Archbishop Miller warmly welcomes east-bound trekkers
By Alistair Burns
The B.C. Catholic
A group of pro-life pilgrims walking across the country on a journey to support life dropped in at the John Paul II Pastoral Centre May 18. They were about to dip their toes in the Pacific Ocean before heading east to Ottawa, but first they sat down with Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB.
“We’re walking to change hearts and minds on the abortion issue. We’re starting the debate again; it’s been closed for so long,” said Patrick Wilson, Crossroads Canada leader.
He said he thought the private member’s bill of Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth, which seeks to reopen the question of a legal definition of when life legally begins, would lead to increased media attention. In Wilson’s opinion, this should benefit the walkers on their arduous trek across the provinces.
Crossroads began in the United States in 1995, when pro-lifers decided to walk from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. Martha Nolan, the American executive director of Crossroads, said the group’s mission is a call to prayer and witness, “especially as we wear pro-life shirts all the way.”
Since the group could not safely walk on some highways, she explained, they would take the Crowsnest Highway, go east to Calgary, then onward to Saskatoon. They had plans to stay with parishes and people.
Nolan elaborated, “At one time we’ll have two people walking, a guy and girl. They’ll go together up to 15 miles (24 km), and switch” for another team of two. “We’re a 24-hour operation with an RV as a support vehicle, and we’ll set up camping posts.”
Archbishop Miller interjected, “It’s funny; people never start in the east and come to the glorious west. Ottawa, it’s such a tiny town. I mean, I’m from Ottawa,” which prompted a round of laughter.
He switched back to the serious topic at hand by asking the Crossroads walkers whether they personally knew women who had decided to have abortions.
Lindsay Richie, a first-time walker from the Okanagan, said, “Two of my close friends have had abortions in the past. They feel regret, even though they think they’ve been forgiven.”
She also thought that women had been fed a one-sided, false diet of only the benefits of abortion. The emotional impact notwithstanding, the procedure can lead to breast cancer, affect the mother’s ability to have other children, and cause infection.
The archbishop asked what their plan of action was when encountering pro-choice Catholics.
“When people don’t agree from a religious point of view, you have to formulate a different argument, and appeal to their reasoning and intellect. Let’s have an intelligent discussion,” explained Alannah Walker, a first-time walker from Ottawa.
“I bring up how the sanctity of life is so important; the Church has always believed in ‘from the womb to the tomb,’” Nolan chimed in.
The archbishop concluded, “This is a blessed thing you are doing for the unborn, for the life of the Church, and for the good of humanity. I admire you for this pilgrimage.”
The Crossroads team hopes to arrive in Ottawa by Aug. 10.