On less than a day’s notice, as estimated 1,000 Coloradans gathered at the state Capitol building April 15 to join Archbishop Samuel Aquila to pray for the defeat of “abortion rights” legislation Senate Bill 175.
Young and old; men, women and children; laity and religious; were drawn to the Capitol following an April 14 invitation from the archbishop shared widely on social media and by word-of-mouth. As the crowd solemnly prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 p.m., they slowly processed up the west steps of the building, led by the archbishop. Following prayer, he addressed the crowd.
“Little did I know what impact my letter would have to the people of Colorado, very few were aware of Senate Bill 175 last Friday,” he began. “I want to extend my deep gratitude… to all of you who have shown up today to express our concerns with Senate Bill 175.”
Senate Bill 175, which threatens to become the first in the country to create unfettered access to abortion and potentially eradicate life-affirming laws in the state, passed through committee on party lines April 10. The second reading, slated for that afternoon in the Senate, was ultimately delayed.
“It is important for all of you to give witness to call your state legislators, both in the Senate and in the House, to protest this bill,” the archbishop exhorted. If the bill passes the Senate, it will proceed to the House. If passing the House, it will be sent to Gov. John Hickenlooper.
The archbishop continued saying he’d like to clear the air regarding some of his recent comments.
“There have been accusations that some of my comments asserting Senate Bill 175 have not been true: primarily it was deemed false that this bill would eliminate regulations on abortion clinics,” he said. “The fact is that there is nothing in the bill… that says that this law won’t impact current regulations already in place.”
If the intent is not to change current law, he said, then it should be stated explicitly.
“The main concern that many have about this bill is that it is both extreme and dangerously ambiguous,” he continued. “Anyone who claims that this law will have no material effect is either naïve or disingenuous.”
During last week’s testimony, legal experts were split on how it could impact existing laws, he said, adding that the drafter of the bill didn’t know with “100 percent certainty” if it would impact current policies.
“He told one reporter that he was ‘pretty sure,’” the archbishop said. “But pretty sure does not work. This is another case of let’s-pass-it-and-then-see-what-happens. And that cannot happen in our state.”
The archbishop encouraged people of good will to continue to pray.
“Pray that the truth will triumph,” he said. “Pray that this spirit of truth may enter into the halls of this building.”
He also reminded the crowd to participate in the political system, noting that efforts to defeat Senate Bill 175 are having an impact.
“Some of the senators have said they have shut off their phones, some of them said they have never been contacted by so many—you can make a difference,” he relayed. “Too many times we have taken a backseat—and Catholics, Christians and people of good will can no longer take a back seat!”
He closed in prayer and blessed the crowd.
Archbishop Aquila was joined at the service by Father Ambrose Omayas, assistant administrator of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver. Prior to the gathering, the Denver Catholic Register spoke with Father Omayas about his participation.
“We got word this morning about this event and His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah (presiding hierarch of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Denver) is very concerned and asked me to come and represent him,” he said.
There are certain principals the church stands for and it is important to uphold those principals, he said.
“It’s very important that we come together as brothers of the church—and whether we’re Greek or Catholic, we’re still the Christian body,” he said. “We’re concerned about what’s going on in the church and also in our society which needs a lot of prayers.”
For more information on contacting lawmakers, visit the Colorado Catholic Conference website at www.cocatholicconference.org, call 303-894-8808, or follow them on Facebook.