Why We March
I attended my first March for Life pilgrimage with University Catholic this weekend. I have attended the March three times previously, but we were snowed out last year, so this was my first opportunity to make the pilgrimage with my college students.
There were many fruits from the March- we visited the Dominican House of Studies, the Shrine of Pope Saint John Paul II, and we attended a conference at Georgetown in addition to the actual protest. All of those experiences were meaningful, but this year I found myself considering more and more why I was marching.
It would be easy to say I march because it is my job to coordinate the trip and chaperone the students. It would also be easy to say I march because I want to be a good Catholic who exercises my social justice responsibilities. I could also say I march because quite simply I love babies.
But this year, for the first time, I considered more deeply why I was marching.
The night we arrived in D.C. and attended the mass at the Basilica, one of my students asked me, "I understand that abortion is a serious issue. But why do we only march to abolish abortion? Why don't we march for other issues?"
This very question has arisen in my own heart. Although I fully support the pro-life movement, sometimes I become frustrated with zealous pro-lifers who seem to have tunnel vision. There are plenty of atrocities to get angry about, can't we devote some of our time and resources to other worthy causes? Especially after the past two summers in which dozens of black men died as a result of police brutality. Why don't we Catholics march to end racism or to reform our criminal justice system?
Providentially, this very question was addressed by one of the panelists at the Cardinal O'Connor Conference on life. Ross Douthat, Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times commented that innocent unborn children are clearly the most vulnerable members of society. Poverty, the death penalty, euthanasia, racism and many other evils are all pro-life issues, but we have to have a first principle for defending life. Although I firmly believe many pro-lifers would do well to educate themselves about the many other injustices that are prevalent in America, it nonetheless stands to reason to concentrate our energy on the most vulnerable. Once that victory is won, I trust that Catholics will continue to pursue justice for those other marginalized members of society.
Thus I can now say I march for the most vulnerable members of society who cannot defend themselves
against the violence perpetrated against them. I march because life is a precious gift from God. I march because I hope that this victory will be the first among many to end violence in America.