In a letter posted on the Diocese of Fargo Web site, Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, Bishop of Fargo, encourages the faithful to participate in the national, ecumenical “40 Days for Life” campaign.
According to the national campaign Web site, http://www.40daysforlife.com, “40 Days for Life” is a pro-life campaign “to raise awareness, save lives, bring healing, and prepare America for the beginning of the end of abortion.” The campaign will be conducted simultaneously Sept. 26 through Nov. 4 in 89 cities in 33 states. It involves prayer, fasting, community outreach and peaceful vigil outside abortion facilities.
“Make a plan for prayer and fasting,” Bishop Aquila writes. “Then, if you are not homebound or physically impaired, schedule an hour or more of prayerful vigil. I have asked each priest of the diocese to do the same and to challenge you to follow his example.”
The bishop has already scheduled a personal time of prayer. “I will be at the abortion facility on Sept. 28 at 10:30 a.m.” he writes.
The state of North Dakota, which includes the Diocese of Fargo and the Diocese of Bismarck, has only one abortion facility – located in Fargo. Bishop Aquila conducts a public prayer service in front of the facility each Good Friday. The diocesan Respect Life office coordinates a Eucharistic procession to the abortion facility each year, with this year’s procession to be October 7, Respect Life Sunday.
In the letter Bishop Aquila reminds readers of the words of John Paul II in The Gospel of Life, quoting “the life of every individual, from its very beginning, is part of God’s plan.” The bishop then continues in his own words, “Think about what these words express. A definite plan exists in the heart of God for every human life – your life, my life, the life of every child growing within the womb of its mother. Knowing these words are true, how can we be silent when unborn children are killed through abortion, every week, within our own diocese?”
“Each day people who are active in pro-life efforts pray for those considering abortion, educate the public about the abortion crisis, and do other good works to protect the lives of unborn children,” the bishop writes. “I commend them and thank them. Those efforts save lives and change hearts. They help to keep abortion numbers low in North Dakota.”
“But low numbers are not enough,” he continues. “Not even one abortion per week is acceptable. Not one per month. Not one per year. Not one in our lifetime.”
Bishop Aquila quotes the Declaration of Independence, then notes, “The dignity of the human person begins at the moment of conception, not at birth. The dignity, as recognized by the signers of the Declaration of Independence, is bestowed by the Creator, and no one has the right to destroy innocent unborn life.”
The bishop addresses specific prayer intentions for the “40 Days for Life” campaign, writing “we will pray for the mothers, fathers and families who have experienced abortions, for those who provide and assist in abortions, for those who encourage mothers toward abortion, for politicians who support so-called abortion rights, for court justices, and for a change of heart within all persons who have abandoned the truth of the dignity of human life from the moment of conception. We will also pray for ongoing strength and courage for our politicians and judges who faithfully defend the lives of mothers and children by opposing abortion. Their efforts on behalf of true human dignity and civic responsibility are invaluable in the defense of life.”
He continues, “I ask you to pray especially for the conversion of the hearts and minds of Catholic and Christian politicians who have chosen to follow secularism and political expediency rather than the truth of the Gospel. Beg God to enlighten their hearts and minds with the truth and grant them receptivity to the truth. Pray that their hearts and minds may be opened to see the errors of their judgment. Pray that their consciences may be well-formed, upright and truthful.”
Bishop Aquila directs readers to the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s entries on conscience (numbers 1776-1802). He had done so in 2004, as well, when he wrote a pastoral letter on conscience, “You Will Know the Truth and the Truth Will Set You Free” (available at http://www.fargodiocese.org/bishop/Homilies/PastoralOnTruth.pdf.)
The letter to the faithful continues, “God has called us to put an end to abortion in the state of North Dakota. He does not call us to do what is impossible, but to proclaim the gift of life and to build a civilization of truth and love.”
The full text of the letter, which will also be printed in the Diocese of Fargo newspaper, New Earth, can be found at www.fargodiocese.org.
Bishop Aquila’s letter to priests, which shared with them his support of “40 Days for Life,” can be found on the site as well.