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Wanted for funding the criminalization of Abortion: The Grand Rapids Catholic Diocese

September 29, 2022

This is the firth in a series of WANTED posters, looking at individuals, families and organizations in West Michigan that have contributed significantly to the criminalization of abortion and the undermining of reproductive justice.

Today’s focus is on the Catholic Church, specifically the Grand Rapids Catholic Diocese. The Catholic Church universally condemns abortion, but since we are looking at entities in West Michigan, the Grand Rapids Catholic Diocese makes the most sense.

The Catholic Church in Grand Rapids, like all Catholic Churches, relies on a hierarchy, which dictates church beliefs and church policy. The Catholic Church has long insisted that having an abortion is a sin. The Catholic Church uses the institutional structure to also communicate messaging around abortion, whether that is from the pulpit, in newsletters of public statements. In a statement after the US Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the head of the Grand Rapids Catholic Diocese, Bishop Walkowiak wrote:

“The United States Supreme Court’s decision moves America one step closer to protecting human life from its earliest stages of existence. The Catholic Church remains committed to helping women and couples who are facing unexpected or difficult pregnancies. For every pregnant woman who may be unsure of what is next, the Catholic Church is here. We will continue to accompany and care for women in need of emotional, spiritual, or physical support and their child(ren), born and unborn. Support is available through Catholic Churches as well as other local organizations.”

In the November Elections, people will be able to vote on the issue of abortion, with Proposal 3. In response to this, Bishop Walkowiak wrote a column in the Catholic Diocese magazine Faith, stating:

All people should oppose this proposed amendment. I urge you to go to the polls to vote “NO” on the “Reproductive Freedom for All” constitutional ballot proposal in November. 

Such advocacy is nothing new. In 2019, the Grand Rapids Catholic Diocese worked with the Michigan Catholic Conference, in order to provide information on HB 4320. The Grand Rapids Catholic Church provided opportunities for parishioners to sign petitions in support of what they referred to as “partial-birth abortion and dismemberment abortion ban act,” in July of 2019. You can read a letter that Bishop Walkowiak wrote, a letter that appeared in Church bulletin all across the Diocese. 

In addition, the Grand Rapids Catholic Diocese has a Respect Life Ministry, which provides education, resources and other support systems to promote an anti-abortion agenda.

The Catholic Church is arguably the most powerful religious institution on the planet, so we should not be surprised that Roe v. Wade was overturned and that the Catholic Church played a major role in the criminalization of abortion. The Catholic Church can encourage their members on how to vote and to make campaign contributions to candidates that take an anti-abortion stance, thus wielding tremendous influence over public policy.

We encourage you to share this poster and consider directing some of your rage at the recent US Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v Wade towards the Grand Rapids Catholic Dioceses. Their headquarters are located on the corner of Wealthy and Division in Grand Rapids, which could be one of the stops on the march for reproductive freedom.

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