Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

  • Altar servers await the procession during the Mass for the Unborn at the Cathedral of Christ the King. Photo by Johnathon Kelso
  • Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., prays with the faithful during the at the 33rd annual Mass for the Unborn at the Cathedral of Christ the King. Photo by Johnathon Kelso
  • The faithful stand for the liturgy during the Mass for the Unborn at the Cathedral of Christ the King on Jan. 21. A youth rally followed Mass. Photo by Johnathon Kelso
  • The Youth Rally for Life emcee speaks to students during the event. Photo by Johnathon Kelso
  • High school students participate in the conversation during the Youth Rally for Life.  Photo by Johnathon Kelso
  • Director of Respect Life Ministry Joey Martineck speaks with students from St. John Neumann Regional School at the Jan. 21 Youth for Life Rally at Cathedral of Christ the King. Photo by Johnathon Kelso
  • Guest speaker Julieta Sanchez Acosta hugs her son after giving her testimony to students at the Youth Rally for Life at the Cathedral of Christ the King.

Altar servers await the procession during the Mass for the Unborn at the Cathedral of Christ the King. Jan. 21. Photo by Johnathon Kelso


Archbishop Hartmayer calls for building ‘a culture of life and love’ for pregnant women 

By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published February 3, 2022

ATLANTA—The Mass for the Unborn on Jan. 21 attracted scores of believers, from students dressed in colorful school shirts to volunteers serving women facing crisis pregnancies.  

At the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta Archbishop Gregory Hartmayer, OFM Conv., delivered an impassioned homily.  

A child pats his father’s head during the 33rd annual Mass at the Cathedral of Christ the King. Photo by Johnathon Kelso

He said, “The culture of death must be replaced with a culture of life and love.”   

When the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its decision on Roe vs. Wade, he said, the community must tell “the young pregnant woman who is afraid, we must say everything will be OK. We love you and support you.”  

It was the 33rd annual local commemoration of the legalization of abortion, which the archbishop called “one of the darkest days in our human history.”  

The annual event takes place each year in January on or around the anniversary of Roe v Wade’s 1973 decision. The observation comes as the Supreme Court considers a Mississippi law that may restrict or reverse the right to an abortion.   

Bishop Bernard E. Shlesinger III and about a dozen Atlanta priests joined the archbishop at the Friday morning Mass.  

Parish leaders and students working in the Respect Life ministry were commissioned at the Mass by the archbishop for another year of service. 

Walking with others in need 

In his homily, Archbishop Hartmayer said women should be wrapped in support with access to necessary services so they can continue with their pregnancy.  

“A culture of death must be replaced with a civilization of life and love. Life is good because it comes from God,” he said.   

He highlighted the national effort of Walking with Moms in Need, which is slowly growing with more chapters at archdiocesan parishes.  

The intention of the program is to increase the church’s assistance to pregnant and parenting women.  

“We must show all people we are for life,” he said.   

Georgia is one of 26 states where a law limiting abortion would likely go into effect if the court reconsiders the laws surrounding abortion, according to Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights.   

A man prays the rosary during the 33rd annual Mass for the Unborn at the Cathedral of Christ the King. Photo by Johnathon Kelso

Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation in 2019 to ban abortions in Georgia when heartbeat activity is detectable, which usually occurs about six weeks into a pregnancy. However, the disputed law has been tied up in federal court ever since.  

Respect Life Director Joey Martineck said he is cautiously optimistic the court will change the law on abortion. But he said that is when anti-abortion supporters will need to get to work.  

If the community does not step in to help pregnant women, it will only confirm the worst of what abortion-rights supporters say about the pro-life movement, Martineck said.   

Some 31,000 women had abortions in Georgia according to the most recent statistics, which means Respect Life ministers will need to serve them, he said. There are some 83 crisis pregnancy centers in the state and each will need to be part of the response for the tens of thousands of women turning to them for help, he said.   

Walking with Moms in Need is one of his projects. Martineck said he’s seen more parishes adopt the program. He said there are 13 parishes with active volunteers, in addition, some 18 signs have been placed to direct women on how to link up with national and local resources.  

A Youth Rally for Life after the Mass drew some 50 students in middle and high school. There they heard speakers talking about abortion, life decisions faced by women and the church’s position.   

Abortion is “a great moral evil” that needs to be called out, Martineck said. Church leaders need to talk about it, not only to remind people of its severity but also for believers to know God’s mercy, he said. God’s mercy extends to every person, no matter the sin, he said. 

“It’s a message our church constantly needs to be reminded of,” said Martineck.  

Altar servers kneel during the 33rd annual Mass for the Unborn at the Cathedral of Christ the King. Archbishop Hartmayer celebrated the Mass. Photo by Johnathon Kelso

For some people, the idea that God would forgive women who have had abortions or medical providers challenges their faith.  

“The issue really tells you how much we believe in God’s mercy,” he said.   

Sydney Morse spends time with women at the crossroads of whether to receive an abortion or bring the child to term. She shared her experience as a client advocate with Pregnancy Aid Clinic. She said many women are dealing with tremendous hardship in their lives, from concerns about housing and the relationship with the father to employment and o being able to afford raising a child.    

In her two years working at the clinic, Morse said she helps women line up resources needed to welcome a child. Giving women early in their pregnancy a chance to see an ultrasound image is a catalyst that shows “you are a mom,” she said.   

“Our goal is to actually give them a choice—a choice to keep the baby,” said Morse.