In his 1995 encyclical The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II wrote, "Where life is involved, the service of charity must be profoundly consistent. It cannot tolerate bias and discrimination, for human life is sacred and inviolable at every stage and in every situation; it is an indivisible good."
This week, 700 Catholics demonstrated their commitment to promoting the sacredness of all human life in a Pilgrimage of Life in Huntsville, Texas. The pilgrimage included Mass and a mile-long rosary procession. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo and more than 10 other clergy led the procession, which began at an abortion referral center, marched through Sam Houston State University, and ended at Texas' correctional facility, where the state carries out executions.
As a Catholic from Houston who is repentant for the thousands of abortions committed yearly in the state as well as Texas' execution of more people than anywhere else in the U.S. (nearly 20 this year), I am proud of their public witness.
An article from the Catholic News Service quotes Cardinal DiNardo during the pilgrimage saying:
"We are not here today to demonstrate. We are here to pray. We are not here to make slogans. We are here to fall to our knees in intercession. We are not here today to show off. We are here today in a poverty of spirit."
Addressing the death penalty as an important life issue, DiNardo shared with the crowd:
"For the last 25 or 30 years the bishops of Texas have quietly tried to persuade, argue and explain to the people of this state and beyond that in fact what is exercised as the death penalty is frequently unjust."
I pray that Catholics around the nation continue to pray and advocate for greater respect for the dignity of all human life, from womb to tomb and all stages between.
Jennifer Svetlik is an organizing assistant for Sojourners.