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Martin Luther King Jr hailed as an example of 'artisans of peace'

Washington D.C., Jan 21, 2019 / 02:35 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston has called civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. an exemplar of the “artisans of peace” called for by the pope.

King “was a messenger and true witness to the power of the gospel lived in action through public life,” read the statement from the president of the USCCB to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“We are thankful for the path forged by Dr. King and the countless others who worked tirelessly and suffered greatly in the fight for racial equality and justice. As a nation and as a society, we face great challenges as well as tremendous opportunities ahead.”

King is remembered as a Baptist minister and the most visible leader of the civil rights movement, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, and as the founding president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He was assassinated in 1968 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

Cardinal DiNardo noted the US bishops' recent pastoral letter on racism, which aims to “name and call attention to a great affliction and evil that persists in this nation, and to offer a hope-filled Christian response to this perennial sickness. Racism is a national wound from which we continually struggle to heal.”

“Today, remembering how Dr. King contended with policies and institutional barriers of his time, many which persist today, we renew our pledge to fight for the end of racism in the Church and in the United States. We pledge our commitment to build a culture of life, where all people are valued for their intrinsic dignity as daughters and sons of God,” the cardinal wrote.

“We encourage Catholics and all people of good will to study the pastoral letter, and to study and reflect upon Dr. King’s witness against the destructive effects of racism, poverty and continuous war.”

Cardinal DiNardo also called “on everyone to embrace our ongoing need for healing in all areas of our lives where we are wounded, but particularly where our hearts are not truly open to the idea and the truth that we are all made in the image and likeness of God.”

He concluded quoting King's words that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

After Covington Catholic students caught in social media maelstrom, fuller picture emerges

Washington D.C., Jan 21, 2019 / 01:28 pm (CNA).- A wave of media attention engulfed this weekend a group of students who attended last week’s annual March for Life in Washington, DC. The students, most of whom attend Catholic high schools in Kentucky, were accused on Saturday of harassing and taunting a Native American drummer, but subsequent revelations revealed a decidedly more complicated picture.

Videos began to circulate on Saturday that depicted portions of a Jan. 18 incident close to the Lincoln Memorial, in which students who had attended the March for Life were part of a confluence of demonstrators near the Memorial, some from a Washington-based religious group called the Black Israelites, and some from the Indigenous Peoples’ March, which took place in Washington on the same day as the larger March for Life.

Initially, the portions of the video that emerged, and quickly went viral, depicted a crowd of teenage boys chanting, dancing, and doing the “tomahawk chop” cheer, while a Native American man played a drum in chanted in close proximity to one teenage boy, who stood squarely before the drummer, without saying anything as the drumming and chanting continued directly in front of him.

The drummer was soon identified as Nathan Phillips, an elder of the Omaha Tribe and Native American rights activist.

The students were described in some media reports as “surrounding” Phillips, or “taunting” him, and became the subject of widespread condemnation from media figures and some Catholic leaders, who accused them of disrespect, racism, and antagonism. Some students were wearing hats depicting the 2016 campaign slogan of President Donald Trump, “Make America Great Again,” some commentators and social media figures suggested the hats could be evidence of racist motives on the part of the students.  

Within hours, the school some of the students attended, Covington Catholic High School, along with the Diocese of Covington, issued a statement condemning “the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general…We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips. This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person”

“This matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion,” the statement said.

“We know this incident also has tainted the entire witness of the March for Life and express our most sincere apologies to all those who attended the March and all those who support the pro-life movement.”

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville, and Kentucky’s metropolitan archbishop, issued a statement shortly thereafter.

“I join with Bishop Foys in condemning the actions of the Covington Catholic students towards Mr. Nathan Phillips and the Native American Community yesterday in Washington.  I have every confidence that the leadership of the Diocese of Covington will thoroughly investigate what occurred and address those all involved in this shameful act of disrespect,” Kurtz wrote Jan. 19.

Similarly, the March for Life itself also tweeted a statement criticizing the reported actions of the students.

Congresswoman Deb Haaland, (D-NM), tweeted Saturday: “This Veteran put his life on the line for our country. The students’ display of blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance is a signal of how common decency has decayed under this administration. Heartbreaking.”

