Archive photo from the 2022 March for Life in Washington, D.C. Archive photo from the 2022 March for Life in Washington, D.C.  (AFP or licensors)

First March for Life after Dobbs marks new beginning for pro-life movement

Bishop Michael Burbidge, the chairman of the US Bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities, tells Vatican News that despite the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, there is still work to do: not just changing laws, but transforming minds and hearts.

By Christopher Wells

“We know that our work is just beginning,” says Bishop Michael Burbidge, the chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Pro-Life Activities.

Speaking with Vatican News on the eve of this year’s March for Life, Bishop Burbidge said the first March since the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade “is a new moment in the pro-life moment."

In June of last year, the Court issued a ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned the infamous decision in Roe v. Wade that had discovered a right to abortion in the US Constitution, resulting in the legalization of abortion throughout the country. The Dobbs decision returned decisions about regulation of abortions to the individual US states, but did not prohibit abortion.

Young pro-life activists celebrate the the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, 24 June 2022
Young pro-life activists celebrate the the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, 24 June 2022

A new moment for the pro-life movement

Bishop Burbidge said this year’s March for Life is marked by “a spirit of gratitude” for the reversal of Roe, but is also a testimony to the fat “that we understand that our work is only just beginning.” He pointed to the need to continue working to end policies that target vulneralble global populations with abortion funding; to work locally to limit the scope of legalized abortion at the state level; and to curb or even end funding of abortion.

“I think it’s a new moment in the pro-life movement… a new moment in which we should consider the new opportunities, strategies, and ways that we can not only work for the changing of laws, but most especially for the transformation of minds and hearts.”

Promoting the Gospel of Life

He said that the Bishops of the United States are united in their pro-life witness, and will “be tireless in continuing our work, our preaching, our proclamations, our witness for the protection of all human life.”

But while noting that the Bishops “have a special role to play in protecting life, more importantly, every person, every follower of Christ, every member of the faithful has been given a mandate: it’s called the Gospel of life.”

“That mandate means that we celebrate life. We cherish it. We treasure it.”

Prayer, witness, advocacy

Bishop Burbidge said he encourages the faithful to remember there are many ways to work to protect life. “One way, especially, is through prayer,” he said, adding, “That’s why I’m so happy that our March for Life is preceded by the Vigil for Life, which is a day and evening of prayer.”

The Bishop also highlighted the importance of bearing witness, as hundreds of thousands of people do each year, for example, at the national and local Marches for Life; and of advocating for the protection of life at every stage. “We have to let our voices be heard [by] the public officials we elect and [whom we] expect to protect the sacredness of life.”

A word of gratitude and encouragement

Given the opportunity to speak to pro-lifers directly, Bishop Burbidge said, “I would begin with a word of thanks, a word of gratitude for your perseverance, for your steadfastness.”

He recalled the many pro-lifers did not live to see Roe v. Wade overturned, noting that “God will never allow our efforts or sacrifices to be in vain. It's always in God's time and always in ways that we least expect.”

“So, thank you pro-lifers around the world for your perseverance and for your witness.”

He also encouraged pro-life activists the world over to stay hopeful and stay confident. “We're seeing a lot of darkness in our world, especially with the life issues and the aggressiveness of people who disagree with us and who are trying to inflict even more harm and damage through ill-advised laws and bills.”

But, he continued, “what we celebrate when we gather in faith, especially at Mass, is that Christ has conquered the darkness. He proved victorious. And we share in that victory.”

So, he concluded, “let's be confident, and then let's realize we're in this together. We're in this together as brothers and sisters, as members of God's family. It's the Lord who leads. It's the Lord who guides. It's the Lord who protects. And we follow with trust in His power to transform hearts and minds.”

Bishop Burbidge speaks to pro-lifers

Thank you for reading our article. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to our daily newsletter. Just click here

20 January 2023, 16:19