Called to priesthood: previous involvement in abortion


#1

Hello all,

For some time I have been discerning the call to the priesthood, and this call has been growing stronger. Of late I have been having many opportunities to pursue this call, and I feel as if the Holy Spirit is leading me down all the right paths.

Unfortunately in my past I did not have the faith I have now. I didnt know what I believed. During this period of my life a friend came to me who had decided she was going to have an abortion. At the time I thought I was doing the right thing by driving her to the clinic and comforting her. I have long since recognised the wrong I did and have been reconciled with the Church and am VERY pro life.

The thing is I know that any involvement in abortion is an impediment to the priesthood, and this can only be removed by a dispensation, and as far as I can tell, it must be a papal dispensation.

Does anyone know if a dispensation is granted for this, if they have been granted before and its feasibility?

And does anyone have any advice on how to proceed?

Any help is much appreciated,

God bless.


#2

Contact your diocese’s director of vocations (it’s usually a priest,) make an appointment, and tell him exactly what you posted here for the most accurate information, as well as perhaps some help on getting started on applying for a papal dispensation, if indeed that is what is required.


#3

From what you said, you comforted her. You drove her there.

Had you not done this, would she have still gone and had it done? I suspect yes.

Did you persuade her to do this? I get the impression the answer is no.

I doubt you were “involved” in the abortion in any decisive way.


#4

Saint Paul held peoples coats as they stoned Saint Stephen to death and he did okay vocation wise after repenting.


#5

as long as it is something she would and could have done without your "help", and you can't have counseled her to get it done. I have the same exact situation....and i am moving forward with my seminary admission.


#6

[quote="Usbek_de_Perse, post:3, topic:310319"]
From what you said, you comforted her. You drove her there.

Had you not done this, would she have still gone and had it done? I suspect yes.

Did you persuade her to do this? I get the impression the answer is no.

I doubt you were "involved" in the abortion in any decisive way.

[/quote]

This is misleading. Assisting someone in getting an abortion is a grave sin, and I think the OP realizes this. This could include "comforting" someone who was pregnant, if that means saying things that might make it easier for a woman to choose abortion or that offer approval of the abortion. Driving someone to an abortion clinic is definitely participation in that abortion.

In the United States, most priests have been given authority by their bishops to dispense of the automatic excommunication attached to sin of abortion. This is normally done through the sacrament of penance. I'm unfamiliar with any impediments this might pose to the OP's pursuit of the priesthood, so I'd second the recommendation to talk with a vocation's director.


#7

From the Code of Canon Law:

(short version: you may have to appeal to the Vatican for a dispensation but it is possible)

Can. 1041 The following are irregular for receiving orders:
4/ a person who has committed voluntary homicide or procured a completed abortion and all those who positively cooperated in either;

Can. 1047 §1. Dispensation from all irregularities is reserved to the Apostolic See alone if the fact on which they are based has been brought to the judicial forum.
§2. Dispensation from the following irregularities and impediments to receive orders is also reserved to the Apostolic See:
2/ the irregularity from the delict mentioned in ⇒ can. 1041, n. 4, whether public or occult;

Can. 1048 In more urgent occult cases, if the ordinary or, when it concerns the irregularities mentioned in ⇒ can. 1041, nn. 3 and 4, the Penitentiary cannot be approached and if there is imminent danger of grave harm or infamy, a person impeded by an irregularity from exercising an order can exercise it, but without prejudice to the obligation which remains of making recourse as soon as possible to the ordinary or the Penitentiary, omitting the name and through a confessor.

Can. 1049 §1. Petitions to obtain a dispensation from irregularities or impediments must indicate all the irregularities and impediments. Nevertheless, a general dispensation is valid even for those omitted in good faith, except for the irregularities mentioned in ⇒ can. 1041, n. 4, and for others brought to the judicial forum, but not for those omitted in bad faith.
§2. If it is a question of the irregularity from voluntary homicide or a procured abortion, the number of the delicts also must be mentioned for the validity of the dispensation.


#8

As has been pointed out, your involvement in an abortion is serious stuff in terms of pursuing a vocation even independent of any canonical implications it would have for you. I'm glad SonCatcher posted the relevant section of canon law, as it is in fact the case that involvement in abortion/homicide is an impediment to ordination.

I don't know if this impediment is dispensed with, or if so how often; this is information your vocation director would have. I would get in touch with him, even if you aren't necessarily interested in pursuing a vocation right now or in that area, to get clarity on the matter. Also be aware that if you're really thinking of applying to the priesthood, the application process is very long -- in some places close to a year. If dispensations are required it may take even longer. So even if you're not sure you want to pursue a vocation right now, I'd get the ball rolling anyway, so that if you make up your mind, say, 2 years down the road, you've already started the legwork.


#9

Thank you for all your responses, it is much appreciated, I certainly will be getting in touch with my vocation director and ask him, I was just wondering if anyone else had been in this situation and any other advice while I wait for an availability to see him.

[quote="Polycarp1, post:4, topic:310319"]
Saint Paul held peoples coats as they stoned Saint Stephen to death and he did okay vocation wise after repenting.

[/quote]

That is very good point. I understand why it is an impediment, and why they would want to review it. I just pray I wont be turned away. I am now thinking of Paul and all the good work he did after he realised his wrongs in his participation and involvement in killing christians.

[quote="datritle, post:5, topic:310319"]
as long as it is something she would and could have done without your "help", and you can't have counseled her to get it done. I have the same exact situation....and i am moving forward with my seminary admission.

[/quote]

Datritle did you need a papal dispensation? And if so, whether papal or not, how long did the dispensation process take?

[quote="sw85, post:8, topic:310319"]
the application process is very long -- in some places close to a year. If dispensations are required it may take even longer. So even if you're not sure you want to pursue a vocation right now, I'd get the ball rolling anyway, so that if you make up your mind, say, 2 years down the road, you've already started the legwork.

[/quote]

I will be sure to discuss this with my vocation director and will ask him if I can start the dispensation process now.


#10

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