While Christian leaders continue to celebrate the overturning of Roe v. Wade this past June, they acknowledge there is still work to be done to empower and support pregnant women and the babies they deliver.
The new head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Michael Burbidge, said the pro-life movement will have to adjust its strategies in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which struck down the landmark abortion ruling Roe v. Wade.
On the second day of the USCCB’s 2022 Fall General Assembly this past week in Baltimore, Maryland, Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, noted there are “so many ministries” within the Catholic Church that are “helping our brothers and sisters at every stage of life that are asking for support and help.”
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Burbidge was clear the work is not finished in the wake of the Dobbs decision.
“I think we have to continue to educate,” he said at the conference.
“We have to continue to do advocacy and witnessing. But service is at the heart of what being pro-life is — and we do that at every stage, from mothers in crisis pregnancies [to] mothers in need [and] protecting the unborn.”
As the individual states now grapple with the abortion issue, Burbidge said he is facing a unique challenge compared to past chairmen of the pro-life committee.
States such as New York, Michigan and California guarantee access to abortion in their state laws. Other states have moved or are moving to restrict the procedure.
Burbidge said he believes his role is to “provide resources for people who are out in the field,” including his brother bishops, pro-life directors at the local level and ordinary laypersons.
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“And so our job is [to say], ‘Hey, listen, let’s make sure you know what’s at stake in your local state right now, and here are some resources that will help you to engage with elected officials and to inspire your neighbors and your family members to be part of this issue.'”
Kat Talalas, associate director of pro-life communications at USCCB, told Fox News Digital that the Dobbs decision was “a great moral and spiritual victory of our time” — and that “we praise God for the fruit borne of the prayers and sacrifices of millions of faithful pro-lifers.”
She added, “The Catholic Church will continue to advocate for the protection of human life at the federal and state level, expand education [about] the extreme cruelty of pro-abortion legislation and proclaim the value of every human life.”
The Church, she explained, is the “largest provider of social services outside the government,” and is “poised to support women in need all over the United States.”
In addition to religious orders such as the Sisters of Life, Catholic hospitals and Church-affiliated pregnancy care centers, the USCCB sponsors parish ministry called “Walking with Moms in Need,” said Talalas.
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“The Church also continues to extend Christ’s mercy to men and women who have been wounded by abortion through the confidential and compassionate help of Project Rachel Ministry,” she said, referencing the Catholic Church ministry that helps those who have been involved in abortion.
Burbidge was elected chairman on Wednesday, Nov. 16, after Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore vacated the role.
This past week, Lori was also elected vice president of the USCCB. In a presentation to the assembly, he spoke candidly about the reality of abortion, calling it a “gruesome sign that we have forgotten that we belong together.”
“We are bound to these women and their unborn children by bonds of a common humanity, by bonds of radical solidarity,” he said.
“Abortion destroys innocent human life, and it also weakens the fabric of society,” said Lori. “It weakens the sense that we are all brothers and sisters.”
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Lori said that while the overturning of Roe v. Wade was a “great victory,” it would be a “pyrrhic victory” if hearts and minds are not changed on the issue of abortion.
“Our Catholic schools are doing heroic work in educating the poor, our Catholic charities are doing heroic work in assisting the poor. Our conference, and our state Catholic conferences, are voices for justice and peace,” he said.
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But still, “we have more work to do” in sharing Church teachings on abortion — and particularly about educating Catholics who consider themselves to be pro-choice.
“We must not hesitate to engage our fellow Catholics, and encourage them to be closer to the mind and heart of the Church,” he said.
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Lori said the Church will win hearts and minds “by laying open its heart and its soul” — and by sharing and honoring “the innate dignity of both mother and child and our radical solidarity with one another.”
In essence, he said the Church must do more to assist mothers not only during pregnancy and birth, but afterward — and help in providing for them and their child’s needs.
This, Lori explained, would enable the Church to “speak credibly in a polarized society” on the issue of life.
“We must continue our hard work of lessening, even eliminating, any divisions, either in our conference or in our dioceses, between our pro-life advocacy on the one hand and our ministries of charity and justice on the other,” he said.
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He also said the Church can’t ignore the issues that push women toward abortion, said Lori.
He said that “radical solidarity with mothers and their pre-born children calls us to move beyond stale debates and harmful divisions within our own ministries.”
“Now is the time to move ahead in baring a robust and united witness to the truth, beauty and inviolable dignity of human life at every stage,” he said.
“Our commitment to the sanctity of life from the moment of conception is in full accord with our commitment to serve the poor, to welcome the stranger, to work for juvenile justice reform or to end capital punishment,” he also said.