STATEN ISLAND, NY — Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, welcomed news that the first lawsuit filed against the Obama administration’s HHS mandate will be heard by a federal appeals court.
The suit, brought by Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina, will be heard Dec. 14 by the U.S. Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia.
Priests for Life’s lawsuit, filed in February, was the fourth of some 30 actions that challenge the constitutionality of the mandate.
“A different outcome on Election Day, followed by the elimination of this mandate, would have resolved the problems these lawsuits seek to correct. Now, however, they are more important than ever,” said Father Pavone. “This administration is on a collision course with the Catholic Church, and with anyone who treasures the religious liberty guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. It’s encouraging that the Court of Appeals has decided to hear the Belmont Abbey suit, and I’m confident Priests for Life’s suit also will have its day in court and that we will prevail.
“Meanwhile, we invite all citizens to express their solidarity with us by signing the “Citizens’ Amicus Brief” at www.priestsforlife.org/hhsmandate/amicus-brief.aspx.”
Priests for Life is the nation’s largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit www.priestsforlife.org.
Father Scott Daniels, O.P., a pastoral associate for Priests for Life, will have his television debut tonight as the new season of “Defending Life” kicks off on EWTN.
Father Daniels has been passionate about pro-life issues since his seminary days in the 1980s. Since 2009, when he was granted permission to work full-time as a priest associate with Priests for Life, he has been traveling across the country, leading pro-life parish weekends, teaching school children and speaking at pro-life events.
Tonight’s show will focus on ways to evaluate candidates for political office.
“I am thrilled to have an opportunity to co-host ‘Defending Life’ on EWTN,” Father Daniels said. “Television gives us a unique opportunity to go into people’s homes to tell the truth about the issues that really matter. With Election Day less than three weeks away, what matters now is choosing the right candidate.”
Mrs. Morana agreed. “Voters must make sure they know how every candidate for every office feels about abortion,” she said. “The life issue is the most important at every level of government, because without the right to life, the rest of our rights are meaningless.”
The show can be seen on EWTN every Thursday at 11 p.m. and every Saturday at 2:30 a.m. It can be heard on EWTN Radio every Friday at 1 a.m., Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5 a.m. (All times Eastern). The series also will feature Janet Morana, Executive Director of Priests for Life, as co-host, along with Fr. Denis Wilde, OSA, associate director.
For more information about “Defending Life, go to www.priestsforlife.org/defendinglife.
Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, will be honored with the 2012 Henry Hyde Award at the annual benefit dinner of the American Catholic Press (ACP). The dinner will take place Oct. 26 in Flossmoor, Ill.
The award named for the late chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, a longtime advocate for the unborn, grew out of another award, the Gratiam Dei Award, bestowed annually by the ACP and awarded to Illinois Rep. Henry Hyde in 1998. Subsequent honorees included Joe Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League and Norma McCorvey, the “Janet Roe” of the Roe vs. Wade decision. After Rep. Hyde’s death in 2007, the organization decided to dedicate a second award, in his name, to those who work tirelessly in the pro-life movement.
“The prestigious Henry Hyde Award will be presented to Father Frank Pavone, who has advocated the pro-life cause for many years,” said Father Michael Gilligan, executive director. “Father Frank is known nationwide through publications, articles, media, and public speaking. His non-profit organization, Priests for Life, is wholly dedicated to the pro-life cause.”
The Cleary Family of Chicago will be this year’s recipients of the Gratiam Dei Award for their decades of service to area schools and churches and their support of ACP.
American Catholic Press was incorporated in 1972 as a not-for-profit. Its publications include the Leaflet Missal, “Parish Liturgy” magazine, “Diocesan Dialogue” and numerous books, all aimed at promoting liturgical renewal of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. The annual benefit dinner helps to fund ACP’s ongoing commitment to provide Leaflet Missal prayerbooks to shut-ins.
“I am honored to be receiving this award named for a man whom I was privileged to know personally, and with whom I discussed the cause of life numerous times,” Father Pavone said. “Congressman Hyde inspired me and millions of others. He was not simply a politician, but a statesman, and embodied the kind of people we need to elect to public office.”
For information on the benefit, go to www.americancatholicpress.org
Lots happening this weekend… It’s Respect Life Sunday (and we have resources at ProLifePreaching.com), it’s Life Chain Sunday (and I’ll be participating in one in Detroit… I hope all the Life Chain organizers are ready to collect names, numbers, and emails of the participants to help engage them throughout the year!), it’s the opening of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization (Priests for Life was pleased to send input to the synod on the connections between new evangelization and the pro-life movement) – but what I want to focus on for a moment here is that it is also “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.”
Here’s the question: May the government filter, edit, or veto the contents of a sermon? No court has ever heard a case regarding whether the Internal Revenue Service can do so. Yet every day – and especially in these weeks prior to an election – preachers act as if their sermons have to be vetted and approved by the IRS.
Indeed, the IRS issues guidelines saying that in order to retain its tax exemption, Churches and other organizations set up as “501 (c)(3)” entities must avoid any intervention in a political campaign.
But this restriction is not in the Constitution. In fact, it only goes back to 1954, to a provision that has no legislative history and has never been challenged in court.
