On Friday, January 24, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, joined by members of the Holy Synod, and brother bishops from other jurisdictions, led Orthodox faithful gathered at the 47th March for Life in Washington D.C. in a prayer service for the innocent children whose lives have been taken.
Following the prayer service, Metropolitan Tikhon addressed the faithful, “Today, we march in solidarity with many others from across our nation to show our government leaders our commitment to life—to life that begins from the very moment of conception. As we march today, we sing praises to God, our God Who does wonders, praying that He work His wonders and move the heart of our nation to repentance.” Recalling the words from the Wisdom of Solomon, “God did not make death, and He does not delight in the death of the living. For He created all things that they might exist (Wis Sol 1:13-14)”, Metropolitan Tikhon prayed that our Lord would, “open the hearts of our government leaders to have pity for His little ones, so that our leaders may overturn the sorrowful legislation which legalized abortion 47 years ago.” You can read Metropolitan Tikhon’s address in full below.
Metropolitan Tikhon then led the Orthodox faithful in the march down Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court. Marching with Metropolitan Tikhon, from the Orthodox Church in America were His Eminence Archbishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh, His Eminence Archbishop Michael of New York, His Eminence Archbishop David of Sitka, His Grace Bishop Paul of Chicago and His Grace Bishop Daniel of Santa Rosa. His Grace Bishop Thomas of the Antiochian Archdiocese in North America, and His Eminence Archbishop Daniel of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA also marched with Metropolitan Tikhon.
This was the 33rd year in which the Orthodox Church in America has participated in the March for Life. In 1987 His Beatitude Metropolitan Herman, then Bishop of Philadelphia, and Archpriest John Kowalczyk marched for the first time. Bishop Herman addressed the marchers that year, becoming the first Orthodox hierarch to address the annual march.
Others participating in the march were seminarians, faculty and their families from Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary lead by their deans Archpriest John Parker and Archpriest Chad Hatfield respectively; and Archpriest Alexander Rentel, Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America, together with clergy and faithful from the Diocese of New York and New Jersey, the Diocese of the Midwest, the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania, the Diocese of Western Pennsylvania and the Diocese of the South.
On the eve of the March, Metropolitan Tikhon and his delegation attended the Prayer Vigil at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where they were welcomed by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Archbishop Joseph extended a warm welcome to those representing the Orthodox Church. Also in attendance were His Grace Bishop Apostolos of Medeia, representing the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States, His Eminence Archbishop Daniel of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and representing the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, Archbishop Dionysius John Kawak.
Read His Beatitude’s address to the faithful following the Divine Liturgy before the March for Life. A video is also available.
Address of His Beatitude Metropolian Tikhon to the Faithful at the March for Life
Your Eminences, Your Graces, Reverend Fathers, Esteemed Seminarians, Distinguished Guests, and fellow marchers,
I greet you all today as we gather here in our nation’s capital for the March for Life. We gather today in prayer and somber remembrance for the innocent children whose lives have been taken while still in the womb. We weep for these children, as once did Rachel who wept for her children. We ask God to grant them a place in His Heavenly Kingdom, as our Lord Jesus Christ says to us, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt 19:14).”
We pray as well for healing and repentance for those who, for whatever reason, have participated in the act of abortion. Our Lord tells us, “He who comes to Me, I will never cast out (John 6:37).” We know that Christ, Who desires not the death of a sinner but that he might turn from his wickedness and live, grants forgiveness for any and every sin when we come to Him in repentance. We entreat Him to move to repentance those who have participated in the act of abortion, so that they may find that forgiveness and healing which our Lord so freely gives. Today, we march in solidarity with many others from across our nation to show our government leaders our commitment to life—to life that begins from the very moment of conception. As we march today, we sing praises to God, our God Who does wonders, praying that He work His wonders and move the heart of our nation to repentance. We implore Him to open the hearts of our government leaders to pity for His little ones, so that our leaders may overturn the sorrowful legislation which legalized abortion 47 years ago. We proclaim to them the words of Solomon, “God did not make death, and He does not delight in the death of the living. For He created all things that they might exist (Wis Sol 1:13-14).”
By our presence here, we show our government leaders that the Orthodox Church stands firmly with our forefathers throughout the ages on the side of life. As I said this morning after the Divine Liturgy, we proclaim life with the Defender of Life, our Lord Jesus Christ. We firmly proclaim life from the moment of conception to the end of life and urge our nation to proclaim the same truth. We show our nation that we can allow no excuse for abortion. At the same time, we proclaim the love and forgiveness that Christ offers to all of us, and we extend our open arms in love and mercy to those who have participated in the sin of abortion.
May God guide our nation to the knowledge of His truth and to the commitment to life, so that all human beings may be given the opportunity to glorify Him, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.