“Saint Pope John Paul II wrote in his letter to the Fourth World Conference on Women of the United Nations, ‘a radical solidarity with women requires that the underlying causes which make a child unwanted be addressed.’ Twenty-five years later, Pope Francis echoed the same sentiment in his 2020 address to the United Nations. Abortion is a brutal result of our failure to care for one another. Building a world in which women are esteemed, children are loved and protected, and men are called to their responsibilities as fathers, requires us to understand and address the complex and tragic tangle of affliction and strife that culminates in the violence of abortion. This is a massive and daunting undertaking.”
— Statement by Archbishop William E. Lori, chairman, USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, from “Building a Culture of Life in a Post-Roe World”
In his statement “Building a Culture of Life in a Post-Roe World,” Archbishop Lori reminds us that the challenge of witnessing to life is not isolated to one moment but recognizes that truly embracing a Catholic pro-life worldview requires we immerse ourselves as disciples in the work of supporting those making critical life decisions. The theme for this year’s Respect Life Month, Called to Serve Moms in Need, reflects that worldview and compels us to tangibly address the underlying causes of abortion in our society, and address them both in terms of material support and advocacy.
Our own Bishop Salvatore R. Matano, in his Aug. 1, 2022, letter to priests and pastoral administrators, wrote: “The good news is that help is often readily available from many compassionate and dedicated people and organizations. But are we effective at communicating that help directly to women in desperate situations? Our parishioners must know the places or resources available to recommend if they encounter a pregnant or parenting woman in need of help, and any mother in need should see and find in our parishes compassionate support and accompaniment.”
Through the Walking with Moms in Need initiative, parishes in our diocese have already begun this important work, forming relationships with resources in the community to provide a personal connection to support women and families in crisis. There are opportunities for more outreach, though, and we hope to bring more parishes on board in the coming year. If your parish would like to be a part of the Walking with Moms in Need initiative, please contact my office or visit www.LifeRoc.org for more information.
Of course, the strength of Catholic teaching is that it consistently upholds life from conception to natural death, which means we can apply the same method of working to address underlying causes of critical life issues to end-of-life concerns as well. In New York state, we continue to see legislative interest in physician-assisted suicide (often referred to as “medical aid in dying”) and even a renewed call for a return of the death penalty. As Catholics and witnesses to life, we must work to raise up the support needed for patients and families who face end-of-life care. We must work as well to address the roots of violence that are being used to justify the death penalty, and to advocate for a justice system that still respects the dignity of all.
In terms of advocacy, we have seen how quickly legislative action can unfold in the past year, including the first vote of the Equal Rights Amendment, which took place during a special session in July. It is critical that our voices are heard in these fast-paced deliberations. We rely on the insights of the New York State Catholic Conference to inform us of these movements so we can quickly call on our representatives. I invite you to sign up for the alerts from the conference, through the Advocacy and Education section of LifeRoc, to receive up-to-the-minute alerts about pressing legislation.
In this coming year, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may we work to support all aspects of life in our communities, to address the root issues that limit the full expression of life, and be fruitful in our witness to the love and mercy of God!
Kilbridge is life-issues coordinator for the Diocese of Rochester.Tags: Life Issues