Beginning in the second week of May when many countries around the world celebrate Mother’s Day, the text of the “Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb”, having received the approval of the Holy See, will be made available in parishes throughout the United States. The announcement was made recently in a note issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops informing the faithful that the the text – printed in both English and Spanish – has received the “recognitio” of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and chairman of the episcopal conference’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, has explained that the blessing was prepared 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”. The blessing may be imparted either during the liturgy or outside of Mass and the text will eventually be included in the Book of Blessings, after it has been revised.
The blessing of unborn children was promoted by Archbishop Joseph Edward Kurtz of Louisville. When bishop of Knoxville he had asked the Committee on Pro-Life Activities to see whether a blessing existed for a child in the womb. When none was found, the committee began preparing a text which was presented to the Divine Worship Committee in March 2008. In November of the same year the full body of bishops approved the prayer and it was sent to the Holy See for the “recognitio”.