a. unite, encourage, and provide ongoing training to priests and deacons who
give a special emphasis to the "life issues", especially abortion and
euthanasia, in their ministries;
b. instill a sense of urgency in all clergy to teach about these issues and
to mobilize their people to help stop abortion and euthanasia;
c. assist clergy and laity to work together productively for the cause of
d. provide ongoing training and motivation to the entire pro-life movement.
3. How does this differ from the Bishops’
Secretariat for Pro-life Activities?
First of all, Priests for Life offers a unique priest-to-priest ministry of
encouragement and networking around the country. By constant visits to local
communities, our priests help their brother priests connect with a ministry that
helps them communicate with priests in other parts of the nation on pro-life
Second, with our large staff and outreach, we are able to reinforce the
bishops’ teachings on life issues by bringing it to large numbers of people both
inside and outside the Church. We are able to bring the pro-life message into
arenas that the Church otherwise does not have the time, resources, or personnel
Do Priests for Life priests speak in parishes and
give seminars and retreats?
Yes, the Priests for Life pastoral staff speaks in parishes, at diocesan
events, in seminaries, and at pro-life events held by many organizations. We
also conduct retreats for priests, deacons, seminarians, and lay people.
5. Is Priests for Life political in its
Priests for Life is committed to proclaiming and applying the teachings of
the Church on political responsibility, as expressed by the United States
bishops in “Living the
Gospel of Life” (1998). We are completely non-partisan; neither are we
afraid of the fact that people, upon understanding the Church’s teaching on the
primacy of the right to life, will draw the practical conclusion that they
should vote for a pro-life candidate. Our business is not to work for any
particular party, but neither is our business to obscure the concrete
implications of the Church’s teaching in the political arena.
Do the bishops support Priests for Life?
Priests for Life receives a constant stream of letters from bishops across
the nation thanking us for the service we provide to the priests and laity of
their dioceses. Bishops regularly invite us to join them for clergy seminars,
pro-life masses, and other events.
Moreover, the US Bishops’
Pastoral Plan for Pro-life Activities states, “This plan foresees
dialogue and cooperation between the national episcopal conference and priests,
deacons, religious, and lay persons, individually and collectively. We seek the
collaboration of every Catholic organization in this effort.” We at Priests
for Life are committed to providing such collaboration. It should be noted here
that the Pro-life Committee of the Bishops’ Conference does not have the role of
“endorsing” pro-life organizations. Rather, it seeks to encourage all those who
are working to promote the Gospel of Life, as the Pastoral Plan indicates.
Some of the recent letters we received include the following statements:
“Priests for Life has been arguably one of the most important movements in
the history of North American Church.” -- Most Reverend Robert J. Baker,
Bishop of Charleston, South Carolina
“I am especially grateful to you for your dedication and service on behalf of
the pro-life movement.” -- Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, Archbishop Emeritus of
“Fr. Pavone’s new book helps us to strengthen our convictions with clear
teaching and compelling motivation.” -- Most Reverend Anthony M. Pilla, Retired
Bishop of Cleveland and Past President, United States Conference of Catholic
See more comments at
Is Priests for Life
funded by dioceses, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, or the Vatican?
No. Priests for Life is funded by the generous and regular contributions of
individual laity and priests across the country. Priests for Life is a 501 (c) 3
organization and therefore donations are tax-deductible and are made out to
“Priests for Life.” We raise our money mostly through direct-mail fundraising.
8. Does Priests for Life have a
Board of Directors?
Yes, the Priests for Life Board of Directors is composed of priests and laity
who oversee the operations of the corporation in accordance with all federal and
state laws. Among its other duties, the Board sees to it that annual audits are
conducted, and these have demonstrated from year to year the fiscal
responsibility of the organization.
9. Who started Priests for Life?
Priests for Life actually started in San Francisco by a number of priests who
wanted to activate and encourage their brother priests in the pro-life cause.
Fr. Lee Kaylor was the first President of the organization. He came to know Fr.
Frank Pavone and Fr. Jim Heyd, and eventually asked them to serve in leadership
capacities. It was in 1993 that Fr. Frank Pavone became the first full-time
director of Priests for Life, with the permission of Cardinal John O’Connor, and
Fr. Jim Heyd became the first part-time Associate Director, with the permission
of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. At that time the headquarters of Priests for Life
moved from San Francisco to New York.
10. Does Priests for Life cover more issues
(As if abortion isn’t enough…!) Priests for Life was established to address
the primary, overriding moral issue of our day, which is abortion. The
organization’s founding documents also indicate that the tragedy of euthanasia,
which likewise directly attacks the right to life itself, would be a focus of
its concerns. Pope John Paul II, particularly in his encyclical “Evangelium
Vitae” (1995), and the United States bishops, particularly in their document
“Living the Gospel of Life” (1998), likewise point to these two issues as
primary in urgency. At the same time, and consistent with those same documents,
Priests for Life points out the linkage among all the life issues, and the fact
that our concern for life must be consistent. Therefore Priests for Life does
provide preaching resources on related issues such as contraception and the
death penalty (see
However, as Cardinal Joseph Bernardin pointed out years ago and as the US
Bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro-life Activities still points out, acknowledging
the “consistent ethic of life” does not mean that all issues are of equal
importance, and does not remove the right of organizations and individuals to
focus on one or more particular issues. Priests for Life, therefore, focuses on
abortion, and to a lesser extent, on euthanasia.
