A consistent support for life

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In the bitter cold of January, he joins tens of thousands of other pro-life supporters to march up Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court. The evening before the March for Life, he officiates at adoration services with thousands of young people at the Life is Very Good rally, then celebrates Mass for them the next morning. In the summer heat, he prays the rosary and stands in silent witness in front of local abortion clinics.

Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde is committed to life from conception until natural death.

"We are a strong pro-life diocese," said Franciscan Sister Clare Hunter, director of the diocesan Respect Life Office.

That commitment to life, said Sister Clare, is because of Bishop Loverde's involvement and leadership in pro-life activities. For nearly 15 years, the bishop has celebrated a monthly Mass at a diocesan church before going to an abortion clinic to pray the rosary.

Since 2006, Sister Clare has joined him, along with about 20 to 30 parishioners. It's a non-confrontational vigil - just prayers in front of abortion clinics in the diocese.

Bishop Loverde has blessed ultrasound machines donated by the diocesan Knights of Columbus councils for crisis pregnancy centers.

The program, started in 2009 by the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council, provides matching funds to councils that raise money for ultrasound machines. According to the Knights, many women who see an ultrasound of their baby choose not to have an abortion. The first recipient in Virginia was 1st Choice in Leesburg, and the bishop was there to bless the ultrasound machine.

"I'm very proud of the Knights," said the bishop before the blessing. "(They are such) a powerful group of men in he church. I am grateful that the councils came together for this great effort."

The bishop's pro-life efforts don't stop at abortion.

In 2005, Bishop Loverde and Richmond Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo founded the Virginia Catholic Conference (VCC), which represents the Arlington and Richmond dioceses before the Virginia General Assembly in matters of interest to Catholics. The conference works on many life issues - abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research and the death penalty.

"Under his leadership, the conference has been able to move forward on a number of pro-life initiatives," said Jeff Caruso, VCC director.

Caruso said that the VCC has been able to restrict abortions in the state because of the work of Bishop Loverde.

In a 2006 column in the Catholic Herald, the bishop wrote, "What is clear is that embryonic stem-cell research is nothing less than human experimentation, producing no verifiable and beneficial results, while adult and umbilical cord stem-cell research is verifiably beneficial, with a great potential for even greater good."

This year, the Virginia General Assembly debated methods of executing condemned prisoners. In May, Bishops Loverde and DiLorenzo released a statement that said more killing is not the answer.

"The death penalty does not provide true healing for those who mourn, nor does it embody the Gospel of Life," they wrote.

"If all human lives are sacred and if a civilized society such as ours can seek redress and protect itself by means other than taking a human life, why are we continuing to execute people?" the bishops asked.

Bishop Loverde's 2013 homily at the Life is Very Good rally at the Patriot Center in Fairfax may sum up his thoughts on being pro-life.

"I would like to go on record as stating that you also ... are each tasked with a mission from God: to defend and uphold the dignity of all human life, from conception until natural death," said the bishop.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015