They wonder what the child would be like

Bishop Vasa

Bishop Vasa

The following essay by Bishop Robert Vasa was posted on the diocese of Santa Rosa site on January 22.

There is not a single adult Catholic for whom this date should lack significance. It is a day of grief and sorrow for some and a day of triumph and rejoicing for others. It is, as we all know, the infamous date of the Supreme Court decision known as Roe vs. Wade.

On this day in 1973 personal freedom and liberty and ‘privacy’ were established as ‘rights’ in our country which even surpassed another individual’s right to life. In that decision the Court discovered the ‘right to privacy’ in the Constitution. At the same time the Court failed to find in that same Constitution the right of an unborn child to continue to live. Forty years later the Court still has not found in our Constitution a most basic ‘right to life’ for our pre-born citizens. Somehow, infants in the womb are judged to lack some essential quality of humanity which, in the opinion of the Court, excludes them from the protection of the law. Clearly, it is not the infants in the womb who lack some essential feature of humanity, it is rather that those passing sentence upon these innocent pre-born persons must have lost a part of their humanity. It is most distressing to know that I have a recognized right to privacy while others, far more vulnerable, do not even have a right to life.

It would appear that American culture has arrived at the point of believing that the legality of abortion affirms its morality as well; its harmlessness. Unfortunately many Catholics, who would have to be described as nominal Catholics, seem to hold to this position. The socalled ‘pro-choice’ Catholics seem to have been duped into believing that the legality of abortion makes it a legitimate moral choice for those who seek it and that even Catholics have a moral obligation to protect that legally established right. For the sake of the salvation of their souls I hope they have been duped. The alternative is that they really have no regard for the life and well-being of the pre-born child. Perhaps it is kinder to say that they manifest a deeper compassion for the woman’s constitutionally discovered right to privacy than for the child’s God given right to life. Pro-choice is not a legitimate Catholic position. Not for Catholics in private life; not for Catholics in public life.

Each January I am starkly reminded of the failed efforts in our country to protect children adequately. The date of January 22 is such a bleak reminder for me of the prevalence of the taking of the lives of pre-born children that I literally find myself going, again and again, through the stages of genuine grief. Those stages in very broad terms start with denial, move to bargaining, then anger, through sadness and even depression and hopefully through to acceptance. I find myself often bouncing back and forth between anger and sadness, between anger and helplessness, between anger and disgust, between anger and fear. I suspect you note there is a good deal of anger, I have noticed that too. In most grief situations I find it relatively easy to move rather quickly through the stages of grief and come quite peacefully to an acceptance of whatever the loss may be – – not so with January 22.

A program known as the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat, which I have had the opportunity and the privilege to attend a number of years ago, confirmed for me the reality and the necessity of my continued and unresolved grief. The Retreat is one part of the ministry of the Church known as Project Rachel — a ministry that helps women find healing, peace and forgiveness following an abortion. The Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat is specifically designed to help postabortive women come to terms with the destructive nature of unresolved and sometimes even unrecognized grief in their lives. You see, the ‘abortion mentality America’ in which we live relies on continuing the denial of post-abortive grief. Just as big tobacco relied on a continued denial of the habituating nature of nicotine and their knowledge of it; just as they denied the potentially harmful impact of cigarette smoke on the lungs and their knowledge of these harmful effects; so also the abortion industry (and it is an enormously lucrative ‘business’) thrives on the denial of the reality of the child and the reality of a mother’s grief. Thus the first stage of grief, denial, becomes the only stage experienced because this stage, and this stage alone, is the accepted and ‘politically correct’ response to post-abortive grief.

