The Rev. Frank Pavone of the anti-abortion group Priests for Life dedicated a basket of naming certificates for 47 babies who died in the Philadelphia clinic of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. RNS photo courtesy Andre Kim/Priests for Life.

The Rev. Frank Pavone of the anti-abortion group Priests for Life dedicated a basket of naming certificates for 47 babies who died in the Philadelphia clinic of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. RNS photo courtesy Andre Kim/Priests for Life.


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(RNS) Despite repeated requests from religious leaders and anti-abortion activists, city officials in Philadelphia plan to cremate and bury the 47 bodies from abortion provider Kermit Gosnell’s case.

In May, Gosnell was convicted on three counts of first-degree murder. He waived his rights to appeal but has 30 days to reconsider his decision.

Once the appeal period is over, on Saturday (June 15), the city will follow its normal procedures by conducting cremation and burial, city spokesman Mark McDonald said. McDonald did not have information on when it would take place.

After Gosnell’s arrest in 2011, then-Archbishop Cardinal Justin Rigali petitioned the district attorney’s office for the bodies of those aborted. The bodies were being retained for the trial, but after it ended and Gosnell was sentenced to life in prison, Rigali’s successor, Archbishop Charles Chaput, renewed the request to bury the bodies.

Francis Maier, special assistant to Chaput, said no city officials contacted the archdiocese with a status on what they planned to do with the bodies. Maier said officials in the DA’s office and medical examiner’s office have not responded, but he assumes someone will.

“I’m in the dark about what’s going on,” he said. “We’ve repeatedly tried to no avail.”

The case drew attention from across the country with the gritty details about Gosnell’s clinic. Investigators found bodies stuffed in cat litter, bags, boxes and juice containers. Prosecutors charged that Gosnell would routinely perform late-term abortions and use scissors to puncture the spines of babies born alive.

The Rev. Frank Pavone, a Catholic priest who heads New York-based Priests for Life and who was also among those requesting the bodies, performed a service in May to give proper names to the dead babies.

7 Comments

  1. What’s the difference, dead is dead, over is over, gone is gone. Religious (spiritual) considerations would be varied if at all genuine and should be private. In the case of these fetuses, hardly fully developed persons, horrible as Gosnell’s unethical and criminal participation might have been, the “parents” no doubt had no more concern than Gosnell. Genuine grief does not extend beyond that, and religious expressions should only be those of the “families” if they have any grief. Churches are only trying to expand it into a community affair as part of their evangelization. That cheapens religion and evangelization.

  2. For that matter, concerning Cardinal Rigali’s participation, it’s too bad he wasn’t as serious about the sexual abuse of clergy in his diocese as is attempted by his successor’s interference for attention, for religious sensationalism.

  3. What a shamefull decision!! The state and city knew for years what was going on with Gosnell and sat by. These babies had to be killed! That to me denotes that they were alive, able to sustain life outside of the womb. Not to give them the consideration of a proper burial is the same as Gosnell, he’ll be buried properly, and he should be he is a human being. So are these babies, not fetesus but babies! SHAME ON YOU. Philadelphia.

    • “Elizabeth” must have been there to know so much about the developmental status of those aborted fetuses. Some good biology lessons are in order to learn the difference between a fetus and a baby. Gosnell was wrong, bad, in many ways, but we must not go to other extremes in defending religious beliefs. Did Rigali or Chaput determine if the parents of the aborted fetuses were Catholics. If not, then all their noise is nothing but an exploitation of sad and disgraceful events to promote, even force, their religious agenda on others, on the public at large. It’s part of their theological politics.

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