However, even as initial footage went viral, facts began to emerge that pointed to a more complicated narrative. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Phillips approached the students, who, he claimed, were chanting “Build that Wall,” a chant associated with Trump’s call for a security wall, or fence, at the U.S. border with Mexico.

Phillips initially told The Washington Post that he was surrounded by the students after he approached them with his drum, and that “It was getting ugly, and I was thinking: ‘I’ve got to find myself an exit out of this situation and finish my song at the Lincoln Memorial.’ I started going that way, and that guy in the hat stood in my way and we were at an impasse. He just blocked my way and wouldn’t allow me to retreat.”

Later, emerging video footage demonstrated that several of those demonstrating alongside Phillips approached the students, with some telling them to “go back to Europe,” and swearing at them. And a 2015 report emerged in which Phillips claimed to have been the victim of a racist attack by students at Eastern Michigan University, whom, he told Fox 2 at the time, he approached, and who, he said, eventually taunted him with racial slurs and threw an unopened beer can at him. No charges were filed in connection to that incident.

Subsequent media reports and videos recounted that the high school students had been the subject of taunts by the Black Israelite group, demonstrating nearby, and that Phillips claimed he was trying to intervene between the two groups. However, Phillips did not identify himself or his intentions to the students when he approached them, rather, he continued drumming and chanting.

Phillips told the Detroit Free Press Sunday that the students “were in the process of attacking these four black individuals," and he intervened to stop the attack. He said the students then turned their anger toward him.

"There was that moment when I realized I've put myself between beast and prey," Phillips said. "These young men were beastly and these old black individuals was their prey, and I stood in between them and so they needed their pounds of flesh and they were looking at me for that," he said.

"The Black Israelites, they were saying some harsh things, but some of it was true, too. These young, white American kids who were being taught in their Catholic school, their doctrine, their truth, and when they found out there's more truth out there than what they're being taught, they were offended, they were insulted, they were scared, and that's how they responded. One thing that I was taught in my Marine Corp training is that a scared man will kill you. And that's what these boys were. They were scared," Phillips said.

Video footage did not show the students attacking the members of the Black Israelite movement, who are heard to shout disparaging remarks at the students, most of them concerning the Catholic Church and Trump.

The student at the center of the firestorm, identified as Covington Catholic High School junior Nick Sandmann, issued a statement Sunday night.

Sandmann said he and his fellow students were waiting for their bus after the March for Life, when “ we noticed four African American protestors who were also on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I am not sure what they were protesting, and I did not interact with them. I did hear them direct derogatory insults at our school group.”

“The protestors said hateful things. They called us ‘racists,’ ‘bigots,’ ‘white crackers,’ ‘faggots,’ and ‘incest kids.’ They also taunted an African American student from my school by telling him that we would ‘harvest his organs.’ I have no idea what that insult means, but it was startling to hear.

In response to those taunts, students began chanting “school spirit chants,” with permission of a chaperone, Sandmann said. He said he did not hear students chant other things.

“After a few minutes of chanting, the Native American protestors, who I hadn’t previously noticed, approached our group. The Native American protestors had drums and were accompanied by at least one person with a camera.”

“The protestor everyone has seen in the video began playing his drum as he waded into the crowd, which parted for him. I did not see anyone try to block his path. He locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face. He played his drum the entire time he was in my face,” Sandmann recounted.

“I never interacted with this protestor. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves. To be honest, I was startled and confused as to why he had approached me. We had already been yelled at by another group of protestors, and when the second group approached I was worried that a situation was getting out of control where adults were attempting to provoke teenagers.”

“I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation. I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict. I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand.”

While Sandmann said that he heard protestors tell the students that he had “stolen” Native American land and should “go back to Europe,” he urged calm from his fellow students.

“I never felt like I was blocking the Native American protester. He did not make any attempt to go around me. It was clear to me that he had singled me out for a confrontation, although I am not sure why.”

“I was not intentionally making faces at the protestor. I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation. I am a faithful Christian and practicing Catholic, and I always try to live up to the ideals my faith teaches me – to remain respectful of others, and to take no action that would lead to conflict or violence,” Sandmann said.

