Pope to single mom: ‘You respected life, don’t be ashamed’

Paterno Esmaquel II
Pope to single mom: ‘You respected life, don’t be ashamed’
Single mother Rosemary Farfan tells Pope Francis, 'I've felt guilty at times and ashamed.' Calling her a courageous woman, the Pope drives her to tears.

MANILA, Philippines – “You respected the life you were carrying inside you, and God is going to reward you for that and he does reward you for that. Don’t be ashamed.”

With these words, Pope Francis comforted a single mother in the United States through a video link-up on Monday, August 31, days before he arrives in Washington DC.

Vatican Radio publicized and translated their exchange, which was arranged by ABC News, on Wednesday, September 2.

In this conversation, single mother Rosemary Farfan told Francis, “It hasn’t been easy for me. I’ve made some mistakes as a person, as a mother.”

Raising two daughters, Farfan added, “I’ve felt guilty at times and ashamed…But every day, I try and I hope and I pray.”

In response, the Pope acknowledged “it’s not easy” to live as a single mother.

Driving Farfan to tears, the pontiff said: “I know that people can sometimes look askance at you…You’re a brave woman because you’re capable of bringing these two daughters into the world.”

Francis added, “I congratulate you.”

ABC News offered another translation of the Pope’s words to Farfan: “You are a courageous woman because you brought your daughters into the world. You could have killed them in your womb, but you respected life.”

‘Forgiveness of God cannot be denied’

Their conversation comes as Pope Francis on Tuesday, September 1, allowed priests “to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.”

The Pope’s decision applies during the Jubilee Year of Mercy, a special year for the Catholic Church, that runs from December 8, 2015, to November 20, 2016.

Fr Thomas Rosica, the English language media attaché to the Holy See Press Office, explained the context on the Jesuit-run America Magazine. Rosica said that “church law generally requires priests to have special permission, called faculties, from his bishop to grant absolution to a person who has procured or helped another to procure an abortion.”

To be clear, in the Catholic Church, abortion remains a grave sin.

Francis, however, has recommended a more caring approach toward women who have sought abortion, as well as people facing other moral issues.

Referring to women who have resorted to abortion, the pontiff said: “I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision.”

The Pope added: “What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope. The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father.” – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.