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Priests for Life Newsletter

Volume 10, Number 5
September - October 2000

 

Articles

Priests for Life Praised for Stand Against Capital Punishment

Words from Cardinal Keeler

A Special Offer from Priests for Life

Prayer Intentions

 Bulletin Inserts

The importance of the abortion issue to voters

Priests for Life Headquarters Dedicated to Cardinal O'Connor

Clergy Seminars

Famous Website

 

 

Priests for Life Praised for Stand Against Capital Punishment

Priests for Life is grateful for all the work of Catholics Against Capital Punishment (PO Box 3125, Arlington, Va. 22203, www.igc.org/cacp). Earlier this year, the group's National Coordinator recently sent Fr. Frank Pavone a letter which we reprint here in full:

Catholics Against Capital Punishment

February 28, 2000

Dear Father Frank:

"I want to express my appreciation to you for having sent CACP a copy of the text of your e-mail message to Celeste Fitzgerald of the New Jerseyans for a Death Penalty Moratorium group, in which you eloquently restated your organization's opposition to the death penalty. If it is all right with you, we would like to include it as a news item in the next issue of our newsletter, CACP News Notes.

"My wife Ellen and I have been impressed by your frequent calls, in both your PFL newsletter and your syndicated column, for an end to capital punishment. We're convinced that your efforts have been most instrumental in generating a growing awareness among many Catholics who were once in favor of the death penalty but who now embrace the sacredness of all human life, from the innocent pre-born to the condemned criminal.

"Please pray for members of CACP that we may be able to mirror your success; that is, in terms of changing the hearts of fellow death penalty opponents who unfortunately tolerate and defend the killing of the pre-born. Please ask the Lord to give us the courage and the diplomatic skills to convince them that abortion is also a form of violence that destroys human life, contravenes God's will, and diminishes us all."

Sincerely,


Frank McNeirney
[National Coordinator]

 

Words from Cardinal Keeler

Archdiocese of Baltimore

Office of the Cardinal

November 12, 1999

Dear Father Pavone,

I wish to congratulate you for the leadership you give to Priests for Life and for the encouragement you give to our clergy around the United States in promoting efforts on behalf of the Culture of Life.

May the Lord grand that there be continued close collaboration between Priests for Life and our NCCB Committee for Pro-Life Activities. The more we who are committed to the cause of life can act in concert, the more effective will our labors be.

With cordial and prayerful wishes, I remain

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Cardinal William H. Keeler

Chairman

Bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities

Photo: Fr. Pavone confers with Cardinal Keeler recently after Mass at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore.

 

 

A Special Offer from Priests for Life

A set of materials to help people understand and exercise their political responsibility is available from Priests for Life. Emphasis is placed on the 1998 document of the US Bishops, Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics, as well as the 1999 statement of the Administrative Board of the USCC, Faithful Citizenship: Civic Responsibility for a New Millennium. The materials include:

* The full texts of the two documents mentioned above;

* A new booklet by Fr. Frank Pavone, Reflections on the Political Responsibility of Christians;

* Three audiotapes which probe the relationship between the mission of the Church, the political process, and the right to life;

* Two brochures, Caesar Must Obey God, and Religious Beliefs, Abortion, and the Law;

* Camera-ready bulletin inserts drawing quotations from the above-mentioned bishops' documents.

This educational material highlights the central importance of the most fundamental of all rights, the right to life. It is useful material for adult education groups, special evening talks, and for the parish bookrack.

Order your material by calling 888-PFL-3448, or emailing orders@priestsforlife.org, or writing Priests for Life, PO Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314.

Additional commentary and information is posted on our website, at the political responsibility page: www.priestsforlife.org/government/polresp.html. 

 

Prayer Intentions

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

September intention: That Christians may faithfully carry out their political responsibilities.

October intention: For parish respect life committees and their volunteers.

 

 

Bulletin Inserts

"The inviolability of the person, which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, finds its primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life. Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition of all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination . . . " (John Paul II, The Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World, n. 38)

"We believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a "Gospel of life."… We cannot simultaneously commit ourselves to human rights and progress while eliminating or marginalizing the weakest among us. Nor can we practice the Gospel of life only as a private piety. American Catholics must live it vigorously and publicly, as a matter of national leadership and witness, or we will not live it at all" (US Bishops, Living the Gospel of Life, 1998, n. 20).

"Bringing a respect for human dignity to practical politics can be a daunting task. There is such a wide spectrum of issues involving the protection of human life and the promotion of human dignity. Good people frequently disagree on which problems to address, which policies to adopt and how best to apply them. But for citizens and elected officials alike, the basic principle is simple: We must begin with a commitment never to intentionally kill, or collude in the killing, of any innocent human life, no matter how broken, unformed, disabled or desperate that life may seem. In other words, the choice of certain ways of acting is always and radically incompatible with the love of God and the dignity of the human person created in His image. Direct abortion is never a morally tolerable option" (US Bishops, Living the Gospel of Life, 1998, n. 21).

"Adopting a consistent ethic of life, the Catholic Church promotes a broad spectrum of issues …Catholic public officials are obliged to address each of these issues as they seek to build consistent policies which promote respect for the human person at all stages of life. 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" (US Bishops, Living the Gospel of Life, 1998, n. 23).

"Respect for the dignity of the human person demands a commitment to human rights across a broad spectrum…Yet abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others. They are committed against those who are weakest and most defenseless, those who are genuinely 'the poorest of the poor'" (US Bishops, Living the Gospel of Life, 1998, n. 5).

