one account: One day, Padre Pellegrino asked Padre Pio: "Father, this morning you denied absolution to a lady who confessed to an abortion. Why have you been so rigorous with this poor unfortunate? ". Padre Pio said: "The day, in which people, frightened by the economic boom, from physical damages or from economic sacrifices, will lose the horror of the abortion, it will be the most terrible day for humanity. Abortion is not only homicide but also suicide. And with these people we see on the point of committing two crimes…do we want to show our faith? Do we want to save them? "
"Why suicide?” Padre Pellegrino asked.
"You would understand this suicide of the human race, if with the eye of reason, you could see the Heart populated by old men and depopulated by children: burnt as a desert.”
It wasn’t as simple as saying that Padre Pio wasn’t ‘nice’ because he declined absolution to the woman. Padre Pio could read souls, and from reading this woman’s soul he knew that she was not ready to receive absolution. Perhaps she was not contrite enough.
Women that I have grown up with have had abortions, gone to confession, received absolution...These same women have remarked to me “my abortion was a good thing because I was able to think more about myself.” Or, “it’s just too bad that so many can’t have kids, and I thought of adoption but abortion got it over and done with sooner.” While I am no one to judge, do they sound contrite? Many years ago a girl said to me ‘you know my abortion helped me grow…it was grand.’ She shrugged and smiled.
In my spontaneously rude and blunt way I blurted, ‘but it stopped your baby growing forever…’
‘How would you know, you’ve never had an abortion?’
But personally I, the writer of this blog was refused absolution because I vowed in the confessional that I would never forgive some girls who had bullied me at school. I snorted and told the priest that ‘it’s not a sin never to forgive a bully’. I mocked the sacrament to the priest. I was fourteen at the time, and sassy, cheeky and had no clue about the meaning of absolution. The priest, a good Franciscan in a brown habit, asked me ‘you need to rethink that. You must forgive them.’
He was right. Confession is for people to confess the wrong they have done – not to defend the wrong they wish to persist in.
And as a woman who was refused absolution, I’m grateful that the priest had the guts and the fortitude to stand his ground, and tell me – gently – that he could not give me absolution.