SIGNS reading “Choose Life” flagged a crowd of tens of thousands, formed from an international backdrop of religions and creeds, young and old, and united at the March for Life 2020 in Washington DC on January 24.
Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Richard Umbers was among the demonstrators flooding the National Mall and said he saw “huge numbers” turning out in favour of life.
He said there was a vibe of “overwhelming joy”.
“It’s a wonderful experience for the Australians who come here to see that it’s a mainstream opinion,” Bishop Umbers, who is the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference delegate for life, said.
Bishop Umbers had been to the annual Washington march last year on a stopover to World Youth Day 2019 in Panama.
“This year we came deliberately just for this,” he said.
He said to march for life was an opportunity to stand up for principles even when they were not popular.
“It’s an opportunity to really show Christian hope and Christian witness,” he said.
“I think even in the contrast that you see between, at times for whatever reason, the anger that is expressed contrasted with just people in prayer and pretty much saying life is worthwhile.
“It’s a tremendous witness to give to our society.”
Bishop Umbers heard United States President Donald Trump speak at the rally, the first president to do so, and said his speech was “explicitly Christian” and “very forward in defending life and the positive aspects of motherhood”.
He said the speech defended the “dignity of each and every human person”.
In his speech, Mr Trump thanked the crowd and said every child was a “sacred” gift from God.
“The life movement is led by strong women, amazing faith leaders, and brave students who carry on the legacy of pioneers before us who fought to raise the conscience of our nation and uphold the rights of our citizens,” Mr Trump said.
“You embrace mothers with care and compassion.
“You are empowered by prayer and motivated by your unselfish love.”
Among the trumpets and the chants, a group of Australians processed through the mall with an inflatable kangaroo leading the way.
Bishop Umbers said one of the reasons he brought Australians to the march was to build up awareness for life in youth groups and education systems but also to develop the beginnings of an organisation for activism in Sydney and Australia.
He said Sydney had its own Roe Vs Wade moment with the passage of the legislation permitting abortion in New South Wales late last year.
“We saw the thousands of people who turned up to protest and as an ecumenical gesture as well because it was Anglican, a range of Christians – I’d love to see us being able to replicate (that) on an annual basis filled with the same kind of positive message and joy,” he said.
“It really is about loving women and children.
“I think what you see here, any kind of protest here is drowned out because the numbers are just so big.
“In Australia, it would be different; you’d be copping it.
“But, that’s the kind of witness at times we’re called to give.”
Cherish Life Queensland executive director Teeshan Johnson was at the march and said despite the “heaviness” of the abortion issue, there were smiling faces everywhere.
“What we are seeing now is the fruit of decades of prayers and pro-life action by people who love God and the unborn,” she said.
“Time is up for abortion.
“It’s not without a fight, but there is really is a momentum I have not seen in my life.”