The student said that he had provided his account to the Diocese of Covington.

After a fuller picture of events emerged, many media and Catholic figures apologized for their initial characterization of the event, with some admitting they had made judgments without sufficient information.

The March for Life tweeted Sunday night that “Given recent developments regarding the incident on Friday evening, March for Life has deleted its original tweet and removed our statement on this matter from our website. It is clear from new footage and additional accounts that there is more to this story than the original video captured.  We will refrain from commenting further until the truth is understood.”

The Diocese of Covington has not indicated what the next steps will be in its investigation of the matter.

CNA attempted to contact the Diocese of Covington and the Archdiocese of Louisville. Neither was available for comment as of press time.

 

 

 

Bishops ‘encouraged’ by Trump proposal for Dreamers, urge permanent solution

Washington D.C., Jan 21, 2019 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has responded cautiously to President Donald Trump’s proposal to extend protections for those eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program, commonly referred to as Dreamers.

 

The president proposed an extension, along with other measures, in exchange for funding for a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The president made the proposals January 19 as part of the ongoing efforts to end the partial government shutdown which has now lasted nearly a month.

 

“We are encouraged by the president’s openness to providing legislative relief for TPS holders and existing DACA recipients,” the bishops wrote in a Jan. 20 statement signed by USCCB president Cardinal Daniel DiNardo and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration.

 

“However, we understand that the President’s proposal would only provide temporary relief, leaving many in a continued vulnerable state. We believe that a permanent legislative solution for TPS holders and for all Dreamers is vital.”

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate minority leader Chuck Shumer (D-NY) dismissed the president’s proposals, with Shumer calling them “not a compromise but more hostage taking.”

 

The statement from DiNardo and Vásquez said that temporary measures would do little to reassure the families of children currently without a permanent resolution to their status.

 

“Throughout our parishes, there are many DACA youth and TPS holders, who have lived substantial parts of their lives in the U.S. contributing to this country. We listen [to] and understand the fear and uncertainty they and their families face and the anguish that they are currently experiencing as their existing immigration protections hang in the balance and come to an end,” the statement said.

 

“Temporary relief will not ease those fears or quell that anxiety. It is for this reason that we have long advocated for comprehensive immigration reform; reform that will provide permanent solutions: including border security, protection for vulnerable unaccompanied children and asylum seekers, and a defined path to citizenship to enable our immigrant brothers and sisters to fully contribute to our society.”

 

In a 13 minute address from the White House on Saturday, President Trump laid out what has been widely interpreted as a compromise offer on immigration and border security aimed at breaking the impasse between the administration and congressional Democrats.

 

The president has been at loggerheads with Pelosi and Shumer over support for his so-called border wall. The impasse over federal funding has led to a partial shutdown which has left hundreds of thousands of federal workers on furlough and without pay.

 

Trump said his offer to extend the existing status of TPS and DACA claimants was accompanied by other measures aimed at “protecting migrant children from exploitation and abuse,” including a proposal to allow minors to apply for asylum in the U.S. from their country of origin.

 

The plan also includes $5.7 billion for what Trump called “a strategic deployment of physical barriers, or a wall” along the southern border.

 

On these proposals, the USCCB statement expressed serious reservations, saying the president’s plan could make the current situation for unaccompanied minors worse, not better.

 

“The proposal calls for the construction of a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, a proposal that our brother bishops on both sides of the U.S. border with Mexico oppose, and it suggests changes in current law that would make it more difficult for unaccompanied children and asylum seekers to access protection.”

 

DiNardo and Vásquez urged leaders from both parties to reach a solution to the shutdown quickly and to recognize “the economic struggle that many families are facing, including those dependent on federal workers and those assisted by critical nutrition and housing programs.”

 

“We look forward to reviewing the president’s proposal in detail and hope to work with the White House and Congress to advance legislation that shows compassion, keeps us safe, and protects the vulnerable.”

What the pope said when Martin Luther King was killed

Memphis, Tenn., Jan 21, 2019 / 09:35 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., was fatally shot outside his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

King is remembered as the most visible leader of the civil rights movement, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, and as the founding president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. But he was first a pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, and remained active in pastoral leadership throughout his life.

