Maryland bishops lead prayer vigil for life and lawmakers as legislature takes sweeping action on abortion

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Courtesy of Catholic Standard

A day earlier, Maryland lawmakers had approved a bill that would expand access to abortion in the state, and earlier in the day, a Maryland Senate committee had heard testimony about another bill. a law that would let voters decide whether or not to enshrine abortion in the state constitution.

So on the evening of March 30, a few blocks from the Maryland State House, about 90 people gathered to pray for a dual purpose at St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis during the Prayer for Life Vigil. and legislators.

“As people of faith and followers of Christ, we turn to prayer,” said Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, one of five Catholic bishops from Maryland who attended the vigil.

Bishop William E. Koenig of Wilmington, Del. addresses the March 30, 2022 prayer vigil for life and lawmakers at St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis. (Andrew Biraj/Catholic Standard)

Bishop Lori said they had come together to “pray for our chosen ones, that they may find the strength and the courage to promote the dignity of all human life – including the unborn child – as they seek to do in so many other legislative initiatives to protect and promote God’s great gift.

Then he added: “We pray for women who are in crisis, who are suffering and who are alone”.

The prayer vigil was sponsored by the Catholic Conference of Maryland, the public policy arm of the two Catholic archdioceses and one diocese in the state – the Archdiocese of Baltimore; the Archdiocese of Washington, which includes five Maryland counties surrounding the nation’s capital; and the Diocese of Wilmington, which includes counties on the east coast of Maryland.

Wilmington Bishop William E. Koenig, Washington Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville joined Archbishop Lori for the vigil; and Auxiliary Bishops of Baltimore Adam J. Parker and Bruce A. Lewandowski, C.Ss.R. Washington Cardinal Wilton Gregory and Auxiliary Bishop Roy Campbell Jr. had a prior out-of-town engagement, attending the installation that day of Louisville Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre.

The day before the prayer vigil, the Maryland State Senate passed legislation that would repeal state restrictions that prevent physician assistants, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners from performing abortions. This bill – which was previously approved by the Maryland House of Delegates – would also provide training for nurses and doctors who move to Maryland to avoid stricter abortion laws in other states, and it would require insurance schemes to cover the cost of a copayment-free abortion. or payments deductible by the recipient. It includes a religious exemption. This legislation would also provide for permanent Medicaid coverage for abortion in Maryland. Now, this coverage is voted on every year during the budget process.

Then, on March 30, just hours before the prayer vigil, the Maryland Senate Finance Committee heard testimony about a bill that the Catholic bishops of Maryland, in a March 11 editorial in the Baltimore Sun had criticized as “an attempt to unnecessarily amend the Maryland Constitution to expand an already extreme abortion landscape under the guise of ‘reproductive freedom’.”

Addressing those gathered at the prayer vigil at St. Mary, Bishop Lori noted how the past few years had offered reminders of the value of human life and the need to respect it.

People participate in the Prayer for Life and Legislators Vigil at St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis, Maryland on March 30, 2022. (Andrew Biraj/Catholic Standard)

“From the ravages of the pandemic to the myriad threats to human dignity caused by racial injustice, xenophobia, poverty and more – our society has been challenged to value life, to preserve life, to refuse to let life – any life – to succumb to disease, to injustice, to marginalization,” he said.

Archbishop Lori, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ committee on pro-life activities, said that instead of looking at the death of an unborn child as the solution to an unexpected pregnancy, “why not instead invest resources in the needs of the mother, the emotional, physical, material and spiritual care of her?

He noted how the church supports and invests in pregnancy centers in crisis for this reason, and he said the state could also invest in prenatal and postnatal care, medical care, education and others. aids for women facing unplanned pregnancies who might feel helpless and alone and with no other choice.

“Abortion is an issue that has divided our state and our nation for decades,” Bishop Lori said. “Passing (this) legislation before the Maryland General Assembly will deepen this deep division by disrupting laws already in place that protect life and liberty of conscience and prevent even modest laws from being passed to protect life. “

The Archbishop of Baltimore encouraged people not to demonize those who might disagree with them on the issue of abortion, but rather to “pray for them, walk with them, support them and ask God to open their minds and hearts, to see his face in the face of the unborn child, just as they do in the faces of the marginalized, the newcomers, the victims of crime, prejudice and hatred.

Concluding his remarks at the vigil, Bishop Lori said, “Let us pray for those who have before them the decision to choose life over death, just as our Lord did when he left his only begotten Son for each of us. “

Addressing the vigil at the start, Bishop Dorsonville thanked those praying in the church and joining via live broadcast. “Your testimony and your devotion to life are needed more than ever,” he said.

Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, speaks during the Prayer Vigil for Life and Legislators held March 30, 2022 at St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis, Maryland. (Andrew Biraj/Catholic Standard)

Bishop Koenig thanked Catholics in Maryland for praying for life and for lawmakers. He also thanked them for witnessing to life by contacting lawmakers through emails and phone calls, and he encouraged people to sign up for the MCC Catholic Advocacy Network which alerts Catholics in the state to a range of issues being considered by the General Assembly.

Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, also addressing the prayer vigil, noted that in the five decades since the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion on demand in the United States, millions of people came to Washington for the annual march to witness to life as the anniversary of this decision approaches.

The Supreme Court examines Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that revolves around the constitutionality of a Mississippi law that bans most abortions in that state after the 15th week of pregnancy. If the court’s decision in Dobbs reverses its decision Roe v. Wade, he will leave it to the states to craft abortion policies.

In a reference to the March for Life and the Roe v. Wade who spurred the annual event, Mancini said at the vigil, “We pray that there will soon be a January when we no longer need to go to the nation’s capital to mark a moment so dark and dark of our history.

Mancini noted that “prayer, above all else, is how we Catholics can intercede on behalf of those who have no voice.” She said it was important to pray that the hearts and minds of lawmakers could be touched so that “they find the courage and compassion to say ‘yes’ to life”, and she said that it was also vital to pray for women facing a pregnancy crisis who believe they have no other choice and to pray for those who suffer from the emotional and spiritual anguish caused by abortion.

“Prayer is a powerful force for good. Let us always pray that the Lord of Life always has the final vote, the last word,” Mancini said.

For more information about the Maryland Catholic Conference Action Network, visit https://www.mdcatholic.org/joincan.

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