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This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.
Posted on: Tuesday, March 14, 2017
For immediate release:
“Families don’t just ‘break down.’ Marriages don’t just ‘fall apart.’ Somebody sins! So, go to Confession!” –Ruth Institute President, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse
Ruth Institute launches ‘Go to Confession’ Campaign
(March 14, 2017, Lake Charles, LA) During this season of Lent, The Ruth Institute has launched an online and billboard campaign encouraging people of all faiths to make things right with God. “Families don’t just ‘break down.’ Marriages don’t just ‘fall apart.’ Somebody sins!” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse stated in announcing the campaign. “That is why have launched a series of billboards and social media messages urging people to go to confession!”
Even in cases where one person has the major responsibility for fracturing the family, all family members can benefit from going to confession. “The injured parties may need help with bitterness, anger, emotional paralysis and many other issues. The grace of confession can help them,” Dr. Morse explained. “And of course, it goes without saying: if you have injured your family through addiction, abuse, adultery or desertion, go to confession. Jesus is waiting for you in the confessional and wants to forgive you. If you can’t tell him, in the person of the priest, that you are sorry, how are you ever going to be able to face your ex-spouse or your children?”
“Our ‘Go to Confession’ campaign reminds people that God is merciful and He will forgive us. What better time than during Lent?” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute said.
The Institute launched a billboard campaign in Lake Charles, LA, with messages: “Jesus is waiting for you,” “Sin makes you stupid,” featuring St. Thomas Aquinas (who loosely said that), and “Party’s over. Go to confession,” with an image of Mardi Gras debris. “Lake Charles is in the heart of Cajun Country, the Catholic buckle on the Bible belt. If we can’t publicly urge people to go to confession here, where can we? And the world desperately needs this encouragement.”
Dr. Morse added. “Guilty consciences make it harder for us to move forward and to resolve the issues caused by our sins, or the bitterness we’ve held onto from the sins of others.” Find the Ruth Institute’s ‘Go to Confession’ images on their website here, here and here.
The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization dedicated to finding Christ-like solutions to the problems of family breakdown. Founded by world renowned author, speaker and academic, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, the Ruth Institute has accumulated decades of research to support individuals and families harmed by divorce, the hook-up culture, and other forms of family breakdown.
Reply to this email if you’d like to interview Dr. Morse further about this unique and beneficial ‘Go to Confession’ campaign.
Posted on: Sunday, January 22, 2017
By Ryan MacPherson, a Ruth Institute Circle of Experts member
This article was first published at hausvater.org on January 22, 2009 (36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade).
Book Review: Won by Love, Norma McCorvey (with Gary Thomas), (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998)
In her own small world she was Norma McCorvey, a battered, then abandoned, wife and drug addict, pregnant but not desiring a child. The wider world would know her as “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. The story told there was tragic: a woman gang raped, forced into pregnancy, and denied the opportunity to terminate that pregnancy since abortion was outlawed in Texas. This story, however, was a lie—fabricated by attorney Sarah Weddington, who herself had obtained an illegal abortion and now was on a mission to make abortion available legally. When McCorvey became “Roe,” she provided the tool Weddington needed to push the issue in the courts. But after McCorvey signed “Roe’s” affidavit, affirming the fabricated story as her own, Weddington reneged on her promise to help McCorvey deal with her crisis pregnancy. Weddington did not even so much as telephone McCorvey until four months after the child was born.
The “Roe” of Roe v. Wade did not abort her baby, a child saved, ironically, by an attorney’s need for a pregnant plaintiff in order to sue for abortion access. McCorvey had never even been inside an abortion clinic, though later she would work for one. She was both the victim of deceit and the perpetrator of deception. Marijuana helped her to cope. So did alcohol. And coarse humor, too: “I tell women we aren’t killing little babies on Wednesday; they have to come in Thursday through Saturday to do it.” (150) But her verbal defense mechanisms, like her lesbian relationship with an abortion clinic coworker, only took her deeper into the pit of despair and anger, a bitter mixture of relentless grief and suppressed guilt.