On the day after King was killed, Pope Paul VI expressed remorse during his Angelus address, saying that the civil rights leader was “a Christian prophet for racial integration.”

Shortly after King’s death, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Council of Churches, the Synagogue Council of America, and the Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in the Americas released an interfaith statement, mourning their colleague in ministry.

We “bow together in grief before the shameful murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a unique apostle of the non-violent drive for justice, [and] affirm that no service of remembrance or local memorial is equal to the greatness of his labor or the vastness of our national need.”

The faith leaders also applauded the efforts of Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1968, encouraged Americans to support measures favoring integration, and pled with government officials to fund legislation aimed at fighting poverty.

We “affirm that only through massive contributions by the American people can this nation duly honor the life-offering of Martin Luther King, Jr. and responsibly lift up the burden of the poor and oppressed in our land.”

The statement also promised to implement coordinated efforts among religious communities to fight poverty.

We “declare our intention to take immediate steps to develop a coordinated sacrificial effort on the part of the American religious community to help the disadvantaged,” the statement read.

Faith leaders were not the only ones to pay tribute to King after his assassination.

On the night King was killed, Senator Robert Kennedy, a Catholic, spoke to the people of Indianapolis, urging them to greater compassion and a deterrence from violence. Kennedy spoke during a stop on his 1968 campaign for President, delivering the news to a multiracial crowd that King had been assassinated.

“What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black,” he said on April 4, 1968.

Kennedy referenced the assassination of his own brother, President John F. Kennedy, which had taken place in 1963.

“For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to go beyond these rather difficult times,” Kennedy said.

The senator urged Americans to take up King’s efforts, pray for King’s family and the nation, and join in solidarity those longing for peace.  

“The vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land,” he added.

“I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, that's true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love--a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.”

 

This article was originally published on CNA April 3, 2018.

What Catholics can learn from ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo’

Denver, Colo., Jan 20, 2019 / 04:11 pm (CNA).- “Does it spark joy?”

That question has become a rallying cry for fans of Japanese cleaning guru Marie Kondo, whose 2012 book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” has become a New York Times bestseller and sold more than 3 million copies.

Adherents of the KonMari Method, as it is known, are instructed to gather every piece of clothing in their house and put them all together in a pile. One-by-one, they take each item in their hands, asking themselves, “Does this spark joy?” as a way of determining which items to keep and which to discard or donate. The process is repeated with all of their books, papers, miscellaneous items, and sentimental belongings, in that order.

The bestselling book was recently turned into a popular Netflix reality show, in which Kondo visits the houses of people living in various situations – a family with young children whose home feels chaotic and cluttered, a recently retired couple who have spent decades collecting clothes and baseball cards, a widow who cannot bring herself to get rid of any of her late husband’s possessions. Kondo works through the process with them, showing the dramatic results that can be achieved by decluttering.

The KonMari tidying ritual bears some striking similarities to the annual purging of possessions undertaken by the Companions of Christ in Denver.

An association of diocesan priests and deacons who live a common life of prayer and fraternity, the Denver Companions of Christ emphasize the observance of poverty, chastity and obedience in their ordained ministry.

As part of this commitment, they annually purge their possessions, on or around Ash Wednesday. If they are living in a community, they purge as a household.

They begin by physically laying out all of their belongings, a practice that Kondo also promotes, as it allows people to see how much they actually own, and to recognize where they have excess in their lives.

Following a series of guiding principles, the Companions then question each item as they make decisions about what to keep and what to discard.

“It kind of pushes you to admit whether or not you really need things,” says Fr. Mike Rapp, a member of the Denver community.

In an interview with CNA, Rapp said that taking a simple approach to material goods is something that can benefit all of the faithful – not just priests.

“For the Christian, this is a way of taking away those things that nickel-and-dime our lives, so that we can really have what we need and value that, and then have the space in our life, that sort of openness, that quietness, to really follow the Lord – to hear his voice, to pay attention to God…serving other people and loving them.”

He noted that one of the instructions given by John the Baptist to prepare people for the coming of Christ was, “Whoever has two tunics should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.”

“You don’t need anything excessive,” Rapp said. “If you have excess in your life, it can be a distraction. Just get rid of it.”

