I am in between meetings and classes in West Palm Beach, where I am doing some recruiting for the Washington Journalism Center. With a brief shot at an Internet connection, let me slip in here with a quick note. It appears that the March For Life is drawing some balanced early coverage, which is to be expected, and that is a good thing. As you would expect, President Bush did the Ronald Reagan thing and phoned in some remarks. This allows a shy leader to be there, but avoid the photo op. It's an old GOP move. CNN already has an early story online with this quote:
"We're working to persuade more of our fellow Americans of the rightness of our cause," the president told abortion foes gathered at the foot of Capitol Hill on a chilly, rainy day. He spoke by telephone from Manhattan, Kansas, where he was to give a speech.
"This is a cause that appeals to the conscience of our citizens and is rooted in America's deepest principle," the president said. "And history tells us that with such a cause we will prevail."
I guess that the news is the phrase "our cause." However, it will be interesting to see if the press realizes the number of different pro-life groups are in this march, from pro-life atheists to gays and lesbians for life, etc. Even the phrase "pro-life" means different things to different people.
At my own parish, which is home base for the veteran pro-life writer Frederica Mathewes-Green of Beliefnet and NPR, there was a weekend emphasis on the sanctity of life. The Eastern Orthodox stance on this issue is very ancient and crystal clear, but the Orthodox have not, in the past, been eager to march or get involved in politics. There is a story in there somewhere. This is another ancient church that has been deeply affected by the Democratic Party's decision to place abortion rights at the very, very top of its priority list.
But, among the Orthodox, the language of our opposition to abortion still sounds somewhat different than the rhetoric you hear on the far right. Here is part of a litany that the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese sent out for use [PDF] this past weekend. I think most reporters will see signs of news hooks in it.
Again we pray that You will kindle in our hearts the will to care for the needy, to show kindness to the poor, to aid the homeless and to help the helpless.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
O Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son, Who are in the bosom of the Father, True God, source of life and immortality, Light of Light, who came into the world to enlighten it, You were pleased to be conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary for the salvation of our souls by the power of Your All-Holy Spirit. O Master, Who came that we might have life more abundantly, we ask You to enlighten the minds and hearts of those blinded to the truth that life begins at conception, and that the unborn in the womb are already adorned with Your image and likeness; enable us to guard, cherish and protect the lives of all those who are unable to care for themselves. For You are the Bestower of Life, bringing each person from non-being into being, sealing each person with divine and infinite love. Be merciful, O Lord, to those who, through ignorance or willfulness, affront Your divine goodness and providence through the evil act of abortion. May they, and all of us, come to the light of Your Truth and glorify You, the Giver of Life, together with Your Father and Your All-Holy and Life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
As the Orthodox will sing today at the Supreme Court: "Memory Eternal."
I hope the complexity of this event makes it into the newspapers -- from the pro-life left to the pro-abortion-rights right, from the pro-life right to the pro-abortion-rights left.