In a five-day trip to Rome, the Rev. Frank Pavone met with Pope John Paul II and Vatican officials to discuss ways to further the growth of Priests for Life, the national organization which Father Pavone heads. Father Pavone, traveling with Anthony DeStefano, chief of staff, concelebrated mass with the pontiff and had a private audience.
Father Pavone joined Priests for Life three years ago, while he was a parochial vicar at St. Charles R.C. Church, Oakwood, and became national director. Several months later he moved to Holy Rosary R.C.. Church in Port Chester, where he acquired office space and equipment to supplement the main office still in Bay Terrace.
Father Pavone presented the pope with two small gifts, including a special photograph recently produced by Priests for Life, featuring a Catholic priest surrounded by a large group of babies representing infants saved by the church in this country from abortion, said DeStefano, and the pope was visibly moved by the photo, which he blessed.
DeStefano, a Dongan Hills resident, said "the pope appeared in excellent health and looked every inch the powerful world leader that he is, and he walked with only a slight limp."
Father Pavone was among several priests present, and the cardinal secretary, Monsignor Stanislaw Dziwisz, invited him to do the Gospel reading in English for the small group of a dozen visitors, mainly priests and nuns, DeStefano said.
During the trip, Father Pavone spoke with officials in various departments. "The response I received from these Vatican departments was overwhelming," he said, terming it "amazing how closely they are following the work of Priests for Life and how pleased they are with our success.
After meeting with Cardinal Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Father Pavone said, "We had preliminary discussions regarding ways to internationalize Priests for Life. "The Pontifical Council for the Family, which directs policy on the life issues for the entire Roman Catholic Church, wishes to see Priests for Life expanded to every country in the world.