Celebrate Life at the 2020 Rally & March: ‘Every life is a gift!’

Thousands of people will take to the streets of downtown Denver on Jan. 11 to celebrate joy over the gift of life and human dignity at the annual Celebrate Life Rally & March.

With this year’s theme, “Every life is a gift!” the rally will feature various guest speakers who will share their testimonies as well as musical performances to brighten up the celebration. Speakers will include Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, Michael Moubarek from the Catholic Medical Student Association, and Ramona Trevino, the former director of a Planned Parenthood Clinic who will be sharing her testimony on the power of prayer and her transformation from someone who fought for abortion to a warrior who defends life.

“A life is a life. It doesn’t matter if it was an unplanned pregnancy or not,” said Litzy Morán, participant at the Celebrate Life Rally and March 2019.

As usual, the celebration for life will begin with a special Mass in several churches in the area in both English and Spanish. After the Eucharistic celebration, participants will head off to the Colorado State Capital for the scheduled events that will kick off at 1 p.m.

The annual Celebrate Life Rally and March will take place at the Colorado State Capitol Jan. 11, 2020. (Photo by Brandon Young)

At the rally, attendees will have the opportunity to enjoy music by the worship team from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, St. John Vianney Theological Seminary Choir, a mariachi band, and Aztec and Mexican folk dancers. The march will then begin at 2 p.m.

“[Abortion] is the moral evil of our time and we cannot be silent, we cannot be apathetic, we must do what we can to rid our country of this moral evil,” said Lynn Grandon, Program Director of the Respect Life Office at Catholic Charities of Denver. “You must think of what’s going to happen in the future when your children and grandchildren say to you, ‘Mom, Dad, what did you do when abortion was legal? Did you do anything about it?’ You don’t want to feel bad when you have to say to them ‘I did nothing.’ You must do something, and this can be your beginning of doing something about abortion.”

The Celebrate Life Rally and March will take place Saturday, Jan. 11 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the west steps of the Colorado State Capital. Masses beforehand will take place in various parishes of the area, including the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at 11:30 a.m. and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church at 11 a.m. (in Spanish). For more information about special masses, you may check with your local parish.

For more information, visit respectlifedenver.org.

End late term abortion in Colorado

Participants at the Celebrate Life March will also have the chance to sign a petition to get Initiative 120 on the 2020 Colorado ballot to end the practice of late-term abortion in our state. Colorado is one of seven states in the nation that allows abortions for any reason up until birth with no restrictions. By getting Initiative 120 on the ballot, Coloradans will have the opportunity to vote on ending abortions for babies from 22 weeks through birth.

Under Initiative 120, a person conducting a late-term abortion could be subject to having a medical license suspended for a least three years and would be subject to a fine, but no jail time. The initiative would not impose a penalty on a woman receiving the abortion. The only exception to performing a late-term abortion is if the mother’s life is in danger.

In order to get this initiative on the Colorado Ballot in November 2020, supporters must reach the goal of 124,632 valid signatures. Colorado was the first state to lift restrictions on abortion in 1967, but this could change if you join the pro-life movement and sign the petition.
“Come out and stand for the value of every life, show your friends, relatives and neighbors that you are not ashamed to stand for it and work towards the abolishing of abortion in America.” Grandon added.

Initiative 120
Visit respectlifedenver.org/initiative120 to get involved.

COMING UP: Moral courage and the many cultures of death

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CRACOW. Thanks to the pandemic, it’s been two years since I was last in Cracow, where for three decades I’ve done extensive research and taught great students while forming friendships with many remarkable people. It was wonderful to be back in one of the world’s greatest cities, and soon after I arrived in late June, I took a long walk to see what had changed. The first major difference I noticed was that the plaza in front of the central railway station (named for my late friend Jan Nowak-Jeziorański, a World War II courier for the Polish Home Army and the man from whom the future John Paul II got real news via Radio Free Europe’s Polish service) has a new, strikingly modern memorial, dedicated to the memory of Colonel Ryszard Kukliński.

That name is not well-known throughout a western world that has largely forgotten the meaning and lessons of the Cold War. But if Jan Nowak-Jeziorański was right when he spoke about the Polish colonel in the mid-1990s, Ryszard Kuklinski was a genuine hero of the long, twilight struggle against communist totalitarianism — the man who helped prevent a bloody Soviet invasion of Poland to crush the nascent Solidarity movement.

An accomplished officer in the communist-era Polish Army, Ryszard Kukliński began to doubt the truth of what he had been told about the West when, as a member of an international commission, he met American military men in Vietnam in the mid-1960s. His doubts about communism and its purposes intensified by orders of magnitude in 1968, when the brutal Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia ground the Prague Spring to dust under the treads of Soviet tanks, and in 1970, when the Polish army shot Polish workers during labor strife. Privy to some of the Warsaw Pact’s most confidential strategic plans, he became convinced that, if the Cold War turned hot and the east bloc attacked the West, the Soviets would sacrifice Poland as retaliatory western tactical nuclear strikes hit the second wave of Warsaw Pact troops pushing west. So, in 1972, Kukliński, risking his life and his family’s safety, offered his services to the United States and for the next nine years was the West’s most important intelligence asset behind the iron curtain.

His greatest service to Poland and the cause of freedom came in the later months of 1980. Thanks to his efforts, the United States knew the entire order-of-battle the Soviet Union had organized to stamp out Solidarity, which had held its first formal congress in September 1980. With that information, and working in concert with the incoming Reagan administration, outgoing national security adviser Zbigniew Brzeziński, with the help of the AFL-CIO’s Lane Kirkland, was able to organize a comprehensive western response to a potential Soviet invasion of Poland: an international economic blockade that would have severely damaged the already-staggering Soviet economy. Faced with economic ruin, the Soviet leadership backed down and the Warsaw Pact divisions that had surrounded Poland withdrew.

Colonel Kukliński and his family were exfiltrated to the West; two of his sons later died under dubious circumstances that may have involved Russian retribution, and Kukliński lived out his life under an assumed name in the United States, dying in 2004. There was public controversy when he returned to his native Poland for a 1998 visit, with some charging that he had violated his officer’s oath by working for American intelligence for a decade. John Paul II, through various intermediaries, quietly passed the word that Kukliński was to be regarded in Poland as a national hero. Zbigniew Brzeziński, who held the exact same view, put it brilliantly, in a comment that appears on the Kukliński Memorial in Cracow: Colonel Kukliński was “the first Polish officer in NATO.” 

Communism was a distinctive form of the culture of death, for the effort to create “Homo Sovieticus” was a lethal assault on souls. Colonel Ryszard Kukliński took a courageous stand against that particular culture of death, knowing as he did that freedom is never cost-free: freedom lived nobly always requires sacrifice. His example should be pondered by Catholic citizens and Catholic public officials throughout the West today, who are called to resist, with similar moral courage and effect, that form of the culture of death that masquerades as the ideology of “choice.” May we and our elected officials be as principled and brave as the Polish officer who took what John Paul II described at the United Nations in 1995 as the “the risk of freedom.”