.- Led by their bishops, about 1,500 Catholics rallied at the Statehouse in Trenton, Oct. 18, to urge political leaders and the voters who elect them to uphold "the sanctity of life" by opposing abortion and embryonic stem-cell research, reported the Star-Ledger.
The "Witness for Life" mass and rally marked the first time all five of New Jersey's Roman Catholic dioceses had jointly demonstrated to urge voters to cast their ballots for pro-life leaders. Trenton Bishop John M. Smith called it "historic."
"It is a nonpolitical rally. It is a rally for life," Newark Archbishop John J. Myers said.
The morning mass was celebrated at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, followed by the noontime rally outside the Statehouse.
The main message of the day was that the sanctity of life is more important than any other issue facing the electorate.
“Before any other right can be protected, the right to be must be protected above all,” Fr. Michael Manning, coordinator of Respect Life Ministries for the Diocese of Trenton, told the crowd at the Statehouse.
Newark Auxiliary Bishop Charles McDonnell, in leading the demonstrators in the Pledge of Allegiance, amended it to end: "with liberty and justice for all, born and unborn."
The bishops did not mention the names of any presidential candidates during the rally. When pressed by reporters, the bishops declined to endorse a presidential candidate.
"Each citizen must make up his or her own mind based on the principles of our faith," Bishop Myers said.