Since being elected national director of Priests for Life last fall, I have
been traveling the country and working full time to help priests become more
active in the pro-life movement.
Some people ask: "Why is Priests for Life necessary? Isn't every priest
supposed to be pro-life?"
Yes, every priest is supposed to be pro-life; it is essential to priesthood.
Yet, there is an even deeper question here: Why is a "pro-life movement"
necessary? Isn't every human being supposed to be pro-life?
We have Doctors for Life. We have Nurses for Life, Pharmacists for Life,
Scientists for Life, Lawyers for Life, Athletes for Life, Teachers for Life,
Teens for Life, Sisters of Life.
Why do we need any of these? Why, in fact, should we have to call ourselves
"pro-life?" Shouldn't that be understood? After all, what's the alternative?
Yes, it should be understood that to be human is to be pro-life. However,
that is no longer understood in our world.
We have an emergency on our hands. We have a culture of death. We have the
institutionalized, government-approved killing of innocent children. Yes, we
need the pro-life movement and every group in it. At the forefront, moreover, we
We need priests more than ever in this battle, not because abortion is a
"Catholic issue," but precisely because it is such a fundamental human issue. It
is at the very basis of morality.
If abortion isn't wrong, nothing is wrong. A priest is a teacher of morality.
If priests are silent about this massive killing of children, they may as well
be silent about everything. If we as a Church and as a nation cannot be roused
to respond to abortion, we have lost our soul.
I am often asked by pro-lifers, ''How can I get my priest to be more active
in the pro-life movement?" Here are a few suggestions:
1. Praise and thank your priest.
Priests are people. They are affected by praise and by criticism.
Every time he mentions abortion and speaks up for the right to life, go up to
him and tell him to keep it up! Write him a note of thanks, and assure him that
you are behind him and that you appreciate his moral leadership.
If he never speaks about abortion, write him a kind, clear note encouraging
him to do so.
2. Educate, don't criticize.
People easily presume that priests are up to date on all the moral issues of
the day. The fact is, however, that active and informed pro-lifers have a lot to
offer their priests. Make an appointment with your priest. Bring along one or
two other well-informed pro-lifers of the parish.
Do not use the approach: "Father, you're not doing your job." Rather, explain
the reasons for your own pro-life involvement.
Educate him. Bring him up to date on the latest developments in the pro-life
movement. Suggest possible projects that could be implemented. Tell him you
value his leadership and encouragement and that with his leadership in this
area, many lives can be saved.
3. Do the groundwork!
If you are going to propose an activity to your priest, do some work on it in
advance so you can tell him people are already interested in helping. Have a
clear understanding of exactly what it will involve. Inform and mobilize other
people ahead of time.
Often, people are afraid to take initiatives. They work from the viewpoint
that nothing should be done unless Father comes along and asks them to do it.
On the other hand, priests are often working from the viewpoint that the
laity have a calling and responsibility to initiate ideas and projects, which
they in turn will promote, as long as they are assured the project is workable
Not surprisingly, when these two philosophies coincide, everybody ends up
waiting for everybody else!
The laity become afraid of taking the initiative because they "feel out of
place,'' and priests become afraid of taking the initiative because they aren't
sure the people will respond! This dilemma is not universal, but it is happening
and needs to be broken by a new spirit of initiative by both priests and laity.
4. Be realistic about your expectations.
Tell your priest that you are not asking him to do all the work. Rather, you
are asking him to speak out, to encourage, to call to action, to open doors of
opportunity to the local pro-life movement.
5. Ask for your priest's input in discussions on pro-life issues.
Find out what his experience has been in this work and what his present
6. Speak with parish staff members.
Talk about pro-life issues with all the other parish leadership. This
includes priests, deacons, religious Brothers and Sisters, and lay leaders.
7. Encourage your priest to join Priests for Life.
We have brochures, sample homilies, a regular newsletter, bulletin inserts,
slides and audio tapes, and a wide range of helpful suggestions for priests.
Priests for Life approaches priests on a peer-to-peer level and encourages
their pro-life involvement. We will send the material directly to your priest at
your request, and we can also send it to you.
Deacons can be members. Laity can join as auxiliary members. You may be
especially interested in our brochure,