CHICOPEE-The abortion industry will inevitably collapse under its own weight as the philosophical contradictions, defections and greater understanding of the harm that the procedure does to women mounts.
But once abortion is again largely against the law, the church's work of healing will just begin, a noted pro-life priest told anti-abortion activists here Sept. 8.
Father Frank Pavone told about 100 invited guests at the Elms College Chapel that as more men and women like Joy Davis leave the "pro-choice" camp, the tolerance of Americans for abortion will wane.
Davis is the former director of six abortion clinics in southern states who switched sides on the issue. Along with other former abortion providers, she now tells pro-life groups and the media how, when she was administering the clinics, instruments were not sterilized.
Father Pavone, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, said that abortion clinics represent "the most unregulated industry of a surgical type in America," citing anecdotal accounts from various states. However, he did not specifically charge that abortion facilities in Massachusetts were unsanitary or directly dangerous to the physical health of a woman.
The national director of Priests for Life, like a growing number of religious and lay leaders opposed to abortion, believes that those who want to promote a pro-life message should not confine themselves to talking about the harm that abortion does to an unborn child.
From a public relations point of view alone, pro-lifers should speak of the harm that abortion inflicts on women, he told a group of interested priests at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Springfield earlier in the day.
The young priest predicted that within his lifetime, American society will once again reject the reasoning that an action such as abortion is acceptable, not because it is right, but because it has been chosen by an individual.
He cited the case of a pro-choice demonstrator whom he spoke to last year outside a Little Rock, Ark., abortion facility. The man carried a sign saying "Keep baby killing legal."
The pro-choice activist, like some on the other side of the issue, acknowledges that a fetus is a human life. However, he actually believes that the unborn child's life must make way for the "right of choice" in some circumstances, said Father Pavone.
Once the reality of what this reasoning means sinks into the American consciousness, U.S. society will once again turn against abortion. And, like a post-World War II world that anguished over how the Holocaust could have been permitted to occur, society will turn to the church to heal its guilt about abortion, he added.
Father Pavone, who has become better known locally through a lecture series now being shown on the EWTN cable television network, preaches and speaks about abortion and euthanasia to a variety of groups.
However, his principal mission now is to assist his brother clergy to be more supportive of the prolife cause.
Priest for Life, which was formally organized in 1990, consists of about 950 priests and 2,000 lay supporters who receive literature helping them to more effectively teach the church's pro-life message. Although he participated in a Catholics for the Unborn-sponsored prayer vigil outside the Hampden Gynecological Associates abortion clinic in Springfield during his recent visit to the area, his group does not favor a particular strategy of anti-abortion activism.
Father Pavone spends much time attempting to persuade priests that they must be vocal about abortion despite their fears of alienating parishioners or getting "involved in politics."
However, he also encourages lay people concerned about abortion to have realistic expectations about the abilities, and schedules, of their priests.
"Don't approach your priest with the attitude that he isn't doing his job. Rather, tell him that you value his leadership," he told lay leaders here.
Committed lay pro-lifers should explain their activities and motivations to their clergy, then suggest three or four activities which the parishioners might sponsor. Giving the priest time to think about it, and assurances that lay parishioners will do most of the work, will heighten a priest's willingness to support pro-life activism, Father Pavone explained.