The denials of the abortion industry are seriously malicious. Initially the denial centered on the reality of the baby; just a ‘mass’ of undifferentiated cells. When this ’denial’ could be sustained no longer the rhetoric moved to a different tactic. Then it was admitted, yes, there is a vague human form but humanity – – real, living, breathing, thinking, emotionally responsive humanity – – is not immediately perceptible and therefore, in a twisted logic, not really present. When scientific evidence began to reveal that children actually experience pain in the course of being aborted, that they even exhibit some rudimentary flight response, then the verbiage, with claims of care and compassion, turned to a concern for the well-being of the mother. Yes, they would say, abortion is a terrible thing, it is taking the life of the child, we may need to anesthetize the child to keep ‘it’ pain-free, but it is still best for the mother. Just as the other ‘denials’ of the abortion industry have proven to be outright lies so this ultimate lie, this ultimate denial, the denial of the reality of a mother’s grief must likewise be exposed.

The women who come to a Project Rachel Retreat did not necessarily connect their various continued life traumas to their respective abortions but they had tried every other kind of therapy and yet something in their lives was still ‘not right’. The book Forbidden Grief talks about the various manifestations of this unresolved grief. Many of the signs were clearly evident in the small group of women gathered at the Retreat which I attended; disrupted marital relationships, alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, sleeplessness, nightmares, flashbacks, depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety, compulsive shopping, hopelessness, extreme shame and guilt. The ‘lie’ of the abortion industry that these problems could not possibly be connected to a past abortion keeps many women from probing and understanding the root of their various debilities.

The pro-life sign: ‘Abortion hurts women’ is judged and discarded by the pro-abortion and the extreme feminist crowd as so much religious claptrap but the women on this Retreat and those who walked a short distance with them know without a hint of doubt that it is absolutely true. Abortion hurts women and our societal denial of this truth allows an unsympathetic industry to continue to wreak its havoc on the lives of thousands of unsuspecting women every day.

The absolute silence of the abortion industry about the harm done to women is unconscionable. Worse, it is infuriating! Any legislative attempts to allow for a proper period of genuinely informed consent are shouted down as an infringement on a woman’s right to choose. What about her right to know? What about her right to make a properly informed choice? Knowing what they know now, I seriously doubt that any of the women who come to a Project Rachel Retreat would make the same self and other destructive choice! I am extremely sad for them. I pray for them. I pray for all those women, millions of them, who have believed the lie and now live in denial, still trying to believe the lie while their lives crumble around them. Their whole psyche cries out in grief, an unrecognized grief, a societally unacceptable grief, a forbidden grief and they are denied the possibility of facing that grief because, according to the abortion providers, there is nothing to grieve; there is nothing about which to be upset.

Any legislator or public person who protects or defends abortion, particularly those who claim to be Catholic, should first read Forbidden Grief and attend a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat and then see if they could still be so glib about this right of a woman to make a largely uninformed choice of such grave consequences.

Men, who are truly men in the best sense of that word, could not ever allow their beloved, or even a casual friend, to risk suffering this grief or to side with the heartless abortion industry which simply says, “Get over it! Imagine what your life would have been like if you had not had the abortion”. Believe me; these women do imagine precisely that! They wonder what the child would be like, who he or she would look like, the voice, the smile, the joy in the eyes, and the beautiful ring of the word: “Mommy”. They imagine it all!

That is their grief; they do imagine what their lives would be like if they had not had the abortion. What a singular grief, a horrific grief, a forbidden grief, a hidden grief and it is suffered by millions and denied a million times over. I grieve with them and for them and sometimes that grief takes me to anger. Thank you to all who work to protect life and to protect women, not with the admixture of a conflicted interest in a tremendously lucrative industry, but selflessly and generously and with genuine compassion.

Thank you. Persevere. By your work you do give hope to those who grieve alone and in darkness. You assure them that you do recognize their very human grief for a genuine great loss; the loss of a child. These mothers suffer a mother’s grief but the reality and the necessity of that grief is denied to them.

God bless all who show genuine compassion to those who have been hurt by abortion.

+Robert F. Vasa
Bishop of Santa Rosa

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  1. Nice letter.

    But if these Preachers found more time to teach Catholics to be holy instead of these good political speeches, perhaps this problem would take care of itself?

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says:

      How can you call this a “political speech” when it comes from a Shephed who has always taught that way.

