BERLIN (OSV News) — Pro-life marches were held simultaneously in two German cities for the first time Sept. 16, drawing over 6,000 participants.
While a March for Life initiative is well-established in Berlin, the annual demonstration against abortion has now made its debut in Cologne, where it was held simultaneously with the one in the German capital. Both marches were met with counter-protests.
The National Association for the Right to Live — called Bundesverband Lebensrecht in German, or BVL — organized both marches and said that almost 4,000 people took to the streets in Berlin and about 2,800 in Cologne. BVL is a federation of 15 associations and initiatives.
The crowd estimate by the Berlin police was much lower at around 2,000. The Cologne police did not assess the crowd size.
According to the organizers, the annual march is the largest rally for the protection of life in Germany.
The event in both cities drew counter-protests. During the march through Berlin’s city center, police said they were largely able to prevent any attempts at disruption. In Cologne, however, the march came to a standstill. The final rally in the city center could not take place because opponents occupied the square.
Archbishop Heiner Koch of Berlin, Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg and several auxiliary bishops took part in the opening rally in front of the Brandenburg Gate — an event disrupted by chants, whistles and drums from opponents. Auxiliary Bishop Dominikus Schwaderlapp of Cologne joined the march in that city.
BVL national director Alexandra Maria Linder accused politicians of not being interested in the rising abortion numbers. She also warned against efforts to legally permit assisted suicide.
She said that pregnant women who face conflicts are increasingly left alone and the number of abortions are increasing, according to German Catholic Domradio, based in Cologne. Linder also sharply criticized plans to legalize surrogacy, “combined with the further degradation of children into products that can be ordered and their arbitrary dehumanization before birth.”
Archbishop Stephan Burger of Freiburg praised the march as a “visible sign of the precious gift of life,” as quoted by Domradio. At the same time, he emphasized that “protecting life as the highest good includes supporting people at the end of life, advocating for inclusion, and not forgetting to take the situation of expectant mothers into account and support them.”
Domradio reported that Bishop Karl-Heinz Wiesemann of Speyer said the commitment to the right to life also is shown “through the advice and support of pregnant women, which encourages them to say yes to the unborn life that is growing within them,” he said.