WASHINGTON (CNS) — The U.S.
bishops’ nationwide “9 Days for Life” campaign is “a great way to put our faith
into action,” said Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
He made the comments in a video posted
on a website about the Jan. 21-29 campaign, www.9daysforlife.com. The site
offers four ways for participants to receive daily prayers, suggested
reflections and practical actions for the campaign, along with links to the
free “9 Days for Life” smartphone app.
“We’re praying for a lot of
things this month, including racial harmony, Christian unity and the protection
of all human life,” Cardinal Dolan said in a Jan. 19 statement inviting
Catholics and others to take part in “9 Days for Life.” He noted that the
beginning of the campaign overlapped with the annual Week of Prayer for
Christian Unity, observed this year Jan. 18-25.
“As we pray for that unity, I
invite our brothers and sisters in Christ to join in the ‘9 Days for Life’
prayer campaign. Together, our prayers and actions can witness to the dignity
of the human person,” he said.
“9 Days for Life” is the U.S.
bishops’ annual prayer and action novena taking place around the anniversary of
Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion throughout
nine months of pregnancy. This year’s annual March for Life to mark the Roe
anniversary is Jan. 27.
At “the heart” of the campaign
is prayer “for an end to abortion,” said Deirdre McQuade, spokeswoman for the
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro Life Activities. “But each day treats a different
aspect of respecting human dignity — from the beginning of life to its natural
end. The most delicate, defenseless members of society deserve the most legal
protection, but under Roe v. Wade, they have the least.
“That has an eroding effect on
respect for everyone else, including their mothers and other vulnerable people,”
she told Catholic News Service. “During the ‘9 Days for Life,’ we will beg God
to make all forms of violence and exploitation a thing of the past.”
“We live in an abortion-wounded
nation,” McQuade said, “but we also know that God’s loving mercy is limitless.
He offers it so freely to us if we ask. So we’re also praying for the healing
of those who’ve been involved in abortion in any way.” She noted that the intention
for the campaign’s second day is for post-abortion healing.
During the nine days, “thousands
of individuals will make a kind of ‘virtual pilgrimage’ in solidarity as we all
pray the same daily intentions together and consider making the suggested acts
of reparation,” she explained. Participants can pray daily, gather for
fellowship and discussion, and share their experiences on social media with the
“The four ways to receive the
daily intentions — mobile apps, text messages, emails and social media —
will unite us in prayer and action on the ‘digital continent,'” McQuade added.
Parishes, schools, families,
youth groups and others are all encouraged to participate using the available
resources and materials “as they see fit,” she said.
The “9 Days campaign” was
started in January 2014, and according to McQuade, participation in it “has
grown by leaps and bounds every year.
“As a massive spiritual project,
we may never know all the fruit it yields in this world,” she told CNS. “But
God is certainly at work and we entrust the future to his providence.”
McQuade pointed to “two
encouraging signs of hope” that the campaign is having an impact. “We do know
that abortion rates are going down each year, and more people are reaching out
for confidential post-abortion healing as Project Rachel expands across the
She also remarked on the novena’s
overlap with the prayers for Christian unity.
“Cardinal Dolan beautifully
invited our brothers and sisters in Christ to join us in the effort,” McQuade
said. “Promoting the dignity of the human person throughout the life span isn’t
just a Catholic task. Praying and working together, we can make a difference
for our most vulnerable neighbors.”
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