The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Pro-life or pro-active?

With another anniversary of Roe v. Wade come more questions about what can be done to stop abortion.

This provocative essay by Sr. Bernadette M. Reiss, fsp asks questions some of us may not have considered:

How can the presentation of the Church’s teaching be balanced so that women would be more likely to come to us when faced with the prospect of an unplanned pregnancy?

Asserting that the woman who procures an abortion does bear moral responsibility could be balanced with the truth put so well by John Paul II in The Gospel of Life (no. 59) that there are many people responsible: the father of the child, parents, other family members, friends, legislators, doctors, nurses, etc.

What if, rather than the doctrine, the care and concern of the Church for a woman contemplating abortion were the starting point for every homily, every “Catholic” television or radio program, blog, etc.?

As long as our most concerted effort is focused on electing all the right pro-life candidates, the reality of abortion in the United States will not significantly change. But what would happen if the 51% of Americans who have now identified themselves as pro-life decide to become pro-active in the lives of the actual women they know who are pregnant and need help? What would happen if every parish bulletin listed the contact person for any woman who was pregnant and scared (and if that person were visible within the church community)? What if our focus changed from a debate about the constitutionality of abortion — which requires very little personal sacrifice on our part — to directly helping the women who may potentially have an abortion? What would happen if all of us were to recognize that we too may bear responsibility for someone who has chosen to have an abortion because all that a woman heard from us was our view about abortion itself and not about the woman caught in the middle? How will we get involved?

There are a lot of challenges here — read the whole thing and see what you think.

Comments read comments(10)
post a comment
Bill Bremer

posted January 22, 2010 at 2:48 am

Shalom Greg,
Great insight, worthy of consideration and application.

report abuse

Mr Flapatap

posted January 22, 2010 at 4:58 am

Yes, I will be joining thousands of others for the March for Life today but this is only a once-a-year event. The other 364 days will be spent working to help pregnant women in need. Unfortunately, part of that time will have to be spent fighting the politicians in Montgomery County, MD who want to take that help away.
The argument that those who respect life are just protesting and getting into the political arena is a slander concocted by those in the pro-abortion camp and I am tire of it being thrown out as a critique all the time.

report abuse

Your Name

posted January 22, 2010 at 11:26 am

I thought you might want to know of the multimedia presentation on the St. Louis Review website. It shows the local witness given to defending Life. You can see it at: Prayers for Life: Respect Life Mass and procession.

report abuse

Your Name

posted January 22, 2010 at 11:32 am

There has been groups & people assisting pregnant women for multiple years within the Church and others too. If sr. reiss doesn’t know this, then that is a real tragedy. Sr.Reiss writes as though her ‘thoughts’ have never been acted upon when the crisis pregnancy centers, homes for the unwed and other services support has been ‘in motion’ for 4 DECADES! All of these have ALREADY addressed what Sr. Reiss says should be done. Many parish bulletins ALREADY list contact information for woman who are pregnant and have for decades! I am really surprised Sr. Reiss doesn’t know this. Sr. Reiss should take a closer look at what is happening in the Catholic Church and tell everyone, in her next letter, that the Church, and faithful, have already done what she is talking about and have for FOUR DECADES!
Sr. Reiss, please tell us all why you didn’t know about the ‘PRO ACTIVE/PRO LIFE’ action already in place and working very well.

report abuse

Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

posted January 22, 2010 at 11:45 am

That was a brilliant piece and I used it at both of my blogs.

report abuse

Your Name

posted January 22, 2010 at 11:53 am

What is needed is a true conversion to Christ by each individual. The Church (all of us) needs to concentrate in spreading the Gospel through evangelization. Change one person at a time; the first Christians were not trying to get more senators in the Roman Senate or to capture the office of Consul to influence the Empire. They were trying to evangelize both by word and deed; by being courageous witnesses to Christ with their lives and their mouths. Politics is not the solution, conversion is.

