World Meeting of Families and the March for Life


This has been a busy week with quite a lot of traveling.

Last weekend, I participated at the Sixth World Meeting of Families in Mexico City and then flew to Washington, D.C. Wednesday for the March for Life.

The World Meeting of Families took place in a very modern convention center in Santa Fe — which is a new area of Mexico City. More than 10,000 participants from all over the world, including 300 bishops and cardinals, attended the Meeting of Families, which was organized by the Holy See.



The exhibition hall where there are various booths set up, all involving groups and Ecclesial movements that are connected with supporting the family

Cardinal Tarsicio Bertone represented the Holy Father at the event.


Cardinal Bertone

This Conference was Cardinal Antonelli’s first as the new Prefect of the Pontifical Council for the Family. He replaced Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo who passed away last spring, and who did an outstanding job particularly in promoting the Gospel of Life.


Cardinal Antonelli greeting Cardinal Rivera of Mexico City

Being in Mexico, I had an opportunity to see many wonderful pro-life leaders again, like Leonardo and Marta Casco from Tegucigalpa. I met Leonardo and Marta in Washington, D.C. many years ago when Leo was studying law at Georgetown. I baptized their first child, and they used to come to the Spanish Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral. Martha and Leo are both very involved in the pro-life movement in Honduras and were invited to participate in the Politics and Law round table discussion at the conference.


I also met Sister Josephine and Sister Nieves there , both Sister Disciples of the Divine Master who have been in the Archdiocese of Boston for years, who also happened to be in Mexico City this week. Sister Josephine is the superior of the house on West St. in downtown Boston, and Sister Nieves, who used to be on West St., is now serving as the Provincial for the Order and lives on Staten Island.


It was a very important event to energize all of those working in family life ministry and in pro-life offices throughout the world.

I gave one of the talks on Friday morning during the Lectio Divina, meditating on the Gospel of the Good Samaritan.



Right after that talk I was interviewed in Spanish by Eduardo Martinez of TV Arautos.


On Saturday, we had a very moving vigil service at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe — it was the most beautiful testimony I have ever heard from families throughout the world.



Inside the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Then we had the closing Mass on Sunday morning. We had a huge crowd of people outside of the basilica and we received a message from the Holy Father and received his blessing at the end of the Mass. It was then announced that the next conference will be held in Milan in 3 years.




On Monday, we went to bless the new building dedicated to San Juan Diego at the Seminario Hispano, a seminary sponsored by the Archdiocese of Mexico City, to supply priests to work with the Hispanic population in the United States.





Also, we went to visit the Capuchins Poor Clare, the “Capuchinas,” at their very famous monastery designed by Luis Barragan — one of the most outstanding Mexican architects.





One night, we celebrated Mass at the Iglesia de San Josemaria Escriva. The church is magnificent, and was designed by an architect in Spain to resemble praying hands.


We were joined by an archbishop, a bishop and four priests — all from Nigeria. A group of pilgrims from Nigeria attended the Mass, and they sang beautifully. It was a wonderful celebration, and showed how universal the Church is.


The Chapel is run by the priests and laypeople of Opus Dei. In the sanctuary they had a stunning painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe, as well as an original painting of St. Josemaria by artist Martha Orozco.


We also had another wonderful celebration of the Mass at a brand new, very modern, chapel next to the Convention Center with the group from Valencia, Spain. The Cardinal of Valencia, Agustin Garcia Gasco was there as well as the Bishop of Murcia, Juan Antonio Reig. Following the Mass, we all had lunch togather.

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, one of the more comic experiences for me was that, all throughout the week, people kept on asking for my autograph and telling me how much they enjoyed my books, because they all thought I was Father Raniero Cantalamessa!


– – –

From Mexico City we had planned to fly to Washington on Tuesday, but our flight was canceled due to mechanical problems, so we had to stay an extra night in Mexico City. Fortunately, however, I was still able to arrive in time to participate at the traditional Vigil Mass that takes place at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception the evening before the March for Life.

The Basilica was, of course, very, very crowded for the vigil. The procession of seminarians, priests and bishops took about 20 minutes to get us all into the basilica.



Thursday morning we were supposed to go to the Verizon Center for a pre-march rally and Mass with the youth, but by 7:30 it was already filled.



So the Boston group was unable to get in. We had over 100 seminarians there from Boston as well as several bus loads of young people from parishes but our group couldn’t get in. So we went to nearby Holy Rosary Parish and had Mass for them there.



Afterwards, I met the Blessed John XXIII seminarians for lunch, and then went to the march. We had a beautiful day for it. People were very enthusiastic.


Nellie Gray, founder of the March for Life

The rally on the National Mall ended with Cardinal Justin Rigali — the chairman of the USCCB’s pro-life committee — introducing the bishops who were there. Then Bishop Knestout, the new auxiliary of Washington, concluded with a prayer.


