was, God had sent them a baby and they had had it slaughtered. Many of these women, again, had been in pretty desperate straits at the time, saw no way out, and/or had been seriously emotionally manipulated into having their abortion.
    Once again, how anyone could stand in judgment over a person such as this, in a situation such as this, and arrogate unto themselves a harsh, unforgiving, judgmental attitude is quite simply beyond me. This is a pretty serious commentary about the persons doing the judging. I fear for the state of their souls.

    1. melanie jean juneau

      this is an example of why the young people are leaving the Church is droves. I do not care if some think Pope Francis acts like he invented mercy, we need a grassroots revolution, a conversion of our hearts to live and breath in the mercy and love of God.

      THEN the young people will RUN back to our Churches because they seek authentic spirituality.

      Once you meet a “saint” you are never the same; you want what they have. Let us be those signs of love and mercy and light

      Every human is wired to be loved and love, to live in reality. Kids are sick of playing the games of society, for some they cop out, choosing the culture of death, Let us offer them the culture of LIFE

    2. I sincerely think that the real reason many people leave the Church is either they cannot believe in the historic truth of the gospel by lack of evidence or they don’t like to give up their sinful (mostly sex) behaviour. I myself discovered, thanks to the internet, the veracity of the Real Presence now that I know of many eucharistic miracles that took place And can still be verified! I wished someone (why are most priests ignorant about these miracles? Or is there an other reason?) would have told me that long ago.

    3. Jesus told Sister Faustina that His mercy is witout bounds. Only, one should ask for His mercy. That one feels sad about grave but forgiven sins is, I think, quite normal it is despairing in Gods mercy that is sinful. I too have sinned gravely (in other matters) and however forgiven I still wish I never did these sins.

    4. melanie jean juneau

      In a sense when we are in despair, we sink into ourselves. It is an egocentric position, a sin against the mercy of God. (depression, on the other hand, can be inherited, involve serotonin levels, a result of trauma, tec.)

  11. If a woman has had an abortion in the past, and shows up at a confessional, it can only mean that she accepts that a sin has been committed, wants to confess it and be absolved, etc.
    How anyone could have the arrogance to interject themselves between a penitent and her priest and decide, on the basis of what facts (or, more likely, a highly critical snap judgment) that she should be denied absolution is completely beyond me. It beggars the imagination.
    Do such people not realize that the harsh condemnations, judgmentalism, and un-forgiveness which they are mired in against women (and men!) who have been involved in abortion will be turned around on them at their own particular judgments, and be used against them?

    1. This is the same complaint that drove untold Catholics out of the church because, God forbid,
      one gets a divorce which some construe to be so unforgivable that they must air their dirty
      laundry out in front of a tribunal or forever be denied the Eucharist.

    2. Am I misunderstanding? We’re not saying the annulment tribunal is unnecessary, or that the laws governing divorced Catholics and the Eucharist should be pitched, right?

    3. melanie jean juneau

      Of course not because divorce should not be treated lightly.
      I know personally, some marriage tribunals are run with mercy. In fact, I have a friend who was married at 18 to a man who she discovered was incapable of a relationship, of relating and loving because he had Aspergers ( low-level Autism). She did not want to remarry, but the dignity to know she was not a failure and still in good standing with the Church. She was treated with love by a wonderful nun.

      BUTsometimes those who had power ruled with rigidity rather than with mercy which intimidated those who legitimately deserved an annulment and drove them from the Church. This was how I took James remark.

    4. melanie jean juneau

      Good points. Although some might have only experienced mercy in the Church, and tell me in comments that my concerns are imaginary, I live with the effects of the judgemental attitude of the old guard through my in-laws and their huge extended family, The repercussions throughout the younger generations of their rigid condemnation are devastating.

      Yet they defend their “tough love stance” even though it has driven throngs of their family out of the Church – their kids, grandkids and great- grandkids are wounded and broken. Those who are stoned do not come back.

