Tens of thousands of Catholics braved inclement weather to travel to Washington, D.C., to attend the annual March for Life on this, the 40th, anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade Decision, which allowed abortion as the law of the land.
Several thousand Catholics from North Carolina boarded buses early this morning to make the trip to the nation’s capital to first attend the annual North Carolina Mass for Life, celebrated at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge was the Celebrant at this year’s Mass. The Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte was the Homilist. (We will have a story on the Mass and the N.C. Catholics who participated in the Mass and March on Monday, January 28, 2013.)
On Thursday evening, January 24, the annual Vigil for Life was held at the Basilica, with hundreds of bishops and clergy taking part in a 45-minute procession as they gathered around the main altar. Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, chair of the U.S. Bishops Pro-Life Committee was Main Celebrant and Homilist.
Cardinal O’Malley called on pro-life advocates to work toward changing “people’s hearts to understand that abortion is evil and unnecessary.” The Cardinal challenged the faithful to help change society's negative perception of adoption so that it is seen as a better option than abortion for women, especially those facing a crisis pregnancy.
He spoke of the need to educate Americans about the importance of assisting women facing crisis pregnancies and cited the important work done by staff and volunteers at pregnancy centers and programs that support single mothers.
“It’s not just the lucidity of our arguments, but about the effect our words have on others,” the cardinal said. “Our task is to present the truth with civility, empathy and clarity. Being compassionate about the Gospel of life is about building a new civilization with love.”
Cardinal O’Malley warned that, “There is no doubt that the next major assault on the Gospel of Life will come from physician-assisted suicide.” He said, “A society that allows parents to kill their children will allow children to kill their parents.”
Watch Cardinal O’Malley’s homily
Above: U.S. Cardinal O'Malley preaches to capacity crowd at opening of National Prayer Vigil for Life. (CNS photos/Nancy Phelan Wiechec.)