When the call went out for men to march and pray for the unborn in Baltimore on Monday, Gabriel Vance and his extended family turned out in droves.
A caravan of 20 of his family members made the seven-hour trek from Columbus, Ohio, including his own three boys, his brothers-in-law, and their sons.
“The greatest social issue we face is the issue of abortion, because it takes the lives of 2,300 human beings every day in America, and 200,000 human beings every day in our world,” said Vance, 26, who co-founded the pro-life group Catholics for Life with his wife Anna earlier this year.
“The Catholic Church,” he said, “needs to be taking a stand against that.” And that means Catholic men — bishops, priests, deacons, and laymen — can’t remain silent, he added
Approximately 200 men and boys from across the country took part in the pro-life Men’s March on Monday. Held to coincide with the start of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ fall assembly, the march began in front of a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic and ended with the recitation of the rosary and speeches outside the Marriott Waterfront hotel, where the bishops are meeting this week.
Some of the youngest participants donned snow suits and mittens, because it was a cold, blustery November day, but the men and older boys marched in suits and ties, as the organizers requested. “We’re not here as protesters,” explained participant Larry Cirignano. “It was a simple message of Catholic men in support of life.”
But there also was a message marchers sought to deliver to the bishops. Signs and speeches called on the leaders of the Catholic Church in the U.S. to enforce Canon 915 of the Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law, which says, in part, that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin” should not be admitted to Holy Communion.
One of the chief items on the bishops’ agenda this week will be a vote on a proposed new document on the Eucharist. Though the document grew out of discussions over whether adamantly pro-abortion Catholic politicians, such as President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, ought to be allowed to receive Communion, the draft text under consideration doesn’t include any reference to politicians, nor any criteria for denying the sacrament in such cases.
“We simply want them to live the faith and fulfill the sacred offices that they hold,” said Jim Havens, a Catholic radio talk show host in Fort Myers, Fla. who co-organized Monday’s march with Father Stephen Imbarrato, a pro-life activist.
“Canon 915 is there. If it applies in any situation, it certainly applies with pro-abortion politicians. They have been talked to many, many times. They’re obstinate. It’s public, manifest grave sin, and then they’re still going forward and receiving the Holy Eucharist,” Havens said.
“We cannot say this is OK. Out of charity, out of love for them, as well as out of love for others, we have to say no, we have to apply Canon 915,” he said.
Havens said he disagrees with those bishops who believe withholding Communion from pro-abortion politicians would politicize or “weaponize” the sacrament.
“This is not about politics. This is about morality. These are real people being murdered. So we have to push to make [abortion] illegal and unthinkable,” he said. “Not because it’s politics, but because it’s moral; it’s the morally right thing to do.”
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