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Thomas wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have committed a mortal sin by helping a woman get an abortion. This woman, was someone who I cheated on my girlfriend with. This happened three months ago, and it made me realize just how special my girlfriend is to me, and how I cannot do something like this to her ever again.

I've since asked for her hand in marriage, and she said yes, in front of a Catholic priest, who then blessed us.

I am somewhat of a wreck right now. I am a young teacher and I just finished researching the lesson for next week — the Roman Catholic Church. I did not know about excommunication.

  • Am I excommunicated?

I haven't confessed my mortal sin yet.

  • Am I still able to marry this summer in the Catholic Church?

Please help me. I feel like such a terrible person.


  { If I helped a woman get an abortion, am I excommunicated and can I get married in the Church? }

Mary Ann replied:

Dear Thomas,

You lucked out. I direct our diocesan post-abortion ministry. Abortion affects men very much.
Yes, you are excommunicated, assuming you knew you would be when you got the abortion.

In any case, you need to go to Confession. You can call your local Project Rachel and they will be able to refer you to a list of priests who are well-trained in how to take care of you. Regardless, any priest can hear your Confession and can probably lift the excommunication, if the priest has been granted this faculty by the local bishop. (Most bishops have given priests in their diocese this faculty.)

You also need to get some additional help for this:

  • a group
  • a support group, or
  • a couple of sessions one-on-one with a Project Rachel priest.

You need to acknowledge your child, and reconcile with your child. You need to help the woman that you have injured. You need to examine yourself and your relationship.

Please do not enter into an "atonement marriage", something people do out of guilt or fear.

You need to be open with your fiancée, because she is going to suffer the effects of this abortion along with you. You cannot enter a marriage with such a deception so close to its beginning. It will take a while for you to process this, and to grieve your child but abortion does not come out of nowhere, so you also need to look at your life and see what the roots were that brought this about.

Accepting your child will help you accept God's forgiveness once you have repented and confessed. God loves you. Don't hide from His healing mercy.

Mary Ann

Mary Ann followed-up:


I want to be very clear about the excommunication part. One is automatically excommunicated for abortion:

  • if one knew it was gravely wrong and knew that one would be excommunicated
  • if one is 16 or over, and
  • if one is not acting out of severe duress (coercion) or grave fear.

The important thing is that abortion is a grave moral evil, and knowingly and freely taking part in one is a mortal sin. The more important thing is that God's mercy is waiting for us, inviting us to an even deeper love relationship with Him based, not on our own performance, but on trust in Him.

Mary Ann

Thomas replied:

Thank you for your reply Mary Ann, I really appreciate it.

I have one more question. I didn't know about excommunication until researching the Catholic Church for school. I did however, know that the act was gravely wrong.

  • Am I still excommunicated?


Mary Ann replied:

No, you were not excommunication if you didn't know about the excommunication at the time but go to Confession and name your child.

Write him or her a letter expressing your sorrow. Make peace with your child and give him or her the acknowledgment and honor due to any human being. Accept him or her. That overcomes the rejection at the heart of abortion, and enables you to accept the peace of God.

Mary Ann

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