Nine Days of Prayer for Roe v. Wade: March for Life in Washington is on Jan. 22

Last year in Washington

For the second year in a row, the U.S. Catholic bishops are sponsoring "Nine Days for Life: Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage," planned for Jan. 18-26 this year, as part of several events marking the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion virtually on demand in the U.S.

"Since that tragic decision, more than 55 million children's lives have been lost to abortion, and many suffer that loss—often in silence," says a posting on the website www.9daysforlife.com.

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Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said Jan. 15 that the number of abortions since the 1973 decision reflects "with heartbreaking magnitude" what Pope Francis means by a "throwaway culture."

"Yet our society relegates abortion to a matter of personal choice, often denying the integrity and even the recognition of the personhood of unborn children," he said in a statement. "However, we have great trust in God's providence."

Cardinal O'Malley urged all Catholics to participate in nine-day pro-life novena, whether they planned to travel to Washington or not for this year's March for Life Jan. 22.

The 9daysforlife website offers participants several ways to sign up to receive directly a daily simple novena with different intercessions, brief reflections and suggested acts of reparation via email or text message or by using an app for smartphones.

Several resources for prayer and activities—as well as the full reflections for each of the nine days -- are available online in the "Pro-Life Activities" section of the U.S. bishops' website, www.usccb.org.

By participating in the pro-life novena and calling "upon the Lord for the healing and conversion of our nation and those impacted by the culture of death," Cardinal O'Malley said, "we are also reminded—through the very act of prayer—of our beautiful dependence on God and his deep love for each of us."

Jan. 22 is the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions in the Roe case and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton. Once gain the National Mall in Washington will be site of the annual March for Life marking those rulings. Thousands of pro-lifers are expected to descend on the nation's capital for the rally and march to the Supreme Court.

The March for Life—which has adoption as its theme this year—will begin with a pre-rally event with live music at 11:30 a.m., followed by a noon rally with a host of speakers. The march begins immediately afterward, with participants walking from the Mall to Constitution Avenue and ending up at the U.S. Supreme Court.

On the eve of the annual march, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities and The Catholic University of America's Office of Campus Ministry will sponsor the annual National Prayer Vigil for Life at the national shrine.

It will open Jan. 21 with a 6:30 p.m. Mass to be celebrated in the Washington shrine's Great Upper Church. Cardinal O'Malley will be the principal celebrant and homilist.

The vigil will continue in the shrine's Crypt Church with the National Rosary for Life at 10 p.m., followed by night prayer at 11 p.m. The vigil continues overnight in the Crypt Church, with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Holy Hours every hour on the hour starting at midnight and continuing through 6 a.m.

After morning prayer, Benediction and reposition of the Blessed Sacrament at 6:30 a.m., Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput will be the celebrant and homilist at the vigil's closing Mass at 7:30 a.m. Mass in the national shrine's Great Upper Church.

Last year, more than 20,000 pro-life pilgrims attended the vigil.

Across the country, three days after the Washington events, more than 50,000 people are expected to gather Jan. 25 for the 10th annual Walk for Life West Coast.

"The pro-life spirit is truly alive in San Francisco and the Walk for Life West Coast continues to be a wonderful way for those who care about women and their babies, born and unborn, to show that life is the only choice," Eva Muntean, the event's co-chair, told Catholic San Francisco, the archdiocesan newspaper.

The crowd will gather at Civic Center Plaza for a 12:30 p.m. rally, then walk down Market Street starting at 1:30 p.m. The event will conclude with a celebration at Justin Herman Plaza near the Ferry Building.

To celebrate and promote this year's walk, the Walk for Life has released a short promotional video that can be seen at www.walkforlifewc.com.

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone will deliver the invocation for the walk at Civic Center Plaza. He has invited the priests and people of all the parishes and schools of the archdiocese to attend.

"The growth and enthusiasm surrounding the walk proves that our pro-life message continues to resonate with the culture to fill the void secular society creates when it excludes God, virtue and an understanding of the profound dignity of human life," Archbishop Cordileone wrote in his letters to pastors, priests, Catholic school teachers and students in the San Francisco Archdiocese.

The archbishop also will celebrate a 9:30 a.m. Walk for Life West Coast Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral.

"People, especially our young people, are more and more receptive to the message that abortion hurts women, men and families. They understand that it is inherently unfair to generations of their peers who never had the opportunity to experience life. This is why turnout by our students and young people continues to rise," the archbishop wrote.

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Jim Lein
4 years 8 months ago
What if Roe v. Wade is overturned? Then what? Abortion will not stop. It is positively correlated to poor economic conditions. During the Great Depression we had a higher rate of abortions than now. After AFDC was ended in 1996 there was a eventual and significant increase in abortions among women who would have formerly been covered by AFDC. How can we show such concern for a fetus, embryo or zygote and not for the womb, the woman carrying them? How can we cut SNAP and WIC? Roe v. Wade is largely irrelevant to the task of meeting women's needs so that they feel capable of bringing a baby into the world. We have to work more on changing that world. Then maybe change the law. IMHO.
Michael Barberi
4 years 8 months ago
According to many surveys the inconsistent use and lack of contraception accounts for the overwhelming percentage of women who have unintended pregnancies and abortions. The great majority of them are single, unmarried women often living in poverty or near poverty conditions. A very small percentage of married women have abortions. This is the profound paradox. The responsible use of contraception could eliminate most unintended pregnancies and abortions, but this goes against official Church teachings. Poverty and ignorance is a major underlying cause of abortions, especially for those women who are single, not Catholic or religious. Abortion on demand is always sinful and every attempt must be made to find a solution that will work. Pre-marital sex is also immoral. However, overturning Roe vs. Wade will not eliminate or seriously diminish unintended pregnancies and abortions.
Frank Gibbons
4 years 8 months ago
Thank you, America, for speaking on behalf of the sanctity of life in the womb.
Marie Rehbein
4 years 8 months ago
It seems to me that at least some of the people who are so outspoken against abortion are people who have either had abortions or encouraged someone to have an abortion. It's as if they are doing some kind of penance with their protest, are in some kind of denial of their own responsibility for bringing upon themselves feelings of guilt or remorse, or both. Many of us who are not so affected would prefer to address whatever circumstances cause people to conceive when they don't wish to have children and cause them to determine that their offspring should not be born.
Carlos Orozco
4 years 8 months ago
Checked CNN in the morning at the top of the hour, expecting some coverage on yesterday's March for Life -the biggest on Washington year after year. Nothing. But I learned there were more important news to follow: Justin Bieber was arrested for drag racing and the Super Bowl could be postponed due to freezing weather. Last time I try to get news from the dinosaur corporate media.
Beth Cioffoletti
4 years 8 months ago
I have a very hard time with the abortion issue because it is so embedded in politics in this country. Yes, I am pro-life, and I wish that every child conceived can be received into the world with love and nurturance. But as long as abortion is treated as a singular issue, separated out from the sacredness of each and every life, it is divisive and political. Yes, Cardinal O'Malley's comments were good, mentioning abortion in the context of a "throwaway" culture, but I wish he could have included the example of all those who are thrown away into the many prisons of our country, some to be killed, others to just fade away, forgotten. If we could tie all this together I would be there, marching right along side of them. Until that time, I will stand beside the others who are thrown away and killed, but not mentioned.
Carlos Orozco
4 years 8 months ago
The abortion issue and the some of the relativistic views from some whom have posted here remind me of the words of Dostoyevsky's Ivan Karamazov. The dialogue I refer to prepares the scene for the astonishing chapter of the "The Grand Inquisitor" in "The Brothers Karamazov", in which Dostoyevsky can only resolve his character's horror (which was his own) with the figure and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Ivan, the atheist of the Karamazov brethren, lost faith in God upon learning of many instances of senseless injustices and cruelties committed against children (some things never change, I guess). Speaking to Alyosha, his religious brother, a desperate Ivan asks if it would be legitimit to sacrifice a SINGLE child, if that would solve ALL the world's problems. After receiving the obvious Christian answser from Alyosha (not obvious to a worldly mind), Ivan says something along the lines of: "I agree. I could not live in a world whose happiness has been bought at the price of such innocent blood. Even if the mother of the child could forgive the assassin, I could not." In our days, some Christians would ask Mr. Karamazov to calm down and not "politicize", others would scorn him for rejecting a single sacrifice in order to have a "better world".
Beth Cioffoletti
4 years 8 months ago
I'm sorry, Carlos, I don't understand. Where are the relativistic views in the comments? I read through every one of them and I don't find one that is relativistic or not squarely in the pro-life ballpark. Perhaps I was not so clear in my own comment by bringing the executed into the pro-life discussion. I find myself wondering if Ivan K. had asked Alyosha if it would be legitimate to kill a SINGLE human being, if that would solve the world's problems, what would Alyosha say?
Carlos Orozco
4 years 8 months ago
Alyosha and Ivan do answer your question of capital punishment in the novel, Beth. One of Ivan's examples of barbaric behavior is that of capital punishment. To put into question any Western moral superioirity, he recalls news of an execution in Switzerland: the murderer -abused like an animal since childhood- had truely embraced the Gospel in prison and practiced sincere penance for his crime. But the good people of Geneva still decapitated him, for justice had to be served. Still they rejoiced that there brother had gone to heaven, but the Russian spirit of Ivan does not understand why "they have not followed suit" if such was their joy.
Marie Rehbein
4 years 8 months ago
Carlos, can you not see how this issue is being used by politicians? If there is a political or legal solution to the problem why is the problem not solved yet? The reality is that each abortion comes out of one personal decision on the part of one pregnant woman. Women don't have abortions because they are legal, they are legal because women have them and punishing women for it does nothing to prevent it.
Carlos Orozco
4 years 8 months ago
Marie, there will always be abortions, just as there will always be murders. The Cainic temptation is always present. We can lust for the blood of our enemies or we can casually decide that we hurt no one by destroying those whom have not yet a name and earn a few bucks in the process. Politicians, as all Catholics, are called to transform the world. Does not Vatican II teach that? Unjust laws must not be obeyed, and true Catholic politicians (not the likes of Nancy Pelosi) must fight to bring them down. Roe v. Wade is an unjust a law as can exist and has given legal shelter to the destruction of millions of human lives. What could we answer future generations when asked the reason of our timid response in face of such evil?
Marie Rehbein
4 years 8 months ago
So, Carlos, your argument is that abortions should not only kill the unborn but should endanger the lives and future fertility of the women who have them? Your philosophical argument might be one that a woman should have with herself before deciding to terminate a pregnancy, but it cannot be written into law.

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