- Father Frank Pavone, who has spent much of the last 20 years spreading the
Church's pro-life message, is calling on all Catholics to "cross the line" and
actively join in the national battle against abortion and euthanasia.
A trip to the "March for Life" -- held in Washington, D.C. each January to
mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing
abortion -- as a high school student in 1976 was the turning point for him. He
says that trip "stirred a deeper concern about abortion." That concern has grown
and continues to grow.
A Port Chester native, Father Pavone was ordained for the Archdiocese of New
York in 1988. He had served as an associate pastor of St. Charles Church, Staten
Island, for five years before being named the first full-time director of
Priests for Life three years ago.
As director of Priests for Life, he finds himself speaking publicly "almost
daily" about abortion and euthanasia. Now based in Staten Island, he often makes
as many as three trips a week to various parts of the country. These pro-life
trips range from rallies to clergy seminars and training seminars for lay
persons, with the seminars often crossing denominational lines.
He says one of the biggest goals of his ministry is to foster better
communication between the various prolife groups and to share their efforts and
His ministry also includes "lots of media work." The many trips usually
include interviews with the local newspapers, radio and television stations.
Father Pavone also has a regular program on EWTN, which involves abortion and
Air of optimism
He is optimistic about the impact his ministry is having. "People are
concerned, and there is still a lot we can do." One of the biggest things, he
said, is that we as Catholics "need to cross the line. We need to stop lamenting
the abortions and begin doing something about it."
It simply isn't enough to have the attitude, "Oh, I would never have an
abortion myself," he added, during an interview with The Long Island Catholic.
"We must begin looking at how we can prevent others from having abortion."
As he visits various cities around the country - last weekend he was in
Floral Park where spoke at the Masses at Our Lady of Victory and led a Walk for
Life to St. Hedwig's Church - he makes the case for the peaceful and effective
things people can do to help prevent abortions.
"You can save someone's life today," he explains, distributing a leaflet that
includes 55 practical suggestions on how you can help stop abortions. One of the
suggestions he calls the most important of all is telephone numbers people can
help publicize that would help women find alternatives to an abortion.
"This is everyone's problem," Father Pavone continues. "These children who
are being aborted are our brothers and sisters."
Father Pavone's message isn't totally one of gloom. The movement is having an
impact, he adds, noting that "when people are exposed to the truth, they
This is evidenced, he said, by the unprecedented response to the
partial-birth abortion ban and veto. "If you make them (the people) aware, they
respond, and the effort continues to grow. We have in our hands the ability to
make a difference, and I sense a movement toward making a difference with people
everywhere becoming more aware and more involved with trying to stop abortions."
With this continued pressure, he said, the abortion industry and the
government will have "to pay more attention to what people really are saying."
Father Pavone is also seeing a shift in the attitude of the clergy. "There is
a growing willingness on the part of clergy to preach on these issues." This
shift, he feels, is rooted in the strong pro-life background of many younger
Though he is optimistic, he finds himself reflecting on "the things we've
seen and what a toll it (abortion) has taken on our society. So many children
destroyed ... that destruction spreads to the mothers and fathers as well."
Need for education
Shifting his focus to euthanasia, Father Pavone again emphasizes that much
education is needed. "There is much less understanding about euthanasia" he
offered, "than there is about abortion." He said there is a need for massive
education, the first priority is "to let them know what this means."
But again, he is optimistic, explaining he doesn't get the sense that the
decision-makers have totally formulated a position on euthanasia. "With abortion
they've had time to work out their opinion. but on euthanasia that isn't the
case. This is the perfect time to approach the legislators with the facts
against it. As it develops we'll see some interesting alliances formed."
Though one expects the rigorous and demanding, speaking and travel schedule
would take its toll on Father Pavone, both mentally and physically, he
said the opposite has been true. "I find it invigorating. The people I meet in
the (pro-life) movement are fabulous. The schedule is nonstop ... but, I find it
more invigorating as I go along."
Priests for Life in the News