Wake County

Bishop Michael Burbidge blesses the unborn, prepares for next month’s pro-life rallies

Bishop Michael Burbidge talks about the acquisition of stained glass window from an historic Philadelphia church that will be used in the new cathedral the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh will construct in west Raleigh, during an interview in his office on Wednesday December 19, 2012 in Raleigh, N.C.
Bishop Michael Burbidge talks about the acquisition of stained glass window from an historic Philadelphia church that will be used in the new cathedral the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh will construct in west Raleigh, during an interview in his office on Wednesday December 19, 2012 in Raleigh, N.C. rwillett@newsobserver.com

Bishop Michael Burbidge delivered a special prayer for dozens of congregants – members of families expecting babies – at a blessing for the unborn during Mass at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church on Sunday.

Burbidge, of the Diocese of Raleigh, told of his 5-year-old grandniece casually dropping into a phone conversation the news her mother was having twins.

“We know that there’s a miracle involved,” he said. “Because these babies and all babies are God’s creation.”

The service could be held at any time of year, but it connects well with the Gospel of the Annunciation, Burbidge said later, when “Mary was told by God’s messenger she will conceive of the Holy Spirit and the child will be in her womb. That child, of course, is the savior of the world. But every child, of course, is God’s creation, God’s masterpiece to be treasured and loved.”

The blessing also comes right before a month of concentrated anti-abortion activities for which Burbidge and the diocese will be organizers or participants.

“January is a very, very significant month for us,” Burbidge said in an interview.

He will celebrate a Mass for Life behind the Legislative Building in Raleigh on Jan. 17, the weekend after the legislative session begins. The Mass will precede the N.C. Right to Life rally and march.

A Love My Life youth rally for Catholic teenagers will be held the same day. Chastity is this year’s youth rally theme.

The youth rally message “is about the dignity of the person,” said Jackie Bonk, director of the office for Human Life and Dignity in the diocese.

The youth rally has grown every year, Burbidge said.

“It’s a beautiful sign that this generation understands that life is to be protected,” he said.

Mass and youth rally attendees will be asked to participate in the N.C. Right to Life march.

The diocese will also send about 25 to 33 busloads of people to the Right to Life rally in Washington later in January.

Burbidge praised a controversial 2013 law requiring a rewrite of abortion clinic regulations, calling the law “pro-woman” and aimed at health and safety.

Controversy over those rules revived this year when the state Department of Health and Human Services released the proposals. The N.C. Values Coalition and the N.C. Family Policy Council are critical of the proposed regulations, saying at a public hearing last week that they go too easy on abortion clinics.

Debate over the rules is likely to continue next year.

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