Comparing today's practice of abortions to human sacrifices made by Aztec Indians of ancient Mexico, the Rev. Frank Pavone led 60 people yesterday in the 15th annual Life March to protest abortions on Staten Island and throughout the world.
During his homily at a mass in Our Lady Star of the Sea R.C. Church preceding the march, Father Pavone said modern-day people are practicing misguided principles by allowing abortions to be performed.
"We are not doing any better," Father Pavone said. "We aren't killing human beings at the altar. But you know what? We are doing it at places like the Staten Island University Hospital."
Following the mass, participants recited the rosary as they made their way from the Huguenot church to the hospital's Prince's Bay campus, which performs abortions.
With a police escort, the marchers, carrying placards depicting developing, unborn fetuses that said "I am an American," passed curious onlookers at Tottenville High School, where some students shouted "Right to life" in support. At the hospital, no one confronted the marchers as Father Pavone lead the group in song, prayer and peaceful protest.
A hospital spokeswoman said it would have no comment.
Father Pavone said he was pleased with the turnout for the event. "It doesn't take much to awaken the community or upset the hospital."
During his homily, Father Pavone said the practices of the Aztecs were rooted in the same fears pregnant women have.
"Both have fear and despair," Father Pavone said. "We want to show pregnant women that God is not against them. We want to turn their fear into confidence and their despair into hope."
He added that many programs are available for pregnant women, including counseling, job training, and help with medical expenses, among others. Information about such programs is available on his group's Web site at www.priestsforlife.org.
For marchers like Louis Menchaca, 60, of Manhattan, protesting abortion is more than being a good Christian, he said.
"I love our country," Menchaca said, as large wooden rosary beads draped around his neck rocked back and forth during the march. "But babies are being killed and that has to stop. This country is going downhill fast, if the practice of abortions doesn't stop. This is such an important issue."
Marietta Canning, the president of the Right to Life league, also invoked patriotism in speaking about the march.
"We represent the spirit of freedom, and the unborn baby has no freedom," she said. "This is the will of God. We say 'From the womb to the tomb.' These are our people."