As I sit at my desk on this cold, snowy Sunday to write this week’s article, the 46th annual March for Life is over. Most of the pilgrims who journeyed to our nation’s capital for the March have returned to their homes. They came from near and far — over 100,000 strong to stand up for life. I am happy to say that over 500 people from our diocese were among them.
Why do we march for life? We march to profess our faith in the dignity of human life from its first moment of existence in the mother’s womb. We march to stand firm in our determination to protect life, especially the life of the most vulnerable, the child in the mother’s womb. The unborn child in the mother’s womb is made in the image and likeness of God. In His divine plan, God created the human person to share in His divine life. He calls every human person to seek Him, to know Him, and to love Him with all their strength (cf. CCC, 1 and 356).
The theme for this year’s March for Life, “Unique from Day One: Pro-Life is pro-Science,” emphasized that science is on the side of life. “Science is behind the pro-life movement. . . . We owe so many advances to medicine and science and technology, and they all continue to reaffirm the scientific fact and the truth that life begins at fertilization/conception” (Jeanne Mancini, President of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund).
We march in solidarity with others to remind our elected officials that the laws of this land should protect all human life. Pro-lifers are not concerned only about the unborn. “The pro-life Catholic challenges us to care about the sacredness of every human being across a wide spectrum. We’re called always and everywhere to protect the dignity of the human person” (Archbishop Naumann, Chairperson of the USCCB Pro-Life Committee).
We march in answer to Cain’s question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Pope Francis reminds us, “Fraternity is an essential human quality, for we are relational beings. A lively awareness of our relatedness helps us to look upon and to treat each person as a true sister or brother” (World Day of Peace, January 1, 1024). The child in the womb is my brother or sister. What we do to him or her we do to Christ. Conversely, what we fail to do for the child in the womb we fail to do for Christ.
We march because we believe that every generation needs to be reminded about the truth of the human person fashioned in God’s image and destined for eternal life. We march to keep this truth before the minds and hearts of all people in every time and place. We recognize our role as stewards, custodians over all creation, and our inherent responsibility to remain constant and steadfast in our efforts to safeguard, nurture, and sustain the precious gift of life.
We march to be the voice for those who have no voice. The March for Life is an opportunity for many voices to speak as one voice and to do something tangible. It is a means of putting words into action and supporting the culture of life.
The presence of thousands in Washington praying and witnessing to the value of human life was a sign of hope. However, our efforts and commitment to life cannot be relegated to one day of the year or to one event, as important as communal witness, prayer, and penance may be. We need to promote a civilization of love every day of the year. We need to pray daily that our homes, cities, state, and nation will recognize the sanctity of human life and leave no stone unturned to safeguard and protect it.
In conclusion, I wish to draw your attention to the contemplated passage of New York State’s new proposed abortion policy. The so-called “Reproductive Health Act” will expand our state’s already radically permissive law, by empowering more health practitioners to provide abortion and removing all state restrictions on late-term procedures. As the bishops of our state noted in a message published on January 17, “We mourn the unborn infants who will lose their lives, and the many mothers and fathers who will suffer remorse and heartbreak as well.” [click here for the full statement.]
Please support efforts in our diocese to offer resources and services through our charitable and health agencies, to any woman experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. She needs our support in bearing her child, raising her family, or placing her child for adoption. I need your assistance in making these life-giving choices more widely known and accessible.
The March for Life is one day a year. However, may we stand up for life every day through our prayers and efforts on behalf of the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.
If you have a prayer intention you would like me to consider during the weeks ahead, please mail it to my attention at 240 E. Onondaga St., Syracuse, N.Y. 13202.