CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
Priests for Life launch media campaign for election season
BY LOU PANARALE
WASHINGTON - Priests for Life has launched a massive media campaign to remind
Catholics o£ their political responsibility to support life during the 2000
Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, announced the
start of the "Campaign for Life 2000" at a July 18 news conference at the
National Press Club in Washington. He was flanked by nearly two dozen priests
from 14 states.
"The educational effort we announce today is unprecedented in the magnitude
and variety of the ways we are getting the message out," Father Pavone said.
"We intend to employ every means known to humanity," he said. "We will
utilize the churches, by means of preaching and teaching. We will take the
message to the streets with peaceful demonstrations and other First Amendment
"We will mail information to clergy across America. We will utilize phone
banks to encourage the clergy in this effort We will submit articles and
purchase ads in major newspapers," he said. "What we are doing here today is
exactly what the Church has done
for centuries: defending human life, and challenging the government to do the
same," Father Pavone said.
Calling the campaign "completely non-partisan," he said, "Lawmakers and
voters in both major parties have a wide range of
positions" on abortion. "No matter what nation or period of history we are
speaking of, when a human government attempts to legitimize
an act of violence, the Church declares that such an attempt is devoid of all
authority or juridical validity," he said.
"No president, congress, court or king has the authority to permit even a
single abortion. When we elect our lawmakers in
America, we influence the moral character of this nation for better or for
worse," he said.
Father Pavone said he wanted to make it clear from the outset that Priests
for Life was speaking "as clergy, enunciating the teachings of our Church in
matters regarding the fundamental rights of the human person."
"We are not endorsing candidates, commenting on any electoral races, or
presenting any political strategies," he emphasized.
"We represent no organization here today but ourselves."
The priest added, however, that "Americans of every faith and of no faith
join us on a daily basis" in voicing their opposition
to abortion and working for laws to protect life in the womb.
He said Priests for Life bases its message on the 1998 document of the U.S.
bishops, "Living the Gospel of Life," and the 1999 statement of the bishops'
Administrative Board, "Faithful Citizenship."
First, he said, Catholics and all believers have an obligation to vote, and
should do so in an informed and responsible way and should never cease to be
believers when they enter the voting booth.
"Our message here is not that we want to control the way people vote. The
message is one of integrity: don't claim to be a believer if you don't act like
one, and don't claim to be a member of the Church and then misrepresent its
teachings," he said.
Second, Father Pavone said, any candidate or policy is to be evaluated above
all on how it impacts human life and dignity. He said abortion is not the only
problem in society but it is "the preeminent human rights issue."
"Anyone who identifies himself as `prochoice' on abortion contradicts the
teachings of the Catholic Church," he said.
"There is not more than one Catholic teaching on abortion. Furthermore, this
is not only a Catholic issue, but one of fundamental human rights," he said.
Addressing supporters of abortion who profess a faith other than
Christianity, or profess no faith at all, Father Pavone said, "We say that your
position contradicts the Declaration of Independence and its assertion that we
all have an inalienable right to life."
To these supporters of abortion who profess Christianity Father Pavone
advised, "Stop being a scandal to the Gospel of Jesus