BALTIMORE, Md. – The Catholic Church must be ready to act if Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion nationwide, is set aside, said the new chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Pro-Life Activities Committee.
“Yes Roe deer is overturned, the question, as I understand it, comes back to the states and the answer will be uneven, ”Archbishop of Baltimore William E. Lori said on November 17, speaking on the issue of abortion. “Whatever the case, the Church must be there and she must continue to teach with serenity, firmness, consistency and love. “
Archbishop Lori spoke to CNA at the USCCB’s fall annual meeting in Baltimore. His comments came as the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that involves Mississippi law restricting most abortions after 15 weeks. The case calls into question two historic cases: Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which Roe confirmed in 1992.
Yes Roe deer were overthrown, Archbishop Lori envisions that some states would respond by doubling their “protection of so-called abortion rights,” while others would ban abortion.
“If there is an increase in the number of mothers bringing their babies to term, the Church needs to step up and be there,” he said. “Our healthcare establishments must rise to the occasion. Our Catholic charities, our parishes must do it.
Regardless of what happens, he said, “The duty to cherish and nurture human life will always be part of who we are. “
Witness by deeds
Asked about his plans as a pro-life president, Archbishop Lori told CNA that the first priority of any bishop’s committee should be evangelism.
“In this case, it is the gospel of life. Not that there is anything other than a gospel of life, but it wins the minds and hearts of as many as possible, ”he said.
He stressed that, for Catholics, “the means to support the culture of life are very, very accessible and numerous”.
“One important thing, one thing of vital importance, is prayer,” he said, noting the bishops’ discussion on the Eucharist and Eucharistic revival at their assembly. “If we all got down on our knees and asked for the grace to create a culture of life and a civilization of love, as Saint John Paul II taught us, what a difference it would make.
He also encouraged Catholics to “look around and see what is in your community”.
“Is there a pro-life pregnancy center? Can you donate? ” He asked. “Can you volunteer?” Can you sit on your parish pro-life committee? Can you think of going to the Walk for Life in Washington or a local Walk for Life in your own community? “
He added that even something as small as phoning someone confined to the house due to illness or age helps foster a culture of life.
“The little road, as Saint Thérèse showed us, is really the big road”, he said, referring to the approach of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux to accomplish small daily acts with a lot of love. .
Lori explained why he personally identifies as pro-life.
“Not only my Catholic education – and I was very fortunate to have a wonderful Catholic education – but there are many reasons,” he said.
One is her brother with special needs.
“I watched my mom and dad take care of him until they were 90, until they died,” he said. “If I ever needed a living example of what it means to cherish a vulnerable human life and resist throwaway culture, my mom and dad have given me that example in spades and for decades.”
He then highlighted the influence of the Knights of Columbus, the largest Catholic fraternal organization in the world.
“Early in my priesthood, I bonded with the Knights of Columbus,” said Lori, who is the supreme chaplain of the Catholic fellowship organization. “If there has ever been a loyal pro-life organization, it is the Knights.
He also encountered the influence of a mentor: the late Cardinal James Hickey.
“I was fortunate enough to serve directly under Cardinal Hickey of Washington for almost 18 years and he taught me a lot about being pro-life and constantly being pro-life,” he said. -he declares.
“The humanity of the unborn child, but also the love of urban children who are not lucky enough to have a good education, to help the poor, the homeless, to help the homeless. employment and homelessness, then to take care of those who are in the last stages, he has just demonstrated it.
“He simply embraced the faith of the Church and lived it,” he said. “So I saw first-hand what it means to be a pro-life leader in The Church of His Eminence. ”
Walk with moms
Archbishop Lori applauded the Church’s pro-life work through an initiative called Walk with moms in need. The project, carried by the USCCB, encourages Catholics to support and “put themselves in the shoes of” local pregnant women and parents in difficult situations. During the meeting of bishops, Bishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio in the United States, also welcomed the initiative.
The program “helps parishes identify and meet all the needs of mothers and their unborn children, not only during pregnancy, but for years to come,” according to one. declaration by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, Archbishop Lori’s predecessor as president of the USCCB pro-life committee.
Naumann gave a presentation on Walking with Moms in Need at the bishops meeting and acknowledged the importance of Dobbs’ challenge to Roe.
“We are at a great time in our culture’s efforts to restore protection to the unborn child – a great time of opportunity and promise with the Dobbs the case will be heard in a few days, ”he said of the case which will be heard on December 1 and should be decided next summer.
Bishops “must expect an increase in appeals for help and assistance and the Church must be ready to respond,” Archbishop Naumann said. “This will happen in all our dioceses in June with the Dobbs decision.”
He underlined Walking with mothers as a solution that would help the dioceses “to prepare for the day, God willing, when abortion will no longer be the law of our country”, at another time.
But no matter how the courts or legislators treat abortion, Bishop Naumann stressed that “our pastoral response will always remain the same”.
“If the Dobbs decision allows states to better protect unborn children by law, some of our states will benefit from this legal protection, but it will increase the number of women we must be prepared to serve,” he said. declared. . “And in states where this will not happen because the legislator will not take advantage of this opportunity, the only way to save the lives of these children and protect their mothers from the after-effects of abortion is not with the law. , but with love. . “
Archbishop Lori warmly accepted. “Walking with mothers in need is a wonderful expression of the Church’s love not only for the unborn baby, but for the mother who finds herself in a difficult and often desperate situation,” he said. .
He stressed that the Church cares for both the unborn child and its mother.
“One of the big untruths is that we just want children to be born and then forget about them. We don’t, ”he said. “Walking with Moms in Need says we’re going to keep on walking. It is support. It is a true expression of the love of the Church and of the love of the Lord.