Opinion

ROME, May 31, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Sitting around a dinner table in Rome at the Human Life International prayer conference where I was speaking last year I was confronted with the concept of the Catholic Church declaring aborted babies martyrs.  Liking a good theological debate, I politely suggested it was not possible since aborted babies are not even baptized, nor do they have a free will in offering their lives. 

The reply was intriguing as it surmounted at least those counterpoints.  “They’d be just like the Holy Innocents,” I was told: the babies killed at the time of Christ when Mary and Joseph fled with the baby Jesus from Herod’s terrible order to kill all children under the age of two.

King Herod sought to eliminate the King of Kings, said Patrick Kelly, known also by his religious name David Mary Joseph. He spoke of the great potential for healing for mothers and fathers who have aborted their children to be able to be freed from their guilt knowing that their aborted children were in the loving arms of God.  He also noted the great intercessory power of this veritable army of countless souls of babies killed in their mother’s wombs.

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As interesting as that discussion was, I’d likely have forgotten all about it had not another lady raised the same subject with me as I took a bus to the Rome airport en route to Poland where I was to give a few media interviews.  In fact, once in Poland, I met with a couple of film producers who shared a very similar idea.

Lech Dokowicz described his experience of a vision-like dream he had while sleeping in a former abortion mill.  He was there filming for a movie on abortion, and the abortion centre had only been purchased days before.  There had, he said, been abortions taking place there only a few days prior to his being there to film – and sleep.

His dream was about building a shrine to the aborted children, where each brick would be named for an aborted child.  Post-abortive mothers could come there for healing, naming their children and receiving counseling from an order of nuns dedicated to the work.  In his dream it was a place of prayer, of healing, and of shelter for women with crisis pregnancies.

I got back from that journey last November, but busyness and lack of time have prevented me from putting out this reflection until now.  Today, though, is the Catholic commemoration of the ‘Visitation,’ where Mary the ‘mother of my Lord’ came to her cousin Elizabeth and the two unborn children – Christ and St. John the Baptist – recognized one another while yet in the womb.

In my research on the subject I learned that it is a topic which has received quite a bit of discussion. 

Msgr. Charles Pope, a blogger for the blog of the Archdiocese of Washington, carried a powerful reflection on the matter a couple of years ago. Writing on December 28, the feast of the Holy Innocents, Msgr. Pope wrote: “We know well that Holy Innocents continue to be killed in our world through abortion.”

He drew a connection between the order of Pharaoh to slaughter the first born children of the Hebrews in Egypt, the slaughter of the baby boys by Herod at the time of Christ, and today’s slaughter of countless innocent unborn babies by abortion.  Msgr. Pope noted that at each interval the slaughter of babies seemed to precede a great liberation by God. 

“When God prepared a great liberation the Devil went after the babies,” he said. “In our time, on a scale as never before, the Devil is going after our babies in murderous anger and fear. What is he afraid of? Is God planning something big in the near future? Is there a great liberation at hand? Is there a great advancement of evangelization and conversion in the offing? We can only speculate. But patterns are patterns and Scripture has a way of repeating its patterns and echoing down through the centuries.” 

But what has the Vatican said about this concept? Where is the theology on the matter?

Well the answer is mixed.  On the one hand, the group which David represents – the Community of Divine Innocence –  has received a negative response on the subject from the Vatican, on the request of the bishop of Southwark in London.  In 2007, the reply of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated that the request for canonization for abortion victims is “doctrinally problematic.”

“A martyr is someone who bears witness to Christ. If the victims of abortion were to qualify for martyrdom it would then seem that all victims of any moral evil should be likewise deemed martyrs,” it stated.

However, in the same year, 2007, the Vatican published the long-awaited findings of the International Theological Commission on ‘The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die without being Baptized,” in which the commission suggests that such hope does exist, including for aborted infants. The document states: 

    Some of the infants who suffer and die do so as victims of violence. In their case, we may readily refer to the example of the Holy Innocents and discern an analogy in the case of these infants to the baptism of blood which brings salvation. Albeit unknowingly, the Holy Innocents suffered and died on account of Christ; their murderers were seeking to kill the infant Jesus. Just as those who took the lives of the Holy Innocents were motivated by fear and selfishness, so the lives particularly of unborn babies today are often endangered by the fear or selfishness of others. In that sense, they are in solidarity with the Holy Innocents. Moreover, they are in solidarity with the Christ who said: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).

 

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