The Pulpit Initiative: Pulpit Under God’s Authority, Not Government’s

This past weekend, a group of pastors around the country observed “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.” They spoke about the moral qualifications of candidates for public office, with a freedom that they maintain the IRS is wrongly taking from pastors.

This effort is not about bringing politics into the pulpit; it’s about getting government out of the pulpit. It should be Church authority, not government authority, that  determines the criteria for how pastors should address politics. 

When a preacher goes into a pulpit, he does so under the command and authority of God, to preach God’s word. Now God’s word cannot really be God’s if the government can limit or censor it. Moreover, if preachers didn’t historically have the freedom to challenge government authority, we would have neither Christianity nor the United States of America. 

My advice to my fellow priests and pastors is simply this: Don’t have a knee-jerk reaction to the actions some pastors took this weekend, simply dismissing such actions as inappropriate. Rather, think about whether you are fully exercising the freedom you already do have under the law, and think about how much you are not doing simply because you fear legal entanglements.

Fr. Frank

September 29 Election-Related Conference Call


As the election season of 2008 continues to be filled with surprises, twists, and turns, it’s critical for us to keep focused on the simple task of mobilizing voters, registering those who aren’t yet registered, informing those who aren’t yet informed about the candidates, and continuing to point out that there is no issue more important than the right to life. Any public servant who can’t tell the difference between serving the public and killing the public does not belong in public office. 

One thing that has not been a surprise in this election is the reluctance of so many Church institutions to carry out the spiritual work of mercy of instructing their people about their voting options. Though the Church is free legally and morally to issue voter guides, specifying candidates’ positions on issues of concern to the voters, these are rarely to be found. Many officials in the Church consider it “more trouble than it’s worth” to follow the legal guidelines to produce the proper kind of guide and to handle the criticisms that will inevitably follow from some who think that the guide hurts their favorite candidates. Moreover, some officials put more effort into telling people not to use materials from “outside groups” than into producing materials of their own.

But the task of citizens is the same as ever and is as effective as ever. Inform your fellow citizens! Spread the information that they need to know. Utilize the means of communication provided by the internet and by the various associations and movements by which you interact with like-minded believers and pro-life activists. The fact is that the margin of victory in so many elections comes from a very small segment of the population. And surveys show that pro-life activists work harder for their candidates than pro-abortion activists do for theirs. So let’s have “all hands on deck” and get the job done.

Please join me for our conference call this Monday night September 29. Click here to register. One of the things we’ll discuss is what polls do and do not mean. 


Fr. Frank

Prenatal Non-Discrimination


The other day I was in the office of Congressman Trent Franks, learning more about a bill he is introducing called the “Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act” (see the media advisory below). No abortions because the parents wanted a boy instead of a girl, or vice-versa, and no abortions because of the race of the child…Nor would coercion or payment for such procedures be permitted… 

This is one of those bills that will expose the extremism of those abortion supporters who cannot bear the slightest restriction on this violence, and will also educate the public about the outrageous lack of regulation under which the abortion industry operates. 

And it should raise another point of discussion as well, namely, that all abortion – and the very legality of it – is discrimination. To say that children in the womb are not persons is discrimination of the worst sort, with the worst consequences. 


Fr. Frank


Franks to Introduce Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act

Members of Congress Join Steve Mosher, Day Gardner, Dr. Alveda King, and Rev. Clenard Childress, to Call for an End to Race- and Sex-Selection Abortion

Tuesday, Sept 23 – 2:30 p.m. EDT – Cannon Terrace

Washington, D.C. — Congressman Trent Franks (AZ-02), a Member of the House Judiciary Commitee and Ranking Member on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Subcommittee, will host a press conference on Tuesday to introduce the Prenatal Nondiscrimation Act (“PreNDA”). PreNDA would prohibit knowingly performing or financing race- or sex-selection abortion.

What: Press conference introducing the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act

·Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ), Ranking Member on the Constitution Subcommittee
·Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE)
·Steve Mosher — President, Population Research Institute
·Dr. Alveda King — Pastoral Associate of Priests For Life and Director of African American Outreach for the Gospel of Life Ministries
·Day Gardner — President, National Black Pro-Life Union
·Reverend Clenard Childress — Northeast Region President of the Life Education And Resource Network (L.E.A.R.N.)

When: Tuesday, September 23, 2008, 2:30p.m. EDT

Where: Cannon Terrace

Contact: Bethany Barker, 202-631-1778 (cell) or

It is estimated that as many as 50% of African-American babies conceived in the U.S. each year are eliminated by government subsidized abortion providers. Following the unearthing of the nation-wide race-targeted abortion donations, civil rights activists and African-American pastors from across the country protested government acquiescence in race-targeted abortion and the government funding of clinics that they believe are purposefully placed in the inner city and targeted to minority women.

