By Connie Berry
While thousands marched in Washington, D.C. to protest the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the supreme court decision that legalized abortion, Bishop Robert Cunningham celebrated his first Respect Life Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception during the noon hour on Friday, Jan. 22. Father Stanley Dudkiewicz, pastoral vicar at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, concelebrated.
“Today in the mystery of the Eucharist we are able to join our prayers with those of hundreds of thousands of others in cities and towns and villages, as well as in our nation’s capital, who are defending and marching and witnessing to the sanctity of life,” Bishop Cunningham said in his homily.
The bishop stressed the importance of prayer for those considering abortion, those who have gone through the trauma of an abortion and those who do not understand the church’s attitude towards life in its earliest stages.
“In union with the church, we recognize today, both a responsibility to pray and the profound effectiveness of prayer, for through prayer, hearts are changed,” he said.
Both the bishops in Washington, D.C. and the Bishop of Syracuse addressed the issue of health care reform and federal funding for abortions.
“We’ve had long debate on health care but what we want is health care reform that respects the dignity of every human life,” Bishop Cunningham said at the local Mass.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro Life Activities, presided at the opening Mass at the March for Life in Washington on Jan. 21. The Catholic News Service quoted Cardinal DiNardo, “Abortion is not health care. Health care is about saving and preserving lives not destroying lives.”
Several reports stated that this year’s Washington crowd was larger than last year. Cardinal DiNardo noted his appreciation at the number of young people at the march and Bishop Cunningham noted that there are strong indications that one of the largest growing groups in the pro-life movement is young people. Ironically, he said, they were born after Roe v. Wade went into effect. More than 300 young people from the Syracuse Diocese traveled to Washington for the march.
The bishop concluded his homily saying, “May God keep all of us strong as we move ahead, for no movement is as important as the one to defend human life.”