Even “Jane Roe” knew that abortion killed babies. While working at A Choice for Women, she tried to refer a sixth-month pregnant woman to an ob-gyn, but her supervisor insisted that the woman have access to the abortion she was seeking. Unable to cope, McCorvey had to take the afternoon off; she binge-drank for the two weeks following. Back at the clinic, she refused to be assigned to the “Parts Room,” where the remains of aborted children were stored in jars for transfer to a disposal facility, after first being counted and collated to ensure that no body parts were left in their mothers’ wombs following the procedure. She did, however, accept an assignment to console women afterwards, who grieved in the recovery room with confessions of having just killed their babies. No, it was not knowledge that McCorvey or her coworkers lacked; abortion clearly killed babies and devastated their mothers.
Love, not knowledge, was the missing piece in the puzzle of their fractured lives. And “God is love.” (1 John 4:16) God had turned the heart of Flip Benham, an alcoholic pro-choice unbeliever, toward Himself, transforming him into a Christian pro-life pastor who joined Operation Rescue. McCorvey called him “Flip Venom” when Operation Rescue moved into the office space next to A Choice for Women. The name-calling didn’t stick, however, since no venom came from Flip’s mouth. He spoke in love, as did his fellow “rescuers,” including Ronda Mackie and, the most loving and lovable of all, her seven-year-old daughter Emily.
Emily played on the sidewalk in front of the two adjacent offices: her mother’s Operation Rescue and McCorvey’s A Choice for Women. It was a brilliant Operation Rescue strategy: cute children playing gleefully outside, testifying by their casual existence the severe reality behind the “services” provided by A Choice for Women. Emily did more than deter women from seeking abortions; she smiled and greeted, she hugged and conversed with Norma McCorvey, a woman who had given birth to three children, aborted none, and yet facilitated the abortions of many at her clinic and millions through her role as “Jane Roe.” Finally, McCorvey admitted that she loved children. “Then why,” asked Emily, so innocently and so gently, “are you letting the little ones die inside?” (91) Had Pastor Flip asked the question, or any other adult, McCorvey would have responded with her standard mouthful of foul obscenity. For a seven-year-old girl, however, she had no defense. “I never answered her,” she later recalled. “I couldn’t.” (91)
In the months that followed, McCorvey became attached to Emily, and to her mother Ronda. A budding friendship bridged the gap between an Operation Rescue worker and an abortion clinic employee. McCorvey found herself, inexplicably, referring late-term clients away from A Choice for Women and toward Operation Rescue, knowing full well that since late-term abortions had the best profit margin she was sabotaging her boss’s business. One day Ronda Mackie took Norma McCorvey out for lunch and mentioned that Emily had nearly been aborted. Ronda’s fiancé and parents-in-law-to-be had urged the termination of an inconvenient pregnancy, back when Ronda herself was still an unbeliever.
Now the abortion question was too personalized to remain a question; the answer was clear, even to McCorvey, and made clearer still by the love of the Operation Rescue picketers, who never returned McCorvey’s invectives. “I love you,” echoed the voice of little Emily, a survivor of the abortion culture. “I forgive you,” said Pastor Flip, himself a penitent sinner.
Americans mark January 22 as the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, but for “Jane Roe” the real turning point came on August 8, 1995. On that day she “renounce[d] the devil and all his works, and the sinful desires of the flesh” (187). She repented of her drug abuse, her lesbian self-defilement, her hatred toward pro-lifers, and her role in the deaths of the 35 million children aborted in America during the preceding 22 years. When Pastor Flip immersed her in the waters of Holy Baptism, she arose a new person. She had been won by love.
Her story amazes the reader, in places seeming too good to be true. But on closer inspection, it’s too good to be false. Love, not hatred, changes hearts,
even the hardest of hearts. The conversion narratives of Ronda Mackie and Flip Benham are encouraging enough; the redemption of “Jane Roe” into “Norma
McCorvey, Christian” (177) reveals the Gospel at its brightest. But the message does not stop there; the Gospel keeps shining, as forgiveness in Christ
also transforms Connie Gonzales, her former coworker and some-time lesbian partner. Remarkably, “Mary Doe” of Doe v. Bolton—the companion
case to Roe v. Wade—also repented. “Doe” (Sarah Cano) joined McCorvey in March 1997 as the two women publicly identified themselves
as “new creatures in Christ and children of God” while dedicating the National Memorial for Unborn Children in Chattanooga, Tennessee (236).
