Fr. Pavone: It’s more important than ever to remember Terri Schiavo

NEW YORK, NY — Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, issued the following statement today to mark the “International Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Terri Schindler Schiavo, and All of Our Vulnerable Brothers and Sisters,” or “Terri’s Day,” on the ninth anniversary of the death of Terri Schindler Schiavo:

“Nine years ago today, I sat and prayed with a woman who had been denied food and water for two weeks. I saw the light fading from her eyes, and just minutes after our time together, she died. Terri’s death was the perverse wish of her murderous husband and carried out by order of a court.

“With efforts under way to expand the ‘right to die’ in many locales, it’s more important than ever that we remember Terri and the increasingly callous way our society judges a person’s right to life. She was not hooked up to any machines. She was able to smile and kiss her parents and siblings. Her family saw her as a blessing, not a burden. Terri didn’t insist on any ‘right to die,’ and I am certain that if she could have spoken up for herself, she would still be with us today.”

To read and listen to an eyewitness account of Terri Schiavo’s death, and to hear Fr. Frank’s homily at her funeral, go to To find prayers and activities for today’s observance, go to

Priests for Life is the nation’s largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit

Supreme Court declines further review of HHS challenges Priests for Life lawsuit in D.C. Circuit continues

WASHINGTON, DC – As reported today by Reuters, the Supreme Court has decided not to give an early review to the cases brought by Priests for Life and other Catholic groups (including the Archdiocese of Washington, Catholic University of America, and Thomas Aquinas College) against the HHS mandate.

The groups, whose cases are currently in the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, made use of a special provision that allows an appeal to the Supreme Court, even while the case is in a lower court, provided the “case is of such imperative public importance as to justify deviation from normal appellate practice and to require immediate determination in this Court” (Sup. Ct. R. 11).

The Supreme Court’s decision not to grant early review simply means that the cases will proceed, without prejudice, in the lower federal court. Either the plaintiffs or the defendants may later seek a Supreme Court review, after the outcome.

The oral arguments will take place on May 8, and that this will likely be the first oral argument before a federal appellate court on the merits of the case that the religious non-profits are bringing against the HHS mandate. Robert Muise, Co-Founder and Chief Counsel at the American Freedom Law Center, and General Counsel for Priests for Life, stated, “This case with Priests for Life is the lead case for the non-profit religious organizations challenging the mandate similar to how Hobby Lobby is the lead case for the for-profit companies challenging the HHS mandate.”

Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, stated, “We are working with our attorneys to present the strongest possible case to the Court of Appeals, and at the same time are urging the public to stand with us, just as they are standing with Hobby Lobby. We will certainly appeal to the Supreme Court if the lower court does not rule in our favor. Moreover, no matter what any court says at any time, we will disobey this mandate. It is unjust, immoral, and intolerable.”

Priests for Life is the nation’s largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit

Priests for Life Case Could Follow Priests for Life Case Could Follow

#StandWithPFL hashtag launched

NEW YORK, NY – On March 25, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Wood Specialties case regarding whether for-profit businesses have religious rights to be protected from the HHS mandate.  The court is expected to render its decision in June.

Three days later, the Supreme Court considered whether or not to likewise hear a case – Priests for Life vs. Sebelius — concerning how much protection the non-profit religious entities should have from the same mandate.

“Many Americans have been led to believe that religious groups like Priests for Life are automatically exempt. That is not the case,” explained Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life. “Churches are exempt, but other non-profit organizations like Priests for Life are still being told to violate our consciences. The government says we just have to sign a form that expresses our objection to the mandate, and then they will arrange for our employees to be covered for the objectionable practices. But that still makes us the gateway to the coverage, and we want no part of that.”

Priests for Life’s lawsuit, filed in February 2012, was one of the first lawsuits to challenge the mandate, and is currently in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. At the same time, an appeal to the Supreme Court has been made, utilizing “Rule 11,” which allows a matter of particular importance to be brought to the Supreme Court even while a lower court is hearing it.

The attorneys at the American Freedom Law Center pointed out that not only does Priests for Life object to the mandate, but the very purpose of the organization is to oppose the kinds of practices the mandate requires groups to cover. Therefore, the ministry is uniquely qualified for a separate review by the Supreme Court; as the petition states, “This challenge goes to the very core of Priests for Life’s reason for existing as an organization.”

Father Pavone said he expects to find out this week if the Supreme Court will review Priests for Life’s case. Regardless of that decision, the case in the appeals court continues. Lawyers for the Obama administration filed another brief on Friday, March 28 and Priests for Life attorneys will respond on April 11. Oral arguments are scheduled for May 8.

Robert Muise, Chief Counsel for the American Freedom Law Center, also stated, “This case with Priests for Life is the lead case for the non-profit religious organizations challenging the mandate similar to how Hobby Lobby is the lead case for the for-profit companies challenging the HHS mandate.”

To keep up with the Priests for Life lawsuit and the petition to the Supreme Court, go to Priests for Life also has launched a social media campaign using the hashtag  #StandWithPFL.

Priests for Life is the nation’s largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit

Today’s Pro-Life Reflection


This reflection is taken from my book Pro-Life Reflections for Every Day, which is available for purchase at:

“There is reason for you to rejoice, even if now for a little while you must suffer trials of many kinds” (1 Peter 1:6).

