Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This year marks the 43rd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing abortion in our nation. Almost 58 million unborn children have lost their lives in the wake of this tragic ruling, and millions of women and men have been wounded in various ways from their involvement in an abortion.
These sad statistics are a reminder of how critical it is for people of faith to be strong, public witnesses to the sanctity of every human life. As Catholics, we believe every person is created in the image and likeness of God. This includes children from the moment of conception in their mother’s womb.
As we continue to pray for an end to abortion, we also must recommit ourselves to public policies that protect unborn children and offer mothers and fathers life-affirming alternatives.
But our pro-life witness cannot stop there.
Several months ago, the other Minnesota bishops and I were talking about the shocking videos that showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing the harvesting and sale of tissue and organs from aborted children. It led us to reflect more deeply on ways we could join together to stand against such practices as well as other forms of violence in our society: gun violence, war, assisted suicide, the death penalty, domestic violence, sex trafficking, sexual abuse and violent entertainment choices, to name a few.
In light of our conversation, we decided to organize a “Day of Prayer in Reparation for a Culture of Violence and Disrespect for Human Life” in each of our dioceses. In the Diocese of St. Cloud, we will observe this day on Jan. 17. It is an opportunity to pray together, ask forgiveness for the times we have contributed to a culture of violence, and commit to actions that promote peace, mercy and justice in our families and communities.
You will find prayer intentions for this day on page 15. Suggestions for acts of reparation are below.
In this Year of Mercy, Pope Francis also asks us to rediscover the corporal and spiritual works of mercy as a way of bringing the love of Christ to those most in need of it. (You can read more about them here: http://visitor.stcdio.org/the-corporal-and-spiritual-works-of-mercy.)
Also on Jan. 17, Jason Adkins, the executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the state’s bishops, will speak at St. Anthony Church in St. Cloud on “Life, Death and Everything in Between.” His presentation will be followed by a Rosary for Life and then Vespers for Life at which I’ll preside.
Then, on Jan. 22 — the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision — buses from around the diocese will travel to St. Paul for an ecumenical prayer service at the Cathedral of St. Paul, which will be followed by the annual March for Life to the State Capitol.
I invite and encourage you to participate in these observances. As Pope Francis reminds us, “Love is the promise that each child receives from conception.”
And, he said, we must strive to be like the Good Samaritan, working to protect the vulnerable, the unborn and “the many who ask for a healthier and more dignified existence.” This is how we can transform a culture of violence into a culture of life, peace, healing and justice.
Bishop Donald Kettler