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Young pro-life activists rejoice as the Court overturns Roe v Wade. Young pro-life activists rejoice as the Court overturns Roe v Wade.  (2022 Getty Images)

US Cardinals hail ‘important’ Supreme Court decision on abortion

Friday afternoon sees a flurry of statements from senior US churchmen responding to the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade and returning authority to regulate abortion to the people and their elected representatives, including Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston and Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago.

By Christopher Wells

Cardinal Blase Cupich, the Archbishop of Chicago, added his voice to the chorus of Catholic leaders welcoming the “important” ruling of the US Supreme Court, which overturns the Court’s “tragic 1973 decision that removed legal protection for unborn children.”

A turning point in national dialogue

In a statement released Friday afternoon, the Cardinal said, “This moment should serve as a turning point in our dialogue about the place an unborn child holds in our nation, about our responsibility to listen to women and support them through pregnancies and after the birth of their children, and about the need to refocus our national priorities to support families, particularly those in need.”

Cardinal Cupich emphasized the Church’s contribution to such a conversation, especially the conviction that every human life is sacred, and that every human person, made in the image and likeness of God, is deserving of reverence and protection.

“That belief is the reason the Catholic Church is the country’s largest provider of social services, many aimed at eliminating the systemic poverty and health care insecurity that trap families in a cycle of hopelessness and limit authentic choice.”

Not the end of the journey

However, the Cardinal said, “this ruling is not the end of a journey, but rather a fresh start,” adding that it "underscores the need to understand those who disagree with us, and to inculcate an ethic of dialogue and cooperation.”

Cardinal Cupich concluded his statement with a call for a national examination of conscience, “taking stock of those dark places in our society and in our hearts that turn to violence and deny the humanity of our brothers and sisters, and get to work building up the common good by choosing life.”

A significant and encouraging ruling

The Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Seán O’Malley, also welcomed the Supreme Court’s “significant and encouraging” ruling.

“This decision will create the possibility of protecting human life from conception; it calls us to recognize the unique burden faced by women in pregnancy; and it challenges us as a nation to work together to build up more communities of support — and available access to them — for all women experiencing unplanned pregnancies.”

But at the same time, he said he would not underestimate “how profoundly the issue of abortion has been and will continue to be in our public life.”

While noting the Church’s consistent opposition to “the moral and legal dimensions” of Roe v Wade, Cardinal O’Malley also highlighted the Church’s “adamant” opposition to “stigmatizing, criminalizing, judging or shaming women who have had abortions or are considering them.”

He emphasized that the Church would continue its pastoral and social support for women, which would be both welcoming and available to all who need them.

A new chapter in abortion debate

Echoing Cardinal Cupich, Cardinal O’Malley insisted that Friday’s Supreme Court ruling “begins a new chapter in our legislative and legal forums as the public debates about abortion will not end.”

Noting that the discussion will now shift to individual states, the national legislature, and the courts, he expressed his hope that “this new chapter may be a time of a different tone and focus in our civic life.”

To this end, Cardinal O’Malley emphasized two priorities.

First, he said, “we must adopt a wider vision of the multiple threats to human life in our society today. The recognition that human life begins with conception and continues through natural death.”

“All human life deserves moral and legal protection at all times.”

He said the Church, in its positions, “should reflect this wider vision, and we are called to engage our civil society around this more holistic view of the value and dignity of human life,” noting especially a common consensus on the need to eliminate “the conditions of poverty and injustice that have been a major factor contributing to abortions.”

“Those who have opposed and supported Roe can and should find common ground for a renewed commitment to social and economic justice in our country.”

Second, he said, “protecting human life at all times can only succeed if we rediscover the value of civility in discourse, in protest, and in policy advocacy.” He insisted that “the renewal” of both respect for human life, and the idea of civility and respectful discourse, which have suffered from neglect in recent years, “is possible and urgently necessary.”

Cardinal O’Malley said, “As a bishop and a citizen, I hope and pray that we can create a culture that protects the most vulnerable at the beginning of life and at any time life is threatened in any way.”

24 June 2022, 21:51