SOUTH-east Queensland women experiencing difficulties because of an unplanned pregnancy will receive special support from parish Care and Concern groups under a new initiative announced by Archbishop John Bathersby of Brisbane.
The initiative grew out of an Australian Catholic Bishops Conference symposium – “Walking With Love: Alternatives and Responses to Abortion” – held in Brisbane in April.
Three women speaking at the symposium, who had different experiences of early pregnancy, said their churches were the last places to which they would think of turning for assistance in such a situation.
The initiative was announced recently in two separate letters from the Archbishop and the director of the John Paul II Centre for Family and Life Ray Campbell to archdiocesan priests.
Priests were asked to announce the initiative on Respect Life Sunday which is celebrated today.
Archbishop Bathersby in his letter said the initiative was “very timely” given that Victoria had passed a law “decriminalising abortion up to full term … and overriding conscientious objections of both doctors and nurses, imposing a legal obligation upon them to co-operate with abortion”.
“After consultation with Centacare and other interested parties it has been decided that our Care and Concern network will add another dimension to their work, namely support for pregnant women,” the letter continued.
Mr Campbell’s letter to the clergy outlined the organisational side of the initiative.
The letter noted that: “People who volunteer to be part of these groups will receive training co-ordinated by the Centacare community development worker responsible for Care and Concern – Rosemary Woods and the mission development officer from the JPII Centre for Family and Life – Gwen Winterscheidt”.
Ms Woods said she was delighted by the response of Care and Concern groups to the new initiative.
She said as co-ordinator she had contacted 45 of the groups involving about 1300 volunteers throughout the archdiocese.
“The response was fantastic and the general feeling was that this was a natural extension of what Care and Concern has done since groups were first set up 30 years ago,” Ms Woods said.
“I was at the Walking With Love symposium earlier this year and when I heard women who’d been in such situations say that the Church was the last place they’d go for help I thought it was dreadful.”
In this week’s letter to the clergy, the Archbishop concluded: “We need to join together in prayer for the protection of the unborn and of women, many of whom are coerced into abortion.”