Abortion will not end until the “glamorization of promiscuity” is reversed, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley told an overflow crowd of over 11,000 pro-life pilgrims attending the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Capitol’s Catholic Basilica Wednesday evening. 

“People who favor legal abortion claim they want to reduce the number of abortions. One of the logical ways to reduce the number of abortions would be to discourage the promiscuous behavior that is rampant in our culture,” he said in his homily to the crowd consisting largely of young people.

“The glamorization of promiscuity needs to be reversed by having people speak out against it,” he said.

O’Malley said practicing chastity, which the Church speaks about as an integration of sexuality within the person that is applicable to every state of life, is a way to be pro-life by “[protecting] the transmission of life.”

The annual Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, in which Cardinal O’Malley was principal celebrant and homilist, drew six cardinals, 44 bishops, 343 priests, 100 deacons, and 530 seminarians.  

The cardinal mentioned abortion 31 times in his homily, referring to it as a “barbaric practice” that devastates the lives of women.

Unjust laws governing abortion must be changed, he said, but “we must work even harder to change hearts, to build a civilization of love.”  

The cardinal said that politicians need to be “brought up to date” on data showing that a majority of Americans favor restrictions on abortion.

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“Even a majority of so-called pro-choice Americans actually favor informed consent for mothers, abortion bans in the third trimester, bans on partial-birth abortions, required parental consent for minors, 24 hour waiting periods and even abortion bans in the second trimester. These are polls by Gallup, CBS, and the New York Times, not by EWTN, Catholic University and the Vatican,” he said.

There are many myths that are circulating and cause a lot of harm, especially since politicians often espouse them, Cardinal O’Malley said. He listed first the myth that abortion is a woman’s issue, second, that most Americans are “pro-choice,” and last, that young people are overwhelmingly in favor of the pro-abortion position.

“But you know there are some people who are using these American myths: that the majority of women, the majority of Americans, the majority of young people are pro-choice,” the cardinal said. “It is a lie that is being foisted on the American people to try to convince people to embrace abortion with the flag and apple pie.”

The cardinal mentioned in passing the necessity of “preserving the family as the sanctuary of life,” but mentioned nothing about current attacks facing the family, especially resulting from the state-by-state redefinition of marriage to include same-sex attracted persons.

He said that unmerited laws should be changed, but indicated that greater focus is needed on changing hearts.

“We must work tirelessly to change the unjust laws,” said Cardinal O’Malley. “But we must work even harder to change hearts, to build a civilization of love.”