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Priest conceived in rape recounts journey to forgive father
cna ^ | February 18, 2013

Posted on 02/23/2013 8:07:16 AM PST by NYer

CNA STAFF, Feb 18, 2013 / 04:01 pm (CNA).- A priest who was conceived in rape when his mother was only 13 years old is sharing the story of how he met, forgave and heard the confession of his father, who is now living a life of faith.

“I could have ended up in a trash can, but I was allowed to live,” said Father Luis Alfredo Leon Armijos of Loja, Ecuador.

In a Feb. 6 telephone interview with CNA, Fr. Leon, who is pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Loja, said his mother, Maria Eugenia Armijos Romero, was working as a maid to help her parents support their eight children.  

“The owner of the home took advantage of her working alone, raped her and left her pregnant,” he said.

His mother always defended his life, even though she was young and alone, without the support of her family members, who tried to cause an abortion by giving her concoctions to drink and punching her stomach.

“She prayed and felt that the Lord was saying to her in her heart: defend that child that is in you,” Fr. Leon recalled.

The young girl ran away to the city of Cuenca, where she managed to survive on her own. On Oct. 10, 1961, she gave birth to Luis Alfredo.

A short time later, with the help of the baby’s father, she returned to Loja to begin a life as a single mother.

“She ended up under the care of her rapist - my father - who acknowledged I was his and said he would take care of me,” Fr. Leon said, “but that doesn’t mean that things between them were healthy.”

He went on to recount how his father “always visited our home and fulfilled his duty to us. They had three more children, and my relationship with him was distant but pleasant. I respected him a lot, he instilled a sense of authority in me, he was tough with me and he took me to work.”

Fr. Leon encountered Christ through an invitation to the Charismatic Renewal at age 16 and began preaching and teaching catechism “wherever God put me,” whether on the bus or with young people in juvenile detention.

At 18, he felt a call to the priesthood and entered the seminary despite the opposition of his father. He was ordained at the age of 23 with special permission from the bishop.

Two years later, he joined the Neocatechumenal Way, and his mother revealed to him how his birth came about. She had ended her relationship with his father, and this marked the beginning of a journey of reconciliation for them both. Fr. Leon helped his mother understand that she could not hate his father and dealt with his own need to forgive as well.

“God allowed me to be a priest not to judge but to forgive, to be an instrument of his mercy, and I had judged my father a lot,” he said.

Years later, he received a call from his father, who was about to undergo surgery and was afraid. He asked his son to hear his confession and returned to his faith after 30 years of being away from the Eucharist.

“I told him: Dad, you deserve heaven, eternal life,” Fr. Leon said, and “at that moment my father broke down in tears.”

When Fr. Leon preaches to pregnant women undergoing difficulties, he reminds them that just like Jeremiah, God formed their children in the womb as well.

He encourages children to learn how “to see things from the perspective of God’s love” as they come to know their own life story.

“If you are a child or a single mother, you should see how God our Father has cared for you in your life,” he added.

TOPICS: Catholic; Ministry/Outreach; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: abortion; catholicism; forgiveness; life; priest; prolife; rape

1 posted on 02/23/2013 8:07:20 AM PST by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; SumProVita; ...

Powerful witness!

2 posted on 02/23/2013 8:08:19 AM PST by NYer ("Before I formed you in the womb I knew you." --Jeremiah 1:5)
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To: NYer

unquestioning forgiveness is elemental in Ahemsa ~ but not necessarily Christianity. Still this man has arrived at that conclusion on his own ~ so he’s beyond question on that.

3 posted on 02/23/2013 8:11:18 AM PST by muawiyah
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To: NYer
“God allowed me to be a priest not to judge but to forgive, to be an instrument of his mercy, and I had judged my father a lot,” he said.

There is a fundamental error in this statement. Just how does one rightly arrive at the conclusion that forgiveness is needed? Judgement. Blanket forgiveness in the absence of judgement is the acceptance of sin. We are not to blithely accept sin, otherwise we begin to call what is bad, good. Woe unto those who do so, says scripture.

