January 29, 2016

Praying for every life: Local observances of Roe v. Wade decision raise voices for the voiceless

Participants opposing the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion march along Meridian Street in Indianapolis on Jan. 22, praying aloud and holding signs promoting the dignity of life. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Participants opposing the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion march along Meridian Street in Indianapolis on Jan. 22, praying aloud and holding signs promoting the dignity of life. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

It was a typical winter day in Indianapolis and Terre Haute on Jan. 22—biting cold, with gray skies overhead and gusts of blustery wind.

What was atypical about the day was the number of people who braved such weather to march, pray aloud and hold signs declaring that all life is sacred, from conception to natural death.

In Indianapolis, several hundred people gathered in SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral for Mass, followed by a several city-blocks march, as part of a local solemn observance of the 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court decisions legalizing abortion. (See a gallery of photos from the event here)

“In an excavation of one Phoenician settlement in northern Africa, the bones of 20,000 children were found,” Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin noted in his homily. “They were sacrificed to the pagan god Melekh. Many more than 20,000 children have been sacrificed in our country since January 22, 1973.”

The archbishop asked the congregation, “How do we deal with the injuries that have been inflicted upon 60 million children, as well as on the soul of our country?”

The answer, he said, lies in a paraphrasing of the words of the third chapter of St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, which served as the second reading during the Mass: “Put on gentleness, kindness, meekness, and above all, forgiveness,” the archbishop said.

“In our protests against the darkness that descended on our country 43 years ago, we reject all violence, be it physical violence or violent words. But we do not take a vow of silence. We tell the truth about God, human beings, human sin and divine mercy.

“On this day, we commit ourselves to pray for our country. We commit ourselves to reject all forms of violence, whether it is bombing, rejection of the other, fear of the foreigner or destruction of the voiceless. We promise with God’s help to tell the truth about human life and about God’s mercy.”

Conveying this truth was the goal of dozens of people in Terre Haute gathered in front of the Vigo County courthouse and across from the Terre Haute Planned Parenthood facility as part of that community’s local solemn observance.

“Everyone braved the cold north wind and sacrificed all their labors, thoughts, prayers, inconveniences, sufferings and pains of the cold day to prevent precious lives from being denied the right to see the light of God’s day,” said Tom McBroom, coordinator of the Terre Haute observance. “People were from the nearby communities of Brazil, Cory, Riley and Rockville, as well as Terre Haute.”

At the Indianapolis event, youths from Oldenburg Academy of the Immaculate Conception in Oldenburg, St. Luke the Evangelist School in Indianapolis, Lumen Christi Catholic School in Indianapolis, and even youths from St. Theodore Guérin High School in Noblesville, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese, participated in the Mass and march.

“We were supposed to go to Washington, but our trip got cancelled because of the blizzard, so [the school administration] said we could come to this [event] instead,” said Guérin sophomore Claire Gavin. “It’s the same message whether here or [in Washington].”

Her classmate Conner Hadley was grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Indianapolis Mass and march in place of the March for Life in Washington.

“Every human deserves a right to life,” he said. “It’s inhumane not to give someone as small as a fetus a chance to live.”

Two students from DePauw University in Greencastle drove an hour to participate in the local solemn observance in Indianapolis. Both noted that the pro-life message extends beyond opposing abortion.

“It’s a beautiful thing to set aside time, especially on the anniversary of such an important day in our history, to pray for every life at every stage of life,” said senior Catherine Hinken. “I think the prayers of the unborn are important, but the prayers of mothers as well, and the prayers of those who don’t yet understand the dignity of life.”

DePauw sophomore Abigail Martin agreed.

“Malala Yousafzai [famous for being attacked by the Taliban for advocating the education of Pakistani women] said, ‘I raise up my voice, not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.’ That’s what we’re trying to do here. Everyone deserves to live the life they’ve been given.” †

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