January 25, 2012 // Uncategorized

T-shirts, balloons and banners proclaim pro-life crowd's convictions

By Julie Asher

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Mark Hosbein stood on the corner of a busy Washington intersection under the steady rain Jan. 23 with a small duffle bag at his feet and a simple message for passers-by: “Please consider spiritually adopting an unborn baby who is in danger of abortion.”

Handing a reporter one of his brochures, Hosbein said as president of Hearts For Life, he is following the lead of the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, who promoted the idea of spiritual adoptions for the unborn years ago.

People who commit to such an adoption agree to pray once a day for a year for an unborn child, he explained. “Our belief is God will save the life of the baby. It’s a simple and powerful devotion.”

Hosbein, a member of St. Lawrence Parish in Indianapolis, said in the past five or six years, his organization has passed out 100,000 of his brochures.

He was among several people giving signs and literature to pro-lifers as they walked toward the March for Life rally on the National Mall near the Smithsonian Castle. From the castle, the Washington Monument in one direction and the Capitol in the other were shrouded in fog and barely visible.

The weather in Washington was uncooperative, with intermittent rain and temperatures hovering in the high 30s.

But as in most years when the weather was bad, the tens of thousands of pro-lifers, a majority of them high school and college age, were undeterred. Donning rain gear and holding umbrellas, they descended on the nation’s capital to mark the 39th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. The Supreme Court handed down the decision Jan. 22, 1973.

As they streamed toward the rally site from various points, rallygoers carried signs that declared their pro-life views. Among the messages were: “Adoption is an option,” “Every time a baby is aborted, love is denied,” “Praying for a culture of life,” “If it’s not a baby, you’re not pregnant,” and “Abortion survivor: Daughter of rape.”

One woman wrote her message in bold black letters on the back of her yellow rain poncho: “God is pro-life: Thou shalt not kill.” One group carried yellow balloons that simply said, “Life.”

Earlier in the morning, gathered at a Washington hotel before the March for Life activities got under way, young members of a Catholic Daughters of the Americas junior court in Framingham, Mass., talked to Catholic News Service about why they were there.

“Abortion is something we shouldn’t do,” said Tiffany Andino, 14. “If you have the guts to do things that what takes to get pregnant, you should have the guts to keep the child. Bringing new life into the world is a very big thing. My mom always taught me if you break the rules you pay the consequences. … I don’t agree with abortion and I want it to stop.”

Added Laura Jaime, who turns 13 Jan. 30: “Girls (treat) it like a game and do things and get rid of the baby. That should change. If it doesn’t change, we’re going to make the world worse.”

Valerie Valdivia, 12, said she was participating to send “a message to people not to kill a creature of God.” Fourteen-year-old Natalia Mendez echoed Valerie’s remarks, adding that everyone needs “to cherish and love” God’s creation.

Joanne Tomassi, Catholic Daughters’ national regent, told CNS, “It’s important for the juniors, these young women, to get involved as early as possible in the pro-life fight … but we need people from all groups, all ethnic groups, economic groups, men, women and children (involved). Abortion affects everybody.”

Near the rally site stood Erin Connelly from the Syracuse, N.Y., area, who was wearing a handmade sandwich board that declared: “Save the baby humans!” A member of St. Patrick Parish in Chittenango, Connelly said it was her second rally and march.

She said she was inspired for the day ahead by the Mass celebrated that morning by Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan of New York at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

She said she doesn’t know about other communities but in her community back home, there is a lot of respect for life.

A group of young people from the Diocese of Victoria, Texas, stood near the speakers’ platform. They were all wearing yellow hooded sweatshirts with this message on the back: “Death Roe Survivor.” The slogan and lettering were created by 16-year-old Ted Wenske, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Moulton, Texas.

He was there, he said, “because life from the moment of conception to death is sacred. Life should always be treated with respect.”

Ashley Martinez, 13, of Potomac Oaks, Md., admitted that her parents had made her attend, but she said she does believe the nation “should stop abortion because it’s bad. It’s a human life.”

Boston University junior Brad Agostinelli of Rochester, N.Y., said he has grown in his Catholic faith over the past couple of years and his conviction that abortion is wrong has only grown stronger.

Heather Wilson, 28, a member of a nondenominational Christian church in Pennsylvania, held a sign that said, “Stop unborn pain.”

