Priests for Life is fostering support for the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a measure that protects unborn children after 20 weeks due to the child's capacity to feel pain. We were involved in initial strategy sessions to launch the attempt to pass such laws on the state level, and the legislation has now been enacted in ten states.
Priests for Life strongly supported the successful efforts of the House of Representatives to pass this measure in June of 2013, and was involved in the introduction of the measure in the US Senate.
We are launching a project to publicly ask each Senator to answer the question as to whether they support protection of children in the womb from painful dismemberment abortion after 20 weeks of development.
This is part of a series of interrelated public education projects on late-term abortion that Priests for Life is conducting to replicate the successful strategy behind the ban on partial-birth abortion by presenting the question of what the public thinks of a particular abortion procedure, rather than just what they think of abortion in general.
Kermit Gosnell Case
Priests for Life played a key role in the highly publicized trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted of first degree murder for killing babies born alive. Various members of the Priests for Life team were present in the courtroom, communicated with the Judge, the prosecutors and the defense attorneys, and provided firsthand information for the media.
Priests for Life has also organized a coordinated effort of national pro-life groups and leaders to build on the revelations of the Gosnell case to work for state legislation that will protect unborn children in the latest stages of pregnancy and also require abortion clinics to meet higher safety standards.
Our Youth Outreach was instrumental in bringing the Gosnell case to the attention of the secular media through Twitter, using a method our Youth Director and a colleague developed called Tweetfest, whereby large numbers of people send tweets during a designated time frame, and target media representatives.
Finally, Fr. Frank has represented the pro-life position in numerous secular media stories about the Gosnell case, has met with government officials about it, and has requested permission to visit Dr. Gosnell in prison.
Fr. Frank and Priests for Life have requested permission from the Medical Examiner in Philadelphia to take possession of the bodies of the 45 aborted babies who were found in the clinic of Dr. Gosnell when it was raided in 2010. Upon receiving word that the babies will not be released to third party organizations, Priests for Life mounted a public campaign to inquire what the state intends to do with these bodies, and to get them to reconsider their decision and allow Priests for Life to bury the babies. This included a prayer rally in front of the Medical Examiner's office.
Priests for Life will hold a national funeral service for the Gosnell babies whether it has the bodies or not. On Ascension Thursday, Priests for Life held another service during which it gave names to each of the 45 babies.
Priests for Life has launched a new project to expose the reality of abortion. On the website ExposeAbortion.com
, on the Facebook page Facebook.com/ExposeAbortion
, and on the Twitter account @ExposeAbortion, one quote per day is provided from abortionists, from medical texts, from court testimony, from those who have had abortions, and from other sources that reveal the damage abortion does to the babies and their mothers. People are urged to spread this information far and wide..
Silent No More Awareness Campaign
This Campaign, the world's largest mobilization of women and men who have lost children to abortion, continues to hold gatherings throughout the world at which these brave individuals share their testimonies publicly. In doing so, they reveal the pain of abortion as well as the mercy of Jesus Christ.
The Campaign has launched two new initiatives. One focuses on fathers, utilizing the expertise of those who help post-abortive men and giving them new online resources.
The other gives fathers and mothers the opportunity to memorialize online the children they have lost to abortion. At UnbornMemorials.com
, people leave messages and prayers for these children.
Recall Abortion book and strategy
Janet Morana, Executive Director of Priests for Life, published her book Recall Abortion in January of 2013. This book outlines an entire strategy whereby, through recall
of their abortion experience on the part of those who are Silent No More, a case is built for why the government should recall the faulty and dangerous "service" called abortion. A major petition to demand such a recall is found at RecallAbortion.com
Janet, who is also the co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, traveled to dozens of venues during the year, nationally and internationally, to represent the Priests for Life ministry of healing. She organizes the Silent No More testimonies each year at the March for Life Canada along with the Canada Regional Coordinator, Angelina Steenstra. Janet also brought the pro-life message of post-abortion healing to New Zealand in 2013 by speaking at a national conference there, and also represented Priests for Life at several Vatican conferences and meetings with officials there with whom we collaborate.
