Third Rome March for Life draws between 30-40 thousand
ROME, May 13, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – “Stop killing the future,” “Abortion is homicide,” “Every abortion is a dead baby.” These were among the stern messages carried on signs in yesterday’s Marcia per la Vita (March for Life) Nazionale in Rome.
But the faces of those carrying them were anything but stern. The cheerful crowd, led by a marching band and overwhelmingly composed of young people, smiled, laughed, prayed, sang and chanted as they marched through the Historic Centre of Rome, from the Colosseum to St. Peter’s Piazza, to demand an end to legalized abortion that has taken nearly 6 million lives in Italy alone since 1978.
March organizer Virginia Coda Nunziante told LifeSiteNews.com that the dramatic increase in numbers in only three years, from 1000 two years ago to 15,000 last year to between 30 and 40 thousand yesterday, is an indication that the country is ready to revisit the issue.
Today, she said, 1700 years after the Roman Empire legalized Christianity, “the anti-Christian persecutions …are renewed, and not only in the distant regions of Asia and Africa, but also in Europe and in the West.
“The dictatorship of relativism is before our eyes. It imposes anti-natural and anti-Christian [demands] and … discriminates against those who resist this process of moral degradation,” Nunziante told the gathered crowds.
Among the Italians and people from all over the world who took part in the March were the Mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno who marched with the first banner at the front of the column; Cardinal Raymond Burke, an American pro-life hero and head of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, and Gianna Emanuela Molla, the daughter of canonised saint Gianna Beretta Molla.
The crowd was mostly composed of representatives of parishes (brought into the city from 45 different towns across Italy), religious institutions, civil society organizations and political parties, doctors’ groups and student, disability and human rights organisations.
Maurizio Gasparri, the president of Italy’s Senate who also attended, said, “The defense of life from conception to its natural end is a duty of institutions at every level.”
An American family from California who had come to Rome to celebrate their 25th anniversary heard about the March on the Internet. They told LifeSiteNews.com it became a highlight of their trip. “I’d always thought of the Colosseum as a place of death, and I think it’s funny that 2000 years later we’re starting the March for Life here,” they said.
A Chinese seminarian who is in Rome to study bioethics, told LifeSiteNews.com that he hopes to be part of a movement to turn around the Culture of Death in his own country when he goes home. He had made a sign to carry in the March that read “pro-life” in Chinese. “I’m studying to strengthen my faith, through pro-life,” he said.
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He said that the Chinese government recently issued a statement boasting of over 300 million abortions since the start of the One Child policy.
“They don’t know what they are doing. It’s a different kind of reasoning, but it’s a great mistake. The greatest mistake made in human history. Sooner or later we’ll pay a greater price for that.”
He asked not to be identified, saying he could face “trouble” from his government if he was identified on the Internet, but allowed his photo to be taken holding his sign. “I hope to go back to China, but as you know there are many challenges for us. But there is a great mission for us there.” He added, “We are all in this together, in the same boat in this global village.”
Pro-life advocates hope that the Marcia per la Vita Nazionale and its astonishing growth will raise the profile of the issue in public, particularly among the political classes for whom it is largely a dead letter. Law 194 was passed in 1978 and though Italy maintains one of the lower abortion rates of the EU, nearly 6 million unborn children have been killed by abortion since its passage. In that time, March organizers said that the abortion mentality has seeped into the culture. This is backed by a poll taken earlier this year by Eurispes that found 64 per cent of Italians favor legalizing the abortion drug regime RU 486.
Nunziante told LifeSiteNews.com that the Rome march has international significance. “This is exactly the meaning of our march because Rome is the centre of Christianity. I think it’s very important to have people coming from all around the world to give a sign that we are all united. The defense of life is something that happens in the whole world and we have to be all tied together.
“And from Rome, from the centre of Christianity, it gives a clear impact to the whole world,” she said.
With the ruin of the Colosseum looming over her, she added that the location is doubly significant. “Innocent people were killed here during the Roman persecutions,” she said. “And now there is another persecution against those who cannot defend themselves.”
In her speech, Nunziante reminded the participants that in the Roman Empire abortion and infanticide were practiced “as normal,” but that with the advent of Christianity these were condemned, as was slavery.
“But today we have it instead as state law,” she said. “We are here today to affirm the right to publicly defend those that Benedict XVI has called non-negotiable values, beginning with the fundamental right to life of the innocent. Without the right to life there is no other law.”
Massimo Viglione, the editor of the magazine Radici Cristiane (Christian Roots) said that the marches “do not solve problems. It is true. Public demonstrations cannot be decisive. It is true. But they serve.”
“They serve those who attend them. And they serve society.”
“We are in a time in which the error has become truth, the good has become evil, what is normal is made abnormal. As the great Chesterton said in the first half of the 1900s, ‘There will come a time in which we must fight to prove that in the summer the leaves are green.’
“We got there,” he said. “To demonstrate that which is obvious, we must demonstrate publicly.”
Among those giving speeches from the international pro-life movement were Jeanne Monahan, president of the March for Life in Washington; Lila Rose of Live Action; Geoffrey Strickland, of Priests for Life; Dr. Xavier Dor, a physician convicted 15 times in France for fighting against abortion; Blondine Serieyx, representative of the French pro-family group Manif Pour Tous that has organized hundreds of thousands to march in defense of natural marriage; Antony Burkhard, representative of Droit de Naître, another French association committed to the defense of life, and Federica Iannace Swift, the Irish Youth Defence.
Archbishop Giampaolo Crepaldi of Trieste, who recently fell afoul of homosexualist activists for his defense of natural marriage, gave a speech at the Marcia per la Vita conference on Saturday, and several other Italian bishops sent greetings by letter. Among these were Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family; Archbishop Luigi Negri of Ferrara-Comacchio and Abbot of Pomposa and Zenti Joseph, bishop of Verona.