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Pro-abortion group projects message on DC basilica during March for Life

NATIONAL SHRINE OF THE BASILICA OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION WASHINGTON

Jeffrey Bruno

John Burger - published on 01/20/22 - updated on 01/21/22

Catholics for Choice uses shrine as projection screen while pro-life Catholics attend National Prayer Vigil for Life

“Pro-choice Catholics, you are not alone,” read a large sign at one of the many public events in conjunction with this year’s March for Life.

Not surprising, since there are usually a handful of pro-abortion counter-protestors at the annual march, which commemorates the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide. 

What was different about this one was that it was spread across the front facade of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. And the basilica – the largest Catholic church in America – was filled with pro-life Catholics attending Mass and the National Prayer Vigil for Life.

The Catholic Church reaching out in a merciful gesture to those in opposition to her teaching on human life? Hardly.

The message, spread across the front of the basilica like a banner headline, was being projected from a pedestrian island on Michigan Avenue by a small group from the pro-abortion advocacy group Catholics for Choice. 

“1 in 4 abortion Patients is Catholic,” proclaimed another projection, this time up and down the bell tower, alternating with others that read, “Stop stigmatizing” and “Start listening.” 

First reported on Twitter by Religion News Service national reporter Jack Jenkins, the projections included the name Catholics for Choice. John Becker, spokesman for the group, confirmed to Aleteia that “it was Catholics for Choice that carried that out.”

“We did it in tandem with the March for Life, because we felt it was important to put forward the truth that the majority of Catholics support abortion access and that the March for Life in DC gets a lot of media attention, but they don’t speak for us.”

He cited a January 2019 Pew Research article that said 64% of Catholic Democrats believe that abortion should remain legal.

Washington Cardinal Wilton Gregory, who serves as chairman of the National Shrine board of trustees, said in a statement Friday morning, “The true voice of the Church was only to be found within The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception last evening. There, people prayed and offered the Eucharist asking God to restore a true reverence for all human life. Those whose antics projected words on the outside of the church building demonstrated by those pranks that they really are external to the Church and they did so at night.”

Cardinal Gregory added the reference John 13:30 at the end of his statement, the passage in the Gospel where Judas Iscariot left the Last Supper on his way to betray Jesus. The passage concludes, “And it was night.”

Respectful protest?

Becker said the group had a permit to use the pedestrian island across the street from the basilica for the publicity stunt. “So we secured all the necessary paperwork with the city. It was all above board and we made sure we did everything by the book and respectfully,” he said of the hour-long protest.

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone and others might disagree that the protest was conducted “respectfully.”

“The attempted desecration is enormous,” Cordileone said on Twitter. “Diabolical.”

RNS’s Jenkins reported that the light show protestors was heckled by at least one man, who yelled out, “There is no such thing as a pro-choice Catholic,” and “pro-choice Catholics are going to Hell.”

In a brief interview, Catholics for Choice’s Becker admitted that the Dobbs v. Jackson case at the Supreme Court, which poses a serious challenge to Roe v. Wade, added urgency to their protest.

“Like everyone else in the country, we’re certainly aware of and tracking the Dobbs case,” he said. “We’ve been in this fight for almost as long as Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land, so we’ve been engaged from the beginning and yes, the current judicial landscape adds an extra sense of urgency, but our message has been the same.”

He said the projection was carried out by a “small group of staff. It was intentionally kept small because we wanted the message to speak for itself.”

At the Mass at the beginning of the Vigil, while Catholics for Choice was projecting its message, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, said in a homily, “Abortion is a tragic choice with lasting consequences. What is needed in such a situation is a witness to love and to life…This evening, I would like to salute those who carry forth with such ministries.

“The Church does not give up on men and women who have chosen abortion,” Lori said. “The Church seeks to bring light, healing, and hope. Thus witnessing to the beauty of life, one woman and one child at a time.”

The Catholics for Choice light show is not the only protest this month targeting a Catholic church. A pro-abortion organization in New York City is calling on supporters to show up at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan on Saturday to disrupt a Mass at 5 p.m. “Bring musical instruments/pots and pans,” says a notice on Twitter.

Tags:
Abortion
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