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Bishop: A great prayer for life is urgently needed

Posted By January 17, 2013 | 12:51 pm | Lead Story #1
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Bishop McManus has called upon the people of the diocese to take part in a Day of Prayer and Penance Jan. 22 as well as the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ new initiative, the Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty, which will continue throughout this Year of Faith.
“In accordance with the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Jan. 22 is to be a ‘day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion, and of prayer for the full restoration of  the legal guarantee of the right to life,’” he wrote. (Letter on Page 4.)
Jan. 22 will mark the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, which by a 7 to 2 decision, essentially legalized abortion.
A second decision, Doe v. Bolton, made abortion legal in every state for all nine months of pregnancy, the bishop noted in the letter he wrote to the people of the diocese.
On Jan. 22, 2003, the U.S. Catholic bishops  made it mandatory in all U.S. dioceses that Jan. 22 (or Jan. 23 when Jan. 22 falls on a Sunday) be observed as a particular day of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life, and of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion.
Bishop McManus wrote that 40 years of legalized abortion has “left an incomprehensible aftermath.” He said that more than 55 million lives have been lost and “countless women and men, mothers and fathers, grandparents, siblings and friends” have been wounded “physically, emotionally and spiritually by this tragedy, we need now more than ever to re-commit ourselves to defending life.”
“I encourage our diocesan parishes and institutions, and all the faithful, to observe reverently the Day of Prayer and Penance on Jan. 22 both personally and within your communities. Let us unite our hearts and minds through special acts of prayer, fasting and sacrifice on this day to uphold the inherent dignity of human life from conception to natural death,” Bishop McManus wrote.
With the Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty initiative, the U.S. bishops are encouraging Catholics throughout the United States to pray for rebuilding the culture.
Bishop McManus said that “this Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty is something that all of us can participate in both personally and communally.”
“While you will be hearing more about this initiative in your parishes, I wish to personally invite everyone to take this opportunity to increase our spiritual stamina and fortitude by joining our fellow Catholics across the country through participation in the monthly holy hours that will be offered in our parishes, saying the rosary regularly, fasting and abstaining from meat on Fridays and other devotions and events that will take place in the diocese,” the bishop wrote.
Catholics in the United States are being encouraged to pray for rebuilding a culture favorable to life and marriage and for increased protections  of religious liberty, according to Allison LeDoux, diocesan director of the Respect Life Office, who received the information from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The bishops said the call to prayer is promoted by the “unprecedented challenges to the Church and the nation, particularly the HHS mandate and current trends in government and culture toward redefining marriage.
The goals of the call to prayer are to increase awareness of the challenges and to build spiritual stamina and  fortitude among the faithful “so that we can be effective and joyful witnesses of faith, hope and charity and agents of the new evangelization.”
The five components of the Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty initiative are monthly eucharistic holy hours in cathedrals and parishes, daily rosary by families and individuals, special prayers of the faithful at all Masses, fasting and abstinence from meat on Fridays and a second Fortnight for Freedom in June-July 2013.
“Let us take the opportunity of the Jan. 22 Day of Prayer and Penance and the year-long Call to Prayer initiative to renew our resolve to live and proclaim the Gospel of Life,” Bishop McManus wrote. “May we respond generously to the challenge Blessed Pope John Paul II put forth in his Evangelium vitae: ‘A great prayer in life is urgently needed, a prayer which will rise up throughout the world. May an impassioned plea to God, the Creator and lover of life, from the heart of every believer.’ Our active participation in the shared commitment to the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person will, with God’s grace, truly work toward the building up of a culture of life and a civilization of love.”