CNA Staff, Mar 19, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).- Catholics in Poland launched a week of prayer for the protection of life on Friday, the feast of St. Joseph.

The week-long pro-life initiative, starting on March 19, is supported by Catholic bishops in dioceses across the country.

Magdalena Guziak-Nowak of the Polish Association of Human Life Defenders, which is overseeing the prayer week, said: “Our intention is to include all unborn children, their mothers, and parents receiving a difficult prenatal diagnosis.”

“We will pray for nurses, midwives, and doctors, for politicians and journalists, and for all those who demand the killing of unborn babies.”

The prayer week comes amid a furious debate in Poland over abortion.

The country’s constitutional court ruled Oct. 22 that a 1993 law permitting abortion for fetal abnormalities was unconstitutional.

The ruling, which cannot be appealed, could lead to a significant reduction in the number of abortions in the country.

The court’s decision triggered mass protests. Demonstrators disrupted Masses while holding signs supporting abortion, left graffiti on Church property, vandalized statues of St. John Paul II, and chanted slogans at clergy.

Following the publication of the ruling on Jan. 27, abortion will continue to remain legal in cases of rape or incest and risk to the mother’s life.

The week of prayers includes the daily recitation of the litany to St. Joseph and a prayer composed by St. John Paul II, taken from the Polish pope’s 1995 encyclical Evangelium vitae.

At the end of January, the secretariat of the Polish episcopal conference sent material on the week of prayer for the protection of life to all dioceses.

According to Bishop Artur Miziński, secretary of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, “common prayer is so necessary in the current situation, when pro-abortion groups provoke social unrest.”

The Life Protection Prayer Week will end on March 25, the feast of the Annunciation and the Day of the Sanctity of Life in Poland.

“In a world that divides children into ‘wanted’ and ‘unwanted,’ in a world where indifference and false compassion is killing us, we need to hear the gospel of life anew,” the organizers said.

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