Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, of Kansas City in Kansas and Chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), addressed the body of bishops at the annual November plenary meeting of bishops about the need for improved pastoral responses to women facing unexpected or challenging pregnancies.
“The challenges can be immense for women in difficult or unplanned pregnancies. 75 percent of women who choose abortion are low income,” said Archbishop Naumann. “Pregnant and parenting moms in need are in our parishes and our neighborhoods. Women facing challenging pregnancies should see the Church as a place where they can find help, especially with its myriad of social services and organizations dedicated to meeting the needs of people in crisis,” he continued.
In his invitation to the bishops, Archbishop Naumann shared that well over 150,000 low-income mothers deliver their babies at Catholic hospitals each year and many tens of thousands of pregnant and parenting moms are helped each year through Catholic Charities programs and other help agencies. In addition, thousands of pregnancy care centers staffed by many Catholic volunteers.
Nevertheless, the archbishop noted that there are “gaps,” and “while many pregnancy help resources are appropriately coordinated at the diocesan or regional level, moms in need are best reached at the local level.”
“We have well over 17,000 parishes in the United States. Each parish is best able to identify the local pregnancy help resources that are currently available and to identify potential gaps that need to be addressed. The parish community is uniquely positioned to encourage the collaboration of resources at the local level and to increase awareness of the help available to mothers and families in need,” Archbishop Naumann explained.
To this end, Archbishop Naumann asked the bishops present to invite their parishes to join a nationwide effort from March 25, 2020, to March 25, 2021, entitled: “Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service.”
This Year of Service will coincide with the 25th anniversary of Evangelium Vitae. . . (The Gospel of Life), a landmark encyclical by Pope John Paul II. The Pro-Life Committee is developing educational, pastoral, and action-oriented resources for parish use, including reflections on the teachings of Evangelium Vitae, Evangelii Gaudium. . . , and Laudato Si. . . ; prayers for building a culture of life; tools for documenting an inventory of local resources for pregnant mothers in need; and ideas and support for improving parish responses.