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‘Every child bears the face of Jesus’: Bishop buries unborn baby discarded in sewer

He named the baby Francis after the Pope, who opposed the 'throwaway culture.'
Tue Jun 16, 2015 - 6:28 pm EST
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Rick Snizek/Rhode Island Catholic

EAST PROVIDENCE, RI, June 16, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Bishop Thomas J. Tobin took a tiny child, abandoned and literally thrown into the sewer to drown, and named him "Francis" before providing him a dignified burial.

The preborn Baby Francis was found January 12 at Bucklin Wastewater Treatment Facility, when a worker saw what he thought was a doll floating in the sewage. He was discarded at about 20 weeks gestation.

Police investigated for months, but could not find his mother or father.

The bishop offered to give a “decent and proper burial” for the child, and to offer prayers for his parents. On June 5, after giving up their investigation, the police released the body to the Catholic Diocese of Providence.

On Wednesday, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, buried Baby Francis.

He explained that he chose the name "Francis" in honor of Pope Francis, who encouraged the faithful to change the “throwaway culture” of abortion.

“This child is certainly a victim of that throwaway culture,” he said.

“Every child bears the face of Jesus. This child does as well.” the bishop said.

While we do not know a lot about Francis, he said, "we do know this is a child of God, created in the image and likeness of God, and it’s in that spirit of honoring this child and...all the children who die of abortion, that we come together to bury Baby Francis."

“We entrust the soul of Baby Francis to the abundant mercy of God, so that this beloved child may find finally a home in His kingdom,” the bishop prayed before a gathering of about 20 pro-life Catholics.

Seminarian Peter Cotnoir, who assisted in the service, reflected on the aborted children who never get a Christian burial. “It’s almost like they disappear,” he said. “Even after an abortion, there is still a body somewhere.”

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Carol Owens, director of the diocese's Human Life Guild, said she and others were going to regularly come and pray for aborted children. “This is giving the respect and the dignity to every life, and it’s very, very important that we do this,” she said.

Ray Piccirilli, who attended the service, said Francis "deserves a proper burial. I wanted to be here to honor this child on this day."

Bishop Tobin also prayed for the mother and father of Francis, that God “lift them up and help them through whatever difficult circumstances or sufferings that may have led them to this moment.”

Baby Francis' funeral was held in a section of Gate of Heaven Cemetery dedicated to the repose of babies. A tiny white casket, inscribed with “Baby Francis 2015,” was donated by Boyle Funeral Home. St. Gabriel’s Call, a ministry of the diocese, provided flowers and a gravestone. The Catholic Cemeteries Association donated the burial plot.

Anne Pari also prayed for the mother of the child, saying, “She needs our prayers."


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