February 12, 2014
On February 6, in the Washington Hilton, you addressed the National
Prayer Breakfast, and the text of your remarks appears on the White
House website (www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/02/06/remarks-president-national-prayer-breakfast).
Taken in and of themselves, so many things that you said can and
should be applauded, and in fact represent values we strive to live
and apply in our nation and its public policy.
But taken in the light of what you did not say, and in the light of
the public policy decisions you espouse, we cannot help but be
astonished. This speech raises troubling contradictions, and a
glaring blind spot, about which we cannot be silent. Nor do we
believe any reasonable person can fail to see what, apparently, you
do not see.
You make reference to freedoms "endowed by our Creator," an obvious
reference to our Declaration of Independence. Yet you do not mention
the first right that the Declaration mentions, which is life itself.
Then you go on to say, quite correctly, "the killing of the innocent
is never fulfilling God’s will; in fact, it’s the ultimate betrayal
of God’s will." Yet in your own policy positions you fail to apply
this to the killing of children in the womb by abortion.
The blind spot to the children in the womb is reflected again in the
fact that you declare, again quite rightly, "Brave men and women of
faith have challenged our conscience and brought us closer to our
founding ideals, from the abolition of slavery to civil rights,
workers' rights." Yet you do not embrace the next chapter in that
great trajectory, a chapter unfolding before your very eyes in the
America of which you are President. We speak of the pro-life
movement, the movement to restore the rights of children in the
You even make reference to Psalm 139 when you say in your speech,
"Today, we profess the principles we know to be true. We
believe that each of us is 'wonderfully made' in the image of God."
That Psalm refers to human children being wonderfully made in their
mother's womb! Yet the very children about whom the Psalm marvels,
you are unwilling to protect. The very image of God that you profess
to be true, you violate by your actions that affirm legal abortion.
You go on in your speech to say, "We, therefore, believe in the
inherent dignity of every human being -- dignity that no earthly
power can take away." Mr. President, this past January 22, you again
affirmed your support of the Roe vs. Wade decision, which denied the
inherent dignity of human children in the womb, and therefore did
precisely what you say no earthly power can do.
Mr. President, how can a man in your position permit this
contradiction, this blind spot, to continue?
Moreover, in your speech of February 6, speaking of human dignity,
you declared, "Central to that dignity is freedom of religion -- the
right of every person to practice their faith how they choose" and
you rightly decried the denial of religious freedom in various
places in the world today.
Mr. President, we join you in denouncing the violations of religious
freedom around the world. But consistency and integrity demand that
you denounce the violation of religious freedom taking place within
your own White House. The HHS Mandate, which you and your
Administration continue to uphold and defend in court, denies
countless Americans "the right ... to practice their faith how they
Mr. President, we are Americans who love our country and respect the
office of its President. We know that our national discourse is
necessarily marked by disagreements, which must be hammered out
through the peaceful processes that we are blessed to have in this
But the matters on which you display inconsistency in this speech
pertain to principles that could not possibly be more fundamental to
America and to humanity itself. This demands more than civil
disagreement and vigorous debate. It demands, in fact, an accounting
to the American people as to why and how you, as their President,
would tolerate a blind spot so large as to swallow up the very
principles that you spend the rest of your speech vigorously
Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life