Participants with placards and white crosses at the "March for Life © Christian Mang (KNA)
Standing up for the protection of life from conception to death is no walk in the park in Berlin. At the 15. "March for Life" participants once again received episcopal support as well.
Every year, it is probably Berlin's loudest demonstration: But at the "March for Life," it is not the participants from all over Germany who make tourists sit up in horror.
Hundreds of mostly young counter-demonstrators from the left-wing alternative camp give the "pro-lifers" a deafening accompaniment with chants and whistles.
At the 15. Edition of the five-kilometer march on Saturday was no different. On the lawn near the Reichstag building, where, according to the organizers' estimates, around 8.When thousands of opponents of abortion and active euthanasia gathered, sacropop from a grandstand only temporarily drowned out the background noise. Police spoke of a low four-digit number of demonstrators.
800 police officers were deployed in Berlin on this day – but also for other rallies – to ensure a peaceful event. Nevertheless, a group of women managed to briefly storm the tribune. "If Maria had had an abortion, we would have been spared this," they chanted before security forces pushed them away.
Bishops at "Saturday for life
The organizers of the Bundesverband Lebensrecht (BVL), an association of 13 pro-life organizations, were not deterred by the incident. Alluding to the "Fridays for future" demonstration by climate activists the day before, BVL Chair Alexandra Maria Linder spoke of a "Saturday for life".
As in previous years, Linder was able to welcome a number of top church representatives to the event. The Catholic Church was represented by Bishops Stefan Oster (Passau), Rudolf Voderholzer (Regensburg) and Wolfgang Ipolt (Gorlitz) as well as Auxiliary Bishops Florian Worner (Augsburg) and Matthias Heinrich (Berlin). The Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church was represented by its bishop Hans-Jorg Voigt, the German Evangelical Alliance by its chairman Ekkehard Vetter.
Protestant regional bishops were – as usual – not there. Berlin's Protestant Bishop Markus Droge had opposed "this kind of demonstrations" last year, saying they "polarized more than contributed to factual discussions".
Bishop Oster against instrumentalization of the march
Catholic pastors took the opportunity to help shape the march again this year. For example, like other speakers before him, Oster strongly criticized the fact that in Germany alone there are more than 100 annual.The leftist side, for example, is too much in favor of abortion and emphasizes the right of every human being to live from conception to natural death. At the same time, however, the Passau bishop turned against a political instrumentalization of the march.
The left, for example, rightly emphasizes that there should be no group-based misanthropy, "i.e. reservations against people just because they are foreigners or refugees or disabled people or people with a same-sex orientation," Oster said.
"But the most lethally threatened group of people in our society today is the unborn child with disabilities," he emphasized. Around 90 percent of unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome would be aborted. A prenatal test for trisomy 21 as a health insurance benefit would increase this rate once again, the bishop predicted and asked: "Where is the protest against this terrible group-related misanthropy??"
Auxiliary bishop Worner: "All conceivable assistance" for pregnant women
Oster also warned the political right to instrumentalize the march. Whoever is for the protection of life from the beginning to the end must also be "consistent in protecting the other marginalized, for example, the poor, the people who are fleeing, the people who are in danger of drowning in the Mediterranean Sea," said the bishop to the applause of the audience. It was impossible to tell if AfD politician Beatrix von Storch, who was at times besieged by photographers, was clapping.
At the closing service, Worner also condemned a growing "indifference and unconcern" with regard to the dignity of the unborn child. At the same time, like Oster, he urged that pregnant women be provided with "all conceivable help". For the counter-demonstrators it was no reason to stop their protest chants.