I am writing this with a very red face. That is not due to embarrassment but to the fact that I have just returned from the “March for Life” in Ottawa, and we sat in the blazing sun for some three hours outside the Parliament Buildings. As most readers know, May 14 was the thirtieth anniversary of that “Day of Infamy” when a Catholic Prime Minister and his parliament passed a “law” allowing the murder of babies in their mother’s wombs, which has resulted in the murder of some two million Canadian babies and the ruined lives of countless mothers.
Needless to say, it was not a day of celebration but of sad remembrance. Nevertheless it was an occasion for joy to meet so many people who had travelled many, many miles by bus, car, train, and air to demonstrate their strong support for the pro-life movement and their belief in the sanctity of all human life.
The official program began on May 13 with a luncheon at the Ottawa Congress Centre, where we met with MPs and senators from the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus, several of whom delivered inspiring speeches. At 3 p.m., we gathered outside the Canadian Medical Association headquarters for a picket calling for the restoration of the Hippocratic Oath. At 4:30 we had Mass at St. Patrick’s Basilica and it was inspiring to look down at a full church. Fr Jim Whalen, national director of Priests for Life (Canada), was chief celebrant and preached the homily. The Basilica is a beautiful traditional church, built in 1855. We were cordially welcomed by the pastor, Msgr David Corkery.
From 5:30 to 9:00 p.m., we enjoyed a very entertaining social evening in the church hall. It gave us the opportunity to meet and chat with so many other pro-lifers, some of whom I had never met and others I had not seen for several years. My chief problem is remembering the names of people whose faces I know but I have not met for some time. But in most cases I blundered through by getting a glimpse at their name tags. During and after a very delicious meal, we were wonderfully entertained by the singing and violin playing of Phil Main and Pat Willbond. Spellbound
There were also some speeches. The most fascinating was given by Therese Ferri, a lawyer. Holding her fourteenth child in her arms, she held us spellbound with a beautiful talk on the joys of married life and the glory of a large family. One could only wish that it could be broadcast the length and breadth of Canada! (Readers should note that Mrs Ferri’s talk will be reprinted in a future issue of The Interim.)
Friday May 14 began at 9:00 a.m., with a Protestant prayer service at the Metropolitan Bible Church and a Mass in St. Patrick’s Basilica. At 11:15 a.m., we gathered at the Supreme Court building on Wellington Street. We were led in prayer by Rev. Ken Campbell followed by songs and music by Phil Main. At 12 noon we began the March for Life to Parliament Hill, carrying the usual posters bearing the accustomed words, “Abortion kills babies,” “Stop Abortion,” and so on.
How many people were present? I spoke to two police officers and asked them if they could give me a ballpark estimate. Their guess was about 5,000 people. Another estimate was 2,200, and another, given by an Ottawa radio station, was 3,000. I believe there were somewhere between two to four thousand.
Needless to say, we would like to have a million. But anything over 2,000 posters and a similar number of voices singing and praying is impressive. And even though the sun was blazing down on us, it was undoubtedly better than having rain, and there was a great atmosphere of friendship and enthusiasm.
There was quite a number of speakers, all of whom were impressive, not only by their eloquence but also by the diversity of representation. I shall mention those who come to mind. We had Rabbi Reuven Bulka, representing the Jewish community, an Imam, representing the Muslim community, Anglican Catholic Bishop Robert Mercer, Pastor Bill Buitenwerf of the Eastgate Alliance Church, Fr James Whalen, Theresa Bell of Human Life International, Jim Hughes of Campaign Life Coalition, Sr Lucille Durocher of St. Joseph Workers for Life and Family, Fr Van Hee, S.J., and the famous Linda Gibbons.