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Poland’s March for Life and the Family draws 5,000 people

September 20, 2021 Catholic News Agency 0
A family participates in Poland’s March for Life and the Family in Warsaw on Sept. 19, 2021. / Family News Service

Rome Newsroom, Sep 20, 2021 / 07:00 am (CNA).

Poland’s March for Life and the Family drew 5,000 people this year, according to the event’s organizers.

The annual march took place in Warsaw on Sunday, Sept. 19. Thousands of participants took to the streets in the Polish capital brandishing the country’s red and white flag and posters with pro-life slogans.

Family News Service
Family News Service

It was Poland’s first March for Life since a landmark decision on abortion by Poland’s constitutional court came into effect earlier this year.

The Constitutional Tribunal in Warsaw ruled on Oct. 22, 2020, that abortion for fetal abnormalities was unconstitutional. The ruling, which cannot be appealed, is expected to lead to a significant reduction in the number of abortions in the country.

Abortion remains legal in Poland in cases of rape or incest and in cases of risk to the mother’s life after the ruling.

Polish President Andrzej Duda met with the organizers of the march, who are affiliated with the Center for Life and the Family and the Christian Social Congress, on Sept. 19.

Duda welcomed the constitutional court’s ruling last year saying that “abortion for so-called eugenic reasons should not be allowed in Poland.”

Family News Service
Family News Service

The March for Life and the Family, which usually takes place in 140 Polish cities, was limited to Warsaw this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The organizers of this year’s scaled-down march selected “fatherhood” as a key theme of the event.

“We want to send a signal not only to the whole of Poland, but also to the whole world that there are men in Poland who take responsibility, that they do not run away from it,” Pawel Ozdoba, one of the event’s organizers said at the opening of the March for Life and the Family.

Family News Service
Family News Service

Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, the president of the Polish bishops’ conference, expressed good wishes to the participants of the march in a social media post.

The archbishop invoked two recently beatified Polish Catholic figures as examples of supporting the right to life.

Blessed Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, the Primate of Poland who led the Church’s resistance to communism, and Blessed Elżbieta Róża Czacka, a blind nun who revolutionized care for the visually impaired, were beatified the weekend prior in Warsaw.

“May Blessed Cardinal Wyszynski and Blessed Mother Czacka support you in showing that everyone has the right to life, and the family is the most precious good of humanity,” Gądecki wrote on Twitter.

A Mass was offered at the conclusion of the March in Warsaw’s Church of the Holy Cross.

Family News Service
Family News Service

“The Primate of the Millennium was so often called the ‘Father of the Nation,’ hence the connection. We wanted to show that Polish fathers are responsible,” Ozdoba said.

“A responsible and strong father and a strong man are needed not only by the family, but also by the whole society,” he said.


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‘I still wanted to make a difference’: Why pro-lifers came to D.C. to pray

January 29, 2021 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., Jan 29, 2021 / 10:32 am (CNA).- Although the national March for Life is closed to the public this year, dozens of young adults gathered for a pro-life prayer vigil in Washington, D.C. on Thursday night.

 

While practicing social distancing and wearing masks, members of the group endured the January cold as they kept an all-night prayer vigil outside the U.S. Supreme Court building.

 

Organizers of the vigil told CNA that despite the Jan. 29 March for Life being closed to the public, they still wanted to take action for life.

 

As Thomas Hackett of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the co-founder of the Catholic worker organization Tradistae, had announced the vigil prior to the decision of the March for Life to be a virtual event, he decided to continue with his plans.

 

Hackett told CNA he wanted to embrace the “penitential tradition” of an all-night prayer vigil, to “emphasize the more radical nature” of how to respond to legalized abortion.

 

“I’m certainly supportive of [the March for Life], but it does often come across more as like a youth rally, like something fun to bus parish kids out to,” he said, explaining that there’s a need to take “seriously the certain gravity of what abortion is and what it means to live in a country where millions have been killed and continue to be killed in the womb.”

 

Preceding the vigil was a Votive Mass of the Holy Innocents at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on Capitol Hill. Attendees then made a short procession to the U.S. Supreme Court building about two blocks away. 

 

As the night continued and temperatures dropped into the mid 20s, the size of the group dwindled from roughly 30 people at the beginning to approximately eight people at dawn. Throughout the night, they prayed the Liturgy of the Hours and the rosary, and sang hymns.

 

Hackett told CNA that he had no major issues with the police or members of the military posted outside the Supreme Court, and that the vigil was peaceful the entire time. 

 

“We told them we weren’t trying to cause any trouble,” said Hackett. “And so they didn’t bother us after that.” 

 

Other people journeyed from near and far to stand for life. 

 

Mickey Kelly took the train from Philadelphia to come to the Mass and vigil, partly because he views the annual March for Life as a tradition that he wanted to continue. He had been attending the March for Life nearly every year for the past 12 years. 

 

“Even though it would be a small crowd, I just thought that I still wanted to make a difference,” Kelly said. He described his beliefs as supportive of “all stages of life, from womb to tomb.” 

 

Attending the vigil in person “also gives me a chance to recommit to the cause for life,” he said. Kelly told CNA that he would also attempt to walk the traditional route of the March for Life on Friday, from the National Mall eastward down Constitution Avenue and to the Supreme Court. 

 

“I just do my best to put what God wants me to do first, and what the world wants me to do last,” he said. 

 

Valerie Hart, who traveled to D.C. for the vigil from Orlando, Florida, told CNA on Thursday night that she had booked her flights and accommodations for the March for Life “a few months ago.” 

 

The organizers of the March for Life announced Jan. 15 that the 2021 event would be virtual. Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, cited both the pandemic and “the heightened pressures that law enforcement officers and others are currently facing in and around the Capitol” as reasons for the decision.

 

Mancini asked pro-lifers to “stay home” and watch a live-stream of the event, as a “small group of pro-life leaders” would still march in D.C.

 

Hart came to D.C. anyway, as she has every year since 2017. She said she was “heartbroken” when she found out the March was closed to the public. 

 

“I just couldn’t understand,” she said. “Because all the protests that have been going on in D.C., and ours is getting canceled, basically.” 

 

Hart said it was important for pro-lifers to go to D.C. to “get their voices heard.” 

 

She told CNA that she planned on attending a pro-life rally Friday morning, one not organized by March for Life, and then would attempt to join the smaller in-person march of pro-life leaders. 

 

“I guess we’ll just walk along–I mean, they can’t stop us from walking in D.C., right?” Hart said with a laugh. 

 

“It’s important to stand up for pro-life values, to stand up for the unborn, for all lives,” she said. “It’s important that people see that we’re still here, and they can’t stop us.”

 

 


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Breaking: March for Life 2021 goes virtual

January 15, 2021 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., Jan 15, 2021 / 01:01 pm (CNA).- The 2021 March for Life will take place virtually, organizers announced Friday.

The March for Life Education and Defense Fund, the organization behind the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., said… […]