Saturday 10th March was, in my opinion, a landmark occasion. It marked a new milestone for pro-life groups and local residents in Stratford, East London, who have been campaigning against a newly opened Bpas abortion facility since August 2011. If you're not up-to-date with what has been happening, please check out the links below:
- Oppose BPAS abortion facility in Stratford - SPUC blog 26/8/2011
- Opposition to latest London abortion clinic is growing- SPUC blog 25/10/2012
- Protests outside Stratford abortion clinic - Newham Recorder 2/11/2011
- Residents’ abortion clinic anger - Newham Recorder 14/11/2011
- Stratford abortion protest continues outside headquarter - Newham Recorder 13/1/2012
Saturday 10th March saw 170-200 people publicly witnessing to the dignity of human life from conception, and opposing the evil of abortion. The group was made up mostly of local residents from Stratford, East London, as well as 10 Catholic priests including the bishop's representative, 10 religious brothers and sisters, and people coming from as far away as Colchester and Bournemouth. Many people in East London - locals of all religions and none - want Bpas shut down, and replaced by real practical support offered to mothers and fathers in need.
The procession and vigil was organised by the Helpers of God's Precious Infants UK, a Roman Catholic pro-life group, with the full support of local churches in the area, and SPUC. The day was open to all, which was reflected in the wide variety of people who joined us.
During the opening Mass, Monsignor John Armitage, the official representative of local Catholic Bishop Thomas McMahon, read out a special letter of support. Bishop Thomas told us we had his full support, and lamented the tragedy of more than 200,000 abortions in the UK every year. Monsignor Armitage also spoke, and reminded us that we have recently seen renewed attacks upon human life in the form of gendercide, articles promoting infanticide, daily abortions, and attacks upon conscientious objection.
After Mass we processed to the Bpas abortion facility, praying as we walked. The procession is lead by the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This image has special significance for many Catholic prolifers all over the world. Monsignor Armitage reminded us that this was a peaceful and prayerful act of witness, but also a political act. Not party-political, but political, because we are not only Christians praying, we are citizens and have a voice in the public square. Below are some photos of the procession and prayer vigil. Everything was cleared by the police and council beforehand. Stewards are used to guide the group, supervise road-crossings, and make sure no pavements or roads are blocked.
Participants prayed and there were moments of silence throughout the vigil. Others were on hand to explain what we were doing and why to any passersby that asked. They did a good job - the entire stock of literature was given out in the space of 2 hours. We then processed back to the church hall for refreshments, discussions, and made plans for the future.
The Helpers very kindly provide buffet and drinks after every vigil, which always goes down well. It was encouraging to chat to people afterwards - a real mix of longstanding prolifers and many who had come along for the first time. We heard short talks from people who had the job of talking to passersby who wanted to know what we were doing and why. I also had the opportunity to briefly explain the SPUC campaign up to now, and what we could do for the future. I also mentioned SPUC's new campaign around the 2012 London Olympics, which consists of educational and practical literature dissemination, and public acts of witness.
Group photo with the priests and religious brothers and sisters who joined us on the day, around the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Many thanks for their support and leadership!
So, there we have it. An excellent and very well attended event, with many more to come. There are plans underway to build on the commitments and good-will of local people, various pro-life groups, and the local parishes.
- Send an email or letter of support to Bishop Thomas and Monsignor Armitage
- Join the Helpers at their vigils, and perhaps start one in your area
- Complain to One Housing CEO Mike Sweeny, who gave Bpas the lease. Ask One Housing to withdraw the lease: firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to CEO Mike Sweeny at One Housing HQ Chalk Farm, London.
- If you like to be involved with the East London Campaign, email me email@example.com There is so much more we can do to make an effective impact.