The first step towards a national Catholic pregnancy support network was taken on November 8 when Archbishop John Bathersby launched Pregnancy Crisis Incorporated in Brisbane.
PCI co-founders Alan and Patti Camp plan to establish national counselling, support and education services underpinned by a Catholic ethos and theology, which started in Queensland with the November 8 launch.
By Anthony Barich
“We do not wish to duplicate existing Catholic ethos services anywhere,” Mrs Camp said. There already exist at least two such agencies – Pregnancy Assistance, founded by Catholics and launched by Archbishop Barry Hickey in 1996, and another launched in Frankston by Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart on October 7. “Future contact will be made with these Agencies to work together before PCI expands,” Mrs Camp said.
In early 2006, Brisbane-based industrial relations advocacy workers Mr and Mrs Camp researched Catholic services to women in crisis pregnancies and “found many opportunities” for the introduction of many services.
They approached the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s Commission for Pastoral Life and produced a national list of counselling and crisis pregnancy accommodation services.
Prior to this they had started a Family Prayer Movement and completed a full-length pro-life feature film.
They intend to establish Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as a foundation for the work of PCI, which has a lawyer assisting in charity association law and two gynecologists and obstetricians on its advisory committee. Its spiritual director is Marist Father Michael Rego SM who has composed a special “Life Prayer”.
PCI, a state-registered charity which is funded entirely by donations from the Catholic faithful and staffed by volunteers, also assists clients who wish to have their child adopted.
Mrs Camp told The Record that their aim is to establish an “easy to remember” national pregnancy crisis hotline, referring clients to their nearest centre including Perth-based Abortion Grief Counselling and other Catholic Agencies, if that is their wish.
She says services need to be provided where there are none in Australia.
The Camps are co-workers with the lay apostolate of the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Blessed Mother Teresa. The Order has offered to help women with crisis pregnancies with short-term accommodation. Precise details are available from PCI.
“We are attempting to bring the charism of Blessed Mother Teresa to the pro-life movement in Australia,” Mrs Camp said. “Once PCI is established in Queensland we will expand our services throughout Australia. We believe that the issue of abortion should be raised to the highest level of consideration in our Catholic Church.” The Camps have approached over 65 Religious congregations around Australia and archdiocesan prayer groups in Queensland to mobilise prayer support for the initiative.
Queensland Bioethics Centre director Ray Campbell told Brisbane’s The Catholic Leader that “well organised support for vulnerable pregnant women who want to continue with their pregnancy has been lacking in Brisbane”.
The local St Vincent de Paul Society and PCI will provide baby packs for the first six months of the child’s life in cases where the mother or family is impoverished. PCI has already received donations of baby goods.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of PCI.