The Supreme Court of the United States issued its landmark judgment in the Roe v. Wade case on January 22, 1973 making abortion-on-demand the law of the land. Roe v. Wade is a grave injustice and a cause of shame for our nation. The voluntary termination of a pregnancy can never be ethical or moral because it involves the direct killing of a defenseless, innocent, unique, precious and utterly dependent human person. Nothing can change that. It is estimated that over 55 million babies have had their lives terminated since abortion became legal. That’s over a million per year. Further, it is staggering to think that 40% of unintended pregnancies end in abortion. The numbers of this holocaust are startling yet there is little outrage or concern in our society.
Several weeks ago, I traveled to Washington, DC for the 42nd annual March for Life. On the eve of the March, Cardinal Seán celebrated Mass at the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. There were over 11,000 people crammed into both levels of the basilica including 6 cardinals, 44 bishops, 343 priests, 100 deacons and 530 seminarians. Looking out at the congregation from the procession, I was overwhelmed seeing the sea of people. I could feel the boom of all the voices praying in unison as well as a palpable silence when the Eucharist was consecrated. Concelebrating priests were seated adjacent to the seminarians. The seminarians formed a line at Communion time and I was moved by how reverently and devoutly they received Our Lord. Leaving the basilica that night, I not could help thinking I was leaving the building with the highest concentration of love in the country.
The day of the March begins with various rallies and Masses around Washington, including a youth rally at the Verizon Center with about 18,000 people. I joined about a thousand people who traveled with the group from the Archdiocese of Boston. The vast majority of them were either high school or college aged—including a student from Billerica! Before Mass with Cardinal Seán there was a rally that included speakers and music. At one point there was a priest playing the drums and later I saw Mother Olga and the rest of the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth singing in front of the crowd.
The March for Life begins on the National Mall and ends in front of the Supreme Court. This year I did something that I have not done at the March in years past. I lingered in front of the Supreme Court and listened to the testimony of many women who have had abortions and even a doctor who performed them. Each spoke of the pain and regret that they suffered as a result of abortion. Many parts of their stories were difficult to listen to, but at the end of their witness they each spoke of healing. Even in the midst of such darkness, they were insistent that Our Lord offered them hope and mercy. An estimated 400,000 people participated in the March, but the media was more interested in covering a few deflated footballs!
On the day of the March for Life, Pope Francis (@Pontifex) tweeted, “Every Life is a Gift. #marchforlife.” This is a truth that can be lost track of. Our culture frequently looks upon children as burdens, inconveniences, and hurdles to happiness. Anyone who has children or has been around children knows that they make their parents more happy not less. All babies, regardless of the circumstance of their conception or the presence of a prenatal diagnosis, are gifts to be reverenced. Our vocation as Christians and faithful citizens requires that we defend life especially at its most vulnerable stages. First, we need to pray with intensity that abortion is ended in the United States and throughout the world. Second, we must engage in the political process so that laws are enacted that respect and protect life.
May our “yes” to life echo Our Lady’s “yes” to life, which gained for us the Savior.