BALTIMORE (CNS) — To fill a gap in existing prayer books, the U.S. bishops Nov. 11 overwhelmingly approved a liturgical service in English and Spanish for blessing children in the womb.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., praised the new blessing as “a tangible way to witness pastorally and sacramentally to the life of the unborn child” and said it could also serve as an opportunity for parishes to bring together expectant couples for mutual support.
Bishop Michael D. Pfeifer of San Angelo, Texas, said the document could present “a great catechetical moment for all of us.” He said he hoped it might lead the bishops to declare an annual day of prayer for the unborn in the future.
The document required the approval of two-thirds of the Latin-rite members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and must be sent to the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments for “recognitio,” or confirmation. The English-language version was approved 223-1 and the Spanish-language version 224-0.
Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship, introduced the document Nov. 10, the first day of the USCCB fall general assembly in Baltimore.
He said the blessing, which had been approved both by his committee and by the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, “was prepared to support the parents awaiting the birth of their child, to encourage in the parish prayers for and recognition of the precious gift of the child in the womb, and to foster respect for human life within society.”
The blessing can be used in the context of a Mass or outside a Mass, and for an individual mother, a couple or a group of expectant parents.
Bishop Serratelli said the pro-life committee had received requests from “a number of dioceses” for such a document.
The blessing includes intercessions “for our government and civic leaders that they may perform their duties with justice and compassion while respecting the gift of human life” and “for a safe and healthy pregnancy for all expectant mothers and for a safe delivery for their children.”
The bishops need to get with the new regime. Babies are not a “blessing”, but a “punishment.”
Seriously though, this is great news.