Flying banners with this years motto “Scegliamo la vita,” or “we choose life,” pro-lifers marched from Rome’s Piazza della Repubblica past the papal basilica of St. Mary Major – where the wood of Christ’s manger is venerated beneath the high altar – to the piazza of the papal basilica of St. John Lateran, which is the first church built in Rome after Constantine legalized Christianity and the Pope’s cathedral.
Enthusiastic crowds of young people, priests, religious brothers, seminarians and sisters, along with families with little children joined the demonstration, singing loudly in Italian, praying the rosary, and cheering for life. The march was led a band of drummers and police escort. Notably in attendance was a Romanian Orthodox bishop.
According to the website for the Rome Demonstration for Life, the demonstration is intended “to remind all society that ‘recognition of the inherent dignity of every member of the human family constitutes the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10.12.1948) and that the child ‘needs special protection and care, including adequate legal protection, both before and after birth’ (Convention on the Rights of the Child, 20.11. 1989.”
At the Lateran Basilica, after pro-life testimonies from Italian families, Massimo Gandolfini, outspoken leader of the pro-life, pro-family movement in Italy and president of the Family Day Association, gave a powerful speech invoking the apostles and John Paul II in witness to the need to defend, uphold, and cherish the beauty and sanctity of human life.
“We are against the culture of discarding,” Gandolfini declared. “In the face of the anthropological subversion we are experiencing, whereby some values are no longer taken for granted, rather, they are silenced, there is a people who want to give a voice to the defenseless, beginning with children in their mothers’ wombs, the disabled, the suffering of migrants and terminal life often in extremely fragile conditions.”
Last year Gandolfini similarly declared, “there is a strong need to rekindle hope, hope in life, hope in a new history that puts the right to life at the center. Without the right to life, the first and fundamental right of every civil society, the entire edifice of human rights collapses, producing that culture of death that is reaping innocent victims in our country and in the whole world.”
More than six million babies have lost their lives through abortion in Italy since its legalization in 1978, through a law that Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, called “a pillar of our social life” last August, remarks for which the John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family called on the prelate to recant or be replaced.
Abortion is legal on request for the first 90 days of a pregnancy, and after that is technically only legal if there is stated to be a danger to the mother’s life.
In the words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “As long as abortion is practiced and proclaimed as a right, the world will never have justice or peace.”