ROME – Popes generally find a way to support the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., and Pope Francis didn’t disappoint: On Friday he applauded the hundreds of thousands who participated in the event, saying that nothing can justify terminating the life of “an innocent child growing in the mother’s womb.”
In a message dated Dec. 6, 2016, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, says that “His Holiness Pope Francis sends warm greetings and the assurance of his closeness in prayer to the many thousands of young people from throughout America” gathered in Washington.
The pope, Parolin continues, is “profoundly grateful for this impressive testimony to the sacredness of every human life.”
Quoting from Francis’s document on the family, Amoris Laetitia, the letter sent to those marching says that “so great is the value of a human life, and so inalienable the right to life of an innocent child growing in the mother’s womb, that no alleged right … can justify a decision to terminate that life.”
The letter, addressed to Bishop Michael Francis Burbidge of Arlington, was made public by the Diocese of Arlington through Twitter. It’s signed by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, papal representative in the country.
It was Pierre, former nuncio in Mexico, who received the message sent by Parolin in the pope’s name.
— Diocese of Arlington (@arlingtonchurch) January 27, 2017
This year’s edition is not the first time Francis has sent a message of support to those who rally in D.C. For instance, in 2014, he too used his Twitter account to say he joined “the March for Life in Washington with my prayers. May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable.”
The following year, also through Twitter, he even used the March’s hashtag, #marchforlife:
Every Life is a Gift. #marchforlife
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) January 22, 2015
The annual event in Washington marks the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in 1973, and people from all over the country participate in the rally on the National Mall and then march to the Supreme Court.
Earlier in the month, Pope Francis had joined the March for Life held in Paris, France. In a message that was also sent through the papal representative in the country, the pontiff called for the Catholic Church to never tire of “being an advocate for life and must not neglect to proclaim that human life is to be protected unconditionally from the moment of conception until natural death.”
The pontiff also urged participants of the Jan. 22 rally to “work tirelessly for the building of a civilization of love and a culture of life.”