Published October 6, 2006
Detroit - Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, will seek to arm pro-life activists with information about the stem-cell research issue and encourage them to do their duty as faithful citizens in the upcoming election when he addresses the Right to Life of Lapeer annual banquet, Wednesday, Oct. 18.
The banquet is among local events being held marking October as Respect Life Month.
"Our call to faith is also a call to faithful citizenship, as the U.S. bishops have said," Fr. Pavone said in a Sept. 28 telephone interview.
He said he also hopes to equip pro-life activists with the information they need to be informed participants in the public discussion of the bioethical issues concerning stem-cell research and cloning.
"We're not talking about the Church opposing all scientific research, there are 10 distinct and different issues here, and the Church supports nine of the 10. So, there are many positive things to say – it's only that form of embryonic stem-cell research that takes the life of the embryo that it opposes, as well as questions about the possibility of harm and of consent," Fr. Pavone said.
His aim will be to give those who attend the banquet "some practical ideas – some concrete, practical help – about presenting the message," he said.
Besides working and providing a voice for all Catholic priests who support the pro-life cause through Priests for Life, Fr. Pavone last month became the moderator general of a new priestly society, the Missionaries of the Gospel of Life.
With many similarities to a religious order, full membership in the society is open to priests, permanent deacons and lay missionaries, "who renounce marriage for the sake of the kingdom of God" so they can devote themselves fully to the mission.
In discussing the issue of support for pro-life candidates, Fr. Pavone said he will try to clarify the Church's position: "The Church formulates principles, but how we apply those principles can become complex."
But to the basic question of "Do we have a duty to support candidates who support human life?" Fr. Pavone said, "The answer is 'yes'."
While much remains to be done, pro-life activists should nevertheless take encouragement because of the progress that has been made, Fr. Pavone continued.
"We see gains politically – more and more voters say pro-life issues are influential or determinative in their voting. And over the last 12 years or so, half of the free-standing abortion clinics in the nation have closed," he said.
Catholics might ask whether they could have done more – or could be doing more – but, Fr. Pavone said they can be proud that the message from the Church "has been consistent and clear."