Crisis Response

Each of the Strategy’s 6 elements involves both a goal and specific means for reaching the goal. What follows is an explanation of the means.

The various means that are discussed certainly do not exhaust the ways of reaching the goals and should not limit the taking of other worthwhile initiatives.


Catholics responding effectively in potential cases of abortion and euthanasia


Means for Reaching the Goal

2.1 Guidelines to be published on dealing with crisis situations 
2.2 Increased publicity for crisis counseling services 
2.3 Encouragement of outreach ministry to dying 

2.1 Guidelines to be published on dealing with crisis situations 

The Archbishop’s directive on health care (see 3.5) offers instruction on determining and responding to potential cases of euthanasia within a hospital setting.

Guidelines on dealing with pregnancy crises where there is risk of abortion are published below. These guidelines apply to all pastoral agents-both clergy and laity, and also Catholic schools, hospitals and social agencies. The idea is to provide practical advice in the form of a list of “dos and don’ts” and steps to follow when you are faced with an emergency of this kind. The guidelines reflect a number of basic principles:

(a) When a Catholic becomes aware of someone who is planning, or apt to seek, an abortion, there is a duty to respond and try to see that alternative help is offered. The killing of an innocent human being is never a private matter, and is so serious that a Christian response is no mere option.

(b) To pray for an end to abortion (#1 element of Strategy), and then refrain from helping a distressed mother when one could do so, is hypocritical. “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 7:21).

(c) There are no special cases or exceptions when direct abortion is permissible. It is always contrary to the good of both mother and child.

(d) Helping an expectant mother to choose life is a work of mercy in both a corporal and spiritual sense.

Corporally, it provides shelter to the homeless by preserving the womb as the habitat of the unborn; it sometimes also entails various forms of material assistance to the mother herself.

Spiritually, it may involve correction of the sinner in the case of those already intent on murder, instruction of the ignorant for those who don’t realize what abortion is; counsel of the doubtful for those who don’t want to abort but who are gripped by fear and social pressure; comfort of the sorrowing for those confused by unexpected pregnancy.

(e) The work of mercy of helping a distraught woman is an act of charity directed both to the mother and her baby. It is vital to intervene in a loving manner. Thus St. Paul teaches that we are to correct others “with gentleness” (2 Tim. 2:24).

(f) While a distressed woman can benefit from information (e.g. on prenatal development) and the offer of material resources (e.g. accommodation), above all she needs emotional and moral support in making a decision and in dealing with the particular web of human relationships and circumstances in which she finds herself.

Typically, she feels pressured to have the abortion; she does not experience it as a completely “free choice”. By relieving this pressure an intervenor can help free her to make the right choice.

(g) The words and acts employed in an intervention are a matter of personal judgment and prayer, and will depend on one’s knowledge of the afflicted woman and her circumstances.

(h) The old Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared”, is especially apt. Ability to respond effectively to a pregnancy crisis situation involves much more than knowing intellectually what one should do; it calls for a state of emotional, volitional and spiritual readiness to act when taken by surprise and in the face of tension and even opposition. In brief, it points to the importance of character formation and what we mean by “virtue”.

(i) Certain moral virtues, and the corresponding gifts of the Holy Spirit (received in Baptism and Confirmation) are especially important for the intervener.

Among the virtues, prudence helps one discern when and how to act; fortitude gives courage in the face of difficulty; justice directs one to the right of God as Creator to give and take life, the right of the unborn to live, and the right of a beleaguered mother to obtain help.

These virtues are perfected respectively by the gifts of counsel, fortitude and piety.

(j) Those who because of physical or psychological impediment are unable to personally intervene in the situation should not feel guilty, but ought instead to at least pray and if possible alert others who can intervene.

2.2 Increased publicity for crisis counseling services 

How often do women abort because they, or those in contact with them, are not aware of or have easy access to the community resources that can provide an alternative?

Within our archdiocesan area, there are a number of resources that can supply counseling and other social assistance, but these need to be well publicized. Catholics should help such agencies become better known through advertising on buses, in the media and yellow pages, etc.

2.3 Encouragement of outreach ministry to dying 

The Church wants to encourage both existing and new ministries that offer loving support and guidance to dying persons.

With the growth of a suicide mentality in our society, it is important that Catholics be sensitive and responsive to those who may be tempted to a despairing resolution to their suffering. Such people may be in our hospitals, nursing homes or neighborhoods. (On the subject of human suffering, especially in relation to the dying, see Archbishop Exner’s Directive on Health Care [3.5].

An example of such an outreach would be a ministry to persons who have AIDS and their families.

Archdiocesan Pro-Life Strategy
1. Introduction: Some Shaping Principles 
  1.1 The Grace of Conversion 
  1.2 Impetus for a New Pro-Life Strategy 
  1.3 Primary Emphasis of Strategy: Prayer 
  1.4 The Strategy: More Than Prayer 
  1.5 Long-Range View 
  1.6 “Toward a Culture of Life
2. Elements of Strategy 
  2.1 Prayer 
  2.2 Crisis Response 
  2.3 Education 
  2.4 Civic Action 
  2.5 Ecumenical Relations 
  2.6 Liaison with Pro-Life Groups 

The Pro-Life Strategy was developed in 1993
Revised: May 1995, November 1995, February 2000

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