The March for Life in Washington, d.c. was originally organized in response to the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion throughout the United States. Last year, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade with a ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson. Would you say the March for Life is still relevant and how so?
The March for Life is still very relevant. Because while we celebrate and we give thanks to God for the victory of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, we know that our work is just beginning. For abortion remains legalized in most parts of our country, and now our March for Life this year will be expressing the gratitude for this decision, remembering all the people for all these years, almost 50 years, who marched and offered witness and advocacy and persevered. We are so grateful to all of them. So, a spirit of gratitude marks this year’s March for Life. Also, this is a testimony to the fact that we understand that our work is only just beginning, because now at the national level we must continue our efforts to put an end to any policies that target vulnerable global populations with abortion funding. At the same time, we must turn a greater share of our attention to local communities from where we may cultivate opportunities in our states to limit the scope of legalized abortion, to curb its funding or ideally, to ban it altogether. I think it’s a new moment in the pro-life movement. We have the truth; we’ve always been consistent with the truth. Life is sacred from the moment of conception and every stage to natural death, and must be protected. But I think this is a new moment in which we should consider the new opportunities, strategies, and ways that we can not only work for the changing of laws, but most especially for the transformation of minds and hearts.
As the chair of the usccb ’s Committee for Pro-Life Activities, can you tell us about the role that the us bishops play, individually and as a body, with regard to the pro-life movement? And what role can individual Catholics — laity, priests, religious and bishops — play with regard to promoting the truth about life that the Church preaches?
The bishops of the United States, the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops, are united. We are going to be tireless in continuing all of our work, our preaching, our teaching, our proclamations, our witness for the protection of all human life. So we are united. And each bishop in his own diocese certainly has the mechanisms, the resources, and the personnel to carry out that work. The Pro-Life Committee of the usccb really helps the bishops, dioceses, and their personnel to be even more effective. I always thought I had a good sense of everything that the Office of Pro-Life Activities does. But now that I’m the newly-elected chair, I’m seeing up close that their work is pretty extensive. So, we’re so grateful to the staff that is there to serve every bishop. And our task is to ask: ‘How can we help those who are out in the field, the bishops, their dioceses and their staff and the faithful of each diocese?’ While bishops have a special role to play in protecting life, most importantly, every person, every follower of Christ, every member of the faithful has been given a mandate. It’s called the Gospel of Life. That mandate means that we celebrate life. We cherish it; we treasure it. Especially in a time where we know that abortion is still legal and aggressive bills are coming our way each and every day, we have to protect it.
I always encourage the faithful to remember that there are many ways to do so. One way, especially, is through prayer. And that’s why I’m so happy that our March for Life is preceded by the Vigil for Life, which is a day and evening of prayer. We had a Mass for Life on Thursday night at the Basilica shrine with thousands and thousands of people. And it is followed throughout the night, until the early morning, with holy hours: people praying for the protection of life. So it really begins with prayer. Then, of course, our witness, because the next day we will be in our nation’s Capitol, on our streets, witnessing to the truth and love. People travel across our country and make great sacrifices to witness on the streets to bring our faith into the public arena. All the faithful are called to do that, and not just in the March for Life, but in their workplaces, in their communities, in their schools and campuses.
Another way is through advocacy. We have to let our voices be heard by the public officials we elect and expect to protect the sacredness of life. And that’s why we’re seeing such an increase on the state level, now with the Dobbs decision. Locally, we now have to speak personally and directly to those in our own states who are entrusted with the protection of life. We will be very prominent not only in our nation’s Capitol, but also on this local level. So prayer, witness, and advocacy.
Is there any message you have for pro-lifers, not only in the United States but around the world?
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to pro-lifers here in our country and around the world. I would begin with a word of thanks, a word of gratitude for your perseverance, for your steadfastness. I also celebrate the fact that the people have gone before us, maybe who are not alive right now, to see the outcome of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, that God will never allow our efforts or sacrifices to be in vain. It’s always in God’s time and always in ways that we least expect. So, thank you pro-lifers around the world for your perseverance and for your witness.
I also encourage pro-lifers around the world to stay hopeful. Stay confident. Yes, there is darkness. We’re seeing a lot of darkness in our world, especially with the life issues and the aggressiveness of people who disagree with us and who are trying to inflict even more harm and damage through ill-advised laws and bills. I know there’s darkness, but what we celebrate when we gather in faith, especially at Mass, is that Christ has conquered the darkness. He proved victorious. And we share in that victory. So, let’s be confident, and then let’s realize we’re in this together. We’re in this together as brothers and sisters, as members of God’s family. It’s the Lord who leads. It’s the Lord who guides. It’s the Lord who protects. And we follow with trust in His power to transform hearts and minds.
By Christopher Wells