The following is an exclusive interview with Father Frank Pavone, the national director for Priests for Life, with LifeNews blogger Lauren Enriquez.
LifeNews: What is the most important thing the pro-life movement should be doing?
Fr. Pavone: Taking more risks. One of the things that slows down our progress is when we see what we have to do, but we hesitate, we calculate, and we don’t risk. A lot of times when people say ‘I wish I knew what to do next’ –whether we’re talking about an individual, a group, or a church– most of the time they already know. What they’re really saying is ‘I think I need the courage to do it.’ That’s often the only thing that’s missing. It’s not the thought of what to do; it’s the courage to do it. So what we have to be doing is saying, ‘There’s nothing more important than restoring the right to life of the unborn.’ Because unless we’re all protected we’re all in danger. So we have to put that as priority number one and be willing to risk everything else. All the areas of activity are crucially important… but all of them need this infusion of risk-taking.
LifeNews: What have you learned over your time as a pro-life leader?
Fr. Pavone: That you have to be ready for rejection from unexpected sources and that the biggest obstacle in the way is not the external forces that we have to fight like Planned Parenthood or a biased media. The biggest forces we have to fight against are inside ourselves: our own fears, our own doubts, our own vices. And that is a lesson that becomes clearer every passing year.
LifeNews: Do you have any words of advice for young pro-life leaders?
Fr. Pavone: Consider the fact that you are leaders today– you are not just the future. You’re the present. You have to listen to those that have more experience, but you also have to teach them, too, in the sense that you can recall them to their original fervor and idealism and energy. Not all experience is good experience. Sometimes someone is very experienced in the movement but they may have gotten into ways of thinking that basically rationalize their risk-aversion. And sometimes young leaders can remind those who are more experienced that there is an urgency here, and we can never lose that sense of urgency. So, young leaders: you are leaders today. Learn from those who have been in the movement and also don’t be afraid to bring forth your own ideas.
LifeNews: Do you think that Nancy Pelosi’s sacred ground comment reflects the views of many so-called Catholic politicians?
Fr. Pavone: Her behavior does. She dodged the question. The last thing abortion supporters want to discuss is abortion. They’ll take refuge in faith language like she did. They will talk about abstract concepts of choice, freedom, constitution, women’s health – they don’t want to talk about abortion. And so what is consistent among these different Catholic pro-abort politicians is that they’ll be real quick to talk about how sincere they are and how sincere their faith is, but all the while avoiding basic questions like the one that was posed to her: ‘What’s the difference between late-term abortion and murder, killing the baby inside the womb or outside the womb?’ And they’ll all use slightly different wording. The ‘sacred ground’ comment also reflects the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. RCRC.org is their website and they do this all the time. They try to make something evil look good by cloaking it in religious language.
LifeNews: What is the National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children in September?
I’m very excited about the National Day of Remembrance because on the second Saturday of September at approximately thirty grave sites around the country there will be these memorial services. We want to encourage people to go to AbortionMemorials.com to see where these grave sites are, to see if you can help in your local community to help organize the service or promote it. We will be giving training to those who sign up as leaders, and you can sign up right on the website. It’s a good time for it because we’re focusing more on late-term abortion as a movement – with good reason. Legislatively we’re making progress. But secondly there’s an educational component to this, because each of these grave sites has a story. For example, one of the men in California: there’s a place [there] where some sixteen thousand bodies are buried. And the story there is that workers found a gigantic container with these bodies in it. They found it quite by accident, and it resulted in a three-year legal battle to get the right to bury these babies. Because the pro-aborts don’t want to acknowledge this. They don’t want to acknowledge anything that is going to speak of the humanity to these children. A grave site ceremony does. And that’s why this is going to speak to the hearts and minds of many people about both the humanity of the babies and the violence of the abortion that killed them.