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Priest calls on pro-life advocates to vote

Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life speaks at the Riverside Ballroom Thursday

By Anna Krejci
News-Chronicle
Green Bay, WI
September 2004

Some religious leaders are advocating the followers of their faith to take their religious beliefs to the voting booth.

The Rev. Frank Pavone, the director of an international anti-abortion organization called Priests for Life, told an audience to vote for candidates who oppose abortion, or at least for those who oppose it more than others, at a luncheon sponsored by his organization and Wisconsin Right to Life, Catholic Funds and Catholic Knights at the Riverside Ballroom in Green Bay on Thursday.

In the final weeks before the Nov. 2 election, Pavone told an audience to press fellow pro-life citizens to vote and not to invest time in swaying people's minds.

Churches hesitate to hold voter registration drives, he said.

"But do you know who has voter registration drives? Night clubs, rock concerts and MTV because they want their constituents, their clientele, to defend their values at the polling place," he said. "And how could it be that night clubs and rock concerts do more to mobilize their people than the church of Jesus Christ does to mobilize its people, is indeed a strange thing," he said.

If churches are reluctant to set up voter registration drives, their members should at least encourage friends to vote through one-on-one conversations. No one should be left without transportation or without a baby-sitter or in any other circumstance that prohibits them from voting on election day, he said.

He advised people to take the day off work so they could call friends repeatedly to see whether they have voted, and if they have not, offer them a ride to the polling place.

Pavone and the Priests for Life are not the only religious-based organizations calling for religious followers to factor faith into the decisions they make on their ballots. The National Council of Churches, an association whose members include 36 denominations encompassing 50 million people and 100,000 congregations, is promoting a study guide called, "Christian Principles in an Election Year."

The guide calls for voters to support peacemakers who pursue nonviolent solutions and who back a foreign policy rooted in cooperation and worldwide justice. Among other things, the principles lead voters to support candidates who will protect the environment and support equal opportunities for all.

Pavone's speech had an impact, according to his audience.

Connie Nedohon of Green Bay, said she would do more to motivate other people to vote after hearing Pavone speak.

She is strongly opposed to abortion.

"Abortion is a form of terrorism," she said.

However, even given what she believes, she said she hopes people will vote for candidates who best fit their ideals.

Casie Cravillion of Casco is pro-life and knows she is not the only 26-year-old who feels the same way about abortion.

"I don't think the general public has the right idea about how my generation feels about abortion," she said.

One audience member criticized St. Norbert College for hosting a former Democratic presidential candidate on its campus this week.

Dr. John Schumacher of De Pere publicly asked Pavone to tell the audience to write letters to the college protesting the appearance of Gen. Wesley Clark, who he views as holding a pro-choice position.

"Let the college know that we don't like it," he said.

His statement was followed by applause from some of the 300 people in attendance.

Priests for Life
PO Box 141172 • Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. 888-735-3448, (718) 980-4400 • Fax 718-980-6515
mail@priestsforlife.org