Church and Politics Book
In 2013, Fr. Frank Pavone finished writing another book that will be published in 2014. The topic is "The Church, the State, and the End of Abortion," and the book is a manifesto about what the Church and state need to do next to bring an end to abortion. We often shackle ourselves, and the book calls for risk-taking and self-sacrifice to defend the most vulnerable among us.
Day of Remembrance
In conjunction with two other national organizations, Priests for Life sponsored a National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children on September 14, 2013, which was the 25th anniversary of a major burial service of aborted babies in Milwaukee. At approximately 30 different gravesites throughout the United States, where tens of thousands of aborted children are buried, simultaneous memorial services were held on that day. Leading up to this observance, educational efforts focused people on how these burial places came to be, how the babies were found, and how they were killed in the first place. One of these graves has over 16,000 aborted babies buried in it.
Among those leading services at these gravesites was Cardinal Francis George of Chicago. The services carried a strong theme of healing, and members of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, in sharing their abortion testimonies, reminded participants that the doors of the Church are open for those who need that healing and forgiveness.
This project will continue to educate people throughout the year about the burial sites of aborted babies, and the National Day of Remembrance will be an annual event, held on the second Saturday of each September.
Priests for Life was among the first groups to file a federal lawsuit against the Obama Administration's HHS Mandate, which forces virtually all employers to provide insurance coverage for contraceptive and abortifacient "services". That lawsuit was dismissed in April 2013, but only after the government stipulated that it would not enforce the mandate against Priests for Life.
Revisions to the mandate were issued by the Administration in the summer; those revisions did not satisfactorily resolve the moral and legal concerns of Priests for Life and other organizations. Therefore, Priests for Life re-filed the lawsuit in August, and this time, along with naming the organization itself as the plaintiff, the lawsuit named as individual plaintiffs Fr. Frank Pavone (National Director), Janet Morana (Executive Director), and Alveda King (Director of African-American Outreach).
The judge ruled against Priests for Life in December, and we launched an immediate emergency request for an injunction. The case will be appealed to the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.
It is not only in major election years that Priests for Life mobilizes people to exercise faithful citizenship, but rather every year, all year long. During this past year, the PoliticalResponsibility.com
website, and related resources, as well as our talks, writings, and media broadcasts, have continued to educate people about the Church's teachings on political responsibility, and the way that the right to life constitutes the foundational issue in every election.
40th Memorial of Roe vs. Wade
Priests for Life has coordinated various national pro-life groups in the planning of events marking the 40th year since Roe vs. Wade, throughout the year 2013. We have set up a special website, RoevWade40.com
, for this purpose.
In conjunction with the March for Life in January, Priests for Life coordinated the national ecumenical prayer service (NationalPrayerService.com
) which took place on the morning of the March, as well as the youth rally the day before.
In January of 2014, we will again coordinate this National Prayer Service, as well as the official March for Life youth rally.
"Life on the Line" Media Broadcasting
New episodes of the longstanding EWTN series Defending Life were taped in April and also in September. Also, in May, episodes of The Catholic View for Women, co-hosted by Priests for Life Executive Director Janet Morana, were also taped for airing in the Fall.
During the course of the year, the various members of our pastoral team did hundreds of interviews for local, national, and international print and broadcast media. These broadcasts included numerous appearances on national programs aired on FOX News Channel and other secular outlets.
Priests for Life continued to provide daily one-minute radio spots both in English and Spanish to radio outlets such as EWTN, Bott Radio Network, Ave Maria Radio, Radio Maria, and many more outlets.
Internet broadcasting expanded in 2013 through a special regular program called "ProLife Straight Talk," which, in episodes of approximately 10 minutes or less, Fr. Frank comments on a timely pro-life topic and issues a call to action.