  12. Repentance is the criteria for absolution isn’t it? Christ forgives the men who were killing him, the woman caught in adultery, etc. Is mercy limited? I can not believe that.

    1. melanie jean juneau

      “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do. “No repentance, no contrition but the Son of God asks the Almighty to forgive his murders. – great reminder. The martyrs also forgave their tormentors.

    2. melanie jean juneau

      In fact, I would say anyone who is not upset after having an abortion is in the same boat as those who crucified our Lord. I think we should pray with Christ, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

    3. A very astute observation; and, if we knew why God allowed free will to choose
      this sin our mortal minds might not recover from that knowing.

  13. Of course, if a woman feels guilt or anguish over having an abortion, she should be forgiven and she should also be counseled about forgiving oneself. Guilt indicates that one has violated a sincere belief held by an informed conscience. Guilt and anguish are the precursors of forgiveness.

    The reality is that 95 % of woman who have had abortions do not feel guilt or regret, nor a need for forgiveness…..and that means what?

    1. Given that people commit a wide variety of sins without feeling guilt, regret or remorse, I am thinking it doesn’t mean a whole lot. There is a reason why the Church actually does excommunicate people for certain very serious sins, and that is to remind people that they are serious.

    2. melanie jean juneau

      I still maintain that even if a modern woman denies any distress over an abortion in her conscious mind, all women know, deep in their souls, in their spirits that if they have had an abortion, they have killed their offspring.

      I have been part of counselling sessions involving depressed women. After a lot of inner work, they discover the root of their depression or other mental illnesses is unresolved grief. They are usually clueless till they come for help.

    3. Most slave owners in america did not fell they sined by owing human beings but they did.

      the hellish sinfulness of Murdering a child or owning a slave does not depend on feelings…but on the facts that abortion and slavery are evil.

    4. melanie jean juneau

      (Ephesians 6:5) Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.

      (Peter 2:18: ) Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ

      While in prison, Paul met a runaway slave, Onesimus, the property of a Christian — presumably Pheliemon. He sent the slave back to his owner.

      Slavery was taken for granted as a normal part of life in the ancient world. Indeed, the whole structure of Roman society was based on it.

      Matthew 18:25: “But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.”

      Colossians 4:1: “Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.

      Luke 12:45-48: “The lord [owner] of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”

      1 Timothy 6:1-3 “Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;”

      but Paul regarded slaves as persons of worth whom at least God considers of importance. St. Paul mentioned that both slaves and free persons are sons of God, and thus all part of the body of Christ and spiritually equal.1 Corinthians 12:13: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”
      Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”
      Colossians 3:11: “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.”

      Paul apparently saw no evil in the concept of one person owning another as a piece of property. In his Letter to Philemon, he had every opportunity to discuss the immorality of slave-owning, but declined to do so.

    5. melanie jean juneau

      quote from the book of Peter should read (Peter 2:18: …Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.

    6. None of those passages approve of slavery…they are a call to Christian humility.

      Jesus say “turn the other cheek” He is not saying striking people is ok He is saying overcome evil with goo.

      Jesus said, “If someone takes your shirt give them your coat as well.” Jesus is not promoting theft he is promoting charity, not being attached to earthly things, and overcoming evil with good.

      Paul never promotes slavery…he promotes absolute and total Christian humility and charity.

    7. melanie jean juneau

      You are reading these Bible passages with a modern mind, interpreting the word slavery to mean humility. When Paul says slaves obey your earthly master, that is exactly what he means.

      Paul saw no evil in the concept of one person owning another as a piece of property. In his Letter to Philemon, he had every opportunity to discuss the immorality of slave-owning, but declined to do so.

      So yes, Paul actually did promote slavery because he was a man formed up his society, by his culture.

      This does not devalue the validity of his Divine revelations about new life in the Spirit. His whole theology is a marvel of Divine teaching, with concepts never before revealed to men

    8. I don’t think Paul promotes slavery anywhere. Slavery was a common, far more culturally accepted condition in his time, but it wasn’t the same institution that we think of when we think of slavery today. The word slave even meant something different then than it does now.

