WASHINGTON (CNS) – Two leaders of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have welcomed the June 24 U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn the 1973 court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. nationwide, and said it was time to “heal the wounds and mend the social divisions” with those who hold opposing views on abortion.
The decision marks a historic day for the United States after nearly five decades in which “America has enforced an unjust law that has allowed some to decide whether others can live or die,” the archbishop said. José Gomez of Los Angeles and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore. .
The Prelates issued a joint statement as President of the USCCB and Chair of the Committee of Bishops on Pro-Life Activities, respectively.
The 5-4 decision to overturn Roe came in the court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which challenged a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks.
However, Chief Justice John Roberts, while agreeing with the opinion on the Mississippi law, disagreed with the majority decision that overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade and the 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
This latter case upheld Roe and outlawed regulations that created an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions.
Archbishops Gomez and Lori said the new decision marks a “time to begin the work of building a post-Roe America.”
“We thank God today that the court has now overturned that decision,” they said. “We pray that our elected officials will now pass laws and policies that promote and protect the most vulnerable among us.”
The Archbishops recalled the lives of tens of millions of children who have lost their lives since 1973, saying the USCCB mourns their loss and their souls have been committed to God.
“Our hearts are also with every woman and every man who has suffered seriously from an abortion,” they said. “We pray for their recovery and pledge our continued compassion and support. As a Church, we must serve those facing difficult pregnancies and surround them with love.
Archbishop Gomez and Archbishop Lori also credited the people who for five decades worked peacefully together “to educate and persuade their neighbors of the injustice of abortion,” to provide care and counseling to women and to work for alternatives to abortion such as foster care. and public policies that support families.
The Pontifical Academy for Life, under its president, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, joined USCCB leaders in welcoming the Supreme Court’s opinion, saying it points the way forward for the world.
“The court’s opinion demonstrates how the issue of abortion continues to spark heated debate,” a statement from the academy said. “The fact that a great country with a long democratic tradition has changed its position on this issue also concerns the whole world.”
“The protection and defense of human life is not a matter that can remain confined to the exercise of individual rights, but rather a matter of great social significance,” he continued. “After 50 years, it is important to reopen a non-ideological debate on the place of the protection of life in a civil society to ask what kind of coexistence and society we want to build.”
Bishop Paglia added: “Faced with a Western society losing its taste for life, this act is a powerful invitation to reflect together on the serious and urgent question of human generativity and the conditions that make it possible; by choosing life, our responsibility for the future of humanity is at stake.”
Several state Catholic conferences and individual bishops echoed the sentiments of USCCB leaders in welcoming the court’s decision.
The eight prelates of the New York State Catholic Conference said they were “delighted with the outcome of the tribunal.”
They also acknowledged “the wide range of emotions associated with this decision” and called on “all Catholics and all those who support the right to life of unborn children to be charitable, even as we celebrate an important historical moment. and an answer to prayer”. .
Stating the court’s decision was “a judicial victory, not a cultural one,” the New York bishops called for building a “culture of life” by enacting family-friendly policies that welcome children, support mothers, cherish families and empower them to thrive.
Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, said in a statement that the decision recognizes “that even the most helpless and dependent human beings have a right to life and possess inherent dignity and worth.”
Echoing the words of Pope Francis, Cardinal Tobin said: “Abortion is not a religious issue; it is a question of human rights”.
“We recognize that a woman’s decision to have an abortion is often tragic and painful,” he said. “A woman who takes this desperate action is often under great duress and encouraged by obviously sinful social structures.
“As people who care deeply about all women dealing with unplanned or unwanted pregnancies, we need to make sure life-saving options are available, and our support goes beyond just the birth of a child. .”