The first Latin American training program of Project Rachel (a ministry of the Catholic Church for reconciliation and post-abortion healing) took place in Cuenca, Ecuador June 26-28, 2012. The event was very successful, and promises a new area of focus for the pro-life movement in Latin America.
In attendance were two bishops, 39 priests, 25 seminarians, 36 nuns, three deacons and 42 laity (among them psychiatrists, psychologists, theologians and post-abortion treatment advisers). Representatives from Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Brazil and Spain traveled to Ecuador to learn how to best give support to mothers looking for help after an abortion. We were thrilled to be joined by so many esteemed speakers and guests, all of whom are fighting for life and family in their own countries and throughout Latin America.
Human Life International (HLI) worked with a number of pro-life leaders to launch Project Rachel in Ecuador including Maria Jose Mansilla, President of SPEI Mater of Spain and leader of Project Rachel for the Conference of Bishops of Spain; Father Juan Carlos Chavez, former director of HLI’s Latin American Network of Priests and Seminarians for Life (REDESSVIDA); Paloma Mansilla, vice president of SPEI Mater and Mrs. Nancy Tosi.
Post-abortion syndrome, a severe and long-lasting emotional, psychological and spiritual trauma for women, is a real problem in all communities and therefore reconciliation and healing is a must in all dioceses in Latin America. As a result, at the request of Archbishop Luis Cabrera Herrera, of the Archdiocese of Cuenca, the Conference of Bishops of Ecuador, in their regular yearly meeting, will be listening to the proposals of Project Rachel as a possible pastoral service at a diocesan level across Ecuador.
Efforts to launch a Project Rachel training program in Brazil are already underway with the support of Monsignor João Carlos Petrini, president of the Life and Family Pastoral Commission of the Conference of Bishops of Brazil.
The aftermath of abortion and its effect on women is largely ignored by the general public, and Project Rachel will provide much needed support to the women of Latin America. Promoters of abortion claim that it is no different from other surgical procedures, and that pro-life groups are fabricating the existence of post-abortion suffering. As Project Rachel’s website points out:
Many women who have walked a path of grief and hopelessness after abortion, usually alone, eventually begin to understand that they have a deep spiritual wound. But sadly, they also are likely to believe that they have committed ‘the unforgivable sin’ and fear God’s anger.
Women who have had an abortion often have many questions, the answers to which are indispensable to beginning the healing journey. Can God ever forgive me? Can my child? Can I ever forgive myself? Will the Church let me stay when I confess this sin? Will this horrible pain ever go away? Is healing possible?
The answer to all these questions is, of course, YES!
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I am thankful to God for this wonderful training program, to all the organizations that made it possible and especially for the support of Monsignor Luis Cabrera. HLI will continue to work with the Catholic Church in Latin America to foster the success of Project Rachel’s healing ministry, and will continue to spread the Gospel of Life and respect for human dignity.