And the result of the restriction, and the ambiguity often surrounding it (because the IRS says that all the “facts and circumstances” have to be taken into account to determine exactly when a preacher has “crossed the line,” therefore meaning in practice that you may not know that you’ve crossed the line until after the fact), what in fact happens is that speech is chilled and pastors do far less than they are able to do.
Since 2008, therefore, pastors across the nation have begun to rise up with a simple message: No government interference in the pulpit! They have decided, on a designated weekend, to preach sermons outside the usual restrictions of the IRS, and have sent those sermons to the IRS. The hope is that this will lead to a court case that can clarify whether the restrictions are in fact even constitutional.
In 2008, some 33 pastors did this. The IRS did not respond.
In 2009, some 84 pastors did this. Again, only silence from the IRS.
In 2010, a hundred pastors engaged in this project. The IRS raised no complaint.
Last year, 539 pastors sent in their sermons challenging the IRS restrictions. And nothing but silence came from the IRS.
This year’s numbers will surpass all the previous years.
It seems clear that the IRS does not want the 1954 restrictions subjected to court scrutiny. We will report more of what happens as a result of this Pulpit Freedom Sunday. Stay tuned!
Miss Nellie Gray, Founder of the March for Life, has died.“Nellie Gray and the March for Life had a most profound effect on my life,” said Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life. In 1976, when he was a senior in high school, Father Pavone went to the March for Life with his mother and grandmother. Although he had been quietly considering the priesthood before that, the March cemented both his vocation and his passion for pro-life issues.
“Every year since 1974, Nellie Gray has mobilized a diverse and energetic army for life,” said Father Pavone, who has attended every march since his first one. “Her own commitment to the cause never wavered. She was a tireless warrior for the unborn and her motto was ‘no exceptions.’ “
After his ordination in 1988, Father Pavone was assigned to a parish in Staten Island, NY. Every year he led a busload of parishioners to the March for Life. He took over as national director of Priests for Life in 1993, and the following year, attending the event in his new capacity, Miss Gray invited him to say the opening prayer at the March for Life Convention that annually precedes the March.
In 2008, the National Pro-Life Religious Council, which Father Pavone serves as president, presented Miss Gray with its Pro-Life Recognition Award. Later that day, Miss Gray tripped and fell on the stage at the opening rally for the March and had to be taken to the hospital with a head injury.
“As a colleague in national pro-life leadership, Nellie was always an inspiration to the rest of us,” Father Pavone said. “Her devotion was on display that same year, 2008, when, despite being in the hospital during the March for Life, she nevertheless was present at all all-day meeting of national leaders the very next morning, with a patch on her head.”
Every year since its founding in 2003, Miss Gray invited the women of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign to stand on the rally stage holding signs that said, “I Regret My Abortion,” and she arranged for a larger group of post-abortive men and women from Silent No More to be in the vanguard of the March.
“We are so grateful that Nellie Gray shared our vision of Silent No More, and recognized that the women who have had abortions speak with unquestioned authority about the ways they have been harmed by this choice,” said Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life and co-founder of Silent No More. “Every year more women and men come to march and to share their testimony. Nellie Gray helped make that possible for us.”
Miss Gray is also credited for realizing that African-American pro-life leaders had to become more vocal and visible in the fight for life.
“Nellie Gray knew that abortion took a heavy toll from the black community and she urged us to lend our voices to the fight against this terrible injustice,” said Dr. Alveda King, director of African-American Outreach for Priests for Life. “She was a visionary.”
Bryan Kemper, founder of Stand True Ministry and director of Youth Outreach for Priests for Life, said: “My heart is broken by the loss of Nellie Gray, a true pro-life hero and role model. At the same time I celebrate that Nellie is with our Lord who she loved so dearly. I have had the honor of working with Nellie for years and every time I March in DC in January, I know she will be watching over us and praying for us. Nellie Gray, I will miss you dearly.
The 2013 March for Life will mark the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision, and the 39th anniversary of the March.
“It was an anniversary that broke Nellie Gray’s heart every year, and every day,” Father Pavone noted. “In January we will march in her memory, in her honor, to save the unborn children to whom she dedicated her life.”
To offer your spiritual bouquet, your promise of prayers and to share your memories of Nellie go to http://www.priestsforlife.org/data/prayer_request.aspx.
We don’t see the Democratic Party Platform changing this summer, but that doesn’t mean we should accept it the way it is.
That’s why I’m calling on those who object to its pro-abortion plank to express that objection, loud and clear. I’ll be sending out an email shortly to give people a specific opportunity to do this.
Very much different from the Walking the Halls of Congress – by which we recently pushed legislation that has a very high probability of passing the House – this particular project is meant to be an expression of outrage at what has for too long been the status quo, and an effort to bring the battle to the enemy rather than just playing defense against the enemy bringing the battle to us.
In other words, for many years those entrusted with crafting the Republican party platform – and those who believe in it – have had to fend off attacks and efforts to remove the pro-life plank from that platform. They have had to defend and explain – publicly and privately – why the pro-life plank is there and should remain.
