Bishops’ pro-life chair lists 10 ways to build ‘culture of life’ post-Roe

Pro life marchers gather for the March for Life at the nations capitol in Washington DC on the 43rd anniversary of Roe vs Wade January 22 2016 Credit Jeff Bruno CNA 4 11 16 The March for Life in Washington, D.C., January 22, 2016. | Jeff Bruno.

Following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the chair of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities is encouraging his fellow bishops to practice radical solidarity with pregnant women and the unborn — and to remember, in the words of St. Teresa of Calcutta, that “we belong to one another.”

“We cannot pretend to understand what women in all such circumstances are going through,” Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said Tuesday of pregnant women who are struggling. “But this much we do know: They are our sisters. We are their brothers. They are our neighbors, and we are their neighbors. Their distress is our distress, their struggle is our struggle.”

Lori made his remarks while addressing the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ fall general assembly in Baltimore just hours after he was elected its new vice president.

His comments echoed his past statements following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overturn Roe v. Wade in a ruling that frees individual states to decide abortion policy. Since then, Lori has expressed support for a proposed national 15-week abortion ban and has written to members of Congress, along with other bishops, about building a life-affirming society.

“Abortion is a gruesome sign that we have forgotten that we belong to one another,” Lori said Tuesday. “Abortion destroys innocent human life, and it also weakens the fabric of society.”

He went on to share 10 points on building a culture of life from within the Church.

Calling the post-Roe age a “pivotal moment in our culture,” Lori first advised his brother bishops “to take stock.” Some Catholics today, he cautioned, are still “on the fence” when it comes to abortion.

“The demise of Roe was a great victory,” he said. “But it will be a pyrrhic victory if we fail to win the minds and hearts first and foremost of our fellow Catholics.”

For his second point, he highlighted that the bishops cannot win hearts and minds by changing Church teaching. Instead, they must lay open its heart and soul — speaking truthfully and with compassion.

Lori said, next, that for the Catholic bishops to speak credibly in a polarized society, they must eliminate division from within and acknowledge that the Church’s various causes are connected to one another rather than competing in a “zero-sum game.”

Fourth, he emphasized the importance of initiatives like the bishops’ pro-life parish-based ministry Walking with Moms in Need that help unify various ministries while supporting both a mission of service and evangelization.

He also called for active participation in building a world where women are esteemed, children are loved and protected, and men are called to fulfill their responsibilities as husbands and fathers.

For his sixth point, Lori stressed that radical solidarity is key in the public square. And, for his seventh, he said that the bishops’ message and witness to the culture must be that they are making the good of others their own — especially in a fragmented world of angry partisanship.

In another recommendation, he advised that building a culture of life demands speaking forthrightly and bearing witness to the beauty of love and the dignity of every human life. 

The truth must be spoken in love both boldly and clearly, he said next, especially in the face of false and misleading information. 

For his last point, he recognized that the reaction to the overturning of Roe signals that the bishops face a long and difficult struggle ahead. 

“The state referenda held since Dobbs illustrate that,” he said, referring to ballot initiatives to protect and expand abortion that passed across the nation on Election Day.

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He ended by asking for the Holy Spirit’s intercession so that the bishops might speak with one voice and one heart.

“We’re striving to create a society in which abortion and other attacks on innocent human life become more and more unthinkable. Unthinkable because our radical solidarity gives many new hope and because our radical witness makes clearer that killing can never be the solution to our social challenges,” Lori urged.

“This is the message we need clearly to send when we meet with politicians and public officials of every persuasion.”

It’s also the message, he said, that the bishops need to send while leading Catholics in state marches for life as well as the national March for Life. 

“We come not as angry demonstrators with narrow, partisan interests,” he said. “We come rather to bear witness to the beauty of love and life, the preciousness and the inviolable dignity of every human life.”

He encouraged participation in the national March for Life, held every year around the Jan. 22 anniversary of Roe v. Wade in Washington, D.C., to galvanize efforts to protect the unborn at the federal and state levels.

“But even as we seek to win minds and hearts to the cause of life,” he concluded, “so we must continue to strive to win legal protection for the most vulnerable among us, confident that winning for them does not mean losing for others.”

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