A message from Bishop Iffert
For a more complete response to today’s decision, please see the joint statement of the Bishops of Kentucky. This personal statement is intended to address the pastoral needs of the Diocese of Covington.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, that there is no constitutional or human right to artificially abort an unborn child, is an achievement for our nation. I add my voice to so many who are grateful to God this day. I am also grateful to all who worked so diligently toward this goal.
I invite the Faithful and our Pro-Life allies to gather at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption on Friday, July 22 at noon for a Mass of Thanksgiving.
Today, we must remember that the Pro-Life movement and the witness of the Church remain engaged in a still more challenging task — the fostering of a Culture of Life. This will best be accomplished through the establishment of meaningful and caring relationships — sometimes long-term — that provide for the needs of expectant mothers, fathers, and their children. Where the emotional, financial, and relational resources that a family might provide are absent, let us become supportive family to our neighbor. This is the witness, the laying down of life, that the Holy Spirit can use to foster conversion of heart.
Many of us have experienced a time in life when we were faced with the unexpected and could not see the next step let alone a path forward. Often it was the care, concern, and encouragement of another that moved us along. We have recently witnessed this kind of thoughtful care for the dignity of others in the many charitable responses to the invasion of Ukraine and the resulting refugee crisis. In one border town in Poland, those who thought about the hardships of women arriving with children in arms placed strollers on the train platform to ease their journey. Other families have invited Ukrainians, sometimes perfect strangers, into their homes for extended, even indefinite stays. When asked for an explanation, the mother in one host family simply said, “We just knew it was the right thing to do.”
Sometimes, pregnancy is that unexpected time for a woman. What for others is a time of joy, for her becomes a time of distress where she may not see the path forward for her or her baby. I invite every parish, Respect Life Committee, Pastoral Council, Pastor, and Deanery Pastoral Council to explore ways that we might extend the love of family to help our neighbors choose life. I recommend for your consideration Walking with Moms in Need, an initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, that is based on this kind of relational intervention and mentoring in the lives of young mothers. Information is available from the Diocesan Pro-Life Office.
I welcome your ideas about how the diocese might assist in creative, pro-life ministry. Of course, some needs require resources that only the larger community or state can provide. The Catholic Conference of Kentucky will continue to urge our lawmakers to enact laws that protect the dignity of human life — born and unborn. Please lend your voice to support policies that respect life from conception to natural death.
Finally, if you are a young woman who is considering abortion because of a lack of relational or financial support, please turn to us. The Catholic Church and the Diocese of Covington want to protect and foster both your life and your child’s life. We know a path forward. We will walk with you.
+ Most Rev. John C. Iffert
Bishop of Covington
A joint statement from Kentucky’s Bishops
The Catholic Bishops of Kentucky have issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
For centuries, the Catholic Church has proclaimed a rich social teaching based upon a deep respect for the sacredness of every human life, including life in the womb. This thread of the dignity of human life is woven into all of our moral and social teaching, including our advocacy for programs and initiatives that confront the sin of racism, lift people out of poverty, end capital punishment, support persons with disabilities, address gun violence, repair a broken immigration system, foster thriving families, and care for our common home, the Earth.
We believe that the deliberate decision to end a life in the womb is not the answer for women, children or families. As Pope Francis states, “Yet this defense of unborn human life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems…It is not progressive to try to resolve problems by ending a human life.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 213-214)
As our nation deals with the pivotal decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, we know that people will respond with polarizing statements and varying degrees of outrage, fear, support, sorrow, and joy. We would like to propose that we take this opportunity to channel what we regard as a positive, life-affirming decision into action to support women, children, and families in our Commonwealth.
We affirm that every child is a sacred gift. We know that families may need help in welcoming this gift, through programs and policies that will address the challenges and mitigate the pressure that women may feel in making the decision to seek an abortion.
Kentucky’s bishops have worked on both legislative and concrete efforts to assist mothers and families. For two decades, we supported Opportunities for Life, a 24-hour hotline that provided assistance, resources, and hope to pregnant women in need. Today, this assistance is provided through grants issued through Catholic Charities to various social service and pregnancy resource programs. We have endorsed legislation to support families and women in vulnerable circumstances, such as SB 18, passed during the 2019 session, which provides workplace protections for women who are pregnant or nursing. We have advocated for the creation of a state-level Earned Income Tax Credit.
At both the federal and state levels, the bishops are working on numerous efforts to support families, such as making the Child Tax Credit permanent and expanding paid family and medical leave. We must do everything we can to build a culture that makes welcoming and supporting life the overriding priority. Our parishes, archdiocesan agencies, such as Catholic Charities, healthcare institutions, and pro- life shelters and centers are dedicated to supporting women and unborn children in difficult circumstances.
These internal efforts, which quietly take place every day in our communities, must be accompanied by public policy that allow families in all circumstances to thrive. These include, but are not limited to:
- Increasing access to affordable housing and other material assistance.
- Support and resources for programs that promote welcoming children through birth, adoption, or fostering.
- Offering greater access to mental health resources, healthcare, domestic violence assistance, childcare assistance, educational and employment opportunities, and paid leave for parents.
As we advocate for these pro-family policies so vital to the common good, we also call upon all Catholics to walk with moms and their children in need and to reflect God’s mercy and love to all caught up in these fraught issues surrounding abortion, including those who choose abortion.
We also call upon all citizens to thoughtfully and prayerfully consider and vote “YES for Life” this November by supporting Amendment #2. This proposed constitutional amendment is very simple and will prevent our state courts from ever issuing a decision like Roe v. Wade. It adds one sentence to the Kentucky Constitution: “To protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”
As related in the Gospel of St. Matthew, chapter 25, Jesus exhorted all of His followers to care for the most vulnerable among us, “Amen I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.” Who could be more vulnerable than an unborn child and a pregnant mother in need?
As we move beyond Roe v. Wade, let us work together to create the conditions that will support mothers in choosing life.
Archbishop of Louisville
Bishop of Owensboro
Bishop of Covington
Bishop of Lexington
2022 Diocesan Parish Annual Appeal
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