My Dear Friends,

On June 24, 2022, the United States Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion in its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision. This monumental ruling was due in no small part to the prayers and efforts of committed Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, those of other faith traditions, and some with no religious affiliation, who sought to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us – unborn infants in the womb.

Pro-life advocates gather for the 50th annual March for Life in Washington Jan. 20, 2023. (OSV News photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

While the overturning of Roe v. Wade has given us all hope by allowing for greater freedom at the state level to enact pro-life laws, many legislative battles continue to loom on the horizon. Of note, are concerns regarding the longstanding Hyde protections which limit government funding for abortion on annual appropriation bills. Throughout its history, the Hyde Amendment has saved over 2 million lives and is arguably the most impactful pro-life policy in our nation’s history.

Sadly, however, it can no longer be taken for granted. And on a more local level, the fight to protect human life is just as urgent as ever, given the increasing number of states that are intent upon passing pro-abortion legislation.

On Friday, January 19, 2024, marchers from throughout our country will converge on our nation’s capital for the 51st annual March for Life. The theme for this year’s march is “Pro Life: With Every Woman, For Every Child.” While advocating for the right to life of the unborn, this year’s march challenges the false narrative around abortion that suggests such a choice to be “empowering” for women. In selecting this year’s theme, march organizers have emphasized that “women deserve to know all of their options, such as the love, compassion and free resources that are available to them through the vast pro-life safety net.” The pro-life movement supports women “before, during and after pregnancy.”

In the Diocese of Scranton, we are blessed with numerous opportunities to support women throughout the course of their pregnancies and beyond, from facilities like Providence Pregnancy Center in Scranton – to parish-based ministries such as Walking with Moms in Need – to Shepherds Maternity House in East Stroudsburg that provides a safe home and assistance for pregnant woman and mothers and their newborn babies – to Saint Joseph’s Center – to ministries like Project Rachel that offer hope, healing and spiritual renewal to women and couples who suffer after participating in abortion. The need to ensure the ongoing presence of such ministries is vital.

Sadly, however, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, efforts to protect human life are being compromised more than we might realize. Plans are continuing to terminate Real Alternatives, a statewide contract maintained by federal and state funding, which has been in existence for over 27 years and has provided a critical lifeline to nearly 350,000 women who have suddenly found themselves in need when confronted with an unplanned pregnancy. The termination of this vital contract will almost certainly result in diminished funding for critical pregnancy and parenting support for mothers, including funding for Saint Joseph’s Center and most notably, Shepherd’s Maternity House in Stroudsburg, that receives over 80% of its annual funding through a grant from Real Alternatives.

Brothers and sisters, the work to preserve and protect human life did not come to an end with the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe. While the current landscape requires our attention to legislative efforts on both the federal and state levels, the most important work that it demands is the changing of minds and hearts – our own and those of others. That occurs through prayer and through our efforts to walk with women and their children – to assist them during unplanned or difficult pregnancies – to be available to them for support and care once their children have been born – to love and accept them in the midst of challenges – and to respectfully advocate for life at every opportunity.

Consider participating in this year’s March for Life in Washington, D.C. on Friday, January 19th … Join with me for a special Mass for Life in Saint Peter’s Cathedral, Scranton on Sunday, January 21st at 5:00 p.m … Mark your calendars now and plan to travel to Harrisburg with me and thousands of others from across the Commonwealth for the 3rd annual Pennsylvania March for Life on September 23rd.

As faithful disciples of Jesus, we have been given a noble task to respect and reverence every human life as made in the image and likeness of our Creator. May we live our faith with authenticity and so help to create a culture of life that not only makes abortion unthinkable but treasures every life – from the unborn to mothers in need – to the elderly, the sick, the poor, the disabled, the prisoner, the immigrant and all whose lives are in jeopardy.


Faithfully yours in Christ,

Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L.
Bishop of Scranton