To Whom Shall We Go: Lessons from the Apostle Peter by Cardinal Timothy Dolan
What it Means to be a Christian by Pope Benedict XVI
Kermit Gosnell, like every human being, no matter how self-degraded, depraved, and sunk in wickedness, is our brother—-a precious human being made in the very image and likeness of God. Our objective should not be his destruction, but the conversion of his heart. Is that impossible for a man who has corrupted his character so thoroughly by his unspeakably evil actions? If there is a God in heaven, then the answer to that question is “no.” There is no one who is beyond repentance and reform; there is no one beyond hope. We should give up on no one.
If our plea for mercy moves the heart of a man who cruelly murdered innocent babies, the angels in heaven will rejoice. But whether it produces that effect or not, we will have shown all who have eyes to see and ears to hear that our pro-life witness is truly a witness of love—-love even of our enemies, even of those whose appalling crimes against innocent human beings we must oppose with all our hearts, minds, and strength. In a profoundly compelling way, we will have given testimony to our belief in the sanctity of all human life.
I finally realized I was putting too much emphasis on myself doing it right. I finally realized that there was no way I could do it right enough to earn absolution. It was never about that. The fact that I’m uncertain and imperfect and sloppy and forgetful and let myself off the hook is kind of the point. It’s why we need confession in the first place. I put myself in that little box, and Jesus squints at me in the dim light and says, “Ohh, boy. Look, I’ll just take care of . . . all of this, okay? I’ll take care of you.”
That’s the point. That’s the whole point. That’s why He died: because there was never any question of us doing anything right. All we have to do is get in there, and He will take care of us.
Four days later, Ann’s condition had not improved, and her parents decided to remove her from life support. Andy says he was in the hospital room praying when he felt a connection between his daughter and Christ; like Jesus on the cross, she had wounds on her head and hand. (Ann had instinctually reached to block the gunshot, and lost fingers.) Ann’s parents strive to model their lives on those of Jesus and St. Augustine, and forgiveness is deep in their creed. “I realized it was not just Ann asking me to forgive Conor, it was Jesus Christ,” Andy recalls. “And I hadn’t said no to him before, and I wasn’t going to start then. It was just a wave of joy, and I told Ann: ‘I will. I will.’ ” Jesus or no Jesus, he says, “what father can say no to his daughter?”
I used to pray for God to soften their hearts towards me, but a year or so ago that changed. I prayed instead that He soften my heart towards them, and give me the wisdom to understand their decisions and the mercy to accept them.
It was only once I accepted my own sinful behavior that I could find peace enough to forgive theirs. It was then that I began to pray for them and to ask God’s forgiveness for my own failings.
Now when I pray for them, I begin “Dear Lord, Please bless (my dad and his wife) and have mercy on me, a sinner.” It may not seem like much, but it is everything. It is a place to begin.
The Holy Father has told the bishops, and the bishops are telling us, what any parent tells a child: to admit our faults and not use the faults of others as an excuse. What we most need to do is to change ourselves before we can change the world. For the New Evangelization, Penance is the priority.