The annual Right To Life sponsored walk took place on Bank Holiday Monday, 29 May, in Clitheroe, Lancashire, with the prayers and good wishes of absent friends and supporters accompanying all who participated on the day.
For a seventh consecutive year, Saint Michael and Saint John's Church, in Our Lady of the Valley parish, hosted the walk – and once again Monsignor John Corcoran and his parishioners acted as stewards and refreshment-bearers, while the ladies of the parish excelled themselves in providing a delicious buffet to close a memorable event.
This time 117 people took part in the walk, among them special guests Archbishop Emeritus Patrick Kelly of Liverpool, Bishop John Arnold of Salford and Lord David Alton.
Archbishop Patrick had with him the exquisite crosier he had received from the Archdiocese for his Golden Jubilee of Priesthood in 2012. He described the crosier – normally kept in the Metropolitan Cathedral – as reflecting the glorious golden and blue light, the colours of our beginnings and of eternity, which shine through a Cross.
The Archbishop Emeritus, who paid tribute to the victims of the previous week's Manchester bombing, continued with the theme of light when he said: "Everyone who accompanies the labour of Right To Life reaches out in love to lives touched by the darkest of storm clouds. Their love, their seeing and their acting out of love means that they know, they are light; and their light creates space in which each one of us can live and move and have our being."
Lord David Alton told the Right To Life walkers that this year marked the 50th anniversary of the passing of the 1967 Abortion Act, which has resulted in the deaths of 8.5 million unborn babies – almost 600 every single day in this country.
He also spoke about the scientific experiments that are permitted on the human embryo, explaining how even animals have a greater protection in law. Lord Alton recounted how Saint Teresa of Calcutta had herself visited Westminster 30 years ago to support his efforts in Parliament to try to change the abortion law. When asked what she would do with the unwanted children, Mother Teresa had replied, "Give them to me; give them to me," before quoting the rabbi who had said, "The man who saves a single life, saves the world."
Lord Alton remembered, too, his farewell conversation with the future saint in which he had said: "It's hard for those of us – people like you and me [i.e. the Clitheroe walkers] – who battle on year after year, wondering if people are listening." However, Mother Teresa retorted: "David, you are not called upon to be successful, you are called upon to be faithful." Which prompted Lord Alton to tell the gathering: "This is what this walk is about. It's a walk of witness and a walk of reparation, but it's also about being faithful to the very cause of life itself."
Bishop John Arnold began his address with a prayer he said would be familiar to those present from Salford Diocese – "Lord, stay with us on our journey" – and which, he added, could apply to just about every aspect of our lives. Moreover, with the Clitheroe walk being a journey in which participants were promoting something they held to be fundamentally important – namely, the right to life from conception to natural end – Bishop John emphasised that: "By our witness there is no doubt at all that people's ideas, knowledge and understanding are being changed, and gradually, perhaps only too gradually, there is a sense of the value of life being reincarnated in our general thinking."