By Hilary White

ROME, March 24, 2010 ( – This Sunday, March 28, will mark 20 years since abortion was legalized in Belgium, and on that day Brussels will host its first March for Life at 2:30 at the Place Royale. With Sunday’s being the first March for Life in Brussels, organizers say they do not know how many to expect, but say they have confirmation of attendees coming from the Ukraine, France, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, with speakers from Spain, Ireland and Italy. Organizers say the event is intended to be “peaceful, silent, apolitical and pluralistic.”

Simon De Keukelaere, who is assisting the organizers of the March, told (LSN) that the prospects for the March, and the hope of changing attitudes with young people in Belgium, are high.

De Keukelaere, who is studying at the Lateran University in Rome, said that Brussels Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, who took the post on January 18, has been enthusiastically supportive of the march initiative.

“He was very, very supportive right from the beginning, and will attend the march,” de Keukelaere said. And since the involvement of Archbishop Leonard, he said, the interest of other Catholic bishops of Belgium has also grown.

De Keukelaere also praised the the level of cooperation between pro-life groups in Belgium and abroad. The country’s ongoing political crises have kept the issue of abortion out of the public mind, but, he said, young people are starting to wake up to the threat of abortion.

In Belgium, abortion is “simply in the air” he said. “It’s completely taken for granted. But for young people, it’s becoming an issue. Part of our generation has disappeared.”

“Maybe part of the change [in attitude from the bishops] is linked to the fact that the initiative is coming from young people. This is really something new.”

The group organizing the march is non-political and not affiliated with any particular church or religion. Cooperation with the event is even coming from Belgium’s Muslim community.

The Brussels march comes as the government has pledged even more funds for abortion. Health minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin earlier this month announced the release of 27 million Euros per year for abortion.

Bishop Marc Aillet of Bayonne called the increase “anti-social,” saying that polls have shown women do not want abortion. “Deleting an innocent human life is a tragedy for the child first, but also for parents and society.

“It is unfortunate that Ms. Bachelot did not take into account the expression of French women who praise the contrary, a true policy of preventing abortion and support for pregnant women.”

18,033 abortions were committed in Belgium in 2007 according to a report by the law commission that legalized it. The report said that “the choice for a voluntary pregnancy interruption is often dictated by a precarious social and economical situation or some cultural pressure. If they would have had the possibility, women would have carried (the child) to full term.”

Marches for life in Europe are growing in popularity, with Paris attracting 20,000 participants to their sixth annual March for Life in January. These events are notably characterized by the youthfulness of the participants, and increasing interest by religious and social groups.

At the Paris march, organizers praised the attendance of many of the new breed of orthodox young bishops and clergy. In attendance were Canon Trauchessec of the recently founded Institute of Christ the King, and Dom Louis-Marie, the Abbot of the traditional Benedictine monastery of le Barroux, as well as the bishop of Saint-Etienne, Dominique Lebrun.

To find out more about the Brussels March for Life, click here.