Our Catholic faith is a both/and faith. On issues that have the potential for division, we see both as necessary. Faith and works. Mercy and justice. Sacred Scripture and tradition.
The same is true when it comes to Catholic social teaching, including protecting human life. That includes not only opposing the tragedy of abortion but supporting mothers both before and after they give birth.
One misperception pushed by abortion advocates, however, is that the Catholic Church and those who are pro-life care more about unborn babies and not the mothers who carry them, or about the life of the child following birth.
That could not be further from the truth. The Church has a heart for both the mother and the baby. While abortion rightly receives ample attention because it affects the most vulnerable among us and intentionally destroys human life, the Church has no shortage of concern for women and the challenges they face in their vocation to motherhood.
That heart for mothers and their babies has transformed into action. From the U.S. bishops’ conference down to the parish level, to Catholic Charities, the Knights of Columbus, and more, the Church is continually reaching out to mothers in difficult situations.
With a large footprint across the state, lay and ordained Catholics are helping women and their children flourish, whether before, during or after giving birth.
Consider the story of Tee’aira Adams, who said that when she became pregnant with her first child, she “was so lost.”
“I didn’t know what I was going to do…how do you take care of a baby?” she said in an interview with Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC).
But Tee’aira found Caring Network, a ministry for moms in need supported by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Kalamazoo. It’s been six years since that initial contact, and Tee’aira is now mother to three children, in cosmetology school and running her own small business.
Accompanying Tee’aira along her journey have been the staff and volunteers of Caring Network, who surround mothers with the love and support they need but might not have.
Tee’aira’s story is just one of thousands of how Catholic agencies such as Caring Network have been there for moms who need support. The Network has assisted more than 7,500 mothers who chose life for their children.
Across the state, Catholic agencies like Caring Network provide care for mothers at all stages of life, with services such as pregnancy counseling, baby supply pantries, or helping place children through adoption. Everything from meeting basic everyday physical needs to helping mothers learn how to be parents are accessible to mothers who reach out to Catholic agencies.
The Church’s concern for mothers is reflected in its leadership as well: In 2020, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) launched the Walking with Moms in Need initiative. The idea is to ensure every Catholic knows where to refer a mom in need. Since its launch, the call to walk with moms in need has reached the diocesan and parish levels in Michigan.
“Walking with Moms in Need is about supporting both mother and child. In fact, it’s supporting the mother first, and then the child indirectly through supporting the mother,” said Andrea Spankie, coordinator for Walking with Moms in Need for Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan, which operates in the Archdiocese of Detroit.
MCC has recently published an edition of its FOCUS publication about how the Church and its various ministries serve mothers in need, from pregnancy through birth and beyond. The article also shares Tee’aira’s story and how the support she received from Caring Network “helped me cover every aspect of being a mother.”
To read the full FOCUS report, ask your local parish for a free copy. Otherwise, the online edition of FOCUS can also be found here.
The Word from Lansing is a regular column for Catholic news outlets. Through these columns, MCC outlines current advocacy issues of importance to the Conference and discusses the Catholic position and role in the political process. This publication complements the more regular updates provided by MCC’s Catholic Advocacy Network. Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.