Sunday, January 22, 2023

Pope Francis lauds US Catholics’ pro-life witness, blesses March for Life participants

 2023 National Prayer Vigil for Life - National Shrine of the Immaculate  Conception

Pope Francis “is deeply grateful for the faithful witness shown publicly over the years by all who promote and defend the right to life of the most innocent and vulnerable members of our human family,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See’s Secretary of State, said in a message to participants in the National Prayer Vigil for Life.

The prayer vigil took place at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on the night of January 19-20, before the National March for Life. Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, read Cardinal Parolin’s message to vigil participants.

The “building of a truly just society rests upon respect for the sacred dignity of every person and the welcome given to each one as a brother or sister,” Cardinal Parolin continued. “In this regard, His Holiness trusts that Almighty God will strengthen the commitment of all, especially the young, to persevere in their efforts aimed at protecting human life in all its stages, especially through adequate legal measures enacted at every level of society.”

“To those taking part in the March for Life, and to all who support them by their prayers and sacrifices, the Holy Father gladly imparts his blessing as a pledge of strength and joy in the Lord,” Cardinal Parolin concluded.

Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington (VA), chairman of the bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities, preached the homily at the prayer vigil’s opening Mass (video).

“Dear friends, today we have so much to celebrate,” he said. “For the first time in the 49-year history of the March for Life, we can say that Roe vs. Wade, a blight on our nation, our system of justice, and our culture, is no more.”

“But even as we celebrate, we must remember: this is the beginning, not the end,” Bishop Burbidge continued. “A new important phase of work in the pro-life movement begins now!”

Stating that “we must learn to communicate our views with love,” and that “lasting victories will not come from views or hits or re-tweets; nor from triumphalism, bitterness, or cynicism; but from our sincere efforts to effect true conversion of mind and heart,” he added:

At the national level, we must continue our efforts to put an end to policies such as those that target vulnerable global populations with abortion funding or that facilitate alternative means of abortion at home. At the same time, we must turn a greater share of our attention to our local communities, from where we may cultivate opportunities in our states to limit the scope of legalized abortion, to curb its funding, or ideally, ban it all together.

But the most important work that lies ahead is the work not only of changing laws but of changing hearts, with steadfast faith in the grace and power of God to do so. Our work begins with our knowledge of the truth and our courage to speak it. We must learn new and compelling ways to communicate the harsh reality of abortion and the damage it inflicts on children, mothers, fathers, and society more broadly. In teaching and proclaiming the Gospel of Life, we must marshal all of the resources at our disposal, including philosophy, the social sciences, technology and psychology. We must engage with experts who understand the landscape on the federal and state levels and coordinate our efforts, strategies and resources in pursuit of making abortion in our nation unthinkable and illegal.