“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.
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.”
Catholic schools, of every educational level, face many challenges to maintain their Catholic identity. Ironically, sometimes those challenges come from the members of their own faculty. Sometimes these individuals simply do not believe what the Church teaches or refuse to accept the demands of the moral law.
There’s an old saying, “Nobody can give what he does not have.” Catholic schools exist to impart the Catholic faith and to form strong disciples of Christ. If a faculty member objects to some particular demand of the faith, it makes no sense for them to be in a position in which they are expected to pass it on to our children. For the good of the Church and of the students, they should find another job. Let us pray for strong Catholic schools and faculties.
Please take a moment to check out my Birthday Wish on behalf of the cause Pray to End Abortion.
The debate in America about partial-birth abortion did a lot to shift public opinion in a pro-life direction, because it focused attention on what actually happens to the baby during an abortion – and what happens is not pleasant. That procedure was banned. But the D and E procedure is one among those that remain legal. In a D and E, the baby, while alive, is dismembered limb from limb. Medical textbooks and sworn court testimony describe how the abortionist pulls off the arms and legs and crushes the head. Above and beyond any thoughts they have about abortion in the abstract, it’s time to ask our fellow citizens what they think about D and E. Many who call themselves pro choice nevertheless oppose this procedure. Find out more at www.priestsforlife.org
Great tool for planning your pro-life activities: The 2012 Priests for Life calendar is a great way to keep pro-life front and center in your home throughout the year. Click here to order yours today.
Often those who defend abortion, knowing that they do not have any valid arguments, resort to blanket criticism of priests for abusing children. What these abortion supporters don’t seem to realize is that by supporting the killing of children, they weaken their argument against the abuse of children. After all, it’s the same victim. The Church, and so many people of good will, oppose both the abuse and killing of children – and of anyone else as well. The argument of pro-life people is one of consistency and inclusion. The tragedy of Roe v Wade is summarized in its line that “the word person does not include the unborn.” Let’s oppose the killing of every and any innocent human life, and call on our opponents to stop being selective in their opposition to evil.
Must-have pro-life book: Ending Abortion; Not Just Fighting It is a collection of lifesaving and informative pro-life essays from Fr. Pavone. Click here to order your signed copy today.
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.
We are all familiar with the power of ultrasound images have to save lives. Now we have a tool far more powerful than ultrasound. It is called embryoscopy. Though rarely used, this procedure has yielded powerful video footage of the unborn child. A tiny camera is placed up against the amniotic sac to yield full color video of the child from about four to twelve weeks old. A video containing this footage has been made which has such strong medical, secular credentials that it has won eleven awards and been endorsed by National Geographic. Now Priests for Life is distributing this video within the pro-life community and seeks to get it into all the churches, pregnancy centers, and schools across America. Find out more at www.priestsforlife.org
Must-have pro-life book: Ending Abortion; Not Just Fighting It is a collection of lifesaving and informative pro-life essays from Fr. Pavone. Click here to order your copy today.
In elections, it is not the candidate who is right on the issues who necessarily wins, nor even the candidate with whom most people agree. Nor is it the candidate with the most money, nor the one who is ahead in the polls.
Rather, the candidate wins who has the higher number of people actually cast their vote.
That is why between now and Election Day it is crucial for each of us to focus on mobilizing more and more votes, on getting people to vote early, and on actually going door to door with election literature. Organize youth groups and other efforts to go throughout your neighborhood with a pro-life message about the importance of the election. Remember, the pro-abortion forces are doing this — we must not fail to do it ourselves.
Fr. Frank Pavone, speaking on behalf of Priests for Life and the National Pro-life Religious Council, issued the following statement today regarding the death of Dr. Mildred Jefferson:
“Dr. Mildred Jefferson was a constant inspiration to me both before and after I became National Director of Priests for Life. In recent years, I especially enjoyed talking with her about the history of the movement and the strategies for the future. She always spoke about the movement with a fresh enthusiasm, vision, and readiness to carry out the work. She did not carry her many years of service as a burden, but as a source of strength! May we all drink of that same spirit!
Moreover, her passing should remind us of our duty to reflect on and record the history of our movement, and pass it on to the younger generations of pro-life activists. Those who have brought the pro-life movement to where it is now will not be with us forever, and their wisdom is a treasure which we should explore while we still have the opportunity to do so.”
Photo: Fr. Frank Pavone with Dr. Mildred Jefferson at the 2006 National Right to Life Convention.