Thursday, October 18, 2007

Praying for Aborted Babies

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life

One of the most common questions I receive is, "What happens to aborted babies? Do they go to heaven? Should we pray for them?"

Pope John Paul II, in The Gospel of Life, speaks directly to those who have had abortions, and tells them, "To the same Father and to his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child" (n. 99).

The child, in other words, continues to live, and the mother continues to care for that child by "entrusting" him or her to the Father. God takes care of the children he has created, including those who have been killed. Therefore, we entrust these children to Him "with sure hope."

This "hope" means that we acknowledge that God wants everyone to be saved. He saves different people in different ways. The ordinary way of salvation is through the sacrament of Baptism, which gives us the new life that is necessary for reaching heaven. If a person, however, is prevented, through no fault of their own, from receiving the sacrament, that does not mean that God cannot give them that new life by different means. How, precisely, he does this, we do not know. He has not given us the answer to every question. But he has assured us - and in fact he commands us - that we are to trust in his mercy, and entrust each other, including aborted children, to his mercy.

The International Theological Commission, which is an advisory panel to the Vatican, issued a document in April of 2007 entitled "The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized," and Pope Benedict XVI authorized its publication. This document emphasized the "grounds for hope that unbaptized infants who die will be saved and enjoy the beatific vision." The document recalled Christ's special love for "the little ones," and acknowledged that the question of what happens to unbaptized infants is intensified in an age when so many die from abortion. In fact, the document pointed out the solidarity with Christ among infant victims of violence, born and unborn, who like the holy innocents killed by King Herod are endangered by the "fear or selfishness of others."

Having made these points, however, the document adds, "We emphasize that these are reasons for prayerful hope, rather than grounds for sure knowledge."

So then, we should hope and pray.

The month of November, dedicated to all the faithful departed, is an excellent time to intensify our prayers for all children who have been aborted. In fact, just as we request a Mass to be offered for a deceased relative by name, we can likewise request a Mass to be offered when that deceased relative is a child killed by abortion. Many of these children have been given names, and their names can be given when the Mass is requested, without having to say that they died from abortion.

"Lord, give eternal rest to all aborted children, and grant that they may run and play in the playgrounds of heaven."

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"In Cordibus Jesu et Mariae"