Meanwhile, the Democratic platform’s support for abortion remains unchallenged, and sails by every time with hardly so much as a symbolic protest.
However, surveys have consistently revealed that the majority of the rank and file Democrats are pro-life.
And certainly many outside the Democratic party believe it is a contradiction of the very purpose of government to have a party platform stand for the brutal killing of children.
So then why should the Democratic platform drafters and party loyalists not be forced to defend the pro-abortion plank and defend and explain why it is there and why they think it should remain?
This project seeks to harness the objection many have to the plank, and give that objection a voice. It seeks to call out to those who are once again going to let this egregious plank just sail on through to approval, and to say to them that many of the American people notice what they are doing and don’t go along with it.
In voicing this objection, these Americans also seek to educate their fellow citizens to the very existence of the pro-abortion plank. Many, of course, are loyal to the party because they think it’s the party of their grandparents, not realizing the changes it has undergone, particularly its support for abortion.
Therefore the action item will be to voice this protest to those who are responsible for drafting the platform. In voicing this objection, we should also point to the graphic images of abortion. We make these images available at www.unborn.info which includes diagrams of the abortion procedure. We challenge those who are content to keep support for abortion in the platform to tell us what they mean by the word. Are the gruesome photos, and the disturbing diagrams, what they mean by the word “abortion?” And if not, what do they mean instead?
This reflection is taken from my book Pro-Life Reflections for Every Day, which is available for purchase at: ProLifeReflectionsForEveryDay.org
“Your light must shine so that it can be seen by others” (Matthew 5:16)
Reflection: A preacher once wrote that there is no such thing as secret discipleship. Either the discipleship will destroy the secrecy, or the secrecy will destroy the discipleship. That’s why being pro-life cannot just be a personal, private conviction. If it’s in our heart, it needs to be on our lips and in our actions.
Prayer: Praise to you, Lord God, for you open my mouth in worship and in witness; you reveal my faith through my actions. May I never try to be a secret disciple, but rather be proud to be known as one of yours. Amen.
As we welcome young people into pro-life efforts, we should let ourselves be challenged by them. They will remind us of things that we have perhaps forgotten, and will even be able to teach us a new way of activism, and even a new way of thinking.
When confronting fundamental moral issues, our youth think in straight lines. Unaccustomed to layers of complication, young people can ask questions with a simple and direct clarity. “If children are being killed down the street, let’s go there and save them.” “If politicians support the killing, let’s tell people not to vote for them.” “If pastors are silent, let’s tell them to speak!” While the young always need to be open to learn from those with more experience, they also need to be listened to.
STATEN ISLAND, NY – Fighting for the right to life is the most important work a person can engage in, but it can be difficult to maintain passion and commitment when the culture of death seems so pervasive.
Father Frank shares his own strategies for maintaining that passion in a new e-booklet, “How to Keep the Fire Burning.” The booklet is the first in a series that will be called “Toolkit for the Pro-life Soul.” In this series, Fr. Frank will share his personal secrets on how to engage the pro-life battle.
Father Pavone, who has been engaged full-time in the battle against abortion for 20 years, turns his anger at the slaughter of thousands of innocents every day into energy for battle.
“Anger is energy,” Father Pavone writes. “If you turn it in on yourself, it becomes depression. If you let it out in an uncontrolled way, it becomes destructive. Instead, you must channel it, harness it, under God’s guidance, and direct it towards your work for life. The guidance of God in channeling your anger will assure that the activity it leads to is always non-violent and a life-giving blessing to others.”
Father Pavone also gives advice on how to draw energy from others engaged in the battle, how to use the outrageous claims and tactics of the pro-aborts to turn the tables and how to learn from the example of others throughout history who have dedicated themselves to fighting grave injustice.
“Read about the struggles and triumphs of St. Paul in the Acts of the Apostles. Read about William Wilberforce and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and numerous others. Read not only their words, but study their actions and their strategies and the movements they led. You will be encouraged and energized.”
“How to Keep the Fires Burning” is designed as a helpful tool that people waging the battle for life can turn to whenever they need encouragement or advice.
Father Pavone announced today that pro-life leaders and groups are gearing up for the 40th Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, which will be January 22, 2013.
“I can assure you that you will see an intensification of pro-life activity at every level, and a greater unity among the diverse pro-life organizations,” Father Pavone said. “Moreover, this anniversary – which will be observed both as we lead up to January, and also throughout 2013 — will be marked by a significant recruitment of pro-life activists across the nation.”
In the coming weeks, various initiatives and events to mark the 40th anniversary will be planned, and special opportunities announced.
“One of the significant preparations for this major commemoration will be a successful election season in November. By successful, I mean that people will elect public servants who know the difference between serving the public and killing the public. Supporters of abortion have no place in public office, and it’s time to say so in the pulpits and in the voting booths,” Father Pavone stated. “At the end of this month, we have the first of three National Voter Registration Sundays designated for 2012 by the organizations that comprise the Vote Pro-life Coalition. Pentecost Sunday (May 27) reminds us of the new energy and courage that the Holy Spirit gave the Apostles to go out and change the world. That same Spirit is among us today, and it’s time to respond.”