This column is for the Catholic women who feel they cannot speak publicly about their feelings of anger, hurt and betrayal with their beloved church.
For weeks, Catholic women have written and called me, often anonymously. They approach me in public, at meetings and after speeches, or politely interrupt me at the grocery store, in restaurants, even sporting events.
These are heartbreaking conversations.
Here it comes since you know what is next.
Almost always, they want me to know their faith is important to them, that they attend church regularly and want to remain active in their parishes. But they also want to talk about how painful it is to sit in church these days because their wombs, and what they do with them, have become fodder for sermon after sermon meant to influence how Catholics will vote in this election.
If you have a problem sitting in the pew because of your womb I would suggest a different sitting position.
"It’s not just what the priest says," one woman told me. "It’s all the propaganda that comes with it. It’s the leaflets at the back of the church, the parishioners who don’t like your bumper sticker and tell you you’re not a real Catholic if you support a woman’s right to choose.
This is what I never understand about theists who are pro-abortion. Believing that God created us and gives us our souls and at the same time believing that you may take the life of something you consider inconvenient. It is understandable when atheists and agnostics hold this position, but for those who profess the faith it is pure hypocrisy.
An Akron church has erected more than a hundred small crosses in its yard for babies who’ve been aborted. In the Cleveland area, several women described a troubling turn of events in their church parking lots.
Now memorials to the unborn are troubling and not the fact of what the memorials indicate.
"On every car, there was a brochure listing only candidates who oppose abortion," a mother of two told me. "I was so angry. I am smart enough to make my own decisions, and this is not why I go to church."
Not exactly let it be done according to thy will.
What upsets them the most is the church’s assumption that a woman can’t make this private decision by herself, for herself. The church argues that the life of the fetus trumps all else – including the life of the mother and victims of rape and incest – and that any argument about choice dehumanizes the fetus. Declaring that women are not stakeholders in decisions about their own bodies, however, dehumanizes them, especially when the person who declares you immoral is a man who will never have to face pregnancy or its consequences.
We are automatically dehumanized whenever we choose to have another die for our sake. We are all stakeholders in our decisions and should always choose good. Many human choices are between good and evil and St Paul said we must never tire of doing good. This does not include exceptions due to timing or career pressures. She then goes on with the old saw about the Church saying that a fetus trumps the life of a mother. They of course never provide a reference for such a statement. This is part of the meme that we only care about the child in the womb and to heck with it after it is born.
Peggy Driscoll, director of Pro Life for the Cleveland Catholic Diocese, says there is no official order for churches to step up anti-abortion efforts in recent months.
"Those fliers in parking lots are not coming from the diocese," she said. "They are printed by secular organizations that sometimes adopt religious-sounding names so they seem to be from the Catholic Church, but they’re not."
Do we need an official order to step up anti-abortion efforts and why is she apologizing for anti-abortion literature?
Sermons can vary, she said. If a priest regularly preaches against abortion, that’s his agenda. Not all priests have taken up the cause against a women’s right to choose. They leave politics to the politicians.
The most painful conversations I’ve had about abortion are with Catholic women. They describe their horror as church leaders lectured that, should their own lives ever be threatened by an unplanned pregnancy, well, they’ve lived their lives. It’s the baby’s turn. And they cry over the guilt.
This rhetoric is just plain sick. Horror at Church teaching. Lives threatened by unplanned pregnancies. You would think that babies are more dangerous then terrorists. That they rise up out of their wombs to smite their mothers. To these women the movie Rosemary’s Baby would have been just as scary if the child had been an unplanned pregnancy.
Heather Harrington, an abortion counselor at PreTerm, said many Catholic patients have told her, "I know I can’t have this baby, but I’m going to go to hell now. I will not go to heaven."
"I feel so horribly sad for them," Harrington said. "They feel they can’t receive any comfort or solace at their churches."
Catholics get abortions. A mother of two described hers to me this week. It was her first pregnancy, and her doctor said the fetus had a lethal genetic defect. She knew her baby would die, and so she made the difficult choice to abort. To this day, she tells no one.
"I certainly could not tell my priest, because he would say I should have carried the baby to term and let nature run its course. And we don’t talk openly at church, so I have no idea who there would support my decision."
The anti-abortion sermons at her church are turning her off, and possibly away. Recently, she resigned from a leadership post there.
"The priest is up there condemning women like me, and he has no idea what we go through when we make that choice. It’s insulting, and it hurts. A lot of people tell me privately they disagree but just ignore it. I can’t do that. I have to believe in the church, in my religion, and if I can’t, then I’ll have to leave." [Source]
Jesus though his Church is infinitely merciful. We all have sinned and need forgiveness and the first step to receiving this mercy is repentance through contrition . We can not demand that the priest not preach about sins that are too close to us – though it would make the sermons much shorter. If we are only looking for affirmation then we should better seek a mirror.
Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
After abortion offers many links resources for those needing healing from the effects of abortion.