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Priests for Life Newsletter

Volume 12, Number 3
May - June 2002

Contents

Planning for Next Year's Parish and School Schedule

Yes, You Can Do Something About Elections!

Prayer Intentions

Priest Profile- Fr. Leo Prince

Advice for parents about teen pregnancy

Won By Love: A Book you should read!!

Conscientious Objection

Reminders

 

Planning for Next Year's Parish and School Schedule

This is the time of year when most of us sit down with our staff to look at the calendar for the next academic year and plan the major parish and school activities. We offer the following suggestions for incorporating right to life themes into the life of your faith community:

1. Plan for special school liturgies on right to life themes, particularly in October and/or January. Essay and poster contests educate the students on these topics, and displaying their work in the Church vestibule or in the bulletin can educate the rest of the parish as well. Note that there are a number of national pro-life essay contests each year, including one sponsored by the annual March for Life (www.marchforlife.org).

2. Participate in the National Night of Prayer, held in hundreds of parishes each year on the night of December 8, with Eucharistic adoration and special prayers for the defense of life. Also, have special pro-life observances on the Feast of the Annunciation.

3. Commission your Respect Life Committee at a special liturgy in the Fall. Such a commissioning ceremony makes the whole parish aware of the integral role this ministry has, encouraging more volunteers and strengthening those who are already doing the work.

4. Plan to participate in the Annual March for Life in Washington or in local observances of the January 22 Roe vs. Wade anniversary in your own state.

5. Let the school yearbook and graduation ceremonies include a remembrance of those who would have been graduating had they not been aborted.

6. Plan post-abortion healing services at key times during the year, involving nearby parishes in order to enable people to seek Reconciliation and counseling where they may not be as well known.

7. Hold the Life Chain, either on the day of the National Life Chain (first Sunday of October) or perhaps on a monthly basis, whereby people make use of their First Amendment rights to stand peacefully on the public sidewalks to proclaim the pro-life message to the local community beyond the walls of the Church.

8. In parish or school mailings, include some information about right to life issues, community organizations, alternatives to abortion, and post-abortion healing. This is especially helpful for those who may not come to Church on Sunday and therefore may not be hearing anything on these issues from their parish.

9. In sacramental preparation programs, including meetings with parents and of those being baptized or confirmed, marriage preparation activities, and RCIA programs, offer a strong presentation about our Christian responsibility to stand firmly on the side of the lives of the most vulnerable, particularly the unborn.

10. Give those who prepare the General Intercessions for Mass the material they need to fulfill the request the US Bishops made in their 2001 Pastoral Plan for Pro-life Activities that "Parishes should include in the petitions at every Mass a prayer that ours will become a nation that respects and protects all human life, born and unborn, reflecting a true culture of life."

There are dozens more suggestions on our website. Please spend some time visiting www.priestsforlife.org.

 

Yes, You Can Do Something About Elections!

Well, there was weeping and gnashing of teeth on the part of the pro-abortion movement when we spoke out boldly in the elections of the year 2000 that public servants who look the other when part of the public they claim to serve is being legally slaughtered are not worthy of public office. "This project raises serious legal questions," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "We will be watching closely and will not hesitate to report violations of the law to the IRS."

As a matter of fact, no such violations were reported, because no such violations existed. Churches and tax-exempt organizations are perfectly free to speak out loud and clear about issues, whether it is an election season or not, and to point out the moral and spiritual implications of the political process.

The "Separation of Church and State" does not mean that the State or the Church is free to ignore fundamental morality. Just as the State would have every right to tell a Church that it cannot endanger the lives of its worshippers (and in fact did so in a number of court cases involving poisonous snake-handling ceremonies), so the Church has every right to tell the State that it cannot endanger the lives of its citizens by permitting abortion.

In The Body Politic (Vol. 09, No. 05 - Nov/Dec 1999, Page 03), an article on Priests for Life stated that our organization "epitomizes the growing assertiveness of the Catholic Church in the political life of the United States. These trends are indicators of important new directions and dimensions in the struggle for and against reproductive rights everywhere in the world."

