CDWDS Confirms Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb

I read in the monthly newsletter of the USCCB’s Committee on Divine Worship (Vol. 48, April 2012) the following:

CDWDS Confirms Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb

The text of the Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb, approved in English and Spanish by the USCCB in November 2008, has been confirmed by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; the English text was confirmed on December 8, 2011 (Prot. n. 1422/08/L), and the Spanish text followed on March 1, 2012 (Prot. n. 125/12/L). Timothy Cardinal Dolan, USCCB President, authorized its use in the liturgy as of March 26, 2012, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.

This new blessing was originally developed in March 2008 by the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities for inclusion in the Book of Blessings and Bendicional, and further refined by the Committee on Divine Worship and the body of Bishops. The introduction to the rite observes that the blessing of an unborn child “sustains the parents by imparting grace and comfort in time of concern and need, unites the parish in prayer for the unborn child, and fosters respect for human life within society.”

Within Mass, the blessing of a child in the womb takes place after the Prayer of the Faithful; an additional solemn blessing at the end of Mass is also provided, drawn from number 272 of the Book of Blessings. The blessing may also take place within a celebration of the Word of God, celebrated by a priest or deacon either in a church or at another suitable location (such as a hospital, the home of the parents, etc.).

In sending the recognitio for the Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb, the Congregation also offered the following suggestion: “Supplementary materials for the faithful based on the themes of the ritual or even the text itself, such as a prayer card that could be prayed privately by an expectant mother, could certainly be created and distributed.” While there are no immediate plans to create such resources at a national level, diocesan efforts or even local efforts at the parish level could be undertaken at any time.

The text of the new Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb/Rito de bendición de una criatura en el vientre materno will be made available on the USCCB website during the week before Mother’s Day (May 13, 2012), with a printed booklet to follow, published by USCCB Communications. (The two U.S. publishers of the Book of Blessings, Catholic Book Publishing Corp. and Liturgical Press, are also expected to publish editions of the rite.)

For the benefit of our readers, the English and Spanish texts of the Prayer of Blessing, as taken from the new rite, are reprinted on the next page.


I made an image of the texts:


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Geoffrey says:

    Is there a Latin typical edition of this blessing?

  2. ivan_the_mad says:

    Great!!! It would be wonderful to hear this at nearly every Mass henceforward :) :)

  3. jasoncpetty says:

    Within Mass, the blessing of a child in the womb…

    More excursions?

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  5. I second the question about Latin. In fact, that was the first question that leaped to my mind.

  6. moon1234 says:

    Which begs the question, “Can an unbaptised person receive blessings?” I don’t know how grace can be imparted to an unbaptised person who is by definition cut off from grace until baptism. Grace could be imparted on the parents, but then the Rituale Romanum already has a specific blessing for expectant mothers AND additional blessings for a new mother (Churching of Women).

  7. heway says:

    I love this!! Working in labor rooms for many years , I have always noted that Protestant ministers come to the bedside of a woman in labor , where there is possibility of poor outcomes. They pray with the parents. On the other hand most Catholic priests show up after the death of a baby.
    As to baptism – the church permits baptism of desire – is there a Catholic mother who would not want to have their infant baptised? I doubt it. The child is encased in water and the words of baptism maybe enough. Let’s get working on this. thanks Father

  8. There appear to be no words in the priest’s prayers that actually constitute a blessing in the traditional sense. Only a request or wish that God will “bless this unborn child” and give it a constant protection and a healthy birth. Is a “blessing” such as this one–what’s called invocative rather than constitutive–a sacramental, or not? If not, what is the actual effect of such a “blessing”?

