It is a great joy for me to be writing in the Nottingham Catholic News! During my last trip to the United Kingdom, many priests and lay people asked me to explain in greater detail what 'Priests for Life' was all about. The ministry of the priest is demanding. The priest, amidst the demands of his ministry, needs support and encouragement from three directions: from his bishop, from his congregation, and from his fellow priests. It is this encouragement, especially from fellow priests, that the Priests for Life association was founded to provide.
Specifically, it provides encouragement to carry out that dimension of priestly ministry that involves the defence of human life from abortion and euthanasia. Priests for Life is not an association that seeks to be some sort of separate and elite group of priests who claim to be more pro-life than all the rest. Rather, it seeks to celebrate the dedicated efforts, so often hidden and unknown, of priests who heroically promote the culture of life across the nation.
The purpose, then, of Priests for Life is to infuse a structure that already exists, the Church, with the vigour, enthusiasm, and the best resources to carry out its mission of defending life.
The Church is the only institution that has a Divine guarantee that it will prevail over the culture of death "The gates of hell will not prevail against it," the Lord Himself said (Mt.16-18).
To fully confront the problems of abortion and euthanasia, therefore, does not so much require more structure as it does more spirit, more awareness, more courage, more determination to use both the means and the opportunities we have! That is what Priests for Life is all about. From the heart of the Church, it is, a movement of priests seeking to use, and help the rest of the Church to use, her full strength against the most devastating attacks on human life in our day.
In certain places there are Priests for Life 'chapters,' in which priests come together regularly to encourage each other and pray together about the pro-life dimensions of their ministry. This is great.
But each priest fulfils his pro-life obligation when he preaches clearly and compassionately from the pulpit about the life issues, and when he organises his people to direct their energies to the defence of the most vulnerable among us. The mission statement of Priests for Life identifies three avenues through which its overall goal is achieved. First is the networking of priests who are particularly active in pro-life work. Priests are put in contact with each other across the nation to share ideas, resources and experiences concerning effective pro-life ministry. Priests who may feel alone or isolated because of their special emphasis on life issues are assured that they are never alone. A second aspect of the mission is to assist priests who may be hesitant about addressing abortion and euthanasia. By means of literature and tapes, seminars and direct personal assistance, the Priests for Life association, can help a priest to identity his fears, uncertainties, or misconceptions.
The third aspect of our mission is to assist priests to relate to pro-life organisations, and vice versa. How does a busy priest sort out what the initiatives, activities, and strategies of the movement are? How can he know what resources he can rely on in his parish, and what strategies of pro-life movements are in accord with the pastoral plan and teaching of the Church? Priests for Life can provide this type of guidance. Priests for Life knows intimately the philosophy and strategies of pro-life groups both big and small, as welt as the person behind them. We are, furthermore, regularly present at all national gatherings of pro-life leaders in which strategies for the movement are formulated. Not only does this association assist the priest to work with the pro-life groups, but it assists the pro-life groups to work with their priests. From the beginning of Priests for Life, there has been strong support from the laity, and the association has lay auxiliary members. The complaint is often heard that priests do not speak enough about abortion. Priests for Life actively assists lay persons and groups to understand and work with their clergy.
We invite you to read the literature of Priests for Life to appreciate the tone and the themes that we are convinced should mark the pro-life movement. The compassion and practical love for mothers in need, and the understanding we seek to foster even among those who promote abortion, are prominent among them, as is the forgiveness the Church offers to those who have participated in abortions.
We welcome your involvement in this growing international ministry. Contact Priests for Life at PO Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314, USA. Tel. 001-888-PFL3448, Fax 001-718-980-6515, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Web Site: www.priestsforlife.org.