Guidance for Priests – Priests for Life Canada
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Priests for Life Canada

Guidance for Priests

In pastoral counseling and confession, you will inevitably meet women who have had abortions. There is no one-size fits all approach to ministering to post-abortive women as they will be at different stages on the path of acknowledging and healing their past.

Take some time to get to know the resources available in your area – pregnancy help centres and post-abortion counseling and support services. Not only will this help you with referrals but the workers there can also offer advice on how to be a front-line help to mothers when they approach you.

See also our Post-Abortion resource section for websites and books that can help.

In addition to your general pastoral counseling skills and practices, here are a few considerations:

What not to do or say…

  • “Forget about it, it is in the past, move on.”
  • “You did what was best at the time.” (she knows this is not true)
  • “Abortion is wrong.” (she knows this too)
  • “You can have other children.” (this does not make up for baby she aborted)
  • “It was not a baby yet.”
  • Don’t tell her how she should feel…
  • Don’t try to find a positive…
  • “It was your decision.”
  • “You should be over this by now.”
  • Don’t say you understand if you don’t…
  • Don’t tell her she was not ready to have a child…
  • “It was for the best.”
  • “You will get over this.”
  • “At least you only had one.” (how do you know?)

Do…

  • Ask how they are…
  • Show care and concern…
  • Listen…
  • Say you are sorry she felt she had to do this…
  • Allow her to talk…
  • Allow her express anger, regret and remorse…
  • Watch for signs of isolation…
  • Allow her to grieve…
  • Keep confidentiality…
  • Be there for her…


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