BALTIMORE — The U.S. bishops have voted to add a bishops’ conference staff member to work with the post-abortion healing ministry Project Rachel at a national level, citing growing demand for help.
“Over the past several years, diocesan interest in and expansion of post-abortion healing ministries have dramatically increased,” Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, the chair of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life activities committee, said Nov. 12 at the USCCB fall assembly in Baltimore.
“While it’s encouraging that so many dioceses are asking for help and responding, the pro-life committee recognized some time ago that additional help would be needed.”
Cardinal O’Malley said the committee envisions the new position as a resource for diocesan directors, who offer retreats, support-group models and training resources for priests.
The U.S. bishops approved the creation of the new position by a vote of 225-9 on Nov. 12.
Project Rachel works to support the healing of women who have had abortions, through counseling, retreats, prayers, resources and other efforts.
The U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities has worked with diocesan Project Rachel leaders to develop “many helpful resources” and to provide on-site, customized diocesan training.
“Yet the demand for help is ever increasing,” the cardinal said.
The Project Rachel website, HopeAfterAbortion.com, which connects those in need to diocesan programs, receives five million visits each year.
Cardinal O’Malley said the funding for the new position was possible “through the ongoing generosity of the Knights of Columbus.”
Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, chair of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Priorities and Plans, said his committee recommended the additional staffer at the U.S. bishops’ fall assembly, which is meeting in Baltimore Nov. 11-14.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the outgoing president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, voiced his “sincere appreciation” to the Knights of Columbus, the largest Catholic fraternal organization in the U.S., for their financial support. He said after the vote, “They’re so good to us in so many ways.”