Abortion foes to say exorcism prayers at clinic

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From DDL
By Tom Beyerlein

Anti-abortion activists have been holding prayer vigils outside a Kettering abortion clinic for decades, but on Sunday they plan to up the ante by saying prayers of exorcism.

The Rev. Steve J. Angi, chancellor of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati, has given permission for priests to say exorcism prayers at a 2 p.m. rally outside the Women’s Med Center, 1401 E. Stroop Road, the Miami Valley’s only abortion clinic. The clinic is closed on Sundays.

Ruth Reddens, an organizer of the 40 Days for Life campaign that plans the vigil, sought Angi’s permission to perform the “exorcism of locality,” designed to drive evil out of a place, rather than out of a person. “Hopefully, the spiritual battle will be won,” she said.

Officials of the Women’s Med Center did not return a phone message seeking comment.

Rick Pender, spokesman for Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio, which refers local women for abortions and performs abortions at a clinic in Cincinnati, said, “This is America — people have a right to free speech. We don’t agree that we’re doing something evil. We’re providing a service that is needed and appreciated by a lot of people.”

Participants will be reading the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, written by Pope Leo XIII in 1886. It reads, in part, “Seize the dragon, the ancient serpent, which is the devil and Satan, bind him and cast him into the bottomless pit, that he may no longer seduce the nations.”

“This (prayer) is said over a place that’s infested with the evil spirit, to remove any evil that might happen to be there,” said the Rev. Earl Fernandes, dean of the Athenaeum of Ohio seminary in Cincinnati.

He said it’s one of the minor exorcisms in Catholic tradition, meant to “turn people away from sin and toward the Holy Spirit.”

Deddens got the idea of using exorcism prayers from a similar vigil in Rockford, Ill., in 2009. Some said the prayers led to the January decision to close Rockford’s abortion clinic, which had been cited for health and safety violations.

Sunday’s prayer vigil, open to people of all faiths, comes at a time when women’s reproductive issues have taken center stage in the national political debate. Deddens said she also is helping to organize a rally at the Dayton Federal Building on March 23 to protest what conservatives see as infringement of the religious freedom of Catholic employers contained in President Barack Obama’s health care reform plan, which requires that insurance cover contraceptives.

“We’re all Catholic now,” Deddens said. “Everybody needs to stand for freedom or they’re coming for you next.”

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