By ARTHUR J. BREW
Fargo, N.D. Bishop James S. Sullivan led nearly 1,200 persons on a peaceful prayer vigil to North Dakota's only abortion mill recently, and he promised the assistance of the Catholic Church to any woman who finds herself in a crisis pregnancy.
The "Walk With Christ for Life" coincided with the observance of the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, the patroness of the Fargo Diocese.
Vested priests and deacons, along with men, women and children from all sectors of the state, accompanied Bishop Sullivan as he carried the Blessed Sacrament to the abortion facility. A temporary altar was set up in front of the mill for prayer and benediction. Police were on hand to maintain order, but there were no disturbances or arrests.
Clinic administrator Jane Bovard asserted that it was "incredibly irresponsible" to stage the walk after the recent killings in Pensacola, Fla.
Bishop Sullivan said the event had been planned for months and "I look at all my friends out there and I don't think that any of us are very violent. However, I will say that there is violence. and that violence is within the slaughterhouse.
"We had a similar walk two years ago," Bishop Sullivan told The Wanderer. "One thousand participated at that time, but we had none in 1993 because of the Holy Father's visit. We hope to do more walks in the future.
"It was such a rewarding experience. After the walk, we offered Mass at the Carmel of Mary which is 50 miles from Fargo and about 700 persons attended that."
Bishop Sullivan said the Catholic Church stands ready to assist any expectant mother in need and "this includes whatever assistance she requires." He added that the diocese has published a listing of all crisis pregnancy centers in the area.
Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, flew in from New York for the occasion. He stated that by coming to North Dakota, he wanted to show the solidarity of Priests for Life with what Bishop Sullivan is doing, and express the gratitude priests have for the leadership that bishops like him demonstrate in the fight against abortion.
In a talk to Fargo pro-lifers the following day, Fr. Pavone said that abortion supporters will increasingly try to keep pro-lifers off the streets by making them feel guilty for "inciting a climate that leads to violence." He pointed out that pro-lifers need to be on the streets more than ever before, to save babies and to educate the public.
"Abortion continues," he added, "not because peaceful means don't work, but because not enough people use them. Direct, peaceful action does save lives. Our top priority is to recruit people to do it."
The march began outside St. Mary's Cathedral and continued for 16 blocks to the Fargo Women's Health Organization on 14th Street. Two federal marshals stationed at the clinic since the Florida killings sat in their cars behind the building.