|Quebec City Cardinal Ouellet addresses the National March for Life crowd, while Ottawa Archbishop Prendergast holds the umbrella and Toronto Archbishop Collins looks on.
(LifeSiteNews.com) – Under the threat of dark clouds and sometimes through pouring rain, a record-smashing crowd of 12,000 Canadians today gathered on Parliament Hill on May 14, 2009, for a rally and then marched through the streets of Ottawa in protest against 40 years of legalized abortion in Canada. The number of participants significantly exceeded last year’s record-breaking crowd of 8,000, making it by far the largest crowd in the 12 years that the march has taken place. (Editor’s note: Several Pilgrims of St. Michael also took part in this event.) Those in attendance included 18 Members of Parliament.
The organizers were especially pleased by the unprecedented show of support from the Canadian Catholic bishops, with at least 12 bishops celebrating at Holy Mass. This was the first year in the history of the march that the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has thrown its official support behind the event. Here is the speech given by Marc Cardinal Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec City and Primate of the Catholic Church in Canada (translated by LifeSiteNews.com):
Dear friends of life and the family, we are living a historical moment in the fight for human rights in our country. After forty years of exile from the culture of life, we come on Parliament Hill to claim the return of the right to life of the human being in gestation in Canada. If our country is envied throughout the world in many respects, it is at the lowest rung of the ladder when it comes to the protection of the most fragile human beings, those who are not yet born. We cannot remain silent before this injustice and this violation of the first human right that is the right to life. This right is disregarded in our country more than anywhere else in the western world. This is sad, shameful and unacceptable for the moral conscience of humanity and for the reputation of our country.
We come from all places and all social categories. Our political and religious allegiances are diverse. Numerous civil and religious associations take part in this historical gathering for life. As Canadians, we are conscious that a moral assessment is necessary to operate the moral redress that must occur in order to put an end to the domination of the Culture of death and open the future to the Culture of Life. A Culture of life that promotes the acknowledgment of the human being in the maternal womb and the respect of all human life at all stages of development. I congratulate and thank you for manifesting today for this noble cause. Your courageous and persevering commitment prepares a better future for our families and our society. For the family is the privileged place to welcome and protect human life.
As Catholic Bishop and Primate of Canada, I exhort the consciences of all Canadians that the values of life be better recognised and promoted in our families, our schools and our laws. Let us multiply the initiatives to come to the aid of women in distress who are in need of counsel and support when faced with a difficult pregnancy. Let us also help women who are hurt by a painful experience of abortion and who have difficulty regaining their well-being, morally and psychologically. The taboo surrounding the serious consequences of abortion must cease and objective information must be offered women in such situations and their partners.
I urge our representatives in Parliament, who assume the task of administrating justice and the common good, to adopt or amend laws so as to protect life instead of eliminating it. The legal vacuum in this area facilitates the decline of values, the darkening of moral conscience and the proliferation of violence. This can be seen with the serious difficulties our educators must grapple with in our schools.
Our gathering on Parliament Hill is a call to solidarity in favour of life, a call to promote the value of the family as the cradle of life. We extend our hand to all our fellow citizens of good will so that we may form a united and peaceful front in favour of the Culture of Life.
Young and old, men and women, associations and organisations, public managers or private entrepreneurs, Church people or civil rights activist, we are all responsible for the respect of human rights in our country. Let us go forward hand-in-hand in favour of the most fragile beings in our society, unborn children, the elderly, the handicapped, the poor in various respects.
This rendezvous for life on this 40th Anniversary of the Omnibus Bill is a call to awareness and action on all fronts. The government of Canada, like others in the West, has taken swift and draconian measures to redress the financial and economic crisis. The time has come to react to the moral crisis that our country is experiencing with regards to values and the right to life. The time has come to take a stand and to reclaim justice for the victims. The time has come to act for a return of the Culture of life.
God bless the peacemakers and the upholders of justice. May He help us operate this moral and political redress. Thank you!
Marc Cardinal Ouellet