Arizona Life Rally to unite people of all faiths behind pro-life cause

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Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted leads pro-lifers in the Arizona for Life March and Rally in this undated file photo. (CATHOLIC SUN file photo)
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted leads pro-lifers in the Arizona for Life March and Rally in this undated file photo. (CATHOLIC SUN file photo)

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Arizona Life Rally
  • 10:30 a.m. — Gather at Cesar Chavez Plaza on Washington Street between Second and Third Avenues
  • 11:05 a.m. — Call to attention
  • 11:30 a.m. — March begins
  • 12:15 p.m. — Rally at Wesley Bolin Plaza

Check AZLifeRally.org for further details.

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Catholics and other people of faith, and some without, will be setting aside their differences for a common purpose Jan. 22, 2016 — the protection of all human life from the moment of conception.

The Arizona for Life March and Rally will process through downtown Phoenix at 11:30 a.m. that day — the 43rd anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion throughout the country — ending with a rally from 12:30-2 p.m.

“We we are not going to be standing on the things that separate us or divide us; we are going to all be standing in unity on the life issue because it does go back to our formation … being a well-formed person really starts with knowing the value of your life, and that crosses over any religious boundary,” said Benta Clark, president of the Arizona Life Coalition, which is organizing the rally.

Gianna Jessen, who survived a saline abortion when she was born, will be the keynote speaker at the Arizona Life Rally. (Photo courtesy of ALC)
Gianna Jessen, who survived a saline abortion when she was born, will be the keynote speaker at the Arizona Life Rally. (Photo courtesy of ALC)

Abortion survivor Gianna Jessen will be the featured keynote speaker at the rally. She survived a failed saline abortion attempt when she was born in 1977. Jessen, who also has cerebral palsy, has since become a pro-life and disabilities rights activist. The 2011 film “October Baby” was loosely based on her life.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted will also be among the keynote presenters at the rally.

Clark, who is an Evangelical Christian, said that the event has three main purposes: to inspire Arizonans that life matters; educate them; and activate pro-lifers to take action.

Mike Phelan, director of the Diocese of Phoenix Office of Marriage and Respect Life, noted the importance of Catholics attending the Arizona for Life March and Rally to bear public witness to the truth that life begins at conception. The need is especially important now, he added, in light of the undercover Center for Medical Progress videos released earlier this year exposing the practices of Planned Parenthood.

“Every pro-lifer has to ask the question, ‘What am I willing to be part of? What am I willing to do now in order to stand for life in the face of very clear and revealed evil?’” said Phelan. “We’re called to overcome evil with good, and gathering on this memorial day of Roe v. Wade is a movement toward building the good.”

Jan. 22 is also designated as the “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children” in dioceses throughout the U.S. According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), that day “shall be observed as a particular day of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life and of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion” (373).

Faithful Catholics are called to observe the day through penitential practices such as fasting, giving alms, performing a corporal work of mercy, and/or participating in a holy hour. Attending the March and Rally helps fulfill this call of mercy.

With a hot-button topic such as abortion, it’s possible that some participants may interact with pro-abortion advocates.

“As a follower of Christ it’s impossible to live a life free from controversy and resistance, and that’s part of any display of justice and love,” Phelan advised. “I think a great response is to say without any sarcasm, ‘I’m very glad that you were born and you could be here today. God has a beautiful plan for your life.’”

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