Then we marched to the Supreme Court, there was a huge crowd.


As I mentioned, one of the measuring sticks of the attendance was how quickly they had to start turning people away from the Verizon Center. The 23,000 seat arena was already filled at 7:30 in the morning to attend the 10 a.m. Mass!


At the march, we did not get a call from the president this year. We were all praying for that miracle, but that didn’t happen.



Everyone is praying that the new administration will come to realize how important the pro-life cause is, and will begin to understand the obligations of government to protect the most vulnerable of our society, especially the unborn.

IMG_3764 I was very happy with the number of youth from Boston who participated in the March for Life this year

As our young people and seminarians were traveling by bus to the March, thousands of Catholics across the archdiocese were attending “Holy Hours for Life” at their local parishes. A total of 188 parishes joined in this prayer effort that was sponsored by the newly established “Boston Deacons For Life” in collaboration with the Office of Clergy Support and Ongoing Formation, and the Pro-Life Office.


Deacon Kenneth Ryan from Sacred Heart Parish in Weymouth

It was wonderful that so many people, especially the elderly and parents with young children who were unable to go to Washington, were truly united together as a Church in prayer for respect for the dignity of human life from conception to natural death, for those who have been wounded by abortion, and that those who govern us may be guided by justice, truth, and a love for the gift of life. Services were conducted in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole and Polish.

HHFLStJoseph_BobBreen (2)

Deacon Robert Breen from St Joseph Parish in Medford kneeling in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament


Parishioners at St. John the Baptist in Quincy praying

I am deeply grateful to the “Boston Deacons for Life” who have committed themselves to study more fully the many facets of the Gospel and Life and preach the truth of the dignity of the human person in their parishes. These deacons and their wives have already participated in two training sessions and will be attending another in February on end of life issues. The deacons have also offered to serve as spiritual advisors to their parish pro-life committees.

Until my next post,

Cardinal Seán

27 thoughts on “World Meeting of Families and the March for Life”

  1. Dear Cardinal,
    I’m writting a book on the church of San Josemaria, Santa Fe, Mexico. I agree with you, it’s truly magnificent, but it was not designed by a spanish architect, put by the mexican architect Javier Sordo Madaleno, and is considred by many as an architectural masterpiece

  2. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    Thank you for your blog. The pictures of the Mexican World Meeting of Families brought back happy joyful memories. My husband Tom and myself went to the previous Meeting in Valencia. I am the Chairman of the NFPTA, training Natural Family Planning Teachers. There is an upsurge of interest here in England, but not through the Church. It is the greens, and natural groups. Marriage teaching here is very poor and inconsistent. Consequently we have a terrible abortion and teen pregnancy problem
    We are looking forward to Milan.
    Best wishes, love and prayers Olive

  3. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    Your blog reminds me of the article below: as a special devotion for Lent, the bishop of Costa Rica gave all priests the power to forgive particpants in abortion. This is a great way to welcome penitents back into the church.

    Even when I was away from the church for years, I still made some sacrifices for Lent. So I think many women might accept such an invitation during this holy time.

    Could you make the same invitation in Boston?



    Costa Rica Catholic Priests Offer Pardon to Any Participants in Abortions
    San Jose, Costa Rica ( — In the Catholic nation of Costa Rica, abortion is strictly prohibited except if the mother is in danger. However, thousands of illegal abortions still occur every year. This Lent and Easter week, the 300 or so priests within the Archdiocese of San Jose have been given the order to pardon anyone who has had an abortion and anyone involved in the procedure such as doctors, nurses, family members and friends. The amnesty period will go from February 25 through April 29 and was decided upon by the Archbishop Monseñor Hugo Barrantes. This is not the first time the Archdiocese has approved such a policy during this holy period, but it is the first time that they made the announcement to the public. Typically, the act of abortion can have a person excommunicated from the Catholic Church. Only bishops have the power within the church to forgive participation in an abortion — though they may also bestow this power to other priests as Barrantes has decided to in this situation. By allowing these women and others to practice the act of reconciliation, and thus receive the pardon of God, they hope to strengthen the foundation of the Catholic Church.

