July 18, 2015

Elder Epiphanios Theodoropoulos on Abortion

The Couple Who Sought Permission to Abort

A faithful husband and wife once went to the Elder seeking his advice (they were not his spiritual children). The problem was that the woman was taking strong medication for an illness and during her treatment she became pregnant. The doctor urged her to have an abortion because the child would be born disabled. The Elder told them:

"And why did you come to me? To give you permission to kill?"


"Do you have other children?"

"Yes," they answered. "We have a young boy."

"Is he healthy?" asked the Elder.

"Yes," they responded.

"If, God forbid, your child suffers from hemiplegia or he is struck by a vehicle and is put in a vegetative state, would you kill him?"

"Of course not!"

"Then why do you want to kill the one that is not yet born? Because you have not seen yet or you have not loved the child? This has no significance. This is also your child! Listen: Science is not infallible. Doctors sometimes go overboard. And above doctors is the Creator God. Have trust in Him. I believe the child will not be born disabled, as the doctors say. But even if that happens, glorify God and consider it your cross, which you should bear without complaint, and He will credit your account in Heaven. And when you go there, tell Him: 'Lord, for the sake of the words of Your lips, we kept the difficult paths' (Ps. 16 [17]:4). Do not want to avoid this cross, otherwise a more difficult one awaits you. Have courage. Pray to our Lord. I also will pray and I believe your child will be born healthy. Go with the blessing of the Lord."

Indeed, after a few months a cute and healthy baby girl was born. With tears, the parents informed the Elder, saying:

"We thank you for your support and prayers. The Lord God lives!"

An Unjustifiable Abortion

“Once,” Father himself related, “a mother and her daughter came to the confessional. They started mentioning the reasons why the daughter had an abortion. I listened while anger began to dominate me. I tried to convince them that they could not have done a more dreadful thing than that which they had already done. That they had chosen the worst solution which could have ever been chosen. And that they had committed a murder!

They were unconvinced. At a certain moment, the mother started telling me that they had acted correctly because of their social position and their relations with people of a certain social status would not allow her daughter to give birth to an illegitimate child.

When I saw that instead of becoming humble, they were getting rasher, I shot up. I took off my stole and told them: 'Leave quickly, because if I continue, I will place such a penance upon you that you will jump to the ceiling! Such a penance that no one will be able to loosen it!'

They got up very startled and ran away.”

The Repentant Woman Who Had An Abortion

Once a university student went to confess that she had an abortion in the period during which she was engaged. When she entered the confessional and told Father Epiphanios her sin rather coldly and without feeling its weight, he, to bring her to feeling, told her strictly, without beating around the bush:

“You are a murderess! You killed your own innards!”

She was stunned and started sobbing. When the Elder saw her repentance and that she truly consciously realized her crime, he read the prayer of forgiveness over her and told her with loving care:

“Get up, my daughter, and go with the blessing of Christ and with confidence that God forgave you and delivered your soul from the weight of sin.”

Abortion In Cases of Rape and to Preserve Honor

After the Turks entered Cyprus and the rapes which occurred, the Cypriot Church allowed abortions for these circumstances. So, someone asked the Elder if this was correct or not. And he answered:

“No! It is not correct. If the raped woman was worldly, then no question is posed – she will not ask the Church what to do anyway. If, however, the girl is faithful, then she will keep the fruit of her rape and when she appears before God she will tell Him: 'Lord, for the sake of the words of Your lips, we kept the difficult paths (Ps. 16 [17]:4). That child was my disgrace, my martyrdom, my cross. I kept it and did not transgress Your will.' Think with what boldness such a woman will stand before the Throne of God!”

The questioner then said to the Elder: “What is higher though: life or honor? I think honor. Precisely so, if such a girl can avoid public mockery from the birth of an illegitimate child, it would be good for her to proceed to an abortion.”

The Elder answered: “There is, however, a big difference, which you are not taking into consideration: You do not have the right to keep your honor, taking away the child's life, that is, the life of someone else, as is the conceived embryo. Life and honor can consequently be compared, but only when they coincide within the same person.”

From the book Counsels for Life; The Life and Teachings of Elder Epiphanios Theodoropoulos.