My whirlwind trip to the nation's capital is over. Left right after Mass Wednesday morning, hit DC around 5, dinner with my nephew, his wife and their son, then met up with a couple of Cincinnati priests downtown. Up for Mass at the Verizon Center with Archbishop Wuerl and everyone else--that's a combination "youth rally" plus Mass--then the seminarians from Cincinnati and I had lunch on the way to the march, then I found the Lehman Catholic group and we hung out a bit until we got marching. Started the Rosary, prayed all 20 decades, with help from Fathers Earl Fernandes and James Reutter--Father Jason Bedel was going to lead some of the mysteries, but he got way ahead of us, so that didn't work out. We ran out of mysteries before the march ended, so I'm thinking about five or ten new mysteries to suggest to Pope Benedict (next time I see him!).
Our parishes' coordinator of religious education and youth ministry drove back with me--he came up on the Lehman bus, all night. We decided to get something to eat before we left around 6 pm, and because it took forever to get out of DC at that hour--traffic was gummed up all the way up I-270 until it met I-70, in Frederick, Maryland!--we didn't get home until 3 am.
After sleeping a little later, I feel just fine, back in the office, and thankfully, not too much stuff piled on my desk.
The March is the same every year, except its numbers rise and fall; they were higher, I'm sure--I have a hard time gauging the crowd from my vantage-point--because of the election results. I was glad that very little of the signage or chanting was antagonistic to our new president--I think that is counterproductive, especially on his second day in office. I'm not saying there can't be the normal rough-and-tumble of politics, but I do not want to see President Obama "paid back" with a vitriole similar to what was visited on President George Bush. And it's practical--how does alienating tens of millions of African-Americans, who otherwise agree with us, help our cause?
A small matter: I noticed that the Obama White House waited until after the march--judging by press reports--to raise the spectre of changes in executive orders on abortion. Everyone knew it was coming; it might have happened the day he was inaugurated, which--if memory serves--is what President Bill Clinton did. Instead, the Obama folks chose to wait just a little bit, and not grind prolifers' noses into it. (CORRECTION: I just read, via a link at Rich Leonardi's "Ten Reasons," that President Obama signed an abortion-related order on Thursday, sorry I'd missed that report.)
Another matter--I read at the Washington Post today that "Federal regulators have approved the first experiment testing human embryonic stem cells on people, officials announced today." Connected to President Obama? Well, the article adds, "While the timing of the FDA approval led some to speculate that the two moves were related, Geron's work had not been restricted by the ban. The cells being used by the company were derived from leftover embryos at fertility clinics before the ban was implemented in 2001."
I realize a lot of prolifers are very negative about the near-term prospects, but I believe things are starting to get better and will continue to get better as we go forward. Prolife activism is going to continue to swell, affecting not only marches in D.C. and federal policy, but policy at the state and local level as well.
This weekend, millions of Mass-goers will be asked to sign postcards to Congress, opposing the so-called "Freedom of Choice" Act; and every indication I have is that while the abortion lobby wants it and will demand it, the White House and Congress know it's becoming more and more politically radioactive. Actually, you and I want a recorded vote on that, because a vote for that extreme legislation will be a huge, political liability for anyone not running in a super-safe seat--especially in the U.S. Senate. We have to do the work--we have to write the letters and sign the petitions--but I'm convinced we can stop that legislation, and just waging the battle will mobilize prolifers, and make us stronger than before.
What I saw at the March tells me we have a lot going for us.