As Dobbs Decision Approaches, US Bishops Urge Church to ‘Walk with Moms in Need’

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The US Bishops’ initiative Walking with Moms in Need was launched in early 2020. Within weeks, it was largely hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, with the possibility of the Supreme Court overturning Roe vs. Wadethe program is gaining momentum in dioceses and parishes across the country.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has called on Catholics to “walk in the shoes” of local mothers in need. This means offering them direct assistance or cataloging them and referring them to services to help them during pregnancy and the toddlers of their child.

“The COVID shutdown has slowed the effort, but we’re coming back strong,” Therese Stahl, life and family evangelism director for the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois, told Our Sunday Visitor. “We encourage parishes to participate.

This means that every parish in the country should collect and distribute detailed lists of all the services available for mothers in need in their area. The prospect of a U.S. Supreme Court reversal Roe vs. Wade in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization the case portends increased demand for services.

“Everyone Should Know”

Catholic churches and related organizations at local and diocesan levels provided assistance to pregnant women in need for as long as possible. Roe vs. Wade resisted, contradicting the creed of abortion advocates who claim that proponents of life don’t care about mother and baby after the child is born.

The Bishops launched the Walking with Mums in Need initiative saying, “Everyone should know how to help mums in difficult circumstances.”

“Without trying to turn Catholic parishes into pregnancy centers, we can support local pregnancy centers where they exist, and we can also find and share other resources with pregnant women and mothers,” the Bishops announced. in 2020. “And where there are few local resources, we can create our own, based on donations from the parish community.

WEBSITE

For more resources on how parishes and dioceses can help mothers in need, and to stay up to date with the program, visit walkingwithmoms.com.

Stahl said the initiative “encourages each parish to assess the gaps to determine what is missing.”

Stahl and other leaders told Our Sunday Visitor they can provide for mothers and children by helping them find essentials such as diapers, formula, cribs; housing and material support such as rent, utility payments, food; mental and spiritual health services; and medical care.

Susana Morones, outreach provider at St. John Neumann Church in St. Charles, Illinois, said efforts to support mothers in need “are not a one-time approach, but we walk with them on their journey.” when they are pregnant. ”

“Respected, loved and supported”

Keri Ninness leads the Walking with Moms in Need initiative at St. Joseph’s Church in Marietta, Georgia.

“It’s a call to arms. … We have to put our money where our mouth is,” she told Our Sunday Visitor. “Now what? The baby is saved and born. We need to provide mom and baby services like babysitting, formula, maybe adoption planning, housing and more. Whatever the need, we accompany you and we will help you.

Ninness parish’s response to the call to participate in the initiative “is beyond anything I can dream of”, she said. “Families jumped in to help. … We have a thriving life ministry. These parishioners prayed for this (stunning deer) and provided prayer in action. Now we go to the next step. »

“We understand that when a woman is faced with an unplanned pregnancy, it’s anything but simple, it’s anything but easy. It’s hard, and it’s complex. We want women to feel respected, loved and supported.

“Knowing These Mothers”

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore praised Walking with Moms in Need at this year’s National Prayer for Life Vigil at the National Shrine Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

“This parish ministry helps open the eyes of parishioners to pregnant and parenting mothers in their local communities,” he said. “It allows parishioners to get to know these mothers, to listen to them and, along the way, to help them obtain the necessities of life for themselves and their children, including medical care as well as emotional and Walking with mothers in need is a way to help millions of mothers. It is also a way for parishes to respond to Pope Francis’ challenge to be “islands of mercy in a sea of ​​indifference “.

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Pope Saint John Paul II Evangelium Vitae, Pope Francis in 2020 reminded Catholics of his teaching that “every human life, unique and irreplaceable, has value in itself; it is invaluable. It must always be proclaimed anew with the courage of the Word and the courage of actions. It calls us to solidarity and brotherly love for the great human family and for each of its members.

“I want moms to flourish”

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz of the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi, considers Walking With Moms in Need the top priority in the diocese where the Dobbs case emanated, Charlene G. Bearden, coordinator of the Office of the Ministry of Family and Respect for Life, told Our Sunday Visitor.

In May 2020, the diocese launched its effort with 76 pages of “resources for anything that might be helpful, listed by parish and city,” Beardon said. “But COVID restrictions have forced everything to shut down and close. Right now it is revived, and it is extremely needed now. Bishop Kopacz asked us to get as much support as possible and probably more now with this decision (Dobbs).”

The Knights of Columbus has “strongly supported our pro-life and respect-life efforts, going so far as raising funds for a new ultrasound machine for Catholic Charities that offers the only residential treatment program in Mississippi to support mothers. and the child. It’s amazing what needs to be done – has been done and is being done.

Helping pregnant women in need and their babies has been ongoing for several years in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis through its Community Caring for Life initiative, which “brings together resources for women who are struggling to choose life because their situation is so difficult”. terrible,” Jean Stolpestad, director of Marriage, Family and Life, told Our Sunday Visitor.

Through its Life Fund ministry, the archdiocese “provides emergency money and simply writes a check for rent, gas, a crib and all that goes with it” to mothers and babies in the need. Financial assistance continues until infancy, when other services become available.

Stolpestad called Minnesota an “abortion sanctuary state” where state law endorses abortion by choice, another hurdle for Walking With Moms in Need to overcome.

“We want to support moms because they will support the child,” Stolpestad said. “I want mum to thrive so she can thrive as a mother; if mom is strong, growing and happy, then the child will be too.

Joseph R. LaPlante writes from Rhode Island.

Martha J. Finley