(Vatican Radio) Tuesday marks the 40th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which legalised abortion throughout the country. Since that time, more than 55 million abortions have been performed in the United States alone.
In a statement calling for prayer and penance, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Cardinal Sean Oâ€™Malley, called on Catholics to participate in “Nine Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage.”
â€œThe evil of abortion inflicts unimaginable pain,â€ he said, â€œbut Jesus offers us healing and renewal. He came not to condemn us, but to free us from the burden of the wrongs we have done so that all might be saved.â€
He concluded his message with the â€œhope and prayer that our defense of human life and religious freedom, our witness to the dignity of each and every human person, our compassionate service and our prayers calling on the infinite love and mercy of God will spark a renewal of love and commitment to the true good of others.â€
The complete text of Cardinal Oâ€™Malleyâ€™s Statement on the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade:
“January 22, 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the tragic U.S. Supreme Court rulings Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. Without grounding in the Constitution, law or human rights, these decisions have made it legal for the past forty years in the United States to end the life of an unborn child. Since then fifty-five million children never had the chance to be born. The scope of this loss is staggering, yet the Court and many in our society relegate it to a matter of personal choice.
“As part of the ongoing response to innocent children’s lives being taken with the protection of the law, the U.S. Catholic bishops have launched a major pastoral initiative calling for prayer and penance to promote and build a culture of life, marriage and religious liberty.
“The initiative includes “Nine Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage” from January 19 to 27, 2013. I invite Catholics in the United States to join me in this novena. It includes daily prayer intentions for the healing and conversion of our nation, for elected officials who support abortion, and for all people whose lives have forever been changed by an abortion. The novena is available through social media, text messaging and email, to be helpful for youth and other pilgrims traveling to pro-life events and marches and for those wishing to participate from their parishes and homes.
“Our nation greatly needs our prayers and personal sacrifices. The evil of abortion inflicts unimaginable pain, but Jesus offers us healing and renewal. He came not to condemn us, but to free us from the burden of the wrongs we have done so that all might be saved. His Divine Mercy knows no limits; we need only to ask his forgiveness. If you know of anyone suffering from the effects of an abortion experience, please encourage them to seek help.
“It is our hope and prayer that our defense of human life and religious freedom, our witness to the dignity of each and every human person, our compassionate service and our prayers calling on the infinite love and mercy of God will spark a renewal of love and commitment to the true good of others. Only a love that seeks to serve those most in need, whatever the personal cost to ourselves, is strong enough to overcome a culture of death and build a civilization worthy of human beings created in God’s image.”