Hundreds of thousands of pro-life Americans flocked to the National Mall in Washington D.C. on Friday, January 22 for the annual March for Life, and the staff of the Pro-Life Action League was privileged to be a part of this historic event.
One of the highlights of the weekend was the Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to kick off the annual Prayer Vigil for Life. Hundreds of seminarians, deacons, priests, bishops and cardinals processed into the Church to assist lead celebrant Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the diocese of Galveston/Houston, Texas in offering the Mass.
The mass was attended by over 1,000 pro-lifers including hundreds of teens from around the country who stayed the night in the Basilica offering prayers for an end to abortion.
Huge Turnout and Beautiful Weather
This year’s march was invigorated by the fierce debate in Congress over the last few months concerning abortion funding in the healthcare overhaul. From what League staff could tell on the ground, there seemed to be a noticeably larger number of participants than in previous marches.
Weather was beautiful for late January and the mood was high as pro-lifers descended on the Mall. Groups could be seen holding banners from around the country. Even pro-lifers from outside the U.S. like Bernie Smyth of Precious Life joined the March traveling all the way from Ireland. Pro-lifers marched across the Mall all the way to the steps of the Supreme Court building, where Roe v. Wade had been decided 37 years ago.
Confrontation with Father Jenkins
Fr. John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame was in attendance at the March. Fr. Jenkins was at the center of the tempest that erupted last year when he invited President Obama to give the commencement address to the class of ’09. During the massive protest of the event, 88 pro-lifers were arrested for walking onto Notre Dame’s property in protest after being told not to.
Many of those who were arrested were at the March holding banners that read Father Jenkins: Free the Notre Dame 88. It is certain that Fr. Jenkins saw the signs. Many, including League National Director Joe Scheidler spoke to Fr. Jenkins, asking him to drop the charges against the pro-lifers. Reports are that Fr. Jenkins was polite but unreceptive to pro-lifers’ entreaties. Read Joe’s story of his conversation with Fr. Jenkins here.
Solemn Remembrance—Hope Looking Forward
It is always a somber time marking this grim anniversary and remembering the 50 million lives lost—and countless others wounded—by legal abortion in the US. But mourning that loss is part of the important mission of pro-life activism.
Through the solemnity, an attitude of hope shone through the March. Hope that, just as the evil of slavery ended in this country, the evil of abortion will end one day as well. The League staff all left the March encouraged by the numbers and the enthusiasm. I believe it speaks well to our prospects as we continue to labor to build a culture of life.