By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
FARGO, September 18, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Samuel J. Aquila, the Catholic bishop of Fargo, North Dakota, is strongly encouraging his priests to imitate him by praying for an hour in front of an abortion facility during this year's national "Forty Days of Life".
The "Forty Days for Life", which is scheduled to take place from September 26th to November 4th of this year, is a program of pro-life activism modeled on the biblically significant number of forty days, found in both the old and new testaments. According to organizers, churches and organizations in 89 US cities and 33 states have agreed to participate by conducting vigils in front of abortion clinics, praying, and "fasting" in various ways (by giving up something valued). For more information, see http://www.40daysforlife.com/about.cfm.
Bishop Aquila hopes to encourage the participation by all of the faithful in his diocese through his own example and the example of his priests.
"I believe that, during these 40 days, many will readily join in prayer and fasting for an end to abortion in our state," wrote Bishop Aquila in a letter to the priests of his diocese. "That is commendable! But, we as priests must encourage our parishioners to go one step further - to commit to an hour of prayerful vigil at the abortion facility. We can only ask of them what we ourselves will do."
"I have committed to an hour of prayer at the abortion facility September 28, at 10:30 am," he continued. "As your bishop, I ask you to sign up for an hour of prayerful vigil, as well. Tell your parishioners when that hour will be and challenge them to meet or exceed your example. Maybe your parishioners could fill each slot of that particular day with presence from your parish. Maybe the young - youth groups or families - could physically be present while the elderly could be united with them in prayer at your church. Even if only two parishioners join you in your hour of prayer at the abortion facility, lives will be changed and some -- those of the unseen unborn -- may be saved."
Bishop Aquila also leads a prayer service in front of Fargo's only abortion clinic once a year on Good Friday.
Aquila has distinguished himself as an active and committed bishop for many years. During John Kerry's pro-abortion presidential campaign in 2004 he publicly warned "pro-choice Catholics" that they could not receive communion, and "they risk the possibility of hell." In 2005 he mandated that all couples preparing for marriage receive instruction on Catholic doctrines regarding human sexuality and Natural Family Planning, in response to the culture's promotion of contraception and easy divorce.
In addition to the example Bishop Aquila is setting for his priests with his participation in the "Forty Days of Life", he also leads a prayer service front of Fargo's only abortion clinic once a year on Good Friday.
In a press release accompanying his letter, Bishop Aquila declares an absolutely uncompromising commitment to pro-life activism. "Each day people who are active in pro-life efforts pray for those considering abortion, educate the public about the abortion crisis, and do other good works to protect the lives of unborn children," he states. "I commend them and thank them. Those efforts save lives and change hearts. They help to keep abortion numbers low in North Dakota."
"But low numbers are not enough," he continues. "Not even one abortion per week is acceptable. Not one per month. Not one per year. Not one in our lifetime." Quoting the United States Declaration of Independence, the bishop notes, "The dignity of the human person begins at the moment of conception, not at birth. The dignity, as recognized by the signers of the Declaration of Independence, is bestowed by the Creator, and no one has the right to destroy innocent unborn life."
For more information
Forty Days for Life Campaign official website
Related LifeSiteNews coveraage:
Diocese Combats Contraceptive Culture With Mandatory NFP Marriage Prep Course
US Bishop Aquila Warns Catholic Pro-Abortion Politicians They "Risk the Possibility of Hell"
Abortion-Supporting Politicians Are "Agents of Evil" says Fargo Bishop
"In Cordibus Jesu et Mariae"