Washington D.C., Jan 29, 2021 / 08:39 am (CNA).- The U.S. bishops’ pro-life chair exhorted Catholics not to be discouraged, but to pray and fast for an end to abortion.

“Our weapons to defeat the culture of death are not bricks, guns or, Molotov cocktails, but prayer, fasting and almsgiving,” Archbishop Naumann said in his homily for the annual March for Life Vigil Mass on Jan. 28. He celebrated the Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

“We must not yield to discouragement, much less despair. We must also not indulge in anger or attacking those who disagree with us,” he added, asking Catholics to “pray and fast” for President Joe Biden to have a change of heart on his support for legal abortion.

Naumann offered the Mass just hours after Biden, in his second week in office, allowed for U.S. funding of international pro-abortion groups. On Jan. 22, Biden—a Catholic—had also pledged to codify Roe v. Wade on the 48th anniversary of the Roe decision.

Despite the setbacks, Naumann encouraged pro-lifers not to yield to despair or anger.

“We must pray and fast that the President will cease attempting to confuse people about Catholic teaching by trampling on the sanctity of human life while presenting himself as a devout Catholic,” Naumann said.

Archbishop Naumann is the chair of the U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB) pro-life committee.

He celebrated the opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life, normally attended by thousands on the eve of the annual March for Life. However, the 2021 Mass was closed to the general public due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The March for Life is an annual pro-life demonstration around the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

Normally attended by tens of thousands of pro-life advocates, the 48th annual March for Life is closed to the public and will be live-streamed on Friday as pro-life leaders walk through the streets of Washington, D.C.

On Thursday, Archbishop Naumann emphasized that the COVID precautions taken by society “have communicated to our elderly that their lives are important and treasured.”

“Perhaps, the greatest bright spot in our nation’s response to COVID-19 was the extraordinary measures that we have taken to protect the most vulnerable, those with pre-existing health conditions and the elderly,” Naumann stated.

“In a culture where euthanasia and assisted suicide have gained traction,” he added, “it has been heartening that our COVID protocols are not based on a biased Quality of Life ethic”–restricting care for the elderly and disabled based on an assumption about their “quality of life.”

At the end of his homily, the archbishop explained the Church’s teaching on reception of Holy Communion is not meant to be “inhospitable” or “exclusive.” When a Communion recipient replies “Amen,” he said, it “is an affirmation that we believe and profess all that the Holy Catholic Church believes, teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God.”

“We do not want non-Catholic Christians to profess something that they do not believe,” Naumann said of non-Catholics being instructed not to receive Communion.

“Similarly, integrity requires a Catholic not receive the Eucharist while acting in a manner incoherent with fundamental Catholic teaching,” he said.

Read More: CNA US News