In anticipation of Respect Life Month in October, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore is encouraging Catholics to practice “radical solidarity and unconditional love” for pregnant and parenting mothers.
In a new statement issued Wednesday, Lori, the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, called the Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade an “answer to prayer” — and an opportunity to build a culture of life.
The decision that leaves abortion up to the states ended the court’s “nearly fifty-year nationwide regime of abortion on demand,” Lori stressed.
He called it a “victory for justice, the rule of law, and self-governance” as well as a “time for a renewal and rededication of our efforts to build a culture of life and civilization of love.”
“Justice is, of course, essential to this end. But it is not sufficient,” he commented. “To build a world in which all are welcome requires not only justice, but compassion, healing, and above all, unconditional love.”
In a post-Roe world, he called on the faithful to “shift the paradigm” to what St. John Paul II described as “radical solidarity” — or “making the good of others our own good, including especially mothers, babies (born and preborn), and families throughout the entire human lifespan.”
Lori added: “It is a call to friendship and compassion rooted in the truth that we are made to love our neighbor as ourselves.”
To practice radical solidarity and unconditional love, the bishop called on the faithful to take certain steps.
“First, by speaking the truth that abortion not only unjustly kills a preborn child, but also gravely wounds women, men, families, and the nation as a whole,” he wrote. “We must speak these truths with compassion, and we must live these truths with compassion.”
Next, he asked the faithful to have the “courage to love — to act and bear witness by caring for the least among us, without condition or expectation of recompense.”
Lori pointed to the work that Catholics are already doing on a personal level to help those in need.
“Many are engaged in parish and community initiatives such as pregnancy resource centers, post-abortion counseling and more recently Walking with Moms in Need,” he said, referring to the USCCB’s parish-based pro-life ministry.
On a larger level, he recognized the Catholic Church as the largest charitable provider of social services to women, children, and families in the United States.
“Catholics have already done much at both the institutional and personal level to help address the problems of poverty, healthcare, education, housing, employment, addiction, criminal justice, domestic violence, and the like that push women towards abortion,” he confimed. “Our Church understands that parents, children, and families need help not just during pregnancy, but throughout the whole of life’s journey because millions of Catholics already accompany their neighbors in such circumstances.”
That includes, he said, accompanying parents during adoption or offering mercy and healing to women and men suffering after abortion.
He concluded by calling for a “new politics” through radical solidarity.
“Those who disagree on the morality or justice of abortion should nonetheless come together to pursue common-ground solutions to provide care and support to mothers, children, and families in need,” he wrote. “Public officials can stake out new ground, to move beyond the political divisions of Left and Right and build a new coalition of people of good will that will focus on the best outcomes for those in need by whatever means — public or private — that prove to be most effective.”
He emphasized that “we belong to each other, and each of us was made for love and friendship.”
“Accordingly, we must live and act in radical solidarity with mothers, children, and families in need,” he urged. “That means doing whatever we can through law, policy, politics, and culture to provide them with the care and support necessary for their flourishing throughout the entire arc of life’s journey.”
“Through our collective and individual actions, we can build a culture of life and civilization of love in America,” he added. “Let us begin.”
In November, Lori told CNA that if the overturning of Roe translated into an increase of mothers giving birth, the Church must “step up to the plate and be there,” with its Catholic health care institutions, Catholic charities, and Catholic parishes.
For Catholics, he said, “The duty to cherish and foster human life is always going to be part of who we are.”