Based on the most recent census, sex-selection abortion is also taking place in the United States. A March 2008 report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that there is “strong son bias” and “clear evidence of sex selection, most likely at the prenatal stage.” A 2006 Zogby International poll shows that 87% of the American public desires a law to ban sex selection abortion.
Congressman Franks is serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives, and is a member of the Committee on Armed Services, Strategic Forces Subcommittee, Readiness Subcommittee, Committee on the Judiciary, and is Ranking Member on the Constitution Subcommittee.

“Conscience” was there


The other day Priests for Life had our national press conference at the National Press Club in Washington DC. I’m preparing the video to post here, and  as you’ll see, we gave a very direct challenge to our public officials to admit, like the abortionists do, what abortion is. 

Various media outlets were there. Among them was “Conscience,” the publication of “Catholics for a Free Choice.” 

It will be interesting to see what they will publish. They’ve been interested in Priests for Life for quite a few years. After all, the more that priests are for life, the less Catholics will be for choice. So they watch us closely. Of course, they’re not a Catholic organization, as the bishops have pointed out more than once. 

Will “Conscience” have the integrity to publish the words of the abortionists, and challenge the “conscience” of its readers to answer the question our press conference asked: “When you say ‘abortion,’ is this what you mean?” 

Stay tuned. 

Fr. Frank

Catholic Priests and Former Abortionist Confront Congress on Meaning of “Abortion”

Washington, DC – On the heels of controversies involving House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Joseph Biden’s comments on the Catholic Church and abortion, Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, today ended three days of visits to the offices of members of Congress, challenging them to admit what abortion is.

“The abortion debate often lacks a starting point, because the word has lost practically all its meaning,” Fr. Pavone stated. “We’ve been visiting Congressional offices, bringing diagrams of the procedure and quotes of abortionists, and then have asked, ‘Is this what you mean when you say abortion?’”

Joining Fr. Pavone in these Capitol Hill meetings were Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., former abortionist Dr. Anthony Levatino, Fr. Denis G. Wilde, O.S.A., Fr. Peter J. West, Fr. Victor Salomon, and the Coordinator of Priests for Life’s Lay Missionaries, James J. Pinto. The details of the “Is This What You Mean?” campaign, along with the quotes and diagrams, can be found at

“The last thing that abortion supporters want to talk about is abortion,” Fr. Pavone added. “But this campaign puts the words of the abortionists before the public, so that those who vote in favor of abortion can no longer hide from its violent reality.”

Click here for a related press release

Click here for the statement given by former abortionist, Dr. Anthony Levatino

Click here for the statement given by Fr. Frank Pavone

Click here for the statement in Spanish given by Fr. Victor Salomon

Staring Death in the Eye

 A few of my colleagues in the pro-life movement have at times made the blanket generalization that showing pictures of aborted babies “doesn’t work” or is “counterproductive.” They say people already know abortion is evil, and seeing the photos will only turn them away from our movement. Nor, they say, will the photos persuade someone not to have an abortion.May I present some evidence to the contrary. These are three of hundreds of emails I receive from people who see these photos at

1. “Up until I visited this site I had been prochoice. I thought that I would do an Internet search to see exactly what an abortion entails. After seeing the images on your site, there was no decision to be made. I figured that whatever hardships having a baby at this time would bring me would be far easier than living with the guilt I knew I would never rid myself of if I was to get an abortion. The pictures had such a powerful effect on me. They helped me to be strong and realize that this pregnancy was made possible by God and if it wasn’t meant to be, that was His choice, not mine.”

2. “Hello, I am a sixteen-year-old female and I just finished looking at the pictures on your site and reading what actually happens during an abortion. Up until five minutes ago I was extremely pro-choice. Because of your site, I realize that abortion is not a choice about a woman’s body…it is the LIFE of a BABY. Never before did I realize how truly horrible and careless abortion really is. Maybe it’s because I’d never seen the pictures, or read the actual descriptions of abortion. Maybe I was too afraid to know the truth. But within 3 minutes of viewing your website, my face was covered in tears. Those pictures just really hurt to look at. I cannot express how grateful I am that you have shown me the truth about abortion. God bless you.”

3. “Thank you so much for your website. I am 14 weeks pregnant and my partner wants me to have an abortion. … so I thought about it. I got on the internet trying to see how much it cost and I was lead to your site. I wanted to see what happens and what they look like at 14 weeks. Thanks to your site. I am not going to do it. I am unable to commit murder. That is like killing my own children at their age. This is a remarkable website. Everyone should see this site before they consider having an abortion. Everyone needs to see this to determine if they are able to live with themselves after doing this”.

Many other messages like these are posted at

Now if someone prefers not to use the photos, that’s fine. Many others will, and there are many other kinds of pro-life work to go around. But please don’t say the photos don’t work. They certainly do.


