The dedication of the Priests for Life's headquarters named for Cardinal O'Connor on Staten Island marked "a new chapter" for the organization's efforts to stop abortion, said Father Frank A. Pavone, the national director.
"Our staff has been re-energized and renewed in enthusiasm by this blessing," Father Pavone told CNY.
Archbishop Renato R. Martino, the Vatican's nuncio to the United Nations, presided at the June 20 ceremony and performed the blessing of the John Cardinal O'Connor International Headquarters. Attending were Msgr. Peter G. Finn, co-regional coordinator of Staten Island and pastor of St. Joseph-St. Thomas parish; Msgr. Thomas J. Gaffney, pastor of St. Charles parish, where the headquarters is located, and state Assemblyman Robert A. Straniere, R-Staten Island.
Priests for Life staff members read from the New Testament and excerpts from Pope John Paul II's encyclical "The Gospel of Life" and a 1984 speech by Cardinal O'Connor titled "Human Lives, Human Rights."
Priests for Life, with a full-time staff of three priests and 25 lay persons, rents the spacious two-story building that houses the headquarters.
The dedication came in the midst of the organization's $12 million, two-year media campaign to call attention to the destructive nature of abortion and supply information on services available to help women keep their babies and post-abortion healing.
Full-page newspaper ads giving information on a woman who died from abortion and another who is in a coma after an abortion appeared early this month in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. The ads called abortion the "most frequently performed surgery" and the "most unregulated surgical procedure in the nation."
Information also was given on Dr. John Biskind of Scottsdale, Ariz., who was sentenced to five years for the death of a female patient. The stories of the two women, written by their grieving mothers, represent "only a small portion of the hundreds of women who have died or been injured from legal abortion," the ads state.
It calls on abortion supporters, including the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, to join Priests for Life and other pro-life groups to work for "an end to this violence toward women and for a full investigation of the abortion industry."
Placement of the ads was co-sponsored by United Church Friends for Life, the National Organization of Episcopalians for Life and the Task Force of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality.
In an interview, Father Pavone said the plea for collaboration with pro-abortion groups is genuine, pointing out that he has met with abortion supporters all across the country in attempts at honest dialogues on how to reduce the number of abortions and serve the true needs of women.
"We want to see if they are interested in protecting women's health or in protecting the abortion industry," he said.
The ads received a prompt response from the Institute for Democracy Studies, which earlier this year published a booklet on Priests for Life titled "A New Era in Anti-abortion Activism." Alfred Ross, president of the institute, stated that "the very people who want to return women to the deadly days of backroom abortionists are daring to present themselves as motivated by their concern for women's health and safety...It is obscene."
Father Pavone told CNY that similar ads will appear regularly in large-circulation papers.