ROME, MAY 18, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Project Rachel, the U.S.-based initiative that helps women to heal in the aftermath of an abortion, is putting itself at the service of the universal Church.
Founder Victoria Thorn led a training session in Rome today on the teaching tools of Project Rachel. The course was organized by students from the John Paul II Institute in Rome, the Pontifical Lateran University and the Emmanuel Community.
Alejandra Correa, one of the event's organizers, said the goal of the one-day event was to help bring Project Rachel to the heart of the universal Church where it could then be brought to other dioceses. Some 150 people participated in the session.
Thorn, who is also the executive director of the National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing, told ZENIT that the initiative has already been adopted by 170 dioceses in the United States and elsewhere since it began in 1984.
She added that she has been overwhelmed with requests from abroad to help other dioceses set up Project Rachel, including invitations from Uganda, India, Lithuania, Ukraine, New Zealand and the Philippines.
"It just seems like the time is right for it," she said.
The founder added that she considers abortion to be the ultimate spiritual issue for women, and that even those who don't believe in God have the sense they've somehow offended something.
Thorn said that "the Church is uniquely qualified to deal with bringing healing to the millions of women who suffer from the grief and guilt associated with the most common woman's surgical procedure."
With the World Health Organization reporting that there are between 30 and 50 million abortions annually, Thorn said the problem of post-abortion suffering touches everyone, whether they know it or not. As a result, there are a lot of silent, wounded women.
"How can a woman heal if she cannot speak about it?" she asked.
Many women that seek the help of Project Rachel may have had an abortion 20 or 30 years earlier. Thorn explained that an abortion is something a woman never forgets, and that healing is a process.
The founder said that women grieve after an abortion, which is amplified by guilt, isolation and shame: "Even if a woman is forced into an abortion with a gun at her head, a woman will always feel guilty. As a woman, she realizes that her job was to protect her child and she didn't do it.
"She may feel a deep anger at all the pressures in her life that compelled her to abort, but she will not feel entitled to that anger because of what she has done."
Thorn offered this advice for dealing with adamant pro-abortion supporters: "The best thing to do is not to try to win her over with argumentation.
"The best solution is to just listen. Keep asking questions, but listen, because this woman has a need to be heard in order to bring healing to her own life."
In addition to dealing with women, Thorn does not neglect the pain of men involved in abortion. "After all, it takes two parents," she said.
"For men," she explained, "using the model of healing for women will just not work. Men have a different way of dealing with these issues."
Thorn says she is currently working with others to address men's particular needs.