Organizers estimated that more than 23,000 marchers joined the annual March for Life on May 8. Photo by Deborah Gyapong.

Pope Francis sends greetings to participants in National March for Life

  • May 7, 2014

OTTAWA - Pope Francis sent greetings to the thousands of pro-life marchers who participated in the National March for Life here May 8.

Quebec's Cardinal Gerald Cyprien Lacroix surprised the crowd, estimated at 23,000, when he told them about the papal message.

“Today I have something very special for you," said Lacroix. "When Pope Francis was made aware of our march here in Ottawa he decided to send us a message.”

Lacroix then read the message in English and French.

“His Holiness Pope Francis is pleased to greet everyone taking part in the 17th National March for Life in Ottawa, and he assures them of his spiritual closeness as they give witness to the God-given dignity, beauty and value of human life,” said the message signed by the Holy See’s Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. “He prays that this event foster greater respect for the inviolable right to life of each person from conception to natural death and support the efforts of all who labour to ensure that this fundamental human right receives adequate legal protection.

“To the organizers and participants, and in particular to those who aid women in crisis pregnancies and their children, the Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the risen Lord,” Lacroix read.

The Pope had sent a similar message to the National March for Life in Washington, D.C. in January and to the Italian March for Life May 4 in Rome.

As Lacroix read the message, two bare-chested young women, with slogans written on their naked torsos, stormed the steps of Parliament Hill screaming obscenities and insisting on their rights. “My body! My womb!” one woman shouted.

The cardinal kept reading as RCMP quickly arrested the women and took them away.

“We are committed in our homes, cities, parishes and cities and towns to be lovers of life,” said Lacroix.

Many speakers pushed back against Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s remarks to journalists the previous day that he would screen out pro-life and pro-traditional marriage supporters to prevent them from running as Liberal candidates. Trudeau also said he would not allow any MPs to vote against abortion and that he would form a government that was “resolutely pro-choice.” He also implied he would not allow any private member’s business that opposed abortion.

Ottawa Auxiliary Bishop Christian Riesbeck noted in his homily at the pro-life Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral, one of several Masses or religious services preceding the March, that pro-life candidates were being “screened out” of politics. He called for loving both the women who find themselves in crisis pregnancies and their unborn child, noting one does not solve the crisis by killing the child. Instead he urged parishes to do everything possible to eliminate the crisis for women so they do not feel they have to abort their babies.

Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins stressed the need for the pro-life message to be strong in the political and public service realm.

“Those who are entrusted with the common good, those who seek the great and holy vocation of political life, may they do so in the spirit of the patron of politicians St. Thomas More, may they always seek to protect the lives of the most vulnerable, those on the edges, on the peripheries as our Holy Father emphasizes again and again,” he said.

The cardinal urged citizens to pray for those in public office “that each person who is entrusted with the mission of public service be free to do so in free conscience, to protect the dignity of life from the first moment of conception to natural death, to protect the great reality of marriage, which is a such a foundation, a community that pre-exists our country or any other country, a community of love, a man and a woman faithful in love and open to the gift of life. This is fundamental.”

Even in a society where these views are unpopular, “we pray particularly that all of those who serve us in political life will not in any way feel inhibited” in proclaiming the message of life and family, Collins said. “With clarity and with charity we proclaim this message through our words and through our lives, sometimes in a world which is antagonistic to that.”   

About 15 bishops from Ontario and Quebec attended the March, including Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops president Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher.

About 20 politicians, including three Senators, also greeted the crowd. Former Liberal MP Tom Wappel, now an advisor to the Campaign Life Coalition, organizers of the March, told the crowd he had been a pro-life MP for the 20 years he served in public office.   

“I was pro-life then and I always will be,” he said.

Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge, who chairs the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus, told the crowd all of them who hold pro-life views “should be able to run for political office.”

Conservative MP Jeff Watson said the “shirtless protesters speak for themselves” but said the marchers were voice to the 100,000 unborn babies who are aborted every year in Canada.

Human Life International representative Raymond de Souza told the marchers the only abortion he supported was to “abort the political careers of politicians who support abortion.”

Jason Evert, keynote speaker at the Youth March, told the crowd many women who walk into an abortion clinic were seeking love.  Because she believes sex will bring her love, she risks getting pregnant, risks an abortion and risks contracting a sexually transmitted disease, he said.

Evert decided after sidewalk counselling women 45 minutes before they were to have an abortion it was better to meet them when they were sophomores in college or in high school, to explain the difference between love and lust.

“If she knew the difference between love and lust, she probably would not have dated the guy,” said Evert, who founded the

“Where is all this abortion coming from?” he asked. “Is it from the abortionists? Is it really from the pro-abortion legislation or is it from unchastity?”

He called for a rebirth of chastity, “not as a list of prohibitions,” but as a virtue that “raises you to love.”

“Abortion reduces women to her reproductive organs,” he said. “If we wish to defend human life we must defend human love.”

Comments (1)

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Just want to say I am proud of my country as I watch you here in TX USA....Go Canada!!!

Margie Mathieu-Tankersley
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