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Bishop Asks Massgoers to Pray for Abortion Doctor
Laura Wright
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Friday, December 17, 2010
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People gather to pray outside an abortion clinic in Germantown, Md., Dec. 11, after attending an early morning Mass at nearby Mother Seton Church.
GERMANTOWN, Md. (CNS)—Washington Auxiliary Bishop Martin D. Holley asked the congregation at a Germantown church to pray for a conversion of heart of a doctor performing late-term abortions at a clinic nearby, so "life may be respected inside and outside of the womb."

About 700 Catholics gathered for an early morning Mass at Mother Seton Church in suburban Washington Dec. 11, and then they prayerfully processed to the clinic just around the corner where Dr. LeRoy Carhart is working.

Bishop Holley was the main celebrant of the Mass, assisted by several priests and deacons. The large crowd filled the pews, leaving some to stand at the back of the church and in the aisles.

The protest was held in between two feasts that remind Catholics to reflect on the sacred nature of life in the womb -- the feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8) and the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas also known as protector of the unborn (Dec. 12). As the protesters put on their winter hats and coats and prayerfully processed toward the abortion clinic—reciting the rosary and singing hymns—several people carried images of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Carhart left Nebraska to come to Maryland to perform late-term abortions after his state passed a law prohibiting abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy. The doctor began working at the Germantown clinic Dec. 6, and he also will perform abortions at a clinic in Iowa. The Washington Post reported that Carhart chose the Germantown location based on a number of factors, including which jurisdiction had the most favorable laws for abortion. The doctor also will perform abortions at a clinic in Iowa.

Christa Lopiccolo, executive director of life issues for the Archdiocese of Washington, said Carhart's arrival points to the laxity of Maryland laws and the need for change.

In an earlier interview, she said, "Carhart, as a proponent of late-term abortions, represents the failure of Maryland legislation to protect these vulnerable children— children who, in different circumstances, would be rescued by the advances in medical science and allowed to survive outside the womb."

She said she hopes the protest will send a message: "We are not going away, we will keep a continued presence here."

During next spring's 40 Days for Life campaign, Lopiccolo said she plans to encourage people to keep a constant prayer vigil outside the Germantown clinic. She also thanked the large crowd for their quick response and participation in the Dec. 11 protest.

Peter Davio, the Maryland state deputy of the Knights of Columbus, attended the event with several members of his organization. He said the Knights of Columbus as a strong pro-life organization stands firmly against Carhart's arrival in Germantown.

"Essentially, what we are talking about is a doctor coming into our area who wants to openly offer abortion services up to the ninth month," he said.

Estefania Ellis, a 25-year-old parishioner of Our Lady of Lourdes in Bethesda who attended the rally with her husband, Stephen, said it is "shocking" to know that late-term abortions are occurring in her own state.

"As a young woman, I pray that other young woman know that they don't have to do this," she told the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Washington Archdiocese.

Jessica Burris, a parishioner of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Gaithersburg, came with her five children, including her youngest, 2-year-old Cecilia, to pray for an end to abortion.

She said she hopes her children learn at an early age that "it is important to respect life."

Before the procession to the clinic began, Father Carlos Benetiz, pastor of Mother Seton, urged participants to "pray that we go forth full of mercy, full of love, full of courage."

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