Dear Friends, 

Some of my colleagues in the pro-life movement were arrested recently for distributing literature on Catholic property. They were not arrested for violence or inappropriate behavior, but for distributing literature telling people it is immoral to vote for Obama. 

Now I understand that by law, Churches cannot distribute or fund the distribution of literature that directly or indirectly endorses a candidate. We labor under the same legal restrictions at Priests for Life. The literature that was distributed the other day can be seen at, and the IRS would certainly regard this flier as a “political intervention” prohibited to Churches under tax law. 

However, I respectfully ask everyone involved in this controversy to consider two questions, on their own merits: 

1.     No Church was organizing or paying for the literature or its distribution. So, if it’s a concern in the first place, how could the Church in any way be accused of violating any tax law in a case where another group is paying for and distributing such literature?

2.     Is there any point at which the Church has to intervene in a political campaign, despite the legal consequences? The Church, after all, has 2000 years of experience at dealing with legal consequences for the sake of justice. At what point do we have to speak and act? Put another way, how bad do things have to get, in regard to the positions that candidates or parties take, or the actions they pursue, before the scales of prudence and fidelity tip in the direction of action rather than inaction, and of crying out rather than silence? 

Fr. Frank

Voices of Shepherds

Dear Friends, 

So many people have commented to me lately that they are so encouraged by the number of bishops who have spoken out loud and clear about the outrageous statements of Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden about Catholic teaching and abortion. 

“It’s amazing,” many say. “This is a change! I’ve never seen so much vocal response from the bishops!” they declare. 

It’s great to see people so encouraged. 

One of the key reasons that Priests for Life was established was to spread far and wide the teachings of the bishops on abortion. We have always said that instead of criticizing bishops for not saying enough, people in the Church should echo what they have already said. That will encourage them to say even more. 

I think it’s starting to happen. 

Fr. Frank

Render Unto Caesar

“What needs to be done by Catholics today for their country? The answer is: Don’t lie. If we say we’re Catholic, we need to prove it” (p.197)That is the kind of refreshing directness and clarity that you find throughout Archbishop Charles Chaput’s new book, Render Unto Caesar. The book is excellent preparation for our upcoming elections. It outlines why Catholics have to be actively engaged in the process precisely as Catholics, not in spite of being Catholics. Moreover, the book is essential reading throughout the year, because it outlines the key challenges the Church faces today in her public life, and the key solutions.

The book’s title recalls the passage in Matthew 22 when Jesus is asked whether it is lawful to pay tax to the emperor. “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” he replies, “and to God what is God’s.” The coin belongs to Caesar because it bears Caesar’s image. Humanity itself belongs to God because it bear’s God’s image – and that includes Caesar himself. In other words, Caesar also has One whom he must obey.

That Gospel account sets the framework for this new book. Faithful Christians are called to be – and must be – faithful citizens. Using historical examples, Church teaching, and clear reasoning, Archbishop Chaput shows that the great experiment of American democracy was never meant to exclude religion, and that Catholicism is not incompatible with life in the American system of government.

The book is aptly subtitled, “Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life.” The assertion is that robust and unapologetic adherence to and promotion of Catholicism in a public way – even in political life – serves the nation. It does not subvert the nation, or seek to erase the legitimate autonomy of secular institutions. Nor does it hide behind those institutions. When Catholic citizens live their Catholicism vigorously, service to the nation is both a motivation and an effect. Archbishop Chaput explains,

“American democracy does not ask its citizens to put aside their deeply held moral and religious beliefs for the sake of public policy. In fact, it requires exactly the opposite. People are fallible. The majority of voters can be uninformed or biased or simply wrong. Thus, to survive, American democracy depends on people of character fighting for their beliefs in the public square – legally, ethically, and nonviolently, but forcefully and without apology. Anything less is a form of theft from the nation’s health” (p.146-147).

Drawing from history involving Constantine and St. Thomas More, Vatican II and John Courtney Murray, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) and various politicians whose reputation could have been better with the Church, Archbishop Chaput presents not an academic analysis, but rather a pastoral appeal which is academically sound, heartfelt, and deeply needed at this point in the history of the Church in America. “The point is this,” he asserts, “American Catholics now face a crisis of faith, mission, and leadership – and the task of fixing it falls equally on Catholic laypeople and their bishops” (p.182).

Click here for more quotes from Render Unto Caesar

September 11 Commemoration

The commemoration of September 11 is upon us once again this week. 

I recommend to your reflection the column I wrote in January of 2002 on September 11 and abortion ( It talks about how religion is misused to justify violence – the kind that occurred on September 11, and the kind that occurs in abortion clinics every day. 

Politicians who invoke their faith or their Church or ancient theologians to try to justify child-killing in the United States also have something to learn from this reflection. It’s time for these politicians to stop imitating the terrorists.

Fr. Frank Pavone