Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 16, 2022 / 03:00 am (CNA).
A Texas bishop emeritus is calling on his fellow Catholic bishops — and all pro-life Americans — to take action against pro-abortion policy in favor of pro-life measures that support women and the unborn.
“Our own president is considering declaring abortion a public health emergency,” Bishop Michael D. Pfeifer, bishop emeritus of San Angelo, wrote in a July pastoral statement. “The speaker of the house is trying to enshrine abortion on demand in federal law.”
He urged: “We bishops and all pro-lifers must send an unmistakable message to these pro-abortion leaders that we will never let these horrible death plans be enacted.”
After signing an executive order to protect abortion, President Joe Biden revealed July 10 that he is debating whether to declare abortion access a “public health emergency.” At the same time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has worked to advance radical pro-abortion legislation such as the Women’s Health Protection Act.
Both Biden and Pelosi are Catholic and support abortion, contrary to the Catholic Church’s position that human life has inherent dignity and worth from the moment of conception.
“As shepherds of our people in the U.S.A., we are deeply disturbed that our president has chosen to use his power as the nation’s chief executive to promote and facilitate and even codify abortion in our country,” Pfeifer wrote. “We pray and encourage our president and his supporters to increase support to care for mothers and babies rather than seeking to facilitate [the] destruction of defenseless and voiceless human beings.”
Pfeifer, who was bishop of San Angelo from 1985 to 2013, largely responded to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, in his latest statement. The decision leaves abortion policy up to each individual state.
“We rejoice with gratitude to God that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade and in so doing, has implicitly recognized that the unborn are persons,” he wrote. “We are now experiencing a truly historic victory for human life.”
He emphasized the tragedy of Roe, which he identified as an “unjust law.”
“This policy has resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of preborn children who were denied the right to even be born,” he said. “We bishops mourn the loss of these precious little ones whose lives have been taken since 1973 through brutal abortion while expressing our closeness to every woman and man who has suffered grievously from abortion.”
Following Roe, Pfeifer outlined three courses of action for his fellow Catholic bishops and priests to pursue: supporting their flock in pro-life advocacy, holding politicians accountable on abortion, and supporting pregnant women in need.
“I am encouraging all my brother bishops to speak out more clearly and strongly to give guidance to our people, … encouraging them to pray more frequently and to become more actively involved in addressing the abortion issue, especially in states that approve abortion,” he told CNA.
He added that he especially encouraged his brother bishops to contact Biden, Pelosi, and other elected officials to urge them to “not enact any laws or policies that would promote abortion.”
At the same time, he stressed the need to support and walk with pregnant women in difficult situations.
“I encourage all of our priests at a parish level to provide assistance for women who are pregnant and especially contemplating abortion,” he said, “like offering them financial assistance, especially having mothers visit these women, praying with them, offering to help them with their many household needs and providing resources within their community.”
In his pastoral statement, Pfeifer called on pro-lifers in general to speak out in defense of the personhood of the unborn. The pro-life movement, beginning with the bishops, he added, should also show more concern for women who are struggling with a pregnancy issue.
“Personhood of the unborn is the fundamental issue along with the true meaning of motherhood as the abortion discussion continues,” he said.
He also called on dioceses to unite in pro-life advocacy.
“Every diocese should bring together our people at a parish level, to service God’s great plan of love for each unborn and born person,” he wrote. “And, for families and to build a society and an economy that supports marriages and families where every woman has the support and resources she needs to bring her child into this world in love.”
In particular, he asked pro-lifers to support pregnancy-resource centers that help both mothers and children in need and to get involved politically.
“All pro-lifers need to work with governors and elected officials of each state to enact legislation that will provide financial, social, human support for all women during pregnancy, covering hospital costs, and providing the necessary health, financial, and educational assistance for each newborn child throughout childhood,” he added.
He pointed to Texas, which passed a “heartbeat” abortion ban while, at the same time, provided millions of dollars in assistance to mothers and children in need.
Pfeifer emphasized that science supports Catholic teaching on human life.
“That the precious unborn children of God are truly human beings, persons, has been our Catholic belief for ages, and recently scientific technology has over and over confirmed our belief that a new human being begins at conception,” Pfeifer wrote.
The unborn child in the womb has its own, unique DNA — and an eternal soul, he wrote.
“This little one shouts out, ‘I am fearfully, wonderfully made,’” he said, citing Psalm 139.
“May we commit ourselves to Christ and his mother with urgent prayer, fasting, dialogue, and pastoral action so that our country and every state will uphold the dignity of each unborn child,” he concluded, before adding in all caps: “THE UNBORN ARE COUNTING ON US.”
Read the full text of the bishop emeritus’ pastoral letter below.
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