Forgiveness does not come easily; Christ suffered greatly and died to make it possible. “It was so hard for me to conceive that the Lord had forgiven me,” acknowledges McCorvey, “especially after so many children had been killed. But He has forgiven me and restored me. And, gradually, I have learned to trust His Word more than my own feelings.” (228) Though painful emotions still return, bringing with them doubts concerning God’s love, McCorvey finds comfort especially in these passages: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17); “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
Norma McCorvey’s story concludes with words of hope. “If God can forgive Norma McCorvey—Jane Roe—and her role in abortion, surely
he can forgive you as well.” (229) Her conversion reveals not only the limitless love of Christ, but also the effectiveness of Christ’s servants who
“speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15)
For Ronda Mackie, loving Norma McCorvey meant trusting her to watch over her daughter Emily who began regularly visiting the reception room of A Choice for Women. Emily brought gifts of her own artwork, labeled “Jesus loves you, Miss Norma.” A child’s love communicated a message that anti-abortion ranting and raving, with slogans like “Abortion Stops a Beating Heart,” could not. “This is what happens when Christians are willing to face their enemies and adopt the most powerful strategy ever devised—the strategy displayed by Christ’s death on the cross, the strategy of laying down your life so that others, including the unborn, might live. This is what it is like to be won by love.” (240)
McCorvey’s autobiography calls to repentance both the abortion perpetrator and the abortion protester: the one for taking innocent life and the other for too often fighting a culture of death with a culture of hate. Either way, the world needs more people like Emily, a child spared from abortion and a spokesperson of truth in love. And to become like Emily, one first needs Christ, who did not spare Himself, but lived and died for the truth in love. Christ practiced “lifestyle witnessing” to the extreme. The gift of His Spirit empowers others to do the same.
If more people would read Won by Love, then they could understand more clearly the gracious will of God amidst one of our nation’s greatest tragedies. Let’s just hope they don’t keep it to themselves. Christ’s love, communicated in actions and not just in words, transformed America’s most infamous abortion advocate into a Christian defender of purity and life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if no one could ever hear the phrase “Roe v. Wade” without remembering “Jane Roe’s” repentance and Christ’s forgiveness?
Dr. Ryan C. MacPherson is the founding president of The Hausvater Project. He lives with his wife Marie and their children in Mankato, Minnesota, where he teaches American history, history of science, and bioethics at Bethany Lutheran College. For more information, visit www.ryancmacpherson.com.
Posted on: Wednesday, August 03, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published July 23, 2016, at The Blaze.
Earlier this week, the Ruth Institute sent a letter of commendation and 24 white roses to Charles Chaput, the Archbishop of Philadelphia.
Our letter thanked him for “his clear teaching on marriage, family and human sexuality in the Pastoral Guidelines for Implementing Amoris Laetitia in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.”
With all the excitement of the political conventions, why would we spend our time sending flowers to an archbishop? We want to shine the spotlight on the positive things people are doing to build up society.
The archbishop’s guidelines restate the Ancient Teachings of Christianity regarding marriage, family and human sexuality. These teachings are obscured today. No less a theological heavy weight than the mayor of Philadelphia castigated the archbishop, saying the Guidelines were un-Christian!
To be fair to Mayor Jim Kenny, we have to admit that the publication of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, has caused worldwide confusion over Catholic teaching on marriage. Yelling at the pope has become a new cottage industry among tradition-minded Catholic writers. Pulling his words into a sexually indulgent direction has become a cottage industry among progressives of all faiths. And trying to parse out what he really meant has been a full employment guarantee for everyone.
Rather than getting involved in all that, we want to call attention to people who are implementing the unbroken teaching of the Church in a vibrant manner. Focus on what we know to be true and good. Archbishop Chaput’s Guidelines provide a clear and practical statement of ancient Catholic teaching, in the spirit of genuine mercy, incorporating language from Amoris Laetitia.
I believe that these teachings are correct, good and humane. I founded the Ruth Institute for the purpose of promoting those teachings to the widest audience possible. I don’t believe these things because I am a Catholic. On the contrary. It is precisely because I came to believe in these teachings that I returned to the practice of the Catholic faith after a 12-year lapse.
Let me discuss just one issue that has caused a lot of hand-wringing in the past 2 years. Jesus told us very clearly that remarriage after divorce is not possible. If attempted, it amounts to adultery. Why? According to Jesus, Moses only permitted a man to issue a bill of divorce because of “the hardness of your hearts.” (This is the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 19, in case you were wondering.)
