Faith leaders unite to ‘Pray for Dobbs,’ the case that could overturn Roe

shutterstock 389289949 Adult and young people hold signs protesting abortion. | Murloc / Shutterstock

Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians recently united for a day of prayer in anticipation for an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case concerning abortion. 

“Our Christian churches and all people of goodwill must pray, fast, and work harder to end this pandemic of child sacrifice,” Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., said at the event held on Nov. 18.

The National Virtual Prayer Gathering comes as part of the “Pray for Dobbs” campaign. On Dec. 1, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that involves Mississippi’s law restricting most abortions after 15 weeks. The case challenges two landmark cases: Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld Roe in 1992.

The “Pray for Dobbs” campaign provides “resources to help your church, school, ministry, or faith community pray for a just decision in the Dobbs case,” including an informational webinar, flyers detailing the case, and action ideas. Those ideas include prayer, fasting, and organizing local prayer vigils for Dec. 1.

Kat Talalas, the assistant director for pro-life communciations at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), explained the initiative during in an informational webinar on Oct. 19. Some 3,500 church leaders participated in the webinar.

“Several faith leaders, all around the same time, had simultaneously the same idea, which is that we need a unified effort of Christians across the country joining together in prayer and fasting to end the scourge of abortion,” Talalas said during the webinar. “They also realized this would have to be an effort that comes out of the body of Christ and is not necessarily tied to any political group or political movement, but is truly an effort from people who are seeking to intercede and to ask God to protect all human life.”

With leaders of different faith traditions involved, she stressed, “We welcome you, we hope that you will join us in prayer and fasting from now until June 22.” The Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs case is expected to come sometime before July 2022.

The prayer event, hosted by Mary Szoch, the director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council (FRC), featured 16 guests including Naumann, former chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

“Our nation stands guilty of not only promoting, endorsing, and enshrining abortion across the land, but we are responsible for exporting abortion throughout the world in a sinister form of colonial imperialism,” Naumann said during the event. He asked God for forgiveness and to “strengthen us to stand against evil, to love those who may attack us, and show great compassion to those who’ve been involved in sins against life.”

Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, the superior general of the Sisters of Life, began her prayer during the event with the sign of the cross. She prayed for those wounded by abortion and for the children who have perished by abortion. 

“We pray that those whose hearts have been pierced by abortion may experience anew your gaze of love upon them and, in your gaze, be restored to experience their own great dignity,” she said.

“Holy Spirit,” she added, “inspire our Supreme Court justices and clerks for the deep sense of reverence for the sacredness of every human life so that every human life be protected in law. That the sufferings of abortion may end.”

Szoch described “Pray for Dobbs” as “bringing together Christians from around the country to pray for the end to abortion in America.” 

“It was really an effort all across the board,” she told CNA. “We had Catholics involved, we had Baptists involved, we had Presbyterians involved. I know I'm leaving out people there, but we really did have a unified effort.”

The speakers at the prayer event included Tony Evans, the senior pastor Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, Benjamin Watson, a former NFL star and Super Bowl champion, Tony Meléndez, a singer and concert guitarist, and Metropolitan Tikhon, the archbishop of Washington and Metropolitan of All America and Canada for the Orthodox Church.

She said it was advertised by churches across the country, the USCCB, FRC, and the Alliance Defending Freedom.

She acknowledged the importance of prayer and fasting in anticipation of the case.

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“The atrocity of abortion is a grave evil and we know that God, the author of life, is pro-life,” she said. “He is the being who brought every unborn child into being, and he knows each unborn child intimately, and he has called each one of them by name for a purpose.”

Szoch highlighted another upcoming cross-denominational and non-partisan event called “Pray Together for Life.” Separate from “Pray for Dobbs,” FRC is organizing it to be held on Nov. 28 in Jackson, Miss.

“We need America to return to a nation that believes in the dignity of the human person,” she said, “and for that, we can't do it without God.” 

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