Speaking over spontaneous bursts of applause, Father Frank Pavone, founding Director of Priests for Life and president of the National Pro-Life Religious Council, addressed a standing room only crowd at the 11th annual Bishop's Respect Life Rally Jan. 11 at the Catholic Life Center.
"We are not working for victory. We are working from victory, " Fr. Pavone exclaimed.
"Christ has won the victory over death for the church so that we can fight for life."
Fr. Pavone, who also serves on Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family Institute, gave hope to the audience by announcing his belief that the end of legalized abortion in the United States is at hand.
"This is not a 100-year plan," he said.
"We are going to see the end in our lifetime."
He acknowledged that those in attendance were already "committed to work every day to end abortion." But, he encouraged them to do even more.
He quoted Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a former abortion activist who became Catholic in 1996. Nathanson once told Priests for Life, "We would never have gotten away with what we did (legalize abortion) if you had been united."
Fr. Pavone said prayer has had a miraculous effect on abortion. Half of the freestanding abortion facilities in the country have closed in the last 10 years. He said an increase in adoration brought this about. Almost the same number of 24-hour adoration chapels dedicated to abortion was opened as the number of abortion clinics that closed during this time period, according to Fr. Pavone.
Fr. Pavone also credited public witness as a very powerful force in the war against abortion. He said that former abortion clinic workers, who are now Pro-Life, report that the number of patients seen at abortion clinics dropped off any time anti-abortion protesters picketed outside. However, Fr. Pavone was adamant in saying that violence against abortionist was not an acceptable deterrent to abortion.
Fr. Pavone told the audience the next time someone in the Pro-Choice movement asks how Pro-Life advocates can think so little of the pregnant woman's plight the correct response should be "we are pro-women."
He explained that the Pro-Life movement supports women in a manner not seen in Pro-Choice organizations. Pro-Life does not falsely lead the woman to believe that abortion is a simple way to get rid of an inconvenience. And when a woman has an abortion and is left to deal with the emotional burden of ending a life, it is the Catholic Church, through Project Rachel, that reaches out a healing hand.
"We stand for the woman, before and after the abortion," he said.
"It's not about love the baby and forget about the mother. Why can't we do both?" he asked. "We can and we must do both."
He said he actually knew of a woman who had 22 abortions. "The doors of the church are still open to her," he proclaimed.
Project Rachel gives women a place to grieve, to ask for forgiveness and to return to wholeness in Jesus Christ. Fr. Pavone said this service is vital since women who have chosen abortion have no place to grieve in a society that believes since it wasn't a life, there is no loss.
He cautioned the audience against passing judgment on women who have made the choice to have an abortion. He said that regardless of the horror of their act, they must be forgiven.
"We ask 'how can someone do this?' Well, are you and I unfamiliar with temptation?" he asked.
Even St. Paul professed doing things he knew to be wrong. Women who have chosen abortion were simply tempted to take what they thought was the easy way out, Fr. Pavone explained.
Prior to Fr. Pavone's speech, Bishop Robert W. Muench gave a welcome address thanking all those in attendance for their dedication to putting an end to abortion.
"When God gave us life, He made us a living extension of Himself," the bishop said. That "living extension" must be treated with respect in all aspects, he said.
During Fr. Pavone's address, children 12 years and younger were taken to another part of the building where they enjoyed activities based on the "Gospel of Life" theme.
Following Fr. Pavone's address, everyone came together for the living rosary. The Rally also included a pro-life skit presented by Teens for Life, a group of pro-life high school students and displays from various pro-life organizations.