Reflection: Today is “Terri’s Day,” the anniversary of the death of Terri Schiavo, who was killed by deliberate dehydration. Some say, “I wouldn’t want to live like that.” But there are many people about whom we can all say that. We would not want to live like the homeless or those in wretched poverty, or those with various forms of addiction or severe financial crises. But that doesn’t mean we can kill them.

Prayer: Give continued consolation, Lord, to Terri’s family, and protection to the vulnerable. Amen.

The Pope, the President, and the Right to Life

Pope Francis and President Obama met in Rome today, and the meeting has naturally generated commentary, both before and after the fact, including by the President himself at the National Prayer Breakfast last month.

I am confident that the meeting itself will bear good fruit. I am not so confident that the commentary about it will bear as much fruit.

What I mean is that I believe we are heading for a media and blogosphere circus in which commentary after commentary will reinforce the error that we can promote “human rights” and “social justice” while ignoring the most fundamental right of the most vulnerable people: the right to life of the children in the womb.

It’s not because I think the Pope or his advisors aren’t fully committed to protecting them. They certainly are. And I have had the privilege of conversing with the Pope about the pro-life efforts of the Church.

But there is a profound contradiction between Obama’s position in favor of abortion and the Church’s position against it, and my concern arises from the fact that so much commentary makes light of this contradiction, either by saying it’s not important, or by pretending it’s not there.

And sometimes this impression is given in commentary even by those who share the Church’s pro-life position.

Miguel Diaz, a Catholic theologian who served as Obama’s ambassador to the Vatican until recently, commented, “Some said that under [Pope John Paul II] and [President Ronald Reagan] there was a meeting of the minds, and it’s potentially true again under Obama and Francis around the issues of social justice.”

But in reality, that is not potentially true at all.

The contradiction between Obama’s position and the Pope’s position on the right to life is a contradiction about the very core and foundation of social justice. Without the right to life, everything else falls. Pope Francis himself made reference to this in his recent Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, when he said,

“[D]efense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable…Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defense of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be.” (n. 213)

Pope John Paul II, about to be canonized as a saint, made a similar point 25 years ago in another Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles Laici,

“[T]he common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights — for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture — is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.” (n. 38)

And Cardinal Renato Martino, who served as President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, that is, the Vatican’s office charged with fostering the understanding and pursuit of social justice within the whole Church, explained,

“The Holy Father speaks of the protection of life as the fundamental realization and respect for human rights. Without that realization, without that respect for the right to life, no other discussion of human rights can continue.” (Interview on EWTN, 2004.)

That’s the kind of commentary we need to see about the discussion between the President and the Pope.


Here are some pictures from the rally today in DC for Religious Freedom

With Jeanneane Maxon of Americans United for Life
Myself along with Rev. Pat Mahoney
Being interviewed by Navar Watson from Catholic News Service
Being interviewed by Navar Watson from Catholic News Service
Speaking up for religious freedom
Interview with CBN. Christian Broadcasting Network
Eric Scheidler from Pro-Life Action League speaks at the #ReligiousFreedomForAll rally at #SCOTUS
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz
Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert


Today’s Pro-Life Reflection


This reflection is taken from my book Pro-Life Reflections for Every Day, which is available for purchase at:

“Let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

Reflection: Facing an unplanned pregnancy, Mary freely chooses to accept the Child, and in doing so, acknowledges the primacy of the word. The truth of God’s Word exists before her own choosing. She submits to a word, a truth, she did not create. At the heart of the “pro-choice” mentality, instead, is the idea that we create our own truth. This mentality holds that the value of the unborn child, and that child’s right to exist, depend upon the choice of the mother.

Prayer: Lord, let it be done to me also according to your word, now and always! Amen!

A Very Eventful Week

No week in the pro-life effort is ever boring, but this week is particularly chock-full of significant events and activities

Tomorrow, for instance, I will be at the Supreme Court together with many other pro-life leaders and activists to rally in support of all those who object to the unjust HHS mandate, as the court hears oral arguments in two cases regarding the rights of for-profit businesses against the mandate. You can see my press release and commentary on this in recent posts below.

While this case has to do with businesses, there are other cases, among which we at Priests for Life have one of the leading ones, that represent the religious and nonprofit world vis-à-vis the mandate. We too have approached the Supreme Court, asking them to hear our case, with which the case of the Archdiocese of Washington has also been consolidated. On Friday, March 28 the Justices will take into conference our request and we will know within a few days whether the high court will hear these cases.

All at the same time, we have tomorrow, March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, which is also observed in many nations as the Day of the Unborn Child, because it was on this day that Jesus, the Son of God, took on our human nature within the body of the Virgin Mary. Jesus was an unborn child. The feast of the Annunciation is a wonderful opportunity for us to review our awareness that the unborn truly are our brothers and sisters

Because of the significance of this day, it was also the date of publication of one of the most important documents of the pontificate of John Paul II, soon to be canonized, namely, The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae). The document was published in 1995, and therefore tomorrow is its 19th anniversary. We at Priests for Life are beginning a year-long preparation for the 20th anniversary of this very significant document.

Also later this week, we expect President Obama to meet with Pope Francis. This anticipated meeting has already drawn a lot of media commentary, to which I to have contributed. You will see my remarks on this blog in the coming days.

So let’s move forward with confidence, with joy, with new energy, as we build together the culture of life!

Fr. Frank