Actually, all we did was to quote the US Bishops. Their document Living the Gospel of Life (1998) says it well. We distributed, free of charge, some 15,000 copies, so that such an excellent document might not be relegated to the dust of shelves or impeded by economic considerations. We quoted from it extensively in full-page ads in the New York Times and USA Today. The document says, "The Gospel of Life must be proclaimed, and human life defended, in all places and all times. The arena for moral responsibility includes not only the halls of government, but the voting booth as well" (n. 33).

As we did two years ago, we are calling for the following action items:

1) Include in the general intercessions prayers that Catholics may participate actively in the political process in ways that advance the protection of innocent life.

2) Conduct non-partisan voter registration activities in the parishes. This is perfectly permissible under the law, and the Church teaches that we have a moral obligation to vote.

3) Become informed of the key races in your state. It is particularly important this year to pay attention to the US Senate races, as it is currently much harder to pass pro-life legislation in the Senate, and as the Senate plays a key role in the confirmation of Supreme Court Justices.

4) Use the bulletin inserts we have prepared on political responsibility! (See www.priestsforlife.org//government/polresinserts.htm). They simply quote the words of the US Bishops. Contact our Orders department (888-PFL-3448, ext.237) to obtain them. ask also for our CD and other educational materials regarding political responsibility.

5) Teach incessantly the crucial obligation of candidates to defend life, and the fact that to be "pro-choice" is a contradiction of Catholic teaching, of the Gospel of Christ, and of the founding principles of the United States of America.

6) Urge your people to express themselves by writing letters to the editor of the local papers, so that they can educate their fellow citizens on political responsibility and respect for life.

7) Teach a proper and balanced understanding of the "consistent ethic of life," which involves the linkage of all the issues not arithmetically but rather geometrically, acknowledging a hierarchy of moral values, with life as the foundation. (See info at www.priestsforlife.org/consistentethic.html)

 

Prayer Intentions

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

May intention: That the unborn be remembered at graduation ceremonies nationwide.

June intention: For an increase in pro-life themes in mass media and entertainment.

 

Priest Profile- Fr. Leo Prince
by Anthony DeStefano, Executive Director

Fr. Leo Prince

Fr. Leo Prince, of St. Roch’s parish in Staten Island, New York, had a late calling to the priesthood. For many years he was a teacher in a public high school. One day, he had an overwhelming desire to attend a Novena to the Immaculate Conception at his neighborhood church. As a result of the Novena, he found himself increasingly drawn to leave the secular world and become a priest. Eventually, at the urging of a fellow teacher, he made a trip to Dunwoodie Seminary in Yonkers, NY, and sat down with a priest. From that moment on, he never looked back. Fr. Prince is very clear about one thing: he owes his priesthood to Our Lady.

Ordained in 1986, Fr. Prince attended Dunwoodie at the same time as Fr. Frank Pavone.

Fr. Prince is absolutely convinced that abortion is the most significant issue affecting society at large. "If you disrupt and harm the family, which is the basic unit of society, then you disrupt and harm society itself," he insists.

"It is vitally important that the clergy take the lead in this movement," says Fr. Prince. "We must talk about it and organize the people in our parish so that they can protect and defend innocent human life." Despite the fear among some clergy that speaking about abortion from the pulpit will drive people away (a fear which he says is "pervasive") Fr. Prince believes that it is necessary for priests to address this issue more regularly. "The truth will always triumph. The truth will never scare the people off or harm them. The truth will enlighten them."

Fr. Prince would also like to see a special feast day in the Church set aside for pro-life. "I think this would really bring the pro-life issue to the attention of the people," he says. "And even more importantly, we cannot begin to place a quantitative value on the prayers that will be offered as a result. God does more great things with our prayers than we can ever imagine."

