Thursday, October 12, 2000

Pilarczyk to visit abortion opponents

Archbishop to pray at Mt. Auburn clinic

By Richelle Thompson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The spiritual leader of more than half a million Ohio Catholics will make a rare appearance Saturday at a local abortion clinic to pray with anti-abortion supporters.

        Cincinnati's Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk will celebrate 8 a.m. mass at Holy Name Church, then walk two blocks to the Planned Parenthood clinic on Auburn Avenue.

        The Archbishop “wants to give prayerful witness that while abortion may be legal, it's not right,” said Dan Andriacco, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

        Although Archbishop Pilarczyk frequently speaks against abortion, he has visited abortion clinics only a handful of times in his 18-year tenure, Mr. Andriacco said. The last time was December 1996.

        The Archbishop will join the Helpers of God's Precious Infants, a 4-year-old group that meets monthly at the church to pray and say the rosary at the clinic. Usually, 200 attend the two-hour vigil.

        The visit helps protesters “understand that the Archbishop is with them always in spirit, and this week, he'll be with them physically as well,” Mr. Andriacco said.

        Susan Momoyer, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky, says she fears clients and staff may be intimidated by the crowd or access may be blocked.

        "We don't oppose the exercise of peaceful free speech on a public space,” Ms. Momoyer said. But her agency must be "vigilant to make sure our patients and staff are safe and secure and to make sure no laws are broken by protesters.”

        Father Greg Konerman, one of the program's organizers, says the group has ushers to make sure a path stays open on the sidewalk and that the driveway is clear.

        Georgine Getty, vice president of the local National Organization for Women chapter, said, “I think it's well within his rights (to visit the center),” she says, “but I think there are more constructive ways to spend your time if you truly want to help people.”


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