Vatican City, Jan 22, 2014 / 09:04 am
Pope Francis sent a tweet offering support for the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., praying that all human life would be valued.
"I join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers. May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable," he told his 3.5 million English-speaking Twitter followers Jan. 22.
The Pope sent the same message in Spanish to his Spanish-speaking Twitter followers, who number over 4.5 million.
The pro-life march typically draws hundreds of thousands of attendees of all religious backgrounds, though Catholic participants are numerous. This year's event marks the 41st anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which mandated legal abortion nationwide.
While some media reports have depicted Pope Francis' focus on mercy and evangelization as a minimization of Catholic teaching against abortion, he has also spoken out against abortion and shown his support for pro-life advocates. Pope Francis made a surprise visit via popemobile to an April 2013 pro-life march in Rome.
He is not the first pontiff to use the social media site to support American pro-life marchers. Pope Benedict XVI sent a similar message of support for U.S. pro-life advocates in a January 2013 tweet.
"I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life," Benedict said.
As of the morning of Jan. 22, Pope Francis' English-language March for Life tweet was re-tweeted over 5,000 times and favorited over 4,500 times. His Spanish-language tweet was re-tweeted over 2,500 times and favorited 1,500 times.
Many pro-life advocates are using Twitter to broadcast their own support for the March for Life, using hashtags like "#whywemarch" and "#marchforlife."
This year's pro-life march in the District of Columbia is taking place despite snowy weather. The West Coast Walk for Life, which began in 2005, will take place in San Francisco on Saturday, Jan. 25.