Before He Became a Priest He Pushed His Girlfriend Into an Abortion. Now He’s Found Forgiveness

National   |   Sarah Zagorski   |   Sep 16, 2015   |   9:54AM   |   Washington, DC

In New Mexico, Father Stephen Imbarrato served the Archdiocese of Santa Fe for nearly a decade and is now a priest-associate with Priests for Life. However, before he was ordained, he encouraged his girlfriend to have an abortion. In an article in, a worldwide Catholic network, he shared more information about his part in the abortion decision.

He said, “In the 1970s, long before I became a priest, I encouraged my girlfriend to have an abortion. Guilt followed almost immediately as did the confession of our sin to a priest. Our healing came much more slowly and we eventually parted ways.”

He added, “Thirty years later, in the seminary, while counseling a young man about his complicity in his girlfriend’s abortion, I realized I was ‘that man.’ Prudently, I was able to seek out my girlfriend and apologize for hurting her and not being a real man decades before. It was only then that I found out the abortion involved twins. She had held that secret until the day I apologized to her, opening up a flood of grace in her healing process and mine.”

Father Imbarrato said he wanted to share more about his story because of Pope Francis’ recent announcement that people involved in abortions can receive forgiveness from their local priests.

As LifeNews previously reported, the pontiff will be sending “missionaries of mercy” all over the world to forgive and offer reconciliation to those hurting from abortion in 2016. Father Imbarrato believes the Pope’s decision is “right and just” and doesn’t diminish the sin of abortion.

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“These acts of great mercy in no way diminish the Church’s correct and moral teaching that abortion is a very grievous sin. As the Church teaches and has always been the case, all sins are forgivable if one seeks forgiveness and is truly repentant. Pope Francis says as much in his letter allowing all priests to forgive abortions in confession and giving them the faculties to lift any excommunication to ‘those who have procured [abortion] and who, with a contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it,’” he explained.

Earlier this year, the president of Priests for Life Father Frank Pavone said the following about Father Imbarrato after he joined their team: “Father Imbarrato will be a powerful addition to an already powerful Priests for Life team. The growth of this diverse team of leaders over the years has been organic. Leaders have come onto the team after years of collaboration with us and the development of a relationship of communication and trust. The case of Father Imbarrato is no exception. I have known him and worked with him in the pro-life trenches from before he entered the seminary. He thinks clearly about the tragedy of abortion and responds courageously to it.”

Janet Morana, the executive director of Priests for Life and co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, added, “Father Imbarrato’s passion for ending abortion stems from an experience he had as a young man when a girlfriend aborted their twins. His testimony with Silent No More at the March for Life in D.C. in 2004 was the first time a post-abortive dad joined the campaign to say he regretted his lost fatherhood. Many courageous men have followed his example.”

Prior to joining Priests for Life, Father Imbarrato worked diligently to raise awareness about late-term abortion in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he founded Project Defending Life and served as the organization’s director for eight years.