After the speeches and prayers, we need action

The Archdiocese of New Orleans demonstrated in a large way its commitment to the protection of unborn lives and their mothers as many of its parishioners marched from the Old State Capitol to the New State Capitol during Louisiana Life March South, themed “Protect them Both,” on Jan. 21.

“We are here to commemorate the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the million of women and children who have been impacted by it,” said Sarah Mathew of St. Angela Merici Church in Metairie. “There have been 58.5 million babies killed since 1972 (when Roe v. Wade legalized abortion). We have come to cry out and be a voice for those who cannot cry out themselves. We are a voice for them.”

NOLA well-represented
Several busloads of people from the archdiocese were among the 1,500 participants in the march, according to the Louisiana Right to Life Federation, one of the sponsors of the event.
 
Other sponsors were the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Louisiana Baptist Convention, United Pentecostal Church of Louisiana, the Louisiana Family Forum, the Knights of Columbus, Baton Rouge Right to Life, the Susan B. Anthony List, Caring to Love Ministries and Louisiana’s Concerned Women for America.
 
“We are coming here to pray that the legalization of abortion will be stopped,” said Jeanne Keene of St. Andrew the Apostle Church in New Orleans. “We also want to see that women are treated with dignity.”

 
Archbishop Gregory Aymond participated in the march and was among the speakers at a rally at the steps of the Capitol.
 
Archbishop Aymond began by leading the crowd in cheering, “God is good – all the time! God is pro-life – all the time!”
 
“Isn’t it great to be a citizen of the state of Louisiana, the most pro-life state in the United States of America?” asked Archbishop Aymond, promoting cheers from the crowd.
 
He continued, “We have done something very good today in that we marched to the state Capitol and have heard many inspiring talks. We have done something to give witness to what we believe in. It gives witness to a God of life.”

What are our next steps?
He then challenged the crowd to think about their next step after the rally.
 
“Where do we go from here? What do we do tomorrow?” asked Archbishop Aymond. “Today we walked the walk to the Capitol and we have talked the talk. And what are we doing tomorrow?”

 
He suggested four things to the marchers that they can do to continue their advocacy for life.
 
“May I suggest, first of all that we be a people of prayer. Let’s pray that the United States of America will become a culture of life and not a culture of death. And that the United States of America does give reverence and respect to the child in the womb until natural death. That is what we believe, that is who we are.”
 
“Secondly,” the archbishop said, “as we go from here today in our day-to-day lives, we must be able to speak about life. Speak about what we believe in, that we truly believe that God lives within us and that we are made in the likeness of God. That even in the womb God breathes his own life and love into us. Let us make sure we speak about that continuously, respectfully and kindly to others. We must speak. We must pray and we must speak.”

Advocate with Congress
The archbishop’s third suggestion was for people to get in touch with their members of Congress, thanking and encouraging those who are pro-life and urging those who are not to rethink their positions and believe that life is sacred.
 
Lastly, Archbishop Aymond encouraged those assembled to be a voice for adoption. Applauding recent reports that the number of abortions in the United States is down, Archbishop Aymond said a big reason behind that is not heard enough.
 
“I believe with all my heart that youth today and young adults today are changing the culture from one of death to one of respecting life, and we owe you thanks, youth and young people,” said Archbishop Aymond.
 
He said he was proud of the fact that over 2,000 youth and young adults from the State of Louisiana would be participating in March for Life in Washington D.C. on March 27.
 
“Today has been a great day of blessing, now we must go forward. We know there’s a lot we can do and say. As you know, it’s not marching once a year or twice a year. But it’s what we do from here. And so we ask for God’s blessing so we can be courageous in what we say and do,” said Archbishop Aymond before closing the rally in prayer.
 
Debbie Shelley is assistant editor of The Catholic Commentator, Diocese of Baton Rouge (dshelley@diobr.or).

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