Pope Francis' Devotion to the Marginalized Inspires Young Pro-Lifers

Several hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers made the pilgrimage to Washington for the 42nd annual March for Life.

Young people hold pro-life signs during the 2015 March for Life in Washington on Jan. 22.
Young people hold pro-life signs during the 2015 March for Life in Washington on Jan. 22. (photo: CNA/Addie Mena)

WASHINGTON — Young pro-life advocates emphasized Pope Francis’ influence on their witness for the defenseless unborn child at the 2015 March for Life, held in the nation’s capital on Jan. 22.

“I think one thing we’re aware of, especially in Pope Francis’ tenure, is caring for the least. And there’s no more least than a helpless infant inside a womb,” said Dominican Brother John Dominic Bouck, currently a friar at the congregation’s house of studies in Washington.

The previous evening at the March for Life vigil Mass, Cardinal O’Malley called on pro-lifers to be the “defense attorney for the innocent unborn.”

Several hundreds of thousands were estimated to be in attendance at the 42st annual March for Life, a pro-life event held every year since 1973, when the Supreme Court mandated legal abortion nationwide in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. Pro-lifers traveled from all over the country to witness to the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception to natural death.

The theme of this year’s march was “Every Life Is a Gift,” putting special focus on unborn children who receive a “difficult prenatal diagnosis” like Down syndrome or spina bifida. As many as 60% to 90% of unborn children with such a diagnosis are aborted, according to studies cited by the president of the March for Life, Jeanne Monahan.

As in previous years, teenagers and young adults made up a massive portion of the crowd — from high school and college students to seminarians and young religious.

In interviews with CNA, they emphasized their mission to speak for defenseless unborn children.

Allison Kubacki, a 17-year-old senior at Notre Dame Prep High School in the Auburn Hills area of Michigan, said she attended the march “to be the voice of the voices who are unheard.”

“It also helps me with my faith and finding God again. It’s like a little mini retreat, in a way,” she explained, noting her close friendships with fellow pilgrims as well as access to adoration and confession as highlights of her pro-life journey.

Kubacki was one of some 2,000 high-school students who stayed overnight at The Catholic University of America’s athletic facilities.

Another pilgrim from the same group, Kyle Weaver, stressed his duty to speak up for the unborn of his generation.

“We all could have been aborted by Roe v. Wade,” the 17 year-old explained. “We’re all so lucky to be here that we need to give the opportunity to other people.”

Chris Dayton, a seminarian with the Diocese of Trenton, N.J., said that, “especially for future priests, it’s an opportunity to unite ourselves with what Pope Francis is doing,” which is witnessing for “those who can’t defend themselves.”

“I think we’re the future of the Church,” he added. “If we’re not doing it, no one else is going to tell young people that this is a good cause. So without them, you have no future.”

“If you don’t love the poor, you’re really not Catholic,” said Eric Banecker, a student at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, adding that no one is poorer than an unborn child.

“I think Pope Francis has been insistent on, really, just giving testimony. Not just practicing the faith on your own, but giving testimony to the rest of the world,” said Sergio, who is currently a seminarian for the Legionaries of Christ in Cheshire, Conn.

Ultimately, the march is about “truth,” explained Brother John Dominic.

“It’s important just to testify to the truth. That’s the Dominican motto: ‘truth.’ So maybe if the instant impact isn’t what we’d want it to be, we still have to testify to the truth in good times and bad.”

Pope Francis waves to pilgrims during his Angelus address August 30, 2020.

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