On January 3rd, 2020, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey sent out a video message to all the members of the diocese, encouraging everyone to attend the 47th Annual March for Life in Washington D.C. Cardinal Tobin openly called on the over 1.3 million Catholics in his diocese to participate in the demonstration, “along with your schools, parish groups, or families.” This is an unexpected and brave move from a Catholic cardinal: to stand up for this preeminent issue, regardless of possible backlash from lukewarm Catholics. To this day, many other members of the hierarchy of the Church stand idly by while innocents continue to be slaughtered daily. When we see any leader, whether it be in the Church or in government, promote the pro-life cause, we should all come out in full support. Likewise, when our leaders take no proactive action in defense of the preborn and against laws which harm their dignity, it is our duty as pro-lifers to make our objections known to them.
The March for Life is beyond just a gathering to protest an unjust law, it is, as His Eminence stated in the video, the “largest annual human rights demonstration in the United States.” In advance of the March for Life this year, LifeNews.com reported that more than half a million people were to attend the march in DC (50 times more people than at the women’s march, which advocates for the murder of the preborn as a woman’s right). This was just a pre-event prediction, and was made prior to the announcement of President Trump’s visit which made more people enthusiastic to come. Also, witnessing face to face the droves of energetic youth, I say with complete confidence, this was the largest of the eight marches in D.C. I have attended.
The March for Life is indeed the largest human rights demonstration in the United States and even the world. More important than the number of attendees is the spirit found in the movement and in each individual gathering year after year; that is, the duty to protect life at all stages, but most importantly the innocent, preborn in the womb, and the call to be the voice for the voiceless.
Historically, the Catholic Church has always been a leader for the protection of marginalized and threatened persons. Since the Early Christian era, the Church’s teachings have supported the dignity and worth of the unborn. One such example is from Tertullian, an early Church father, who is well known for standing up for the innocent preborn. After the Romans were accusing the early Christians of child sacrificing, Tertullian countered this attack in his Apologia by charging that the Romans themselves were guilty of the very act which they were targeting on the Christians. He specifically mentioned the Roman rituals which disrespected the dignity of children, and then stated that for the Christians it is not permissible to destroy even the fetus in the womb. With Church teaching and tradition supporting them, the bishops and clergy of today should not be afraid to attack the evil of abortion, and to affirm that in order to be a true follower of Jesus Christ you must respect all life, from conception to natural death.
With the legalization of infanticide in the states of Illinois and New York, and soon Virginia, it is even more critical that the Church be more proactive and militant in the movement to protect the vulnerable preborn. The video message from Cardinal Tobin is a hopeful sign that our leaders are ready to step up to the plate for this important cause, notwithstanding the pro-abortion elements that are trying to make their way into the Church.