Among the multitude of blogs, articles and commentaries surrounding the potential overthrow of Roe v. Wade, many have discussed the need to step up support for women with unplanned pregnancies. For example, the bishops of New York have pledged:
“Any woman – regardless of age, religious belief or affiliation, marital status or immigration status – who is pregnant and in need can come to the Catholic Church and we will provide you with the services and support you need to carry your baby to term.
“Furthermore, we will not abandon you and your baby after delivery, but rather ensure that you have the resources you and your child need and deserve. No one will be turned away from that care. that affirm life.
The bishops also released a list of what they hope to achieve:
- a woman is never forced to have an abortion;
- there is equal access to prenatal care;
- employers and educational institutions fully meet the needs of pregnant women
- public policies promote adoption through tax credits and other incentives
- tax policies reduce poverty
- there is quality health care for all
- childcare is affordable and accessible to all
- fatherhood responsibilities are promoted
- women after abortion have the services they need to recover
- religious organizations can provide needed services to pregnant women and mothers while remaining true to the tenets of their faith. https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2022/05/new-york-bishops-pledge-support-for-mothers-in-statement-on-abortion
The statement comes just as pro-abortion protesters are disrupting Masses and vandalizing Catholic properties across the country. This violence results from misinformation about Catholics and abortion.
Fighting lies through education
What can we do about it? We can launch a massive, non-violent, informational offensive. It is necessary to fill the social networks, the news, and our own churches with the truth.
The issue of misinformation and lack of faith in Church teachings on abortion among Catholics was addressed in a previous blog post: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/musingsfromthepew/2021/ 10/p361/
Part of the reason for this tragic situation is that priests are very reluctant to talk about abortion. This reluctance must end and be replaced by an education provided directly on the benches. (Another blog post deals with the pastoral neglect of the subject of abortion: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/musingsfromthepew/2021/10/p436/)
My suggestion is that pastors tell their parishioners, since the issue of abortion is so important to our culture and our faith, we need to focus on abortion in a special educational campaign at Sunday Mass.
There are many well-made 30 second to 5 minute videos on various aspects of abortion and the needs of women with unplanned pregnancies. Some are in quick Q&A format so a different problem can be solved each week.
For churches that send children during the homily, the video may also occur at this time. There are many that can be shown even with children present, so just before or just after mass would work too.
I realize that some people will intentionally show up late or leave early to avoid these videos, and some people will stop coming to mass altogether rather than watch them. It’s a risk, but if the majority of the parishioners see them, it will help.
Once the videos are launched, word of mouth will likely entice others to come watch them. “It’s not what you think.” “They are really good.” “I wish I had known this information before.”
Literature, committees and pro-life culture
Instead of videos, or to supplement them, the parish should have a multitude of brochures, booklets and recommended reading lists (easy to obtain) available for parishioners. The newsletter may contain informative inserts.
Additionally, the newsletter could have a weekly column highlighting different pro-life organizations. This information could help parishioners learn about the variety of pro-life efforts of various groups and perhaps join one.
I can hear all the objections about convenience, time, controversy, etc., but if the Church is going to put so much at stake because of this issue, Catholics need to understand why. Guidance is the role of the Church after all.
This education may be the responsibility of the parish pro-life committee to ease the burden on the pastor. The committee can also spearhead efforts to help mothers and babies.
This aspect of the effort was discussed in my blog post about how each parish is a pro-life resource, ready to help women and children in need with material, spiritual, and emotional support. https://www.patheos.com/blogs/musingsfromthepew/2022/01/every-catholic-parish-should-be-a-pro-life-resource/
Yes, there are other important issues besides abortion and many opportunities for corporal works of mercy. However, no other moral issue tears our country and our Church apart like this.
We must defend our Church against violence and misinformation from pro-abortion advocates if we are to achieve the goals of the Bishops of New York. To do this, Catholics must be well acquainted with and committed to the culture of life.