Houston Coalition for Life is delighted to share a letter from Fr. Lawrence Jozwiak,Pastor of the Co-Cathedral of the the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, regarding the recently released movie UNPLANNED. This letter has been made available with permission (and encouragement). For a printable version of the Letter: Click here!
CO-CATHEDRAL OF THE SACRED HEART Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
CATHEDRAL CENTRE 1701 SAN JACINTO STREET HOUSTON, TX 77002-8215
TEL. 713-659-1561 • FAX 713-651-1365
w w w . s a c r e d h e a r t h o u s t o n . o r g
April 7, 2019
Dear Friends in Christ:
Quí Ông Bà và Anh Chị Em thân mến trong Chúa Kitô:
Estimados Amigos y Amigas en Cristo:
In my bulletin message of March 17, I wrote about the movie, “Unplanned”. (If you did not read it, go to our parish web site: https://www.sacredhearthouston.org/bulletins). It is a movie that recounts the story of Abby Johnson, a Planned Parenthood abortion director in Bryan, TX and a former Employee of the Year, who had a conversion experience and left Planned Parenthood to become a pro-life advocate.
I saw the movie. It is a powerful movie that attempts to portray all sides of the story. Abby truly believed she was doing “good” as an abortion advocate for Planned Parenthood. Oh how true is: “Those who call evil good,and good evil, who change darkness to light, and light into darkness, who change bitter to sweet, and sweet into bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)”. Even though her husband, reared as a Lutheran, and her parents (Southern Baptists) were pro-life and were not supportive of Abby’s role, they still loved her fully and hoped she would change. The movie portrays the difficult situations many women experience being pregnant, not knowing the best path to take, the conflictual thoughts and feelings when pondering their future. Abby even admitted in the movie how conflicted she was at times, but she continued in her role with Planned Parenthood from 2001 when she began as a volunteer and eventually throughout her time as the center’s director. Amazingly, she only saw for the first time in September 2009 an ultrasound guided abortion of a 13 week, unborn baby being aborted. The child tried to recoil from the abortion. She resigned from Planned Parenthood on October 6, 2009. She and her husband were members of the Episcopalian Church, but in April 2012, both with their children became Catholics.
I encourage all to see this movie, but I will admit that it will be very difficult for anyone who has had an abortion to “re-live” a past painful and harmful decision. It is not easy for me or anyone else to address this sensitive issue because of all the feelings, hurts, “re-living the past”, etc. But there is a profound statement that Abby makes in the movie: “They (Planned Parenthood) can get rid of your baby. But they cannot get rid of the memory of your baby. Nor can you.” There is another powerful scene from the movie, that shortly after Abby’s resignation, her husband finds her in the living room in the middle of night, sobbing and wondering how can God ever forgive her for having 2 abortions herself but also in her 8 years with Planned Parenthood, that 22,000+abortions occurred. While holding her, her husband stated: “God loves you, and I love you.” Abby turned to the 40 Days for Life group which was founded in Bryan, TX and prayed outside this Planned Parenthood clinic. She said this group accepted her with no condemnations and assisted her after she resigned, including combating successfully a major lawsuit against her by Planned Parenthood to silence her. But Abby struggled for another 3 long years before she finally felt forgiven when she experienced the Sacrament of Penance (confession) when she became a Catholic.
Many people are plagued with that constant feeling that God could never forgive them for a certain sin.Remember God forgave St. Peter for denying Christ 3 times though he said he never would and allowed him to be the leader of the Church. God forgave St. Paul who persecuted the Church prior to his conversion and allowed him to be such a great leader in the Church. God can forgive us, regardless of what we may have done if we repent. God’s forgiveness is amazing. People in the Church must embody God’s merciful self and not be condemning. But we must also forgive ourselves.
The Church maintains: “As a gift from God, every human life is sacred from conception to natural death. The life and dignity of every person must be respected and protected at every stage and in every condition. The right to life is the first and most fundamental principle of human rights that leads Catholics to actively work for a world of greater respect for human life and greater commitment to justice and peace. (USCCB)” But the Church at times gets criticized for only speaking about abortion. Though individual people may focus only on abortion,the Church strives to address all life issues. Notice how Abby is pro-life on all issues (http://www.abbyjohnson.org/consistent-life). Yet one must admit that there have been 61+ million abortions in the U.S. since abortions were legalized by the Supreme Court in 1973 (http://www.numberofabortions.com/).
Yes, all life is precious and is to be protected. But the numbers of abortions are huge, and many people have no idea how huge they are.
The Church has maintained from the beginning that abortion is sinful. “Thou shalt not commit murder…thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten (Didache, Teaching of the 12 Apostles, a 1st century treatise, written before A.D. 100).
Abby Johnson has helped some 500 Planned Parenthood employees to quit, including 7 full time abortion doctors, through her ministry: And Then There Were None (ATTWN). Some want to quit, but they struggle with finding other jobs. She helps them with their feelings, as well as with resources.
The movie is doing much better than expected (#4 at the box office), even though many news media outlets would not allow any advertisements. Even Twitter temporarily suspended the movie’s account, but it was restored. One parishioner wrote: “So interesting that the commercial before the movie was asking for donations to keep the dogs and cats from being abused and killed in the shelters. Their motto ‘we can save them all’.” Yes,we definitely need to end animal abuse. But are we protecting human life within the womb and outside the womb from being abused and ended?
This is a challenging but necessary message to write. “Seeing is believing.” That is why we should see this movie. Pray for people who are in such heart wrenching situations.
Praised be the Sacred Heart of Jesus! Now and forever, amen!
Hãy chúc tụng Thánh Tâm Chúa Giêsu đến muôn đời, amen!
¡Alabado sea el Sagrado Corazón de Jesús! ¡Por siempre, amen!
Fr. Lawrence W. Jozwiak
Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart