Fr. Paulo and his identical twin, Fr. Felipe, were born in 1984 despite doctors encouraging their mother, Rosa Silva, to have an abortion.
Silva was a paramedic, and before discovering she was pregnant, exposed herself to x-rays while performing routine duties. At the time, abortion was legal in Chile for “therapeutic” reasons, and doctors encouraged her to end the life within her because her scans showed abnormalities. She was told that her baby had two heads, three arms, and its feet were sort of entangled. Silva said that instead of abortion, she would accept whatever God gave her.
When she delivered on September 10, 1984, two sons came out, and they were identical twins! Felipe was born first, but when Rosa’s placenta would not detach, doctors suggested scraping her womb. She refused, and 17 minutes later, Paulo was born.
“This last detail is very significant for me,” said Fr. Paulo. “The doctors inserted instruments to remove the placenta because it wouldn’t come out. My mother knew that I was there. I was late, but I came out.” Had doctors scraped his mother’s womb, he would likely have been “gravely injured.”
Fr. Paulo told the Catholic News agency, “How can I not defend the God of life? This event strengthened my vocation and gave it a specific vitality, and therefore, I was able to give myself existentially to what I believe.”
He continued, “This last detail is very significant for me, the doctors inserted instruments to remove the placenta because it wouldn’t come out. My mother knew that I was there. I was late, but I came out. Had doctors scraped his mother’s womb, he would likely have been “gravely injured.” Now, Fr. Paulo thinks of his mother with special affection and tenderness because she chose life.
Fr. Felipe said, “The Lord worked and produced a twin pregnancy. I don’t know if the doctors were wrong or what.”
It wasn’t until the twins were in their sixth year of seminary formation that they learned about their mother’s remarkable courage. But they both agreed that is was wise that she decided to wait for the right time to reveal what happened during her pregnancy their delivery.
“It was surely the wisdom of my mother and her heart that allowed us to learn of such an amazing event at the right time,” Fr. Paulo said.
Although the twins grew up in a Catholic family, when they grew older, they drifted away from their faith. But when their parents went through a trying time and got divorced, they went back to the Church. On April 28, 2012, the twins were ordained as priests and celebrated their first Mass at Our Lady of Mercies in Lagunillas.
Their mother’s courage is yet another example of the beautiful gift that can come from what doctors might call an “incompatible with life” pregnancy. If it were up to Rosa’s doctors, her twins would have never been born, and the world would have been without two men who’ve dedicated their life to service.
Who knows that these men might do; they might give a suicidal man hope, give a young person the courage to embrace their calling to go into the priesthood; council a marriage under fire; or impart grace and spiritual wisdom to thousands. The possibilities are endless, because even when the world says “no”, every life matters.