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Priests for Life Newsletter

Volume 10, Number 3
May - June
2000 

Contents

Abortion Promotes Poverty

Bulletin Inserts for Elections, Ascension, Pentecost

What to Do as Elections Approach

Upcoming Events

General Intercessions for Elections, Ascension, Pentecost

Prayer Intentions

Pro-Choice No Longer

Tenth Anniversary of Come Aside Retreat

 

Abortion Promotes Poverty

"Back alleys no more, abortion rights for rich and poor."

This popular chant of abortion proponents expresses a common theme: Poor women should be afforded equal access to abortion, and any restrictions of such funding is a direct result of a lack of concern for the poor members of society. Women are denied a "right," based on their economic class.

Abortion doesn’t eliminate poverty, however, it merely eliminates the poor.

Poverty is an institution in our country. It’s very existence is both tolerated and condemned at the same time by abortion supporters, because instead of solving the real problems of poverty, they seek to pacify any obligation to the poor by providing them with abortions. If we argue that an impoverished woman can’t afford to have a child because she does not have adequate housing, food, or clothing, should we not provide her with these instead? How does an abortion solve her need for shelter? Obviously, it does not. If we eliminate her need for abortion, however, we also eliminate the "need" for public funding of abortion clinics, and the millions of dollars that these clinics receive because of the poor.

Abortion activists argue that abortion is necessary to improve the socio-economic status of these women, but its effects do just the opposite. Thomas Strahan, a researcher with the Association of Interdisciplinary Research, recently reviewed over 26 studies relating to abortion's impact on the socio-economic status of women. These studies show the following:

    • - Women who have had abortions are at greater risk of suffering emotional and psychological problems which may interfere with their ability to concentrate, make decisions, and interact with others, thereby reducing their level of job skills and employment opportunities.
    • - Post-abortion women are more likely to engage in drug and alcohol abuse, often as a means of "numbing" negative feelings stemming from the abortion. This will in turn effect their ability to function in the workplace and may inhibit their ability to enter into meaningful relationships.
    • - Women who have had abortions are more likely to become pregnant again and undergo additional abortions. Nearly 50% of all abortions are repeat abortions. These repeat abortions do not represent "satisfied customers." Instead, post-abortion women often seek replacement pregnancies to make up for the aborted child, but find themselves faced with the same social pressures which led to the first abortion. There is also evidence that some women undergo repeat abortions as an act of "self-punishment" or as attempt to "harden" themselves to negative feelings stemming from their first abortion.
    • - Compared to their peers, teenagers who have had one abortion are 4 times more likely to have a subsequent abortion. Almost 20% of teen aborters have a second abortion within a year, and 38% have a second abortion within 5 years.
    • - Women who have had abortions are more likely to subsequently require welfare assistance, and the odds of going on welfare increase with each subsequent abortion.
    • - Women who have repeat abortions tend to have an increasing number of health problems and greater personality disintegration, which increases the likelihood of their needing public assistance.
    • - Post-abortion women have greater difficulty establishing permanent relationships with a male partner. They are more likely to never marry, more likely to divorce, and more likely to go through a long string of "unsuccessful" relationships. This inability to form a "nuclear family" reduces household income and increases the probability that the woman and her children will require public assistance.
    • - Women who have had repeat abortions are more likely to desire children and are likely to carry one or more subsequent "replacement" pregnancies to term. This means that many repeat aborters end up becoming unmarried mothers, the very fate they tried to avoid when they had their first abortion. Only now, they also have to deal with post-abortion psychological and emotional scars.

As a Church deeply committed to defend both the poor and the unborn, may we teach our people the connection between the two.

(For more info, visit www.afterabortion.org. Staff Outreach Assistant Jenn Morson contributed to this article.)

 

Approaching Elections

There is a lot we can do to prepare our people for the upcoming elections, while remaining fully within the legal requirements governing institutions with a tax-exempt status. A few of the many ideas are summarized here:

1. Teach our people the content of the documents Living the Gospel of Life (1998) and Faithful Citizenship (1999), both of which give guidance in evaluating the moral framework in which elected officials are called to shape policy and in which voters are called to participate in the political process.

The forms of such teaching can include:

a) The parish bulletin (see this newsletter for some examples);

b) Special adult education classes or guest speakers (We are willing to send a speaker free of charge);

c) Homilies;

d) Brochures in the parish bookrack (We are glad to provide such material);

e) Copies of the above documents made available to the people (We will be glad to provide some as well).

