WASHINGTON (April 12, 2000) -- An official of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, Helen Alvare, issued the following statement regarding the many stories that are appearing nationwide about the Church's outreach to women and men suffering after abortion.
"Nationally and internationally, dozens of stories are appearing about our recently begun national advertising program to reach out to women and men suffering after abortion. The number of women and men calling for help to local Project Rachel ministries since this program has begun has been enormous. We are delighted that so many are becoming aware, through the media, of our offer of help. A number of reports, however, contain inaccuracies which should be corrected.
"The purpose of this program is to offer women and men suffering after abortion any help they need. Ordinarily, this involves referral to professional counselors or priests. Some clients are practicing Catholics, some have left the Church, and many are non-Catholics. Neither returning Catholics to the faith nor proselytizing are goals of this program.
"While running the Project Rachel ads in the Greater Baltimore/Washington metropolitan area, approximately 40 percent of those calling the DC office for post-abortion counseling were non-Catholics. Many were referred to Protestant ministers, to a rabbi and to lay counselors, but many non-Catholics were pleased to talk to priests. Every effort was made to offer the kind of help the caller most needed and desired. In less than eight weeks, 346 referrals for counseling were arranged by the DC office alone.
"The program was planned one year in advance and timed to coincide with the opening months of the Jubilee year, a traditional time in the Christian calendar for offers of reconciliation and healing. It was not planned to coincide with any other event concerning abortion.
"The National Conference of Catholic Bishops' Pro-Life Committee made the decision to highlight post-abortion healing during the Jubilee year.
"The website www.hopeafterabortion.com provides detailed information on the aftermath of abortion written by women, by psychiatric professionals, and excerpted from journals of medicine and psychology. It lists the approximately 150 Project Rachel offices in the US and describes the components of the Jubilee Program.
"Project Rachel is a ministry of the Catholic Church and has been active for over 15 years. Special multi-media outreach programs are taking place throughout the Jubilee year in dioceses across the country. For additional information on Project Rachel or the multi-media outreach, contact Helen Alvare at 202-541-3070."