Jewels Green

23 years after the abortion that nearly cost me my life, I sought healing

Jewels Green
By Jewels Green
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Note: Jewels Green is a former abortion clinic worker who also had an abortion herself. Last year she spoke out about her experiences as an abortion clinic worker for the first time. You can read that article here.

April 30, 2012 (LiveActionNews.org) - I had been looking forward to my post-abortion healing retreat weekend for months. Years, in fact. The grief and crushing guilt after my abortion 23 years ago nearly cost me my life. My check for the nominal fee was cashed, and the Herculean logistics of childcare and shuttling my three sons to and from activities while mommy was away was complete. As a firm non-believer in GPS, I wrote out my driving directions using the markers from the kids’ art table and set off on my 40-mile journey to closure.

Located atop a hill, surrounded by fields and trees, the retreat house was perfectly bucolic and remote. Including me, there were eight retreatants, seven staff members (including the lead facilitator, a nurse, and a certified counselor), and – although it was conducted as an interdenominational Christian retreat – a priest.

I checked into my room and found a welcome packet filled with inspirational pamphlets and a gift arrangement that included a journal, a coffee mug filled with candy, and prayer cards. Then I headed back downstairs to sup on the homemade minestrone soup that was waiting for us in a crock pot upon arrival and enjoyed small talk with the others about how far we’d each traveled to get there, the traffic, and the beautiful weather.

The formal “work” of the retreat was to take place in a large, carpeted room with big comfy chairs arranged in a circle. Each chair had a lovingly handmade donated afghan on it, a box of tissues, and a tiny trash can. It looked eerily like the recovery room of the abortion clinic where I had worked. One of our first spiritual exercises after briefly introducing ourselves was to pick a rock to carry around with us throughout the weekend as a physical reminder of the weight of our own personal burdens of guilt, grief, regret, anger, shame, and sadness associated with our abortions.

The first “grief stone” I chose was the only rectangular one among the circle of rocks around the low table in the center of the room. I thought that that was somehow appropriate, given my additional guilt and shame of working in an abortion clinic for years piled on top of the devastation of my own abortion.

A few unexpected surprises of the retreat led me to see that first stone as a weapon, not as a physical manifestation and representation of the heavy psychic burden I carried. I was almost immediately plunged into a vivid daydream of using the sharpest edge (which admittedly, wasn’t very sharp at all) to scrape at my forearms. The same way I used to when I would cut myself for release to ease the maelstrom of emotional fury so many, many years ago.

I hadn’t tried to deliberately hurt myself in decades. Something was wrong. I approached the retreat’s counselor and confessed that I could not be trusted with a pointy rock, so I traded it in for a smooth stone. I held my new smooth gray grief stone in the palm of my hand and felt its heft. He was very dusty, so I took him to the sink in the bathroom and scrubbed him off. There, on the surface, I noticed a crack…in the shape of a cross. I had the right stone now.

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Part of the retreat rules are that participants are to carry their grief stone with us at all times – to the bathroom, the shower, the breakfast table – until we are ready to lay down our burden. Each retreatant chooses the time to relieve oneself of the burden, sets the stone down somewhere at the retreat house, and then shares with the assembled mourners and staff why it was time to stop carrying the weight around.

The intended purpose of the relinquishing of one’s heavy rock of grief is meant to symbolize relief from the burden of grief, anger, and guilt. I’d thought this was not all that dissimilar from the Jewish tradition of leaving a “stone of remembrance” upon the grave marker of a loved one. But those grieving Jews have a cemetery to visit, a physical place to leave their tangible representation of memorial and grief. We who mourn children lost to abortion have no such monument to our dead.

After a morning prayer service and breakfast, it was time to divide the group in half to share our own personal abortion stories. Although I’ve written about my abortion and working in an abortion clinic, spoken publicly about it, and even been interviewed for radio broadcasts, I simply did not feel safe enough in this place to share my history in mixed-gender company. Admittedly, I was still harboring anger and resentment about not knowing that men would be present at the retreat. I fully acknowledge the very real grief of post-abortive men and agree that they too deserve assistance on the road to forgiveness, spiritual healing, and reconciliation – I just wrongly assumed that this retreat was for women only (with the exception of the priest, of course) and that men were provided a separate therapeutic experience tailored to their role in the abortion decision. Clearly, his experience is fundamentally different from that of the pregnant woman who physically endures the pregnancy and the violence that ends it.

So I left the retreat early = with my smooth cross-stone. During my hour-long drive home, I felt warmer and calmer and more at peace the more distance I put between me and my failed attempt at scripted healing. I drove under an overpass with a large street sign bearing the name I’d chosen for my child while he was still alive, still growing inside me. I was going in the right direction. I wasn’t leaving my dead child behind, but I was bringing home a memorial to him as I kept driving – away from the retreat and toward my three living children, my home, my husband, and my future.

I lifted my stone out of the car but hesitated at the door to my home. I would not bring him inside. His stone has a place in the garden, a part of my family’s surroundings. My stone is no longer a burden – it is a memorial. Now I have a place to visit. Now he has a place to be remembered.

