Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 19, 2023 / 13:30 pm (CNA).
The United States Catholic bishops are calling on the faithful to embrace “radical solidarity” with mothers who are facing difficult or challenging pregnancies this October, which the Church in the United States has observed as “Respect Life Month” since 1973.
Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge, the chairman of the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, echoed St. John Paul II’s call for “radical solidarity,” which means, according to the bishop, “putting our love for them into action and putting their needs before our own.”
“This new mindset requires that we come alongside vulnerable mothers in profound friendship, compassion, and support for both them and their preborn children,” Burbidge wrote in a statement to Catholics for the 50th anniversary of Respect Life Month.
“It means addressing the fundamental challenges that lead an expectant mother to believe she is unable to welcome the child God has entrusted to her,” Burbidge continued. “This includes collective efforts within our dioceses, parishes, schools, and local communities; engagement in the public square; and pursuit of policies that help support both women and their preborn babies. It all the more so requires our individual, personal commitment to helping mothers in our own communities secure material, emotional, and spiritual support for embracing the gift of life.”
“Radical solidarity,” the bishop said, “means moving beyond the status quo and out of our comfort zones.”
The statement cites Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, which says solidarity “presumes the creation of a new mindset” and does not simply refer to “a few sporadic acts of generosity.”
Burbidge added that although “ending legalized abortion remains our preeminent priority,” it is not enough. Rather, he stressed that “the most immediate way to save babies and mothers from abortion is to thoroughly surround mothers in need with lifegiving support and personal accompaniment.”
The statement encourages Catholics to ask themselves whether they know of efforts in their area to help women who are pregnant or parenting in difficult circumstances, what their gifts and talents are, and how they can adjust their schedule or budget to help mothers in need and their children. It references the “Walking with Moms in Need” parish-based initiatives, which help parishes become welcoming places for mothers facing difficulties, as a possible option to get involved.
“Radical solidarity can be lived out in countless ways, including volunteering at your local pregnancy center; helping an expectant mother find stable housing; babysitting so a mom can work or take classes; providing encouragement and a listening ear to a mom without a support system; or speaking to your pastor about beginning Walking with Moms in Need at your parish,” Burbidge said.
The statement emphasizes that “the transformation of our culture also requires continual conversion of our own hearts, so that we can recognize in every person the face of Christ and place their needs before our own” and that this must be a focus, in addition to promoting pro-life laws and policies.
“This October, I invite all Catholics to think about building a culture of life in terms of radical solidarity,” Burbidge said. “We are the Church. Our prayers, witness, sacrifices, advocacy, and good works are needed now more than ever. We are the hands and feet of Christ in the world today and we each have a personal responsibility to care for one another.”
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