  4. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    Thank you for what is the best proof I’ve seen so far that the March for Life actually occurred in D.C. this year. I was there, but the lack of media coverage almost made me wonder if I had participated in a dream!
    I am so sorry to hear that there was no room for you in the Verizon Center, which is WAY bigger than an inn. I know that if an announcement were made that your group was outside, we would have given up our seats. Knowledge of your presence would have encouraged many at the youth rally. 🙂 (Consider the WHOOP on the mall when your name was announced!)
    I continue to hope and pray that you will encourage your Boston flock to participate in the spring 40 Days For Life campaign this year. It is a peaceful, prayerful campaign–an extension of God’s merciful love on the sidewalk. Its goal is not to condemn anyone, but to end abortion, provide help for mothers and fathers in need, recovery and reconciliation for post-abortive parents, conversion of abortionists and abortion supporters, and a change of heart for us all, that we may love God above all, and our neighbors (including our unborn neighbors) as ourselves. Your support would mean a great deal to the Boston faithful, and of course, to God’s tiniest children who are particularly threatened by abortion today.
    My family prays for you daily, and I am always happy to point people to your website, where the Lord’s blessings are in such powerful evidence!
    In the Love Who IS,
    joanne, a RI neighbor.

  5. Wow! Again Cardinal Sean I don’t know how you can do all that traveling! I loved the video of you answering the questions in the other language, that was amazing! I love reading your blog, because you are such an amazing person!

    Thank You!

    Clara King
    St. Paul Student
    Hingham MA.

  6. Dear cardinal sean,
    it was very interesting to learn about the “Boston Deacons for Life”. Thank you so much for sharing with us. I loved the pictures from the “Capuchinas” and their famous monastery. They are beautiful!
    Form shannon m

  7. Cardinal Sean,
    I wanted simply to drop a line to say hello on behalf of my family, especially my father, who still beams when talking about his being able to be in Rome for your consistory. I hope that I will have the honor of seeing you again in the near future. We wish you all the best and thank you for your service to the Church.
    Mario B. Damiani

  8. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    I am Emily from St.Paul School in Hingham. I think it is great that their were so much youth participating in the walk for life. It is a great thing to participate in, and it is very nice that they are!

    ~ Emily 🙂

  9. I very much appreciate the great update and especially, as always the photographs. The commitment to life of members of your diocese is so commendable.

    I continue to believe that we will turn the tide of the disaster that is the abortion culture, and I do believe that it will be through the efforts of the young people, if they put their minds to changing the culture even if the laws themselves are not changed. This generation might be the one that discovers what a remarkable thing they can do, and restore the luster of life instead of the bleakness.

  10. Your Eminence,
    Is the Archdiocese planning to participate in the postcard campaign to help stop the Freedom of Choice Act? This act will have a detrimental effects on Catholic hospitals throughout the country especially in urban areas where health care is needed most. Additionally, 36 years of pro-life legislation will be made moot by it’s passage.
    I have not heard any mention of this a Mass. The current administrations policies and promises to NARAL make participation by all Catholics urgent. Please help us to promote pro-life policies and legislation by authorizing and promoting participation in this campaign throughout the archdiocese.

  11. Dear Cardinal Sean
    Thank you for this weeks blog! When I was reading your blog I was thinking how much time it must take you to write these blogs, and I figured it must take a long peiriod out of your day or days. The work you do is truly amazing and for your interview in spanish you really have to know your stuff! The March for Life would have been a great thingto participate in and I think abortion is wrong just like the thousand others ot there. Thank you again and I will read again next week
    Mikayla McGrath
    St.Paul School
    Hingham, MA

  12. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    Thank you for anothr wonderful blog. My favorite part of your blog was when you visited the poor clare sisters. We are learning about them in Religion class so it was very intresting to see that you visited them. Also, I was very impressed by how fluently you spoke Spanish! I found myself being very amazed by hearing you speak in this language. We have Spanish classes in school, so I could translate a few of the words. Thank you for your blogs, Cardinal!


  13. Hi Cardinal Sean!

    Whoa, I watched your video – I didn’t know you spoke Spanish! Unfortunately, I only know so much Spanish, so I couldn’t exactly understand what you were saying, but I hope that I can become fluent someday.

    I think that one day, I would like to walk in the March for Life. Abortion is completely wrong. It is murder to an innocent child who could one day grow up to become a great leader. I think it is important that America (especially President Obama) realizes how horrible it is!

    I think that everyone who thinks they should have an abortion should at least have a sonogram and see for themselves the baby. NOT a fetus, or a “clump of cells”. A baby. A living, breathing, moving baby. Maybe after seeing that they might reconsider. Any attempt to stop abortion is worth it. God didn’t want this to happen, I’m sure.

    Thanks for another great blog! Have a wonderful week!

    -Kate Kenneally
    St. Paul School
    Hingham, MA

  14. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    I really enjoyed seeing all of the photos from Mexico. I think that abortion is wrong. I really liked your interview in Spanish. Thank you for writing you blogs and I really enjoy them!

    God bless you.

    St. Paul School
    Hingham MA
    7th Grade

  15. How edifiying it was to see so many on their knees praying for the “most vulnerable…the unborn.”

    It is comforting to know as well that the Obama regime must be alerted to the possible wrongs by altering present restrictions already in place limiting stem cell research and additional abortion accesss. This nation may be reeling from an economic crisis but it is the lack of respect shown to human life that is more of an issue in 2009.

