Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director
Priests for Life
Fr. Frank s Columns are available via Podcast.
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The nation will pause again on
Monday, September 11, to recall an event that is hard to forget. Five years ago,
on that day, we saw a manifestation of evil that was shocking and sobering, as
terrorists attacked New York and Washington, DC.
I was in New York City that day.
As we had our Priests for Life staff briefing, we could see the smoke start
arising from lower Manhattan before we knew what it was. And the morning turned
into night. As we had Mass later that morning, I could see the smoke of the
already collapsed towers in the same line of sight as the Body of Christ. “This
is my body, given up for you.”
To this day, as I walk out the
front door of our New York office, that morning comes to mind. And I’m glad it
does. I don’t want to forget it. I want it to continue to urge me on in my daily
work in defense of human life.
What, after all, was the evil of
September 11? Was it that lives were lost and buildings destroyed? An earthquake
or tidal wave could have caused the same damage, but in those cases we would not
have called it terrorism. It just would not have been the same as the evil of
What was it that constituted the
specific evil of September 11? It was that some human beings had no regard
for the right to life of other human beings. That makes the events of that
day more profoundly disturbing than “loss” or “tragedy”; that’s what makes them
Yet is this evil any less if the
victims are five inches tall instead of five feet tall, or if the instruments of
killing are surgical forceps rather than airplanes? The evil we fight when we
oppose terrorism is merely a reflection of the evil we do. Every day, from coast
to coast, our nation’s abortion clinics carry out the same evil. Some human
beings disregard the right to life of other human beings.
Another chilling parallel is that
both terrorism and abortion are often rationalized with religious language. In
both cases, it is a perversion of true religion. Muslim extremists distort their
religion by killing the innocent in the name of God. And the Religious Coalition
for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) distorts Christianity by calling abortion a “holy
choice” and by having liturgies honoring that choice. In my capacity as
President of the National Pro-life Religious Council, I oversaw a project by
which we exposed the extremism of this group through a book called “Holy
Abortion?” In RCRC’s publication “Prayerfully Pro-Choice: Resources for
Worship,” we read, “The choice that (Name) and (Name) have made is also a
sacred choice, a choice for coherence and responsibility in life” (p. 87).
And so September 11 comes again.
I’ll walk out the front door of my office. I’ll think back five years. Then I’ll
think of the nearest abortion clinic. And I’ll resolve to work all the harder.