The Catholic Church teaches that the evangelical counsel of poverty – along with chastity and obedience – is proposed by Christ to all disciples, as a way of growing in the Christian life and cooperating with grace.

Rapp pointed to Mark 10, in which a rich young man asks Christ what he must do to inherit eternal life. In addition to following the commandments, Christ instructs him to “Go sell what you have, give to the poor…then come, follow me.” But Scripture says the young man went away sad, “for he had many possessions.”

Material possessions are not inherently evil, Rapp clarified. But when we become attached to them, they go from being necessary items that help us in life to becoming “a real detriment, a distraction from the priorities” we should have.

Members of religious orders take a vow of poverty, which is generally lived in a very radical way, while canon law suggests that diocesan priests should live a simple life and give away any excess that they have to the poor, Rapp said.

“I think that’s a pretty good general rule for everybody.”

Determining what is excess in one’s life is a matter of personal discernment, the priest said. In his community, members are guided by the principle, “Start with nothing, and keep only what you really need.”

Other guidelines include trying to limit belongings to what can be packed in a car – fitting for the life of mobility to which priests are called – and asking the question, “Have I used this within the last year?”

“If you haven’t, you might not need it. You might not use it in the next 20 years,” Rapp said.

While they are purging, the Denver Companions pray in gratitude to God. This is a key part of the process – acknowledging that everything they possess is a gift from God and asking him to help them see what they should be letting go of and detaching themselves from.

“We do the purge communally, so you show everybody what you have. There’s a certain accountability to it,” Rapp added. Their fellow priests can also challenge them on specific belongings, inviting them to reflect on whether they actually need a certain item.

“We don’t actually need what we think we need,” he said.

For lay people, especially families with children, the criteria for what to keep may look different.

“It is really difficult when you have children of various ages to keep possessions simple, because there are various needs in the home happening all at the same time!” said Alicia Hernon, a mother of 10 children and the co-director, alongside her husband, of The Messy Family project and podcast.

“It’s hard for moms to give away clothes when you know you will have a child who will wear those clothes or play with those toys in just a few years,” she told CNA. “Yes, I would love to get rid of all the extra toys and clothes, but not if I will have to replace them for the next child hitting that stage just a short time from now.”

“For us, living simply means that I had to have an effective storage system for clothes and a set time to take them out when needed. It also means that we had to do the same with certain toys.”  

But while simplicity may look different for families – especially large ones – Hernon said there are still benefits to a simple lifestyle, especially because it helps family members “focus on the people around us.”  

“The fewer possessions we have, the less there is to clean, maintain and manage,” she said. “The fewer possessions children have, the more they will be encouraged to play outside and play with each other.”  

Catholics seeking to implement Kondo’s methods may notice that some of her practices display a sense of animism, the idea that inanimate objects have spirits. Kondo, who served for several years at a Shinto shrine in Japan, greets the houses that she enters before tidying them. She encourages people to talk to their possessions, thanking them for the role they have played in their lives. She suggests that the used items that one has discarded “will come back to you as the thing that will be of most use to who you are now.”

While Catholics should not take part in practices that do not align with the Catholic faith, this does not mean they need to reject the KonMari Method of tidying altogether, Rapp said. Catholicism has long understood how to embrace what is good in other cultures, without accepting ideas that are problematic.

Some of Kondo’s ideas can be adapted to a more Catholic worldview, the priest said. For example, rather than thanking a book or piece of clothing for its usefulness, Catholics can offer prayers of thanks to God, who is the true source of all material blessings.

“Thank you, Lord, for giving me this. It’s been very valuable for my life in these ways. I’m going to let go of it now,” he suggested as a prayer to offer while purging.

Recognizing everything as a blessing from God makes it easier to be detached, he noted. “Because God has given me all of these things, I can let go of them. I can give them away.”

Ultimately, Rapp said, simplicity in possessions is about building gratitude, detachment, and trust.

“If you want to follow Jesus’ way of simplicity, you have to accept that it’s a bit radical, and you have to be willing to detach. I think that’s the big key, this attitude of detachment.”

