(LifeSiteNews) — The Rome Life Forum was never expected to play such an important role in bringing Catholics together in defence of the Church, but God works in unexpected ways.
2023 marks nine years since the first Rome Life Forum. The two-day interactive conference will be held in Rome from October 31 to November 1—immediately after the Vatican’s Synod on Synodality which threatens to formalize heretical teachings on marriage and the family.
LifeSite’s editor-in-chief and co-founder John-Henry Westen told our reporter that he first thought of holding the conference in 2014 since many Catholics and pro-lifers would already be in Rome for the canonization of Pope Saint John Paul II.
“We already knew that pro-abortion and LGBT pushing folks met internationally,” Westen explained. “So, we figured since many pro-life and family leaders are going to be in Rome anyway for the canonization of Pope John Paul II, maybe we should get together with some folks and strategize on our issues.”
Unfortunately, Rome was booked out at the time of the canonization, and the soonest LifeSite could secure a room was the following week. Considering it was a week later, Westen expected only about 30 people to attend.
However, to his surprise, 75 Catholics and other pro-lifers from more than a dozen countries around the world showed up at the conference. The Vatican’s Cardinal Raymond Burke spoke at the public portion of the meeting, as did the famed biographer of Saint John Paul II, George Weigel. Many of the attendees had come to Rome solely to take part in the forum.
“What is the thing most concerning to you and your countries?” Westen asked the attendees, expecting to hear responses about abortion, contraception, or same-sex marriage.
However, the nearly unanimous answer was “the [Pope’s] abandonment … of the front lines of the pro-life and pro-family fight.”
“That was the birth of a Rome Life Forum because we realized this has become the number one most concerning issue for the movement for life and family around the world,” Westen recalled.
“Basically, that Rome has abandoned us,” he added. “And it was stunning; it was evident already in 2014, but most of the world only woke up to Pope Francis later. But within the movement for life and family, it was very evident right from the start.”
LifeSite quickly realized the need for an annual conference to strategize restoring the Church to her former fidelity to the teachings of Christ. The conference has taken place every year since 2014, with a break during the COVID-19 lockdowns. This year is the first in-person conference since COVID.
While founded by LifeSite, the Rome Life Forum was organized in collaboration with Voice of the Family for many years but now is run by LifeSiteNews. It is made possible through the generosity of sponsors. This year’s major sponsors include the Fatima Center, Women’s Rights without Frontiers, the Remnant newspaper, Gregory the Great Academy and others who wished to remain anonymous.
Defenders of the Church joined together at the Rome Life Forum
The 2017 Rome Life Forum, which took place on the centenary of the last apparitions at Fatima, held a particular highlight for Westen. Three of the four cardinals who signed the dubia asking Pope Francis for moral clarity on Amoris Laetitia attended the conference.
Our Lady’s presence was evident: Cardinal Burke publicly called for the Consecration of Russia for the first time during this meeting.
Furthermore, Cardinal Caffara revealed at the Rome Life Forum that he felt that the final battle between Our Lord and the reign of Satan over marriage and the family had begun. He had received a personal letter from Sister Lucia of Fatima warning him that the final battle would be over marriage and the family.
Another highlight of the Rome Life Forum was Archbishop Vigano’s appearance on the public stage after being cancelled by Pope Francis.
Above all, Westen stressed the “amazing collaboration” which came out of the forum, which gathered lay and clergy to defend the Church.
“While the bishops and cardinals speak at it, it really was designed to be first a strategy session,” Westen revealed. “There’s a need for collaboration among good laity fighting the war for life, family, and faith. And really it is all centered around the faith.”
He also revealed that the public gathering of Catholics is vital to provide a “constant witness and presence in Rome to the truths of the Catholic faith, standing in resistance to even the Pope when he abandons the truths of the faith.”
“And that [has] been a very consistent witness from the beginning of this pontificate, which was so troublesome,” he added.
This year’s Rome Life Forum is set to gather faithful clergy and laity to join in the fight against the forces of evil within the Church.
Attendees of the upcoming Rome Life Forum will have an opportunity to meet and actively participate in all forum strategy sessions with our guest speakers. Members of the faithful laity who will attend include Reggie Littlejohn, the president of the pro-life Women’s Rights without Frontiers, Michael Matt of the Remnant newspaper, and Terry Barber, founder of Saint Joseph Communications, the Catholic Resource Center, and Lighthouse Catholic Media.
Faithful clergy are also set to attend. They include Germany’s Cardinal Gerhard Müller and Texas Bishop Joseph Strickland.
The conference will take place in the four-star A. Roma LifeStyle Hotel. The hotel is a quick 15-minute cab ride from St. Peter’s Square and about a 20-minute walk from the beautiful Doria Pamphili Villa Park. In addition, October and November are well-known to be part of Rome’s “off-season,” providing visitors with more space – and cooler temperatures – in which to make pilgrimages to the city’s spiritual and cultural treasures.