When the U.S. bishops hold their annual meeting in Baltimore next week, one item on the agenda will be approval of the new Order for the Blessing of the Child in the Womb.
The blessing, according to the USCCB, “was prepared to support parents awaiting the birth of their child, to encourage in the parish prayers for and recognition of the gift of the child in the womb, and to foster respect for human life within society.” If approved by the bishops, the Blessing of the Child in the Womb will be incorporated into the Book of Blessings.
It couldn’t come at a better time.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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The election of Barack Obama sets the stage for a series of potential executive and congressional acts that could remove all the limits set on abortion since the Roe v. Wade decision. The most pernicious of these is the “Freedom of Choice Act,” which Obama has promised will be the first bill he signs into law as president.
It is estimated that FOCA alone would result in 125,000 more abortions a year in the United States. That figure does not take into account other measures, such as Obama’s pledge not to renew the Mexico City Policy and to repeal the Hyde amendment. As a result of Obama’s victory, there will not only be hundreds of thousands of additional abortions, but American taxpayers will be paying for them.
Polls of Catholic voters prior to the election suggested that Obama might win a majority of self-identified Catholic voters. A more significant measure of Obama’s Catholic support will be the percentage of regular Mass-attending Catholics who voted for him.
But regardless of the final statistics, it is clear that the Obama-Biden ticket received substantial help from Catholics working for parishes and chanceries, as well as a number of high-profile Catholic politicians and jurists. They successfully promoted the flaws of “Faithful Citizenship” to Catholics nationwide, neutralizing any advantage the Church’s pro-life and pro-marriage teachings might offer to McCain-Palin.
“Faithful Citizenship” stated that, under certain circumstances, a Catholic could in good conscience vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights for “other grave reasons” as long as they do not intend to support that position (34-35).
It’s a strange argument that allows Catholics to send a politician with an undeniably extreme abortion record into the Oval Office and yet somehow bear no responsibility for what happens to unborn children as a result. One can only wonder what “grave reasons” the bishops could have had in mind that would outweigh the 4,000 unborn children who are aborted each day.
Many bishops — including Bishops Vann, Farrell, Vasa, Martino, and Chaput — stepped forward in the last months to correct misinterpretations of “Faithful Citizenship,” but it was too late. History will show that Catholics helped to vote into office a president whose record contradicts our most fundamental moral belief — the sanctity of human life.
When the bishops meet next week and approve the Blessing of the Child in the Womb, just as important will be the steps they take in convincing the president-elect to change his mind about the Freedom of Choice Act.
Change, after all, can be a good thing.
Deal W. Hudson is the director of InsideCatholic.com and the author of Onward, Christian Soldiers: The Growing Political Power of Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States (Simon and Schuster).