“You have to sort of trust that ‘I can let go of things, and my needs will be taken care of’,” he said, pointing to the passage in the Sermon on the Mount in which Christ reminds his followers of how God clothes the lilies of the field and feeds the birds of the air, instructing them to trust that God will also take care of their material needs.

“We as human beings feel a need to provide for ourselves,” Rapp said. “Letting go of things is an invitation to really trust in the Lord, and to celebrate and feel the providence of God, that God really does provide for us, that God has provided for us in remarkable ways.”

For the Denver Companions, purging physical things is a reminder to reflect on spiritual poverty, which is more important than material poverty.

Rapp said the community undergoes a similar process of seeking to identify excesses or unhealthy attachments in the spiritual life, asking themselves, “What do I cling to? My time, my energy, my friendships, my talent, my opinions?”

This helps them recognize all of these things as gifts from God, and opportunities to give thanks and practice detachment, fostering spiritual poverty, since God promises his kingdom to the “poor in spirit.”

“That’s what we’re really looking for,” Rapp said. “We don’t find our peace and happiness in things.”

'I survived my mom’s abortion appointment:' Voices from the March for Life

Washington D.C., Jan 19, 2019 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- Attendees at the 2019 March for Life saw an unannounced appearance from Vice President Mike Pence, a video message from President Trump, a strong bipartisan speaker line-up, and a secular science theme. But the most surprising sight of the day, at least for one 12-year-old first-time marcher, was the number of children.

“There are more kids here than adults!” said Angela from Rockville, Maryland.

A crowd of 100,000 people marching on the politically divisive issue of abortion, in the middle of the country’s longest-ever government shutdown no less, might not seem like the place for kids. But Robin Diller was one of thousands of mothers present who would enthusiastically tell you otherwise: “It’s such a positive environment, a happy and joyful place.”

The March, held Friday, traced the annual route along the National Mall in Washington, DC. It was the Dillers’ second march as a family. Their group of 14 included the Diller brothers, their wives Robin and Lisa, and their collective ten children. The crowd did not intimidate even the smallest Diller, a 10-month-old blinking out from Mr. Diller’s chest, zipped into his dad’s jacket for warmth.

In addition to the fun, Mr. Diller said he sees the March as a lesson in civic responsibility: “It’s important to show our kids what positive activism looks like.”

High school history teacher James Flannery loves the March for a similar reason. He said that his biggest concern for his students is apathy. “That’s why it’s so reassuring to see so many of them here, to see them stand for something.”

Though often labeled “anti-abortion,” people like Mary Bonk from Lexington Park, Maryland, think of themselves as marching for many different life issues-- not just against abortion.

Bonk adheres to the consistent life ethic, which opposes all forms of violence against the human person, including things like war, torture, embryonic stem cell research, and the death penalty.

Bonk acknowledged that her anti-death penalty views put her at odds with many right-leaning pro-lifers. This does not phase her: “I don’t think that being pro-life is a right-wing position.”

Plus, she added, “I feel welcomed here.”

Krista Corbello and Alex Seghers, 26-year-olds from Pro-Life Louisiana, shared Bonk’s expansive sense of what it means to be pro-life.

Corbello agreed that it takes humility to welcome diversity into the movement. But in her experience, the spirit of “welcoming hospitality” is always present “when change is really happening.”

One such change is the growth of “pro-life feminism.” Seghers identified herself and her unborn daughter as pro-life feminists: “She’s marching before she’s even born.” To them, pro-life feminism means advocating nonviolence and nondiscrimination for all people, including those in the womb.

“It’s inclusive of anyone from any background.”

These women appear to have struck a nerve with their inclusive message: their group brought 1,500 young people to D.C. for the March this year.

“Consistency is key for young people,” Corbello said, adding that young people from Louisiana are lucky to have a legislature that is bipartisan on life, including Democrat Rep. Katrina R. Jackson, who spoke at the March this year. Seghers attributes the bipartisanship to Louisiana’s diversity and “culture of family values.”

Though “family values” often connotes religion, Pro-life Louisiana’s events are mostly secular in tone. “Abortion is wrong because it is violent,” Corbello said. “That’s not a religious belief.”

Family is a common theme among young people at the March. Though many of them march for religious, political, and educational reasons, almost all point to their families first when asked about their interest in pro-life issues.