  16. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    I enjoy reading your blogs very much! They encourage me to be a better Catholic. It looks like you had avery big turnout for the sixth world meeting! The spanish dialogue was very interesting to hear. This is my third year taking Spanish. The basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe looks beautiful!
    I look forward to reading your next blog,

    Lindsey, grade 7 at St.Paul school

  17. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    I enjoyed reading this weeks blog. I also enjoyed looking at your pictures from Mexico. I cant wait to hear from you again.

  18. Your Eminence, Thank you for the excellent coverage on the March, the photos are great. Thank you for leading us in continued prayer for the new President and your work educating Catholic voters on these critical issues.

    I am a single mother to a wonderful child today; but it all started with a crisis pregnancy. He will be 10 in a few weeks and I am glad I have his hugs to celebrate. It has been very hard to watch him suffer a broken family and to operate in the oppressive economic realities of single parenting. I have learned to lean mightily on God’s Providence.

    I wanted to comment today to encourage you and the Bishop’s Conference to continue to stand firm on your commitment to the life issues. It would be a shame to see the Catholic hospitals close, (or, more heroic, to have leaders engage in civil disobedience) but a capitulation would be heartbreaking.

    It doesn’t take a visionary to imagine the state of eugenics if it continues to progress. But maybe someday, if the voters are educated from the pulpit, my son will be president

    You are in our prayers.

  19. Your Eminence, Cardinal Sean O’Malley,

    Since we found your Blog and joined your mailing list, we receive it weekly. We have enjoyed it immensely. We feel that we know the Archdiocese of Boston better than we know our Archdiocese of San Diego.

    We have been receiving emails from Liberty Counsel supporting the rights of the Unborn. This is a cause that is very dear to us since we are the parents of eight children.

    Could you and your staff tell us if this is a legitimate organization and if in signing their petitions we are actually helping the cause of the Unborn and should we as concerned Catholics be promoting their work?

    We enjoy your Blog and The Pilot. You showed a photo of the Father everyone is confusing you with, you have another twin in our Pastor, Father Peter Irwin. Thank you for all you have done and will do with the blog, especially with Catholic TV and the Mass. Since we can’t get out much any more, the televised Mass is a great Blessing.

    Louise and Laurence Bauer

  20. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    I agree with you on how Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Abortion really is murder, murdering a child who has his/her own rights. How do you know that you are not murdering the future president of the United States? Then isn’t that assasination? I hope that President Obama will be pro-life and give these future children their lives. Anyways, I am a student at St. Paul school in Hingham, MA and we are eagerly awaiting your visit!


  21. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    I think the Walk for Life in Washington D.C, is a great way to inform people how important any life is and how people should respect life. Hopefully, the Obama administration will realize the importance of pro-life and come to understand how we should protect any born or unborn person’s life.


  22. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    I bet traveling to Mexico City was a blast! I enjoy the reading of the Good Samaritan. We read about it in our classroom.

    I am looking forward for you visiting our school!

    Alexis Ahern

  23. Dear Cardinal Sean,

    I think that it is very important for people who work for family life to be celebrated! They deserve it.

    I also believe that it is important for families to pray together along with their Church community. It teaches a sense on unity among all people.

    Mariah Ward

  24. Wow! It did seem like you had a busy week. You got to go to washington D.C. and Mexico City. Not only did you go to fascinating cities, you got to meet fascinating people while you were there.

    Hope you come to visit our school some time!

    St.Paul School Hingham
    Grade 7

  25. Dear Cardinal O’Malley,
    You have a very nice website blog with tons of great photos.
    I am writing to you asking you for your help in the matter of a new venture I am undertaking to help unify and strengthen the Culture of Life.
    I have created a brand new Social Network for the sole purpose of bringing together pro life organizations and volunteers in a network that knows no Physical boundaries. The African Americans had their 1 million man march, I want to start a 2 million+ man march for life. Please prayerfully consider joining us. I am trying to bring groups from all walks of life together as one group yet still maintain each group’s individual identity for the purposes of getting things done more efficiently. United we stand divided we fail!

    Our URL is
    Thank you and God Bless,
    Greg Gutierrez
    Tularosa, NM

  26. Your Eminence,
    Many thanks for your excellent website. I enjoyed reading the comments and seeing the photos from Mexico. Your interview in Spanish was wonderful, and it helped me brush up a little on my Spanish. Since I was unable to attend the Walk for Life in Washingt, D.C. – because of family considerations – I also enjoyed the pictures and photos from there. Fortunately I was able to participate in the Pro-Life Mass here in the local parish and an ecumenical prayer service on the same day. Thank you again. God bless you.
    One of your old (and getting older) friends,

Comments are closed.

January 2009

Recent Posts