Abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell will likely spend the rest of his life in prison but the efforts to oppose abortion and build a culture of life continue through prayer and sacrifice.

All parishes are being “strongly encouraged” to participate in a day of prayer and penance on Friday, May 24, according to an unsigned letter from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to pastors of the 251 parishes in the archdiocese.

The trial that resulted in Gosnell’s conviction for murdering three babies born alive during botched abortions, and for which he received three consecutive life terms in prison in a plea bargain agreement May 14, “manifested in yet another vivid way the horrific details of the abortion culture that confronts the Gospel of Life,” the letter said. “Christians have no option but to respond with prayer and penance in reparation for these crimes against the sacredness of human life, especially in the womb.”


Catholics are invited to participate in the day by praying in a variety of spiritual devotions. Suggested activities include attending Mass and receiving the Eucharist, meditating on Scripture, adoring the Blessed Sacrament, praying the rosary, reciting the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, making the Way of the Cross and fasting and abstaining from eating meat.

The latter practice, usually in force during Lent, is in keeping with a fall 2012 suggestion by the United States Catholic bishops that all Catholics fast from food in between meals and abstain from eating meat even on the Fridays outside of Lent as a sacrifice for the intention of protecting life.

“The battle for the protection of human life,” the archdiocese’s letter read, “is equally a spiritual battle as it is culturally, socially and politically.”

Also on May 24, the archdiocese is encouraging Catholics to pray for the Church in China. The day is celebrated in the Church’s liturgical calendar as a memorial for Our Lady Help of Christians, a title for Mary that is venerated by Chinese Catholics.

The Archdiocese’s letter said the prayers and acts of penance by local Catholics “in reparation for the crimes against human life in our own city unite us to the same intentions for our brothers and sisters in China.”