Prayer march with auxiliary bishop Dr. Andreas Laun in Salzburg on the occasion of Humanae Vitae’s anniversary

On July 25, 2008, 180 Pro Lifers congregated in Salzburg for the biggest march for life and marched through the city singing and praying.
The march was led by auxiliary bishop Dr. Andreas Laun from Salzburg and Father Rudolf Atzert, German-speaking pastoral counsellor for pilgrims in Fatima, as well as a Franciscan father and an Orthodox priest.
The date of July 25 was chosen consciously to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the publication of Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI.‘s controversial yet prophetic encyclical.

Father Atzert, who had participated in Munich’s 134th Vigil for Life with about 100 participants in the morning, consequently dedicated his homily to the topic of Humanae Vitae. He focused on the law of God and emphasized that the disregard of it is the root of all evil: “Let us pray for bishop who have the courage to say: ‘In my diocese, not the Statement of Königstein (Königsteiner Erklärung) will be in effect anymore, but once again the law of God.’”

Center: Auxiliary Bishop Laun, right: Pfr. Atzert, left: Franciscan Father Bernhard; front: Johannes Josef Bucher, Head of Life Center Salzburg

In Salzburg, the participants for the first time faced counter-demonstrators who tried to disturb the prayer march.

The event was jointly organized by EuroProLife, Human Life International Austria, Jugend für das Leben Österreich (Youth for Life Austria), Gebetsinitiative (Prayer Initiative) Salzburg, Life Center Munich and Life Center Salzburg. The marches’ climax took place on Staatsbrücke, where 100 red and white roses were thrown into the Salzach river while 50 boys’ and 50 girls’ names were being called out. At each name, bishop Laun rang a death bell.

This mourning ceremony even seemed to impress the counter-demonstrants, who said: “They are calling out real names!” One young man commented: “My little sister’s name was also called out.”

Although the about 10 young people mocked and imitated the calling out of the names, they became increasingly silent and visibly affected. Maybe the calling out of ‘real’ names for the first time made them aware that abortion’s victims are ‘real’ children.

On the internet, a Gloria TV film about the event is available here


Dear Pro Lifers,

The encounter with the young counter-demonstrants in Salzburg once again shows how important it is to carry God’s love into the world. But it also shows how difficult it is to remain calm and in prayer in spite of concernment and sadness.

Posters like “If Mary had had an abortion, we have been spared you” did not fail to shock several participants. Similarly, offensive posters along the route of the procession, some attacking or mocking bishop Laun personally, might have made some of us angry.

But what is it that we are experiencing? Is it not Golgotha ‘live’? Was Jesus not mocked, laughed at and spit on by his enemies? We should not consider it a humiliation to us, but an honor. We bring Jesus to “Modern Golgotha”, as Monsignore Reilly keeps emphasizing. Jesus wants to go there with us and through us. Is it not normal then that we have to – or are allowed to – share a bit in his suffering?

How did Jesus react? He remained calm and prayed: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” The young people in Salzburg similarly seemed to lack knowledge. Probably not thoroughly informed about the topic at all, they shouted “Abortion is women’s right!” at the pro lifers.

Once again, this made clear that pro lifers are generally labelled misogynists. It is necessary to clarify this misunderstanding determinedly. After all, we distinctly care not only about the unborn children, but even more about their mothers and all people involved in abortion, including the young demonstrants and all other advocates of abortion. They are all precious children of God! Maybe we can accept them in this attitude and receive them in silent loving prayer when they face us again in Munich on October 4.

Some participants in the march told us about a deep inner affection for the boys and girls, some of which made a lonely, sad and defiant impression. “Pitiable – we have to heal them by love,” one participant said after the march. Let us pray that the hearts of our opponents open up for the suffering that the wound of abortion inflicts in our families and societies. Let us pray that they come to understand that we are not opposed to women’s freedom, but that their freedom is exactly what we are fighting for. Above all, let us pray that the love of Jesus may reach their hearts so they themselves can become whole and holy.

We certainly cannot do that, but God wants to do it through us. Let us be His tools and be receptive to His Love!

Due to an invitation of the Pro Life Organization “Incluyendo,” Wolfgang Hering was in Mexico from August 20 to August 27 to speak before Pro Life organizations. In this very month, Mexican Parliament will discuss the issue of abortion. Incluyendo had heard that an ecumenical prayer network for the protection of life is developing in Europe and that at 31 abortion sites where peaceful procession went to date 12 of them have stopped the killing of the children, so spontaneously they invited Mr Hering to speak about his apostolates including EuroProLife.

Please support both the initiative and Mr. Hering by your prayers. The high number of talks and projects and the spiritual burden of the apostolate take up a lot of energy. Please pray for his strength and health!

I would like to recommend to you the congress from October 3 to October 5, which features first-rate speakers. We would be very glad to celebrate 40 years of Humanae Vitae with you in Munich’s ‘Residenz.’