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United States Catholic Bishops' Call for Compassion in Respect Life Month
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Since 1973, the Catholic Church in the United States has designated October as "Respect Life Month." This annual observance serves as a poignant reminder of the Church's commitment to promoting the sanctity of life. In 2023, the United States Catholic bishops are calling on the faithful to embrace "radical solidarity" with mothers facing challenging pregnancies. Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, echoes the call for radical solidarity, urging Catholics to translate their love into action and prioritize the needs of vulnerable mothers and their preborn children.
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Photo credit: Hollie Santos
"Radical solidarity" is not a mere catchphrase; it represents a profound shift in mindset. Bishop Burbidge emphasizes that it entails coming alongside vulnerable mothers with deep friendship, compassion, and unwavering support. It requires addressing the root challenges that lead expectant mothers to believe they cannot welcome the precious gift of life entrusted to them. This transformation demands collective efforts within dioceses, parishes, schools, and local communities. It also necessitates engagement in the public sphere and advocacy for policies that bolster women and their preborn babies. Above all, radical solidarity demands individual commitment to secure material, emotional, and spiritual support for mothers within our own communities.
Bishop Burbidge emphasizes that radical solidarity calls for moving beyond the status quo and stepping out of our comfort zones. It is a clarion call to embrace Pope Francis' notion of solidarity as "the creation of a new mindset." It extends far beyond sporadic acts of generosity, requiring a fundamental shift in perspective and action.
While the Church remains committed to the preeminent goal of ending legalized abortion, Bishop Burbidge underscores that it is not enough. The most immediate way to save both babies and mothers from the tragedy of abortion is to envelop mothers in need with life-giving support and personal accompaniment. This approach acknowledges that addressing the root causes of abortion involves providing holistic care to women facing difficult circumstances.
The statement encourages Catholics to introspect and ask themselves crucial questions: Are there local initiatives in place to assist pregnant or parenting women in challenging situations? What gifts and talents can they offer to help mothers in need and their children? Can they adjust their schedules or budgets to contribute to this cause? The "Walking with Moms in Need" parish-based initiatives are suggested as one way to get involved and create welcoming spaces for mothers facing difficulties.
Bishop Burbidge emphasizes that there are countless ways to live out radical solidarity. This may include volunteering at local pregnancy centers, helping expectant mothers secure stable housing, offering babysitting services to enable mothers to work or attend classes, providing emotional support to those lacking a reliable network, or initiating discussions with pastors about implementing the "Walking with Moms in Need" program at the parish level.
The statement underscores that transforming our culture requires an ongoing conversion of hearts. It urges Catholics to see the face of Christ in every person and prioritize their needs. This spiritual transformation should complement efforts to advocate for pro-life laws and policies.
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