By MEG WATERS     9/15/2022

Did you know that the Catholic Church is the largest provider of private social services in California?

Every year it serves millions of the most at-risk families in the state through Catholic Charities and various ministries, including Catholic hospitals, healthcare systems, schools and parishes.

According to Ellen Roy, executive director of Catholic Charities, Orange County serves more than 100,000 local families helping with food, clothing, infant care, rent and many other services for the poorest of the poor among us.

In June of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade, a landmark decision that abortion is not a constitutional right. The decision does not make abortion illegal, but rather leaves its regulation to individual states. In response, some states set out to legally ban abortion while others set out to pass legislation to protect access to pregnancy termination. California has more than 20 pieces of legislation pending, including Proposition 1 on the November ballot, that would expand abortion by making it legal to terminate a pregnancy anytime up until birth. The California Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCC) is now calling on all California Catholics to step up.

There is currently no legislation pending to help women in crisis pregnancies keep their babies, so, the Church is shedding light on alternatives. According to Kathleen Domingo, executive director of the CCC, the time is now to amplify and expand the work the Church has been doing for over 200 years in the state to help families, including pregnant women and their children, support life regardless of the challenges they face. There are currently more than 170 prolife centers in California where women can get prenatal care and access to other services to help them successfully bring their babies into the world and either keep them or find a loving adoptive family. Once the baby is born, many services and support systems help women who need it build a new life.

“This year in CA, we have seen a deluge of abortion-expanding legislation,” said Domingo. “Our state is determined to make abortion its top priority. But, we know from the work of our charities and ministries that most economically vulnerable women and Black, Latino and Native American women don’t want abortion. Instead, they want help during pregnancy and while they raise their children. This is where we come in. We were born for this moment! From the beginning, Christians have been helping those in need in their communities—women, children, families. Our CA bishops are asking all Catholics to prioritize our assistance for women, children and families in our parishes and neighborhoods. When women are accompanied and supported, they and their children flourish, and we transform communities with the love of Christ!”

Born Ready is a forum to empower, equip, mobilize and resource Catholics to fulfill their baptismal call to serve women, children and families, especially women in difficult and unexpected pregnancies.

To do so, visit wewerebornready.com. Read the California Bishops’ statement on supporting women, children and families. Learn about the statewide effort and sign up to receive email updates.

Most parishes already have a pro-life groups that work tirelessly at the neighborhood level. Parish leaders are invited to become familiar with community resources and help parish-based ministries from St. Vincent de Paul food pantries to moms groups to mental health ministry, etc., to coordinate ministries of accompaniment using inventories
like those available through the Walking With Moms Initiative. The Diocese of Orange’s Life, Justice and Peace office coordinates the Orange County effort. Greg Walgenbach is the director and can be reached at [email protected]. Give support to local pregnancy clinics and shelters and help your parish raise funds through the Walking With Moms Collection (formerly Pennies from Heaven). Learn more at rcbo.org/walking-with-moms. And find out how else you can participate and support your parishes Respect Life Month activities in October, through service, prayer and advocacy.

Become an advocate by contacting your state representatives. Oppose bills that would expand abortion and back bills that support expanded paid family leave, hotel vouchers for homeless pregnant women and improve support for incarcerated mothers. To learn more about these bills, visit cacatholic.org/action-alerts. For more on
the No On Prop. 1 campaign, visit cacatholic.org/Prop1.

Patience and perseverance are essential. Each parish may approach We Were Born Ready differently, but the cumulative result of uniting the many efforts already under way as well as new initiatives will be transformative.

Remember that Catholics love and respect women—we elevate all women through our veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary.