National Prayer Vigil for Life Opening Mass
Most Reverend Joseph F. Naumann,
Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Washington, D.C., January 23, 2020
Walking with Moms in Need – Year of Service
Also in November, the Bishops enthusiastically embraced an initiative entitled Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service as the most appropriate way to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of The Gospel of Life. Every diocese and every parish in the United States are encouraged to assess the pastoral and practical assistance currently available to pregnant moms and families.
We are also asking dioceses and parishes to evaluate the effectiveness of our communication of available resources to mothers experiencing a difficult pregnancy. The challenges can be immense for women with untimely pregnancies, especially women in poverty. According to statistics from abortion providers, women who choose abortion were poor, young and unmarried: 75% were low income, 60% were in their twenties, and 86% were unmarried. Imagine the adversities these women faced?
Pregnant and parenting moms in need are in our parishes and neighborhoods. While many pregnancy resources are appropriately coordinated at the diocesan or regional level, moms in need are best reached at the local level. We have well over 17, 000 Catholic parishes in the United States. Each parish is best able to identify the local pregnancy help resources that are currently available and to identify the potential gaps.
As Pope Francis reminds us, our parishes are called to be “islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference.” The 25th anniversary of The Gospel of Life gives us a wonderful opportunity to assess, expand and communicate the resources to pregnant moms and families in need. Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service officially commences March 25, 2020. I encourage each of you to help your parish implement this initiative. I also urge you to inquire with your local pregnancy resource center how you can help. Lives that we may not currently be able to protect by the law, we can rescue through love.
Our goal is not only to identify gaps or areas with insufficient resources, but then to take concrete steps to expand the help available to mothers, not only during the pregnancy but for months and even years after the child’s birth. We want to do everything possible to help both mother and child, not only survive but thrive.
In tonight’s Gospel, Mary provides us the perfect example as she travels a long distance over difficult terrain to accompany Elizabeth during the final months of her pregnancy. Each one of us can do something to help women in our communities who have given their Fiat by welcoming the child in their womb.
The Pope Has Our Back
Finally, with fourteen other Bishops from Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska, I met with Pope Francis last week. The Pope began our time together by inviting us to ask him any question, raise any concern and even criticize him. He asked us to be honest with him, otherwise our meeting would be a wasted opportunity. Pope Francis spent nearly three hours with us allowing each of us to speak about whatever was on our heart.
The Holy Father was thrilled when I shared with him about the Walking with Moms in Need Initiative. Pope Francis was delighted about this effort to accompany mothers with difficult pregnancies... The Holy Father asked me to thank especially those who work in our pregnancy resource centers for accompanying women with difficult pregnancies, for being part of these islands of mercy.