Ministries that provide counseling and spiritual healing services provide invaluable assistance to the thousands of women and men grieving after abortion. The dedicated staff, volunteers, pastors, and priests provide comfort and solace to help so many bridge the chasm of unspoken sorrow in their souls with a forgiveness that helps them reach the stability of the shore where true healing happens, and the future can unfold unencumbered by the weight of the past.

My own journey was (and still is) intensely personal and could not have happened any other way.

There is no such thing as one-size-fits all healing.

Author’s Note: If you or someone you love is suffering from unresolved emotions stemming from a past abortion, please contact any (or all) of the following remarkable organizations dedicated to helping heal those wounded by the violence of abortion. Find what works for you – don’t give up. You’re worth it.

- Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries (Be sure to inquire about whether or not the retreat time and location you choose is co-ed or women-only.)

- AfterAbortion.com

- The National Office for Post Abortion Reconciliation & Healing

- Project Rachel

Reprinted with permission from LiveActionNews.org

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Lisa Bourne

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Cardinal Dolan: Debate on denying Communion to pro-abortion pols ‘in the past’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

As America heads into its 2014 midterm elections, a leading U.S. prelate says the nation’s bishops believe debate over whether to deny Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians is “in the past.”

The Church’s Code of Canon Law states in Canon 915 that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” Leading Vatican officials, including Pope Benedict XVI himself, have said this canon ought to be applied in the case of pro-abortion Catholic politicians. However, prelates in the West have widely ignored it, and some have openly disagreed.

John Allen, Jr. of the new website Crux, launched as a Catholic initiative under the auspices of the Boston Globe, asked New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan about the issue earlier this month.

“In a way, I like to think it’s an issue that served us well in forcing us to do a serious examination of conscience about how we can best teach our people about their political responsibilities,” the cardinal responded, “but by now that inflammatory issue is in the past.”

“I don’t hear too many bishops saying it’s something that we need to debate nationally, or that we have to decide collegially,” he continued. “I think most bishops have said, ‘We trust individual bishops in individual cases.’ Most don’t think it’s something for which we have to go to the mat.”

Cardinal Dolan expressed personal disinterest in upholding Canon 915 publicly in 2010 when he told an Albany TV station he was not in favor of denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians. He said at the time that he preferred “to follow the lead of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who said it was better to try to persuade them than to impose sanctions.”

However, in 2004 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI the following year, wrote the U.S. Bishops a letter stating that a Catholic politician who would vote for "permissive abortion and euthanasia laws" after being duly instructed and warned, "must" be denied Communion. 

Cardinal Ratzinger sent the document to the U.S. Bishops in 2004 to help inform their debate on the issue. However, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, then-chair of the USCCB Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, who received the letter, withheld the full text from the bishops, and used it instead to suggest ambiguity on the issue from the Vatican.

A couple of weeks after Cardinal McCarrick’s June 2004 address to the USCCB, the letter from Cardinal Ratzinger was leaked to well-known Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, who published the full document. Cardinal Ratzinger’s office later confirmed the leaked document as authentic.

Since the debate in 2004, numerous U.S. prelates have openly opposed denying Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

In 2008, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley suggested the Church had yet to formally pronounce on the issue, and that until it does, “I don’t think we’re going to be denying Communion to the people.”

In 2009, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. in 2009 said that upholding of Canon 915 would turn the Eucharist into a political “weapon,” refusing to employ the law in the case of abortion supporter Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Cardinal Roger Mahoney, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, said in a 2009 newspaper interview that pro-abortion politicians should be granted communion because Jesus Christ gave Holy Communion to Judas Iscariot.

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However, one of the Church’s leading proponents of the practice, U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, insists that denying Communion is not a punishment.

“The Church’s discipline from the time of Saint Paul has admonished those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin not to present themselves for Holy Communion,” he said at LifeSiteNews’ first annual Rome Life Forum in Vatican City in early May. "The discipline is not a punishment but the recognition of the objective condition of the soul of the person involved in such sin."  

Only days earlier, Cardinal Francis Arinze, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, told LifeSiteNews that he has no patience for politicians who say that they are “personally” opposed to abortion, but are unwilling to “impose” their views on others.

On the question of Communion, he said, “Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that?”

Cardinal Christian Tumi, archbishop emeritus of Douala, told LifeSiteNews around the same time that ministers of Holy Communion are “bound not to” give the Eucharist to Catholic politicians who support abortion.

Pro-life organizations across the world have said they share the pastoral concern for pro-abortion politicians. Fifty-two pro-life leaders from 16 nations at the recent Rome Life Forum called on the bishops of the Catholic Church to honor Canon 915 and withhold Communion from pro-abortion politicians as an act of love and mercy.

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‘His bones are basically like paper’: Parents refuse to abort baby with rare condition

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By Kirsten Anderson

At just 11 weeks old, little Layton Diven is not like other babies. Every time his parents pick him up or cuddle him, there is a chance they will break his bones. In fact, Layton has already suffered more than 20 fractures in his short life – beginning at the moment of his birth.

