February 24, 2017


Two pro-life stalwarts and the 40 Days for Life campaign

F. Thomas Pottratz and Norma McCorvey are two examples of how God can use people from different walks of life to spread his Gospel message of hope, healing, forgiveness and love.

And as we approach this Lent, which includes another 40 Days for Life spring campaign where people across the U.S. and around the world will peacefully gather and pray for an end to abortion, it seems fitting to remember Pottratz and McCorvey and their commitment to the pro-life movement.

We all now know McCorvey, who died on Feb. 18 at the age of 69, as the “Jane Roe” in Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States.

But what many may not know is that she was received into the full communion of the Church in 1998, and spent the better part of the past 20-plus years as an advocate for life. Although she never had an abortion—the child she was pregnant with during the court case was put up for adoption—she deeply regretted that millions of babies were killed because of a court decision with her name tied to it.

She later operated a small ministry called Roe No More, and endorsed 40 Days for Life.

“I hope and I pray that you will join us in 40 days of prayer and fasting and help overturn Roe v. Wade,” McCorvey said, “because we didn’t have a choice in the beginning with the Supreme Court justices—they decided it for us.”

For decades, Pottratz, 81, who died on Feb. 11, was a stalwart in the archdiocesan pro-life community. He volunteered at the Pro-Life Office of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis for many years. He was a sidewalk counselor and also served as a board member of the Indianapolis Right to Life and Catholic Radio Indy.

He received the archdiocese’s Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Respect Life Award and the Charles Stimming Pro-Life Award from Right to Life of Indianapolis in recognition of his countless volunteer hours protecting the right to life. He also helped organize and chaperone several of the Indianapolis archdiocesan youth pilgrimages to Washington, D.C., for the annual March for Life.

“I’ve always known most kids are pro-life, but they’re a little reluctant to get up and stand in front because of what the popular media says,” Pottratz told Catholic News Service in an interview before the 2010 march. “That’s until they come out here one time and they see 150,000 other youths. They say ‘Wow, it’s kind of cool to be pro-life. OK, I can do it now.’ ”

As we prepare to begin Lent on Ash Wednesday, March 1, we know many people of faith are taking the time now to map out their continuing path of discipleship for the next six weeks.

One way to do that, we believe, is by participating in 40 Days for Life.

The mission of the campaign, according to the 40 Days website, 40daysforlife.com, is “to bring together the body of Christ in a spirit of unity during a focused 40-day campaign of prayer, fasting and peaceful activism, with the purpose of repentance, to seek God’s favor to turn hearts and minds from a culture of death to a culture of life, thus bringing an end to abortion.”

Here in the Church of central and southern Indiana, there are two 40 Days for Life campaigns. The spring campaigns begin on Ash Wednesday and end on Palm Sunday, April 9.

In Bloomington, prayerful participants will gather outside the public right-of-way outside the Planned Parenthood abortion center at 421 South College Ave. For more information or to sign up to pray for an hour, call local coordinator Monica Siefker at 812-345-7988, or e-mail monica.siefker@gmail.com.

A kick-off rally for the 40 Days for Life campaign in Indianapolis is being held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26, at St. Luke the Evangelist Church, 7575 Holliday Drive East. Msgr. Joseph Schaedel, the parish’s pastor, will be the keynote speaker.

40 Days for Life volunteers in Indianapolis pray for an hour in front of the Planned Parenthood abortion facility, 8590 Georgetown Road, during the campaign. For more information, call 317-709-1502, or visit 40daysforlife.com.

Even if you cannot commit to taking part in 40 Days for Life, consider making time to pray for an end to abortion.

Our faith implores us to be voices for the voiceless. Pottratz and McCorvey did. May we have the courage to do the same.

—Mike Krokos

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