By Kathleen Sweeney
Fr. Frank Pavone and Dr. Pat Robertson brought Prayer Breakfast attendees to
their feet as their stirring speeches challenged pro-life Americans to dedicate
themselves to changing the current pro-death policies of the U.S. government.
Both speakers were emphatic that this election is one of the most important ones
our nation has faced.
According to Fr. Pavone, national director of Priests for Life (PFL), "It is
not going to be business as usual ... particularly in the churches." He reminded
his audience that Christ has called us to change the world in which we live and
to testify to the truth.
Priests for Life, he said, will be doing its part "to awaken Christians" by
making available material based on the U.S. Catholic bishops' 1998 publication,
Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics "to any and
every church, group, or institution that wants to use them." This challenge is
not for Catholics alone, Fr. Pavone asserted, but for "all Christians, all
believers, and all Americans."
The bishops' document addresses the problem of the many issues facing
citizens, asserting clearly that the right to life is the fundamental issue:
"Being right in such matters [other human rights and social justice issues] can
never excuse direct attacks on innocent human life," the document declares.
Several questions which often challenge pro-life Christians were addressed
with clarity and eloquence by Fr. Pavone. For example, some assert Christians
are imposing their beliefs on others who don't
"Some people believe life begins at conception, some at birth, others
sometime in between... some even believe that life begins two or three months
after birth," he pointed out. "Can [anyone] believe what they want? Of course
they can, but that doesn't give them the right to kill the unborn," Fr. Pavone
emphasized. "The law is not supposed to either impose or remove belief. The law
is supposed to protect us despite beliefs."
"We are not here condemning beliefs. We are here condemning acts of
violence," he said.
Underlining the enormity of the violence to the unborn, Fr. Pavone said the
number of lives being legally destroyed by abortion in this country would be
equal to the following happening every day: five TWA Flight 800 crashes in New
York, seven Oklahoma bombings, and 110 Columbine High School shootings.
Responding to the disturbing June 28 Supreme Court decision to extend Roe v.
Wade to legalize partial-birth abortions, Fr. Pavone ended his presentation on a
note of hope based on Jeremiah's words in Lamentations 3:22-23.
"Even now after 30 years of this disaster, even now after 40 million victims,
even now after decision after decision further corrupts our system of law and
entrenches the practice of abortion in our nation's policy, even now can we be
determined that we will turn this around because the favors of the Lord to
America and... to the pro-life movement... have not been exhausted," Fr. Pavone
concluded. "They are renewed each morning."
Dr. Robertson, nationally respected evangelical and political leader, focused
on the terrible implications of the Supreme Court's decision to reject
Nebraska's ban on partial birth abortions. It was "the ultimate step in
destruction of human life," he said, and "equated Roe v. Wade with infanticide."
But Robertson echoed Fr. Pavone's reminder that God is in charge
nevertheless. "I think the American people are going to wake up. The Supreme
Court has done us a favor. They have finally taken the mask off of what the plan
is. They have taken the mask off of how far they will go in the destruction of
unborn human life, of how far they will go ultimately in the destruction of the
elderly and infirm," he said.
Dr. Robertson provided a revealing account of the thinking that led to the
tragic Roe v. Wade decision. The process began in 1962 when Justice William O.
Douglas found a "right to privacy" in the "penumbra" (a shadow cast in the
middle of a solar eclipse) of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
Then in 1973, Justice Harry Blackmun used this so-called "right to privacy"
to give a woman a "right" to abortion - while at the same time taking away the
right to life of a conceived child.
The decision had "no constitutional precedent," Robertson said. With a stroke
of the pen, "they federalized this issue, took it away from the states, the
legislature, and the people."
Robertson held Prof. William Brennan's book, Dehumanizing the Vulnerable,
in his hands. Reading from this pro-life classic, he reviewed the groups of
people which at various periods of history have been demoted to less than human
status, including the babies who today are treated as personal property. "Ladies
and gentlemen, it will get to you sooner or later," he warned.
"There is no more precious gift you can give than life," Robertson said. "Our
forefathers... fought and bled to bring about in this land a nation dedicated to
the premise that all men are created equal."
Dr. Robertson declared, "Never in a thousand years would the population of
the U.S. have voted on a decision as abhorrent as that Supreme Court decision
that came down this week."
"It's time for us to stand up and be counted and this election is the time
for your voices to be heard," Robertson said.