"We get the public officials we deserve. Their virtue -- or lack thereof -- is a judgment not only on them, but on us. Because of this, we urge our fellow citizens to see beyond party politics, to analyze campaign rhetoric critically, and to choose their political leaders according to principle, not party affiliation or mere self-interest.." (US Bishops, Living the Gospel of Life, 1998, n. 34).

"One of our greatest blessings in the United States is our right and responsibility to participate in civic life. The Constitution protects the right of individuals and of religious bodies to speak out without governmental interference, endorsement, or sanction. It is increasingly apparent that major public issues have clear moral dimensions and that religious values have significant public consequences. Our nation is enriched and our tradition of pluralism enhanced when religious groups contribute to the debate over the policies that guide the nation" (Administrative Board, US Bishops, Faithful Citizenship, 1999, p.8).

On Respect Life Sunday, 1 October 1989, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin issued a statement entitled "Deciding for Life," in which he said, "Not all values, however, are of equal weight. Some are more fundamental than others. On this Respect Life Sunday, I wish to emphasize that no earthly value is more fundamental than human life itself. Human life is the condition for enjoying freedom and all other values. Consequently, if one must choose between protecting or serving lesser human values that depend upon life for their existence and life itself, human life must take precedence. Today the recognition of human life as a fundamental value is threatened. Nowhere is this clearer than in the case of elective abortion. At present in our country this procedure takes the lives of over 4,000 unborn children every day and over 1.5 million each year." 

 

The importance of the abortion issue to voters

Two recent polls give us some measure of the importance of the abortion issue to voters.

The Polling Company and Global Strategy Group, Republican and Democrat polling firms, conducted a bipartisan poll from May 22-24, 2000 and surveyed 1,011 likely voters. The following question appeared:

Of all the issues that are important to you as a voter, how important will abortion be to you in deciding how you will vote in the 2000 presidential elections?

8% Most important issue

27% Among my top three issues

32% Important, but not among top three

18% Not that important

12% Not at all important

2% Don’t know/Refused

Among those who cite abortion as one of the three most important issues influencing their vote (35% of the electorate), they are more likely to be pro-life (45%). This is consistent with polls conducted in previous election cycles by other polling companies, showing that for those to whom abortion matters, the pro-life vote is stronger.

A Wirthlin poll conducted several months earlier interviewed 500 Catholic priests across America, and two of the questions with their results follow:

How important is the abortion issue to you personally in deciding which candidate to vote for?

74% Total Important

37% Extremely important

37% Very important

25% Total Not Important

4% Not very important

21% Somewhat important

1% Don't Know/Refused

How important do you believe the abortion issue should be for Catholics in deciding which candidate to vote for?

73% Total Important

31% Extremely important

42% Very important

26% Total Not Important

3% Not very important

23% Somewhat important

2% Don't Know/Refused

On the overall position of Americans on abortion-related policy, the Polling Company - Global Strategy poll found that only 11% of likely voters agree with the position of abortion anytime, anyone, anywhere. A whopping 48% of voters are essentially pro-life, favoring abortion being outlawed in all circumstances (10%), legal only to save the life of the mother (11%) or legal only to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest (27%). Add to this the 24% of voters who say they are pro-choice, but would outlaw abortion after the first three months of a woman’s pregnancy, and a full 72% of likely voters hold a position on abortion which is ‘first trimester (49%) or less (24%).’

 

Priests for Life Headquarters Dedicated to Cardinal O'Connor

Priests for Life has moved into a new headquarters this summer. As our previous location, it is on Staten Island. The new office occupies close to 10,000 square foot, every one of which is being utilized to the full.

We are happy to announce that we have named our new headquarters the John Cardinal O'Connor International Headquarters of Priests for Life. We offer the following reflection in the Cardinal's memory:

Every bishop takes a motto, and the Cardinal's is "There Can Be No Love Without Justice." This, indeed, was the theme of his life on earth. He both preached and lived "love" not as some vague abstraction or spiritual entity separate and disconnected from the things of this world.

His, rather, was a practical and involved love, which had as its centerpiece the dignity and rights of the human person. He was an advocate for the unborn, the infirm, the immigrant, the worker, the victims of prejudice, hunger, and violence. And he did all this because he was clearly focused on and motivated by the Gospel of eternal salvation as taught by the Catholic Church.

Some may be confused by what they see as "dichotomies" in the Cardinal's life. He passionately condemned the act of abortion, yet reached out to women of every age, religion, and ethnic background to give them help in crisis pregnancies. He taught clearly that homosexual activity is a sin, yet opened the State's first AIDS-only unit and personally tended to AIDS patients.

These are not dichotomies at all. It all made sense to the Cardinal. What held it all together was the dignity of the human person. That dignity demands that we offer the person the full truth about the meaning of their lives, their freedom, their choices, and that we ourselves respond to that truth by serving their needs.

I am particularly grateful to Cardinal O'Connor because he ordained me to the priesthood and authorized me to lead the Priests for Life movement.

The Cardinal constantly urged us never to be discouraged in carrying out the mission of the Church. Led by his shining example, let us redouble our efforts to bring that mission to its fulfillment.

-Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director

 

Clergy Seminars

The priests on our full-time staff are ready to present seminars to the priests, deacons, and seminarians of any diocese that invites us. We have more than helpful educational materials. The unique contribution made by Priests for Life is that we are a peer-to-peer network across the country, and by means of this network, priests can test and share with brother priests their ideas and experiences regarding pro-life dimensions of ministry. For more information, call us at 888-PFL-3448.

 

Famous Website

The Priests for Life website, www.priestsforlife.org, continues to receive wide recognition. We recently received web statistics indicating our site is in the top 6% of most popular sites in the world, receiving higher recognition than major pro-abortion websites. During these weeks, give special attention to our section on political responsibility, www.priestsforlife.org/government/polresp.html.

 

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