Mother and daughter Claudia and Taylor Turcott did this in a literal way, carrying signs with arrows drawn toward each other. Claudia’s reads: “25 years ago, I thought abortion was the only way, but I walked out of that clinic with my baby that day.” Taylor’s read: “October 1994: I survived my mom’s abortion appointment.”

Taylor began volunteering at a crisis pregnancy clinic in college after learning about her mother’s near decision to abort her. The Turcotts see their advocacy, especially the March, as an opportunity to share their gratitude.

Although many people who saw Claudia’s sign thanked her for choosing life, she simply said: “I just feel so, so grateful. I don’t think I’m unusually brave.” Claudia wants to encourage young women facing unplanned pregnancies: “You will be amazed by how many resources there are to help you.”

Friday’s crowd was full of extraordinary stories like the Turcotts.

One woman, Francis Reciniello, has attended the March for over 30 years. As an immigrant from Honduras, she said she had never supported abortion because it was antithetical to her culture and upbringing. So when a friend got pregnant in college, Reciniello offered help and begged her to choose life.

It worked. “She told her boyfriend and he married her, and they named their child ‘Francois,’ after me” Reciniello said.

Though Reciniello’s own children are active pro-lifers, most years she marches with her friend, who immigrated to the U.S. from Germany. “She’s a cancer survivor, and every year we say: ‘Can we make it?’ And we do. Even though we go at our own pace now.”

The two expressed their amazement at how young the March has become. “Young people are really stepping up!”

Perhaps the most extraordinary part of the March for Life was that the thousands of people who attend each year think of their peaceful activism, loving families, and joyful sacrifices as ordinary.

“This is just, like, normal,” said Garrett, a high school student from Philadelphia, about being young and pro-life. “It’s how we grew up.” His classmates Evan, Miguel, and Charlie nodded.

“It’s normal to respect each other, to have respect for other human beings.”

NY bishops lament bill to expand abortion in state

Albany, N.Y., Jan 19, 2019 / 03:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The bishops of New York decried Thursday the likely passage of the Reproductive Health Act, which would expand abortion access throughout the state, noting it will only increase family suffering.

The bill was first introduced in 2007, but was often blocked by a Republican-led state senate.

The New York state senate recently returned to Democrat-majority control for the first time since 2010, and the bill is widely expected to become law.

The Reproductive Health Act would allow health care professionals like nurse practicioners and physicians assistants to perform abortions, and permit late- abortion at any time throughout pregnancy in case of fetal inviability or “when necessary to protect a patient's life or health.”

Under current New York law, abortion past 24 weeks is illegal except when necessary to save the life of the mother.

The bill would also decriminalize abortion, transferring it to the health code from the criminal code.

“Words are insufficient to describe the profound sadness we feel at the contemplated passage of New York State’s new proposed abortion policy. We mourn the unborn infants who will lose their lives, and the many mothers and fathers who will suffer remorse and heartbreak as a result,” the bishops of New York state said Jan. 17.

“The so-called 'Reproductive Health Act' will expand our state’s already radically permissive law, by empowering more health practitioners to provide abortion and removing all state restrictions on late-term procedures. With an abortion rate that is already double the national average, New York law is moving in the wrong direction.”

The bishops recalled their pledge “to offer the resources and services of our charitable agencies and health services to any woman experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, to support her in bearing her infant, raising her family or placing her child for adoption. There are life-affirming choices available, and we aim to make them more widely known and accessible.”

They noted that Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislators “hail this new abortion law as progress.”

“This is not progress,” the bishops countered. “Progress will be achieved when our laws and our culture once again value and respect each unrepeatable gift of human life, from the first moment of creation to natural death. Would that not make us truly the most enlightened and progressive state in the nation?”

Americans United for Life CEO Catherine Glenn Foster told CNA earlier this month that the bill would not protect women’s health, but rather trip away health and safety regulations on abortion providers.

“Under Gov. Cuomo's leadership, New York nail salons will be more regulated than abortion facilities,” Foster stated.

Cuomo has also called for the addition of a provision to the state constitution “protecting a woman’s right to control her own reproductive health.” Such an amendment could not be passed before 2021.