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Catholic New York

September 1994

'Publicly Pro-Life'

At ecumenical seminar, clergy told to bear witness

By CLAUDIA McDONNELL

The Rev. Leo B. Jaloszynski, pastor of Circleville Presbyterian Church near Middletown, told a clergy gathering in Fishkill Sept. 16 about the interior struggle that led him to become "publicly pro-life."

After making his decision, he participated in a Life Chain in Middletown, where he said he stood "for the first time, on a public street ... taking the grief and the honks and the abuse, but finally coming to the place where I needed to stand up and be counted."

Rev. Jaloszynski spoke at the interfaith clergy luncheon seminar sponsored by the Dutchess Vicariate Respect Life Society at the Holiday Inn in Fishkill. His topic was the reluctance of clergy and church officials to join the pro-life movement. Other speakers were Father Frank A. Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, who is in residence at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Port Chester, and Teresa Colombo of Poughquag, a pro-life speaker and post-abortion counselor.

Father Pavone discussed why clergy are essential to the pro-life movement and stressed the importance for all pro-life people of participating in public activities. Mrs. Columbo spoke of the need to help women heal emotional and spiritual trauma following abortion. Both said that religious congregations must reach out to post-abortion women.

Mrs. Colombo, who is 36, said the suffering she went through after having an abortion led her to work with other post-abortion women.

About 70 attended, most from Catholic or evangelical Christian churches.

Father Pavone said that the pro-abortion movement wants pro-life people to stop proclaiming their message. But to remain silent, he said, would be to ignore the pain of women in the pews who have had abortions and to tell them, in effect, that their pain is "no big deal."

He said "If they are suffering the pain and are conscious of it, our silence says to them either, 'We don't know about your pain,' or 'We don't care.'

"There is healing, there is forgiveness," he continued. "Who is going to provide it? Who is going to be able to heal these women? It is we who stand up for the Gospel of mercy."

Rev. Jaloszynski said that at first he was reluctant to speak up about abortion.

"I needed to address the fact that this was a more serious issue than all of my fears," he said. He participated in the Life Chain as a "symbolic gesture" of his public commitment to the pro-life cause.

Mrs. Colombo, who has a 3-year-old daughter, was 19, unmarried and four months pregnant when she "fell for the world's lie," she said, and had a saline abortion that "slowly burned to death" her unborn baby.

"I will never forget the sound that baby made when it dropped into the bucket," she said.

She added, "I still hurt from that abortion. Our churches are filled with hurting people. Remind them, as they sit in your congregations...of what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28: 'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened. and I will give you rest.'"

She told the clergy at the luncheon that women in their congregations "are sitting there with a void in their lives." They want to form a relationship with Jesus, but they cannot imagine that He could ever "wipe that sin away," she said.

Abortion is murder, she said, but women who have had abortions "need to know ... the hope for healing and the love of God, and (that) He can forgive even murder. And that's the good news of the Gospel."

One participant noted that some people believe prayer alone is sufficient in the struggle against abortion, and asked how to motivate them to take public action. Father Pavone suggested that pro-life activists "gently invite them and show them" that participation in actions such as Life Chains and picketing "is not so bad as they think it must be and that they're needed."

Shown at the luncheon was an eight-minute video, "Harder Truth," that depicts the violence of abortion. Father Pavone called it a "magnificently effective tool," which he uses with clergy throughout the country to help them inform their congregations about abortion and motivate them to take action.

The seminar was organized by the Respect Life Society's religious outreach committee, whose chairmen are Lynne Kavulich of Wappingers Falls and Frank DiBlasi Jr. of LaGrange.

Ms. Kavulich told participants, "I have no doubt that this battle, leading to the end of abortion, will be spearheaded by you, our clergy. Your influence in this country can save 2,000 Catholic and evangelical Christian babies a day. If 2,000 women per day, from our churches alone, can stop killing the unborn they carry, then this war will be soon ended. And the winners will be the innocent ones that you have been responsible for saving. We're counting on you."

A videotape of the talks is available for purchase.

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