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Our country is groaning under the weight of abortion guilt. We count the number of unborn babies terminated since Roe v. Wade: over 48 million. Their innocent blood shed on the earth cries out to heaven for justice. We must also consider the weight of abortion guilt on the souls of those who have participated in some way in abortion and the effect of this guilt.
First, of course, the mothers, many of whom were pushed into the decision, deserted by those who should have stood by them, deceived about the risks of carrying a pregnancy to term, told that they didn’t have the strength to be single mothers or care for a special needs child. Their guilt -- whether acknowledged or not -- corrupts subsequent relationships, undermines their faith, their decision making, even their ability to mother. They need to be told -- over and over again if necessary -- that God still loves them and that He stands ready with open arms to forgive them -- even if they have had more than one abortion. They only have to come to him.
But it is not only the mothers who carry the burden. They were weak and frightened, but they are more likely to acknowledge their failure. Those who supported or promoted abortion as a “choice” may think themselves innocent, but they also carry the burden of abortion guilt. Those who said nothing, those who said “Well, it’s your decision”, those who didn’t promise to move heaven and earth if that was what was necessary to give the mother the courage to choose life; they also need to cast aside their rationalizations and justifications and admit their part -- no matter how small -- in 48 million deadly decisions.
And what about those who refused to stand up for life. The ‘good Catholics’ who say, “My parents would roll over in their graves” if they voted for a candidate who supported life because he is from the wrong party? Theologically, this is absurd. The parents’ bodies will not stir one centimeter if they vote for a party different from the one their parents supported. Furthermore, if their parents have run the race so as to win the prize and are enjoying the blessings of heaven, they will not rejoice to watch their children put their salvation at risk by putting party loyalty over the defense of innocent human life.
We must pray especially for politicians and judges who have publicly disregarded the rights of the innocent unborn for they must admit publicly they are wrong.
Now is the time to call to repentance everyone directly or indirectly involved in abortion as well as everyone who just stood by and thought something else was more important. Priests need to proclaim this from the altar. God’s arms are open. His mercy is boundless, but it is hard for some people to admit their guilt.
Psychiatrists have long recognized the difference between real guilt and false guilt. Sometimes when we are very angry with someone we love or feel we should love, rather than admit our anger we bury it. Buried anger rises like a ghost in the form of false guilt to haunt us. False guilt reminds us of past sins, even those that have been confessed and forgiven. The answer to false guilt is admitting our anger and forgiving.
Real guilt is different. It is extremely hard to bear even for a moment the fact that one has done something really wicked, like participating in or supporting the taking of innocent life, so people who are really guilty may not feel guilty. If they have chosen objective evil, they are more likely to rationalize and justify than admit their guilt. They may look for someone to blame. They may avoid the subject or deny the facts. They often become very defensive or really angry if the subject is raised.
Anger born out of real guilt is scary. When confronted with the truth, a person under the power of guilt-driven anger can lash out irrationally. Most of us would rather avoid the subject than confront a really angry, defensive person, but unless we are willing to face that anger and call people to repentance, we can never hope to lift the burden of guilt from our country.
Dale O’Leary is an internationally recognized lecturer and author of “The Gender Agenda: Redefining Equality.”