January 10, 2024 // Diocese

Bishops Urge Faithful to Mark Day of Prayer for the Unborn

Each year on January 22, the Church in the United States honors the dignity of life in the womb by celebrating the solemn and important Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. This special day is held on the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which, until the ruling was overturned in 2022, legalized abortion nationwide.

But while the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ushered in a new era – one where states can once again legislate their own abortion regulations – the need for legal protection for pre-born children has not gone away. Far from it.

According to The New York Times: “In the year after the Supreme Court ended the constitutional right to abortion, something unexpected happened: The total number of legal abortions in the United States did not fall. Instead, it appeared to increase slightly, by about 0.2 percent, according to the first full-year count of abortions provided nationwide.”

Also, since Dobbs was decided, 20 states and Washington, D.C., have enacted laws that have taken away the right to life of children in their mother’s wombs, including Indiana’s neighbors Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio.




January 16-24, 2024



According to the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, “On June 24, 2022, the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overturned Roe v. Wade, and we praise God for the great opportunity state and federal legislators now have to protect pre-born children. While God, in His mercy, ended the nearly 50-year nationwide regime of abortion on demand, right now state and federal laws, in many instances, are still hostile to pre-born children. So, great prayer and advocacy is very needed. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), No. 373, designates January 22 as a particular day of prayer and penance, called the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children: ‘In all the Dioceses of the United States of America, January 22 (or January 23, when January 22 falls on a Sunday) shall be observed as a particular day of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life and of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion.’”

In a 2022 letter addressed to Archbishop Timothy Broglio, President of the USCCB, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, expressed Pope Francis’ gratitude for the work being done in the United States to protect the innocent lives of the unborn. Cardinal Parolin said the pope was “deeply grateful for the faithful witness shown publicly over the years by all who promote and defend the right to life of the most innocent and vulnerable members of our human family.” According to Cardinal Parolin’s letter, the pope also noted that “the building of a truly just society rests upon respect for the sacred dignity of every person and the welcome given to each one as a brother or sister.” Cardinal Parolin went on to say that Pope Francis “trusts that Almighty God will strengthen the commitment of all, especially the young, to persevere in their efforts aimed at protecting human life in all its stages, especially through adequate legal measures enacted at every level of society.”

In January of 2021, Bishop Rhoades prayed: “You have given us the wonderful gift of freedom, but this freedom destroys itself when we see it as absolute autonomy. The pro-choice philosophy is a corruption of your gift of freedom for it gives to people power over others and against others. As your servant, John Paul II wrote: ‘To claim the right to abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia, and to recognize that right in law, means to attribute to human freedom a perverse and evil significance.’ It is the death of true freedom. Lord, we thank you for the gift of living in our democracy, yet we know that the democratic ideal is only truly such when it is obedient to the truth of your law, when it acknowledges and safeguards the dignity of every human person created in your image.”

To this end, the Church urges the faithful and clergy alike to mark Monday, January 22, as a day of prayer for the unborn. For resources, including prayers, Mass readings, and more, visit usccb.org/january-22.

The U.S. bishops’ conference is also inviting Catholics across the country to participate in its “9 Days for Life” novena for the protection of human life, which can be found at respectlife.org. Each day’s intention is accompanied by a short reflection and suggested actions to help build a culture of life.

* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.