COLORADO SPRINGS. Augustinian Father Denis Wilde of Priests for Life will speak on the HHS mandate and other religious liberty issues on July 24 at 6 p.m. at St. Dominic Church in Security. The event is free of charge.
Father Wilde will also give a presentation for priests and deacons on July 24 from 9 a.m. to noon at St. Dominic. He will speak at all the Masses at Corpus Christi Parish the weekend of July 19-20, and during the weekend of July 26-27, he will speak at all the Masses at St. Mark Parish in Highlands Ranch.
Father Wilde, a Philadelphia native, is a pianist who taught music and directed a men’s chorus at Villanova University from 1977-1998. However, his priestly ministry has always had a pro-life focus, he said.
“From 1973-1978, I was preaching about (abortion) quite often,” he said. “Then, in the 1980s, I was involved in the rescue movement in Philadelphia and was arrested a couple of times, although I never went to jail.”
He later began celebrating monthly Masses for a group of people who prayed outside an abortion clinic in Philadelphia, and that experience ultimately led to him speaking to Father Frank Pavone about joining Priests for Life, Father Wilde said.
“I decided the Lord was calling me to do more,” he said. “I thought, ‘if I’m doing this on a local level, why not take it to a national level?’”
Over the past 16 years, Father Wilde has spoken at roughly 800 locations in both the U.S. and overseas, most of which are parishes. He also helps lead Rachel’s Vineyard retreats for post-abortive men and women.
Father Wilde said that the recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that the Hobby Lobby chain of stores did not have to cover abortifacient drugs in its insurance plans held some hopeful signs for nonprofit entities that also have religious objections to contraceptive coverage.
“There are some good statements (in the majority opinion),” Father Wilde said. “It states, ‘It is not for the court to say that the religious beliefs of the plaintiff are mistaken or unreasonable.’ In other words, the courts are not to decide on the principles of religion.”
Father Wilde said the fact that the mandate exempts some religious groups but not others is good grounds for court challenges to the HHS mandate.
“That’s the real problem here — they’re not treating everybody the same way,” he said.
In speaking to groups around the country, Father Wilde said that he often notices a contradiction in people’s views towards abortion.
“Many people will say, ‘Yes, this is a human being, but we have to have this ticket in our pocket (Roe v. Wade) to use for a rainy day,’” he said. “That’s where there is a disconnect. People just think this is a nuisance area of politics. We have to get away from that. It is a human issue, not about people in office.”
He said that, in his talks, he also explores the issue of the large number of women and men who have not healed from past abortions.
“If there are 56 million children killed by abortion, what about the mothers and fathers? That is a relationship,” he said. “What has happened out there in the culture, is that relationship is broken down to a gender war. We are a nation in denial.”
Father Wilde said that Rachel’s Vineyard retreats for post-abortive men and women are carefully structured to facilitate the healing process. For example, women often are afraid to talk about their abortions until they hear others speak about having similar experiences.
“Psychologically, when we can speak together, we can recognize that other people have the same baggage and defects that we have,” he said. “That’s a powerful thing, when they start to share.”
In his presentation for priests and deacons, Father Wilde said he will discuss common misunderstandings about federal tax law regarding churches and how it impacts statements that can be made from the pulpit on issues such as abortion.
“We’re going to observe the law, but we should use the benefits of it; we don’t always take advantage of it,” Father Wilde said.
(More information on Priests for Life can be found at www.priestsforlife.org.)