ROME, February 11, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― The seventh annual Rome Life Forum will bring together pro-life, pro-family Catholics from all over the world to discuss “authentic purity” as the way to counter “attacks on human life, the family, and our faith.”
Rome Life Forum 2020 will take place on May 20-21, introducing two more days of pro-life activities leading up to the 10th annual Rome March for Life on May 23. The Forum will be held in the world-famous Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, also known as the Angelicum.
The theme this year is “Opening the door to purity and closing the door to vice.”
Another of this year’s speakers, John Smeaton of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), told LifeSiteNews that this international gathering is a “unique opportunity” for Catholic pro-life leaders to gain strength from one another.
“The Rome Life Forum provides leaders within the pro-life and pro-family movement, united in their love for the Church, with a unique opportunity to strengthen one another in fidelity to the truth, and in working to restore a truly Christian civilization worldwide,” Smeaton told LifeSiteNews.
SPUC’s chief executive noted that Forum participants have come from the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Italy, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Poland, the Philippines, Romania, Brazil, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Albania, Malta, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, India, Portugal, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Sweden, and Hungary as well as other countries.
“One thing which unites us all is a clear understanding that the pro-life movement cannot win the pro-life and pro-family battle on their own,” Smeaton said.
“The Church must recover her teaching authority to save her children. And at this time of trial, the faithful at all levels of the Church Militant must mobilise to fight for her.”
Rome Life Forum a ‘foretaste’ of heaven
Past speaker Michael Hichborn, president of the Lepanto Institute, told LifeSiteNews that going to the Rome Life Forum is like a “foretaste” of heaven.
“I've been to the Rome Life Forum every year since 2014, and each one is better than the last,” he said enthusiastically.
“It's like a mini-retreat for me, and the reunion of so many good friends is like a foretaste of the reunion we'll enjoy for eternity in heaven.”
Hichborn said “the wonderful thing” about the Roman Forum is that anyone can attend ― and all faithful Catholic should.
“Those Catholics who wish to have a solid understanding of the current rebellion in the Church should attend,” he said.
“Over the course of three days, faithful Catholics will not only be able to hear brilliant presentations, but have one-on-one access to various Catholic leaders from around the world.”
‘A wonderful sense of fellowship’
Canadian Catholic journalist Deborah Gyapong told LifeSiteNews that the Forum is an excellent networking opportunity.
“Nowhere else have I experienced such an international gathering of pro-life and pro-family leaders and experts from as far away as New Zealand, from all over Europe and the UK, and from North and South America,” Gyapong said.
“There is a wonderful sense of fellowship and joy at the Forum, a gathering of happy warriors. For me as a journalist, it was a forge for ideas and source of contacts.”
Gyapong told LifeSiteNews that she believes the Rome Life Forum is a “huge encouragement and chance to share victories and strategies” for pro-life leaders and activists.
“For young people who attend, it's a great chance to find mentors.”
Margaret Akers of SPUC Scotland is one of the younger pro-life leaders participating in the Rome Life Forum 2020. She told LifeSiteNews that she very much enjoyed talks given last year by Fr. Linus Clovis and Cardinal Raymond Burke, both of whom will be speaking again at the Forum this May.
“I was particularly struck by the talk given by Fr. Linus Clovis, who spoke beautifully about the role of Our Lady in the Church and our lives; it was incredibly moving,” Akers said.
“I am always pleased to hear Cardinal Burke and last year’s conference was no exception,” she added.
“He framed patriotism and commitment to one’s ‘fatherland’ in a way one doesn’t often hear in an age of globalism, and it was inspiring.”
Akers said she believes this year’s theme, “Opening the door to the virtue of purity,” is particularly necessary today.
“I look forward to hearing how each of the speakers chooses to expand on this topic,” she said.
Dr. Joseph Shaw, chairman of the UK’s Latin Mass Society, will be speaking at the Roman Life Forum for the first time this year. While pondering the theme of purity, Shaw told LifeSiteNews that intellectual honesty is key.
“It is very evident today that much thinking about theology and morality is conditioned by the need to justify certain conclusions — conclusions justifying or permitting lifestyle choices which one does not wish to confront or reconsider honestly,” Shaw said.
“Whether the problem arises from one’s own past decisions, or those of people one loves, or those accorded value by one’s circle, true intellectual honesty is a real risk, an adventure in which one faces the possibility of losing friends, status, and career.”
Shaw said intellectual work that is constrained by these worldly considerations is “worthless.”
“We must rediscover our love of the truth, and a true commitment to it, because it is in the truth that we find God, who is Truth, and not in some sordid intellectual compromise,” he concluded.
‘The food is always great at the Forum’
A five-day trip to Rome uses up one’s vacation time, but Gyapong argued that the location and the price of the Rome Life Forum have been right.
“The food is always great at the Forum,” the journalist said.
“The price is really modest, and you can't beat the location ― Rome,” she added.
“Participants find opportunities to worship together at daily Mass, the city is wonderful, and the weather is just right in May. Participants in the Forum also join the Italian March for Life, another joyous occasion that has grown substantially over recent years.”
The Rome Life Forum is also a chance to make a spiritual pilgrimage. Hichborn told LifeSiteNews that his fondest memory of the Rome Life Forum is from his first trip there.
“My wife and I attended with our (then) four-month-old daughter, Maria Faustina,” he recalled.
“We landed in Rome on the very day St. Faustina was being canonized, and we happened to walk into the church where St. Catherine of Siena is buried. We were able to actually touch her tomb and pray there. While we were at the Forum, Cardinal Raymond Burke gave a blessing to all three of us. For me, this memory will always signify what the Rome Life Forum is.”
The full price of the Roman Life Forum registration is £110/€130 (approx. $143 US). A one-day ticket is £65/€75 (approx. $84 US). To register and see the complete schedule, please visit voiceofthefamily.com.