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The Criterion

Serving the Church in Central and Southern Indiana Since 1960

Love both child and woman, pro-life crowd told

By Mary Ann Wyand

"Love them both." Those three powerful words are the essence of the pro-life movement and its healing ministry, Father Frank Pavone told hundreds of pro-life supporters during the "A Celebration of Life" dinner March 1 in Indianapolis, "The difference between the pro-life movement and the pro-abortion movement is that we love both the woman and the child," Father Pavone said. "Love is indivisible. The fact of the matter is that you can't hurt one without hurting the other, and you cannot love, protect and defend one without loving, protecting and defending the other."

The national director of Priests for Life and member of the clergy in the Archdiocese of New York was the keynote speaker for the annual pro-life dinner sponsored by Right to Life of Indianapolis and the St. Gerard Guild. During the dinner, the organizations honored two Indiana women who have worked to defend the sanctity of life.

St. Rose parishioner Betty McKinley of rural Knightstown received the 1996 Charles E. Stimming Pro-Life Award for her many years of volunteer service. State Sen. Jean Leising of St. Louis Parish in Batesville was honored with the 1996 Respect for Life Award for her pro-life efforts in the Indiana legislature.

"Betty McKinley changes lives and hearts by bringing the pro-life message to every person she meets," past Stimming Award recipient Marjorie Schmitz of St. Luke Parish in Indianapolis told the gathering. "She has spent her entire adult life serving others. Her actions and involvement speak loudly of her total commitment to the sanctity of human life."

A past president of Right to Life of Indianapolis during the mid-1980s, McKinley also has counseled pregnant women, volunteered at crisis pregnancy centers, and given pro-life presentations at schools and for other organizations. With her husband, Dave, she served St. Thomas Parish in Fortville as co-chairperson of the parish pro-life committee for 10 years and also co-chaired the Hancock County Citizens for Life Committee.

After accepting the Stimming Award, McKinley thanked her family and others for their pro-life work.

"Each one of you has added to the honor and prestige of the award through your leadership and your activities and support of mothers and their babies," she said. "So many of you work year after year tirelessly to increase respect for all human life. I could not have done much in the pro-life movement without an extensive support system. Many of you have been people I could rely on for over 15 years, and I've always had pastors who gave me support and encouragement."

Indiana Sen. Dan Coats presented the Respect for Life Award to Leising.

"Every person in this room is involved in a high calling," he said, "and it's a great honor and privilege for me to stand with you and to stand for life. It's a terrible fact in America that abortion is still the most frequently performed operation. We know, however, from the law of God, the law of science, and the testimony of our hearts that an unborn child shares our image, and therefore the image of God."

Every child deserves the protection of the laws, Coats said. "America was founded on the profound yet very simple and powerful idea that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. And the first right is the right to life."

Americans cannot and must not cast off the powerless unborn child into darkness, he said. "To extend the promise of America to the weakest among us is a goal that exceeds every other goal of our nation. Politics is an important part of that effort, and when we come across a legislator who speaks for the weak, we have to recognize this act as an act of political courage and an act of moral vision."

Coats said that Leising has displayed that moral vision as a legislator.

"There is no higher honor than to be recognized for defending human life," he said, "because there is no deeper commitment to a just society."

Leising thanked the group for their continued support of Senate Bill 311, to require informed consent before an abortion, which "was challenged every step of the way" through the legislative process.

During his keynote address, Father Pavone also urged priests to be "totally fearless in preaching the life issues."

As we enter the third millennium, he said, "there is no other issue that will so effectively challenge the church to be the church and will so effectively challenge priests to find the deepest meaning of priesthood as the issue of abortion."

Although some people refer to abortion as "the same old issue," Father Pavone said, it continues to be a new issue every day because "the babies who died in abortion today never died before. It is a new issue, a new tragedy, every 20 seconds. It is 4,400 new issues today. Abortion is not the only issue facing America today, but it is the most fundamental issue."

Displaying two medical textbooks, the priest said one book describes how to perform different types of abortion. In it, he said, the author describes abortion as "dismemberment" and "decapitation." The other medical book, called "The Unborn Patient," relates ways to "diagnose, treat, cure and operate on the child in the womb" in order to save the baby's life.

"How many of you have seen television documentaries of any type of surgery?" he asked, pausing for a show of hands. "Now, how many of you have seen the most frequently performed surgery in America, namely abortion, performed on television? No? Isn't that amazing? It's never shown. Let's present that question to the American people, and let's continue to challenge the media to show people what an abortion is."

Because pro-life supporters minister to and offer assistance to women, he said, the pro-life movement by its very nature has always been pro-woman.

"This is the movement that embraces the woman," he said. "This is the movement that defends the woman's rights. Post-abortion reconciliation is a substantial part of the pro-life movement. We are the ones who help women (who have experienced abortion) pick up the pieces, and we are the ones who bring them to forgiveness and healing."

Priests for Life in the News

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