Science confirms that the human life of an individual begins at conception and our experience tells us that all human life is precious, fragile and given directly to us as a gift from God. We are brothers and sisters in our human family, made in the image and likeness of God. We are all called to live out our responsibility to protect and care for one another, whether born or unborn.
I wholeheartedly applaud today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court which reverses the grave injustice of 1973, when Roe v. Wade decided that a whole class of human beings, the preborn, are outside the protection of the law and had no constitutional right to life. Since that decision, more than 60 million innocent lives have been sadly ended. Now that Roe is overturned, states will again be able to protect the lives of preborn children and in doing so, also protect millions of women from the tragic consequences of abortion.
The consistent teaching of the Church regarding the intrinsic evil of abortion seeks to secure all other rights as well. We are not a “single issue” Church; there are other extremely important rights that we must defend, to be sure; but these additional rights flow from and are rooted in the fundamental right to life itself.
Now that the bane of Roe has been addressed, we must ensure that the rights of parents and their children are protected so that they may have what they need to prosper with dignity and hope. The Church is redoubling efforts to accompany women and couples who are facing unexpected or difficult pregnancies, offering them loving and compassionate care. The Diocese of Cleveland has developed many ministries to serve expectant mothers who face difficult pregnancies and those who find it difficult to care for their children after they are born. Pregnant women can find help at local pregnancy centers, where they can get information about the pregnancy, undergo an ultrasound and receive assistance during their pregnancy. After birth, there are many resources available from nonprofit groups like the Christ Child Society, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Cleveland and others that can supply infant necessities like layettes, diapers, formula, cribs, strollers and more, as well as follow-up medical and mental health assistance for the mother and baby. And as the baby grows, other agencies like Help Me Grow offer additional assistance, including educational resources. Catholic Charities offers foster care and adoption services, as well. Another rapidly growing initiative is “Walking with Moms in Need,” sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. This parish-based process helps parishioners connect with local mothers facing difficult or challenging pregnancies, identifying local resources and filling the gaps so that pregnant and parenting women receive the material, spiritual, and emotional support they need.
People of faith also offer compassionate care for those women and men who have been affected by a procured abortion in the past. We offer God’s consistent mercy and reconciliation, especially through the Bethesda House of Mercy as well as programs such as Project Rachel and Rachel’s Vineyard, whose ministries offer compassionate accompaniment and healing support.
I know that there are those who will disagree with today’s ruling by the court. I pray for their conversion of heart because this decision is a major step forward in protecting all human life. As people of faith, we must be prepared to be patient with those who will continue to oppose us on this preeminent life issue. In all things, we will continue to proclaim the truth with charity. Let us pray together that God grant us the courage and wisdom to protect the gift of human life from conception to natural death and respect the lives of our brothers and sisters both born and yet to be born with great love. May our faithful witness soften the hearts and minds of those who reject the gift of life in any way. This we pray through Christ, our risen Lord.