Defending life: It’s something people of many faith traditions are doing together Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 -- 12:00 AM

In the 40 years since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, many people in the Catholic Church have been in the forefront of the pro-life movement to counteract the court’s decision.

Over the years, however, it’s been obvious that people of many different faith traditions have also been involved in defending the right to life. I can remember Lutherans, Baptists, evangelical Christians, and others who attended the annual Respect Life march at our state Capitol in January in past years, followed by an ecumenical prayer service at St. Raphael Cathedral in Madison.

This might have been the first time some people of other faiths had entered a Catholic church! We Catholics also had the opportunity to see how other denominations prayed and sang.

People of many different faiths have also been active in pro-life outreach efforts such as CareNet Pregnancy Center, Elizabeth House, Pregnancy Helpline, the Women’s Care Center, and Vigil for Life in the Madison area. I have been impressed by the commitment of so many people to these efforts to assist parents in choosing life for their unborn babies and to help those in need after the babies are born.

Interfaith pro-life efforts

Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life,  has also observed these interfaith efforts. In a column called “Defending Life in Unity” (, Father Pavone points out, “Each year, when the sad date of the Roe v. Wade decision (January 22) is observed, Christians are in the midst of also observing the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18 to 25). This providential convergence teaches us something both about the pro-life cause and about Christian unity.

“In regard to the pro-life cause, it brings to mind Pope John Paul II’s words in The Gospel of Life:

“Service of the Gospel of life is thus an immense and complex task. This service increasingly appears as a valuable and fruitful area for positive cooperation with our brothers and sisters of other Churches and ecclesial communities, in accordance with the practical ecumenism which the Second Vatican Council authoritatively encouraged. It also appears as a providential area for dialogue and joint efforts with the followers of other religions and with all people of good will.

“No single person or group has a monopoly on the defense and promotion of life. These are everyone’s task and responsibility. … [O]nly the concerted efforts of all those who believe in the value of life can prevent a setback of unforeseeable consequences for civilization.”

Marching and praying in solidarity

Father Pavone notes in his column that this year, on January 25, the day that the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity concludes, Pope Benedict XVI will preside at an interdenominational service in Rome as an official event of the Year of Faith. On that very same day, Christians will march together in the streets of Washington, D.C., for the annual March for Life.

Says Father Pavone, “On that morning, I will preach at the interdenominational National Prayer Service that will mark this occasion. It will be held in DAR Constitution Hall from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. (see We will have leaders and representatives from denominations across the entire spectrum of Christianity.

“Then later in the afternoon, men and women of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign — an interdenominational effort — will give public testimony at the steps of the Supreme Court to their experience at the pain of abortion and the healing that comes in Jesus Christ.”

Father Pavone concludes, “This joint worship, action, and witness is what Christian unity is all about, and it is at the heart of being Catholic.”

I couldn’t agree more. I urge members of the Catholic Church to join in prayer in solidarity with people of all faiths in Washington, D.C., and throughout the country. Let us continue praying and working together to restore respect for all human life in our nation.