Our social media continues to expand for all the branches of our ministry. We have several blogs covering general pro-life topics, post-abortion healing (Janet Morana and Kevin Burke), African-American Outreach (Alveda King), Hispanic Outreach (Fr. Victor Salomon) and Youth Outreach (Bryan Kemper). Likewise, these ministry branches have web pages, You Tube channels, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, and also make use of other tools like Instagram, Pinterest, and various other new media.
Year of Faith Pilgrimage
As one of the official events of the Year of Faith, the Holy Father held the observance of a Day for the Gospel of Life, with a Mass in St Peter's Square, on Sunday, June 16, 2013. Priests for Life organized a pilgrimage to Rome for this event from June 10-17, with 150 people in attendance. Fr. Frank Pavone and Janet Morana were privileged to speak to Pope Francis personally about the work of Priests for Life, and he expressed enthusiastic support particularly for the healing mission of our association.
Society of Centurions
Drawing on the training and experience he has gained from pioneer researchers in this area, Fr. Frank Pavone led a retreat for former abortion clinic workers in the Spring of 2013, and again in September of 2013. In one gathering of these men and women this year, the number of children killed by those present amounted to half a million lives.
The Society of Centurions comprises former abortionists and clinic workers who have sought repentance and forgiveness for having committed abortions, and who reach out to those who are still in the industry.
Priests for Life continued its close collaboration with various dicasteries in Rome in order to expand and strengthen the pro-life movement throughout the world. We held various strategic meetings and were represented at a number of conferences.
Priests for Life helped to organize and fund a conference held in Rome in September of 2013, in conjunction with the Pontifical Council for the Family and an association of Italian Catholic Jurists. This conference attracted jurists from around the world. Fr. Pavone gave one of the keynote talks on the progress of the cause of life in the judicial arena.
As reported elsewhere in this report, Priests for Life also worked closely with the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization on promoting the worldwide Day ofEvangelium Vitae, an official observance of the Year of Faith.
Priests for Life worked closely with the Holy See Mission to the United Nations as well.
Dear Mrs. Pelosi
In response to the frustration many practicing Catholics feel at self-described Catholic politicians who support abortion, and in response to the unwillingness of Rep. Nancy Pelosi to answer a question about whether babies should be protected from late term abortion, Fr. Frank Pavone wrote a public letter to her asking her to answer the question and to stop sidestepping the issue by misrepresenting the Catholic Faith.
Tens of thousands of people signed onto the letter at LetterToNancy.com
, and it generated various national media opportunities to teach about the nature of late-term abortion and the position of the Catholic Church.
"Stand True" Youth Outreach Activities
Under the direction of our Youth Outreach director, Bryan Kemper, Priests for Life is again offered inspiration, training, and resources to young pro-life activists worldwide through its Youth Outreach ministry called "Stand True."
The Stand True exhibit booth was one of the most popular booths at conventions like the annual March for Life and Students for Life of America. Stand True provides a popular line of pro-life t-shirts and educational resources. Our presence at the 2013 conference of Students for Life of America was enhanced by the fact that Students for Life presented to Fr. Frank Pavone their national "Defender of Life" award, and Fr. Frank addressed the whole convention.
Stand True organizes the annual youth rally held the afternoon before the March for Life in Washington, and this year saw over 1000 in attendance. National leaders from various organizations addressed the gathering.
Bryan Kemper and the Stand True interns spent much time on the road throughout the year setting up booths and speaking at schools, conferences and youth events including Franciscan University and the annual Cleveland Right to Life Conference, the Oregon Right to Life Conference, and the National Right to Life Convention. Bryan also spoke internationally, delivering keynote talks in Australia, as well as representing Priests for Life at World Youth Day in Rio. Stand True also sent three missionaries to Austin TX, during the heart of the battle to pass historic pro-life legislation that closed several Texas abortion mills.
Stand True was also one of the key players and the now famous “tweetfest” which was the brainchild of Bryan Kemper in which they mobilized thousands of people to take to twitter to shame the mainstream media for their lack of coverage in the Gosnell Murder trial in Philadelphia.
Stand True hosted 8 full time missionaries at our headquarters in Troy, OH this summer as part of our training and activism summer mission. The team received training from many members of the PFL Pastoral team over the summer and joined PFL at several events over the summer.
