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Mother Teresa of Calcutta


Priests for Life and Mother Teresa

With the passing of Mother Teresa from this life, we engage in a period of reflection upon her message to the world. Priests for Life does this with gratitude for the personal interest she took in this apostolate. Along with her passionate conviction about the sanctity of every human life, she had a deep sense of the special vocation of the priest. She therefore saw Priests for Life as a logical and deeply needed mission in the Church.

In June of 1994, Fr. Frank Pavone and some of the Priests for Life staff spent five days in Calcutta, having intensive meetings with Mother Teresa about abortion and the pro-life movement. She wrote a letter of endorsement, which is reprinted below.

Reflections on the life and work of Mother Teresa characteristically focus on her "love for the poor." She did love the poor. But her understanding of what poverty is was much more profound than that of most observers. To grasp it, we need to appreciate her message about the vocation of the human person. We were made to love and be loved, she would often remark. To give and receive love is the calling and greatness of human beings.

Mother Teresa and Fr. Frank PavoneThe fundamental poverty, then, is to fail to give and receive love. That is why a society which throws away its children by abortion is poorer than one which does not have many material resources. The society that permits abortion fails in its vocation to give love, to welcome the inconvenient person. To fail to love is poverty. To fail to love to the point where the other person is not even recognized as a person, and is legally destroyed, is poverty to the extreme.

Mother Teresa picked up the dying from the streets of Calcutta with the same love with which she pulled women away from abortion facilities. Love is indivisible. It means making room for the other person, whether that person is in the street or in the womb. It means feeding that person, not just with food for the body, but with the recognition, attention, and compassion that their personal dignity demands. This is why those who praise Mother Teresa's work "for the poor," but do not share her opposition to abortion, simply have failed to understand both.

We are called to give and receive love. As we rise above the culture of death, we will be free of the poverty that fails to welcome our brothers and sisters. We will, instead, sacrifice ourselves for them, and will discover the kind of riches which only grow greater the more we give them away.

Following are Mother Teresa's words to Priests for Life (click here to see actual handwritten letter):

Calcutta, 24-1-95

Dear Priests for Life,

I was very happy to meet Fr. Frank Pavone who told me that the Church in the United States has an association called "Priests for Life".

I hope that many priests and deacons will join the "Priests for Life." This association needs many members to educate and encourage all the priests and deacons who must all work together to stop the terrible war against unborn children.

Often priests and deacons do not know what to say or do to educate their people about the terrible evil of abortion. I am praying that those who joined the "Priests for Life" will be able to strengthen and support those priests and deacons who feel unable to lead their people in the struggle against abortion. Let us pray.

God bless you,

M. Teresa MC

Fr. Frank Pavone speaking to Mother Teresa's sisters

 
I have been thinking a lot these days about the time I spent with Mother Teresa in 1994, when she invited me to speak to sisters and priests in India about the work of Priests for Life. We had many discussions about the pro-life movement. When I told her about some of the legal persecution that pro-life people face, 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!"

 

 

 

 

We discussed her February 3, 1994 speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, in which she told our government leaders that a country that allows a mother to kill her own child is not teaching its people how to love, but rather how to use violence to get what they want. 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.

 

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Priests for Life
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