The California Future of Abortion Council issued their report last week on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. In it, the Council outlined a 45-point plan for expanding abortion access in our state, which already boasts some of the most liberal abortion policies in the world.
We celebrate two significant Marian feasts in December, the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe, both highlighting God’s plan for salvation through maternity. St. Ann’s maternity gave us the Immaculate Mother of God. Mary’s maternity, so beautifully portrayed in the apparition of Guadalupe, brought us Our Savior. The juxtaposition between our faith’s reverence for motherhood and the report’s veneration of abortion could not be more clear.
The report’s 45 legislative recommendations include spending state tax dollars to bring out-of-state women to CA for free abortions, paying medical students’ loans if they become abortion doctors, and forcing Catholic hospitals to perform abortions. There is stated support for these recommendations from Governor Newsom and many in our state legislature.
The Catholic response looks different, like my own family. I was blessed with a wonderful example. My mother, after having six children went back to college for her master’s degree so that she could help other women in our community receive an education to become nurses. Many of these students would not have otherwise had the chance to obtain their degrees if it had not been for my mother and her example and convictions of life and children. I also watched my father support her every step of the way. All of us kids pitched in too. It was wonderful that she could pursue her career while being a loving mother to us. It was a blessing for us, too, that we learned how a family works together.
It is a great blessing when families care for one another. In my role as pastor and bishop, I hear from so many women who are alone and frightened. They do not have the privilege of the family life that I had. My heart goes out to them as they wonder how they can be a mother to a child when they have no one in their lives to support and comfort them. So many women have been treated in a way that they don’t understand they are worthy of love and help.
It is here that Catholics can do our best work of mercy. We can step in and become family through our parishes and ministries. In California, over 150 pro-life pregnancy centers and clinics help women every day with medical care, community referrals and material resources. Most of these centers are heavily supported by Catholic parishes and families. I have visited many here in Orange, including recently. I was very involved in such a center entitled The Care Center in Springfield, Illinois which was founded by three Catholic women who were good friends of mine. This center was also supported by St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Illinois. This is a beautiful work of mercy in our Church.
At the same time, we call upon the state to solve systemic poverty for women. In neighboring Los Angeles County, over 5,000 women living on the streets become pregnant every year. We need homes and services that provide hope to them and their children. Hundreds of pregnant women are jailed in California, and not allowed access to their newborn babies, even if they will be released soon. We need legislation to allow women and their children to be placed on a path of success. Thousands of women and families live in cars in California, trying their best to keep children safe. We need affordable homes built and family placement prioritized.
There are countless other ways California could be serving the needs of women and children. Women regret abortion. Women change their mind about abortion. When offered real help and companionship, few women ever regret having a child. In my experience, most people will choose to be generous if given the opportunity. Now is the time for Catholics to recommit to generosity.
In the Gospel story, we hear of Joseph and his pregnant wife Mary, frantically looking for a place to stay and for help delivering their baby. We read of their flight to Egypt with a newborn, in need of shelter, friendship, work. In my own family, I learned first-hand what it takes to pull together and support every member. By extension, our Catholic family is called to reach out in love to women and families in need, as we would have had we been in Bethlehem or Egypt at the time of the Nativity. We call upon our California family to prioritize the needs of women and children, providing support and care for women that will allow them to be the mothers they want to be.
In these days of Advent, as we contemplate the Holy Family, we ask the intercession of St Joseph, our Mother Mary and the Infant Jesus as we proclaim the beauty and dignity of every human life through both word and deed.
+ Kevin V. Vann
Bishop of Orange
Vice President of the
California Catholic Conference
Kathleen Domingo, Executive Director of the California Catholic Conference