On Jan. 27, many faithful Catholics trekked to Washington, D.C., to attend the annual March for Life on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in our country. The annual event encourages support in overturning Roe v. Wade. The day was one of prayer, fasting and public witness for life. It began with Bishop Peter Jugis offering the North Carolina Mass for Life before marching on to the Supreme Court.
The event has ended and the faithful have returned to their homes. Many leave the March for Life inspired, wanting to do more locally yet feel discouraged that little can be done until Roe v. Wade is overturned. While there is renewed hope with the new presidential administration, we should recognize that ending abortion requires the active and communal participation of all the Catholics – especially at the local level. Do not wait for a court decision that may never come.
In their landmark document, “A Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities,” the U.S. bishops outlined four areas where Catholics can become involved with pro-life work: public awareness and education, pastoral and material care for women and their babies, public policy advocacy, and prayer and worship.
Are all of these requirements addressed and implemented in our parishes? We have seen evidence in other communities that the prayers and efforts of local faithful have helped to close many abortion facilities. While there are seven abortion facilities in the Diocese of Charlotte, the entire state of Missouri has one facility. What can we do locally? Based on the bishops’ plan, here are suggestions to start:
- Join your parish’s Respect Life Committee. If your parish doesn’t have one, talk to your pastor about starting one up or contact Jessica Grabowski, Catholic Charities’ Respect Life programs director.
- Support your local maternity and crisis pregnancy centers – especially Catholic ones - through donations and volunteering (MiraVia and Stanton Healthcare are run locally by Catholics).
- Pray in front of the abortion facility. This form of prayer is by far the most important and urgent. Seventy-five abortion facilities have closed, 141 abortions workers have quit, and countless babies saved due just to the international 40 Days for Life campaign.
- Join the diocese’s www.CatholicVoiceNC.org as well as private campaigns such as N.C. Right to Life and the N.C. Family Policy Council, and encourage your friends and family to sign up. The diocese’s public policy arm provides updates about pro-life and pro-family legislation and action you can take at home.
- Read the Church’s teaching on life issues (including “Evangelium Vitae” and “Humane Vitae”) and become familiar with the message of Our Lady of Fatima, whose 100th anniversary we mark this year. Our Lady’s message at Fatima is directly tied to the pro-life issue.
- Organize prayer and worship events at your parish. These can include weekly rosaries, fasting campaigns, and Masses and Holy Hours of Reparation to atone for the sins of abortion and the conversion of our society. As St. Louis de Montfort noted, when we pray in common, it is far more formidable to the devil, as it is an army attacking him.
If all Catholics dedicated more time to local evangelization, pastoral assistance, prayer, public policy and public witness, we may see the culture of death surprisingly crumble like the Iron Curtain did in 1989. We at C-PLAN are ready to assist those who feel called to get involved locally in Charlotte. Let us not wait for public policy to change a culture that can be converted by prayer. As St. John Paul II, said, “Be not afraid.”
David DeBrosse, Mike FitzGerald, Terri Geraci, Tammy Harris, Diane Hoefling, Mary Manz and Kristine Monda are members of the Catholic Pro-Life Action Network of Charlotte (C-PLAN). For more information about C-PLAN, go to www.prolifecharlotte.org.