He was called, if indeed he was, both to judge and to forgive, but his forgiveness is important to his salvation alone. Repenting, asking for and receiving forgiveness from God is up to his father, as far as his father's own sins.

4 posted on 02/23/2013 8:32:41 AM PST by RegulatorCountry
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To: RegulatorCountry

The 13 year old girl was raped by a grown man. She had a baby, the rapist supported them both, and she ends up having more children by her rapist??? Something does not add up here.

5 posted on 02/23/2013 8:41:49 AM PST by NKP_Vet
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To: NYer

**Neocatechumenal Way**

Another person and I researched this. This ministry is not totally approved by the church. I would steer clear of it.

6 posted on 02/23/2013 8:52:12 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: NKP_Vet
Aren't we told in the Bible that loving friends is easy, but loving enemies is also required?

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7 posted on 02/23/2013 8:55:07 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: NYer

Wow! I’m totally blown away! What a blessed individual this man is.

8 posted on 02/23/2013 8:59:01 AM PST by Thorliveshere (Tais deau sá taghdedaul!)
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Comment #9 Removed by Moderator

To: Salvation

It used to be the rule that seminaries would only accept men whose parents had been married. That probably started in the Middle Ages to prevent priests from trying to turn their parishes into family possessions by passing it on to an illegitimate son. But I would assume that there was always a procedure for getting a dispensation from the rule in a particular case.

10 posted on 02/23/2013 9:20:33 AM PST by Verginius Rufus
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To: Tzar

When Amnon, son of King David, raped his half-sister Tamar, the honorable thing for him to have done afterwards was to ask for her hand in marriage. Tamar may not have wanted such a husband but the alternative was worse—spending the rest of her life unmarried and dishonored. If Amnon had married Tamar, Absalom, her full brother, may not have felt obligated to murder Amnon.

11 posted on 02/23/2013 9:28:22 AM PST by Verginius Rufus
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To: muawiyah
"unquestioning forgiveness is elemental in Ahemsa ~ but not necessarily Christianity. Still this man has arrived at that conclusion on his own ~ so he’s beyond question on that."

Giving the polite nod to acknowledge your comment but really don't know what the hell your talking about.

12 posted on 02/23/2013 10:00:06 AM PST by gettinolder (Pursue the enemy relentlessly to the limit of every man's endurance.)
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To: NKP_Vet

Waaayyyy different culture down there. The rapist was attracted to her and kept her as a mistress. Women do not have many options and being his mistress was probably one of the few ways the mom saw a chance for survival for her and her son.

13 posted on 02/23/2013 10:02:15 AM PST by rmichaelj
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To: NKP_Vet

A 13 y.o. girl whose family had abused and abandoned her? The rapist has some sense of responsibility, comes and finds here and offers her a home so she and her baby won’t starve. She perhaps feels some gratitude or she consents to further intercourse because what else does she have? The law, the church, her family are not protecting or providing

Captivity, slavery, prostitution, droit du seigneur, rape, taking advantage - a lot of messy blurred lines out there and it’s not always a thing of the distant past. Or very far away.

14 posted on 02/23/2013 10:29:54 AM PST by heartwood
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To: NYer

Parts of this story are very lovely and heart-warming. However, some of it is troubling, at least to me, as a Christian.

For instance, when Fr. Leon says, “God allowed me to be a priest not to judge but to forgive, to be an instrument of his mercy, and I had judged my father a lot,”.

The concept of Biblical forgiveness is always a touchy one because so many people do not understand what Biblical forgiveness is. Often people will quote the passage where Jesus says, “you shall not judge” as meaning that we are never to judge anyone for immoral behavior.

