PENSACOLA Speaking to a packed church, Father Frank Pavone discussed what he felt were major differences between the law of the land and the laws of God.
In this country, the laws make it legal for people to say, "I decide what is right for me ... I'm not responsible to anyone but myself," he said. "I write the commandments, it's all up to myself."
According to him, this freedom and love of liberty makes people feel they are God-like.
His homily was part of a citywide Mass for Life at St. Mary Parish May 9. Father Pavone, national director of "Priests for Life," was in Northwest Florida for a few days. He had planned to pray at Pensacola abortion clinics the next morning.
His visit here was sponsored by the parish's prolife committee.
He discussed a 1992 Supreme Court decision Planned Parenthood vs. Casey - which said that each person has the right to define his own concept of existence, meaning, the universe, and the mystery of human life.
Father Pavone said he felt statements like these were a "very dangerous fantasyland," because "suppose my version of the meaning of life is to exploit you?"
People who literally embrace the Genesis command "You will be like God" are revisiting Eden, where Adam and Eve, unfortunately, had decided for themselves the "difference between good and evil."
When meeting people from the pro-choice side, Father Pavone said he often is challenged, "Prove to me the baby in the womb is human."
His response, he says, is to ask them, "Prove to me that you're human."
A man he once met during a sidewalk protest held a sign that read: "Keep baby killing legal " When Father Pavone questioned him about it, the man said that he believed in abortion rights, but also that "people should be honest about what they believe in."
The priest said the true nature of abortion and morality begs the question: Who are we?
"And the way we respond is by taking on the mind of Christ, to lift the veil and put it aside," he said. Christ "emptied himself, he humbled himself, and then he was exalted."
This, said the priest, is "exactly the opposite" of how pro-choice people think.
He called the word "love" the most used and misused word in the English language. The true meaning of love in the Christ-like sense, according to Father Pavone, is sacrifice.
"Love means, 'I sacrificed myself for the good of the other, that you may live.' ... Isn't that the reverse of the abortion mentality?"
In fact, he went on, the words said at the attar are the same: "This is my body..." signifying Christ's sacrifice.
In the nation, there is an "awesome spiritual conflict raging, spoken from opposite ends of the universe," he said. Those in the other camp, he added, are saying, "This is my body, and I'm going to hold onto it, even if it means my baby must die."
Father Pavone said the real reason we say "I have my body, my rights and my freedom ... is so we can freely choose to give ourselves away in love."
He encouraged pro-life committee members to keep working. "The day will come," he said, "when the world will be exhausted with its love affair with death, and it will go in search of the ones who came before."
Petitions following the homily were read by St. Jude Thaddeus parishioner Martha Seep. She prayed that "all God's people would stand up ... and proclaim no one has the authority" to destroy life, because "all human life is sacred."
She continued praying "... that all cardinals, bishops priests and religious continue in their unremitting and unambiguous" support of pro-life issues.
Wisdom for the president and legislators, that they would "uphold just laws" was also prayed for, as well as for "victims of war and violence, the sick, suffering and dying, and those who care for them."
The liturgy was offered for Father John Licari, retired pastor of St. Anne Parish, Beliview, who died May 4. Father Licari's name had been printed on flyers as one of several local priests who planned to concelebrate the pro-life Mass.