US bishops respond to Supreme Court arguments in Dobbs v Jackson

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, outgoing chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, presents pro-life initiative Walking with Moms in Need to the U.S. bishops in Baltimore, Nov. 17, 2021. | Screenshot from USCCB video

Catholic leaders offered statements and prayers leading up to and following the oral arguments in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which concerns a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks.

The arguments in favor of the law, heard before the Supreme Court earlier today, directly challenge Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. 

"In the United States, abortion takes the lives of over 600,000 babies every year. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health could change that,” shared Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore in a statement

Lori, who is the chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, prayed for the Supreme Court to “do the right thing and allow states to once again limit or prohibit abortion.” In doing so, he said, the ruling would “protect millions of unborn children and their mothers from this painful, life-destroying act.”

“We invite all people of good will to uphold the dignity of human life by joining us in prayer and fasting for this important case,” he said.

Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing launched a day of prayer and fasting in his diocese while the Supreme Court hears oral arguments. The day includes Eucharistic Adoration, the recitation of the rosary, Mass, and a Chaplet of Divine Mercy at Saint Mary Cathedral in Lansing. All of the events will be livestreamed on the diocese’s YouTube channel

“The campaign to abolish abortion is, at root, a spiritual battle between a civilization of love and a culture of death,” said Jenny Ingles, director of fertility and life ministries for the Diocese of Lansing, in a statement. “Hence we need to employ spiritual means in order to finally prevail and win victory for the unborn, their mothers, fathers, families and the common good of all in the United States.”

According to the statement, Bishop Boyea issued a letter to all priests in the diocese to consider adopting a similar schedule for their parishes. 

Other clerics shared their support and asked for prayers on social media platforms. 

“Please pray for the Supreme Court and for these women who need our love and support,” said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco on Twitter.

Cordileone has been vocal about the right to life of the unborn, calling on the faithful to pray for congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic from his diocese who supports abortion. 

Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence also asked for prayers on his Twitter account. 

“This is a defining moment for our nation,” he said in a Tweet. “Will we continue to destroy innocent unborn children and exploit very vulnerable women, or will we promote an authentic culture of life?” 

Father Dan Beeman, a priest in the Diocese of Richmond, asked for the Supreme Court to “do the right thing and respect every human life” on his Twitter account, invoking the help of the Virgin Mary. 

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Father Steve Pullis, director of evangelization, catechesis, and schools for the Archdiocese of Detroit, stated “End Roe; End Casey. Build a Culture of Life,” on his Twitter account.

On Nov. 18, the USCCB held an ecumenical prayer event to rally the pro-life faithful before the Dobbs oral arguments. The event featured prominent pro-life speakers, including Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas. 

“Our nation stands guilty of not only promoting, endorsing, and enshrining abortion across the land, but we are responsible for exporting abortion throughout the world in a sinister form of colonial imperialism,” said Naumann during the national event. 

Naumann, who was the chair of the USCCB’s pro-life committee prior to the election of Archbishop Lori to the position in 2020, said the faithful need to “pray, fast, and work harder to end this pandemic of child sacrifice.”

Legal experts say the Dobbs v. Jackson case presents an ideal opportunity for the Supreme Court to reconsider previous rulings that upheld legal abortion nationwide. Decisions in high profile cases such as Dobbs tend to come at the end of the Supreme Court’s current term, which could be in late June or early July of 2022.

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