The first time I left my country was when I came to England. I was 18 at the time. I was full of excitement as I looked forward to my gap year there. I’ve always wanted to come to England and experience the country and culture. However, there was one single thing, fundamentally different from my home country that made me feel uneasy: Abortion was legal in England.
So, some years later whilst checking the program for World Youth Day, I found Viva La Vida prolife conference, I watched their videos on youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9tuQ7fs4Hs) and after that I did not hesitate to sign for it, because it looked so cool.
As I entered Palacio de Bellas Artes, I realised that I was entering Irish territory. The event: Viva La Vida pro-life conference was my first catechism of the week in Madrid.
We started mass with Fr Stan Fortuna (http://www.francescoproductions.com/) a Franciscan friar from South Bronx, NY. He was a professional jazz musician and his mass was literally full of soul. After a very moving mass he played some music for us, which started quite jazzy with the first song. By the time we were in the 4th song, the style had changed to a mixture of Hip-Hop and rap. The same happened with the lyrics, whilst the first song did not have any, by the time the last song came along, the lyrics had become more hardcore, addressing issues such as teenage pregnancy, the role of the father, his responsibilities and of course the abortion of the baby.
The rest of the event was a mixture of talks by different pro-life organisations from around the world who are fighting and lobbying against the evil of abortion. It was truly inspirational to see so many young people standing up for life so eloquently. Putting their argument forward so convincingly. ‘This is a matter which springs from the heart’, they said, because ‘life is a right and not a privilege’.
I was astonished to see how much work the Irish are doing to keep Ireland an abortion free country. Roadshows, street stands and displays with images showing the reality of abortion, are now used to bring awareness to all. These images showed that babies are ‘more than a blob of tissue’ and are helping in changing people’s perception on the issue as well as being a decision aid for people who are contemplating abortion.
Generation Life USA, another group, dedicates their message linking abortion to chastity, because for example, in the USA 84% of women that have abortions are unmarried. She said: ‘at the heart of abortion there is a disrespect for human life’, ‘we are using people’ and ‘by practicing chastity will free us from our bodies and soul’.
The representative from Poland, gave evidence on how laws can be overturned in parliament, as Poland has achieved. Since 2005 they have campaigned endlessly to bring awareness and get signatures and finally this year Poland will make abortion illegal. (www.stopaborji.pl)
We have to answer JP2′s call to protect life! – said another representative from Canada. ‘Unmask the truth about abortion, that this is as repulsive as child abuse’. (www.unmaskingchoice.ca)
Then another 23-year-old from the USA gave her testimony of undercover work to unmask abortion clinics that facilitate abortion to underage girls victim of sexual abused. Their film showed a pimp with a 14-year-old girl sex worker. This woman, believe it on not, told them to lie about her age and told them exactly how to jump all the loops so abortion would go uncovered, even though she was clearly a minor who was being exploited in the sexual industry. (Live action Films) After the video was released on youtube (‘because normal media are not interested in covering the story of abortion’). This agency was de-funded by the government. ‘Abortion is connected to all our ills of our society’ – she said – ‘Just ask and pray to God to use you to fight abortion, just as I did’.
“Everybody counts’ was New Zealand’s motto – http://www.young and prolife.org.nz
Music and dance was also at the heart of the event: Ooberfuse and Elation ministries, two top amazing catholic bands – please do check them out!
Abort67 is the British equivalent of these pro-life groups and are also doing a great job. in doing ‘the word on the street’ they showed us a video of a woman in Brixton who aborted 5 years ago. They GP told her the baby was not formed and did not have things like little arms and legs at 2 month. Therefore much of this group’s work is to bring awareness of the truth about medical facts, that are often not explained to women before they have an abortion. The pain and anguish this woman was feeling now could have been avoided it she’d known the facts 5 years ago. (www.abort67.co.uk)
We ended the session with Cardinal George Pell from Sydney who said: ‘Young people’s role is to bring fire to the church, old people’s role is to make sure you don’t burn the place down’. He also gave us a more detail account of what is happening in Australia from his perspective and also confirmed his support to the work young people are doing in pro-life charities around the world.
After all this, I took a break. There was so much interesting content in that conference that was worth taking so I went to Parque del Retiro. This is where the vocation fair and the confessionals are – 200 of them. On Saturday, it is here where the Pope will hear confession of 5 young people.
So…less than 12 hours till the Pope arrives, how exciting! Tomorrow’s schedule is planned…goodnight!