      I can assure you that Bishop Vasa’s intentions are exactly what you state “to teach Catholics to be Holy”!

      I have never yet had the pleasure of meeting this good Bishop, but we have communicated on many occasions, and I am sure that Bishop Hurley from Heaven had a lot to do with his being given the Diocese that Bishop Hurley suffered much for. Bishop Hurley was one of our (CRCOA, Inc.’s) beloved Spiritual advisors and a great one. Yes he knew about our picketing the REC!

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

    • Duh… this IS a call to holiness!

    • John R. Smith says:

      I was recently in London. It was surprising to hear the homilist read a letter from the Bishop of Westminster telling the faithful parishioners to complain to their members of Parliament regarding the push to recognize same-sex “marriages”. Not too far away from where I went was the marker for “Tyrburn Tree” (where the Catholics were put to death — hung, drawn and quartered). Long may the English Martyrs be remembered. Tyburn Tree is just a “traffic island” now in the conjunction of Marble Arch and Edgeware Road.

      Every Abortion Mill in the US is another “Tyburn Tree” — where the unborn are hung, drawn and quartered.

      May God have mercy on us.

    • If you knew anything about Bp Vasa, you would know that teaching is what he considers one of the most important duties of a bishop and he does so like no other. I have long been a recipient of his teaching and guidance.
      He additionally teaches by example in the way he lives a most holy and obedient life.

  2. Juergensen says:

    Nice. Now let’s actually do something and enforce Canon 915 and ban all abortionist and homosexualist politicians from profanating the Holy Eucharist.

  3. Maryanne Leonard says:

    God bless Bishop Vasa, and God bless all those who are helping women go through their grief. As the survivor of a physically forced abortion, one of the very few in the United States as far as I have been able to discern, I can tell you that in my case at least, the grieving has gone on for over 50 years, and that grieving is as real as the tears that overcame me again just days ago. I cannot even imagine the torment a woman must suffer knowing that she was the originating cause of the murder of her own child. I had not been able to feel compassion for these women before reading Bishop Vasa’s words, as I had sat in judgment of them and disdained them as murderers. I now see that disobeying Jesus in ignoring his teaching to judge not, lest I be judged, is in fact sin. Because my pregnancy was the result of a rape, I have been spared the shame of an unmarried pregnancy. In fact, I had planned to have this child and care for it as well as I could in those days in which unmarried women did not keep their children, doing my best to bear my cross in silent pride. I thought of myself as in the same moral category as those who are wrongfully judged guilty of murder who were put to death with regularity in those zap-happy days of the electric chair, another near sin of personal pride that I am ashamed to acknowledge. Reading the words of Bishop Vasa, I feel his grief, sorrow, compassion and dedication to saving hearts, minds and souls of the surviving women, and I see that the Church has been serving sinners for centuries with the gift of the knowledge of the way, the truth and the light brought to us in the living Jesus. As I was taught by good and holy nuns but couldn’t believe, the gift of salvation is available even to murderers who are truly repentant. I think we should all join forces, all of us, to fight the right to murder babies in every way we can, including by giving compassion and voice to the women who are suffering in silence and shame the double burden of grieving the loss of a child they will never know this side of heaven, and the guilt of knowing that were it not for a terrible decision they made, that precious child would be here among us. Bishop Vasa, thank you for opening my eyes and relieving me of my sin of judgmentalism of these long-suffering women. Let us welcome back into the fold, without ourselves indulging in the sin of judgment, those among them who are truly repentant. Let us join forces with them to overcome this evil practice by helping women everywhere understand the true cost of the evil of abortion.

    • Maryanne, thank you for your thoughts and testimony. I am sorry for your loss. Many years ago I too had difficulty toward these women. I have since come to realize however, that their sin (abortion) and their sickness i.e. the consequences of their sin (post abortion syndrome), especially for those who were baptized before the abortion, not only affects them, but all of us Catholics and other Baptized Christians who are in the Body of Christ in a very real way. St. Paul said that when one member (of Christ’ body) suffers, then we all suffer. What I am saying is that all of us Baptized Catholics are post abortive even if we personally have never had an abortion or have never pressured someone into having an abortion, or even if we have fought abortion with every bone in our bodies. If this is the grief Bishop Vasa is talking about then I have this grief as well. We all have it. Sadly though most of us are still in denial.

      • Maryanne Leonard says:

        Tracy, thank you for expanding my mind and heart even more. Your comments are those of a profoundly wise and caring person, and I do celebrate your wonderful thinking. Thank you for directing your words to me, as I am in need of a more compassionate heart, not merely for the poor murdered children, but for their suffering mothers, and fathers too, as surely there are many. I am sorry that I have come so late to the table of compassion for women who have chosen to abort their babies, and I must admit that I still can’t quite wrab my head around feeling the same way toward parents who are glad to have been relieved of their inconvenient children. But surely most Catholic mothers and fathers, and those who have been taught that our unborn babies are human beings, that they have souls, and that to abort a baby is to kill an innocent human being, surely those parents suffer in at least some ways. I think it is very important that we address the responsibilities and the human needs of the fathers of these murdered babies as well; they have been let off the hook for entirely too long, and thus are not considered virtually at all in the process of suffering guilt, remorse, and coming to repentance and forgiveness for this grave mortal sin. Most are in denial, but some suffer because the mother of their child aborted him or her without the approval, and sometimes without even the knowledge aforehand, and some suffer for years thereafter. I know, because my poor brother suffered the abortion of his child, begging his girlfriend not to do it. She promised she would not, then did so on her own, and told him the next day. He suffered visibly for about 10 years and seems to have accepted it finally, and was astonished to learn years later than when he turned to me for support, he was talking to someone who suffered a similar fate, with a child raped into her body she tried desperately to protect, and ripped out of her body by a physically forced abortion. This rape and murder was played out on the battlefield of my mind and body, but I am grateful that at least my soul was not burdened with guilt, nor was his. That doesn’t seem to avoid the decades of grieving each of us has suffered virtually alone, but when I think of how much I have suffered in complete innocence as regards this matter, I still cannot imagine how much the parents of intentionally aborted babies must suffer with the burden of guilt. I think those who are repentant need our compassion and support more than I ever realized in my haughty judgmentalism. The point is to hate the sin and love the sinner . . . and it has taken me 50 years and Bishop Vasa’s words to arrive in this place, but finally my eyes are open. I am grateful and can now feel tender, sincere compassion for the repentant, suffering parent whose sin it is up to Jesus to forgive, and not for me to judge. I finally get it.

    • Maryanne Leonard, you are a grace-filled woman. I am happy that the Lord has filled your heart with love. May you recieve healing and blessing through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

      • Maryanne Leonard says:

        Thank you, k., but the truth is I’m still learning, including things I knew as a child but never learned until I’d lived a long, long time. I think of a grace-filled person as one to whom these thoughts seem to come easily and flow at all times like water . . . and for that I think we have to turn to the saints, perhaps most notably to Our Lady. But your words were kind and received as evidence of your own love of the great teachings of our faith, some of which registered within intellectually and I would have said spiritually, but only recently did I realize that I still had miles to go before I slept. This is another clear case of a Bishop’s moral guidance doing at least one of the faithful some definite good. Chalk up another one for one of our good-hearted Catholic bishops.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says:


      Please call me at: 714-491-2284.

      I want to tell you of my mother and how much pain she went through because she self aborted my big brother, but I really want to tell you how God’s love brought her to full repentance and a glorious Catholic death.

      She had guilt to deal with, but you have no guilt because you did not give consent.

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

      • Maryanne Leonard says:

        Thank you for the invitation to call you, Kenneth. I appreciate that and will do that soon. Thank you too for your comments. I am so thankful that I never had to suffer guilt, but for decades I suffered this grief in silence, compounded by shame. Only in recent years did I fully recognized that my child was not the only victim of this murderous assault, and that I had nothing to be ashamed about. I am relieved of the shame but not the habit of suffering in silence, so this has been a difficult discussion for me. I can only imagine how much harder the journey to healing and reconciliation must be for women (and men) who intentionally ended the lives of their children. I look forward to calling you as soon as I feel strong enough to hear about your mother’s journey. Thank you again, Kenneth. You are good to offer me this opportunity for further insight into this overwhelming topic.

