Open Letter to the Congress of the United States
June 7, 2000
Few in the general public can appreciate the complexities and demands of
serving in public office. It always looks easier to solve the problems of one's
district, state, or nation from a vantage point outside of elected office
than from within it. As members of the clergy whose work includes
ministering to those in public office, we at Priests for Life have some
appreciation for these complexities and difficulties, and I wish to assure each
of you, and your families, that you are remembered in our prayers.
Priests for Life is a national association which assists the clergy to deal
with the abortion issue. Our staff regularly travel the nation, meeting with
priests in every state to equip them to address pro-life issues more
effectively. Our outreach extends to every priest in America and to tens of
millions of citizens, of many professions and creeds, via our media work.
In this context, I write to you, whatever your religious beliefs might be, to
ask you to look anew at the most fundamental political question, which is, "Who
belongs to the political community?" To govern effectively, one must first know
whom one governs. The biggest possible mistake would be to overlook an
entire segment of the public one professes to serve.
That is the problem with abortion. Roe vs. Wade declared, "The word person
as used in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, does not include the
unborn." Those who persist in supporting the "choice" of abortion persist in
narrowing the circle of welcome and protection which our nation affords.
Moreover, they contradict the fundamental principle of human equality contained
in the Declaration of Independence. Those who claim to be Christian face an
irreconcilable contradiction when they embrace a "pro-choice" position, because
abortion, as an act of violence, can never be compatible with the Gospel of
Jesus Christ. Those who also claim to be Catholic and pro-choice face a clear
contradiction with the definitive teachings of the Catholic Church.
We appreciate the complex and often agonizing effort that many lawmakers
undergo in attempting to clarify both their personal and public positions on the
abortion issue. We seek to be of service to any lawmaker who wishes to discuss
these issues in strict confidentiality.
In the next few months, Priests for Life will make extensive public
commentary on the abortion issue insofar as it relates to the upcoming
elections. We will make it clear to voters that the right to life is the most
fundamental issue in any campaign. Our message, from coast to coast, will
reflect fully the teachings which the United States Catholic Bishops enunciated
in their November 1998 document, Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to
American Catholics, and in their 1999 statement, Faithful Citizenship:
Civic Responsibility for a New Millennium. We will be happy to make
complimentary copies of both of these documents available to you.
Our sincere hope is that each and every elected official will be able to see
beyond politics, in order to carry out his/her responsibility to defend human
life and reject the error that government is authorized to take the right to
life away. Once again, be assured of our prayers and best wishes.
Fr. Frank Pavone