A little one, at seven to eight weeks after conception.A little one, at seven to eight weeks after conception.WASHINGTON – The Vatican has given its approval to the publication of a Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb.

The rite was earlier approved by the US bishops in November 2008, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops announced on March 26.

The blessing was prepared to support parents awaiting the birth of their child, to encourage parish prayers for and recognition of the gift of the child in the womb, and to foster respect for human life within society.

It can be offered within the context of Mass as well as outside of Mass, and for an individual mother, a couple or a group of expectant parents.

The Vatican approval, or “recognitio”, came from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

The blessing originated when then-Bishop Joseph E Kurtz of Knoxville, Tennessee, (now Archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky) asked the US Catholic bishops’ pro-life committee to see if such a blessing existed.

When none was found, the committee prepared a text and submitted it to the bishops’ divine worship committee in March 2008.

“May almighty God, who has created new life, now bless the child in your womb,” the blessing says.

“The Lord has brought you the joy of motherhood: May He bless you with a safe and healthy pregnancy. You thank the Lord today for the gift of your child: May He bring you and your child one day to share in the unending joys of heaven.”

The blessing includes intercessions for the US government and civic leaders “that they may perform their duties with justice and compassion while respecting the gift of human life” and “for a safe and healthy pregnancy for all expectant mothers and for a safe delivery for their children”.

It also expresses concern “for children who are unwanted, unloved, abandoned or abused, that the Lord will inspire His people to protect and care for them”.

If used as a blessing outside Mass, the service includes introductory prayers, Scripture readings, intercessions, the actual blessing of the mother and child, and a concluding rite.

There are also optional prayers for fathers, for families and for the parish community. - CNS

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