Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life
to this column)
September 5, 2007 marks the anniversary of the death of
Mother Teresa. Now declared “Blessed,” she continues to inspire
disciples of Christ worldwide. My own interaction with her came
shortly after I took leadership of Priests for Life.
I asked if I could visit with her in Calcutta, and spent a
week with her in June of 1994 discussing the new ministry I was
leading, and the direction of pro-life strategy overall. Two
events that had recently occurred shaped our conversations.
One was the speech she had given in February at the
National Prayer Breakfast in
Washington, DC. She spoke in the presence of President and Mrs.
Clinton and Vice-President and Mrs. Gore. It was an
unforgettable moment, as this short, humble woman proclaimed to
those in power: "… If we accept that a mother can kill even her
own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one
another?…Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its
people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.
This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is
I told her what an impact the speech made on the pro-life
community. "What about the rest of the American people?", she
asked me at once. She then gave me a homework assignment to
spread the speech far and wide, which Priests for Life has been
doing ever since.
other recent event we discussed was that President Clinton had
signed in May the “Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances” bill,
which made it a federal crime to peacefully, physically obstruct
access to the door of an abortion mill. When I explained this
new law to her, she looked at me and said, "Father, if we had
laws like that here in India, I would have been thrown in jail
many times! Here I go to the places where abortions are done and
I take the women by the arm and say, ‘Come with me; we will help
you and your child!’"
Another striking moment was when she brought me to one of her
homes in Calcutta where prostitutes lived whom she had rescued
from life on the streets. She showed me the blankets they had
made. She was glowing with joy and admiration as she said,
“Look, Father, at the good work these women have done.” Her
vision of people’s goodness was not obscured by any evil they
may have done.
She loved the priesthood, and after hearing me speak about
Priests for Life, she sought and obtained an immediate audience
with the local bishop so that the three of us could talk about
how to establish it in India. Later
she wrote me saying, “I hope many priests and deacons will
join Priests for Life.” Indeed, the whole pro-life movement
draws strength from Mother Teresa, as together we seek to save
the lives of the poorest of the poor, and free all people from
the poverty of thinking we can abort them.
You are invited to join in a Novena of Prayer in honor of
Mother Teresa from August 27 to September 5. Visit
www.PrayerCampaign.org, where you can download the prayer
and also send us your own story of how Mother Teresa’s life and
example has inspired you!