On a frigid day, a heart-warming pro-life message

    So how cold was it in Washington, D.C., for the March for Life?
    It was very cold. On the day of the march, the wind chill was minus-9 degrees. I don’t think I’ve ever walked in those kind of temperatures before. Actually, two of our marchers from Louisiana – one of them a young lady and another a chaperon – had to be treated for frostbite, but they were able to treat it quickly so that it didn’t become a major issue. It’s always been cold, but in all the years that I’ve gone, this was absolutely the coldest it’s ever been. In spite of that, we had hundreds of thousands of young people and others who marched and courageously took a stand for life.
    Were there fewer speeches this year at the end of the march?
    Yes. Many of the speeches are good, but some of them are highly political and less targeted to the morality of the pro-life issue. My belief is that the hundreds of thousands of people listen respectfully to the speeches, but the conversations the people have with each other in sharing their beliefs about being pro-life and the Masses that we share together are more significant than the political speeches.
    One of those Masses was celebrated by Father Kurt Young at St. Matthew’s Cathedral.
    Yes, it was on the Feast of St. Agnes. Father Kurt spoke of the life of St. Agnes, who died as a martyr at the age of 13 for standing up for the faith. He said some young people question if they themselves can truly make a difference in the pro-life movement. He told them, “yes” they do and they are changing our culture. Father Kurt explained that they are making a difference. And just as others have made a difference, we can make a difference not just by marching in Washington, D.C., but also by taking our strong witness back to our schools, parishes and broader community. I thought his homily was very powerful and energizing for the young people.
    Did you celebrate Mass for the young people from the archdiocese?
    I did that the next day at Blessed Sacrament Parish, which is located closer to the beginning of the march. I talked to them about dreams. Some of our dreams come true and some dreams do not, but God’s dream for us has become a reality. In the creation story, when God created humanity, he said we were created in his image and likeness. God’s dream is that he breathed not just human life but his own life into every human being. Even while we were still in the womb, he breathed his life into us and called us by name. We are called to give witness to that in our lives. Even for those who are “pro-choice,” most now agree that, at the moment of conception in the womb, there is a child present. But they would still argue that the mother – and even the father – can choose to take that life. Isn’t it interesting that when a pregnant woman is killed, the law considers it a double homicide? What an incredible contradiction! For 41 years, Roe vs. Wade has stood in our nation as a terrible mistake and a chilling tragedy. It was my generation that allowed this to happen. I truly believe, with all my heart, that it’s this new generation that will make a difference and call all of us to a deeper respect for human life from conception to natural death.
    Has abortion desensitized us to the value of human life?
    It has. If we can somehow justify taking the innocent, unborn child from the womb, it’s much easier to justify pushing aside and making fun of a person with disabilities. It’s easier to justify pulling the plug and taking the life of someone who is terminally ill or providing assisted suicide. It’s easier to justify the death penalty and say, “Because you killed someone, we have the right to kill you.” Later this month, we may see the death penalty enforced yet again in our own state. Chris Sepulvado is scheduled to be executed at Angola on Feb. 13. Because it is legal to take the life of the unborn child, it’s easier for this society to justify consuming pornography and devaluing the human body. We can justify “sexting.” The foundational issue in all of this obviously is respect for the unborn, but when that respect is undermined, the ripple effects create huge societal problems.
    Were you pleased with the local turnout in D.C.?
    I think from the state of Louisiana we had more than 1,500 students participate in the March for Life. From the archdiocese alone, we had about 600, and that’s a great number. I told the students we need to march here in Washington, but we have to come back and continue to ask God to use us as beacons of light and as beacons for the Gospel of Life. We can’t waver in our efforts to bring about a greater respect for life and human dignity. Some people ask me, “Is the young church alive?” Let me say this: the young church is very alive and very pro-life. I join many others in saying we are really, really proud of them.
    Questions for Archbishop Aymond may be sent to clarionherald@clarionherald.org.

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