11. Is Priests
for Life just for priests?
No, because priests are not just for priests. Priests are called to serve,
nourish, and stir into flame the gifts of the whole Church for the building of
the Kingdom of God. The great task of transforming society into a Culture of
Life, starting in the family and extending into the realm of business, media,
politics, and every other arena, belongs to the laity by virtue of their baptism
and confirmation. Priests for Life seeks to help the laity do so, and to help
priests to provide such help more effectively.
Therefore, Priests for Life serves the entire Church. Lay men and women can
join Priests for Life as “lay associates.” Priests for Life offers pro-life
training, networking, and encouragement for the laity.
12. What is the status of Priests for Life in
Priests for Life belongs to the category of “Associations of the Faithful,”
which enable members of the Church who want to join such associations to work
together to advance particular aspects of the work of the Church.
13. Is Priests
for Life a “radical” pro-life group?
Priests for Life is a national pro-life organization that is highly respected
by parish priests and by Cardinals at the Vatican, by local ministers and
leaders such as Dr. James Dobson, by ordinary citizens and celebrities, by
diocesan respect life directors and by members of Congress, and even by those
who disagree with us. Some of the feedback we have received can be read at
www.priestsforlife.org/praise. Priests for Life is recognized by the United
Nations as a non-governmental organization with all the rights that attach to
such groups; is invited to participate in and often lead national and
international pro-life strategic planning; is a valued friend of national
pro-life groups everywhere; and has been invited to hold Congressional
briefings. The meaning of the term “radical,” of course, is relative to the
person who uses it. If by “radical” one means that a group is committed to
certain unchanging principles - like the sanctity of life - and is willing to
challenge anyone and everyone to observe those principles, to go against the
tide of public opinions and political correctness, and even to die for the cause
of life, then yes, we proudly wear the label, because it is consistent with the
demands of discipleship.
14. Does Priests for Life reject the use of
Yes. Violence is never an answer to violence. We have publicly rejected
violence against abortionists, as can be seen by our public statements and
15. Does Priests for Life have a position on
As a Catholic association, Priests for Life aligns itself with the official
teachings of the Catholic Church on every issue. Therefore, in regard to any
war, we hold that the principles the Church teaches are to be applied. The
practical focus of our ministry, however, comprises the issues of abortion and,
to a lesser extent, euthanasia.
16. Does Priests for Life endorse political
No. We are not allowed to do so by laws governing 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt
entities. We do, however, teach what the Bible and the Church teach about
political responsibility, and we urge all citizens (including those who lead
organizations) to speak up and work for the candidates of their choice.
17. Does Priests for
Life have a paid staff?
Yes, Priests for Life employs approximately fifty employees. The National
Director, Fr. Frank Pavone, has freely chosen never to take a salary from
Priests for Life.
Does Priests for Life propose policies
different than the policies dioceses already follow?
The role of Priests for Life is distinct from that of the hierarchy or
the official structure of a diocese. Priests for Life is a movement which
motivates, encourages, informs and equips the faithful to carry out the work
of defending life.
As such, Priests for Life does not seek to set policy for a parish or a
diocese. The role of deciding official policy belongs to the diocesan bishop
and those to whom he entrusts particular responsibilities.
Priests for Life, on the other hand, is a resource of expertise,
information, networking, and pastoral experience on various dimensions of
the pro-life effort. Many dioceses use our information in forming and
implementing their policies. We gladly share the insights and resources we
have. And we expect to be part of the conversation in which we are all
engaged as we try, together as one Church, to chart the best course and find
the most effective means of building a culture of life.
Even though Priests for Life doesn’t endorse candidates,
doesn’t it favor the Republicans?
Priests for Life proclaims the Gospel of Life and the demands that Gospel
makes on public policy. That message is the same no matter what positions
the national political parties take on life issues. Obviously, if one party
takes a position against abortion and another takes a position for it, then
pro-life teaching – whether enunciated by the bishops, by Priests for Life
or by any other group, is, in effect, going to benefit the pro-life party.
Yet that is because of the position the party takes, not because the
pro-life groups choose to support that party.
Our primary spokesperson, Fr. Frank Pavone, is neither a Republican nor a
Democrat, and serves as a resource to groups and public officials on both
sides of the aisle.
20. What is
the structural relationship between Priests for Life and Rachel’s Vineyard?
The worldwide work of Rachel’s Vineyard is a ministry of Priests for Life
and operates under the umbrella of Priests for Life. The founders and
directors of Rachel’s Vineyard, Dr. Theresa and Kevin Burke, are employed by
Priests for Life as full-time Pastoral Associates. Fr. Frank Pavone,
National Director of Priests for Life, serves as National Pastoral Director
and Chairman of the Board of Rachel’s Vineyard.