Some of the key points of such teaching should include:

a) The dignity of the human person as the key norm for evaluating any candidate or policy;

b) The moral obligation to be involved in the political process, and specifically the duty to vote;

b) Loyalty to moral norms has higher priority than loyalty to political parties.

2. Conduct voter registration drives. Contact us for information on how to do this.

4. Cooperate to the maximum degree possible with groups attempting to educate citizens on the positions of candidates. It is true that voter education guides -- which inform people on the positions of candidates -- need to meet certain criteria in order for parishes to use them, and diocesan attorneys can be consulted about this. It is also true that undue fear or hasty decisions on our part can discourage God's people who are trying their best to put their faith in action. Let's be as informed and helpful as possible to those who may approach us.

 

Bulletin Inserts on Election Themes, Ascension, Pentecost

  • Our bishops offer us this perspective as we prepare for national elections: " As Americans, as Catholics and as pastors of our people, we write therefore today to call our fellow citizens back to our country's founding principles, and most especially to renew our national respect for the rights of those who are unborn, weak, disabled and terminally ill. Real freedom rests on the inviolability of every person as a child of God. The inherent value of human life, at every stage and in every circumstance, is not a sectarian issue any more than the Declaration of Independence is a sectarian creed" (Living the Gospel of Life, November 1998, n.6).
  • "Adopting a consistent ethic of life, the Catholic Church promotes a broad spectrum of issues…But being right in such matters can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life. Indeed, the failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the 'rightness' of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community" (Living the Gospel of Life, November 1998, n.23).
  • Our Lord ascended into heaven in His human nature -- the same human nature that we share. The celebration of the Ascension teaches us the highest calling of the human person: to share life forever with Christ in the glory of heaven. Christ was in heaven before the world was made, but now He is there in His human nature. This is also the same human nature shared by the unborn babies threatened by abortion. In celebrating the Ascension, we cannot help but see how contradictory abortion is to the hope of the Gospel. The Gospel raises human life to the heavens; abortion throws it in the garbage.
  • On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit transformed the disciples into fearless spokespersons for Christ. The Holy Spirit is our Advocate before the Father in heaven. When the Spirit fills a Christian, he or she likewise becomes an advocate for the weak and helpless. As we celebrate Pentecost and call upon the Holy Spirit, let us prepare ourselves to be advocates for the most needy among us, namely, the unborn children threatened by abortion.

 

General Intercessions on Election Themes, Ascension, Pentecost

  • That the Lord of all Nations will guide our national election process, and inspire those who seek leadership with a willingness to protect and defend all human life, we pray to the Lord.
  • That Christians may take an active and informed role in the political process, and reject cynicism and apathy, we pray to the Lord.
  • That the Ascension of Christ, who brings our human nature to the heights of heaven, may renew our respect for every human life, we pray to the Lord.
  • That the Holy Spirit, who inspired the apostles at Pentecost to speak His word, may make us advocates for the poor, the oppressed, and the unborn, we pray to the Lord.

 

"Pro-Choice No Longer"

At the March for Life this year, Fr. Frank encountered a young woman who had changed her views from pro-abortion to pro-life. Joan is a nurse, who was raised a Catholic, but strayed from her faith when she went away to school and encountered the feminist movement. "Part of my nurses' training was a rotation in community nursing. We worked with poor women and pushed birth control on them, as well as sterilization. I knew of no alternatives, and thought, it [abortion] was never something I could do, but how could I possibly tell others they couldn’t?"

"I had never heard of places that pro-life groups had that offered help to women. I didn’t know that services existed for clothing, food, shelter, adoption, or help after pregnancy. I thought that those [pro-life] people didn’t really care. This influenced my decision, because I didn’t know what else these women would do who were trapped."

Joan began coming back to her Catholic faith, and started watching EWTN to learn more about it. That is when she saw Fr. Frank’s Defending Life Series. Listening to his program made her reconsider her views, but she still remained undecided. One particular segment changed all that. "Father had a guest on who was showing graphic photos of babies who were aborted. There weren’t many images, but one had a baby’s arm next to a dime, and I thought, there is no way I can continue to deny that is a baby."

Despite her training as a nurse, Joan said she was unaware of the stages of development. "When you see how developed the baby is, and a description of how old the child is, there is no denying it. Yes, you may initially be repulsed by the picture, but it sticks in your mind. You think and you dwell on it."

