Q. What ministries does the Church offer for women who have had abortions? What does a woman need to do to be forgiven?
A. Here is a reply from Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D.:
To be forgiven, tell God that you are truly sorry and then go to confession as soon as possible. After that, commit yourself to a life of service toward others, supported and strengthened by a life of prayer and frequenting of the sacraments. And have hope. Remember the great good that Dorothy Day did after her conversion? Remember the great good that St. Paul did after his conversion? Remember the great good that St. Augustine did after his conversion? Yes, there is conversion. There is redemption. There is a second chance, because Jesus who made you loves you and died for you on the cross to redeem you from your sins.
There can be life and there can be hope after abortion for all who have been involved in something so sad. The Church wraps her arms around all of her children, offering the grace of forgiveness and mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and the supernatural strength and sustenance that our soul needs through the Eucharist and prayer.
There are a number of programs that reach out to those affected by abortion, and a few that come to mind are Project Rachel, sponsored by Catholic Charities, and Rachel’s Vineyard, sponsored by Priests for Life. All those who have been directly or indirectly involved in an abortion can be forgiven by going to confession. In most dioceses of the United States not only does the priest/confessor have the power to forgive the sin, but he has the delegated ability to lift any canonical penalties such as excommunication. I know the very mention of the word “excommunication” can terrify people, but it just shows how committed the Church is to upholding the dignity and sacredness of life, from the moment of conception until natural death.
For the record, only a person who is aware of the canonical penalty incurs it, and only if they are 18 years or older and fully aware of what they are doing.