Thousands of pro-life supporters from across Canada gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa yesterday for the 2012 National March for Life. Khoi Vu and I had the great privilege in taking part in this year's events.
Cloudy skies and a constant threat of rain did not deter the young, old, man and woman from coming out. It seems as if the miserable weather inspired more people to come out for the cause of promoting life!
In one of the more passionate speeches before the March, Bruce Clemenger, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, called upon Parliament to wake up and hear the cry of Canadians.
"You have heard it said that the debate over the protection of the unborn is over. I say look at this crowd,” he said.
"We cannot afford not to have the conversation. I say Parliament needs to catch up with what Canadians believe.”
Pro-life supporters were joined by a wide array of Canadian bishops. Among those present were newly-elevated Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa and Archbishop Gerald Lacroix of Quebec City. In his capacity as Archbishop of Quebec, Archbishop Lacroix also holds the title of primate of Canada. Cardinal Collins spoke about the need for love, clarity and charity when discussing the sanctity of life. Some bishops, on the other hand, were busy leading marches in their local dioceses.
From my standpoint, there was a real sense of optimism on the hill, in comparison to previous years. This new sense of hope comes on the heels of MP Stephen Woodworth filing a Motion with the Clerk of the House of Commons. Woodworth wants Parliament to form a special Committee to study Canada’s 400 year old definition of human being.
MPs initially debated Woodworth's motion for an hour last month. The motion will return to the floor of the House of Commons for another hour of debate and a vote in June or September.
For me personally, I have made the National March for Life a priority. This year was no different. Ever since high-school and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I've come to understand that being pro-life is one of the deepest expressions I hold dear in my Catholic-Christian faith. It is one of the deepest expressions of my baptism.
More than that, it has always been important for me to believe that being pro-life is not an activity that belongs to any person, group or political party. It is an obligation for every Catholic - both young and old.
In Ottawa yesterday, I ran into two students that I had previously worked with in parish youth ministry. We caught up and I thanked them later that evening on Facebook for coming out and bearing witness to the sanctity of life.
"Being pro-life today in age is very difficult," I told her.
"There will always be people who criticize us for what we believe and hold dear. But hey - that's Christianity in a nut-shell for you (even from the beginning of Christ's public ministry).
I love the National March for Life and everything, don't get me wrong. But above and beyond the one-day March, which we should continue doing, it's time we begin taking this cause in a different direction.
Only by ministering to those vulnerable women who may be prone to committing an abortion will we truly make a difference in their life and in Canadian society. We must never pass judgement on these women. Instead, let's begin having a conversation with them. One woman at a time, we will make a difference.
At this point, all I can really do is hope and pray that this country I so dearly love will one day outlaw abortion. Just like Martin Luther King Jr., I too have a dream. And my dream is that one day, abortion will be illegal in Canada.
Photo credit: Salt + Light Catholic Media Foundation