Archive for November, 2007

Vatican Conference

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

I kind of missed Thanksgiving this year. I was on a plane to Rome, in order to participate in the “Second World Congress of the Ecclesial Organizations Working for Justice and Peace.”

Of course, Priests for Life is one such organization, because the most fundamental social injustice is abortion. Moreover, in Blessed Mother Teresa’s words, abortion is “the greatest destroyer of peace.”

The sessions of this gathering, consisting of several hundred leaders, addressed various aspects of Pope Paul VI’s document “Populorum Progressio,” whose 40th anniversary provided the key theme for the Congress. Many excellent presentations were made and we also gathered in language groups to share our insights and experiences.

Most valuable, however, was simply meeting the people from so many countries and so many ministries who are doing magnificent work in witness to the Gospel, and receiving the invitations to strengthen the presence of Priests for Life into those countries. We are already in many of them through our broadcasts, our literature, and speaking engagements that our pastoral team has made in the past. Some nations have officially established Priests for Life branches.

The opportunities for expansion continue. And I found myself giving thanks all through the day for these people and these opportunities.

So maybe I didn’t miss Thanksgiving after all.

Fr. Frank

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Votes and Conversations

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

Friends,

The bishops issued another “Faithful Citizenship” document this morning. I was present at their assembly in Baltimore for the discussion and vote, and I think the document is certainly an improvement over past such statements. (These are issued every four years in the year prior to a Presidential election.) The improvement is that there is more clarity about the fact that not all the issues are equal. It makes it clear that abortion is not just one issue among many. See my further commentary on the statement by clicking here.

On other matters, speaking of clarity, I occasionally have conversations with people who are not clear about the purpose of Priests for Life. Specifically, some within the diocesan structures of the Church want to know whether we are going to ask people to do things in the pro-life arena different from what the diocese is asking them to do.

First of all, what holds us together as a Church is the person of Jesus Christ. He has articulated a clear Gospel to which we all adhere – in fact, he is the Gospel, and we are united in him as members of his body. Within that body of Christ, then, there are no “outside groups” or “third parties.” By baptism and Confirmation, and by our ongoing sharing in the Eucharist, we are all made part of one another. In every Mass the priest prays not only that the bread and wine will become the body of Christ, but that the people gathered there may receive the same Holy Spirit and become unified as his Body.

Any discussion of unity, therefore, begins with these truths and recognizes that we are already one.

Second, there are different parts of the Body, with different roles. The role of Priests for Life is distinct from that of the hierarchy or the official structure of a diocese. Priests for Life is a movement. More specifically, it is a movement within a movement, a particular charism within the pro-life movement, motivating, encouraging, informing and equipping the faithful to carry out the work of defending life.

As such, Priests for Life does not seek to set policy for a parish or a diocese. The role of deciding official policy belongs to the diocesan bishop and those to whom he entrusts particular responsibilities.

Priests for Life, on the other hand, is a resource of expertise, information, networking, and pastoral experience on various dimensions of the pro-life effort. Many dioceses use our information in forming and implementing their policies. We gladly share the insight and resources we have. And we expect to be part of the conversation in which we are all engaged as we try, together as one Church, to chart the best course and find the most effective means of building a culture of life.

Let us therefore proceed with strong unity with the bishops, and with the humility and readiness to listen to and learn from one another, rejoicing in the diversity of the many roles in the Body of Christ and in the pro-life movement.

Fr. Frank

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Bella

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

Dear Friends:

It was about a year and a half ago that the creators of Bella introduced me to this moving film at a private screening for me and three of my collaborators in Hollywood. I knew then what has become evident now, namely, that this film would be a tremendous encouragement to the pro-life community, and a blessing for everyone else.

Not only is the film itself an inspiration, but even more inspiring is the personal witness of Eduardo, Leo, Alejandro, and those who work with them. These are people of faith. These are people who know their profession, and also know that no professional success is worth anything if honoring and serving the Lord isn’t the first priority. My friendship with these men is an enrichment to me.

It has been a privilege for me to be part of the Bella team, helping to introduce this film to the pro-life community, arranging for various strategic meetings, assisting in the promotion, and also working behind the scenes to encourage those who have given so much of themselves and their careers to make Bella happen.

Now, of course, as I have said in my speaking engagements, on my TV and radio shows, and in my email blasts, it is up to us to make it a success. The more we can get people to come out to see this film in these very days, the more of a basis we provide for the film to be shown in additional markets. For the specifics about what you can do, go to www.BellaTheMovie.com

Praise the Lord!

Fr. Frank 

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Rome

Monday, November 5th, 2007

Dear Friends,

Those of you who have been to Rome know what an amazing place it is. The imprint of the Church is very clear in the names of the streets and buildings, and the Christian history that one sees at every turn. Superimposed on this in various ways is a modern, commercial culture. And at any time, you don’t know what language will come out of the mouths of those around you, as pilgrims from every part of the world come to seek a spiritual boost to take them above that modern culture.

I lived for two years in Rome from 1997 to 1999 as an official of the Pontifical Council for the Family. This council coordinates and encourages the pro-life, pro-family work of the Church. I had a pleasant visit with a number of the clergy  and lay staff with whom I worked at that time, and gave them a thorough update on the work of Priests for Life. We promote the various documents of the Council, which are a wonderful collection of doctrinal and spiritual reflections on life and family.

We also promote the various documents of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, headed by our friend Cardinal Renato Martino. The work we do for the pro-life cause is, in fact, the heart of justice and peace. The relatively recent Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, issued by this Council, brings that point home in numerous ways. I will  be taking part in a world conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace later this month in Rome.

On a personal note, my own family background is 100% Italian (my grandparents came over to the USA from Abruzzo and Calabria). I even still have relatives in Rome, with whom I visited on my recent trip. I enjoy the pasta, of course, and all the seafood. But I’m also glad I live in the USA rather than in Rome. Those of you who know me and follow my work closely know that my “pace of life” is much more American than Roman. 

In the pro-life cause, of course, the best of both come together. Christian history has left us a clear teaching on the absolute sanctity of life, and the vision behind America is the equality of every human being. Let’s continue to move forward in this great cause with confidence!

Fr. Frank

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Ever Expanding

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

Friends,

I write to you today from Rome, where I have prayed for you at the tomb of St. Peter, been with the Holy Father, and spoken to many of the

Vatican officials with whom I have worked, telling them about the wonderful support that you continue to give to this ministry.

The reason you and so many others support it, of course, is that it is your ministry, not simply ours. We do not ask people to simply support us so that we can end abortion. Rather, we give you the tools and encouragement you need to carry out the mission of ending abortion – a mission given to all of us by our baptism and confirmation.

This mission and ministry are ever expanding. There’s no turning back, and we must be ready to sacrifice our lives if that’s what it’s going to take to stop the killing.

Once I return to the United States this weekend, I’ll give you more details about the expansion of our mission, particularly in the international arena, that we have discussed here at the Vatican.

Meanwhile, as always, pray for all priests, that they may be set free from any obstacles to proclaiming the Gospel of Life.

Thanks
Fr. Frank

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