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‘American Papist’ calls young Catholics to greater pro-life commitment

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More than 300 young adult Catholics gathered for a pro-life rally Jan. 19 at Arizona State University's Memorial Union. Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted led a eucharistic procession to All Saints Catholic Newman Center after then rally. (J.D. Long-Garcia/CATHOLIC SUN)

More than 300 young adult Catholics gathered for a pro-life rally Jan. 19 at Arizona State University’s Memorial Union in Tempe. Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted led a eucharistic procession to All Saints Catholic Newman Center after the rally. (J.D. Long-Garcia/CATHOLIC SUN)

TEMPE — Don’t hide that you’re pro-life, Catholic blogger Thomas Peters challenged a crowd of 300 young Catholics gathered Jan. 19 at Arizona State University’s Memorial Union for the annual Youth and Young Adult Rally.

Catholic blogger Thomas Peters, known as the "American Papist" to his followers on www.catholicvote.org, was the keynote speaker at the Jan. 19 Youth and Young Adult Rally for Life. (J.D. Long-Garcia/CATHOLIC SUN)

Catholic blogger Thomas Peters, known as the “American Papist” on www.catholicvote.org, was the keynote speaker at the Jan. 19 Youth and Young Adult Rally for Life. (J.D. Long-Garcia/CATHOLIC SUN)

“Abortion has to end, and I believe that through our work, it can end in this generation,” said Peters, who blogs as the “American Papist” for CatholicVote.org and is the cultural director of the National Organization for Marriage. “Don’t confine yourself to Facebook and Twitter. Write your local paper and find media platforms. And let prayer be your constant companion.”

The event was one of several that marked the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which effectively legalized abortion on a national level Jan. 22, 1973. Since then, 55 million unborn children have been killed by abortion.

“The truth is we are winning the abortion question, even as the deaths pile up year after year,” Peters said. “Roe v. Wade was a Supreme Court decision that totally changed the political landscape in America. But since then, hardworking people have been working to establish a pro-life culture at a grassroots level.”

Peters promoted pro-life groups like LiveAction and the Susan B. Anthony List during his talk, and encouraged “trolling” on Planned Parenthood social media pages — spreading the pro-life message in pro-abortion territory.

“Raise the volume,” said Peters, @AmericanPapist. “Raise the decibal level on your pro-lifeness. If you do one pro-life thing a month, I’m asking you to do two pro-life things a month. If you do something pro-life every single day, I want you to do something more effective every day.”

Pro-lifers can equip themselves with the tools and information they need, can get involved in pro-life communities on and off line and do little things that are pro-life every single day. Peters asked those gathered to write something pro-life on Twitter or Facebook with their smartphones.

Alex Danovich tweeted a Blessed Pope John Paul II quote: “A nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope.” Gilberto Arciniega tweeted: “I’m pro-life!!!!!!!!”

@_Nayelixo tweeted: “‘Thank you mom for giving me life!’ Everyone deserves a chance to say that!”

Fr. Rob Clements, director of All Saints Catholic Newman Center — who tweeted a compliment of Peters via @Fr_RobC — said abortion has basically become “the primary method of birth control” since Roe v. Wade.

“It has divided a nation,” Fr. Clements said of the decision. “It has divided Christians. The deeper problem in ‘the right to choose’ mentality is that reveals despair.”

Trent Horn, an apologist with Catholic Answers and former coordinator in the Marriage and Respect Life Office, came back to the Valley for the event. He introduced a ceremony in which someone born in each year since Roe v. Wade would come up and place a rose in a vase on stage.

“I think it’s OK to at first be sad and pray,” he said. “We must pay respect to the human lives that were lost.”

As the years flashed on the screen, so did the number of abortions. The yearly total eclipsed 1 million in 1975 and hasn’t gone below that threshold since.

The final rose, which was particularly poignant, was placed in the vase by a pregnant woman.

Mike Phelan, director of the Marriage and Respect Life Office, said “the pro-life movement is winning.” He pointed to the legislative success the Arizona Catholic Conference has helped bring about. Phelan also praised free ultrasounds as a “living-saving” service to pregnant mothers.

“We have a lot to be hopeful about,” Phelan said. “The pro-life person has to be a person of action.”

J.D. Long-Garcia is the former editor of The Catholic Sun. He joined the staff in 2004. J.D., a lay Dominican, studied journalism and psychology at Arizona State University, philosophy at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, and theology at the Graduate Theological Union. He's taught classes at the Kino Institute, worked as an outreach intern at All Saints Catholic Newman Center, led a deanery confirmation program in Berkeley, Calif., and served as a catechist for children of various ages. He was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

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