Around 10,000 Catholics, many of them young people from schools around the nation, met to pray for an end to abortion at a pro-life vigil Mass in D.C. on the eve of the annual March for Life.
The Opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life was held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Jan. 23. On Jan. 24, crowds thronged to the D.C. area to participate in the annual March for Life, which occurs near the date that Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the U.S. in 1973.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, was the principal celebrant and homilist at the vigil Mass. During his remarks to the thousands in attendance on Sunday night – including numerous bishops, priests, seminarians and religious – he underscored the significance in the amount of young people participating in the annual March for Life.
“I want to thank all the young people here, the seminarians, postulants and novices, the children, youth in high schools, the university students and young adults,” he said. “You have been, have become and remain the genuine leaders and pioneers of this March for Life and this Vigil Liturgy.”
“We your elders become exhausted just watching you!” he said. “May you never cease to give your beautiful witness to the gift of human life.”
Cardinal DiNardo also reflected on the “astonishment” of the “jaded media” at the young people who have gathered from throughout the U.S. to serve as “unflagging witnesses to the inestimable worth of each human person.”
“The sad anniversary recalled each year on January 22 has become an invitation to you, one that calls for prayer and vigil, marching and testifying, and a joyous love for human life that is unable to be defeated,” he said.
Cardinal DiNardo then recalled the late Pope John Paul II's 1995 encyclical “The Gospel of Life,” which he said “proclaimed the good news of the dignity of personal human life with boldness and candor.”
Pope John Paul II “called on us to be a luminous conscience for many whose conscience on the dignity of the human person is distorted and lives in shadows,” he said. The cardinal decried threats against human dignity in current American society, such as denying medical workers conscience rights and funding abortions though taxpayer money.
“The blindness against the rights of the unborn seems to move to an inability to respect the rights of those of us who respect and fight for the rights of the unborn,” he stated.
Cardinal DiNardo said that he spoke “especially to the hearts of the young” in attendance and urged them to be “a pro-life witness among your friends, in your schools and in your parishes.”