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Virginia bishop encourages the faithful ahead of Friday's March for Life: 'Our story is not over'

Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia spoke of the need to carry on the pro-life movement even after the Dobbs decision and a series of electoral defeats.

The overturning of Roe vs. Wade in June 2022 was not the end of the pro-life movement, stressed Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, on Thursday evening in Washington, D.C. — and pro-lifers should not lose faith or motivation after recent legislative and electoral defeats. 

"For many of us, the overturning of Roe vs. Wade was a moment of relief, a moment of new life, an exodus from the oppression under which we lived for 50 years," said Burbidge on Thursday, Jan. 18, in remarks he delivered as principal celebrant and homilist at the opening Mass for the National Prayer Vigil for Life. 

The National Prayer Vigil for Life is an annual event on the eve of the March for Life. It's held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C.

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The Mass was con-celebrated by dozens of priests and bishops, including Cardinal Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, and Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). A copy of Burbidge's remarks was shared with Fox News Digital. 

In the 18 months since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, it is clear that "Dobbs is not the end," said Burbidge, who leads the USCCB's pro-life committee. 

"It is a victory — a tremendous victory — but not a decisive one," he said. "There is still work to be done." 

While the Supreme Court found that there was no federal right to an abortion, some states have taken it upon themselves to enshrine abortion rights in their state constitutions, Burbidge noted.

"The lives of the unborn are still in danger – in some places, more so than ever," he said on Thursday night. "The lives of innocent children are being taken. Mothers are still being harmed. Couples, children, families are still in need of resources, support and love."

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While the pro-life movement has suffered defeats in the wake of Dobbs, said Burbidge, "we have learned important and practical lessons." 

He went on, "Money is flooding in to help our opponents tell falsehoods, to deceive people and to portray anyone who stands up for life as irrational, radical and intolerant," he said. 

And while Burbidge claimed that "our opponents are also supported by the media and public relations strategists" — the pro-life side has "truth." 

"Yet, we must find new ways of communicating [truth]," said Burbidge. "How? Without compromise. Where? Even in the darkest places: through service, and always with Christ at the center." 

The right to life, said Burbidge, "will always be true," as it stems from God. 

"All of human life is sacred. The right to life is absolutely fundamental," he said.

Nobody, emphasized the bishop, can "directly take the life of another," nor do they have "a right to devalue another" or say if a person's life is worth living. 

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"We live in a world where some, including those elected to the highest offices, sadly neglect these basic truths and/or want to compromise or negotiate with them," he said. 

As Christians, "it is our sacred duty to vigorously and tirelessly defend" these truths. "At the same time, our deepest victory as a movement lies in responding in the only way worthy of the human person: in love." 

As time goes on, the pro-life movement must "communicate the truth even in the darkest places," said Burbidge. 

This means going to states "where there are victories to be won," even if those states have already "acted to enshrine extreme abortion policies into law." 

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"Even in the darkest places, we can be a light," said Burbidge. "Like Jesus, it is not enough to reserve our message for those who will readily receive it, and to pursue victories only in those places where we are likely to win."

Instead, he said, the pro-life movement "must persist in those places where our message is rejected," as an act of bringing "light to the darkest corners."

"Every life is worth the effort," he said. 

In addition to bringing light, the pro-life movement "must serve generously," said Burbidge, as Jesus would do. 

"Because, in spite of our best efforts, things will only go our way some of the time. Laws will come and go," he said. "There will be moments of victory; there will be moments of defeat. We will feel elated, we will feel discouraged. Political views and public opinion will change." 

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Something that will not change, however, is Jesus Christ, he said. 

"We will be frustrated by setbacks and tempted by despair. But with Christ at the center, we will learn the truth of what it means to live in hope, rooted in the Lord’s promises," said Burbidge. 

And while "there will always be more work to be done," both in the legislative and charitable sense, Burbidge reminded those assembled that "a perfect world will never arrive, our faith teaches … Perfect justice will never be ours until we find it with our Lord in heaven," he said. 

The work of God, as well as the pro-life movement, "is not finished," said Burbidge. 

"Our story is not over. There's still work to be done. Dobbs was a great victory, and for that we must rejoice. But a new chapter is unfolding in our pro-life work."

That chapter must be centered in truth and centered in Christ, he noted.

"We must never negotiate the truth," said Burbidge. "We must speak it in love, bring it to the darkest places, and continue to serve mothers, and fathers, and families in need."

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The 51st national March for Life — the largest annual pro-life event in the world — takes place on Friday. The theme this year is "With Every Woman, for Every Child," which calls attention to the need to care for both mother and child during and after pregnancy, according to the March for Life website.

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle

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