The Catholic Register
Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, PA
May 3, 2004
By Bruce A. Tomaselli
"We have a sturdy tool that crushes the head of the baby," testified a
physician recently in an abortion hearing on Capitol Hill.
"That way it is easier to remove the arms and legs of the baby. It feels as
though you’re grabbing salad from a bowl."
That grim testimony was just one of many examples heard that day.
"We have to take back our government. It is time for us to tell the courts
that they no longer have the authority to do what they are doing," said Father
Father Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, discussed life issues
at a gathering sponsored by the Pro-Life Committee of Saint Rose of Lima Parish,
The event, held on Monday April 19 in the new Saint Rose of Lima Maria Parish
Center, was entitled "Responsible Citizenship," an appropriate topic for an
Priests For Life was started in 1991 to help priests around the world spread
the Gospel of life to their people.
The mission of Priests for Life is to unite and encourage all clergy to give
special emphasis to life issues in their ministry. It also urges them to take a
more active and vocal role in the pro-life movement, especially on the issues of
abortion and euthanasia.
Father Pavone, born in Port Chester, New York, became the national director
of Priests for Life in 1993. Under his guidance the staff has grown to 45
full-time paid employees.
A nationally known figure, he was asked by
Mother Teresa to address the clergy of India on life issues. He also spoke
at the pro-life caucus of the United States House of Representatives. He’s taken
his antiabortion and life message to all 50 states and has appeared on national
broadcasts such as
Hannity and Colmes and The O’Reilly Factor.
Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" of the Supreme Court's abortion Roe vs. Wade,
called Father Pavone "the catalyst that brought me into the Catholic Church."
His message is a simple one: "Man's laws must not supercede God's laws. Our
founding fathers established a Republic bound to that ideal. They warned us
against democracy that puts human utility above the laws of our creator,"
explained Father Pavone. Those thoughts exacted a loud applause from the large
According to Ann Zelnosky, chairperson of the St. Rose Pro-Life Committee,
"this crowd is much larger than I anticipated. I was uptight worrying about the
turnout, and in the last two days, the response has been tremendous." So much so
that church officials had to scramble to provide more seating. We must obey God
rather than man and we give absolute loyalty always and only to Jesus Christ,
Father Pavone reminded. "Jesus said that 'all authority is given to me on heaven
Father Pavone referred to a book he feels is a very important work,
Original Intent. It discusses what our founding fathers intended in the
Independence. "This book explains their intentions. Children today are
not hearing or reading about those original intentions."
He said James Wilson, a signer of the constitution emphasized that we must
obey two kinds of laws -- divine and human.
Father Pavone added that Alexander Hamilton also addressed that issue, "The
law dictated by God Himself is superior. No human law is of any validity if
contrary to this notion.
"Our founding fathers didn't create a democracy, they warned of it," Father
Pavone said. Democracy supersedes God’s law and this is not what was intended.
"They understood that people cannot go beyond Divine law."
The Church experienced a major gain in the battle against abortion and other
life issues with the passing of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (HR 1997) on
President Bush signed the act into law, which recognizes an unborn child as
the second victim when a violent federal crime is perpetrated against a pregnant
Sister of Saint Joseph Rosella Lacovitch is assistant director of the
diocesan Family Life Office. One of her duties is to promote Respect Life
Issues. "Naturally, I am delighted with the passage of the Unborn Victims of
Violence Act." It is also known as the Laci and Conner’s Law after Laci Peterson
and her unborn son, Conner, whose disappearance and subsequent death gained
Peterson, of California was nearly eight months pregnant when she disappeared
in December of 2002; Laci and Conner’s bodies were found the following April.
Sister Rosella said equally remarkable is that an addendum to the law, which
would recognize only the mother as a victim, was defeated in February. "This
means the bill acknowledges the rights of the child and recognizes the unborn
child as a victim," said Sister Rosella in a telephone interview. This is a blow
to abortion clinics and planned parenthood groups, she added.
"This is a big step for Pro-Life because this means that anyone causing death
or injury to a child in the womb, can and will be charged with a separate
offense in addition to any charges related to the mother," Sister Rosella
explained. "An unborn child’s life is now recognized as a life to be
She said this will have a rippling effect on how we view Roe vs. Wade. "The
Catholic Church is delighted," she said.
Bishop Elio Sgreccia, vice president of the
Pontifical Academy for Life, commented on Vatican radio about the new
"Undoubtedly, it is, juridically and ethically, a very important event." He
noted that the U.S. Supreme Court decisions have focused on the principle of
women’s rights. But the new law shows "there is another priority in principle:
that the fetus represents a human being who has juridical importance who must be
respected as man," he said.
Father Pavone said there were a number of efforts we can pursue on behalf of
life issues. He said we must change the minds of our legislators and only then
can we get man’s laws to be dictated by divine law.
One of the most under - utilized tools we have, he said, are
letters-to-the-editor. "Many groups are coming together to write letters for
each other," Father Pavone explained.
He reminded know your candidates and how they feel about the issues. Voting
is very important and we must make every effort to get everyone eligible voter
to the polls on election day. "The Church as an institution does not back
candidates, but you can."
Father Pavone said we can't shy away from the issues -- we need to get back
to governing ourselves.
"It all boils down to who shows up and votes on election day. That is within
your power to influence," concluded Father Pavone to a standing ovation.