Catholic Leadership in DC Cancels Youth Events During the March for Life

Earlier this week, the Archdiocese of Washington issued an unexpected press release canceling the Youth Rally for Life and the Mass for Life. These two events, that brought tens of thousands of Catholic youth together, have been celebrated along with the national March for Life in Washington DC for over 25 years.

The announcement drew immediate criticism from the more outspoken pro-life bishops, with Texas Bishop Joseph Strickland issuing a poignant tweet.

The Youth Rally for Life and the Mass for Life appear to have been on a steady decline since Pope Francis named Wilton Gregory, now a Cardinal, to lead the Archdiocese of Washington.

In 2010, the Youth Rally and Mass for Life had been held in the Verizon center bringing tens of thousands of young pro-lifers from around the country together before the March for Life.

In May of 2019 Wilton Gregory was officially installed, and six months later, during the 2020 March for Life, the last large Youth Rally and Mass for Life. In 2021, the March for Life was cancelled ostensibly because of the COVID pandemic, although “leaders” of the pro-life movement still marched in small, socially distanced, groups through Washington DC.

During the 2022 March for Life, well before the Dobbs v Jackson decision had been leaked or decided, the Archdiocese of Washington celebrated a very reduced Youth Rally and Mass for Life at the Cathedral of St. Matthew, Cardinal Gregory’s church. Prior to that, the Youth Rallies had been held at the indoor stadium in Washington DC, which hosts the local NBA and NHL teams.

Francis: Dismantling Pope John Paul II’s Pro-Life Legacy

Critics of Pope Francis are pointing to the fact that, despite occasionally making statements condemning abortion, Pope Francis has been steadily dismantling Pope John Paul II’s strong pro-life legacy.

In 2016, Pope Francis shocked the pro-life community by dismantling the Pontifical Academy for Life. Francis summarily ended the terms of every member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, appointing Bishop Vincenzo Paglia – who was involved in several sex scandals both personally and by promoting inappropriate sexualized content within the church – to lead the Academy.

Since then, the Pontifical Academy for Life, has become indistinguishable from a woke social justice organization and has even appointed pro-abortion members to its ranks.

Pro-Life Leaders Silent After the Announcement

Although the Archdiocese of Washington’s press release states that the decision was made in consultation and at the behest of the other dioceses and partners involved in the Youth Rally and Mass for Life, no other organization made any announcements or offered any reason why the wildly successful national youth rally and Mass were cancelled.

During this consultation process, we heard from many dioceses who shared that they are turning their efforts to their state’s March for Life now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned.

Press release from the Archdiocese of Washington DC

Neither the official March for Life nor Jeanne Mancini, the March for Life President’s, Twitter accounts made any mention of the cancellation.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Respect Life Office made no comments about the announcement.

Students for Life and SBA Pro-Life America made no comments.

40 Days for Life also made no comments.

In fact, no other dioceses made any announcements or comments about the cancellation.

Given these facts, it is likely that the reason that none of the organizations made any announcements is that they are not in agreement with the Archdiocese of Washington’s decision to cancel the Youth Rally and Youth Mass.

The cancellations are very likely to severely impact attendance at the National March for Life as the youth were a very large part of the attendees.

American Pro-Lifer Calls on USCCB Leaders to Restore the Youth Rally and Mass for Life

This past week the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops elected three DC Metro region bishops to the top positions of the organization representing the dioceses of the United States.

Archbishop Broglio, of the US Archdiocese for the Military Services was elected to a three year presidency, while Baltimore Bishop William Lori was elected as Vice-President.

Because Bishop Lori had previously headed the Bishop’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, now Bishop Burbidge of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia will step in to that roll.

Bishop Burbidge has repeatedly made news as he has taken a staunch position to defend the right to life from so-called Catholic pro-abortion politicians.

The Catholic World Report reported that:

In August 2021, Burbidge was the first U.S. bishop to publish a catechetical letter on the Church’s teaching related to transgenderism, calling for charity while also discouraging practices such as gender “transitioning” and using gendered pronouns disconnected from someone’s sex.

More recently, in May of this year, Burbidge issued a Communion ban against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Arlington Diocese because of her pro-abortion stance. His action extended the ban Cordileone issued in San Francisco, her home diocese.

In October, Burbidge denounced U.S. President Joe Biden’s stated intention to codify a national right to abortion should Democrats win control of Congress, saying, “The role of Congress is to pass laws that serve the common good — and yet this priority of the president only brings about pain and death.”

Please join The American ProLifer in petitioning newly elected USCCB pro-life chari, Bishop Burbidge to offer the diocese of Arlington, his home diocese which is located just minutes from the March for Life, to host the Youth Rally and Youth Mass for Life.

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