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Culture of Life Means Changing Hearts

Culture of life means changing hearts, president tells March for Life

By Jerry Filteau
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- "A true culture of life cannot be built by changing laws alone. We've all got to work to change hearts," President George W. Bush told tens of thousands of participants in the 34th annual March for Life Jan. 22.

Bush spoke by phone at the beginning of a two-hour rally on the National Mall preceding the marchers' slow, peaceful trek around the Capitol to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.

With temperatures hovering right around freezing, the marchers packing several square blocks of the Mall and overflowing onto side streets turned the previous day's snowfall into acres of muddy slush.

Among featured speakers was U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican whose appearance at the microphone sparked huge cheers from a large Kansas delegation just in front of the stage. Hundreds of people in all parts of the crowd waved blue "Brownback for president" signs, reflecting support for his decision to make a bid for the Republican presidential nomination next year.

"We need a culture of life that respects all life ... from conception to natural death," said Brownback, a Catholic.

"The unborn person is unique, is sacred, is beautiful" and he or she "deserves protection," he added.

Later Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., who also attended the rally, spoke privately with the senator.

The archbishop told Catholic News Service that he "thanked him for making the sacrifice for running for national office."

"We support the values he stands for," Archbishop Naumann added. "We need people like him."

Among the more than 20 Catholic bishops at the rally were Cardinals Justin Rigali of Philadelphia and Sean P. O'Malley of Boston.

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke of St. Louis, who led the rally's final prayer before the start of the march, thanked the marchers for their "daily engagement in the fostering of human life ... without exception, without compromise."

The theme of this year's march was "Thou shalt protect the equal right to life of each innocent human in existence at fertilization. No exception! No compromise!"

Nellie Gray, who has led the March for Life since its inception in 1974, said she warned abortion advocates back then that they were on a "slippery slope" that would also lead to euthanasia.

Among people she introduced on the stage were Bobby Schindler and Suzanne Schindler Vitadamo, the brother and sister of Terri Schindler Schiavo, the Florida woman who two years ago died after her life support was removed by court order at her husband's request, despite efforts by her natural family to keep her alive.

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