In October, Stand True once again hosted the Pro-life Day of Silent Solidarity
in which hundreds of thousands of students in schools around the world take a vow of silence for a day in solidarity with the children being killed by abortion.
The largest ministry in the world for healing after abortion, Rachel's Vineyard continued to expand nationally and internationally in 2013, and members of the Rachel's Vineyard team conducted trainings for clergy and other professionals, launching new sites and strengthening existing ones, as well as bringing the urgent invitation to healing to the general public at conventions, and through media broadcasts.
Of special note in 2013 is the fact that the Spanish Rachel’s Vineyard retreat manual is now complete. Our newly translated manual is available for approved Rachel’s Vineyard retreat sites and will feature a translated online appendix with downloadable handouts. We currently have over 50 Spanish Rachel’s Vineyard retreat sites. We anticipate the creation of many more Spanish retreat sites now that this manual is complete.
Rachel's Vineyard founder Dr. Theresa Burke was able to present the ministry's vision in London and in various cities of Canada, and other RV representatives did so in Australia and in Ecuador. The RV retreat site in Slovakia also got underway after a period of preparation.
African-American Outreach: Dr. Alveda King
As a subset of the numerous trips of the Priests for Life pastoral team, the specific ministry ofAfrican-American Outreach, under the fulltime direction of Dr. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., made approximately 58 trips to various pro-life events to mobilize the Black community to fight abortion.
Moreover, Alveda conducted over 200 interviews on television, radio, print, documentaries, and high school and college papers, both locally and internationally.
Alveda and Fr. Pavone took part in the national observance of the 50th Anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech, providing commentary in the media identifying the protection of the right to life as the key "unfinished business" in fulfilling the dream. As usual, they were also present at the national observance in Atlanta of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.
African-American Outreach sponsored special conference calls throughout the year with pro-life leaders within and outside the African-American community, helping to strategize regarding the growth and messaging of the movement.
Resources were developed on You Tube, Facebook, Twitter, and Alveda's blog to reach more African-Americans with the pro-life message, and the African-American outreach was responsible for dozens of press releases and published columns to provide pro-life commentary on current events.
The work Alveda has done has also helped to strengthen the National Black Pro-life Coalition, comprised of the leaders of African-American Outreach of various organizations working together.
Fr. Frank Pavone, Fr. Denis Wilde, OSA, and Fr. Victor Salomon, as full-time associates of Priests for Life, traveled to hundreds of venues during the course of the year to present the pro-life message at diocesan seminars for clergy and laity, pro-life conferences on the international, national, and local level, strategy meetings, press conferences and interviews, parish missions, parish weekends, Rachel's Vineyard retreats, pro-life banquets, prayer vigils, schools and universities, prayer vigils at abortion clinics, retreats for clergy and laity, and more.
Fr. Wilde was able to present some pro-life concerts, using his gift of music on the piano to accent the pro-life message he delivers. He was also able to represent Priests for Life at key activist events, such as Face the Truth Tours and prayer vigils at abortion facilities.
The outreach of Priests for Life to Spanish speaking people throughout the world continued to grow in 2013 under the leadership of our Director of Hispanic Outreach, Fr. Victor Salomon. He oversaw the translation into Spanish of more of the pro-life materials we produce in English, such as brochures, our bi-weekly columns, our newsletters and bulletin inserts, the liturgical resources we provide for priests (including homily hints that are provided not only in print but in You Tube videos), and our various websites. (For instance, we have a Spanish version not only of the general Priests for Life website but also of the Prayer Campaign website, the Rachel's Vineyard website, the Silent No More website, the Missionaries of the Gospel of Life website, and the website for political responsibility, responsabilidadpolitica.org
In all these arenas, Fr. Victor also produced original material for dissemination through our Spanish websites, You Tube Channel, blog, Facebook page and Twitter account. The Spanish Facebook page has the largest outreach and most active participation of our social media outlets.
