Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005. His articles have appeared regularly in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in one of Connecticut’s largest news dailies. He holds BS and MS degrees and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside in Connecticut.
Portugal’s pro-life march is picking up.
“There were between 2,500 to 3,000 at the march, more than at any march in the past,” reported Julie Rodrigues, an American of Portuguese ancestry now living in Lisbon.
Pictures of the May 19 march, officially named Caminhada pela Vida, show groups of people enthusiastically unified in their support of life. Two previous marches have been held.
Rodrigues noted the march started where the second-most abortions are done in the country — about 1,700 a year at a public hospital, Maternidade Alfredo da Costa — so they are funded by tax money.
The most abortions in the country occur at a multinational private clinic that receives money from taxes and carries out about 6,400 abortions a year.
To counteract the culture of death, the pro-life march chose to focus on positive things in Portugal, with the seven stages of life as the overall theme: conception, birth, childhood, adolescence, youth, adulthood and senior years.
“We want to mobilize Portugal for the value of human life, and we know how necessary it is to be aware of the inheritance we received from our parents and that we want to transmit to our children,” Rodrigues said, translating the mission from the website. “Looking towards the future with hope is a priority that needs to be announced joyfully while building a culture of life.”
March participant Alexandra Ferreira, who works for Aid to the Church in Need in Portugal, said the march “was a very enthusiastic manifestation of the value of human life” via email. “Children, people young in age or young in spirit walked along the avenues of Lisbon, showing how each phase is unique and should be valued.”
At the march, speakers also took the stage. Before the main organizer of the event, Sofia Guedes, shared some thoughts, one of the speakers was American Dr. Peter Colosi, who was in Portugal to give a conference about theology of the body at the Catholic University of Lisbon and to plan for the IV International Theology of the Body Symposium, which will be held in Fatima in 2013. He is a professor of philosophy and moral theology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa.
"The March for Life in Portugal was great, and the people were full of joy,” Colosi shared via email. “I thought it was a sign of great hope for there to be so many people. I didn't even know that they had marches for life in Portugal."
The day after the march he went to an abortion business to meet the sidewalk counselors from Maos Erguidas. “There were five people praying and two women counseling,” he wrote. “They told me they had saved a baby that day."
Surely Portugal’s growing March for Life will save many more.