Led by their bishops, about 1,500 Catholics rallied at the Statehouse in Trenton yesterday to urge political leaders and the voters who elect them to uphold "the sanctity of life" by opposing abortion and embryonic stem cell research.
The "Witness for Life" Mass and rally marked the first time all five of New Jersey’s Roman Catholic dioceses had jointly demonstrated to urge voters to cast their ballots for leaders who uphold church teaching that life must be protected from the moment of conception until natural death. Trenton Bishop John M. Smith called it "historic."
"It is a nonpolitical rally. It is a rally for life," Newark Archbishop John J. Myers said.
Neither Camden Bishop Joseph Galante, who gave the sermon at a 10 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, nor any of the speakers at the noontime rally that followed at the Statehouse mentioned either President Bush or Democratic challenger John Kerry.
But the day’s overall message — that upholding the sanctity of life is more important than any other issue facing the electorate — was one that plainly favored Bush, a Methodist, over Kerry, only the third Catholic in the nation’s history to run for president on a major party ticket.
The president sharply curtailed embryonic stem cell research and has said he wants to promote a "culture of life." Kerry supports the right to an abortion, calling it a choice "between a woman, God and her doctor," and charged that Bush "turned his back on science" by limiting stem cell research.
Galante told worshipers at the cathedral that "each and every human life is precious, precious, from the first moment of conception until natural death."
"Before any other right can be protected, the right to be must be protected above all," the Rev. Michael Manning, coordinator of Respect Life Ministries for the Diocese of Trenton, told the crowd at the Statehouse.
Newark Auxiliary Bishop Charles McDonnell, in leading the demonstrators in the Pledge of Allegiance, amended it to end: "with liberty and justice for all, born and unborn." [Source]