Layton has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), a rare disease that makes his bones brittle and prone to breakage. There are several types of OI, and Layton’s type, OI Type III, is the most severe type found among infants. Most babies born with the disease, like Layton, are born with multiple fractures, especially along the rib cage. Many struggle to breathe or swallow. The incurable disease is progressive, so it will get worse as he gets older.

Layton was diagnosed with OI in the womb, but abortion wasn’t an option for his parents, Chad and Angela Diven, who considered their baby a gift from God, no matter his condition.

“We weren't going to have an abortion, so he was born with the disease,” Angela Diven told KSLA. “God chose me for him, to be his mom, so I have to take that huge responsibility and do what's best for him.”

That responsibility comes with a heavy price. Layton requires 24-hour care, but both Angela and Chad have full-time jobs. He can’t go to regular daycare, because it’s not safe for him.

“You can't just pick him up like a normal baby,” Diven said. “You can't dress him like a normal child; his bones are basically like paper. He can't go to daycare because of his condition. He's medically fragile, and a daycare can't handle him."

Childcare costs are just the beginning, though – the treatments Layton will need throughout his life are expensive and may not be covered by insurance.

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Layton is currently receiving pamidronate IV therapy, which will help to strengthen his bones. But in order to be able to stand or walk, he will need metal rods implanted in his legs – an operation that will cost the Divens $80,000. The OI specialist coordinating Layton’s care is in Omaha, Nebraska, while the Divens live in Louisiana. As he grows, Layton will also require special equipment, such as a wheelchair, along with extensive physical therapy.

Despite the hardships they knew would come, the Divens stepped out in faith to bring Layton into the world. Now, they are reaching out to the internet for help to shoulder the financial burdens that came with their baby blessing. The family has set up both a GoFundMe and a Facebook page called “Lifting Up Layton Diven,” where people can receive updates on Layton’s condition and contribute to the cost of his care.

To donate to baby Layton’s medical trust fund, click here.

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Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Vatican's Apostolic Signatura Steve Jalsevac / LifeSiteNews
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Sources confirm Cardinal Burke will be removed. But will he attend the Synod?

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By John-Henry Westen

Sources in Rome have confirmed to LifeSiteNews that Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s highest court, known as the Apostolic Signatura, is to be removed from his post as head of the Vatican dicastery and given a non-curial assignment as patron of the Order of Malta.

The timing of the move is key since Cardinal Burke is currently on the list to attend October’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family. He is attending in his capacity as head of one of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, so if he is removed prior to the Synod it could mean he would not be able to attend.

Burke has been one of the key defenders in the lead-up to the Synod of the Church's traditional practice of withholding Communion from Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried.

Most of the Catholic world first learned of the shocking development through Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, whose post ‘Exile to Malta for Cardinal Burke’ went out late last night.

If Burke’s removal from the Signatura is confirmed, said Magister, the cardinal “would not be promoted - as some are fantasizing in the blogosphere - to the difficult but prestigious see of Chicago, but rather demoted to the pompous - but ecclesiastically very modest - title of ‘cardinal patron’ of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, replacing the current head, Paolo Sardi, who recently turned 80.”

At 66, Cardinal Burke is still in his Episcopal prime.

The prominent traditional Catholic blog Rorate Caeli goes as far as to say, “It would be the greatest humiliation of a Curial Cardinal in living memory, truly unprecedented in modern times: considering the reasonably young age of the Cardinal, such a move would be, in terms of the modern Church, nothing short than a complete degradation and a clear punishment.”

On Tuesday, American traditionalist priest-blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf also hinted he had heard the move was underway. “I’ve been biting the inside of my mouth for a while now,” he wrote. “The optimist in me was saying that the official announcement would not be made until after the Synod of Bishops, or at least the beginning of the Synod. Or at all.”

“It’s not good news,” he added.

Both Magister and Zuhlsdorf predicted that the controversial move would unleash a wave of simultaneous jubilation from dissident Catholics and criticism from faithful Catholics. The decision to remove Cardinal Burke from his position on the Congregation for Bishops last December caused a public outpouring of concern and dismay from Catholic and pro-life leaders across the globe.

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Both men speculated on the reasons for the ouster. 

Magister pointed out that Burke is the latest in a line of ‘Ratzingerian’ prelates to undergo the axe.

“In his first months as bishop of Rome, pope Bergoglio immediately provided for the transfer to lower-ranking positions of three prominent curial figures: Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Archbishop Guido Pozzo, and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, considered for their theological and liturgical sensibilities among the most ‘Ratzingerian’ of the Roman curia,” said Magister.

He added: “Another whose fate appears to be sealed is the Spanish archbishop of Opus Dei Celso Morga Iruzubieta.”

Fr. Zuhlsdorf observed that Pope Francis may also be shrinking the Curial offices and thus reducing the number of Cardinals needed to fill those posts. He adds however, “It would be naïve in the extreme to think that there are lacking near Francis’s elbows those who have been sharpening their knives for Card. Burke and for anyone else associated closely with Pope Benedict.” 

“This is millennial, clerical blood sport.”

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