How bishops around the U.S. have responded to Dobbs

Joe Bukuras   By Joe Bukuras for CNA


USCCB Fall Meeting 2021 / CNA

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 25, 2022 / 18:18 pm (CNA).

The Supreme Court on Friday overturned Roe v. Wade in a 6-3 decision, bringing an end to nearly a half-century of nationwide legalized abortion in the U.S.

The June 24 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was welcomed by Catholic bishops across the country.

Below is a selection of episcopal responses:

A statement signed by Bishops Thomas Olmsted and Eduardo Nevares, the apostolic administrator and auxiliary bishop, respectively, of the Diocese of Phoenix, welcomed the decision, saying that “our country has begun to repair the damage done to our nation by the catastrophes of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey—two Court decisions that led to the destruction of more than 60 million lives and confused our nation’s laws and moral conscience.  It is providential that this decision was released on the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.”

The Diocese of Oakland said that “Bishop Barber joins in giving thanks and celebrating today’s ruling by SCOTUS, and notes there is much more to do.”

Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, a cardinal designate, said: “While we celebrate this decision — the culmination of prayer and decades of legislative advocacy, life-affirming events, committing time and resources to pregnancy centers, and walking with families facing an unplanned pregnancy— in many ways, our work has just begun. We must work to ensure that California law protects the rights of the unborn.  And we must emphasize that being pro-life demands more than opposition to abortion. It demands we do everything we can to support families, to provide access to quality healthcare, affordable housing, good jobs and decent housing. It means making sure parents and families have access to affordable childcare, so that being a parent doesn’t force women and families to drop out of school or leave the job market. It also means reinvigorating our adoption system … support for children and families cannot stop at birth.”

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago commented that “We welcome this important ruling and the opportunity it creates for a national conversation on protecting human life in the womb and promoting human dignity at all stages of life. This moment should serve as a turning point in our dialogue about the place an unborn child holds in our nation, about our responsibility to listen to women and support them through pregnancies and after the birth of their children, and about the need to refocus our national priorities to support families, particularly those in need.”

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois said the decision lifts “a cloud that has hung over our country for nearly a half century. There is no way to undo the tragedy of tens of millions of innocent lives lost or the decades of division sown by the Roe v. Wade decision. But, for the sake of future generations, we can now move forward with a more honest debate and efforts to advance policies and support programs that protect innocent life and promote stability and security for vulnerable mothers.”

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas wrote, “I’m overjoyed that the American people can determine what the public policy on abortion will be . . . I’m glad we’re back to where we were pre-1973. But the battle is not over. This is a significant victory, but now each state will have to determine what will be the public policy on abortion.”

Bishops Joseph Kopacz of Jackson and Louis Kihneman of Biloxi wrote that “Today, Lady Justice has turned her attention to the cry of the unborn child hidden in the refuge of his or her mother’s womb. Today, justice has not abandoned that unborn child and his or her capacity to feel pain, but there is still more work to be done. Together with many throughout our country, we join in prayer that states are now able to protect women and children from the injustice of abortion. The Catholic Church has had a vested interest in this matter – the dignity and sanctity of all human life.”

Bishop James Conley of Lincoln wrote, “The fact that this decision was released on the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is no coincidence. Our Lord has given us a great gift from the love of His most sacred heart. We now have to reach out to women and families who find themselves in difficult situations and love them with the heart of Jesus. We need to accompany them with our love and care, welcome them, walk with them and show them that life is good and they are not alone. Praised be Jesus Christ.”

Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark said that the decision “recognizes that even the most helpless and dependent human beings have a right to life and possess inherent dignity and worth … We hope that all Americans can discuss respectfully how best to support women who face crucial decisions while recognizing the dignity of the most vulnerable among us. We agree with the analysis of Pope Francis, who has made it clear that if we fail to protect life, no other rights matter.”

Bishop James Wall of Gallup stated: “We have been praying for this wonderful news for a long time, and today our prayers have been answered.  Praise God!”

Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City said that “The overturning of Roe v. Wade is a defining moment in our lifetime that fixes a legal and moral mistake, which led to decades of emotional distress, tremendous guilt, physical harm and infertility for women, and the unnecessary and cruel deaths of more than 63 million unborn babies who were denied their God-given potential because of poverty, fear or convenience. Women and children deserve better. Mothers who face unexpected or crisis pregnancies need support – financial, spiritual and emotional … We must come together to pray for the grace to deepen our appreciation for the sanctity and value of all human life from conception until natural death.”

Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland in Oregon wrote, “Our goal has never been simply to make abortion illegal. Our goal is to make it unthinkable. Our battle to protect the most fragile and vulnerable of all human life, namely the unborn child, continues on the state level, including here in Oregon.”

Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville called the decision “a welcome step forward toward building a society that truly values and honors human life. Since 1973 the Catholic Church in the United States, together with many other religious and non-religious communities, has publicly expressed its opposition to the Roe v Wade decision. That decision was gravely unjust, and an unprecedented aggression against the life and dignity of the unborn child. It was sweeping in its effects, stripping away all previous legal protections for human life in the womb.”

Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington wrote, “We rejoice in this latest step in our journey, but our work is not done. Locally and nationally, we still have more to do to advance the dignity of human life and to make sure that the full range of life issues are adequately addressed. This includes supporting pregnant women in making life-affirming choices, providing better availability of prenatal and postnatal care for children and their mothers, advocating for affordable child care and safe schools, and advancing policies that support mothers in school and in the workforce. We must also recognize that a life-affirming ethic should also draw attention to a host of other areas that should be of great concern to humanity. This includes revoking the death penalty and caring for the imprisoned; addressing all forms of injustice, including racism; caring for the poor, the sick, elderly, and vulnerable; and advancing a greater recognition of our calling in the entire spectrum of human relationships to be brothers and sisters to one another.”

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  1. All the bishops to date those considered Right or Left, happily give full support to striking down Roe. Bishop Robert McElroy gives the best response, first for clearly expressing approval, “celebrating” the decision, but also for his appeal for the Nation including Catholics to seek to improve the financial et al conditions that make having children less of a difficulty.
    Too many Catholics, traditional or traditionalist tend to dissuade their audience on so called social issues as if living standards, salary, employment compensation are pseudo Marxist socialism. To the contrary, although Pius X seems to radically revise Leo XIIIths Rerum Novarum that doesn’t declare there isn’t such a reality as social justice.

  2. All good comments, but at some point we might also hear that the Dobbs ruling is, also and largely, simply a wakeup call (so to speak) that the post-1960s hookup culture is not legitimized by the United States Constitution… The real “seamless garment” from hookups, to abortions, to LGBTQ accommodation, to gender theory.

    By some accounts, young and unmarried women account for 85 percent of all abortions. Nearly half of these become “revolving door” clients who have had at least one previous abortion. Some 70 percent of all abortions are performed on women in their twenties or even younger. In 1980 teens accounted for 30 percent of all abortions, but this ratio does seem to have improved, partly due to use of the morning-after pill (!)…(I think two source for these data are the National Center for Health Statistics, 2015, and the Center for Disease! Control).

    • At last we have a retrieval, a beginning, of the sanctity of life in a Court opinion that doesn’t address that sanctity. Although, with the increased protection of nascent life, we pray for development of a collective moral conscience that will repair the folly of the Sixties.

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