Rome at daybreak
The other way is a follow up of my intervention yesterday at the synod, the summary of which appears in the Vatican daily bulletins. I called for a generous use of the “Blessing of the Child in the Womb,” so recently approved for use in the United States and which I pray will be extended soon to the universal Church. Expressing how this blessing allows the Church to “warmly extend the love of Christ to families as they prepare for the birth of their child,” I hailed this sacred gesture as a way to announce to society the great gift of human life, as well as a gracious invitation for parents to begin preparing for the baptism of their child, once born.
While the text of my intervention is now the property of the synod and so will be used as those in charge would direct, I can share one thought that I frequently spoke about in Louisville and that emerged from another study from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). This study revealed that nearly 80% of Catholics spoke of being proud to be Catholic. While, sadly, the presence at Sunday Eucharist falls well short of this percentage, this expression of pride reveals a strength and openness upon which to build.
Another local study, done of parents of Catholic school students in Louisville, revealed a resounding wish among parents to “do what is best for their child” – a sentiment that is deeply felt by so many at the time of the birth of their child. Thus, when I presented this “Blessing of the Child in the Womb” to the lay faithful, it was received very well, and most were very positive about the opportunity to invite expectant families to take part. Indeed, preparing for the birth of a child is a time for hope and excitement as well as natural concerns and anxieties, a time that provides a rich opportunity for support and prayers.
I pray that our work in the Synod will concentrate on reaching out and not simply waiting for these silent searchers to come to Christ, the “light for the nations.”
Today, we meet for the first time in small groups divided according to language. I look forward to a full day. Tomorrow our Holy Father will initiate the “Year of Faith” at a special Mass that also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I was pleased to learn that the synod delegates are invited to concelebrate this outdoor Mass in St. Peter’s Square, and of course, I will carry your prayer intentions to the Mass.