The sight of so many who have turned out today fills me with both a sense of hope and profound gratitude. Thank you for your willingness to give public witness to the dignity of each human life, especially the most vulnerable. Let me offer a particular word of gratitude to the women who are today, and have been from the beginning, the backbone of the pro-life movement.
As every Bishop knows...it was the grass roots efforts of pro-life women who kept the issue alive during the darkest days when it seemed as if abortion would be entirely normalized following the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
The sanctity of life was promoted by moms at their kitchen tables, organizing rallies, petitions and talks at their kids’ schools, and in the halls of their state legislatures.
It was lay women and men driving door to door requesting neighbors to put pro-life signs in their front lawns before referenda and ballot measures on abortion and euthanasia.
And of course it was largely mothers and grandmothers who collected the money — by running bake sales and asking their friends — who built the network of literally thousands of centers where pregnant, scared and often poor women, could come to find free care and supplies for themselves and their babies. And there they also found something they could find almost nowhere else: volunteer doctors, nurses and others who could listen to their fears and assure them that both they and their unborn children matter.
So I thank you — you kept this issue alive. You are the reason people still cringe about abortion, even if they tell you they are pro-choice. You are the reason that we recognize the call to uphold the dignity of women, and that of their unborn sons and daughters, is one and the same. You are proof that a community of good, faithful people is powerful in all the right ways.
In gratitude, then, let us pray God's blessing upon us this day:
Almighty and merciful God, Author of life, in you we live, move, and have our being.
Long ago, you led your chosen people, our fathers and mothers in faith, out of poverty and slavery into the promise of a new life with you. For 40 years you walked with them in the desert, teaching them through signs and wonders to recognize and observe your Law, a Law that you had already inscribed on the human heart when you fashioned us in your own image and likeness.
We beg you, Lord God, walk with us today. The terrors of the desert are still all around us, terrors which tempt us to withdraw into selfishness, which blind us to the beauty of your gifts and the help of your grace, which dull our hearts to the wonderful, liberating truth of your Law.
Stir up, O Lord, the mighty wind of your Holy Spirit to go before us and banish the powers of darkness. With you, Lord, as our Helper and Guide, we will walk with courage in the name of those who are too small, too weak to walk themselves. Bless us on our way, bless our great nation, and bless those who struggle to accept the gift of life so that in all things and in all persons, you may be glorified.
All this we ask through Christ our Lord. Amen."