While lamenting the anniversaries of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decisions that mandate legal abortion nationwide, the U.S. bishops announced the launch of a project that aims to mobilize Catholic parishes to help pregnant women in need.
“January 22 marks the sorrowful anniversary of the tragic Supreme Court decisions of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, which legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy,” Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said on January 21.
“The Church will never abandon her efforts to reverse these terrible decisions that have led to the deaths of millions of innocent children and the traumatization of countless women and families.”
The Catholic Church in the U.S. commemorates January 22 as the National Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.
Naumann said the Catholic bishops’ pro-life committee is asking all bishops to invite their parishes to take part in the initiative “Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service.”
“Everyone in the parish community should know where to refer a pregnant woman in need,” the Walking With Moms in Need website says. The initiative was presented to U.S. bishops during their November 2019 plenary meeting.
Observers of the Supreme Court expect significant changes to the 1973 abortion precedents, given recent appointments to the court under President Donald Trump.
Many states have passed restrictions on abortion that face court challenge. The Trump administration and some local states have implemented regulations that hinder or prevent government funding for abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.
A January 2020 Marist Poll sponsored by the Knights of Columbus suggests that most Americans favor returning abortion restrictions to the states or ending legal abortion altogether.
About 65 per cent of registered voters said they are more likely to vote for candidates who would limit abortion to the first three months of pregnancy, at most. At the same time, the survey indicated that 55 per cent of Americans self-identify as pro-choice, while 40 per cent identify as pro-life.
“Most Americans want the court to reinterpret Roe either by stopping legalized abortion or by returning the issue to the states,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus said on January 22.
Naumann reflected on the possibility of changes to the status quo on abortion.
“As the Church and growing numbers of pro-life Americans continue to advocate for women and children in courthouses and legislatures, the Church’s pastoral response is focused on the needs of women facing pregnancies in challenging circumstances,” he said. “While this has long been the case, the pastoral response will soon intensify.”
The Walking With Moms In Need initiative is set to begin March 25 and end March 25, 2021. The initiative is planned around the idea that women can be most effectively reached at the local level.
The year of service, Naumann said, “invites parishes to assess, communicate, and expand resources to expectant mothers within their own communities.”
Project leaders are developing tools for parishes to document local resources for pregnant mothers in need, and will provide ideas to improve parish responses to pregnant mothers and specially written prayers to build “a culture of life and a civilization of love,” the website says.
The project is designed to reflect the teachings of Pope John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical Evangelium vitae as well as Pope Francis’ 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium and his 2015 encyclical Laudato si.
Naumann said he prays that the project “will help us reach every pregnant mother in need, that she may know she can turn to her local Catholic community for help and authentic friendship.”
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