Yesterday Josh informed our CatholicVote community of Dr. Bernard Nathanson’s death.
I was told over the weekend he was on his death bed, but I had to look Dr. Nathanson up on Google to find out who he was. That’s an example of the generational gap in the pro-life movement: my father met him once 30 years ago. I had to look him up online.
Dr. Nathanson admits to performing 75,000 abortions before his pro-life conversion, including one on his own child. But after his pro-life conversion (in part due to seeing a sonogram of an unborn child), Dr. Nathanson was “one of the most influential and powerful forces in the pro-life movement”. Much of this good work happened before I was born.
Today it was made known that Archbishop Timothy Dolan will celebrate Dr. Nathanson’s funeral Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.
Imagine, someone who brought about the deaths of 75,000 human beings and who was instrumental in ushering in the era of legalized abortion being granted a Catholic burial.
But thus is the infinite mercy of Christ.
Nathanson’s baptism at the hands of Cdl. John O’Connor in 1996 completely forgave him all his sins up to that point (all of his 75,000 supervised or directly-performed abortions, including one of his own children, his multiple divorces, and God knows what else) and totally paid all of the punishments due for such sins. CCC 1263. Everything, everything, Nathanson did up to the day of his baptism is buried forever in Christ.
This is an extraordinary point to reflect upon.
After all, the Church, in the debate over abortion, is often portrayed as unfeeling, harsh, unforgiving. I think critics of the Church who say such things should take note of Dr. Nathanson’s Catholic burial.
In truth, nothing is more forgiving than the Church because the Church forgives through the power of Christ – He who IS forgiveness for sin. The Church can be no less forgiving of sin as He is, and the same is true for us. If Dr. Nathanson can be saved, we all can. And we can pray for everyone including the Dr. Nathansons of this world to experience conversion.
The example of Dr. Nathanson, his baptism and funeral brings this one thing to mind: conversion.
As we pray for the repose of Dr. Nathanson’s soul – and petition God to show all His mercy to him – we should also pray for the conversion of those who continue to believe in the lie of abortion.
Lord, harden not their hearts. Lord, show them your mercy!