Bishop praises those who stand for life – Says more needs to be done to protect unborn

Calling those who stand up for life the “light in the darkness,” Bishop Frank J. Dewane praised the participants in the 40 Days for Life spring campaign in Sarasota, encouraging all the faithful to join in demonstrating the value of life throughout society.

40 Days for Life is an internationally coordinated 40-day campaign that aims to end abortion locally through prayer and fasting, community outreach, and a peaceful all-day vigil in front of abortion mills. The campaign is currently taking place in the Diocese of Venice in Sarasota, Fort Myers and Naples.

Speaking during Mass at St. Martha Parish in Sarasota on March 5, 2024, Bishop Dewane said the prayer intention focused on the continuing success of 40 Days for Life. He went on to say now, it is more important than ever to be seen and heard on the issue of life even though many believed the abortion issue was over when Roe v. Wade was overturned by the U. S. Supreme Court in June 2022.

“It has moved to a different plane, but it is not safe,” Bishop Dewane said. “We discover that we haven’t won. When Roe was overturned it was a moment of new life, almost an exodus of the oppression of the 50 years of direct attacks on the unborn. However, quickly we saw that the taking the life of children didn’t end. Mothers are still being harmed, families being threatened, lives being taken.”

Noting that since that U.S. Supreme Court decision, several states, and even a country, have already enshrined the right to abortion in their respective constitutions.

“We cannot determine what happens in France, but we can still speak out clearly for what happens in our own country,” the Bishop said. “It is not enough to stay silent.”

Currently under review in the Florida State Supreme Court is a dangerous amendment which would essentially allow abortions, for any reason, until birth. This would reverse the recent passage of a 15-week ban on abortion, scheduled to soon become a 6-week ban. What the justices are determining is whether the wording is acceptable – something of a technicality, Bishop Dewane noted, wondering why the court is not concerned with the loss of life.

“As this plays out, and hopefully the ballot amendment does not go forward this year, this issue will not go away,” Bishop Dewane continued. “If it is not this year, it is next year or the year after that. The threat is there.”

“We are not going to find a political solution to this issue,” the Bishop continued. “Abortion is a moral problem, and it is going to take a solution that comes out of moral theology and moral conviction of individuals. In the meantime, you and I do have to enter the political arena, and we have to be ready to make the sacrifices it takes to stand up and continue to speak out for life.”

Bishop Dewane concluded by saying that it is his prayer that individuals will have the strength to stand up to confront the evil that is abortion and to evidence the character that God has given us. “Let us take that love and pass it on to others, so that they can have the possibility to live life.”

Following Mass, the Bishop, along with the faithful, including 10 students from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota, went to the Planned Parenthood regional headquarters and abortion facility to stand as public witnesses for life.

The Cardinal Mooney students, led by teacher Tim Shipe, walked from the Parish to the abortion facility, joining others who are committed to preserving life. Participants prayed silently and witnessed for life, holding signs, while others prayed the rosary.

The older people who were participating in the prayer vigil were impressed by the students, encouraged that they are learning about Pro-Life issues and joining in the prayer walk.

Peg Styer, 84, who has been standing witness for many decades, said seeing young people participate gives her comfort that when she is no longer able to be present, others will do their part. “It makes a difference when the young girls come here and see people praying. I have met many of them who saw people praying for them and choose life. It is why we are out here,” Styer said.

The students also toured the nearby Community Pregnancy Clinic, a Pro-Life facility which offers a wide range of life-affirming assistance for moms who are considering an abortion.

A peaceful, rather than confrontational effort, the 40 Days for Life prayer spring campaign started Feb. 14, Ash Wednesday, continues through Palm Sunday (March 24), and is taking place in more than 700 cities worldwide. The Diocese of Venice has participated since 2007, the year of the first national campaign. To date, 24,242 babies have been saved (92 during the 2024 spring campaign through March 5) and 148 abortion centers have been closed.

All are encouraged to participate in the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil. Many area Parishes have signed up for specific days and hours, but all are free to join at any time. The peaceful vigil takes place in the public right of way and appropriate signs are provided.

The prayer vigil in Sarasota is daily, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., 736 Central Ave. In Fort Myers, the vigil is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Mon. – Sat.), at 6418 Commerce Park Drive. The Naples prayer vigil is from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Mon. – Sat.), at 1425 Creech Road.

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