March 25, 2013 (LifeSieNews.com) – Gathering under a statue of Belgium’s King Albert I, upon which had been scrawled anti-Catholic and pro-abortion graffiti that included “Abort the Pope,” over 500 people braved the cold and snow March 24 for the fourth annual March for Life in Brussels, Belgium.
Despite competition with the massive and simultaneous pro-family La Manif Pour Tous just three hours south in Paris, a diverse crowd of nationalities assembled in the “Capital of Europe“ to demand freedom of conscience and protection for society’s weakest and most vulnerable members.
The kilometer long march, organized by Belgian group “Jeunes pour la Vie” (Youth for Life) wound its way through the heart of old Brussels accompanied by a sea of white “I love LIFE” balloons to a rally at the Palais du Justice.
As Belgium is the main center of the European Institutions, what happens in Brussels has consequences both symbolic and actual for the entire European Union, according to March organizer Anne-Chantal André-Dumont.
“This year, extensions to the (Belgian) euthanasia law will be voted upon including provisions that would make it easier to euthanize mentally disabled persons and kids,” said André-Dumont. “If we let these things happen, we'll be an example for Europe. The only thing we want to be an example for is changing the laws and making our country better for all of our citizens.”
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During the week leading up to the March, workshops and presentations for lawmakers and staff addressed issues including the increasing threat of life-destroying biotechnologies, human trafficking and child abandonment at the 2013 Week for Life at the European Parliament, also in Brussels.
At both the March and the Week for Life, excitement also mounted for the “One of Us“ Campaign. The campaign, which is using a new instrument for participant democracy called a European Citizens’ Initiative, is a grassroots personhood petition that seeks to end EU funding of the destruction of human embryos. “One of Us“ needs to gather one million signatures from at least 7 EU member countries to put the pro-life petition in front of the European Commission as an invitation for a vote.
“Law is nowadays made by a few, but touches the lives of millions,” said March for Life participant Orgeta Zejneli, who comes from both Albania and Greece. “The law is there to protect the most vulnerable people, but now it has become a threat. We need more education and formation about the dignity and the value of life.”
A passerby was asked what she thought of the March. She responded that she was happy to see it happening, but what good would it do? The marchers are a small minority of the population and won’t have any impact on lawmakers.
But another marcher, Fr. Pierre Francois, National Chaplain for the Scouts of Europe, said that even a small group can have a tremendous impact in the hearts of the people witnessing. He added, “it is not quantity that matters, but quality.“ The truth carries its own strength.
In the midst of economic, social and political turmoil, Europe is struggling to find her identity, remember her history and have a clear vision of the future. The March for Life in Brussels was a hopeful and joyful reminder that one of Europe’s most enduring legacies is that of striving in law, culture and philosophy for the rights and protection of the weak and marginalized.