  9. mike cliffson says:

    Better to have it than not but even so
    Either I’m round the bend as well as getting Alzheimerish
    Or Mexican Spanish as per texmex has evolved in very unusual ways
    Or, not exclusively ,the Spanish of this blessing is very very hmm ……idiosyncratic.
    Still haven’t seen it here in Spain yet , so there you are

  10. mike cliffson says:

    My mistake – an American iniciative ! good on yer

  11. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    moon1234 and Henry Edward’s observations and questions sent me rereading and pondering St. Luke’s account of the Visitation: in “benedictus fructus ventris tui” (1:42) there is no verb (neither has the Greek source a verb). Can this as easily be an ‘blessing’ as an indicative statement – or even both at once? Or could precisely this form of words be a ‘blessing’ in other circumstances (and if so, used by whom with respect to whom)?

    With regard to jasoncpetty’s question, does this approved Rite in all its distinct personal specificity have any bearing on the discussion of the irregular ‘solatium’-type of blessing of non-communicants during Communion? (E.g., might an approved Rite for “the blessing of [any other, baptized] child [or adult…] tak[ing] place after the Prayer of the Faithful” be a future possibility for offering a ‘solatium’ without distractingly ‘intruding’ anything into the Communion?)

  12. Nicole says:

    moon1234 – an unbaptized person is not cut off from actual grace, only sanctifying grace. Actual grace must be there for the commission of any morally good act for those unbaptized or otherwise outside of the bonds of charity (the supernatural virtue, I mean). If this blessing helps ensure that these children are born alive and baptized, I don’t see what is wrong with it.

  13. filiusdextris says:

    Mike Cliffson, I agree that the translation seems loose at times: some phrases are slightly altered in meaning (though overall gist is fine), some word choice strikes me as odd, and there might be some actual translation errors (the only definite one is to remove the accent on ‘que’ in the last line of the prayer, but I also wonder if ‘parroquia’ would not be better off as ‘parroquial’).

  14. Supertradmum says:

    Six points: one, mothers and fathers by the fact that they are parents, can bless a child in the womb. Why the need for a more formal blessing? Two, mothers for centuries have asked priests spontaneously to bless their babes in wombs and priests do this. Why the need for a more formal blessing? Three, no more interruptions to the Mass. Four, as a former catechist for years, the sacrament which is most misundertood after marriage is baptism. Most Catholics do not understand that Original Sin is present, has effects, and must be taken away in that sacrament. Also, one does not become a child of God until baptism. We are in an age of the denial of the need for baptism and I think this blessing will confuse many Catholics. Five, a more formal blessing is technically a sacramental, is it not, and therefore only has merit in certain circumstances. So, what is the efficacy of such a blessing, obviously not sanctifying grace? Six, daily, I hear heresy about the Baptism of Desire. Parents cannot desire baptism for their children. A person of a rational age, technically over seven, can desire baptism and fall into the category of receiving Baptism of Desire, only if the sacrament is really not available and impossible because of, for example, political persecution. Indeed, I am tired of hearing that anyone can desire baptism for unborn babies, who are called martys, when they are not. They are victims, but not baptized and not capable of desiring baptism, which is the great tragedy of abortion.

    Again, if the Sacrament of Baptism, Original Sin, and the effects thereof were taught properly, this type of blessing could be seen as a pro-life gesture. I have a gut-feeling against this becoming common practice. I merely asked my pp for a blessing of my child in the womb after Mass one day. Why the drama? I think the bishops need more explanation rather than those given, which seem too obvious, as good Catholic parents will care for the unborn, bless him or her, and the members of the Church will support such.

  15. Philangelus says:

    I wish this had been around when I found out my unborn baby was going to die shortly before or after birth. I asked the parish priest if he could do some kind of conditional baptism on her before she was born, because there was a 50-50 chance she’d be stillborn. He said no. He didn’t even bless her. I blessed her with holy water whenever I could, though. (She did, in fact, live for two hours after birth, and my husband baptized her.)

    Father Z, what would have meant everything to me and the other moms of unborn babies diagnosed with a fatal birth defect would be a conditional baptism of the unborn. Do you think there’s any theoretical way something could ever be done in the future? Or does the physical element of water HAVE to be poured directly onto the baby?

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