DNC pro-life prayer vigil draws peaceful supporters, vocal opponents
CHARLOTTE — Pro-life supporters gathered near Time Warner Cable Arena on Aug. 31 for what was hoped to be a peaceful, prayerful vigil in support of the right to life for the unborn and in memory of the 3,300 lives that are killed daily through abortion in the U.S. They were met by a handful of pro-abortion supporters who tried drown out the prayer vigil with their shouts.
The prayer vigil was the first of several pro-life demonstrations planned before and during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte Sept. 4-6.
More than 40 people gathered to pray the rosary at the beginning of the ecumenical prayer vigil in uptown Charlotte, in front of the location where the Democratic Party will gather starting next week for its national convention. The two-and-a half hour vigil was hosted by the Charlotte-based grassroots organization America Defend Life as well as the Christian Defense Coalition of Washington, D.C., in response to the Democratic Party's support for abortion access.
"We are humbled to be able to offer a visual and symbolic expression of the damage caused by abortion in our country every day. At the same time, we are praying for the women and their children who have been bruised," said Brice Griffin, spokesperson for the Charlotte-based America Defend Life.
"Abortion is the real war on women, and it is our hope that through peaceful and prayerful witness we can educate America on the truth that drives Planned Parenthood and their child-killing business."
It was not long before the pro-lifers were met by a handful of pro-abortion protesters carrying signs reading "Abortion on Demand and Without Apology," and angrily shouting statements including, "Abortion is not murder! A fetus is not a baby until it is born!"
The pro-lifers, who were wearing "America Defend Life" T-shirts and holding their rosaries and pro-life signs with a picture of a fetus stating "I am a Person," prayed more loudly and spread out a bit more along the sidewalk so that their voices could be heard and their signs read by passersby.
A large contingent of Charlotte Mecklenburg police officers on bikes remained nearby during the demonstration.
Paul Deer, who came out to pray and lend his support for the unborn, was unfazed by the yelling opponents.
"These women (protesters) are angry at God, they're angry at themselves, screaming...," Deer said. "It's interesting to see the people coming by. They notice the difference, too. They see one side screaming, the other side peaceful. There is something wrong... even if they are not up on the issue."
After the recitation of the rosary, the pro-lifers then spread out 3,300 red carnations along the sidewalk, offering a prayer for the 3,300 babies whose lives are lost to abortion in the U.S. each day. Several families with young children came to pray in front of the arena.
Joyce Wolnik, who is expecting her fifth child, came up from Rock Hill with her husband and four children to lend their support. Her children helped lay out the red carnations along the sidewalk, which extended the whole entire block in front of the arena.
"We believe in life. We're teaching our children that life begins at conception and we are all children of God," Wolnik said. "I told my girls we would see people who are very passionate about life... God is with us."
Two of the female pro-abortion protesters bragged about their abortions and grabbed carnations to represent the number of abortions they had had. One of the women proudly stated she had had two abortions and tucked a carnation behind each ear as she stood along the sidewalk shouting out slogans.
An ecumenical prayer service took place after all of the flowers were placed along the block in front of the arena, which now bears a 2012 logo for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign.
In a statement before the prayer vigil, Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition in Washington, D.C., stated, "Abortion has now become one of the central issues in the race for the White House in 2012. We are laying these flowers and praying in front of the Time Warner Arena to remind President Obama and the nation that all life has dignity and purpose and the violence and brutality of abortion in America must come to an end.
"The real 'War on Women' is the violence directed toward mothers and their children by organizations like Planned Parenthood who perform over 330,000 abortions yearly at that their clinics.
"Our witness at the DNC and to President Obama is simple yet profound. President Obama, please embrace human rights and equality for all and end this tragic 'War on Women' through abortion."
Griffin, who had to show proof of the permit for the prayer vigil to police during the event, has worked tirelessly for weeks gaining the necessary permissions and organizing this event, the prayer vigil in front of Planned Parenthood on Sept. 1 and the Civil Rights March for Life that will take place on Sept. 5 during the DNC.
She explains, "While the eyes of the world are on Charlotte, we want our message to be clear to the DNC. Human rights begin with the right to life, from fertilization until natural death. As Blessed
John Paul II said, 'America, defend life!'"
— SueAnn Howell, staff writer
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FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Roger Arnsparger at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Jason Christian at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. Matthew Kauth at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Christopher Riehl's archive from St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe. Listen to homily podcasts.
- Fr. Joshua Voitus at St. Mary, Mother of God Parish in Sylva, including homilies in Spanish
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Gospel reflection videos from St. Matthew Church
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen and watch homilies from St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy