Pope Benedict XVI has issued what Catholic pro-life advocates are calling an unprecedented request for prayers worldwide from all pro-life people against abortion.
The head of the Catholic Church will begin Advent by celebrating a solemn “Vigil for all nascent human life” at St. Peter’s Basilica on Saturday, November 27.
The call is not limited to Catholics as the Pope is asking that “all Diocesan Bishops (and their equivalent) of every particular church preside in analogous celebrations involving the faithful in their respective parishes, religious communities, associations and movements.”
Mary McClusky, the Special Projects Coordinator at the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, says the call is especially important at a time when attacks on the dignity and worth of human life seem to be at an all-time high.
“At this moment in history, when societies are now endorsing the killing of humans as a perceived solution to social, economic, and environmental problems, the Holy Father is reminding us of the necessity and power of prayer to protect human life,” she said. “Despite the challenge of these events being held on Thanksgiving weekend in the United States, Catholics should not miss this opportunity to pray for unborn life.”
She said the Pope’s call “may help increase awareness among family and friends about abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and other threats to children in their earliest days and weeks of life” while women who have had abortions “may be inspired to learn more, or to begin a much-needed conversation about healing from a past abortion.”
Human Life International is calling on pro-life people to join in the historic event.
“We hope that Catholics understand the historical significance of Pope Benedict’s invitation,” said Joseph Meaney, HLI’s director of international coordination.
He told LifeNews.com today: “The Holy Father for the first time in history has asked the Universal Catholic Church to gather together in a common liturgical event and pray for our preborn brothers and sisters who are being slaughtered around the world by abortion and other attacks of the culture of death.”
Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro-Carámbula, interim president of HLI, says Christians of all stripes can find unity in the call to prayer against abortion.
“We recognize with the Holy Father that as the assaults on human life that are accelerating around the world have evil as their root cause, the most powerful response we in the Church can make is to pray in unity for an end to the assault,” he says. “Prayer grounds us in the only Power that can ultimately defeat the one behind the culture of death, so we are grateful to be united with the Holy Father in this historic event.”
Barreiro will be present at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome with Pope Benedict to pray for the protection of human life on November 27th.
McClusky says she hopes the call will motivate pro-life people to do more and to not grow frustrated with the slow pace of change.
“Many threats to human life are embedded deeply within our modern culture, and attending a vigil could remind others that God is the source of all blessings and will provide comfort and guidance in challenging times,” she said. “It is easy to become frustrated and weary in our efforts to advance protection for the unborn, support for expectant mothers, and healing for post-abortive women and men.”
“The Holy Father’s Vigil and his invitation to join with him in prayer is an important and inspiring example to all about the importance of uniting in faith to ask God’s protection and help for human life,” she said.