On the first Sunday following the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Rev. James Boric addressed a congregation at the Baltimore Basilica.
“Heaven has to be the lens through which we see and do everything,” he said to a small early-morning gathering. He would address a larger group later in the morning.
The service came two days after the nation’s highest court, by a 6-3 vote, overturned the landmark 1973 ruling that had provided constitutional protections for abortion access.
Boric mentioned the decision Sunday, joining Catholic leaders across the country who have reacted to the ruling.
“I want everyone to follow Jesus, who is the way to heaven,” Boric said. “The voice of the world is so strong today, and it’s leading so many people down the wrong paths. Just look at the demonic reaction of people who are fighting pregnancy centers and Catholic churches because Roe v. Wade has been overturned, thanks be to God. …”
Protests spread quickly across the country in response to the court’s decision, which many view as a significant setback for bodily autonomy and women’s rights. Hundreds of Marylanders rallied in front of Baltimore’s federal courthouse and in Annapolis on Friday.
The basilica closed temporarily on Friday as a safety precaution.
The ruling means decisions about abortion access are now left up to state governments. About half are expected to implement bans or severe restrictions on abortions. Thirteen states have “trigger laws” meant to force those changes into effect immediately after Roe is overturned.
Maryland organizations and volunteers have been preparing for an influx of women traveling from other states to seek abortions. Maryland, which has strong abortion protections, further bolstered those with new legislation passed this year.
The decision drew an immediate reaction from Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, who is chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-life Activities. He said he feels “gratitude and thankfulness.”
Lori, who was in Germany when the court opinion was released, said Friday that “it is a day many of us have prayed for and gratitude to so many people who have worked hard to bring it about.”
“I think this day challenges not only the church community but the greater community to surround women with the services they need not just to bring their children to term but to give their children a chance to flourish and grow in a healthy way,” he said.
Lori said Catholics in Maryland and around the nation must redouble their efforts to support women who are pregnant by providing health care, counseling and education in Catholic schools.
“I understand that abortion is the law of the land in Maryland and that, in fact, access to abortion was expanded in the last General Assembly,” he said, but added that means that Catholics in the state must reach out to their friends, co-workers and neighbors to work harder to “change hearts and minds.”
Reactions to Lori’s comments on archdiocese social media accounts questioned whether the church would provide additional support for children and women affected by the ruling — such as subsidizing childcare or providing resources like diapers or housing to pregnant women. Others voiced their support for his comments and the ruling. But some wrote that there is still more to do, with one pointing to the strong abortion protections in Maryland.
It was up to each church or priest whether or not to mention the court’s ruling in their services, said Christian Kendzierski, executive director of communications for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
At the Basilica, Boric led the congregation in prayer.
“We pray a thanksgiving for the recent decision to overturn abortion as legal in this country. We pray that all states will respect life,” Boric said.
“Lord, hear our prayer,” congregants answered.
Baltimore Banner reporter Liz Bowie contributed to this report.