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opinion/commentary View Comments

40 Days for Life

Source: St. Anthony Messenger
Published: Tuesday, December 28, 2010
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The Church celebrates 40 days of Christmas, ending with the Presentation of the Lord on February 2. This feast recalls the visit of Mary and Joseph to the Temple to give thanks for Jesus’ birth (see Luke 2:22-38).

This January, the 38th annual March for Life will occur in Washington, D.C., seeking legal protection for human life from conception to natural death.

The U.S. bishops have designated January 22, the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, as a day of penance for “violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion, and prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life.”

According to a May 2009 Gallup poll, 51 percent of people in the United States describedthemselves as “prolife” regarding abortion, as compared to 42 percent who called themselves “pro-choice.” Gallup’s Values and Beliefs poll has been conducted annually since 1995. In that year, 56 percent of respondents self-identified as “pro-choice” and 33 percent described themselves as “pro-life.”

A May 2010 poll by the Virginia Commonwealth University Life Sciences Survey of 1,001 U.S. adults yielded these results: abortion should be legal only in certain circumstances (44%), available no matter what the reason (37%), illegal in all circumstances (15%), and unsure or refused to answer (5%).

There is general support for some restrictions on abortions but no agreement currently on specifics about how to restrict them.

In November 2003, the U.S. Congress approved and President George W. Bush signed a federal ban on partial-birth abortions when a substantial portion of a living child is delivered outside the mother’s body. In April 2007 this ban was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Carhart.

Several states have passed parental notification laws that have withstood court challenges.

The first local 40 Days for Life campaign of prayer at abortion clinics was conducted in the fall of 2004 at Bryan/College Station, Texas. The September 22-October 31, 2010, campaign of prayer, fasting, vigil and outreach was held at 238 locations in the United States, Canada, Australia, England, Northern Ireland and Denmark. Another campaign is scheduled for March 9 (Ash Wednesday) to April 17, 2011.

Recalling the birth of Jesus always moves us. When he was presented in the Temple 40 days later, Simeon and Anna recognized Jesus and his great mission.

Unborn children are the most vulnerable people in the world. Respecting their right to life prepares us to respect the right to life of sick people, the aged, those with developmental disabilities and anyone else who can easily be considered marginal in a results-oriented society, one in danger of forgetting that its Declaration of Independence speaks of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as “inalienable rights.” They are “inalienable” because they come from God, not from an agreement among society’s members.

Life is a spectrum of stages. We cannot deny respect for unborn life without jeopardizing respect for all of life. And that touches each of us—born or unborn.


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Peter Chanel: Anyone who has worked in loneliness, with great adaptation required and with little apparent success, will find a kindred spirit in Peter Chanel. 
<p>As a young priest he revived a parish in a "bad" district by the simple method of showing great devotion to the sick. Wanting to be a missionary, he joined the Society of Mary (Marists) at 28. Obediently, he taught in the seminary for five years. Then, as superior of seven Marists, he traveled to Western Oceania. The bishop accompanying the missionaries left Peter and a brother on Futuna Island (northeast of Fiji), promising to return in six months. He was gone five years. </p><p>Meanwhile, Peter struggled with this new language and mastered it, making the difficult adjustment to life with whalers, traders, and warring natives. Despite little apparent success and severe want, he maintained a serene and gentle spirit, plus endless patience and courage. A few natives had been baptized, a few more were being instructed. When the chieftain's son asked to be baptized, persecution by the chieftain reached a climax. Father Chanel was clubbed to death. </p><p>Within two years after his death, the whole island became Catholic and has remained so. Peter Chanel is the first martyr of Oceania and its patron.</p> American Catholic Blog No matter what their age, people can continue to make their voices heard in the arenas of public opinion and in the political process. Let nobody say they are too old to be concerned about abortion. As long as we possess life, we have the duty and privilege to defend life.

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