Padre Pio refused absolution to some women whose sin was abortion

Some people are horrified that Padre Pio told some women that they were not contrite enough to receive absolution. This is 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.


  1. The crucial point, surely, is not whether it is possible to absolve a woman who has had an abortion - of course it is, if she is truly contrite, as so many of them are once they've done it, and realized what they have done - but whether it is actually right to refuse absolution to a woman who may confess it, but has not formed a firm intention never to commit the same sin again . . . as surely it must be, as (as far as I can see) only that intention is solid evidence of contrition.

  2. I don't doubt the sincerity of some women who make a firm intention never to have another abortion. Indeed, many women remark that 'this is my first and last abortion'. When they are about to have their second or third they say, 'this will definitely be my last!' But I've witnessed far too many times (I've seen this since I was a small child) that some Catholic women have abortions, but then give subtle or not-so subtle encouragement to others that 'abortion isn't too bad, it's ok, well I got through mine, got absolution and am fine'. They may not do that sin again, but they may lead others to do it by having a casual, even contented attitude towards it.

    1. Thanks for posting your thoughts (Also Padre Pio's) on abortion and absolution. I feel Im to share this. I was up at 3am under the clouds and full moon praying and this came to me a couple hours ago.
      Isn't it amazing and paradoxical that we who set before the cross of Jesus and gaze and wonder and meditate at his representation and contemplate His unspeakable suffering on the cross of Calvary are the ones who also take in His Mother? "Son...Behold your Mother. Mother behold your son". Our heads, like John's are upon His breast listening to the beat of His heart. We hear it quicken at the death of every precious Child. The abortion clinic is Calvary . We go to the place of the skull. "Inasmuch as you've done it to THE LEAST of these you've done it to me." We consider how the sword passes through the soul of His precious Mother's soul at the passing of each and every immeasurably precious Child! We go there and consider His sufferings. The prophet Isaiah said "In ALL their afflictions HE was afflicted." Each and every day at abortion clinics across the world the nails are driven through His hands and feet but like His Disciples the Church has fled. All but John who's heart is on Jesus Breast. We who have taken His Mother in.

      I don't think it is an accident that Debra Nucotela, in the very first video released used the word "Calvarium" the same word as Calvary, the place of the skull where our Lord was crucified as she described a late term abortion procedure to secure the "Calvarium" Undamaged and "Marketable" Planned Parenthood's philosophy is "To the victor goes the spoils." The prophet Isaiah also said "Woe to you who plunder though you have not been plundered. Woe to you who deal treacherously though they have not dealt treacherously with you. When you cease plundering you will be plundered. When you make an end of dealing treacherously they will deal treacherously with you." Isaiah 33:1. Someday these children will be not only be the judges of The abortion industry but they will be the judges of this Nation. They will rise up in judgment and be OUR judges.
      kevin williams
      Please check out the documentary I produced two years ago "Protected; Conceived in Rape and Other Exceptions" on our website Our other website is under construction for another film project.


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