and her mother, Betty.
Sarah, now a young lady, was almost aborted more than a score of years ago
when her twin was aborted instead.
Fr. Pavone is national director of Priests for Life, an association of
Catholics who ''give special emphasis to promoting and defending the sanctity of
human life." Its chief aim is to persuade and encourage priests in every diocese
and city of America to speak out from the altar, and to become active in
exerting influence against abortion, euthanasia, and other violations of human
"Joy, Sarah, and Betty have marvelously meaningful stories to tell, and
they're ready to share their testimonies against the horrors of abortion over
radio and TV," said Fr. Pavone, a 35-year-old priest of the Archdiocese of New
York who, with the consent of John Cardinal O'Connor, devotes all his time to
heading Priests for Life from its main office on Staten Island:
"But traveling to a number of cities for interviews, and for talks to special
groups, costs money. Continued donations from Catholics are needed to bring
these powerful messages to many thousands more. You see, they will tell priests
why it's so important to speak up, and they will astonish people who will hear
them explain what really goes on in the abortion industry —and what it's like to
have almost been aborted."
Fr. Pavone recently spent a number of mornings and afternoons with Joy,
Sarah, and Betty in Birmingham, Ala., taping 13 radio and TV programs. He
pronounced their testimonies truly remarkable:
''Betty's story centers around the fact that neither she nor her abortionist
knew she was expecting twins. After her son--whom she later named Andrew-- was
aborted, Betty returned home not knowing that Sarah, a twin, was alive in her
womb. Soon after when little Sarah started kicking, Betty decided, no matter
what, she had to give birth to her baby--a decision for which she is still
Priests for Life now has more than 1,200 priests along with several thousand
lay members. Begun in San Francisco by Fr. Lee Kaylor who first realized the
necessity of establishing a network of priests who were preaching on the evils
of abortion, the group was officially recognized by San Francisco's Archbishop
John Quinn in April, 1991.
Since then, with Fr. Pavone and the associate national director, Fr. James
Heyd of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Priests for Life has branched out. Its
newsletter, published six times a year, not only carries important up-to-date
commentary on life issues, but it addresses obstacles that often stop priests
from preaching on abortion.
To one fairly common obstacle for priests, "Am I 'turned off' by the
eccentricity of some prolifers?," Priests for Life responds:
''There are 'eccentrics' in every movement. But if our own prevailing
impression of pro-lifers is that they are 'eccentric,' it may indicate that we
ourselves have had very little exposure to the people in the movement.
Pro-lifers are among the most dedicated and selfless people in the world. They
love those who cannot love them back, and endure ridicule, cost, and injury in
the process. "The pro-life movement is the largest grass-roots movement in the
history of the United States. Of course, there are eccentrics. There are also
many saints. (Sometimes these categories overlap!) Studies show that the
pro-life movement, vast and varied as it is, is more a reflection of America
than the pro-abortion movement."
To, "Do I see the 'consistent ethic of life' as incompatible with a focus on
abortion?," Priests for Life counsels:
"The 1985 Reaffirmation of the Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activists of the
National Conference of Catholic Bishops stated, 'Focus on abortion and the
Church's firm commitment to a consistent ethic of life complement each other.'
Consistency does not mean watering down anything. It means speaking up!
Consistency also means that if abortion is murder, we need to treat it that
Fr. Pavone is no armchair prolifer. Recently, in Birmingham, Ala., after
praying with more than a score of pro-lifers congregating outside a local
abortuary, Fr. Pavone read aloud the names of some of the women killed by
abortion in the United States. The effect this had on passersby was, in the
words of one pro-lifer, "numbing because of its stark reality. Linking abortion
with the death of mothers has an unforgettable impact."
It is Fr. Pavone's hope that with more and more priests speaking out, the
number of abortions will drop markedly among American Catholics, as was the case
in Poland where the latest figures reveal only 777 abortions for all of 1993. In
1987, in then-Soviet-dominated Poland, there were 123,534 abortions. Later, with
new laws outlawing abortion and with priests permitted to hammer against it in
the churches, the total number of abortions dropped to 30,878 in 1991, to 11,640
in 1992, then to the latest low of 777.
Special donations to help spread the testimonies of Joy, Sarah, and Betty may
be sent to Priests for Life, P.O. Box 141172, Staten Island, N.Y., 10314. In
addition, both priests and laity may join Priests for Life, which is supported
solely by individual contributions, by sending $15.00 for a one-year membership.
Priests for Life in the News