At that point, he could have said, “So, I’m going to eliminate this appalling male privilege and allow women to divorce their husbands, exactly like Moses allowed men to divorce their wives.” However, he did no such thing. He didn’t extend the male privilege. He eliminated it entirely. “From the beginning it was not so,” referring back to God’s original plan for creation. “I tell you, anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” One of the “hard sayings” of Jesus, no doubt. But pretty darn clear.
(And please: don’t trouble me with that so-called loophole, ok? The real innovation in modern no-fault divorce law is that it allows an adulterer to get a divorce against the wishes of the innocent party. No sane person can argue that Jesus provided that “loophole” to allow the guilty party to validly remarry.)
The Church teaches that civilly divorced and remarried Catholics cannot receive communion because she is trying to implement this teaching of Jesus. A civilly divorced and remarried person is living with, and presumably having sex with someone, while still validly married to someone else. If the first marriage is still valid, the second attempted marriage is not valid, and is in fact, adulterous. What is so hard to understand about that?
You know who really understands this concept, who intuitively “gets it?” Children of divorce. Kids look into their parents’ bedroom and see someone who doesn’t belong there. “Who is this guy in bed with my mom: my dad is supposed to be there.” Or, “who is this woman in bed with my dad? My mom is supposed to be there.”
At the Ruth Institute, we know there are situations in which married couples must separate for the safety of the family. But we also know that those cases are by far not the majority of cases. No-fault divorce says a person can get divorced for any reason or no reason, and the government will take sides with the party who wants the marriage the least. The government will permit that person to remarry, against the wishes of their spouse and children.
This is an obvious injustice that no one in our society will talk about. The children of divorce are socially invisible. In fact, I bet some of them felt like crying when they read my paragraph above quoting with approval, what might have gone through their little minds. Many of them have never heard an adult affirm their feelings that something dreadfully wrong and unjust took place in their families.
Jesus knew. Jesus was trying to keep us from hurting ourselves and each other. And the Catholic Church has been trying to implement Jesus’ teaching. You may say the Church has been imperfect in her attempts and I won’t argue with you. But I will say that no one else is even seriously trying.
Political campaigns come and go. Political parties come and go. In fact, nations themselves come and go. But the teachings of Jesus are forever. What we do about marriage and children and love reveals what and whom we truly love.
That is why we congratulate Archbishop Charles Chaput for his guidelines. We wish the Archdiocese all the very best. Make Marriage Great Again.
Posted on: Tuesday, June 21, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first posted at The Blaze on June 1, 2016.
The image from the Huffington Post staff meeting created an immediate backlash for editor Liz Heron’s rhetorical question: “Notice anything about this Huffington Post editors’ meeting?”
Unlike many of the internet commentators, I am not interested in the ethnic diversity or ideological hypocrisy of the Huffington Post. All these editors appear to be twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings at most, with the possible exception of Heron herself. To me, this photo illustrates the most poignant sociological fact of our time: Delayed child-bearing is the price of entry into the professional classes.
Look at these eager young faces. These young ladies have high hopes for their lives.
An editors’ meeting at Huffington Post. Editor Liz Heron tweeted: “Notice anything about this Huffington Post editors’ meeting?” (Twitter)
They believe that by landing this great job, they are set. Once they are established in their careers, then and only then, can they think seriously about marriage and motherhood. They do not realize that they are giving themselves over to careers during their peak fertility years, with the expectation that somehow, someday, they can “have it all.”
They are being sold a cynical lie.
Here is the bargain we professional women have been making: “We want to participate in higher education and the professions. As the price of doing so, we agree to chemically neuter ourselves during our peak child-bearing years with various types of birth control. Then, when we are finally financially and socially ready for motherhood, we agree to subject ourselves to invasive, degrading and possibly dangerous fertility treatments.”
I am no longer willing to accept this bargain. These arrangements are not pro-woman. They are simply anti-fertility. Any woman who wants to be a mother, including giving birth to her own children, taking care of her own children, and loving their father, needs a better way. Until now, we have been adapting our bodies to the university and the market. I say, we should respect our bodies enough to demand that the university and the market adapt to us and our bodies.
We cannot expect much help from establishment publications like Huff Po, establishment institutions like the Ivy League and Seven Sisters schools, and certainly not from the government.
