When the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was handed down, the Church was among the first who were there at the front lines.
Within months after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that legalized abortion on demand, the late Cardinal John J. Carberry formed the first diocesan Pro-Life Committee, right here in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Cardinal Carberry was committed to carrying out the priorities of the bishops in responding to this life issue through four pillars: pastoral care, education, spiritual support and public policy.
Now, 49 years later Roe has been overturned by the high court, thanks be to God. But what has not changed is the Church’s constant support for women and men so that they don’t feel like they have to make the choice of an abortion.
For the past several years, the Church’s national campaign, Walking with Moms in Need, has drawn attention to the resources available to pregnant mothers in need. At a local level, the initiative has helped parishes to communicate the support services available to women who are thinking about whether to carry their child to term.
It bears repeating: Pro-life advocates care about more than unborn lives. Catholic outreach is a prime example.
The pro-life community understands that choosing life isn’t always easy. Facing poverty, abusive relationships and lack of education or employment are among the reasons women seek abortion. It is a complex topic, with complex circumstances.
We’re called to love and support both the unborn child, as well as the mother and father. We must remain committed to building a culture of life from the womb through all stages of life. It isn’t only the loving thing to do, but also empowering when a woman chooses life for her child.
As Catholics, we know that our loving witness is fostered through our love for God. All lives are precious, and we must remain committed to protecting the most vulnerable among us. We must help women who have chosen abortion find healing and reconciliation through post-abortion services.
The dignity of the human person is a central theme that runs throughout Catholic social teaching. This principle asserts human life is sacred and must be preserved from conception through natural death, and that each person possesses a basic dignity that comes from God. Therefore, the test of every institution or policy is whether it enhances or threatens human life and human dignity.
The Supreme Court’s decision is a reminder that the Church will continue to serve the most vulnerable and bear witness to the dignity of every human being.
“The Catholic Church has always proclaimed that every human being, born and unborn, is endowed by our Creator with the right to be protected and cherished,” Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski wrote in a statement. “Therefore, just as before today’s Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe versus Wade, the Church will continue serving those who are most vulnerable and bearing witness to the dignity of every human, regardless of religion, race, age or any other factor.”
We were there 49 years ago. And we will be there for the long haul. As long as it takes to help make abortion unthinkable in our society.