The Arkansas Catholic reports that Bishop Anthony Taylor of the Diocese of Little Rock will not participate in the annual March for Life anti-abortion demonstration Sunday because the keynote speaker will be Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who supports the death penalty.
Taylor led the opening prayer last year. He will participate in masses that day that
He said in a letter to the diocese members about his decision not to participate:
The reason is that Arkansas Right to Life has chosen as the keynote speaker for the rally a person who has good anti-abortion credentials but otherwise is decidedly not an appropriate pro-life speaker, namely Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who this last year worked tirelessly to secure the execution of four criminals who posed no further threat to society. You will recall that the Diocese of Little Rock was very vocal in appealing for clemency for these four men, but we were opposed at every turn by Attorney General Rutledge.
For this reason, I asked Arkansas Right to Life to choose a more appropriate keynote speaker, indicating that I could not participate in what was supposed to be a pro-life event otherwise. But Arkansas Right to Life has refused to do so. You are certainly still free to participate, but this is the reason we are not promoting the Rally for Life at the State Capitol this year. I imagine that many of you may choose to go ahead and participate in the march but then skip the rally.
“As you know, the Church teaches a consistent ethic of life in which human life and human dignity must be protected from the first moment of conception to natural death and every stage in between. This means, among other things, that all lives have inherent God-given dignity. Even people who have been sentenced to death possess this dignity, which is why capital punishment must be abolished.
I asked Rutledge’s office for a reaction and received this statement:
“I look forward to being the keynote at this year’s March for Life and encourage anyone interested in protecting the sanctity of life for the unborn to participate.”