Together, let us all walk for life
THE Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas (Laiko) initiated the Walk for Life in 2017; it was a huge success. In 2018, more church organizations and ministries joined the event. This year, thousands and thousands more participated. The Walk for Life, indeed has become a tradition of the faithful to express their advocacy to support the culture of life as against the culture of death.
Laiko is the lay arm of CBCP Episcopal Commission on the Laity (ECLA). Its President Marita Wasan, Ph.D, affirmed that the walk is not only to condemn the wrong that is being done, but also to pray for the conversion of those who committed the wrong. The purpose of the walk is to uphold the truth and uphold that human life is a choice that must be made by all.
In its press statement, Laiko aims for a “choice to uphold human life and human dignity” It was inspired by St. Pope John Paul II’s Christifideles Laici on the vocation and mission of the Lay Faithful or Laity: “The inviolability of the person, which is the reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, finds its primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life… the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights—for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture— is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.”
Weeks before the event, some bishops supported the event and called on the faithful to join the Walk for Life, among them, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of the Diocese of Kalookan. He pointed out that every person must fight every forces of death and violence. Human life is sacred and with dignity; it should never be abused and must be protected while in the womb. Prisoners should not be given inhumane treatment, even if they were involved in illegal drugs; they are sick and need care and compassion.
In his homily during the Walk for Life, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle invoked that we should give thanks to God for the gift of life, the gift that needs to be treasured; that we accept the mission to celebrate life, to nurture it, to defend it and to promote it. He encouraged the youth to pass onto their future children and grandchildren that every year, they should wait and join the Walk for Life because there would come the time when this generation of youth will also grow old and they must bequeath to the next generation the value of life. Cardinal Tagle also stated “There cannot be any walk for life that does not affirm the dignity and humanity of every woman who is chosen by God to give life. The womb where life is nurtured is not just the mother’s womb. There is also the womb where life continues to be nurtured like the family, neighborhoods, schools, parishes, BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities). They are the spaces of compassion, tenderness and love, especially in the family, which is not only the place where biological life is nurtured, the life of faith is also nurtured where we recognize God and obey God. When “the relationship with God is abandoned and instead of obedience to God rebellion towards God sets in, life is curtailed, death enters.” The third womb is the wider society which must give life instead of wasting life; “making society a tender compassionate womb where life will flourish, where the promise of Jesus life in abundance could really happen.”
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Auxiliary Bishop of Manila, the National Spiritual Director of Laiko and the Chairman of the CBCP ECLA, proclaimed that recent local and global development must motivate the laity to action: the extrajudicial killings brought about by the anti-drug war; the bombing in Jolo and Zamboanga; the proposal to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility; the loss of job opportunities for Filipinos giving preference to millions of Chinese labourers; increase use of substance abuse that lead to addiction; proposal to re-impose death penalty; abortion including the use of artificial contraceptives that have abortifacient effects; human trafficking; mining and development projects that destroy the natural resources, that in 12 years, there is 1.5 degrees of point of no return; imposition of taxes in the name of development but at the expense of the poor; lack of housing projects for the poor.
Bishop Pabillo also announced that the Walk for Life had achieved three things: People Power because people voluntarily came together to express their advocacy against the culture of death. Prayer Power which are resorted by people in the hope that the culture of life will be achieved. Vote Power to reflect on who should be elected during the May Elections; study what bills they passed and pray on it. He quoted Pope Benedict XVI who said that the participation of the laity in politics is an essential way to evangelize society.
Cardinal Tagle was the Main Celebrant with Concelebrants Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Gabrielle Giordano Caccia, Bishop David, Bishop Pabillo and Bishop Antonio Tobias of Novaliches.