Part of the problem is that English translations do not do justice to the original languages of the New Testament. “Judge” can mean “judging someone else’s eternal destiny”, as in judging who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell. The Bible is clear that only God makes that kind of judgement, because only He knows all the facts and motives of people. Plus, He is the only One to have that kind of authority. This is what Jesus meant when He said in Matthew 7:1, John 6:37, that we are to “judge not”. We do not have God’s authority to judge anyone’s eternal destiny, nor do we have the capacity to see into someone else’s heart and know what their true spiritual condition is.

However, we ARE told to judge wrong from right, moral from immoral, true Christian teaching from heresy, etc. Jesus even gave a clear example of how the church is to handle discipline of an errant member (see Matthew 18). Paul tells the Corinthian church to judge the immoral behavior of one of their members and to remove that member from fellowship with the church until that member repents (see 1 Corinthians 5).

Judging is not to be done with arrogance or with an attitude of superiority, because we all sin and we have all received God’s gracious gift of mercy and forgiveness because of the sacrifice of His Son in our behalf. But, judging here means “correcting”, “rebuking”, “discipling” to bring another to repentance who is going the wrong way.

Therefore, I must respectfully disagree with Fr. Leon. It is indeed part of his calling as a church leader to not only present God’s forgiveness and mercy, but to also teach what is right and wrong and to determine (judge) as best he can, using the Bible as our teacher, to declare what is immoral and sinful in order to warn others of the consequences of sin and immorality. To warn them to change their lives and to conform to God’s standards.

Re: “I told him: Dad, you deserve heaven, eternal life,” Fr. Leon said, and “at that moment my father broke down in tears.”

Here is another troubling idea - that we, as sinful human beings, “deserve heaven and eternal life”. The Bible makes clear that none of us deserves forgiveness, Heaven, or eternal life, and that God would be perfectly just in allowing all of us to be condemned to death and hell. There is nothing righteousness enough in us to demand that God do anything in our behalf.

If Fr. Leon had told his father that because of God’s mercy extended to us through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, who took our punishment on the cross and died the death we all deserved - that he could know God’s forgiveness and mercy by acknowledging his sin to God and receiving God’s gift of forgiveness and eternal life in faith, and turning away from a life of sin to obedience to Christ by God’s Spirit, then his father would one day enjoy fellowship with God in Heaven. That is what should have been told his father.

Fr. Leon’s mother’s courage is commendable in not allowing her son to be aborted and that she was able to one day forgive her rapist.

Which brings me to the other point I wanted to make - what is “forgiveness”? Too many today think that forgiveness means forgiving someone even though they have never acknowledged their sin against you, never asked for forgiveness, and, even if someone does ask for forgiveness that that means “forgiving means forgetting” and acting as though it never happened. That latter idea is often justified by quoting where it says in the Bible that God removes our sin from us as “far as east is from the west”.

Jesus clearly teaches that because God has forgiven us, we must be willing to forgive others who sin against us, too. What about those who never ask for forgiveness? Does God forgive those who never acknowledge their sin against Him and never ask forgiveness? NO! Does God expect us to do something He isn’t willing to do? Obviously not.

Jesus tells us that we must be WILLING to forgive, just as God is willing to forgive us. As to those who never ask forgiveness of us, I think we can still “forgive” them in the sense that we let go of the hurt they’ve done us, let go of our anger and bitterness toward them. Forgiveness in the sense that a relationship has been restored is not possible if only one party is extending the willingness to forgive, but the offending party never asks nor acknowledges their sin against you.

Forgiving also does not mean “forgetting”. If a pedophile acknowledges their sin against you (or to a church) and asks for forgiveness - Jesus says we need to forgive that person. But, does that mean we put that person in charge of children? Do we allow that person to babysit our kids?? Of course not. There are consequences of our sins that cannot be eradicated in this life. King David, though he acknowledged his sin against God and Uriah (the husband of Bathsheba) in his adultery with Uriah’s wife, and that he had Uriah murdered, God did forgive him, but there were still consequences of that sin that followed David the rest of his life.

Just my thoughts for what their worth.

15 posted on 02/23/2013 10:34:38 AM PST by rusty schucklefurd
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