Huffington Post is a consistent cheerleader for the sexual revolution. They have a whole page devoted to divorce. They have a regular Friday feature called “Blended Family Friday,” in which “we spotlight a stepfamily to learn how they’ve worked to bring their two families together. Our hope is that by telling their stories, we’ll bring you closer to blended family bliss in your own life!” And they are enlisting twenty-somethings to sell their propaganda.
I wonder how many of the young ladies seated at that Huff Po editors meeting have ever heard of abortion regret or considered the topic worthy of their attention? I wonder how many of them believe that hooking up is harmless, as long as you use a condom. I wonder how many of them have ever heard that hormonal contraception – especially implants and vaginal rings – increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
I wonder if any of them wish for a guy who would dote on them, and act like he really truly cares. I wonder if they have ever chided themselves for being too clingy when a relationship ended, without realizing that bonding to your sex partner is perfectly normal.
I wonder how many of them realize how unlikely childbirth after 40 really is? A recent study of IVF in Australia looked at the chance of a live birth for initiated cycles. Don’t look at the bogus “pregnancy rate:” IVF pregnancies are 4-5 times more likely to end in stillbirth. And don’t be taken in by the “pregnancy per embryo transfer.” Plenty of women initiate cycles but do not successfully make it to the embryo transfer stage.
The average Australian woman aged 41-42 years old had a 5.8 percent chance of having a live birth per initiated cycle. And women over 45 have a 1.1 per cent chance of having a live birth per initiated cycle — which is almost a 99 percent chance of failure every time.
Yes, Huffington Post is an opinion-making and opinion-leading organization. And yes, it is not right for a bunch of white, privileged childless
twenty-something women to be having such an outsized influence on public opinion. But for now, let’s give a thought to these young ladies themselves.
They are being sold a bill of goods. It is up to us, as adults, to warn them.
Posted on: Tuesday, May 31, 2016
A new metastudy shows increased risks of preterm birth for mothers who have previously had an abortion.
A meta-analysis of 36 international studies involving more than one million women has concluded that abortions are associated with “significantly higher risk” of subsequent premature births, and underweight babies.
Prematurity is, in turn, associated with far greater risk of cerebral palsy and other conditions.
Brent Rooney of British Columbia’s Reduce Preterm Risk Coalition said, “In May 2016 abortion-preemie denial became impossible.”
The study appears in this month’s American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, (behind a paywall) authored by Dr. Gabrielle Saccone and her research associates. It showed that a prior abortion or miscarriage was associated with a 52 percent increased risk of prematurity and also of greater risk of lower gestational and birth weights.
Posted on: Monday, May 30, 2016
Leave it to pro-choice political operatives to make a blackmail threat against a pro-life politician and his family. And leave it to the King of Kings to bring light out of darkness and to write straight with crooked lines.
It seems that "an unnamed source" told Michigan State Rep. Lee Chatfield, a pro-life Republican, that they planned to make public information about his wife's abortion years ago. I suppose this was supposed to embarrass Rep Chatfield and his wife Stephanie that they would, do what, exactly? That he would stop calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood? That he would withdraw his sponsorship of a bill to ban abortions that dismember the child?
In any case, Mrs. Chatfield made her own decision to not allow herself and her husband to be manipulated by her past. She beat them to the punch and told her own story of her high school abortion. She told the story on her own terms: a story of rape, abortion, regret, forgiveness and healing.
When I read her story, I could not help but think how clueless the person who threatened must really be. Or maybe she/he/ze did not know the full story. The young Stephanie, a high school student, was obviously a victim of rape, the very sort of person the Sexual Revolutionary feminist claims to be trying to help. Stephanie did just what the feminist/sexual revolutionary playbook called for: she had an abortion. But the abortion did not solve her problem, as advertised.
I made a decision that I’ve thought about and regretted nearly every day since. It’s haunted me. It’s made me weep. It’s made it difficult to look in the mirror at times. I knew that what I did was wrong at the time, but I never imagined the weight and guilt that I would carry as a consequence.
