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Boston heeds pope's call for prayer vigil for unborn


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BRAINTREE -- In keeping with a request made by the Holy Father, and joining other Catholics throughout the world, the Archdiocese of Boston is hosting an evening of prayer for the unborn Nov. 27.

The Prayer Vigil for All Nascent Human Life will take place at 4 p.m. in the lower church of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross with Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley presiding. The prayer service will include vespers, the rosary and benediction.

Following the vespers service, there will be a 5:30 p.m. Vigil Mass for the first Sunday of Advent celebrated by Father Peter Grover, OMV, director of St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine in the Back Bay.

"I think it will underscore the unity of the Church around the world and our commitment to protect the dignity of the human person," said Marianne Luthin, director of the Archdiocese of Boston's pro-life office.

Pope Benedict XVI requested that all diocesan bishops join him in similar celebrations to begin the new liturgical year. Pope Benedict will celebrate his own vigil for all nascent human life at St. Peter's Basilica.

"The fact that the Holy Father has requested every diocesan bishop to celebrate this vigil for nascent life at the start of Advent is unprecedented," Luthin said.

"By calling for this worldwide prayer vigil as we begin the season of Advent, I think the Holy Father is calling us to focus both on the hope and promise of new life in Christ that we celebrate at Christmas but also to acknowledge the sad fact that world-wide there are an estimated 50 million abortions performed each year," she said.

According to Luthin, the word "nascent" is appropriate to use in the title of the event, even though the word is not frequently used in modern American culture.

"While it clearly refers to unborn human life, its other meanings include 'promising,' 'growing' and 'hopeful.' As we enter into Advent, our thoughts naturally focus on the hope and expectation of the coming of Christ. Christ came to us first as an unborn child, tiny, vulnerable and needing the protection and care of his mother." Luthin said.

"We need a renewal of hope about the meaning of life as the reflection of God," she continued.

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