      And Paul ~was~ promoting Christian humility when he says to submit to higher authorities, no matter what those authorities are, as long as they don’t require you to contravene the law of God. He’s not promoting the laws of Caesar when he tells people to follow the law – he is simply telling Christians to be Christian. The same goes for pretty much any institutional authority he refers to.

      The Bible itself never promotes slavery. God did not approve of slavery, He just allowed it due to our hardness of heart.

    9. melanie jean juneau

      I agree and disagree with you. Yes Paul is telling us all to be humble. before God, even the “master” submits.

      Since one of my daughters majored in religious studies,( NOT theology) she taught me how to discern, appreciate and understand the culture and customs of Biblical times.( I also took biblical studies DECADES ago from Jesuits in university)

      In ancient times slavery “was an institution far different from the horrible abuses of slavery in the 18th and 19th century in North America” (Interview with Adrian Warnock, 8 Dec. 2006). One scholar suggests there were more slaves than free men in Rome but the word slave still meant people were bought and sold.

      I am not suggesting slavery is a good idea in the modern world but a requirement of scholarly integrity, and of any true understanding of the Bible, that we should refrain from importing our own modern political and social values into the text.

      Paul basically says, ” You need not hesitate to put up with your servile condition, for the slave who has been called in the Lord ( one who is in Christ) is the Lord’s freedman; and similarly the free man who has been called is Christ’s slave.”

    10. On the other hand… (from

      “But did the early Church endorse slavery? Certainly, the early Christians more or less tolerated the slavery of their day, as seen from the New Testament itself and the fact that after Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire, slavery was not immediately outlawed. Even so, this doesn’t mean Christianity was compatible with Roman slavery or that the early Church did not contribute to its demise. In that regard, there are a number of important points to be kept in mind.

      First, while Paul told slaves to obey their masters, he made no general defense of slavery, anymore than he made a general defense of the pagan government of Rome, which Christians were also instructed to obey despite its injustices (cf. Rom. 13:1-7). He seems simply to have regarded slavery as an intractable part of the social order, an order that he may well have thought would pass away shortly (1 Cor. 7:29-31).

      Second, Paul told masters to treat their slaves justly and kindly (Eph 6:9; Col 4:1), implying that slaves are not mere property for masters to do with as they please.

      Third, Paul implied that the brotherhood shared by Christians is ultimately incompatible with chattel slavery. In the case of the runaway slave Onesimus, Paul wrote to Philemon, the slaves master, instructing him to receive Onesimus back no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a brother (Philem. 6). With respect to salvation in Christ, Paul insisted that there is neither slave nor free . . . you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:27-28).”

    11. melanie jean juneau

      Yes, slavery and the government of Paul’s time were simply the way the world functioned. To me, Paul’s concerns were the same as His Lord Jesus. The Zealots had hoped Jesus would rise up to overthrow Rome, but Christ had a more revolutionary agenda which was the revolution of the heart.
      Thanks for the in-depth, educated and balanced insights.

    12. melanie jean juneau

      definitely. We cannot judge the past cultures with modern attitudes. it is just like some people are upset about the newest saint, Junípero Serra,mmwho ordained because of his treatment of native Americans.

    13. melanie jean juneau

      In the interest of reaching the misinformed and unchurched, the task is to bring about an awareness of sin while offering salvation not condemnation.

    14. Phil, the study that you cite with the 95% figure has numerous methodological difficulties that at least call into question the accuracy of applying the studies findings to the general population of all women who have had abortions, based on this observation of the study: “With 68.1% percent of eligible women refusing to participate in the study at baseline, it is improper for the authors to suggest that their findings reflect the general experiences of most women.”

      This is a common challenge among studies based on surveys and/or self-selected samples, that those who voluntarily choose to participate do often not statistically represent the larger population.

      When the refusal-to-participate rate from the initial survey is as high as 68%, this is especially true.