I give Stephanie Chatfield a lot of credit for how she is handling herself. This is exactly what the Ruth Institute hopes more people will do: tell the truth about what happened to you. Reveal the lies of the Sexual Revolution. You will take the sting out of them. You will heal yourself, and heal others. As Mrs. Chatfield said:
No matter the intentions of anybody wishing to see this story go public, this I am certain of: God meant it for good and will glorify Himself through this....And to everybody reading this, remember what I had forgotten – that God is greater than our sin. I am confident that God can continue to use an imperfect person like me to bring Himself glory. And while the life vs. choice debate will continue to wage on, this I know for certain: I made the wrong choice. Yet, I plan to use my story to help girls, love others and serve as a living testimony of God’s grace and forgiveness.
This is the real, Christ-like solution to the problems of the Sexual Revolution. As I have said many times in my talks, if it is not Christ-like, I'm not the slightest bit interested in it. And if it is not Christ-like, it won't last anyway.
Share your story with us. We may include it on the Tell Ruth the Truth blog. You have no idea who may benefit from your experience.
Posted on: Tuesday, April 12, 2016
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published at The Blaze on April 12, 2016.
Non-Catholics may be wondering why Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia” or “The Joy of Love,” has Catholics in an uproar. Has the Pope changed Catholic doctrine? Has he left the doctrine officially intact, but changed pastoral practice so much that the doctrine is annulled? Now that I have taken the weekend to read it, I am convinced that Amoris Laetitia is a gift to the Church and the world.
What the Catholic Church does is important to everyone, no matter their faith. The Catholic Church is the largest institution still standing against the ideological fraud known as the sexual revolution. Everyone who is trying to deal with the fallout from this massive social upheaval has a stake in what the Catholic Church says and does. If Pope Francis were to change Catholic teaching, the purveyors of the revolution would be dancing in the streets.
And meaning no disrespect, but speaking bluntly: If the revolutionaries take down the Catholic Church, they will squash the rest of you like bugs.
Pope Francis is hugged by a girl after his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on May 15, 2013. (Photo: VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
So let me assure you: There is no change in official Catholic doctrine in Amoris Laetitia.
As for pastoral practice, Pope Francis is encouraging pastors to treat the lost, the wounded, the confused with as much sensitivity as possible. He intends it as an open invitation to the millions of souls who have been harmed by sexual sin, whether Catholic or not, to come home to the Catholic Church and draw closer to Jesus.
I can relate to the need for something like this document. Let me share a bit of Catholic “inside baseball.” I am what we call a “revert.” I was raised Catholic but left the Church for a period of time, and came back. So, I can’t be called either a “convert” or a “cradle Catholic.”
When I returned the Church after my prodigal period, my canonical situation was pretty simple. (By “canonical,” I mean what “canon law” or church law, would say about my situation. More inside baseball.) I was only on a second marriage.
But I had a whole pile of sexual sins. Like the Prodigal Son, by the time I finally came to my senses, I was desperate. I confessed having an abortion to Fr. Bob Cilinski, the chaplain of the campus ministry program at George Mason University at that time. (By the way, priests are not permitted to tell what we say to them in confession. But we can say anything we want! Let me say, how grateful I am to Fr. Bob and all the other confessors I’ve had.)
Fr. Bob was the first person who understood why I was upset about having an abortion. I had spoken to numerous therapists. Not one of them even considered the possibility that abortion was related to my emotional distress.
During that first confession in 12 years, Fr. Bob did not go down a checklist of possible sins. “Now, I cannot give you absolution unless you are sorry for all these sins.” I shudder to think what would have happened if he had. I would have freaked out and run out of there, more upset than before. And I certainly was in no position to have a theological discussion about each and every aspect of Church teaching.
I didn’t ask. He didn’t ask. He gave me absolution for the big sin I came in to confess.
He did tell me I should come to Mass, but not receive communion. He helped me seek an annulment. But I could not go to Communion, unless and until I received a declaration of nullity. (A declaration of nullity is an official finding by a church tribunal that my first attempted marriage had never been a valid marriage.)
In other words, he did not move the goalposts to make it easier and more “pastoral” for me. He stood by the Church’s teaching in every particular way and he set me on the path to a closer encounter with Jesus. Along that path, I eventually came to see that the Church was correct about premarital sex, cohabitation and contraception too. I confessed those sins too, in due course.
By the way, this confession took place in 1988, during the pontificate of Pope St. John Paul II. According to the sexual revolutionaries, those were the dark days of doctrinal rigidity and all-around Catholic meanness. The fact is, Catholic priests have been quietly accompanying people in a pastoral manner for quite some time. Priests know better than anyone the wreckage left in the wake of the sexual revolution. Even the ones who don’t preach about it as much as I would like are still guiding people toward Jesus.