report abuse

St. Louis view

posted January 22, 2010 at 12:57 pm

The sister’s views have much to recommend them. The St. Louis’ archdiocese’s previous leader, Archbishop Burke, was a very outspoken activist against “pro-choice” politicians. Yet there was no apparent helping actions at the parish level, at least in the churches I frequent. Yes, St. Louis has Birthright offices, and demonstrations, and homes for unwed mothers. But there were no special collections at parishes to help Janet or Martha or Yvonne, or giving trees in the vestibules to buy Pampers or basinettes. Because I work erractic hours I get to various parishes, and maybe these things happens on weekends when I’m not there. Or maybe social service agencies deal with these problems, or families take care of them on their own. But there were far more political actions requested from the pulpit (mostly petitions) rather than monetary ones for unwed mothers. So there’s some disconnection here between words and deeds.

report abuse

Your Name

posted January 22, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Dear St. Louis View: I lived in St. Louis during the 1980’s and we had multiple fundraiser events at our Church because I headed them up. Archbishop Naumann of Kansas City, Ks. was in charge of prolife activities then…Fr. Naumann then, and every parish had the opportunity to start a prolife group and raise funds for Birthright, Mother’s and Unborn Babies, etc. Yes, “someone” has to take the initiative and start a group within your parish to do so. We raised thousands of dollars and uncounted donations of food, clothing, furniture, etc. that all went to these agencies and homes. In fact, I remember handing Fr.(now Archbishop) Naumann a check for $5000 at our parish variety show (another fundraiser) to go directly to the Archdiocese homes for unwed mothers. Yes, parishioners came out in full support as they knew exactly where there money was going, except they did not know the women’s name…for privacy reasons.
As i no longer live in St. Louis, but have traveled around the US, I will say with no uncertainty that the St. Louis Archdiocese has one of the most active Pro Life/Pro Active organizations in the USA and has since 1973! If you want to donate to one of the women’s homes, ect, then call the Archdiocese Pro Life office and they will give you an address to send your money, and they can assist you in getting personally involved with one of these homes…as I did from time to time. If ‘Lucy’ is still there, please tell her Mike from Michigan says Hello! Great Lady!

report abuse

St. Louis view

posted January 23, 2010 at 3:46 pm

That you “Your Name.” I’m sure that’s what did happen in the ’80s in St. Louis, and it continues to be one of the leading archdioceses in the pro-life area. All I’m saying is that from the pulpit in the last, say five years, have come more calls for petitions and political action than donations, or even discussions of the conditions that lead a woman to think this way. The current issue of the archdiocese’s paper, marking Roe V. Wade, is full of comment on the fate of the unborn, but just a few words about the mothers. The mothers are real and in the present and are adults or near adults. The unborn, obviously, aren’t here yet, and are in the future. It’s as if the bishops want Congress to pass a law to make the issue go away, and then they could claim success, even though abortion will still be with us as long as women don’t have the support they think they need, whatever that may be. (And just so you know, I believe the arguments of the other side favoring abortion have problems, too.)

report abuse


posted January 25, 2010 at 3:36 pm

St. Louis View,
Well I can’t speak for the St. Louis area now, but in the 1980’s it was always mentioned that no matter if abortion is legal or not legal support was needed for unwed mothers. Why it is not now I do not know. I do believe that ‘responsibility’ has to be taught to women so that they do not find themselves in these situations. But, I know that there will always be those that will be in problem situations. Abortion still does not leave the ‘woman’ in a better place, but only another ‘dark’ situation all alone.

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

This blog is no longer active
This blog is no longer being actively updated. Please feel free to browse the archives or: Read our most popular inspiration blog See our most popular inspirational video Take our most popular quiz

posted 10:42:40pm Dec. 12, 2010 | read full post »

One day more
A reminder: "The Deacon's Bench" is closed! Please enjoy the archives!

posted 11:26:20pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Meet Montana's married priest
Earlier this week, I posted an item about Montana getting its first married priest. Now a local TV station has hopped on the bandwagon. Take a look, below.

posted 10:29:55pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Big day in the Big Easy: 10 new deacons
Deacon Mike Talbot has the scoop: 10 men today were ordained as Permanent Deacons for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. This group of men was formally selected on the day the evacuation of New Orleans began as Hurricane Katrina approached. The immediate aftermath of the storm for this class would be

posted 6:55:42pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Gaudete! And let's break out a carol or two...
"Gesu Bambino," anyone? This is one of my favorites, and nobody does it better than these gals: Kathleen Battle and Frederica von Staade. Enjoy.

posted 1:04:10pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.