  14. When I am angry, I pray an Our Father, and I have in it my instruction, the deal, so to speak, that Jesus gave us in it….forgive others as you want the Father to forgive you. I have to let go. I even have to let go of blaming myself, that is the devil’s trickery after God has forgiven me in confession.

    No sin too big for Jesus’ mercy, not a one, with a sincere contrite heart.

  15. This is not a new thing. Since 1983 every Priest in the United States except in one diocese has been absolving the sin of abortion for women (and anyone else involved in an abortion) who is repentant and seeks reconciliation with God. That some people are “shocked” and others are opposed to it is a bit disingenuous.

    1. melanie jean juneau

      Thank you for this clarification. When I read the news releases, I was surprised and thought I must have been misinformed all along because the writers stated only certain assigned priests could revoke excommunication for women who have had an abortion. The articles also stressed this decision was only valid for this coming Jubilee Year of Mercy. Yet I have a couple friends who are devoted, practising Catholics who had an abortion in their teens.

  16. Francis seems to believe that he is the only Catholic in history to ever have heard of, or to have practiced mercy. He spends such a great deal of his time excoriating and condemning Catholics (past and present) and then he makes statements and gestures that assume he invented it.
    In all my years as non-believer, as a protestant and as a Catholic I have consistently found Catholics to be sincerely loving, kind, and surprise… even merciful. Add to this that the more traditional they were the more they understood mercy.
    The point of this long winded comment is simply that I am saddened to see that the basis of your article is an acceptance of the “mean old Catholic” premise.
    Rather you should be taking to task those who spread such vicious falsehoods.
    Such is my rant… Thanks for all your work on behalf of our faith and for this moment or two to share the soapbox.

    1. melanie jean juneau

      Pope Francis has the ability to speak to the common man, in a language he can understand. The other popes articulated the very same doctrine, but this pope walks among the uneducated, interacts with those in prison, bonds with the poor and has a gift of communicating timeless truths in a way that we all actually hear and understand.

      Yes, this pope is not inventing the idea of mercy; all the popes lived and taught this core Catholic virtue.

    2. “He spends such a great deal of his time excoriating and condemning Catholics (past and present) and then he makes statements and gestures that assume he invented it. ”

      He has never condemned people or pretended as if he invented mercy. I don’t know where you get that from.

  17. The concern is not for the man or woman who were complicit in the evil of abortion but are truly repentant and seek forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession in order to return to full communion. I don’t think any Catholic who knew their Faith would deny that forgiveness would be granted.

    The concern is for the scandal created by those who misinterpret the Pope’s action as a justification of their sin. Or the idea that abortion is a lesser evil than climate change skepticism thereby justifying continued support for politicians who are complicit in promoting the evil of abortion. Shouldn’t an equal concern be for the souls of those who were complicit in the evil of abortion yet still come forward to receive the Eucharist?

    1. melanie jean juneau

      You have zeroed in on a problem faced by this Pontiff: the press seems to twist his true intentions to support their own liberal agendas. And yes, we should be concerned about those who are not living in line with Church teaching, skipping confession without any sense of contrition and receiving Holy Communion.

  18. The unforgivable sin is not abortion. It is the sin against the Holy Spirit, Catechism of Catholic Church:

    1864 “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss.”

    Jesus put this limitation on foregiveness. Who are we to put other and further conditions on forgiving others? Not followers of Jesus?

    1. melanie jean juneau

      Thank you so much for this truth…I did think of mentioning the unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit..should have but didn’t

  19. Do most woman who have had an abortion realize they have sinned? Are they even aware they have broken one of the Ten Commandments? Do they know they killed their own child? The Church has not made these facts clear to its flock nor the rest of the world.

    1. melanie jean juneau

      good point. I think the impact of what they have actually done hits after the abortion. There are many testimonies of women who believed the abortionist’s propaganda before they kill their unborn child. Afterward, they are initially shocked then devastate and say, ” No one told me the truth before the procedure.”

