From Capitol Hill as far as I could see marched a sea of people for life! Traveling from all parts of the country we came to peacefully protest our government's refusal to protect unborn human beings from the barbaric practice of legalized abortion.
For me the March for Life every Jan. 22 brings mixed feelings. On the one hand, it's a real pro-life shot-in-the-arm. On this day it seems like victory is within our grasp. And then a sobering thought strikes me: We have been doing this for 31 years with no end in sight.
While some positive gains have been made, such as the passing of federal legislation to ban partial-birth abortions (which presently is undergoing court challenge), every day throughout the United States legal abortion brutally dismembers and kills more than 4,000 unborn babies. We have a long way to go!
I once heard Nellie Gray, president of the March for Life, say that if just the Catholics alone in the United States would stand up and demand an end to abortion, it would end. But sadly, millions of Catholics are sitting this one out.
The unborn desperately need all of us - clergy and laity - actively working and praying throughout the entire year on their behalf. An annual march and respect-life Mass is simply not enough.
"What is urgently called for is a general mobilization of consciences and a united ethical effort to activate a great campaign in support of life. All together, we must build a new culture of life" (Pope John Paul II, "The Gospel of Life," No. 95).
Catholics need to apply tremendous political pressure. Regularly urging your state and congressional representatives to support pro-life legislation is absolutely essential. Get on the mailing list of your diocesan respect-life office and state Catholic conference to find out about upcoming bills.
Have you heard of the Gabriel Project? Operating in 14 states, this parish-based program provides an alternative to abortion by supporting women practically, emotionally, and spiritually.
The parish I serve in participates in this wonderful project. In front of our church is a sign advertising our willingness to help. We have provided baby clothes, cribs and infant formula, helped poor women obtain public services, and connected one mother with the adoption unit at Catholic Charities.
Paul Mulligan, executive director of Maryland's Gabriel Project, would be most willing to help parishes form a Gabriel Project. Give him a call at 1-301-262-9011.
I recently spoke with Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, about what clergy and laity can do to help end abortion. He said their Web site (www.priestsforlife.org) lists many important projects needing the help of the Catholic community.
For instance, their "Letters-to-the-Editor Project" helps people write effective pro-life letters to local newspapers. A free starter kit is available.
Fr. Pavone strongly believes many people will not be convinced to join the pro-life cause until they see the horrible reality of abortion. To that end, post cards showing an unborn child before and after an abortion, and one-page flyers with medical diagrams of a first trimester abortion, are available (freewill donation requested) when you call 1-718-980-4400.
I asked Fr. Pavone what his message is to fellow priests. He said: "Do not be afraid to preach clearly and explicitly on abortion. Silence does not interpret itself. Silence hurts more - because women who have had an abortion, or may be, contemplating one, need to know the truth, which of course includes the healing mercy of God."