The dignity of every human life was the focus of a major pro-life event in Los Angeles on Saturday. More than 15,000 people joined speakers, religious leaders and entertainers to encourage outreach to those in need.
“OneLife LA means sharing the love of God with others — especially those who are poor and forgotten, and those who are alone and excluded,” Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles said Jan. 23. “With God’s love — there are no boundaries, no borders, no barriers. Let’s keep building our friendships and together let us build a Los Angeles that welcomes life and serves life and celebrates life.”
“No one should go unnoticed or unloved in our society! No one should feel excluded or like they are a burden or an inconvenience. Wherever dignity is denied, wherever people are in slavery — that’s where we need to be.”
OneLife LA organizers said the event aims to promote “a culture of life” that values every human person, especially those who are marginalized. The Jan. 23 event followed the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that mandated legal abortion across the U.S.
The event began at La Placita Olvera, a historic Los Angeles parish. Participants then walked as a group to Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles, where they listened to speakers and entertainers in front of City Hall.
Speakers included Charles Blake, the presiding bishop of the Church of God in Christ and a leading African-American Christian.
“Let us as the people of God, as people of good will, as those who love babies, rejoice in the children that God has blessed us with. Let us stand for justice for the unborn. Let us proclaim that all babies deserve the right to life,” the Pentecostal leader said.
He cited embryology and developmental biology as proof that human embryos are human persons. He said his community feels a special responsibility to speak out against the injustice of abortion because of its roots in the black Christian experience and tradition.
“No human being at any stage of development may legitimately be killed because he or she is regarded as inconvenient or burdensome,” Blake said.
Bishop Gerald Barnes of the Diocese of San Bernardino also spoke.
Other speakers included actress Patricia Heaton, cancer patient advocate James J. Hanson, pro-life advocate Karyme Lozano of the Vida Initiative, and retired Los Angeles school teacher Millicent “Mama” Hill.
Lianna Rebolledo, founder of the anti-domestic violence group Loving Life, emceed the event with actor Danny Jacobs. Musical performers included pop star Alexander Acha and the group Trio Ellas.
More than 20 community partners attended the event. They encouraged people to volunteer for community activities such as feeding the homeless, finding families for foster children, supporting pregnant women, and visiting the elderly. Other partners worked against human trafficking and solicited donations of hair to create hairpieces for children who suffer medical hair loss.
The founding organizations of OneLife LA include the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Office of Life, Justice and Peace.
After the event, Archbishop Gomez celebrated a requiem Mass for the unborn at Los Angeles’ Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
He contrasted the joy of the OneLife LA procession with the weeping and mourning for victims of abortion.
“There is a darker, quieter beauty to our liturgy tonight, as tonight we mourn the lives that will never be — because of abortion,” he said in his evening homily.
“Tonight we mourn but our mourning is full of hope,” the archbishop said. “My brothers and sisters, we can never allow ourselves to give in — to sadness or bitterness or anger. Because we trust in the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation. We know that our sorrow will be turned to joy.”
“We need to restore the sense of mercy in our own lives and in our society. Mercy for those who make mistakes. Mercy for those who are inconvenient and unexpected. Mercy for those who impose a burden on our way of life.”