Monday, November 4, 2013

Pro-life + Pro-migrant Memorial Service

Pro-life + Pro-migrant Memorial Service, January 19, 2013

In 1986-87, eight people retrieved hundreds of bodies from dumpsters in back of four abortion clinics in the DC area.  The bodies were buried respectfully: one outside the Portiuncula at Franciscan University in Steubenville, most at Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax.  But before we lined up church support, we buried 75 bodies in unconsecrated and unmarked land.

There will be a memorial service for these children, including prayer for their mothers, on the Sunday before the March for Life.  The service will be from 1 pm to 3 pm, Sunday, January 19, 2014, at St. Paul Catholic Church in Damascus, Maryland.  The service will include (1) Mass, and (2) a time of reflection and prayer, with music and speakers. After the service at St Paul, anyone who wishes to visit the grave site is welcome, weather permitting.  Then there will be an informal reception near the grave site (details to be announced).

The service is principally a pro-life (anti-abortion) event, but it will include prayer for all people buried in unmarked graves.  That is, it’s a memorial service for unborn children, but also for migrants.  There will be several speakers, including a pro-immigration speaker.

January 19 is the 100th World Day for Migrants and Refugees.  Each year, the Vatican leads and encourages a day of prayer for peace, a day for youth, a day for the sick, a day for vocations.  There are a dozen such days; it is a short list.  The best known are World Youth Day and World Day of Peace, but the World Day for Migrants and Refugees is one of the oldest, going back 100 years.  So it is especially appropriate to remember migrants on that day.

In Maryland, the unfortunate division between pro-lifers and pro-migration activists was made obvious in our two referenda in 2012.  Immigration and same sex marriage were both on the Maryland ballot.  The Catholic bishops took very strong stands on both issues, but their combination of positions was not common; they were pro-immigrant, and against re-defining marriage.  The leaders of the fight against immigration, opposing the bishops on immigration, were well known pro-lifers.  And most of the leaders of immigration advocacy, supporting the bishops on immigration, took clear positions in favor of same-sex marriage.  (Abortion and marriage are not the same issue, of course; but there is a very high correlation of positions.)

I find the split bizarre.  Nothing in Scripture or the history of the Church or the teaching of the popes and bishops for the past century encourages such a split, pitting personal morality against social justice.  So it seems important to me to re-build ancient links.  And on January 19, 2014, we will re-shape a pro-life event a little, and reach out to pro-immigration activists.

The Church is one.