Fr. Victor taped a new series of "Defendiendo la Vida", our series on EWTN, the largest Catholic TV network worldwide. Our series airs both on EWTN's Spanish feed for the USA and its feed for Spain and Latin America. Moreover, the radio and internet presence of EWTN carries our message in Spanish to a much wider audience.
This is our third year having our weekly live radio show "Evangelio de Vida" on Radio Maria Washington DC. This show is transmitted simultaneously for the East coast and Houston, as well as through internet broadcasting. The program includes pro life news updates, a Sunday Gospel commentary, diverse pro life teachings and guests.
Fr. Victor had many opportunities to preach in parishes and at pro-life conventions. We also continue building bridges with the other Hispanic Christians denominations to defend the life of our unborn brothers and sisters.
Closing of Abortion Mills
Working in collaboration with various other national organizations such as Operation Rescue and Life Dynamics, Priests for Life has helped to close a record number of abortion facilities in 2013 (totaling approximately 87). This occurred not only through advocating for the passage and subsequent enforcement of state laws that regulate these facilities and reduce the numbers of abortion, but also through collecting information on the unlawful practices that occur daily in these facilities and bringing them to the attention both of state agencies and also of the employees of these facilities, warning such employees that they too can face legal trouble if they do not blow the whistle on the illegal practices that they notice in these facilities.
Throughout the year, by means of a daily prayer to end abortion, and at special times, by means of seasonal prayers and novenas, Priests for Life promotes unceasing prayer among the faithful for the cause of life. The prayer website PrayerCampaign.org
as well as the Facebook cause ProLifePrayers.com
provides the faithful with specific pro-life prayers related to liturgical seasons, pro-life feasts, and other significant occasions.
Hundreds of thousands of prayer cards for these various novenas have been disseminated in parishes and at pro-life events throughout the year. The prayers are made available in English and Spanish.
Strategic Unity and Collaboration Among Leaders
Through the vehicle of the "Pro-life Leadership Coalition" which Fr. Frank founded, Priests for Life has held meetings and retreats both private and public, conference calls and webcasts at strategically valuable times, to bring pro-life leaders together to work in unity and to discern joint action that they can take, as well as to keep each other informed of various initiatives they are taking separately.
Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues
The Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues (PNCI), an outreach of the Gospel of Life family of ministries, continued its work to advance a culture of life around the world. Through its network that includes lawmakers, religious leaders and pro-life leaders in over 80 countries, PNCI was able to share best pro-life practices that save the lives of mothers and their precious preborn children including model laws and policies that restrict, regulate and reduce abortion.
PNCI maintained its work to monitor key pro-abortion websites and news outlets reporting the findings to the network though special email alerts, updates and a monthly newsletter—posted on the website—designed to raise awareness and block advance of the pro-abortion agenda. The issues section on the PNCI website was updated to provide the most current research, information and resources on critical issues impacting the struggle for a culture of life.
PNCI’s Director, Marie Smith (wife of US Congressman Chris Smith), engaged in meetings with international elected officials, diplomats, and clergy from around the world in at the United Nations and elsewhere. She maintained her role as a recognized expert on the international pro-life struggle by participation in domestic and international conferences and kept US pro-life leaders up to date on the global challenges to the right to life from conception to natural death.
PNCI networked with lawmakers, staff, and pro-life leaders from select countries around the world and reported on actions taking place at the United Nations and the Organization of American States that impact a culture of life in these countries.
Marie Smith, as one of Priests for Life’s representatives to the United Nations, also participates in efforts to assist the Holy See, including serving on Holy See delegations and acting as an observer for the Holy See’s Mission. As a registered non-governmental organization at the United Nations, Priests for Life participates in various meetings at the United Nations in New York and submits statements that promote respect for the right to life. This year, such statements that Mrs. Smith wrote included 1) Fifty-eighth Session Commission on the Status of Women, theme: “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls”; 2) Fifty-second Session of the Commission for Social Development, theme: "Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all"; and 3) 54th Session of CEDAW, Proposed General Recommendation on “Access to Justice”.