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 share them.
"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.