Oct. 23-29, 2003
Marching for Life
By Blessed Sacrament staff/ SUN contributing writers
SUN photo(s) Chuck Wainwright
Prayer Procession for Life gathers at Planned Parenthood
A Prayer Procession for Life was led by Bishop James Moynihan on Oct. 17, beginning at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse and proceeding to Planned Parenthood on East Genesee Street.
A 10 a.m. Mass, celebrated by Bishop Moynihan, preceded the procession. The Mass was a celebration of the dignity of life. Young people filled the pews –– all to show their support for the pro-life cause. Students from Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School, Bishop Grimes Jr./Sr. High School, Christian Brothers Academy, Cathedral School and a home school group were in attendance. St. Daniel School’s sixth grade chorus sang following Holy Communion. Parents came with small children in tow. The strong turn out of young people pleased Cindy Falise, director of the Respect Life Office, who helped organize the event.
According to Falise, there has been an upswing in recent years in the number of young people who are pro-life. “We have seen more and more young people ID themselves as pro-life,” remarked Falise. “There is statistical data that backs this up.”
Bishop Moynihan began the homily by commenting on the abortion pill Mifepristone, long known as RU486. The pill puts few restrictions on getting an abortion, explained the bishop. “No more clinics. No more waiting until pregnancy is far enough along for surgical abortion. Just a series of pills taken over a period of days to induce a miscarriage,” said Bishop Moynihan. “For the first time in its history, the federal government sanctioned a chemical not designed to cure or strengthen, but rather to kill.”
Annually, the abortion pill contributes to the death of 30 million unborn babies. But the pill can have deadly ramifications for the mother as well, pointed out Bishop Moynihan. “Last month, an 18-year-old San Francisco girl died after having been given a prescription for RU 486 at a local Planned Parenthood Clinic. Holly Patterson had been seven weeks pregnant at the time and her parents knew nothing about it,” he said.
The announcement that the Food & Drug Administration had approved the distribution of RU486 is nothing less than tragic, Bishop Moynihan said. “On March 31, 1809, Thomas Jefferson declared that ‘The care of human life and happiness, not their destruction, is the just and only legitimate object of good government.’ But on Sept. 29, 2000, the day our nation approved the sale of RU 486, our national administration turned its back on this fundamental understanding of the meaning and function of a civilized state,” said Bishop Moynihan. He continued, “Our nation is founded on the principle of the worth of the individual, although it has taken us a long time to live up to that founding vision. But we’re far from perfect in extending rights to all human beings, regardless of race, creed, color, or nationality. We are far from perfect in extending it to the most vulnerable in our society, to unborn infants at the beginning of life, and to the frail elderly and the dying at the end of life.”
The bishop gave those who would be participating in the prayer procession to Planned Parenthood words of encouragement. “Do not be afraid,” he said. “Jesus wants us to stand up and to speak out fearlessly in defense of sound doctrine and in defense of the truth. Indeed if God watches over the sparrows, in God’s eyes their value cannot compare with the value God finds in us.” Following the Mass, students and families gathered for the approximately one-mile march. Holding pro-life banners and signs, they walked from the Cathedral to Planned Parenthood where they recited the rosary, led by Bishop Moynihan.
Falise said there have been significant gains made on behalf of the unborn. She noted there are fewer abortion clinics than previous years, as well as fewer doctors who perform abortions. She is hoping for a big step forward in coming weeks when President George W. Bush signs the partial birth abortion ban into law. Each spring there is a similar Pro-life Mass and prayer procession in Utica; there is also an event scheduled in Binghamton for this spring as well. Highlighting the pro-life cause through Masses and prayer processions is important, said Falise. But she also wanted to recognize a similar group of faithful people who gather at Planned Parenthood every day to pray for the conversion of hearts and unborn children. “There is a presence there all of the time,” Falise said. “There always needs to be this ongoing prayer –– the fight for life is ongoing.”