This Sunday: Day of the Unborn Child

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
1 Apr 2016

Missionaries of Charity join last
year's procession

His Excellency, Bishop Antoine Charbel Tarabay of the Maronite Eparchy of Australia, will lead the Day of the Unborn Child's procession through the streets of Sydney this Sunday, 3 April.

The procession will begin with 10.30am Mass at St Mary's Cathedral, followed by the Regina Coeli prayer being recited at midday.  The procession will then leave the Cathedral for the streets of Sydney before returning to the Cathedral at 1.30pm, where the event will conclude with Benediction.

Each year the Day of the Unborn Child is celebrated on the nearest Sunday to the Feast of the Annunciation.  The Annunciation is usually celebrated on 25 March each year, but given that the date coincided with Good Friday this year, the feast was moved to Monday, 4 April (after the conclusion of the Easter Octave.)

One of the most important Feasts in the Catholic liturgical calendar, the Feast of the Annunciation commemorates the day when Our Lord Jesus Christ became a tiny infant in the womb of His mother, and so is seen as an appropriate day to pray for unborn children, and to remember the estimated 80,000 children who each year lose their lives to abortion.

The procession stops outside
NSW Parliament House

It is also a day to pray for parents, and for those who participate in abortions.

The Day of the Unborn Child is also a day to pray for parents and for the conversion of and mercy for those who participate in abortions.  It holds special significance this year, given that it falls on Divine Mercy Sunday, in the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. 

In his 1985 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, St John Paul II reminded those who have been involved in abortion of the importance of repentance and the availability of mercy.  He said:

"I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and to his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child."

The event attracts thousands of people each year

The event is organised by Family Life International Australia and attracts thousands of people each year, and will proceed regardless of the weather.  Executive Director Paul Hanrahan has asked the faithful of Sydney to come to the procession to help be a witness to life and to defend the defenceless.  "We cannot stop this scourge of abortion if we as Catholics do not stand up and be a voice for those who can't speak for themselves," he said.

Bishop Tarabay was ordained to the priesthood in 1993 and was appointed as Bishop of the Maronite Eparchy of Australia in 2013.  He completed his Doctorate of Moral Theology in Bioethics at the Alfonsiana Faculty of the Lateran University in a comparative study of Bioethical teachings in the Catholic and Muslim traditions.  He has written widely on bioethics and last year, he published a book entitled Bioethics at the Crossroad of Religions: Thoughts on the Foundations of Bioethics in Christianity and Islam, which is available through Connor Court publishing.