By Mary Ann Wyand
Diocese of Indianapolis, IN
October 15, 2004
Standing beneath a crucifix in the Marian College Chapel in Indianapolis,
Father Frank Pavone told students, faculty members and guests on Oct. 4 that
electing pro-life candidates on the local, state and national levels in the Nov.
2 election is vitally important to the future of the country.
The founder and director of Priests for Life, an international pro-life
organization based in Staten Island, N.Y., reminded the gathering that the fate
of important prolife issues hangs in the balance depending on the results of the
"Obviously, for us as a nation and for us as a pro-life group, this is a
critically important moment in our history" Father Pavone said. "That is not to
say that politics is the only activity that the pro-life movement may be engaged
in, nor is it to say that it is necessarily the way that we will end this
tragedy of abortion."
However, he said, "as I've been saying in these days and weeks across the
country, while politics is not our salvation, Jesus Christ is. Nevertheless, our
response to him demands that we be politically active, that we respond to his
call to actually do something to make a change in the laws, the policies and the
leaders that we live with here on Earth as we organize ourselves politically."
On Sept. 23, Priests for Life and a coalition of other religious and pro-life
organizations announced a national month-long $1 million pre-election
educational campaign that Father Pavone said is intended to defeat political
candidates who support keeping abortion legal.
This pro-life campaign includes a television series titled "Election 2004:
The Catholic Vote" broadcast on
Eternal Word Television Network to an
estimated 80 million U.S. households as well as pro-life advertisements and
voter registration drives at churches.
Priests for Life also organized a nine-week pro-life novena on Aug. 31 as a
"spiritual bouquet for America" leading up to the Nov. 2 election.
Father Pavone said "the Second Vatican Council, in its key document, The
Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, told us decades ago that
human activity should never be confused with the progress of the kingdom of God,
but at the same time they should never be disconnected.
"Human activity and anything we can do to bring about a measure of peace,
justice and righteousness in our society, building ... a culture of life, is of
vital importance to the kingdom of God," he said. "And anything that we are able
to do by our efforts in and through God's grace, to advance truth and life and
justice and peace, is used by God himself as building blocks for the eternal
Jerusalem. Christ comes back again, in other words, to bring human history to
God uses the good that we have done in life, however limited and imperfect,
Father Pavone said, to build upon the things that he has brought about through
us for the culture of life.
"This is some of the theology behind our political activism," he said. "The
Eucharist itself that we celebrate here on this altar, and on altars throughout
the world, tells us something about our political activity."
At Mass, Father Pavone said, the priest says in the Eucharistic prayer,
"Blessed are you Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness, we have this
bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become
for us the bread of life."
Just as human hands made the bread that the priest consecrates as the Body of
Christ, he said, human hands must defend the sanctity of life created in the
image and likeness of God.
"Brothers and sisters, the work of human hands includes political work,"
Father Pavone said. "It includes educating and mobilizing and registering and
assisting voters to have an impact, and this is the work in which so many are
engaged very intensely now ... until the election."
People need to understand what is at stake in this election, he said, because
"who is in office, including the office of the President of the United States,
really makes a difference to the [pro-life] cause."
Every baby in the womb can be legally aborted at any stage of pregnancy in
the United States, he emphasized, but pro-life supporters can and do affect
changes for the better in the war against the culture of death in society.
"We can change minds and hearts through pulpits," he said, "and preaching and
proclamation of the truth in the Word of God."
In negative ways, Father Pavone said, "Does it not affect the minds and
hearts of our children when they learn that abortion is legal throughout all
nine months of pregnancy? Doesn't it affect people's minds and hearts when
institutions that are so respected in our society like the Supreme Court itself
say that this activity is legal and constitutional? Of course it does. Laws and
policies and court decisions affect minds and hearts. Who is in the White House,
who is in the Congress, who is sitting as justices on the Court, affect minds
and hearts, and if they're going in the wrong direction it impedes and confuses
and darkens minds and hearts, not only in the United States but throughout the
When America's leadership changes, he said, "the way that we in the United
States treat children changes, not only on our soil but elsewhere by exporting
abortion, by making the assistance we give to other nations dependent upon their
permitting abortions in their countries and by other things that we do at the
United Nations and other international agencies. A lot of that is determined
directly and immediately by who sits in the White House."
Father Pavone said
Roe vs. Wade and
Doe vs. Bolton,
the 1973 Supreme Court decisions that legalized abortion during all nine months
of pregnancy, have forged a separation between the choice of the mother and the
independent value of the life of the child.
"Roe vs. Wade does not speak of an absolute right to privacy," he said, "the
way the pro-abortion propaganda talks about."
But pro-life efforts have achieved major legal breakthroughs in recent years.
"Back in 2002, when the Born Alive Infants Protection Act was passed by
Congress and signed into law by the President," Father Pavone said, "...it said
that, at any stage of pregnancy, if the child is born alive, even if the birth
of that child is the result of a failed abortion, that child is to be regarded
as a person and treated accordingly."
Passage of the partial-birth abortion ban into law, although challenged in
court, is critical in a number of ways, he said, because "this is the first time
since Roe vs. Wade that the Congress has acted, in fact, two branches of
government - the legislative and the executive branch - have acted to actually
ban an abortion procedure. What does that say? That says that they can."
Another new law, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, significantly increases
the status of the child in the womb.
"The Unborn Victims of Violence Act declares, for the purposes of federal
law, that children injured or killed during the commission of a federal crime
while still in the womb are, in fact, regarded as victims," he said. "What this
law is doing on a psychological level is increasing what we call cognitive
dissonance ... people see a contradiction."
He said common sense asks the question of how an abortion can be legal when
this new law makes the death of a preborn child illegal.
"What's at stake here in this [presidential] election is the Supreme Court
itself," he said. "There will be changes in the next few years."
If Americans vote to support the sanctity and dignity of life in this
election, Father Pavone said, they will help to elect pro-life judges on the
nation's highest court who will make judicial decisions on key policies that
will affect us, our children and our children's children for years to come.