Rite for the blessing of a child in the womb
2012-04-02 L’Osservatore Romano
The text of “Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb”, which should be available in all U.S. parishes by Mother’s Day, has been approved by the Holy See. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has announced to the faithful the recognitio by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The text will be printed in both English and Spanish.
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the USCCB underlined the joy of the entire Catholic community, noting that he is “impressed with the beauty of this blessing for human life in the womb”. The Episcopate explains that the blessing has been prepared to “support parents awaiting the birth of their child, to encourage parish prayers for and recognition of the precious gift of the child in the womb, and to foster respect for human life within society”. It can be offered both during the Liturgy and outside of Mass.
The question now is how to integrate the blessing into parishes. “We wanted to make this announcement as soon as possible”, stated Archbishop Gregory Michael Aymond of New Orleans and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship, “so that parishes might begin to look at how this blessing might be woven into the fabric of parish life”. The text, he added, will eventually “be included in the Book of Blessings” when it is revised.
It was Archbishop Joseph Edward Kurtz of Louisville who began preparations for the text of the blessing. The former Bishop of Knoxville asked the Committee on Pro-Life Activities to see whether a blessing existed for a child in the womb. When none was found, the committee began preparing a text later presented to the Divine Worship Committee in March 2008. Subsequently in November of the same year the full body of bishops approved the prayer and it was sent to the Holy See for recognitio.
Serving the Spanish-speaking faithful of America, besides this prayer being made available, the USCCB in June 2011 approved the Spanish translation of various additions to the Roman Missal to include Hispanic feast days. The decision was the fruit of a year long project of the Committee on Divine Worship which collected a series of texts for the celebration of the feasts of the most significant patron saints of Latin America and Spain. Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros of Brooklyn underlined that the additions were a true “pastoral need” for the growing number of Hispanic residents in the United States. The executive director of the Secretariat of Divine Worship of the USCCB, Mons. Anthony Sherman, observed that the Missal is “a source of strength and spiritual development for Catholics throughout the United States”. For some time the U.S. Church has decided to strengthen pastoral care in the midst of changing demographics due to the large increase of Hispanic faithful. Immigration has been significantly changing the face of society and of the Church in the U.S.; today 35% of American Catholics are Hispanic, a figure that reaches 50% of young people.