While I do wish Pope Francis had been more clear on some points, I consider Amoris Laetitia a gift to the Church and the world. No matter your faith tradition, I urge you to read the document. Start with chapters 4 and 5.
You will find Pope Francis to be like a wise grandfather or great-uncle sitting across the kitchen table. You can imagine him sharing a cup of coffee or bouncing a baby on his knees. He invites all of us to love one another, and teaches us how. That is gift enough.
Posted on: Monday, October 26, 2015
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first posted October 22, 2015, at crisismagazine.com.
Let’s face it: The 2015 Synod on the Family is a mess. I was one who gave Pope Francis the benefit of the doubt. I now have my doubts about him. And I have no doubt at all that some of the men surrounding him are either heretics or lunatics or both.
The real question for us as lay people is this: what exactly can we do about it? We do not have full information about what is going on over there. Giving advice to cardinals and bishops is not likely to work. Screaming at them even less so.
As faithful lay people, we believe all that the Church has taught about marriage, family, and human sexuality. We do not want to see the Church water down that teaching, or surrender to the Sexual Revolution. It would be tragic indeed, if she did so now, right at the moment when the wisdom and beauty of her ancient teaching is becoming daily more evident from experience.
So what are we, as faithful lay people, to do about this? What has the best chance of cutting through the noise and having an impact?
To answer this question, let’s back up a minute. The Sexual Revolution has harmed millions of people. Just to take one of the issues most immediately before the Synod: divorce and unmarried parenthood.
We now know that kids are not “resilient.” They do not “get over it.” We know this from decades of careful research. We know if from experience. In fact, according to Judith Wallerstein, author of a 25-year study on the long-term legacy of divorce, the impact of divorce on children does not diminish with time. It “crescendos” in young adulthood, as they try to form relationships and marriages and families of their own.
Kids need their own parents. I learned from my experience as an adoptive mom, a foster mom, and a birth mom, all kids want the same thing. They want their parents to be there for them, and be appropriate parents. No matter how old the kids are, no matter what their parents have done, all kids of all ages, long for their parents to get it together and be good parents.
The Sexual Revolution has taught us that adults are entitled to have the sex lives they want, with a minimum of inconvenience. What we never hear anyone come out and say is: “And kids have to accept whatever the adults chose to give them.” You don’t usually hear people blurt out that last part, because we would be too ashamed of ourselves.
The Sexual Revolution promised fun and freedom. It delivered hurt and heartbreak. With the possible exception of a handful of predatory Alpha Males, everyone in society has been harmed: men, women and children, rich and poor alike.
I will let you in on a secret: the reason kids keep getting separated from their parents is because the victims, the kids, are not allowed to speak for themselves. As children, their parents expected them to accept whatever was going on around them, without complaining. And children, eager to please their parents, fearful of losing the parents’ love, kept quiet. Even as adults, the children of divorce and the children of unmarried parents, are expected to keep quiet, and go along with the program.
Silencing the victims has been crucial to the success of the Sexual Revolution. If you doubt me, consider these facts:
The solution is for all the victims of the Sexual Revolution to speak up, and tell the truth about how they were harmed. Telling that truth is the first step away from being a victim, to becoming a survivor. Anyone of us can take that step.
What does this have to do with the chaos over at the Synod? Most of the bishops know perfectly well that the Church’s teachings are good and humane. But they too, have been reluctant to speak out, and to preach this good news. Why? Because they are afraid of us, the laity!
True enough, many faithful people have been trying to support them all along. But look at it this way: if the souls wounded by the Sexual Revolution were visible, we wouldn’t be having this fight at all. All decent people would abandon the Sexual Revolutionary ideology in a heartbeat.
While it is awful that so many people have been harmed by the Sexual Revolution, we are undaunted. We are turning that very horror into an advantage: millions of us can testify about the false promises of the Sexual Revolution.
The elites in media, academia, law, and government cannot silence all of us. If everyone who has been harmed by the Sexual Revolution spoke out about it, we would change the world.
And eventually, even the most reluctant of the Catholic bishops might get the hint that the Church has been right all along, and find the courage to say so.
(Illustration credit: Sturt Krygsman)