I have posted an excerpt from Cardinal Seán’s blog, in which he recounts a beautiful story of conversion. If only all of us would have such a conversion of heart. You may find this post here.

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This past week, we marked the passing of Dr. Bernard Nathanson. His funeral Mass was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

Though at one time he was a self-professed Jewish atheist and one of the architects of legalized abortion in the United States, by the end of his life he had become a Catholic and a great apostle for the Gospel of Life.

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I first met him in 1979, when he had just written “Aborting America” that discussed what he called “the dishonest beginnings of the abortion movement.” At that point, he had already turned from his support of abortion and had come to a pro-life position.

However, my first real contact with him came in about 1985 when friends of mine from Honduras had called to tell me there was legislation to de-penalize abortion in their country.

I asked them when the new law was to go into effect, and they said it would be within a few months. My advice to them was to gather as many Catholic professionals as they could and begin to put ads on the television and radio, and write columns for the newspaper to raise awareness among the people. It was my conviction that once a law goes into effect it becomes much more difficult to change it — as we have seen in the United States.

Then I called Bernard Nathanson, who was in New York at the time, and asked him to accompany me to Honduras. I explained that I was going there because my friends in the country asked if I could be of any help to them. He told me he had just had his documentary film “The Silent Scream” translated into Spanish and that he would be happy to go.

We traveled to the capital, Tegucigalpa, where he addressed physicians at the university medical school and the country’s legislators. We also had him make appearances on television, and speak at rallies. I served as his translator throughout the trip.

The happy ending to the story is that, ultimately, the law was repealed.

Before we left Tegucigalpa, a close friend of mine who had been a parishioner of mine in Washington gave him a little crucifix.

A couple of years later, I saw Bernard at pro-life meeting in Venezuela and he came over to say hello to me. The first thing he did was reach in his pocket and pull out the crucifix. He then told me that he was so grateful for that trip to Honduras, and that his only regret was that he didn’t take his wife along with him.images-2

At the time, I thought “This man is on a journey of faith.” Sure enough, a few years later, in 1996, Cardinal John O’Connor received him into the Church in New York.

When he was later asked why he converted to Catholicism, he said “No religion matches the special role for forgiveness that is afforded by the Catholic Church.”

This man who had aborted so many children and fought to legalize abortion was completely converted into a pro-life Catholic.Nathanson 2

I think there is a great lesson in that for all of us. Sometimes people in the pro-life movement lose sight of the fact that one of our goals has to be to try to lead people to the light of Christ and out of darkness. Even though some of these people may evoke such anger or disgust in us because of their positions on abortion, we must never stop praying for them, loving them and hoping they will receive the graces Bernard Nathanson received, which helped him to find the truth and discover in Christ the answer to all of the questions of his life.

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Amen and again, amen.

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