Celebrate Life with true unity

Deacon Geoff Bennett is Vice President of Parish and Community Relations at Catholic Charities.

The cultural conflicts over the past 50 years in American society have shattered the concept of unity and poisoned our political environment. We would be hard pressed to get agreement that the sky is blue. Driven by freedom without responsibilities, interest group activism and media amplification, we seemingly focus only on our differences, leading to division, intolerance and, in extreme cases, violence.

In pursuit of diversity and tolerance, we have accepted as “truth” that there are no truths that apply to everyone. Moral relativism dictates that each of us arrives at our own truth, and that truth can change depending on circumstances, context and feelings. We can’t even agree on the objective reality of male and female.

As Americans, we may know that we’re all in it together. But we act as if we’re all in it separately and let the chips fall where they may. Unity provides strength and stability. Division makes us weak and vulnerable.

There is a better way. And it needs to be led by people of faith who know that the basis of a truly just society respects the God-given dignity of each person. We need to come together as faith communities — and as a society — to protect the foundations of that belief.

That will be on joyful display at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, at the state Capitol in Denver, when thousands of people will come to Celebrate Life, the name of the annual rally and march that honors life from conception to natural death. Everyone of goodwill is welcome to attend.

In a society that 45 years ago legalized destruction of innocent life in the womb through Roe v. Wade, and which seems increasingly open to physician-assisted euthanasia, there is a visible hostility to a faith-based assertion of the value of life. The womb of a mother should be the safest place for her unborn child. It has become the most dangerous. The elderly should be honored and cared for until a natural death. They should not be seen as burdens to be swept aside.

If the value of a person is based only on human measures of productivity or utility, then we’re all just inputs to a machine. And whether we live or die is based on moral relativism.

There is a better way. The moral teachings of the Catholic Church on sexuality, marriage and family life are maps to discover human flourishing. The moral teachings cannot be separated from the social teachings, which address the protection of human life, the dignity of every person and how we should live together in society.

We can’t pick and choose which teachings we believe, just as we can’t choose who to care for and who to ignore. The unborn, the immigrant, the elderly, the disabled and the destitute have a special claim on our attention because we are called to care for the most vulnerable.

How those social teachings are pursued, through public means, private charity or individual initiative, is not predetermined. It is only through good will, shared struggle and humility that we can proceed. That is a better way.

COMING UP: 2018 pro-life march to share joy of life

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2018 pro-life march to share joy of life

Annual rally to showcase pro-life solidarity among cultures, Christians 

You’re invited to march in support of the most vital civil rights movement happening today and all you need to bring is your joy.

That’s the message of the 2018 Celebrate Life rally and march organized by the Respect Life Office of the Denver Archdiocese.

Themed “Bring your joy,” the Jan. 13 annual event at the state Capitol is a show of unity and solidarity for the right to life.

“This is the Colorado piece of the largest civil rights movement in our lifetime,” said Lynn Grandon, archdiocesan Respect Life program director, speaking about the annual event better known as the Colorado March for Life.

Everyone, from parents bringing infants, to schoolchildren, young adults and senior citizens exercising free speech, are invited to show up and bear witness to the sanctity and value of human life at every age and every stage.

Inspiring speakers will rouse the crowd, which has numbered 3,000 in past years, on the west steps of the Colorado Capitol at 1 p.m. prior to embarking on a march through the Capitol Hill neighborhood accompanied by various musical groups.

Speakers include Archbishop Samuel Aquila, ordained Presbyterian minister and Colorado Christian University president Don Sweeting, Denver Sisters for Life, Students for Life of America regional coordinator Bethany Janzen, and All Saints Church pastor Msgr. Peter Quang Nguyen.
Music at the rally will be provided by popular artist Matt Miller and by the St. John Vianney Theological Seminary Choir.  Acclaimed author/speaker Chris Stefanick, founder of Real Life Catholic, will serve as emcee.

The annual Celebrate Life March will be held at the Colorado State Capitol Jan. 13, 2018. (Photos by Jeffrey Bruno)

“We’re striving to dissipate the attitude of so many people who think pro-lifers are negative and unpleasant and show that the pro-life movement is the opposite of what’s purported,” Grandon said. “There is a wonderful, growing contingent of people who are positive, joy-filled and energetic about valuing every single human life.”

The celebration aims to build unity among Spanish- and English-speaking pro-lifers within the Church and with Protestants, Grandon said.

The event is preceded by 11:30 a.m. Mass celebrated by Archbishop Samuel Aquila at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception across from the Capitol, or faithful may attend an 11 a.m. Mass at six other Catholic churches nearby, four of which will be said in Spanish. Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Rodriguez will celebrate Mass in Spanish at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.
A mariachi band and matachines, whose ritual dance often depicts the victory of Christianity over paganism, will accompany the marchers.

“There’s a wonderful cultural diversity and we have this beautiful ecumenical partnering with Colorado Christian University,” Grandon said. “This is an issue we all agree upon.”

ENDOW, a Denver-based apostolate that teaches the new feminism of St. John Paul II, will lead the march.

“Often the general public is unaware of the amazing side of the Catholic Church of the vibrancy, dedication, faithfulness and exuberance of our holy women,” Grandon said, sharing excitement over the Sisters of Life speaking and Endow leading the march. “They are a powerful face to our community of joyful women.”

Marcela Garcia Lopez, Hispanic operations coordinator for ENDOW, said the march complements the apostolate’s mission.

“Our name, ENDOW, stands for educating on the nature and dignity of women, and in order to understand the dignity of women you have to understand the dignity of the human person, which is what this march is about,” she said.

The Catholic school with the largest contingent of students will win a pizza party, Grandon said. Surrounding dioceses have been invited, as have all the mega-Protestant churches.

Seeing the diversity of the pro-lifers and their contagious joy should make a powerful impact on the wider community, Grandon said.

“Don’t sit back in your home with apathy,” she urged, noting that a list of fun things to do in Denver has been provided for families at RespectLifeDenver.org. “Come to the march and stay for the fun!

“Seeing all the different groups, people will wonder, Who are they? What is that all about?” she added. “It’s powerful to unashamedly stand together and say every single life God has created has value, worth and dignity.”


When: Jan. 13, 2018
Where: West steps of Colorado Capitol, 200 E. Colfax Blvd., Denver
Masses: preceding the event at downtown churches – 11:30 a.m. Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception; or at 11 a.m. at Holy Ghost or St. Elizabeth of Hungary or in Spanish at Annunciation, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Sacred Heart or St. Joseph
Information: https://respectlifedenver.org or 720-799-9299