She told CNS, “I’m here to put my feet in the direction of what my heart believes.”

Life, liberty at ‘core of our national character,’ Boehner tells rally

By Julie Asher

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Americans “as a people are pro-life” because life and liberty “are intertwined and form the core of our national character,” House Speaker John Boehner told the crowd gathered on the National Mall Jan. 23 for the 39th annual March for Life.

“God who gave us life gave us liberty,” said the Ohio Republican, who is a Catholic. He added that his pro-life stand isn’t political, “it’s just who I am.”

He and the other members of Congress who spoke at the rally said they were proud they had passed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act and the Protect Life Act and voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and defund Planned Parenthood.

But now, said U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., “we must work to change the Senate and reclaim the White House, which not only obstructs pro-life legislation but has for the past three years advanced abortion in so many ways.”

Smith, a Catholic who is chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, told the rallygoers that they were “an important part of the greatest human rights movement on earth — the selfless struggle by prayer, fasting and works to defend and protect all weak and vulnerable persons from the violence of abortion, infanticide and euthanasia.”

He also told the crowd he had a message for President Barack Obama: “The violent destruction of children in the womb — killing babies — is not an American value.”

More than an hour before the rally kicked off, thousands of pro-life marchers, the majority of them high school and college-age youths from across the country, began to fill in the space around the speakers’ platform under overcast skies.

The temperature hovered in the high 30s. Intermittent rain forced marchers to put on ponchos and assorted rain gear and pull out their umbrellas. The wet weather left the National Mall a soggy and muddy patch, which marchers slogged through after the rally as they headed to Constitution Avenue, past the Capitol and up to the Supreme Court.

As for the size of the crowd, a late afternoon email alert from the District of Columbia to commuters said protesters numbered from 15,000 to 20,000. But media reports said March for Life officials had a permit from the National Parks Service for 50,000 people, and for the last several years they have put the number at 200,000. As of midday Jan. 24, march officials could not be reached for their estimate of this year’s crowd.

The rally opened with the national anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a joint Catholic-Orthodox prayer delivered by Metropolitan Jonah of All America and Canada. Religious leaders on the platform included Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

Many other Catholic bishops were in attendance but stood with the contingents from their dioceses.

Nellie Gray, now 86, kicked off the speeches. She is the founder and president of the March for Life Education & Defense Fund, the group that organizes the march.

She told the crowd that their consistency in showing up in such great numbers each year “shows we love our country and love our preborn children. We also love the abortionists we’re trying to educate.”

She called for Roe to be overturned “without any exception” and urged unity “on the life principles” she and her organization have espoused since the Roe decision.

Just as the Nuremberg trials after World War II “taught us genocide is a crime against humanity,” the federal government must understand that abortion is “a crime against humanity,” said Gray.

Other members of Congress who addressed the rally included Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy of California and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas.

“Taking life is morally wrong,” Cantor said. “Millions of Americans agree with us. We must stop the government assault on innocent life.”

In a message marking the Roe anniversary, Obama said he remained “committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right. While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue — no matter what our views – we must stay united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, reduce the need for abortion, encourage healthy relationships and promote adoption.”

In his remarks, Smith accused the Obama administration of “not “even attempting to appear to be working to make abortion ‘rare’ and offering support to women to choose life.”

On the way to the Supreme Court, thousands of young people who attended two youth rallies sponsored by the Washington Archdiocese joined the March for Life as it headed up Constitution. A couple dozen supporters of keeping abortion legal were on the sidewalk in front of the court, shouting at the pro-lifers, but their voices were easily drowned out by the chants of the pro-lifers.

Many marchers carried banners identifying their Catholic schools — grade schools, high schools, universities and colleges. But nonsectarian universities were represented, too; one of the most prominent was Harvard University’s student respect life group.

March for Life events cover a three-day period and include a convention and the annual Rose Dinner. There also is an annual pro-life essay contest, and this year’s winner was Becca Kennedy, an eighth-grader from Seton Catholic School in Farley, Iowa, in the Dubuque Archdiocese. She came to Washington with her mom and dad, Laura and Brian, who said it was refreshing and energizing to see so many people who support the pro-life cause.

Winning the contest confirmed “that what I was thinking is what other people are thinking, that I was in the right mindset,” Becca told CNS. Coming to the rally and march, she added, shows “the public how many people believe abortion is wrong.”

* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.