David Gibson has a post at Commonweal highlighting a story about Roman Catholic Belmont Abbey College breaking ground on a campus pregnancy and aftercare maternity home called “Room at the Inn.”  Fulfilling both its pro-life and social justice missions, building this kind of home sounds like it should be a no-brainer for a Catholic college.  But sadly, we instead find that this is a new idea:

Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, who spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony, described the center as “a witness to the entire church about what we need to do as a church.”

The priest also said the center should be a model for the rest of the country. “Every Catholic campus, every parish, every Catholic school, needs to be the place of first resort. When a young woman or a man feels that a new baby in their life is throwing everything out of control, they need to see that the church is the anchor, the place they can go to find help for themselves and their child.”

Indeed.  But isn’t it a scandal that “Room at the Inn”, instead of just being one of many such institutions already in place, is serving as a model?  Though what Pavone says above is true regardless of our country’s abortion policy, we have been dealing with the abortion wars for multiple generations now, and we are just now getting started with this? Perhaps due to the failure of liberal and conservative factions in the Church to work together, or at least with each others’ ideas, we have failed to meet the needs of pregnant women and girls who want to keep their children. Even on Roman Catholic campuses.  It is only anecdotal evidence of course, but I have spent much of my childhood and adult life associated with Catholic education, and I can’t remember ever seeing even a single pregnant student walking the halls or the sidewalks.  Not one.

I can hardly think of a better initiative than “Room at the Inn.”  It is the Church at its best, ministering to the vulnerable wherever we find them–prenatal or postnatal–and in ways which do not conform to late-20th century political categories.   But it is perhaps evidence of just how beholden we have been to such categories that Pavone must speak of the Inn as a new idea.

But it’s a start. And with something as important as this, better late than never.