Defending the Integrity of Worship


Fr. Frank Pavone


"We are pro-choice, not despite our faith, but because of our faith."

These are the words a prominent pro-abortion advocate spoke to me recently, and they reveal a crucial aspect of our pro-life mission. While defending life from abortion, we are also defending the integrity of Christian worship.

If you look at the website, you will see again the idea that being "pro-choice" on abortion is perfectly compatible with the Gospel. The "Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC)," made up of representatives of approximately 40 denominations, has been singing this anthem for many years.

The message of the pro-life Christian, of course, is that one's belief can never justify the direct destruction of innocent life. Those who invoke faith and the Gospel to justify such killing are contributing to the reasons that some have criticized religion over the centuries, namely, that it is used in order to oppress people. Such a "religiously pro-choice" position likewise makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the minister of the Gospel to respond to post-abortion grief and guilt. After all, how can there be repentance and reconciliation without admission of sin, and how can there be healing without recognition of the wound?

Among the supporters of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice is the group "Catholics for a Free Choice." The US bishops have clearly stated that this group does not represent the Catholic Church's position. In a statement issued by the Administrative Committee on November 4, 1993, the bishops said that Catholics for a Free Choice "has no affiliation, formal or otherwise, with the Catholic Church." The president of the Bishops' Conference again reiterated this statement in May of 2000, saying that "the group's activity is directed to rejection and distortion of Catholic teaching about the respect and protection due to defenseless unborn human life" (Bishop Joseph Fiorenza). 

Fortunately, pro-life groups within various Protestant denominations have joined together to form the National Pro-life Religious Council ( One of the key purposes of this organization is to counter the false claims of RCRC.

As future priests, we lead the people in worship. This includes leading them to acknowledge that any worship of the true God requires justice toward the helpless. Any worship of the Creator requires reverence for His Creation. Any prayer saying "He is Lord" contradicts the stance that "I am Lord," embodied in the philosophy of the primacy of "my choice." Defending life will increasingly mean defending the integrity of worship from those who would allow killing in the name of God.