The U.S. bishops are inviting the faithful to participate in “Nine Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage” surrounding the 40th anniversary of legalized abortion throughout America.
“In addition to our current everyday pro-life efforts, a nation-wide
commitment to prayer and penance is essential to ushering in a culture
of life,” said Tom Grenchik, executive director of the U.S. bishops’
Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities.
In a Jan. 4 post on the website for the U.S. Conference of Catholic
Bishops, he emphasized the need to “respond to 40 years of the culture
of death with great confidence and hope.”
The bishops have announced a call to prayer, penance and pilgrimage for
life on Jan. 19-27 this year. Materials have been published on the
bishops’ conference website for those who want to participate in the
Jan. 22 marks 40 years since the Supreme Court legalized abortion throughout the nation with its decision in Roe v. Wade.
More than 55 million unborn children have been killed through abortion
since that ruling. Hundreds of thousands of pro-life supporters are
expected to flood Washington, D.C., on Jan. 25 for the annual March for
The bishops are asking Catholics to pray and fast for a renewed respect
for life in America during the days surrounding the anniversary and the
The initiative is part of a larger movement by the bishops to encourage
prayer for the defense of life, marriage and religious liberty in the
The nine-day campaign focuses on the theme of pilgrimage, particularly
for those who will be making trips to commemorate four decades of
legalized abortion in America.
As hundreds of thousands prepare to travel to the nation’s capital in
support of life, the bishops’ conference has published both English and
Spanish blessings for pro-life pilgrims before their journey. Other
prayers and materials are also included to help transform the trip into a
The Jan. 19-27 call to prayer features a youth-friendly novena with
daily intercessions, reflections and acts of reparation, as well as
facts about abortions.
Over the course of nine days, participants will pray for the conversion
and healing of all parents, medical professionals and politicians who
have been involved in abortion in America.
Those who wish to receive novena materials through daily text messages
can sign up by texting “9days” to 99000. The prayers will also be
available online and on social media website.
The initiative also includes a Pro-life Profile activity for young
people. It encourages them to take photos of themselves holding signs
with a simple explanation of why they are pro-life and to use these
photos as their profile pictures, or default pictures, on Facebook, from
In addition, the bishops’ conference is holding a video contest for
high school students throughout America. Students can submit videos of
less than a minute in length from a pilgrimage, rally or other pro-life
event surrounding the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
The videos should illustrate “what it means personally for that student
to take part in the pro-life pilgrimage” and to support the pro-life
movement and the dignity of human life, as well as “why their
participation has special meaning for them during this Year of Faith,”
the contest instructions said.
The conference has also issued prayers for a Eucharistic Holy Hour for
Reparation and Healing for parishes to use to conclude the novena.
Prayers during the holy hour ask God to “awaken in every heart new
reverence for the least of your children, and renew among your people a
readiness to nurture and sustain your precious gift of human life.”
Recognizing that God alone has “the power to forgive sins against human
life, and to heal the wounds caused by these sins,” the prayers also
profess trust in the Lord and ask “that the world and all its
inhabitants may be saved.”