Rome March for Life Marks 35 Years of Legal Abortion in Italy

When We Lose Right to Life, We Lose All Rights, Says March Spokesperson

Rome, (Zenit.org) Ann Schneible | 1983 hits

"We have to stand up for our next generation," said Rome's March for Life spokesperson, Virginia Nunziante, in an interview with ZENIT.

Thirty-five years after the legalization of abortion in Italy, thousands of pro-life advocates are expected to gather in Rome this Sunday, March 12, to march on behalf of the unborn. This will be Italy's third March for Life, and the second to take place in Rome. Some 15,000 are estimated to have attended last year's event.

This year's March for Life will begin at 9 am outside the Colosseum, and conclude at Castel San Angelo around noon, in time for the Regina Caeli blessing from Pope Francis.

Jeanne Monahan, president of the US March for Life education and defense fund, will attend the event in Rome and will provide some opening remarks at the beginning of the March. Also expected to attend are Rome's mayor, Gianni Alemanno; Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura; and Lila Rose, director of the US-based group Live Action.

The evening before the March for Life, Cardinal Burke will preside over an hour of Eucharistic Adoration in the Church of the Twelve Apostles in Rome.

In the lead up to the March for Life in Rome, Virginia Nunziante sat down with ZENIT to discuss what this event means for the fight for life in Italy:

ZENIT: This March for Life comes on the 35th anniversary of abortion being made legal in Italy. What does this anniversary mean for Italy, especially for those who are fighting to bring abortion to an end?

Nunziante: Of course, the 35th anniversary is a long time. The difference between Italy and the United States is that, for the US, 40 years ago, when the law was [first enacted], they immediately started the first March for Life. I would say we are 33 years late in Italy, because this is only the third March. We started very late, but we really would like to make up for lost time. In fact, in Italy, we lost 5 million babies in 35 years, so it's a whole generation that we've lost.

What we really would like to do is to try to convince young people that it's time to do something, that they have to stand up for life and against abortion. This is the strongest message that we would like to give with this March.

We have more than 130 associations joining us from all around Italy, and we will march together. But the most important thing is that then, when we are back home, we must work every day for life and against abortion. It is a chance to encourage them to stand up for life in everyday life.

ZENIT: You just spoke about the need for making up for lost time. However, thousands attended last year's March for Life, showing that there is a desire to take a stand against abortion. Why are people in Italy now so enthusiastic in their fight for life?

Nunziante: It was the very first time that we had a public event, where we were on the street, and where we came together… There is the need. They understand our adversaries are quite often in the street, fighting for what they think is right. On the other side, we Catholics don't do enough, especially not enough in the public square. The speech of Benedict XVI, saying that we as Catholics have to recover the public square, is very important.

Cardinal Burke insisted, again, on this specific point a few weeks ago, saying he would encourage every bishop to tell lay people to go [into the public square], and to go with them.The defense of life is something that should unite us all together.

ZENIT: Now we are in this brand new pontificate of Pope Francis. What can the pro-life movement in Italy receive from this new papacy?

Nunziante: We read some speeches that he gave when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires. He gave very strong speeches on the defense of life, encouraging marches and the fight against abortion. He is a strong pro-life [advocate].

In the most recent speeches, I would say, he is always addressing the humble, the poor, those who need our help. I think this is something that we really can see in the defense of life because the embryo is someone who needs our help. If we don't fight for the unborn child, there will no one fighting for him. The [unborn child] is the poorest in the world. The message of Pope Francis is important for us for this purpose.

ZENIT: Why is it important for Catholics to engage in this fight against abortion?

Nunziante: Today, the most important thing, as Catholics, is to be convinced that the fight for life is important. Life is the first right: if you don't have life, you don't have any other rights.

We are moving, step by step, towards a real culture of death. It is the culture of aversion toward humankind. Humankind is the real enemy of this culture.

We have to fight for life, and the fight against abortion is only one step… We have to stand up for the next generation.