"When a mother wants her child, she doesn’t refer to it as my fetus, she says, ‘my baby.’ Pro-choice people dehumanize and depersonalize the association between mother and baby. If these women could see what their child looks like, what they are killing, I don’t think they would have abortions."

 

PRAYER INTENTIONS

You are encouraged to remember the following intentions as you pray the Liturgy of the Hours:

May intention: For post-abortion ministries that reach out to men.

June intention: That scholars may faithfully research and express the unique dignity that belongs to the human person.

 

Tenth Anniversary Come Aside Retreat

"The call to do pro-life work at any level comes from God. A pro-lifer must therefore remain rooted in God. Otherwise, the battle could destroy him." Based on this reflection, Fr. Frank Pavone and Priests for Life have been promoting pro-life retreats around the country and the world. "A retreat is a time to face God more directly. A pro-life retreat is a time to see in God the call to do pro-life work, and to be sure that such work is leading one back to God," Fr. Frank explained.

Priests for Life offers several types of pro-life retreats: for clergy and seminarians, for leaders of pro-life groups, and for Christians who are striving to be more active in the pro-life movement. Although Priests for Life has sponsored pro-life retreats for clergy and laity since 1993, such activity goes back even further.

The Come Aside Retreat, spearheaded by Fr. Mike Mannion, marks its tenth anniversary this year. According to Father Mannion, founder of the event, the Come Aside retreat originated from a conversation with Wanda Franz, president of National Right to Life. They agreed that pro-life leaders needed a retreat to focus on the spirituality of fighting abortion. Father Mannion says that this retreat, "reaffirms a commitment to proclaim the pro-life mission with conviction, yet compassion."

This year’s retreat will be held July 7-9 in Blackwood, NJ. The retreat master will be Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life. Past masters have included: Father Benedict Groeschel, Molly Kelly, Father Tom Cusack, Jean Garton, and Father Mike Mannion. To register, contact Sr. Roberta Harding, IHM; Come Aside Retreats; 10201 Georgia Avenue; Silver Spring, MD 20902. Fax: Attention Sr. Roberta at 301-681-8793. More Info: Call 301-681-7634.

Priests for Life is calling on dioceses and pro-life organizations around the country to organize retreats in their communities, and will be happy to help with details. Contact Priests for Life at PO Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314; Tel: 888-PFL-3448, 718-980-4400; Fax: 718-980-6515; email: pfl@priestsforlife.org; web: www.priestsforlife.org

Special Upcoming Events

Pro-life Cruise

On June 8-9, Voices for the Unborn, a national pro-life television and newspaper apostolate, is holding a 24 hour cruise out of Philadelphia. "Winning the Hearts and Minds of People through Unity" is the theme. Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life will be the principal speaker. Other pro-life leaders and activists will join the event and will share some new ideas for promoting the pro-life cause.

The cruise is a great opportunity to spend social time with leaders in the movement. You are also welcome to share with those present your own materials and ideas regarding pro-life activity. Mass, entertainment, and good meals, including a midnight buffet, are part of the agenda.

Cost for an outside cabin: $150. Inside cabin: $125.

For information, call 215-355-5292, or write VFTU, PO Box 617, Feasterville, PA 19053.

 

Jubilee Year Pro-life Event in Rome: October 12-15

The Pontifical Council for the Family, which coordinates pro-life and pro-family activities for the Church throughout the world, is preparing the Third World Meeting of the Holy Father with Families. This event is one of the key pro-life events of the Jubilee Year, and will be held in Rome from October 12-15, 2000.

Structured much like World Youth Day, the event has two main parts: a "Theological-Pastoral Congress" (Oct. 12-14), in which the theme of the event, "Children: Springtime of the Family and Society," is examined by means of workshops and talks by experts. This part of the event is especially helpful for those who carry out a ministry of leadership in the Church on behalf of life and family.

The second phase of the event is a gathering with the Pope on October 14-15, involving a festive celebration of prayer and praise, as well as a magnificent Eucharistic celebration.

The Committee on Marriage and Family for the United States Bishops has put together a travel package in collaboration with the Catholic Travel Centre. The itinerary begins with departure from New York on October 8, and return there October 16. For more information: 202-541-3040; fax 202-541-3176; email: rmccord@nccbuscc.org .

 

 

Priests for Life
PO Box 141172 • Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. 888-735-3448, (718) 980-4400 • Fax 718-980-6515
mail@priestsforlife.org