.- 35 young people who have just completed 3 simultaneous walks across the U.S.--all ending at the U.S. capital--are taking their pro-life message overseas. There, they will journey from the steps of the European Parliament in Belgium to World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany.
The youth are part of an organization called Crossroads which was established in 1994 by a Steubenville, Ohio university student in response to Pope John Paul II’s call for young people to take on an active role in the pro-life movement and build a culture of life.
According to the organization, each summer, groups of college students walk across the U.S. speaking to schools and church groups about the “dignity of human life from conception to natural death.”
Sarah Vyvlecka, a pilgrimage member from Kearney, Nebraska, said that, "Europe is the cradle of the Christian faith. There will be roughly a million youth from all over the world here to see Pope Benedict, as he calls European youth to return to their Christian roots."
"This will be a unique opportunity”, she added, “to say to the European youth, 'Don't be afraid to speak the truth. We have reached millions in America walks over the past 11 years. You can do the same.' But we know that we are discussing controversial topics, and that the reaction--even at World Youth Day--is not always going to be positive."
Crossroads president Jim Nolan echoed these sentiments, noting that, "Most Europeans find it distasteful to discuss life issues in the context of any conversation--political, moral, philosophical, even scientific."
"They think that because we're Americans, we moralize and then politicize everything. But we are not here to make a political statement. We understand that the worst chapters in human history were accompanied by silence, and our generation refuses to shun this responsibility. Our message is moral and cultural, not political," he said.
Added Vyvlecka: "America sets the standard for most of the world, even in the places where we are unpopular. If the rest of the world begins to understand that a great majority of Americans favor protecting human life at all stages, they might engage in honest and fearless dialogue on these topics."