‘Father Forgive Them, for They do not Know What They are Doing’

By SISTER MEG COLE Catholic Charities Therapist

I recently attended the movie “Unplanned.” This movie is a very poignant and significant expose of the abortion industry, as well as those who have an abortion.

I was somewhat hesitant in going, as my ministry at Catholic Charities is post-abortion counseling with men and women who have had an abortion. So this ministry is an “about face” with those who are now suffering for having made that fateful visit to an abortion center.

These men and women made a seriously difficult choice in a time-sensitive situation. They are now deeply regretful and in a great deal of emotional, psychological and spiritual pain.

Who they were when this distressing experience happened and who they are now are two entirely different people. And actually, in many cases, they did not make the sad choice, someone else made it for them. Such was the very young woman’s experience that stood out to me in this movie.

The movie has many emotional moments that actually continue to flashback in my mind and heart. But one scene in particular is when a determined, angry, punishing and resentful father shoves his reluctant, beautiful, pregnant teenage daughter into the violent auspices of the abortion clinic.

How could he? How could he be so self-protective and not weigh the misery that his daughter and grandchild would now have? How could he have not made the choice to use love as his way out of this situation and take the option for life? How did he think taking her to an abortion clinic was going to improve her life?

I get that under the weight of knowing his teenage daughter was pregnant he was probably afraid, his dreams for her future shattered, his reputation may be somehow on the line. But did he not consider a future that could have included a healthy daughter and grandchild?

Did he not have enough faith, hope and love to accept that he as a dad had the ability to manage this situation and be the face of mercy and compassion for his daughter? Could he not have made the hard, brave and independent choice, look into the distance and see the daughter he loved yesterday needed his love all the more today? How was he so heart blind?

It is only at the point of the movie where his daughter is back there longer than he expects that he starts to panic. Little did he know that the botched job of the staff was causing his daughter to have major blood loss. It is one of the scenes I can’t seem to get out of my head.

All through the movie, and even now when I have flashbacks I pray, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

These being the first thought and words out of the heart and soul of Jesus as he suffers on the cross, when he was in the most powerless, humiliating and humbling situation of his life, can also be our words for those who have forced a woman into an abortion. And in my prayer now, it is for fathers and future grandfathers who participate and who come to the resolution for their daughter to have an abortion.

In some cases, it is the father of the son who influences his son and girlfriend to have an abortion. (I have had a father tell me that he offered to buy his son’s girlfriend any car she wanted and to pay her full college tuition if she would just have the abortion.) A father’s indifference toward his grandchild has driven him to be heartless in the face of what could have been a loving moment.

I have now met regretful grandfathers in the post-abortion ministry. They at times justify their decision saying they thought it was the best thing to do so their child could go to college. Or he blames his wife saying she told me to do this. Or he says he didn’t want his wife to know, nor did the daughter want her mother to know, and so he followed through on this decision he now sees as a desperate and regretful moment in his life.

Grandfathers (and grandmothers and mothers and fathers of aborted children) can find healing and mercy at a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat. God’s Divine Mercy and Forgiveness can heal this deep wound of regret and sorrow. Bringing this hurt, pain and division that happens among all who are part of this momentous, historical decision that remains in the hearts and souls of all involved can be reconciled at an RVR weekend. (See below)

When Jesus uttered the words “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” he was offering the gift of forgiveness not just to those around him, but he was thinking of the future too, of us, and offering us the gift of forgiveness for each other and for ourselves.

Rachel's Vineyard Retreat in June for Anyone Seeking Healing After Abortion

Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat, an intimate spiritual journey for anyone seeking healing after abortion, will be the weekend of June 21-23.

In a safe, supportive, nonjudgmental environment, you can focus on this painful time in your life and enter into the process of healing. Through Scripture readings, guided meditations, and activities flowing from the meditations, you can experience God’s compassion and forgiveness.

Deadline for registration is Thursday, June 13.

For registration information, contact Sister Meg Cole at 1-866-3 RACHEL (toll free), 610-332-0442 ext. 2019 or projectrachel@allentowndiocese.org.

For information about the retreat experience, visit the national website, www.rachelsvineyard.org.