Political and religious heavyweights rallied pro-life demonstrators gathered in Washington, D.C., on Friday during the 44th annual March for Life, an event held each year protesting the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in the United States.
In his first major address since being sworn in on Jan. 20, Vice President Mike Pence received raucous applause when he said that President Donald J. Trump would announce a nominee to the Supreme Court next week “who will uphold the God-given liberties enshrined in our Constitution in the tradition of the late and great Justice Antonin Scalia.”
Justice Scalia died nearly a year ago, but the Republican-controlled Senate refused to hold hearings for former President Barack Obama’s nominee. The president said earlier this week that he would announce his pick next Thursday, the same day as the National Prayer Breakfast.
Mr. Pence, the first vice president to address the March for Life, said Mr. Trump is already making good on campaign promises to pro-life voters. He pointed to an executive order signed by Mr. Trump on Jan. 23 that reinstates a ban on using federal money to pay for or promote abortion overseas.
The vice president said “life is winning again in America,” telling the crowd they have in Mr. Trump “a president who stands for a stronger America, a more prosperous America and a president who, I proudly say, stands for the right to life.”
Mr. Trump tweeted his support of the march from his personal account on Friday:
The #MarchForLife is so important. To all of you marching --- you have my full support!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 27, 2017
Critics of the president, however, say that his proposals to ban refugees from entering the United States and repeal the Affordable Care Act call into question his claims of being pro-life.
Following Mr. Pence’s remarks, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York took to the podium to pray, thanking God “for the gift of a nation where life itself is considered an inalienable right and the dignity of each human person a self-evident truth.”
This was the cardinal’s second public appearance in Washington in as many weeks. He was on hand at at Mr. Trump’s swearing-in ceremony to pray for wisdom for the new president.
The night before the march, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops hosted the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Preaching at the vigil, Cardinal Dolan meditated on the Italian and Spanish term for shrine: “Sanctuario.”
It is fitting, he said, that so many are gathered in solidarity with the pro-life cause in the sanctuary of the shrine of the Immaculate Conception. He connected the idea of sanctuary to the way the church and the nation have been a sanctuary for so many seeking refuge, tying together the church’s anti-abortion beliefs with its fight to protect migrants and refugees.
“Today, refugees and immigrants continue to believe that this nation is still a sanctuary as they arrive with relief and thanksgiving, and we pray this evening they are never let down,” he said.
“We come together this sacred evening in a church we claim as a sanctuary, in a land historically termed a sanctuary, on a planet the Creator intended as a sanctuary,” he continued. “Why? To reclaim the belief that a mother’s womb is the primal sanctuary, where a helpless, innocent, fragile, tiny baby must be safe, secure, nurtured and protected.”
The Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States held a Mass for Life on Friday morning at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church, celebrated by Bill Muller, S.J., president of the Jesuit Schools Network.
We all want to belong, Father Muller told the congregation, comprising many pro-life high school and college student groups. People of all races, sexual orientations, creeds and parties, he said, seek recognition and acceptance.
“The problem is that not everyone in our crazy, wonderful human family do see all,” Father Muller said, adding that Christians must stand up for those whose suffering goes unnoticed and to bring attention to their cause. Today, he explained, we are doing that for the unborn.
“We’re there to say, ‘I see you.’ Why? Because God sees us first,” he said.
He preached on the Gospel passage about the power of faith the size of a mustard seed, saying that the March for Life may seem relatively small compared to other protests, but noted that, “all the kingdom of God needs are tiny seeds.”