Quebec City, Canada, May 13, 2014 / 10:06 am
Several thousand pro-life advocates rallied in Canada's national capital May 8, seeking an end to abortion and giving witness to the growth of the pro-life movement across the country.
"The March for Life was, once again, a huge success," Matt Wojciechowski, a spokesman for the Campaign Life Coalition, told CNA. "We had thousands upon thousands of Canadians rallying for life and then marching through downtown Ottawa."
"The numbers keep growing," he added. "It was a beautiful day."
The Campaign Life Coalition organized the event, which has been held for 17 years. Wojciechowski said an estimated 23,000 people attended the Ottawa event, while thousands more rallied in provincial capitals.
The rally drew pro-life movement leaders, pro-life Members of Parliament and pro-life religious leaders, as well as ordinary families, young adults, senior citizens, clergy, and Catholic vowed religious.
Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix of Quebec City read a message of support from Pope Francis, written by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin on the Pope's behalf. Cardinal Parolin told the marchers that the Pope "assures them of his spiritual closeness as they give witness to the God-given dignity, beauty and value of human life."
"He prays that this event fosters greater respect for the inviolable right to life of each person from conception to natural death and supports the efforts of all who labor to ensure that this fundamental human right receives adequate legal protection," the cardinal said.
Pope Francis gave his blessing to organizers and participants, particularly those who help women in crisis pregnancies and their children.
This year's March for Life focused on the dangers of the RU-486 abortion drug currently under consideration for approval by Canadian health authorities, Wojciechowski explained.
"Not only does it kill the preborn children," he said. "It is also known to have killed dozens of women who take it through severe bleeding, heart attacks, (and) septic shock."
Last week, Liberal Party head Justin Trudeau said that all new Liberal Party candidates for Parliament must support abortion, saying he wants to form a government that is "resolutely pro-choice," the Canadian newspaper The National Post reports.
Wojciechowski said the announcement was not surprising, given Trudeau's beliefs. His father, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, had a leading role in legalizing abortion in Canada.
However, the March for Life spokesman said the move "alienated a whole demographic of Liberal voters" and contradicted Justin Trudeau's previous pledges to hold open nomination meetings for party candidates.
He suggested the action shows that pro-abortion rights forces are "on the defensive."
"They are coming out with these ridiculous statements that will only hurt them in the end."
Wojciechowski said Canada's March for Life this year received the most media coverage ever because of Trudeau's statements.
Pro-life leaders have been encouraging people to be involved in politics at the grassroots level. They are also encouraging pro-life education efforts in schools, forums and conferences.
The March for Life spokesman voiced appreciation for the "strong spiritual voices" in the Catholic Church hierarchy who are "not afraid to speak out against abortion."
"We pray and hope that they will continue to lead the way in restoring the culture of life in Canada," Wojciechowski said.
Cardinal Lacroix's reading of Pope Francis' message was not uneventful. Two topless women protesters from the group FEMEN Canada attempted to disrupt him.
Wojciechowski said that the disruption was "obviously very orchestrated."
The group FEMEN is not only pro-abortion but "anti-religion, anti-God," he said.
"That is why they tend to attack clergy, archbishops and cardinals."
However, their effect was minimal.
"Most people didn't even notice," the March for Life spokesman said. "It's not something we really focus on because it takes away from the real reason why we're there and that is to celebrate life."
Organizers hope and pray the pro-life movement will continue to grow.
"This is up to God, not us," he said.