Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Lent is slightly different this year in that as part of our penitential celebrations I would like to alert you to a new Movement which originated in the USA and has rapidly swept the Catholic World: the 40 Days Prayer for Lent. Being an important and infamous anniversary the year 2017 marks the Fiftieth Anniversary of the passing of the Abortion Act.
Shortly, the Scottish Parliament will have competence for matters relating to abortion and so this prayer initiative will help us focus our Lenten prayer this year in this particular direction. What is enclosed within this Pastoral Letter is a letter from the Diocesan Director of 40 Days for Life, Mrs Pat Dowey. Please listen to at Mass or read it and consider joining those who have pledged their prayer time for the protection of Unborn children. Or else pledge some time to pray for the protection of innocent Life in the womb this Lent. The letter reads as below:
“The World Health Organisation has stated that abortion is the leading cause of death worldwide, ending the lives of more than 42 million children each year and harming millions of women- and men.
Since the passing of the Abortion Act in 1967, more than 500,000 babies in Scotland alone have lost their lives as a result of abortion. Last year in Scotland, 12,082 babies died as a result of abortion and 11,877 of these were aborted on social grounds.
These were all children created in the image and likeness of God, just like you and me; so what can we do to begin to restore respect for the sanctity of Life.
God has given us a powerful weapon…Prayer!
40 Days for Life is a new prayer initiative which has empowered thousands of ordinary people all over the world to combat the “Culture of Death,” as St John Paul has called it, by Prayer and Fasting, and especially by taking part in peaceful prayer vigils. As a result, babies are being saved, hearts are being healed from past abortions and minds are being changed on arguably the most controversial issue in our society today.
Last year, Glasgow held the first 40 Days for Life prayer campaign in Scotland. Now in 2017, which sees the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Abortion Act, all 4 major Scottish cities; Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee will be holding a 40 Days for Life campaign during Lent, and here in our own Diocese of Dunkeld we have been greatly encouraged by the support of our Bishop.
I would like to invite you to take part this Lent by giving an hour of your time to join us in prayer at the vigil site on Ninewells Avenue, Dundee. Please think about making this opportunity a part of your Lenten penitential exercises. The vigil hours are 8am-8pm, beginning on 1st March (Ash Wednesday) and ending on 9th April (Palm Sunday).
Recently some papers have tried to blacken this prayer campaign by describing it as a politically motivated protest. I would like to emphasise that 40 Days for Life is neither a protest nor a demonstration and we will not be engaging in any debates. Neither will we impede anyone in any way from going about their business, let alone disturb visitors to the Hospital. We are simply there to pray, nothing else. The local police have been informed of our intentions and have been supportive, especially of our plans for everyone taking part to sign a statement of peace.
I do hope that you will decide to come, not only in response to this invitation but to the appeal of Christ Himself, who asks “Could you not watch with me for one hour?”
You can sign up for an hour of your choosing after all masses next weekend or go online, firstname.lastname@example.org, where you can leave your name, address, phone number and e-mail address. Please also state on that occasion the day and time most suitable for you.”
Finally, as Bishop I do hope that you will help support this initiative, which is an admirable one, which can also be followed at home for those, outside the immediate environs of Dundee and unable to join the prayer circle at Ninewells Avenue in Dundee
Yours sincerely in Christ
+ Stephen Robson
Bishop of Dunkeld