The Vatican has reaffirmed the belief that Life begins at the moment of fertilization by approving the “Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb.” This blessing will be bestowed upon pregnant mothers either during or outside of Mass.
Bishop Joseph Kurtz of Knoxville, Tennessee, now archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky, was one of the first to contact the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities to see if there was a blessing available for children in the womb. When the committee’s research found that one did not currently exist, he prepared a text and submitted it the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Divine Worship Committee in March of 2008.
In November of 2008, the full body of Bishops approved the blessing and sent the prayer to Rome for final revisions and approval. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments of Rome approved the publication of the “Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb” in March of 2012.
The blessing will be published in a booklet that combines both English and Spanish versions. This booklet should be made available to parishes by Mother’s Day 2012.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement that the blessing is intended 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.”
Pro-Life activists of all denominations and faith should rejoice in the Vatican’s approval of this blessing. By offering this new opportunity to bless children inside the womb, the Catholic Church models the belief that all Life is precious and valuable from the moment of conception.
This blessing also demonstrates how the child is already a unique Life that is worthy of a special prayer for God’s protection. As parishes begin to practice this new blessing, they will set a powerful example for the dignity, worth, and value of every pre-born human being.