The three-day fall general meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that ended yesterday covered a wide variety of topics facing the Catholic Church in the United States.
The bishops updated their perennial pre-election guide called “Faithful Citizenship,” and they discussed topics ranging from marriage, family life, young people and liturgy to racism, immigration, sexual abuse and social media. The list goes on. It was a full meeting.
While much of the meeting’s business dealt with high-level policy issues, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann offered a proposal for every Catholic — from prelates to people in the pews.
He invited the nation’s bishops to begin an outreach to pregnant women throughout their dioceses. Specifically, he envisions parishes providing aid to women in need.
“Women facing challenging pregnancies should see the church as a place where they can find help, especially with our myriad of social services and organizations dedicated to meeting the needs of people in crisis,” he told his brother bishops on the first day of the fall meeting, Nov. 11.
The “Walking With Moms in Need: A Year of Service” would begin March 25, 2020, which is the 25th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (“The Gospel of Life”).
Citing statistics indicating women who choose abortion tend to be poor and single, he said, “The challenges can be immense for women in difficult pregnancies, especially women in poverty.”
Providing direct and personal assistance could change that. Abortion can be reduced by helping women who are struggling financially and emotionally with the demands of pregnancy and motherhood.
In the Archdiocese of Louisville, there are a variety of organizations doing this kind of work already.
The Record published a story highlighting “Louisville Moms Helping Moms” back in October. These three moms prepare meals and buy groceries and household items for expectant and new moms. They also help the moms get to appointments and, above all, provide emotional support, reported Ruby Thomas in the Oct. 3 issue of The Record.
These moms find out who needs help by word of mouth and through Little Way Pregnancy Resource Center, another organization assisting moms in need.
Outreach to struggling women involves the same kind of simple, but crucial help neighbors used to do for each other, back when everyone knew their neighbors. It’s the work of the domestic church — the little ways moms have accompanied other moms for millenia.
The Moms Helping Moms outreach could be replicated anywhere around the archdiocese — from Jefferson County down to the Tennessee border, with parishioners and non-parishioners alike.
And parishes don’t have to do it alone. Kentucky’s bishops sponsor an annual collection called Opportunities for Life to support women in unplanned pregnancies. The Archdiocese of Louisville’s collection provides grants to groups and organizations that do this kind of outreach.
Catholic Charities, which administers the Opprtunities for Life Fund, has long aided struggling moms through its Mother-Infant care Program and other services.
Outreach to a struggling mom has the potential to bear the fullest fruit — a child born with a future.
Chelsea Pickett, who shared her story with Ruby Thomas last month, is a testament to the saving grace rendered by a mom.
On her way into an abortion clinic, Laura Grijalba offered to take her to get an ultrasound. She also promised to accompany Pickett every step of the way.
Pickett said Grijalba and others who’ve rallied around and supported her have renewed her faith in people.
“I didn’t know so many loving people until I met Laura and the other women. I’d only seen the selfish side of people.”
Archbishop Naumann has called on all of us to show more moms the same selflessness. He joins Pope Francis, who has urged Catholics to meet people on the margins.
Let’s heed that call and open new opportunities for life.