Sunday, January 22, 2012

"It Is Not Weakness To Show Compassion... But Clear We Must Be"... Immediately

For the 37th year running, Washington's Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception pushed the fire-code to its limit tonight as the National Vigil for Life kicked off in advance of tomorrow's March, marking the the Supreme Court's 22 January 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.

The nation's largest church packed in with nearly 20,000 people (and an overflow crowd downstairs), by longtime custom, the presiding duties for the evening Mass fell to the US bishops' chair for Pro-Life Activities, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, making his final turn at the rite of his three-year term. Come autumn, the key committee seat -- invariably held by a cardinal in reflection of its prominence -- will be taken up by Boston's Cardinal Seán O'Malley OFM Cap., who'll lead the commemoration of Roe's 40th anniversary.

Four years after his first March-day preach from the Shrine pulpit -- and two days since the controversial White House decision mandating contraceptive coverage in benefit plans for religious institutions -- here's fullvid of the Southern cardinal's homily... which, given his chairmanship's coming close, doubled as a farewell to the post:

Come liturgy's end, the Shrine traditionally becomes the capital's largest hostel for the night, as pilgrims with nowhere else to go camp out on every available inch of its extensive floor-space.

On a scheduling note, much as tonight's opening Mass is traditionally the main pre-March draw, this year's might just find a rival in its morning counterpart -- the USCCB President, Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of New York, will celebrate and preach the Vigil's closing Mass early tomorrow.