International participation high at Italian March for Life

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring


ROME (CNS) — People from at least two dozen countries
joined Italians May 8 for the sixth annual National March for Life in Rome.

Carrying multicolored balloons, crucifixes or children, the
estimated 30,000 people walked through the historic center of the city and
joined Pope Francis for the midday recitation of the “Regina Coeli”
prayer in St. Peter’s Square.

The pope greeted the marchers, who were led by U.S. Cardinal
Raymond L. Burke, patron of the Knights and Dames of Malta; Archbishop Luigi
Negri of Ferrara-Comacchio, Italy; and Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider of
Astana, Kazakhstan.

Organizers said more than 100 pro-life and pro-family
organizations participated, including dozens from 29 countries besides Italy.
Although the march is not sponsored by the Catholic Church or a particular
Catholic group, hundreds of priests and religious joined the marchers.

The marchers carried signs not only urging an end to
legalized abortion, but also urging Italian lawmakers to reject proposed
legislation allowing euthanasia and a bill — further along in the legislative
process — that would recognize civil unions of unmarried heterosexual and
homosexual couples.

Before greeting the group, Pope Francis spoke to them and to
thousands of other visitors about the feast of the Ascension, which was
celebrated May 5 at the Vatican and May 8 in Italy.

“After having seen their Lord ascend to heaven, the
disciples returned to the city (Jerusalem) as witnesses who with joy proclaimed
to all the new life” that came with the death and resurrection of Jesus,
the pope said.

“This is the witness — made not just with words but
also through one’s daily life — the witness that every Sunday should go out
from our churches in order to enter each week into homes, offices, schools,
places where people gather and have fun, hospitals, prisons, homes for the
elderly, places crowded with immigrants and the peripheries of our
cities,” the pope said. “This is the witness we must give each week:
Christ is with us. Jesus, who ascended to heaven, is with us. Christ is

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