If you are pregnant and in need, come to the Catholic Church! That was the message of Cardinal John O’Connor 30 years ago when he founded the Sisters of Life in New York. That community of Catholic nuns were founded to protect and enhance the sanctity of human life. The Sisters today are in the New York metropolitan area, Phoenix, Denver, Philadelphia, Toronto and Washington, D.C.
But they are far from the only resources available to women. There are more than 2,700 pro-life pregnancy care centers in the United States. At the recent U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Kansas City bishop Joseph Naumann, the outgoing chair of the bishops’ pro-life committee, essentially reissued that O’Connor pledge — and urged every Catholic parish in America to step up to the plate. “We’re committed to help women not just through birth, but to thrive and succeed in life,” Naumann said.
It is not the law, but love that will help pregnant and parenting mothers. Do you know what the resources in your community are for women who want support to have their babies? Because if the word isn’t out, our prevailing culture will send women right into the arms of abortion clinics.
The church’s Walking With Moms in Need initiative, launched in March 2020 as the world shut down, takes a divisive issue — abortion — and makes it a catalyst for unity. If you care about women, if you care about social justice, we can rally around women whatever your position on abortion is. Whatever the law is, women need to know what their resources are. The Dobbs case is an opportunity to rally around mothers in a new way, letting all the helps be known.
Walking With Moms in Need began at the 25th anniversary mark of the publication of “The Gospel of Life,” from Pope John Paul II, taking inspiration from its great ideas, which should still challenge us today: “With great openness and courage, we need to question how widespread is the culture of life today among individual Christians, families, groups and communities in our Dioceses. With equal clarity and determination, we must identify the steps we are called to take in order to serve life in all its truth. At the same time, we need to promote a serious and in-depth exchange about basic issues of human life with everyone, including non-believers, in intellectual circles, in the various professional spheres and at the level of people’s everyday life.”
During the Baltimore bishops conference, the bishop of Las Vegas mentioned that his diocese has the Loving Hearts adoption services center. “We are encouraging politicians and all of the community to enter into a rigorous adoption option campaign,” he said.
And the culture of life isn’t just about abortion. There are many children languishing in the foster-care system. This has got to be a part of our pro-life work, as well, Naumann said.
We should be able to reach across parties and denominations. At a recent pro-life vigil outside Manhattan’s Planned Parenthood, an atheist welcomed a Franciscan priest to say a prayer. The pro-life movement can truly be about unity, if people knew we were more about overturning Roe v. Wade. We want that. But even more so, we want to connect with anyone who wants to make “women really have a choice, a choice they can live with,” as Naumann put it. We will enter a season soon that involves a pregnant couple refused a room for childbirth. The Catholic Church has room for you. Our hearts yearn to help you. And we’re doing it, all across the nation.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review magazine and author of the new book “A Year With the Mystics: Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living.” She is also chair of Cardinal Dolan’s pro-life commission in New York.
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