Among the multitude of blogs, articles, and commentaries around the potential reversal of Roe v. Wade, many have discussed the need to step up aid to women with unplanned pregnancies. For example, the New York bishops 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 give you the services and supports you need to carry your baby to term.
“Furthermore, we will not abandon you and your baby after delivery, but, rather, we will see to it that you have the resources that you and your child both need and deserve. No one will be turned away from this life-affirming care.”
The bishops also published a list of what they hope can be achieved:
- a woman is never pressured into an abortion;
- there’s equal access to prenatal care;
- employers and educational institutions fully accommodate the needs of pregnant women
- public policies promote adoption through tax credits and other incentives
- tax policies reduce poverty
- there’s quality healthcare for all
- childcare is affordable and accessible for all
- the responsibilities of fatherhood are promoted
- post-abortive women have the services they need to heal
- religious organizations can provide needed services to pregnant women and moms 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
This statement comes at the same time that pro-abortion protestors are disrupting Masses and vandalizing Catholic property all across the country. This violence results from disinformation about Catholics and abortion.
Combatting Falsehoods with Education
What can we do about it? We can go on a massive, nonviolent, informational offensive. We must fill social media, the news, and our own churches with the truth.
The problem of misinformation and lack of trust in Church teachings about abortion among Catholics was discussed in a previous blog post: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/musingsfromthepew/2021/10/p361/
Part of the reason for this tragic situation is that parish priests are very reluctant to talk about abortion. That reticence has to end and be replaced by education delivered right to the pews. (Another blog post discussed pastoral neglect of the abortion topic: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/musingsfromthepew/2021/10/p436/)
My suggestion is that pastors tell their parishioners, since the abortion issue is so important to our culture and our faith, we need to focus on abortion in a special educational campaign at Mass on Sundays.
There are many well-done 30-second to 5-minute videos available on various aspects of abortion and the needs of women with unplanned pregnancies. Some are in a quick question-and-answer format so that a different problem can be addressed each week.
For those churches that send the children out during the homily, the video can occur then as well. 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 purposely show up late or leave early to avoid these videos, and there are some people who will stop coming to Mass altogether rather than view them. That’s a risk, but if the majority of parishioners see them, that will help.
Once the videos start, word of mouth will probably encourage others to come watch. “It’s not what you think.” “They’re really good.” “I wish I’d known this information before.”
Pro-life Literature, Committees and Culture
In lieu of videos, or to supplement them, the parish needs to have a wealth of brochures, booklets, and recommended reading lists (easily obtained) available for parishioners. The bulletin can have informational inserts.
In addition, the bulletin could have a weekly column highlighting different pro-life organizations. That information could help parishioners learn about the variety of pro-life efforts from diverse groups and maybe join one.
I can hear all the objections about propriety, time, controversy, etc., but if the Church is going to put so much on the line because of this issue, Catholics need to understand why. Guidance is the Church’s role after all.
This education can be the responsibility of the parish pro-life committee to take the burden off the pastor. The committee can likewise spearhead efforts to help the mothers and babies.
This aspect of the endeavor was discussed in my blog post about each parish being 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 others important issues besides abortion and lots of opportunities for corporal works of mercy. However, no other moral issue is tearing apart our country, and our Church, like this one.
We must defend our Church against the violence and disinformation of abortion proponents if we are to achieve the goals of the New York bishops. To do that, Catholics need to be well-versed in and committed to the culture of life.