Pope prays God will strengthen commitment to defending all human life

(UPDATE: 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 Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, to be read at the National Prayer Vigil for Life Jan. 19 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

The vigil precedes 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.