Washington D.C., Jan 23, 2020 / 22:15 pm
An estimated 10,000 pilgrims traveled from both near and far to attend Mass at the opening of the National Prayer Vigil for Life celebrated on Thursday, Jan. 23 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
The pilgrims joined 67 deacons, 303 priests, 39 bishops, and three cardinals participating in the Mass, held the evening before the annual March for Life. The principal celebrant and homilist was Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the US bishops’ pro-life committee, together with Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.
In his homily, Archbishop Naumann said he was cheered at the sight of so many young pilgrims for life, a powerful witness against an abortion culture, which he compared to an episode of ‘The Twilight Zone,’ in which “beautiful is ugly and hideous is gorgeous.”
The archbishop also spoke of his ad limina visit with Pope Francis. During his recent trip to Rome, said Naumann, he mentioned the controversy that erupted at the USCCB Fall General Assembly over whether abortion was the “preeminent” social issue of our time. Naumann said that the pope appeared confused at why this would be controversial, and re-affirmed that abortion is the most important social issue.
“The Pope is with you. He is praying for you. He supports you,” said Naumann. “My friends, the successor of Peter has our backs.”
Each of the pilgrims had their own reasons and motivations for why they found themselves in the Basilica on Thursday evening. CNA spoke to a few of them to find out their stories.
Jenna Perrey and Grace Fender are two first-time marchers. They traveled on a bus together for 22 hours with the Diocese of Jefferson City (MO).
“We hope to see all the crowds and see all the wonderful supporters of life,” Perrey told CNA. The Diocese of Jefferson City sent six busses to Washington for the March.