Editorial | Social media, youth are leading the way in building a culture of life through the March for Life

Why do you march?

That's the question being asked this year on social media by organizers of the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. Marchers are encouraged to upload photos or comments to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram -- and using the hashtag #WhyWeMarch -- sharing the reasons they participate.

Locally, thousands from the Archdiocese of St. Louis will be heading to Washington for the march, which will be held Jan. 22, the 41st anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision. Among them will be about 1,700 young people on the annual Generation Life pilgrimage, sponsored by the archdiocesan Catholic Youth Apostolate's Office of Youth Ministry. You can follow their activities with the #genlifestl hashtag.

In an era where overuse of social media is becoming all to common (What did you have for breakfast?), this is one instance where its power is being used for good, to further build a culture of life. You see, we need every avenue we can get to speak out about the greatest human rights injustice of our time. Since Roe, approximately 55 million lives have been ended through the tragedy of abortion.

But our new ways of communicating this horror are leading to some encouraging news -- according to a Nov. 29 report by the Centers for Disease Control, nationally reported legal abortion procedures dropped by 3 percent from 2009 to 2010, the latest year in which statistics are available. In Missouri, the abortion rate is at its lowest since 1973. The state only has one abortion clinic left in operation -- Planned Parenthood in the Central West End.

Last year, we observed the 40th anniversary of the Roe decision. At that time, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson urged the faithful to find common ground with those who favor access to abortion. And to do so means we have to stop relying solely on ourselves and more on the power of prayer.

"Marching is important, but even more important, as the Scripture said today, the friends of St. Paul saw the light (at Paul's conversion) but they didn't believe the Word," he said. "So we've got to pray that they hear the Word."

We should take a cue from our young pro-lifers in how they promote this issue, too. No longer is it a debate between being "pro-life" and "pro-choice," but in how they let their actions speak louder than their words. Volunteering at a local maternity home, helping the homeless or working to stop bullying in their school community are all ways in which young people are building a culture of life, from womb to tomb.

The archbishop said he is encouraged by the growing youth movement from St. Louis and elsewhere. "Young people are searching for the truth and when they find it as they do here, they embrace it," he said. "And they're even willing to make sacrifices -- this is a long bus ride, and they could be at home with their friends."

Let's watch with anticipation as to #WhyWeMarch. And when our marchers return home, let's join together to continue building that culture of life here in our local community.

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