The Cherished Gift of Life

Shannon Bream reports from Washington


Adam, my best friend during my early childhood years in Michigan, came from an adopted family. Adam and I were altar boys serving at either the 7 a.m. or 8:30 a.m. Mass together at St. Hugo of the Hills just about every Sunday, and we spent most of our free time playing football, baseball and basketball, climbing trees and riding dirt bikes over small cliffs and jumps.

I often think what my life and many other people's lives would have been like without the gift of adoption, and the impact those adopted kids have made on so many other people.

The doctor told my older brother and his wife they should consider having an abortion, as he discovered their first child would probably be born with Down syndrome. Tom and Ann were extremely upset at this suggestion, and they embraced the gift of their Down syndrome daughter as part of God's mysterious but loving plan.

This daughter has been such a huge blessing to my brother and his wife, and their other four children are so incredibly kind and sensitive as a result. Several studies show that close to 90 percent of these babies pre-diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. If only they knew.

Pope Francis wrote, "A widespread and insensitive mentality has led to the loss of the proper personal and social sensitivity to welcome new life. The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realizing the extreme harm that such an act entails. Many others, on the other hand, although experiencing this moment as a defeat, believe they have no other option.

"I think in particular of all the women who have resorted to abortion," the Holy Father continued. "I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision. What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope. The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father."

How I wish I could wipe away the tears and, more importantly, patch up the deeply wounded hearts of those women who have had an abortion. God is willing to forgive them with open arms, but it is so hard for them to forgive themselves. They are silent sufferers, wounded warriors, and they often carry the burden of this painful memory every single day.

I had the privilege of helping with Project Rachel, a confidential outreach program that offers healing, compassion and hope for the women and men hurting from an abortion experience. This program helps those affected work through the healing process guided by professional and caring souls.

On this day, Jan. 22, the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, let us sincerely pray for an end to abortion. Let us pray for all those mothers who carry this awful agony in their hearts. Let's pray for a culture of life — one that embraces all life — regardless of the apparent physical or mental disadvantages involved.

Let's pray that we can trust and respect God's plan over every marriage and every family.

Fr. Michael Sliney, LC, is a Catholic priest who is the New York chaplain of the Lumen Institute, an association of business and cultural leaders. 

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