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Thanks to your column, which I follow daily, I have had the chance to deepen my knowledge on many subjects and understand some positions of the Church which were unknown to me: I really appreciate it as it is indeed a unique and really profound service.

Below are some questions which I‘d rather ask together, although they are of a very different nature. I apologize right now for any prolongings but they are on quite complex issues on which  I often reflect upon as I want to try to follow Christian values and ,despite my many struggles,  I would like to be a witness, too.

The first is about abortion. In the Church I usually go to for confession there is a beautiful proposal for the examination of conscience; there is one aspect that is related to it and I wonder if I commit a sin thinking in a certain way.

Every time I have talked with my confessors I have never been displeased and have total trust in their advice. However, I would like to look for other opinions as this is such a delicate subject.

I oppose abortion from both a spiritual point of view (sacredness of life in every form) and a social one; we have indeed seen how abortion could be a sort of Trojan horse to profit on the weakest ones under the disguise of freedom and independence, without providing real help to women , their children and their families living in discomfort…but on the contrary, adding pain to pain.

Yet, it is not for me to pass judgment and sometimes I hear of stories that are so complicated and painful besides heartrending choices that I become unable to have a personal opinion. Moreover, confronted with a pain and a choice which could be result of a different sensitivity in circumstances I do not understand, I prefer saying nothing and entrusting to God these issues even further (abstractly speaking and thinking about news stories, I have never had a chance to confront myself with women thinking to have an abortion). 

Furthermore, I read that sometimes, for lack of anything else, some  attend private clinics that are very risky with tragic outcomes: therefore, the lack of a rule does not help and despair can lead to very dangerous acts.

For these reasons, I believe that a legislation (also present in Italy) allowing abortion within certain limits is not wrong. However, this has to be presented as a desperate solution in desperate cases and not as a conquest of rights; it also has to be always discouraged, first and foremost at an institutional level by providing material and moral aid to difficult situations, enhancement of medical research, by educating to wait,to respect, to responsibility and love… by increasing testimonies of people who went through difficult experiences so that these could enlighten us and give us the strength (take for example Gianna Jessen but also several more ordinary but eloquent situations)… by strengthening families’ advisors towards a pro-life commitment…  All that without excluding the possibility to have an abortion. In other words: “it is true, you have the chance to have an abortion, however, there is a community sorrounding you that will do everything possible to welcome you as a woman and a mother, and help you with your life and your baby’s  not to be afraid”.

My second question has to do with the way you manage your anger. I do not consider myself a very short-tempered person. However, when I get angry, I sometimes realize it is a matter of principles, pride and lack of humility. It makes me suffer terribly but I know it is on my account and hope I will be able to improve through goodwill, prayer, confession and communion. Sometimes, however, I feel within myself that, after several attempts, I have no other choice left but an abrupt and direct response as well as a steady voice tone.

When I feel angry, I pray before expressing myself, generally I pray the rosary which I try to pray every day. My prayer is certainly not perfect, however, sometimes a little silence helps me to reflect and put aside pride; sometimes it does not work and I act according to my pride and my own convenience (I would lie, if I said it is not so) but other times I feel calmer, maybe more lucid and avoid offending deliberately, although anger remains and transpires, as if it was a fire.

In any case, after that, I experience feelings of guilt, and sometimes this is due to the awareness of my mistakes and to the sorrow of having hurt someone else. Other times, instead, it seems mostly caused by fear of people’s judgment and need for approval, which would not go lost, if I kept silent. In the first case the sense of guilt seems licit to me and helps me to improve myself, in the latter it is not. However, I really struggle to distinguish the differences.

I ask you of any tips you might know in order  to discern amongsts these cases.

I send you my many thanks for your help and I will keep you in my prayers.

Answer from the priest

Dear sister,

First of all, I apologise for the delay of my replies. I have come across your letter just today.

1. The first issue you place that is abortion is particularly painful. However, it is always necessary to face reality without turns of phrase.

What is voluntary abortion if not the murder of a baby?

Well, everyone can answer the following question: in which cases is it licit to kill a baby?

2. Here is the solution to the problem.

It is Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “If you hear that a woman does not want to keep her baby and wishes to have an abortion, try to convince her to bring the baby to me. I will love him, seeing in him the sign of God’s love”.

John Paul II wanted to repeat these words during the homily of beatification of Mother Teresa (see L’Osservatore Romano, 20-21 October 2003, page 8).

3. Thus, legislation has to move in this direction, the only one which, among other things, avoid the permanent drama lived by a woman who has had an abortion.

4. As for the second issue: in the Tabula aurea of Peter of Bergamo (a sort of dictionary which refers to several subjects that are dealt in Saint Thomas works) you can read: “Tongue is prone to sin as it is mobile and is the immediate tool of the heart, it also becomes rea (guilty) on its behalf only when it follows a sinful mind”.

5. In this regard, Saint Thomas makes Saint Augustine’s thought its own: “It depends on how the assertion proceeds from the heart as what makes a tongue sinful is the perverseness of the heart” (Summa Theologiae, II-II, 98, 1, ad 3).

6. The sorrow one feels while reacting to evil is a natural fact. It is an authentic sorrow. 

But sorrow is a feeling. It is not a synonym for bad will.

For the discomfort you may feel while making an observation, despite this being gently made, or while raising your voice as well, is not a sin.

Nor is causing some pain to the person, whom you make the observation, to be considered a sin, if this is made by the appropriate means.

7. Also Jesus raised his voice when he railed against the scribes and the Pharisees. 

He did thus not sin by eliciting sadness and evil thoughts in them, as when he said with vehemence: “”Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the kingdom of heaven before human beings. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter. 

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves. “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If one swears by the temple, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.’

Blind fools, which is greater, the gold, or the temple that made the gold sacred? (Matthew, 23:13-17).

I wish you well, I will remind you to the Lord and bless you.

Father Angelo