Following the passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act in late September by the U.S. House of Representatives, Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone is calling on Catholics to pray and fast for the conversion of the hearts of those who supported and promoted the bill’s passage. The bill, which awaits action by the U.S. Senate, aims to codify Roe v. Wade (1973) into federal law, erase virtually all restrictions on abortion until birth, and funnel taxpayer dollars to fund abortions.
Cordileone specifically called for Catholics to pray for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who played an integral role in the bill’s passage through the House and was vocal in her support. In a September 29 statement, Cordileone invited all Catholics to “Join in a massive and visible campaign of prayer and fasting for Speaker Pelosi: commit to praying one rosary a week and fasting on Fridays for her conversion of heart.”
Cordileone went on to say,
“Please join me in praying the rosary and fasting for a conversion of Speaker Pelosi’s maternal heart to embracing the goodness and dignity of human life not only after birth, but in the womb as well.”
The archbishop called on Catholics to pray and fast through a unique initiative: the “Rose and Rosary for Nancy” campaign through the Benedict XVI Institute of Sacred Music and Divine Worship. The Institute was established in 2014 by the archbishop to provide parishes with liturgical resources and to energize a Catholic culture in the arts.
Cordileone mentioned the campaign and asked Catholics “please sign up for the ‘Rose and Rosary for Nancy’ campaign at benedictinstitute.org and a rose will be sent to her as symbol of your prayer and fasting for her.”
The theological significance of the rose is connected to the life of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, whose feast day is October 1. Cordileone invoked Saint Thérèse’s role in his new initiative: about the symbolic meaning of roses, she once said “After my death, I will let fall a shower of roses, I will spend my heaven doing good upon the earth. I will raise up a mighty host of little saints.”
Cordileone’s method of prayer for the conversion of Pelosi’s heart reminds Christians of the power of the Holy Spirit. It is He who can convert the hearts of the most hardened abortion supporters. Take, for example, Dr. Bernard Nathanson and former Planned Parenthood clinic director turned Pro-Life activist, Abby Johnson.
Nathanson, a prominent abortion doctor, co-founded the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL) but also personally performed more than 5,000 abortions and oversaw more than 60,000. As his autobiography, Hand of God, details, Nathanson stopped working in the abortion movement in the late 1970s. The autobiography details his journey to become a world-renowned Pro-Life advocate and a devout Catholic.
Similarly, Johnson quit her job as director of Planned Parenthood’s Bryan, Texas clinic. According to the man who evangelized her and was with her when her and her husband during their RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) process, Johnson left her job and became Catholic and a pro-life advocate because of the prayer of those who peacefully protested and prayed for her outside of the abortion clinic she once worked at, as depicted in the film “Unplanned.”
These examples testify to the power of fasting and prayer in the conversion of hearts and minds.
While an onslaught of pro-abortion legislation is seemingly overwhelming, Christians must not despair. The power of prayer is truly remarkable, and Christians have the most powerful means at their disposal – the power of God to convert the most hardened hearts and the intercession of saints like Thérèse of Lisieux who have fought for the most vulnerable among us.
Abortion is murder, but through fasting and prayer which unites our suffering to Christ’s suffering, Christians can play a significant role in converting the hearts of some of the most powerful pro-abortion politicians in America.
If the power of prayer could convert the likes of Saint Paul to become a follower of Christ and Nathanson and Johnson to become ardent warriors for life, then converting politicians like Pelosi is also possible.