Father Frank A. Pavone, Director of Priests for Life, was honored for his dedication to the pro-life cause at a banquet held near Buffalo, NY on Sunday, Nov. 14, by the Association for the Arch of Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and International Shrine of the Holy Innocents, a lay Catholic association that is working to erect the world's tallest monument as a tribute to Mary, and the triumph of her Immaculate Heart which she prophesied at Fatima in 1917.
The evening commenced with a reenactment the Coronation of the Western Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima, which occurred in Buffalo's cathedral on December 8, 1947. That statue had been commissioned by Fatima seer Sister Lucia, and sent by her with Blue Army founder, the late John Haffert, to travel across America. According to Haffert's autobiography, "To Shake the World," Cardinal Spellman of New York did not want the statue to enter America through New York City. Haffert therefore brought it through Ontario and into the Buffalo Diocese. Buffalo's then Bishop John O'Hara placed a golden crown upon the statue, enthroned upon a special altar in the cathedral, in a colorful ceremony attended by thousands. At the banquet, as in 1947, a Knights of Columbus color corps processed with a replica of the original statue, placing it beneath a triumphal arch of flowers. It was crowned, while the banqueters sang "Hail Holy Queen," by Marlene Behr, wife of Laurence D. Behr, the Buffalo, NY attorney and pro-life activist who heads the Arch of Triumph association.
Behr then explained the origins of the Arch project in a compelling dream he had in September 2000, of a "Shrine of the Golden Arch of St. Mary." He defended the Church's special veneration of Mary, and proposed that Mary's revelation at Fatima, Portugal in 1917, "Jesus wishes to establish in the world, devotion to my Immaculate Heart," is consistent with many biblical prophecies concerning Mary's important part in God's plan for the salvation of the world, beginning in Genesis and Exodus and running throughout Scripture, up to the "woman clothed with the sun, with a crown of twelve stars upon her head and the moon beneath her feet," of Revelations 12:1.
Behr said that the proposed triumphal arch's purpose is to promote awareness of and devotion to Mary's Immaculate Heart, as a means to lead the world closer to Christ and bring about the end of abortion, just as the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531 swiftly ended the Aztec practice of human sacrifice. Behr claims an increasing number of supporters for the proposed Arch shrine, across the U.S.A. and Canada, and worldwide.
Addressing the overflow crowd of over 500, Father Pavone responded to charges filed with the IRS against Priests for Life and other Catholic groups, as well as two archdioceses (Denver and St. Louis), by the group calling itself "Catholics for a Free Choice," claiming that such activities amount to partisan politicking, and asking the IRS to revoke Priests for Life's tax-exempt status.
Father Pavone commented, "I continue to be amazed that some people seem to think it is inappropriate for the Church to speak up against baby killing - dismembering a child. I am not ashamed to appear to be opposed to a party that says it is okay to crush the heads of babies. Something is very wrong when one's loyalty to a political party is greater than one's loyalty to God and fundamental human rights." Pavone stated: "We have a message that goes far beyond any political party—we have a message that is eternal and reaches from one end of the universe to the other: That every human life is a manifestation of the glory of God, and that an attack on any human life is an attack on God Himself."
Respecting the proposed Marian Arch of Triumph and Holy Innocents shrine, Pavone said, "One reason I have wanted to support the Arch of Triumph project from the beginning - a very simple reason - is that the pro-life message in the many different ways it is conveyed is often very easy to ignore. We will never reach the numbers of people we have to reach and convert, if reaching them depends on their voluntary consent. We have to go beyond that. Imagine once this massive structure is standing there, and so many people who have no intention of thinking about life and the sacredness of life, or the Blessed Virgin Mary, or even God Himself, nevertheless will be confronted with this massive structure. We have to reach the unwilling audience, because there are things they need to know that they may not even know that they need to know, but they need it nevertheless."
Behr presented Father Pavone with an award in recognition of his "selfless, courageous and persevering advocacy on behalf of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society - the unborn, the sick, and the elderly."