    2. You assume people cannot reason and be exceptionally aware of what their actions have brought about and need to repent.

      Your points lack insight and you see others as you sadly see yourself. Your words speak more of your small-minded nature. Your bias of these paticular sinners is clear.

      I left the Catholic Church and continue to see it was the right choice. Albeit, I do love Pope Francis. God Bless Him and God Bless America.

    3. melanie jean juneau

      How is it small minded to understand that some frightened teenagers could choose abortion and not be fully aware of the ramifications of their actions? The frontal lobe (the section of the brain which makes rational descions) is not fully mature till age 25. I said SOME people are not fully aware.

    4. You misunderstood my point. I was referring to Bill’s query regarding if women are aware of their sin; breaking the Ten Commandments; or if they killed their child. Perhaps it’s that he’s male and couldn’t understand a woman’s emotions and regret.

      It struck me as an odd question with obvious answers. No woman I know that has had an abortion treated it as done, over with, and no looking back. It remains something that one continuously deals with. I’ve never seen it taken lightly.

    5. melanie jean juneau

      Thank you for taking time to clarify. You are right; even if an abortion does not seem to affect a modern woman on the surface, her inner spirit is devastated. Grief will eventually come to the light Although I personally know of only two women who had abortions, they were shattered- it changed their entire lives. and thank-you for the profound quote from Desmond Tutu

    6. Really? It’s practically the biggest issue we talk about. “Abortion Kills Children,” “Abortion is murder,” it’s like a mantra. For decades we’ve been sloganeering about it. It has been made ABUNDANTLY clear.

    7. melanie jean juneau

      Yet, I wonder if many people in our society have not lost the concept of sin against God or even against an absolute good ( if they are not believers). Catholics hear the mantra that abortion is murder but do non- believers? But you are correct, their inner spirit DOES know, even if they hide their sense of guilt even from their conscious minds

    8. I think we have socially engineered ourselves in society, in a manner that turns natural law on its head, which is very sad. So yes, people have lost the concept of sin against an absolute good, I totally agree. They now see ‘absolute good’ as purely relative and inwardly directed toward selfish desires, and have taken up the mantra, “do as thou wilt.” People believe that this is the new ultimate good, a form of personal freedom. The only thing I can say is that we have been deluded by Satan, but then this was predicted. So in many supporters of abortion there is no sense of guilt, as it has been obscured. I’ve never met anyone who has – had – an abortion who doesn’t appear to suffer over it on some level, though, at the same time. 90% of people who are “pro choice” have never actually been through it.

      But I believe the law is written in our hearts, and it can never be completely lost.

  20. If a woman is deeply sorry, suffers extreme suffering and guilt, and wishes to receive penance for her sin, who among us could deny her the sacrament of reconciliation? Are there really Catholics who would deny this? I haven’t seen such sentiments expressed in the Catholic sphere — but perhaps I have missed something vital on this topic.

    1. melanie jean juneau

      Yes, weel said. “Americans think the worst sins are sexual, but the truth is the worst sin is pride.” a loose translation from Catherine de Hueck Doherty, the Russian born lay foundress of the Madonna House Apostolate

  21. As long as one is truly sorry for their sin and firmly resolve, with the help of His grace to never do so again, they should be forgiven.

    1. melanie jean juneau

      agreed. I do not mean the Church should take abortion lightly but rather forgiveness should be available for those who are repentant, in pain, racked with guilt and long to receive Holy Communion.

    2. Tears ran down my face as I said my Act of Contrition as it was said back when I was in the church. As I was given the Sacrament of Reconciliation, it felt like I was surrounded by light. God was very patiently waiting for me to come back. I had been heartily sorry since 1980. His Grace was freely given and I gratefully accepted it. Pure Joy!

    3. melanie jean juneau

      Your reconciliation with the Church and with Christ is what Pope Francis is all about- real people seeking reconciliation because this pope is a pastor first and a theologian, writer of documents second

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