The pilgrimage began in 1984 with two coaches from London, led by Fr Jeremy Davies (Westminster Diocese). The intention was, and still is, to pray for an end to abortion and to make reparation for the millions of abortions that have taken place. Soon, others began to come, at first by car and then later by coach. Now, more than a 1000 pilgrims travel by coach from many points. Information about the pilgrimage is widely circulated among individuals and small groups in many other areas too. All pro-life leaders are invited to join the pilgrimage and are asked to encourage their members to take part.
We have been blessed and encouraged by the Bishops who have led the pilgrimages over the years, and have spoken with compassion, understanding and hope. Pilgrims have returned to their homes strengthened for the tasks they undertake on behalf of those who have no voice of their own.
In 2020 the Pilgrimage was led by Bishop Marcus Stock of Leeds. In his homily he said, ‘Pope St John Paul II used the chilling phrase “a culture of death” which “seeks to impose itself on our desire to live, and live to the full” to describe the relativistic and utilitarian culture that has been overtaking our modern civilization; a culture which diminishes human sensitivity and often renders it powerless to acknowledge the inherent and equal dignity that human life possesses regardless of its stage or condition. Such a culture only will be changed, and the great joy of human life which God gives us only will be enjoyed, when we are faithful to what God asks of us and, without fear, proclaim and live the Gospel of Life.’
He also said, ‘There is reason to hope though! It appears to me that the current generation of young people are more pro-life than the generation of their parents. The hearts of more and more young people are being stirred to listen to and appreciate Christ’s Gospel of Life and Love. The young men and women of today are only too aware of the knife edge on which all life is balanced due to the abuse of our planet and its resources. This makes them more sensitive and conscious to the dangers which today threaten human life. It also opens their eyes to the lies which have been promoted by the culture of death that grows so unashamedly in countries which are gripped by consumerism and utilitarianism.3 Our Christian faith teaches us that life is more powerful than the forces of death.’
The full text of Bishop Marcus’s homily can be downloaded found here.
Bishops who have previously led the Pilgrimage
Rt Rev. Bishop Mark O’Toole, Bishop of Plymouth
Rt Rev. Robert Byrne CO, Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham.
Rt Rev. Alan Williams, Bishop of Brentwood
Rt Rev. Philip Egan, Bishop of Portsmouth
Rt Rev. Mark Davies, Bishop of Shrewsbury
Rt Rev. John Sherrington, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster
Most Rev. Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham
Most Rev. Kevin McDonald, Archbishop of Southwark
Rt Rev. Gordon Wheeler, Bishop of Leeds
Rt Rev. Ambrose Griffiths, Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle
Rt Rev. Peter Doyle, Bishop of Northampton
Rt Rev. Thomas McMahon, Bishop of Brentwood
Rt Rev. Patrick O’Donoghue, Bishop of Lancaster
Rt Rev. Arthur Roche, formerly Bishop of Leeds
Rt Rev. Alan Hopes, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster
Rt Rev. John Arnold, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster
Rt Rev. John Hine, Auxiliary Bishop of Southwark
Rt Rev. Marcus Stock, Bishop of Leeds