Rorate Caeli

March for Life 2023 -- a very different year

On Friday, January 20, the annual March for Life will occur in Washington, D.C. In the past it was a rally of hundreds of thousands of pro-life people to the U.S. Supreme Court, commemorating the January 22, 1973 anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. This time it will be a (peaceful) march to the U.S. Capitol.

So many things have changed since last year's March for Life. On the positive side, Roe was overturned, with the Dobbs decision. On the negative side, D.C. Cardinal Wilton Gregory banned all traditional Latin Masses at parish churches, allowing just three Sunday TLMs for the entire Archdiocese of Washington (one in D.C. and two in Maryland). Weekday Masses are not permitted by the cardinal.

Nellie Gray Mass, March for Life 2020

So this means there will not be a traditional Latin Mass on Friday in the Archdiocese of Washington before or after the March for Life. The annual "Nellie Gray Mass" -- which for many years was a solemn, and sometimes pontifical, TLM at Saint Mary Mother of God church in Washington honoring the founder of the March for Life -- will instead be a novus ordo liturgy, despite Miss Gray faithfully attending the TLM at Saint Mary's until her death.

Across the river the Diocese of Arlington does permit weekday traditional Latin Masses, but one has to travel a long distance on a Friday from Washington to the nearest location in Virginia.

Hopefully there will be some courageous and discreet priests visiting from around the country who will offer TLMs while in Washington for their busloads of pilgrims -- Catholics who should not be denied graces just because the location they are visiting has absurd and uncharitable restrictions.

The March for Life will be much smaller than past years [1/20 update: I stand corrected! KJW], and there is even disagreement on the purpose of commemorating a Supreme Court decision that was overturned. Mainstream media will of course seize upon the crowd size without explaining lots of pro-lifers are instead focusing on state marches and state legislation at state capitols -- where the real battles in a Dobbs world are being waged.

If you are going to Washington, D.C., this week, may you have safe travels and a productive visit. It is a shame there will not be a traditional Latin Mass for you to participate in, but that is apparently the new definition of unity.