By LOU BALDWIN
Augustinian Father Walter J. Quinn, 72, is a man with a mission and a
message. A priest-associate with Priests for Life, a New York-based organization
founded in 1991 and headed by Father Frank Pavone since 1993, he travels the
country preaching the message of life.
"Abortion is the greatest single evil in the world today, bar none," he told
congregations at South Philadelphia's St. Monica Church on the weekend of Oct.
"More than 4,400 abortions are performed in this country every day. That's
more deaths every day than the World Trade Center tragedy."
Born in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, and educated in archdiocesan schools
(St. Dorothy School, Drexel Hill; West Catholic High School), Father Quinn
joined the Augustinian order in 1955 and was ordained in 1961.
He had a full career in parish ministry as an associate pastor and pastor,
and was missioned in New York and New Jersey and within the Philadelphia
After a period of retreat work in Nova Scotia, he became associated with
Priests for Life on a full-time basis three years ago.
"I became interested in the pro-life (message) way back, before Roe v. Wade,"
he said. "I've kept it up over the years."
As one of three priest-associates with Priests for Life he travels the
country spreading the pro-life message.
"This past year I've been to almost all of the states east of the
Mississippi," he said, "and I've been to California, Texas, Arizona, Washington
and South Dakota. After travelling around the country, I can easily say 50
percent of the parishes are doing nothing. There are parishes where they don't
mention pro-life or abortion all year long – it's non-existent. We know this
because people tell us."
The overwhelming majority of Catholics live in urban areas, he said, and with
few exceptions, these areas elect pro-abortion candidates. "People are basically
voting their party, their politics and their pocketbooks instead of their faith,
their principles, virtue and the common good."
While there are many life issues, Father Quinn concedes, those which must be
considered first are those which concern life itself — abortion, euthanasia and
"Some people take other life issues and use them as an excuse not to support
the pro-life issue," Father Quinn said. He cites the death penalty and war as
But Father Quinn makes the point that less than 100 American adults are
executed by lethal injection annually, while more than a million American babies
are executed through abortion in the same time-frame.
"How can you compare the two?" he asks, adding, "There are more lives lost
through abortion every year then the total of those killed in every war this
nation has ever fought."
Despite all of this, he is optimistic for the long run.
"The (abortion) numbers are coming down," he said. "People are supporting
pro-life. This is not just a Catholic or a Christian issue, it is a most
fundamental human life issue."