WASHINGTON (January 24, 2005)-Thousands of Catholics from across the country crowded into the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Sunday evening, January 23, for the annual Vigil Mass for Life. The event marks the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision which made abortion legal throughout pregnancy for any reason.
"We gather to protest yet again the tragic miscarriage of justice that was the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade" and to "recommit ourselves to the dismantling of Roe," said principal celebrant and homilist Cardinal William Keeler, Archbishop of Baltimore and Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee for Pro-Life Activities. Cardinal Keeler called on the thousands gathered to write letters, organize rallies, volunteer time and materials to pro-life pregnancy centers, and support the campaigns of pro-life political candidates.
The Vigil Mass for Life is one of the largest annual Catholic Masses in the United States, annually drawing approximately 8,000 participants, hundreds of priests and seminarians, and dozens of bishops who stand in solidarity with the over 40 million unborn children killed and the countless women who have suffered since Roe v. Wade. Remarkably, the snow storms in the East and Midwest did not greatly diminish attendance this year, as hundreds of priests and seminarians and over 20 bishops and cardinals concelebrated at the Mass.
In outlining the attacks on life by the "pro-choice" movement, Cardinal Keeler said, "If NARAL and Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have their way, nominees for appointment to high judicial office will have no choice at all in the matter of abortion, nor will members of the U.S. Senate have a choice in voting on such nominees."
But the Cardinal stressed that there are many reasons for hope. "Increasingly," he said, Americans are aware of "the vast network of lies" that support abortion. "Thirty-two years ago, seven members of the Supreme Court took the issue of abortion out of the hands of the American people and their duly elected lawmakers," he said. "They invented a constitutional concept that had never been envisioned; in doing so, they contravened two of our nation's most precious values: the recognition of a God-given, inalienable right to life, and the promise of equal protection under the law." "All this," he said, "increasing numbers of Americans are coming to understand."
"The evil must end!" he said. "It must end soon! And we are here to affirm that, with God's grace, we must be instruments of its ending!"
The Vigil Mass for Life is sponsored by the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Tthe Catholic University of America, and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.