“Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and he was obedient to them” (Luke 2:51).
Reflection: Though he was conceived of a virgin, Jesus nevertheless lived as a son in a human family. The family is the sanctuary of life. The family, above all, is where life is to be welcomed, no matter how fragile or inconvenient it may be. One of the many reasons why the Church sees abortion and euthanasia as pre-eminent issues is because these crimes are committed by one family member upon another.
Prayer: O Holy Family, bless our families, and lead us to a Culture of Life. Amen.
So did you see the letter that Susan Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, wrote to President Obama yesterday asking him not to nominate her for Secretary of State? In the first paragraph, she praises the “vision and leadership” of the President, and the Administration’s “successes,” including, in her words, “our bold defense of the equal rights of all human beings regardless of their race, religion, economic status or whom they love.”
This made me wonder if Susan Rice has her countries confused.
The Obama Administration, whether at the U.N. or anywhere else, does not defend the “equal rights of all human beings.” First of all, the reference to equal rights “regardless of…religion” is laughable in the light of the Administration’s ongoing attack on religious freedom. “Regardless of…religion” should mean even religions that would prohibit employers to offer coverage of abortion-inducing drugs in the health insurance plans they offer to employees. Yet instead, the Administration is attempting to force such people to violate their religion – including us at Priests for Life, which is why we launched one of the first lawsuits against the HHS and its unjust mandate.
But even more fundamental than the right to religious freedom is the right to life.
And the Obama Administration fails miserably here as well. The defense of legal abortion is, by definition, a defense of the proposition that Roe vs. Wade made that “the word ‘person’…does not include the unborn.” The first of the “equal rights of all human beings” is the right to life. Every other right depends on it. Equality is not equality if some human beings – those living in the womb – are not recognized and protected as equal.
Susan Rice has been criticized for a lot of things. Unfortunately, she just added to the list. She is apparently unable to tell the difference between a “bold defense of the equal rights of all human beings” and a bold denial of them.
“Life is always a good. …Why is life a good?… The life which God gives man is …a manifestation of God in the world, a sign of his presence, a trace of his glory” (John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, n.34).
Reflection: Abortion advocates say that the embryo or fetus is “just a collection of cells.” But this is no argument at all. The same can be said of you and me. If someone does not see the dignity of the human person, their view of people is just reduced to cells.
Prayer: Fill us with wonder, Lord, at your glory shining through every human life. Amen.
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.
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.
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.”
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!
“In this way democracy, contradicting its own principles effectively moves towards a form of totalitarianism. The State is no longer the “common home” where all can live together on the basis of principles of fundamental equality, but is transformed into a tyrant State, which arrogates to itself the right to dispose of the life of the weakest and most defenseless members” (John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, n.20).
Reflection: Some see laws permitting abortion as a minor flaw; the Pope is saying here that they change the very nature of the state.
Prayer: Lord, free us from the tyranny of governments that think they can dispose of human life. Amen.
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.”
ATLANTA – Dr. Alveda King, fulltime director of African-American Outreach for Priests for Life, said the Occupy Wall Street movement must embrace prayer and disavow violence if it hopes to emulate the 20th century Civil Rights Movement.
“The whole Civil Rights movement was founded in prayer, in crying out to God in peace,” Dr. King said today during an interview on “Fox & Friends.” “This movement is not peaceful,” she said of Occupy Wall Street.
Dr. King, the niece of Rev. Dr. Martin King Jr., was invited on the show to discuss comments made by Rev. Jesse Jackson last week in Atlanta, comparing the two movements and insisting that Martin Luther King would have supported Occupy Wall Street.
“Rev. Jackson knows this is not the model my uncle upheld, or that my father, Rev. A.D. King, upheld,” she said. “The people who came out are hurting, they need answers. They need help, not to be incited to violence. They need a leader who is going to lead them peacefully.
Calling him “a civil wrong leader on this point,” Dr. King said, “Rev. Jackson needs to revisit his 20th century history.”
Dr. King also noted that the pro-life movement has adopted the prayerful, peaceful model of the Civil Rights movement as it works to end abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide and killing of embryos for their stem cells.
To see the “Fox & Friends” interview, please click here: http://bit.ly/toi1by
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.