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March 25, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – St. John Paul II makes clear at the start of The Gospel of Life that there is only one, indivisible Gospel – the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This Gospel of Life is at the same time and with the same force the Gospel of Mercy. Christ is Life, and He is Mercy itself. He came to reconcile us to the Father and to one another, and therefore also to the unborn.
From the beginning of my own involvement in the pro-life movement over 30 years ago, I loudly echoed the theme that abortion hurts women, precisely because it destroys their children. Just as we are motivated to save those children, that same motivation drives us to save and heal those moms, their families, and everyone wounded by abortion.
We who reject abortion do not reject those who have abortions. Rather, we embrace them with the love, mercy, and peace of Christ.
This encyclical speaks directly to this point, as St. John Paul II addresses directly those who have had abortions:
“If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and to his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone's right to life” (n. 99).
Several years after these words were proclaimed to the Church and the world, Georgette Forney of Anglicans for Life and I co-founded the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, which has become the fulfillment of John Paul II’s words about how those who have been forgiven from abortion can become “among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life.” This campaign is the world’s largest mobilization of those who have had abortions and speak out about its pain, and about the healing that can be found in Jesus Christ.
Moreover, through its “Shockwaves of Abortion” initiative, the Campaign embraces the many people, aside from the mother herself, who are wounded by the killing of her child. The dad, grandparents, siblings, other relatives, and friends of that aborted child are deeply damaged. So are the abortionists and their staff, and the pro-life advocates who tried to save the child but could not.
All of these people are wounded, all of them need healing, and many of them are also sharing their testimonies. At times our campaign has gatherings during which, in one place, these various people speak out together and express their repentance and healing. Each different group helps all the others to heal. The man expressing his regret for not being a support to the mother of his child brings a measure of comfort to all the mothers who experienced the father’s failure to be a man. The mother’s expression of regret is a consolation for all grandparents who carry the pain of what their daughter did. And so is the case in every direction among this wider circle of victims, all repenting together, and all healing together.
It is a kaleidoscope, a symphony, a beautiful, integrated vision of the Culture of Life and of the Gospel of Life.
The encyclical The Gospel of Life has, indeed, born much fruit in the pro-life movement, in the Church, and in the world. And that fruit will only continue to increase.
Janet Morana is the Executive Director of Priests for Life and co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.