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Pope prays God will strengthen commitment to defending all human life

Pope Francis holds a baby during his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican Jan. 18, 2023. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

(UPDATE: correction that papal message was sent to USCCB president, and this year is the 50th march — not 50th anniversary — of the March for Life since 1974.)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As the Biden administration and state governments look at ways to expand or restrict access to abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling, Pope Francis prayed that God would strengthen people’s commitment to protecting human life at every stage.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said Pope Francis is “deeply grateful for the faithful witness shown publicly over the years by all who promote and defend the right to life of the most innocent and vulnerable members of our human family.”

The message was sent to the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese of the Military Services, to be read at the opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life Jan. 19 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. The main celebrant of the Mass was Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

The vigil preceded the annual March for Life, which was celebrating its 50th march in 2023 under the theme, “Next Steps: Marching into a Post-Roe America,” looking at the pro-life work that remains after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and ruled that women do not have a constitutional right to access abortion.

“The building of a truly just society rests upon respect for the sacred dignity of every person and the welcome given to each one as a brother or sister,” Cardinal Parolin wrote. “In this regard, His Holiness trusts that Almighty God will strengthen the commitment of all, especially the young, to persevere in their efforts aimed at protecting human life in all its stages, especially through adequate legal measures enacted at every level of society.”

“To those taking part in the March for Life, and to all who support them by their prayers and sacrifices, the Holy Father gladly imparts his blessing as a pledge of strength and joy in the Lord,” the message said.

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