Despite requests by Archbishop Charles Chaput and Priests for Life founder Father Frank Pavone to bury 47 fetuses killed at the Women’s Medical Society led by abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office says the remains “will not be released to any unrelated third party,” said spokesman Jeff Moran in a statement.
The fetuses were held as evidence during the trial of Gosnell and since his conviction May 13 for the murder of three babies born alive in his clinic. He is serving a life sentence without possibility of parole.
Even before the trial began, Archbishop Chaput offered to bury the remains of the aborted babies in an archdiocesan cemetery at the trial’s conclusion. The City of Philadelphia did not respond to the request at that time or since, according to Ken Gavin, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Priests for Life also offered to bury the remains, and was also rebuffed by the Medical Examiner’s Office. Father Pavone led a protest Friday, July 19 in front of the office to pressure it to release the remains to his group, unsuccessfully.
“The remains will be given a proper and respectful disposition by the City in accordance with our standard practices,” Moran said in a statement late Friday. “The Medical Examiner’s Office is in the process of making these arrangements.”
Moran reportedly has indicated the remains would be cremated, but he did not say when cremation would take place nor how the cremated remains would be disposed.
Catholic practice requires cremated remains to be treated with respect due to the human body, and accordingly they should be buried in an appropriate vessel in the ground or in a columbarium facility.
Before his appearance at the Medical Examiner’s Office, Father Pavone issued a statement that said his group and many other pro-life people in the United States “intend to have a public funeral for these babies, and thousands of people have likewise expressed to the Medical Examiner their desire to see this happen.”
Alliance Defending Freedom, a group aligned with Priests for Life on this issue, said in a statement that “proper burial is the right thing to do, for the human dignity of the babies themselves, for the healing of post-abortive women, and for the future and conscience of Philadelphia and the nation. This is what a civilized society does with its dead.”
Help keep Catholic media free, support CatholicPhilly.com
You may have noticed “pay walls” greeting you when you visit the websites of newspapers and magazines, both large and small. These mechanisms allow you to read a few articles for free before you’ve got to pay an annual fee if you want to see more.
You won’t find a pay wall on CatholicPhilly.com because we’re more than a news organization. We’re informing, inspiring and forming readers in the Catholic faith every day through the news, features and commentaries that we post on this site and share across social media.
It costs money to provide high-quality coverage of the local Catholic communities we primarily serve, while also distributing national and world news of interest to Catholics, plus the orthodox teachings of the Catholic faith.
Help us in this mission by making a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Or by credit card here: