Priests for Life, the largest Catholic ministry focused on ending abortion, is actually a family of interrelated apostolates, including Deacons for Life, Seminarians for Life, Missionaries of the Gospel of Life, Rachel's Vineyard, the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, African-American Outreach, Hispanic Outreach, Youth Outreach, Political Responsibility, Prayer Campaign, Life on the Line Media Outreach, and the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues. All of these are organized under a larger umbrella of Gospel of Life Ministries.
The pastoral team has put into place a series of activities, plans, and goals for the year 2014. Some of these are public; some are confidential. The following report is a partial summary of some of those plans. Our Pastoral Team, includes Dr. Alveda King, Marie Smith, Dr. Theresa and Kevin Burke, Janet Morana, Bryan Kemper, Fr. Victor Salomon, Fr. Frank Pavone, Fr. Denis Wilde, OSA, and others who work with the ministries that comprise the Priests for Life/Gospel of Life Family.
Recall Abortion -- and Let the Healing Begin
Abortion kills children and hurts women and men, and Priests for Life will continue to connect those realities during this year, as we demonstrate that abortion is a failed and dangerous "product" which, like is done with other harmful products, should be "recalled from the market" and no longer made available to the American public.
Raising awareness of the damage abortion does will be accomplished through the continued growth of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign
), the world's largest mobilization of those who have lost children to abortion and speak about their experience. We will start the year strong with a renewed effort to bring men and women to Washington, DC for the March for Life and to San Francisco for the Walk for Life, and share their testimonies and/or hold signs saying "I Regret My Abortion" and "I Regret Lost Fatherhood."
During the year, the testimonies we have collected will be made even more widely available, and a database index will be further developed so that people with specific experiences (for instance, late-term abortion, or abortion without parental involvement) can be more easily identified and can therefore help with educational or legislative efforts that focus on those particular experiences.
Another key tool for this overall effort is Janet Morana's book Recall Abortion, which shows how moms and dads recall their abortion and the damage it does, and makes the case for a government recall of this harmful procedure. The book also calls people to sign a petition for the recall of abortion, at RecallAbortion.com
The Silent No More Awareness Campaign, as well as Recall Abortion is also a call to healing, and we carry out that healing primarily by administering the world's largest ministry for healing after abortion, Rachel's Vineyard. This year will see improved and streamlined methods for setting up new Rachel's Vineyard retreat sites around the world, and new online training courses for those who run the retreats. We will also more widely disseminate the new Rachel's Vineyard manual in Spanish.
Healing efforts will also continue for former abortion clinic workers who seek repentance and forgiveness, as Fr. Frank continues to work with the Centurions, established by Canadian psychiatrist Dr. Philip Ney for the healing of such individuals.
Elections and Vote Pro-life Coalition
The midterm elections of 2014 will be a key priority for Priests for Life, which, as a c-3 educational organization, will conduct the kinds of activities we have conducted in the past to register, educate, and mobilize voters. Our resources at PoliticalResponsibility.com
, our Voter Registration Sundays, our non-partisan voter guides, and our travels and media broadcasts will be some of the aspects of this election effort. We will again highlight and disseminate the many documents of the Church which show why the right to life is the foundational issue in any election, and is more important than any other issue, since when we lose life, we lose all the other rights which depend upon it.
Moreover, we will challenge pro-abortion Catholic politicians to choose between their allegiance to abortion and their allegiance to the Faith, because one cannot be loyal to both at the same time.
We will also enable other similarly structured non-partisan groups to utilize all the opportunities they have to conduct activities regarding political responsibility through our Vote Pro-life Coalition.
Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
Priests for Life will provide strong support for the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a measure that protects unborn children after 20 weeks due to the child's capacity to feel pain. We were involved in initial strategy sessions to launch the attempt to pass such laws on the state level, and the legislation has now been enacted in ten states.
Priests for Life strongly supported the successful efforts of the House of Representatives to pass this measure in June of 2013, and was involved in the introduction of the measure in the US Senate. We will now press for a vote in the Senate.
We are also launching a project to publicly ask each Senator to answer the question as to whether they support protection of children in the womb from painful dismemberment abortion after 20 weeks of development. In this way, they will not be able to avoid the question, even if they were to avoid the vote.
This is part of a series of interrelated public education projects on late-term abortion that Priests for Life is conducting to replicate the successful strategy behind the ban on partial-birth abortion by presenting the question of what the public thinks of a particular abortion procedure, rather than just what they think of abortion in general.
HHS Lawsuit Continues
Priests for Life has challenged the "HHS Mandate" in federal court, and will continue in 2014 with a court appeal to gain protection from the mandate, which requires employers, in the health care plan they offer employees, to provide coverage for certain immoral activities.
Over the last twenty years Priests for Life has developed a large amount of pro-life educational material and utilized it around the world. This year, along with developing new educational tools, we will re-organize and re-deploy our educational mission through a new online entity, ProLifeCentral.com.
Along with this site, which will also include an online university that combines the wisdom and experience of many leaders in the pro-life movement, we will utilize special educational websites, featuring experts on a variety of pro-life topics.
Fr. Frank's new book will also be published in 2014, and will take the form of a manifesto regarding what needs to be done next in the pro-life effort to bring an end to abortion.
Priests for Life will produce at least three full television series for EWTN this year: two new seasons of Defending Life, one new season of Defendiendo la Vida, and one new season of The Catholic View for Women.
Fr. Denis Wilde, OSA and Fr. Victor Salomon join Janet Morana and Fr. Frank Pavone in the production and taping of various episodes of Defending Life, and Teresa Tomeo and Astrid Bennett Gutierrez join Janet for The Catholic View for Women.
Our internet program Pro-life Straight Talk will continue, and we will expand our internet broadcasting to include other new programs.
Pro-life Leadership Coalition
Priests for Life has developed the "Pro-life Leadership Coalition," through which we will continue, as we have done in the past, to convene meetings and retreats both private and public, conference calls and webcasts at strategically valuable times, to bring pro-life leaders together to work in unity and to discern joint action that they can take, as well as to keep each other informed of various initiatives they are taking separately.
As part of this effort, in 2014 we will also convene post-abortion ministries to provide new helpful tools and services to them.
Priests for Life will launch a student internship program in 2014, and also expand our bilingual staff to meet the needs of the increasing number of Spanish-speaking pro-life activists.
Closing of mills
We will continue to work with Operation Rescue and Life Dynamics to close abortion facilities by collecting information on the unlawful practices that occur daily in these facilities and bringing them to the attention both of state agencies and also of the employees of these facilities, warning such employees that they too can face legal trouble if they do not blow the whistle on the illegal practices that they notice in these facilities.
We will continue our campaign to mobilize believers to pray each day for an end to abortion. We do this by means of a daily prayer to end abortion, and at special times, by means of seasonal prayers and novenas. The prayer website PrayerCampaign.org
as well as the Facebook cause ProLifePrayers.com
provides the faithful with specific pro-life prayers related to liturgical seasons, pro-life feasts, and other significant occasions. The prayers are made available in English and Spanish.
We will also make available prayer cards for certain of these occasions throughout the year.
National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children
In conjunction with two other national organizations, Priests for Life will again sponsor the National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children on September 13, 2014. At approximately 30 different gravesites throughout the United States, where tens of thousands of aborted children are buried, simultaneous memorial services will be held on that day. Leading up to this observance, educational efforts focused people on how these burial places came to be, how the babies were found, and how they were killed in the first place.
Stand True Youth Outreach
Our youth department, under the direction of Bryan Kemper, will produce new lines of materials in 2014, especially drop cards and information on sibling survivors. Stand True will also expand and intensify social media efforts as well as outreaches to schools to build up their pro-life understanding, commitment, and activities.
African-American Outreach, under the direction of Dr. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., will oversee, among other things, a special observance this year of the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. In commemorating that achievement, we will ask, “What About the Babies?” and demand that their civil rights -- starting with life itself -- also be given protection.
Among many other efforts being planned, AAO will seek to have large gatherings of African-Americans present outside abortion facilities, praying for an end to the discrimination against the unborn.
Moreover, key meetings will continue to be held, publicly and privately, to press other influential African-Americans to work to end abortion.
Saving Lives through the Churches: Two-Weekend Project
As a way of encouraging both clergy and laity in the pro-life cause, and re-vitalizing parishes and equipping them to be the first place where people come when they need alternatives to abortion or healing after abortion, Priests for Life will conduct in various dioceses a "Two-Weekend Visit" which will incorporate the following:
•The diocese will bring in one of our priests to spend two consecutive weekends, and the intervening days, for a series of pro-life preaching, teaching, and meetings.
•On the first weekend, the priest would preach at all the masses of a particular parish, delivering and encouraging pro-life message.
•He would do the same on the second weekend, at a different parish. Preferably, these parishes would be located at very different locations in the diocese.
•Then, on each evening of the intervening days, Monday through Friday, the priest would offer an evening Mass and public talk at a different parish each evening. The talks would all be different, so that in the course of the week, a wide variety of thematic angles of the pro-life message could be covered.
•Moreover, the parishes could be arranged in such a way as to cover as wide a geographic area in the diocese as possible, so as to give as many of the faithful in the diocese as possible a chance to attend at least one of the talks.
•Then, aside from traveling from one point to another, daytime activities could be arranged that include schools, media, meetings with diocesan and pro-life leaders, prayer vigils at abortion clinics, meeting with government officials, and other initiatives.
Reaching parishes and schools
Another aspect of our renewed efforts to reach parishes and schools, not only to bring them the pro-life message but to strengthen their ability to instill it in the people they serve, we will conduct special Missions of Mercy, whereby the pro-life message will be presented in the context of the Mercy of God, which is the source of life in the first place and the endless fountain of healing, forgiveness and peace for all who have destroyed life but repent of their actions.
In the midst of these efforts, we will also renew our focus on the role of men, both before an after an abortion experience occurs.
Our lay pastoral team will also make themselves available for post-communion talks in parishes, whereby in a few minutes they can lay out the vision of some aspect of the pro-life movement, and give the parishioners an opportunity to get more involved.
Our Youth Outreach (Stand True), moreover, will work closely with our priests to be more present and available to Catholic schools and various other youth events where a pro-life witness is needed.
Cardinal John O'Connor Institute for the Pro-life Training of the Clergy
Cardinal O'Connor was instrumental in the genesis and growth of Priests for Life, having released Fr. Frank Pavone to do this work full time and having told him that he thought no work was more timely in the pro-life movement than efforts to train and mobilize the clergy in the defense of life.
Moreover, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a key architect of the abortion industry who later became pro-life and eventually a Catholic, said publicly that he and his pro-abortion colleagues in the 1960's and 70's "would never have gotten away with what we did if you (the clergy) had been united, purposeful, and strong."
It has, therefore, been the conviction of Priests for Life that today's proponents of the culture of death will still not get away with what they are doing if we become more united, purposeful, and strong.
Mindful, then, of the teaching and example of Cardinal O'Connor and Dr. Nathanson in this regard, Priests for Life intends to redouble its efforts in 2014 to train the clergy. With the support of Cardinal O'Connor's sister, Mary Ward, we are launching the Cardinal John O'Connor Institute for the Pro-life Training of the Clergy, which will include a re-packaging of many of the activities Priests for Life has done all along, together with some new initiatives. Among the Institute's activities will be the following:
- Training seminars for seminarians, deacons, and priests, in which our team will travel to seminaries and dioceses, and present a flexible package of presentations ranging in length anywhere from a luncheon talk to a seminar of several days, and covering the themes of preaching, counseling, and pro-life strategies and activities that can be carried out and promoted in parishes, schools, and other Catholic institutions.
-T raining in pro-life spirituality, with retreats and days of recollection available for seminarians, deacons, and priests.
- In line with the activities above, the full launching of Deacons for Life
- A new book on Preaching the Pro-life Message, containing, among other things, answers to the most common fears about addressing abortion, and homily hints based on the readings of every Sunday of the three-year liturgical cycle. These homily hints are also available for each of these Sundays in video format on You Tube, as well as in a smartphone application.
- Special training days offered for clergy at our New York headquarters of Priests for Life, as well as at our Washington DC office, right behind the Supreme Court. Sessions in Washington will include special opportunities to interact with practicing Christians in Congress and to learn more about how to support pro-life legislation.
- Specialized training in post-abortion healing, making use of our expert team who developed Rachel's Vineyard Ministries, which operates under the umbrella of Priests for Life, and also making use of the insights of our Silent No More Awareness Campaign.
- Specialized training in the healing of former abortion clinic workers and abortionists, based on the research and experience of the "Society of Centurions," a worldwide organization of former abortionists, who have gone through healing based on the model developed by Canadian psychiatrist Dr. Philip Ney, foremost expert in the psychology of abortionists.
- Specialized training in how to dialogue with advocates and practitioners of abortion, and show to them the face of Christ, inviting them to conversion based on a recognition that our belief in the sanctity of every human life includes theirs, too.