  4. An Open Letter to Bishop Vasa,

    Please consider publically excommunicating (ab homine) those ‘Catholic’ legislators (Federal, State and Local) or public persons within your Diocese who publically and obstinately promote, protect or defend abortion, or euthanasia, or same-sex marriage, or embyonic stem cell research.

    Those who repent, and ask forgiveness should be required to “REPAIR” their public scandal as part of their penance.

    As these grave Scandalous actions within the Church continue, bad politicans will continue to be elected by other Catholics — and heresy, schism, and relativism will also continue to run rampant within our Church.

    CCC: ” 2286 Scandal can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion.

    “Therefore, they are guilty of scandal who establish laws or social structures leading to the decline of morals and the corruption of religious practice, or to social conditions that, intentionally or not, make Christian conduct and obedience to the Commandments difficult and practically impossible.

    “This is also true of business leaders who make rules encouraging fraud, teachers who provoke their children to anger,
    or manipulators of public opinion who turn it away from moral values.”

    Code of Canon Law: “Can. 1399 In addition to the cases established here or in other laws, the external violation of a divine or canonical law can be punished by a just penalty only when the special gravity of the violation demands punishment and there is an urgent need to prevent or repair scandals.”

    No one can make these corrections and set the needed example except our Bishops. 1 Cor 5:11-13; and 1 Tim 5:20.

    Thank you for your prayerful consideration.

    I will pray for you and for our Church.


    • Kenneth M. Fisher says:


      Please send what you wrote above to Bishop Vasa. I would be very surprised if you did not get an answer from him.

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

  5. This letter from Bishop Vasa is ALL ABOUT BECOMING HOLY!

    Don’t try to dismiss the teaching voice of our Catholic Magisterium by throwing in the word “holy,” in some vague fashion, as if caring about others were not a CENTRAL PART OF HOLINESS.

    He is calling us to compassion, not only for the people we meet, but also for the people in the womb.

    His letter brings up the schizo nature of our American psyche: when Scott Petersen was found guilty, he was convicted for murdering his wife AND THEIR UNBORN CHILD.

    So the unborn have rights! So the person in the womb can be murdered and the perpetrator charged!

    But wait: all this falls away if the parents choose to kill the baby via abortion. Even our legal system is schizo, not to mention the morality of it all.

    We are truly a mess…

  6. Abeca Christian says:

    God bless you Bishop Vasa, I pray that your words and actions lead many to holiness.

  7. Abeca Christian says:

    Oh the heart aches of this life… how painful some truly are! Some we find helpless to stop or end. How precious we find the prayers and support of some to be.

    Jesus ABBA Father Lord lead us all, even the unwilling, for it is for their own good. We know that you know this, but how can a sinful human as me can comprehend your reasons behind the free will you permit. All that you do, we know is perfect and true… that we do know. The imperfect comes from the bad will of many.

    May the good Lord bless this Bishop and continue to guide Him. We understand that we have high expectations Lord for all our bishops, as we do, we also pray for them and continue to place them in your hands especially the ones who need it the most.

  8. One of the things that doctors of the Church do is teach; Bishop Vasa does that in his letter.

    • Abeca Christian says:

      This is true skai : )

      • Maryanne Leonard says:

        Yes, definitely, I agree, Abeca. Bishop Vasa teaches on the deepest levels how we are to follow the teachings of Jesus in our lives. If everyone in this world did so, or even could, just think what a wonderful world this would be. I hope someone does send these comments to Bishop Vasa. He is holding a lamplight for us.

        • One time, according to the OT, one of the major prophets was bemoaning his position of being the only man of God left. But God then spoke to him, telling him not to be downcast since God had “8000” faithful prophets hidden throughout the land.

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