Massachusetts Catholic leaders respond to the overturning of Roe v. Wade

Boston’s Cardinal-Archbishop called the ruling "deeply significant and encouraging."

Nicolaus Czarnecki
Cardinal Sean O'Malley.

Catholic leaders across Massachusetts spoke out in support of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that made abortion legal at a federal level.

The Cardinal-Archbishop of Boston Seán Patrick O’Malley released a lengthy statement in the wake of Friday’s ruling, calling it “deeply significant and encouraging” and saying it will “create the possibility of protecting human life from conception.” 

Friday’s Supreme Court decision is expected to lead to abortion bans in about half of U.S. states.

O’Malley said the ruling calls on people to recognize “the unique burden faced by women in pregnancy” and challenges Americans to work together to support women experiencing unplanned pregnancies.


The rest of O’Malley’s statement is below: 

“During the past half-century, as the abortion debate continued, the Catholic Church has often been accused of imposing a religious belief on our pluralistic society. It is indeed the case that, when addressing the Catholic community, the Church has used both religious and moral arguments to oppose abortion. But when engaging the wider American civil society, elected officials, and our legal system, the Church has defended human life from its inception as a matter of human rights. Our continued efforts in advocating our position on the protection of unborn children is consistent with our advocacy for issues affecting the dignity of all persons at all stages and in all circumstances of life. The Church employs this principle of consistency in addressing issues of race, poverty, and human rights generally. It is a position that presents a moral argument as a foundation for law and policy to protect human life.

 I welcome the Court’s decision, but I do not underestimate how profoundly divisive the issue of abortion has been and will continue to be in our public life. Even more tragic has been the personal suffering of women facing unplanned pregnancies in difficult situations. The Church has consistently opposed the moral and legal dimensions of Roe v. Wade; we also adamantly reject stigmatizing, criminalizing, judging or shaming women who have had abortions or are considering them. Too often isolated and desperate, women have felt they had no other choice. They need and deserve spiritual, emotional, and material support from the Church and from society.

 In the Archdiocese of Boston, we have sought, through Project Rachel and Pregnancy Help, to support women facing a crisis pregnancy and women whose lives have been impacted by an abortion. In addition, the Church offers the Lord’s boundless mercy and healing to those suffering from the spiritual harms of abortion. In the face of recent statistics indicating an increase in abortions, our pastoral and social support for women will continue, will be welcoming, and will be available to all who need them.

Today’s Supreme Court decision begins a new chapter in our legislative and legal forums as the public debates about abortion will not end. Since 1973, there has been continuing opposition to Roe v. Wade’s reasoning and its consequences. Those consequences have permeated the political, legal, and social fabric of American life. The radical character of the Roe decision catalyzed some of the deepest reactions and responses to any issue in our nation’s history. The public arguments will now shift to the states, the Congress, and the courts. It is my hope that this new chapter may be a time of a different tone and focus in our civic life. 

 First, we must adopt a wider vision of the multiple threats to human life in our society today. The recognition that human life begins with conception and continues through natural death. All human life deserves moral and legal protection at all times. Protection of life should be comprehensive, not selective. The Church, in its own positions, should reflect this wider vision, and we are called to engage our civil society around this more holistic view of the value and dignity of human life. It is commonly recognized by those on both sides of the abortion debate that conditions of poverty and injustice have been and are today a major factor contributing to abortions. Those who have opposed and supported Roe can and should find common ground for a renewed commitment to social and economic justice in our country.

Second, protecting human life at all times can only succeed if we rediscover the value of civility in discourse, in protest, and in policy advocacy. Respect for life calls for mutual recognition of and respect for our common dignity as persons and citizens. In recent years, the idea of civility and respectful discourse has suffered from neglect, as has the respect for human life. The renewal of both is possible and urgently necessary.”

The Diocese of Fall River on Roe v. Wade Reversal

The Diocese of Fall River’s Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha released a statement after the court’s decision, calling access to abortion “unjust” and saying the ruling will “save the lives of millions of children who otherwise would never see the light of day or experience the warmth of a loving family.”

The rest of Bishop Cunha’s statement is below: 

“As Catholics, we stand with the teaching of the Catholic Church which has always upheld the dignity of life and spoken out against abortion at all stages of pregnancy,” said Bishop da Cunha. “The Church’s opposition comes not only from its teaching on the sanctity of life from the moment of conception, but also from a moral imperative that transcends any religious doctrine: Developing life is human life and as such deserves the protection of the law.

I recognize, sadly, that in Massachusetts where abortion is already codified into state law, the Dobbs decision will have little impact. We must continue our efforts to defend the right to life for unborn children through advocacy and prayer. At the same time, we must also redouble our commitment to providing material and emotional support to expectant mothers who face a difficult or unintended pregnancy and those who find it difficult to care for their children after they are born. The Diocese of Fall River has a Pro-Life Apostolate whose mission is to provide support, assistance, and accompaniment to expectant mothers.

As a society rooted in Christian and family values, we must also advocate for both federal and state laws that ensure that no mother or family lacks the basic resources needed to care for their children.”

“My hope and my prayer is that all men and women of good will, regardless of their faith tradition – or even if they have no faith – will work together to create a society where human life is respected in all stages and in every condition, especially the most defenseless and vulnerable among us.”

Diocese of Worcester responds to Overturn of Roe v. Wade 

Worcester’s Bishop Robert Joseph McManus on Friday released a statement saying that while Catholics are looking at the ruling as a victory, it’s also a “legal recognition of states’ rights.”

“The abortion debate formally moves to 50 states and US territories to decide whether abortion will be legal, limited, or illegal within their borders,” McManus said. “Will we be known to the world as a group of states defined by being either pro-life or pro-death? Or, will we acknowledge someday that a country whose foundational principle is freedom and justice for all cannot exclude the most vulnerable, a child in the womb?”

The rest of Bishop McManus’ statement is below:

“Our prayers must continue in earnest for a greater respect for all human life. As Christians we must respond with charity in support of the life of the child in the womb whose dignity deserves our respect and legal protection, to the mother who is afraid, alone or whose life may be in jeopardy, and with respect for all citizens who struggle with this most divisive issue in our country and our world. As Christians, we cannot react with violence and hatred toward those with whom we disagree. Only the virtue of charity can vanquish evil.”

Catholic Diocese of Springfield responds to Roe v. Wade

Springfield Bishop William D. Byrne released a statement saying, “We will continue to support women and families facing a crisis pregnancy through the many ministries and services in the Diocese of Springfield.”


Bishop Byrne also said he “pray(s) that those who are upset by this decision will raise their voices in a peaceful manner.”

The rest of Bishop Byrne’s statement is below:

“I affirm today’s Supreme Court decision, upholding each state’s right to defend life. Here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts we still have much work to do so that all citizens recognize the sanctity of all human life. We continue to work, advocate and pray that our brothers and sisters will recognize the right to life of the most vulnerable among us. This includes not just the unborn who are so precious to us, but all people who are vulnerable. We will continue to work to affirm this right, the right given by God alone that all life is sacred and intended. We will continue to support women and families facing a crisis pregnancy through the many ministries and services in the Diocese of Springfield.


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