A conversion story that shows the victory of life over death
September is considered the month of spring, flowers and life that overcomes death. At least, that’s what the two facts I rush to narrate attest to.
On the 3rd, Anna Romano, a 35-year-old Italian, received a phone call she had never imagined possible: nothing less than the Pope himself! In June, she had sent him a letter to tell her painful story.
Without much foray, she informed him that she had been abandoned by her boyfriend when she revealed to him that she was pregnant. Aggressive and authoritarian, his answer did not admit retort: to continue together, she should seek a clinic and abort, because, being married, he had a son and did not want to take on another child.
Around 4:00 p.m. on the 3rd, the phone rings at Anna’s house. On the other side of the line, a voice tells him: “Pope Francis wants to talk to you!”. At first, she thought it was hazing, but when the Holy Father told her that she had read her letter, she began to believe, because only her parents and her best friend knew of her drama.
“I was mute, not knowing what to answer,” she explained to a journalist a few days later. “I told her I wanted to baptize my son, but I was afraid, because I’m a single mother and I’d already divorced once. But the Pope answered me that if he did not find a priest to celebrate baptism, he himself was willing to do so. That phone call a few minutes changed my life. The Pope told me that I am brave and strong for deciding to have the baby, even after your father abandoned me. My baby will be born in April and if he is a man, his name will be Francis.”
He added that when the groom asked her to abort, she thought it would be the best solution, because “she felt lonely and unhappy, but now, only the idea of abortion gives me chills. I’m telling my story because I want you to be an example to so many women who feel far from the Church because they’re divorced or because they’ve come up with men who don’t deserve to be parents.”
An abortion with a happy ending, so. Shortly after, on the 20th, there was another victory of life, when the conversion of Antônio Oriente, vice president of the Italian Association of Catholic Gynecologists and Obstetricians, won the headlines in the newspapers. On that date, he was received by Pope Francis, when he gave him the surgical instruments that, for years, he had served to perform thousands of abortions, for the sake of money and for having as an ideal of life – these are his words – “to advance in the career and rise in social class”.
His story began to change from the marriage to Maria Carmela, a pediatrician who, unlike what happened to him, liked children. Perhaps because he continued – as he put it – “by killing the children of others”, the years passed and they could not have children. There were not a few times when, when he got home, the doctor found his wife crying.
One night, he did not have the strength to leave the office, because he “felt destroyed and could not return home like that”. In the early hours of the morning, when they realized the light on, a couple knocked on the door of the clinic, intuiting that the doctor was experiencing some trouble. The couple listened to his story of pain and invited him to attend a prayer meeting. “After that,” Explained Antony, “I began to know a God different from the one I knew. Before, I saw Christianity as an imposition, and hated it. This God was merciful and said to me, ‘Give yourself to me, and all your suffering will disappear.'”
Shortly after her husband’s conversion, Maria Carmela became pregnant. “With this miraculous pregnancy, the sick person ceased to be for me a piece of flesh and became a piece of the flesh of Christ, which I had the privilege of touching with my hands. From this day forward, I dedicated my life to Christ and to life,” Antony added.
Together with the instruments of death, the doctor gave the Pope an image of Our Lady of Luján, Patroness of Argentina, who had been offered to her by a young woman from that country after convincing her not to abort: “Holy Father, I stopped having abortions; now I fight for life.” Upon receiving the surgical supplies, Francis told him: “I will take all this to my room at Casa Santa Marta. Tonight I will pray for you.”
Dom Redovino Rizzardo, cs
Bishop of Dourados (MS)