By BRIAN CAULFIELD
Calling abortion "the single most urgent moral crisis of our
nation," Father Frank A. Pavone, the New York archdiocesan priest who is
national director of Priests for Life, urged House of Representatives Speaker
Newt Gingrich to give priority to the abortion issue this election year.
"What is more central to political issues than the question
of who belongs to the political community?" Father Pavone asked in a private
Capitol Hill meeting with the Georgia Republican March 5.
Gingrich listened carefully and pledged to keep working on
abortion issues, Father Pavone told CNY.
The meeting followed Father Pavone's morning, address to the
House pro-life caucus in which he urged the congressmen to hold public hearings
to "break the silence and secrecy with which the abortion industry has shrouded
the abortion procedure."
"We have not even begun to have a national debate about abortion," he said in
his 45-minute address "Though abortion is the most commonly performed surgery in
America, most people have never seen it or even heard it described."
Through public hearings, Congress has the opportunity to compile "a book of
evidence on what abortion does to babies and women" comparable to l8th-century
writings exposing the horrors of the slave trade which led to its abolition in
England, he said.
He told caucus members that Priests for Life, whose mailings reach more than
40,000 priests and deacons nationwide, aids clergymen in their pro-life
efforts as they guide their people in appropriate political action. Even within
the limits of a tax-exempt organization, which prohibit advocacy of particular
candidates, a wide range of activities is open to the Church in shaping public
policy, he added. A primary goal of his organization is to encourage the
implementation of the U.S. bishops' documents on political responsibility and
pro-life activities, since too often priests are unclear on how far they can
take political action, he said.
"We have heard enough of what churches cannot do in the
political arena," he said. "It is time to talk about what they can do and to
help them do it."
Father Pavone was invited to speak by Rep. Michael P. Forbes,
a Republican from Long Island, who accompanied him to the meeting with Gingrich.
The pro-life caucus chairman is Republican Rep. Christopher H. Smith of New
Forbes told CNY that Father Pavone is a motivated and passionate speaker with
a unique gift in articulating the pro-life message. Although he was "preaching
to the converted" members of the pro-life caucus, his message will help keep
them grounded in the truth, he added.
"We in the pro-life movement should adopt Father Pavone's
strategy of demanding that the pro-abortion forces look, listen and see the
realities of what abortion really is," Forbes said. "The time has come to
buttress our arguments with cold, hard facts."
Priests for Life in the News