An overflow crowd gathered at noon Sunday to hear the Rev. Frank Pavone of Staten Island, N.Y., national director of Priests for Life, give a homily urging support for women on the brink to bear their children.
He spoke at the 10:30 a.m. and noon masses at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Killeen. He said he was at a pro-life rally in Austin this week when Deacon Michael Aaronson of St. Joseph's invited him to speak at the local church before continuing his travels. [Listen to Fr. Frank's homily]
"We're called to free each other from oppression, from all kinds of marginalization," Pavone told the congregation, "and there's no worse oppression right now than the loss of 4,000 unborn lives a day in this country to abortion. The mothers are under oppression, too; abortion is called freedom of choice,' but the mothers feel they have no choice."
His organization's literature quotes abortion providers as saying three-fourths of women choosing abortion say that a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities; two-thirds say they could not afford a child, and half say they don't want to be single parents or are having problems with their husbands or partners.
He called on his listeners to get involved with Priests for Life via their Web site, www.priestsforlife.org, or at the local level with programs provided by St. Joseph's. "They don't realize that help is here," he said. "We need to get the word out that they can come to us and receive any kind of help they need."
He said the organization also ministers to women and men who have been through abortions or been close to someone who has and who are suffering psychological and spiritual difficulties because of it.
"We don't treat them as sinners to be judged but as people who are hurting after a terrible experience," he said. "We want to welcome them."
"Pro-life is pro-woman," he said. "The decision for or against abortion is called a private matter," he said, "but are violent crime and child abuse private matters? When somebody's choice destroys another person's life, when anyone is in danger or in need, it's everybody's business."
He added, "These children – and let's call them children – are your brothers and sisters. Let's work for their lives, and let's do it courageously, joyfully, as long as it takes, until our country once again protects every life."
Father Pavone has directed Priests for Life since 1993. He was with Terri Schiavo at her death after the celebrated controversy over when euthanasia should be allowed. He has served in the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family, and Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, called him "the catalyst that brought me into the Catholic Church." McCorvey sued to be allowed an abortion and later became a pro-life activist.
Mother Teresa invited him to speak on life issues in India, and he was invited to address the pro-life caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives. He is president of the National Pro-Life Religious Council and chair of the board of Rachel's Vineyard, an international retreat and healing program for those who have had abortions. He founded the Missionaries of the Gospel of Life in 2005. In 2001, the National Right to Life Committee gave Rev. Pavone its "Proudly Pro-Life" award. A priest in the Amarillo Diocese, he directs Priests for Life with his bishop's permission.
The Rev. Adam Martinez, pastor of St. Joseph's, said that aside from spiritual counseling, the church makes funds available to women considering abortions to help them keep their children and supports maternity homes in the area.
"We want to make it known that we're available to assist anyone in this matter," he said.
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