WASHINGTON, DC — Dozens of Catholic U.S. Military personnel and members of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS), walked in the 50th annual March for Life on Friday along the National Mall. It was the first March for Life since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on June 24, 2022, overruling Roe v. Wade (1973), which had declared a constitutional right to abortion. The AMS delegation included cadets from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.
His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), led the delegation through the heart of the nation’s capital under mostly clear skies in mild winter weather. Among those walking the route were Father Mark Rutherford, J.C.L., AMS Judicial Vicar; Father S. Matthew Gray, AMS Director of Vocations; Brother Carlos Hernandez, O.F.M. Cap., who serves in campus ministry at West Point; and Chaplains Father Curtiss P. Dwyer, CHC, LCDR, USN, currently stationed at the Naval Academy, Father David R. Kirk, CH (MAJ), USA, and Father Christopher J. Yakkel, CHC Capt USAF.
The peaceful demonstration in favor of the dignity of the human person from conception to natural death was joined by tens of thousands along the one-mile route, beginning on the National Mall at 12th Street Northwest and continuing up Constitution Avenue, turning south on 3rd Street to Independence Avenue and proceeding eastward all the way to the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building. The March was followed by “Silent No More” testimonies outside the Supreme Court. The theme of March for Life 2023 was “Next Steps: Marching in a Post-Roe America.” According to organizers, the theme “emphasizes the need in the absence of Roe v. Wade for pro-life advocates to continue boldly marching in defense of the unborn – both on the state and federal level – and advocating for a minimum federal standard to protect innocent life against radical pro-abortion legislation.”
Just before leading the AMS delegation to the National Mall for the March, Archbishop Broglio, in his homily at the daily noon Mass in the main chapel of the Edwin Cardinal O’Brien Pastoral Center in Northeast Washington, told marchers their demonstration is primarily a testimony to the defense of the dignity of the human person. It is authentically pro-life:
“Today’s prayer, and the March, are all about the dignity of the human person from conception to natural death. We reverence and defend life in the womb to the tomb because we believe that such respect flows from the innate dignity of the human person. By the same token we strive to assist the poor, to ease the tensions provoked by racism, to care for the migrant, to support Ukraine against unjust aggression, and to foster human development here in our country and abroad. All of those activities stem from the fact that Almighty God created the human person in His image and likeness…. Our activities today are not so much against as they are for, because we all want to share life in abundance with the Lord.”
March for Life 2023 followed a rally at the starting point. Speakers included Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, VA, Chairman of the USCCB Pro-life Activities Committee; actor Jonathan Roumie, best known for his award-winning role as “Jesus” in the groundbreaking series, The Chosen, a drama about the life of Jesus Christ; Pro-Football Hall of Famer Coach Tony Dungy; Dr. Christina Francis, CEO-elect of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG); Ms. Gina Tomes, Director of the Bethlehem House Maternity Home; Sister Mary Casey of the Sisters of Life; Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, who won the Dobbs case; U.S. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana; and Congressman Christopher H. Smith, Co-Chair of the Congressional Pro-life Caucus. The rally was preceded by a concert featuring the musical group, We Are Messengers.