22 January 2009—Day of Penance for Violations to the Dignity of the Human Person
Dear Members of the Marian Catechist Apostolate,

Today is the 36th Anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous decision in the cases Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, by which the highest court of our nation took away the safeguard of the most fundamental of all rights, the right to life, from the most vulnerable members of the human family, the unborn. Rightly, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has, for some time, designated this day as a Day of Penance for Violations to the Dignity of the Human Person, and of Prayer for the Full Restoration of the Legal Guarantee of the Right to Life. January 22nd is to be observed “as a particular day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion, and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 373).
The legacy of the just-mentioned decisions has been an unconscionable decline in the respect for all human life. By now, you are familiar with the latest and most heinous anti-life legislation the people of the United States of America are facing: the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). The passage of FOCA would lift all restrictions on procured abortion, force taxpayers to participate in the funding of procured abortions; revoke all informed consent, parental notification and conscience protection laws; and force even Catholic hospitals to perform abortions, which clearly would necessitate the closing of Catholic hospitals. I ask you to pray for the defeat of FOCA and to do all you can to work against its passage, while also working to protect existing pro-life legislation. For more information on how to become involved, please visit the USCCB website at http://www.usccb.org.prolife/.
In a special way, I address you, the members of the Marian Catechist Apostolate, on this Day of Penance. Reflecting on the circumstances in society which give rise to the necessity of a Day of Penance for Violations to the Dignity of the Human Person, I am deeply conscious of the much needed service of the Marian Catechist Apostolate in the renewal of society. I take the occasion of this most sad anniversary for our nation, to encourage you to redouble your efforts to grow in personal holiness and knowledge of the Catholic Faith, that you may always be equipped to share generously and courageously the richness of the Faith with others, for the transformation of society.
In closing, I invite you to join me at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin for the Consecration of Marian Catechists to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the weekend of August 7th – 9th of 2009. Please join me today and always in calling upon the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe for the transformation of the culture death into a civilization of divine love and life.
Invoking God’s blessing upon you and your home, I am
Yours devotedly in Christ,
(Most Rev.) Raymond L Burke
International Director of the Marian Catechist Apostolate
Archbishop Emeritus of Saint Louis
Prefect, Apostolic Signatura of the Supreme Tribunal