Fr. Prince’s only regret is that he did not become a priest earlier. Yet, he says, "God calls everyone at the perfect time."

We’re certainly glad God chose to call Fr. Prince.

 

Advice for parents about teen pregnancy

Pregnancy is not a sin. Premarital sexual intimacy is. Yet ask yourself for a moment what evokes a more negative reaction most of the time in families: the knowledge that a teen is sexually active, or the knowledge that a teen has become pregnant?

If, in one way or another, the message is communicated that teen pregnancy will cause more of a problem than teen sex, then we are inadvertently creating an incentive for abortion. After all, if one can abort the pregnancy without the family's knowledge, why endure the trouble that will result by revealing it?

Priests in the pulpit and parents in the home need to fearlessly bear witness to God's plan for human sexuality. We need to make it clear that our goal is to encourage chastity, not to punish pregnancy.

 

Won By Love: A Book you should read!!

Fr. Frank Pavone

I have been blessed to have Norma McCorvey as a friend since shortly after her baptism. The first time I conducted a taped interview with her, I began by saying, "Norma, you are the Jane Roe of Roe vs. Wade, is that right?" and she responded, "No, Father, I was the Jane Roe of Roe vs. Wade."

Her response indicates how complete her conversion has been. The woman who once wrote the book I Am Roe now, in her new book Won by Love, explains why she can say "I was Roe."

With the editorial help of Gary Thomas, Norma explains to us not simply the external events that led to her baptism and pro-life convictions, but she effectively pulls aside the veil and lets us watch the internal events that transpired in her mind, soul, and emotions.

As St. Peter was brought to repentance at the moment he heard the cock crow, so Norma shows us how she heard many cocks crow. She lets us see how at each instance, what might seem like a normal human event -- an apology, a hug, catching sight of a playground -- became for her a deep interior summons to life.

She reveals the deep hurts she has experienced in her life, and how she dealt with them. Her story is of a wounded human being, treated as an object by the pro-abortion movement, but saved when she began to encounter the surprising power of Christian love.

It was tumultuous and surprising for her. One stereotype after another fell, as she began to see the pro-life movement close-up after Operation Rescue moved into the office next to the abortion facility where she worked. She was stunned when the leader of Operation Rescue admitted his sinfulness to her, and when she walked into the Rescue office and discovered her life was not in danger! She found herself wondering whether Christians take some sort of drug that explains their sense of joy and peace!

In a moving irony, she came to a deeper love of life and of Christ by the love offered her by a child who was almost aborted.

Norma met in her own journey the reality of unconditional love. Many in the abortion movement fail to see the value of the life of the preborn child precisely because they fail to see the value of their own life. Norma was blessed with people who showed her the value of her own life, and the reality of the God who gave it..

Moved by the goodness and truth, she was likewise increasingly repulsed by the evil of abortion, and by the careless, deceptive, and greedy practices within the abortion industry. Before quitting her work with abortion, she actually dissuaded women who called her facility for appointments.

Read this book. You will laugh, you will cry, and above all you will rejoice in the power of God, who restores His beloved children to life!

I am presently completing with Norma a supplement to the book, which details her journey into the Catholic Church. I was privileged, in August of 1998, to confirm her when she professed her faith in the Catholic Church and received our Lord's Body and Blood for the first time.

You may order Won by Love on our online store at www.priestsforlife.org/store.htm, or by contacting our orders department at PO Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314; Phone: 888-PFL-3448, ext. 237; Fax: 718-980-3900; email: Orders@priestsforlife.org 

 

Conscientious Objection

Fr. Frank Pavone

Pope John Paul II writes the following words in The Gospel of Life, n.73:

"Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection" (EV, n.73).

But what is this "conscientious objection?"

Certainly, conscience clauses protect doctors and nurses who refuse to perform or assist in abortions. There is also a clear obligation on the part of lawmakers to protect human life.

But an important arena for conscientious objection also lies in the non-medical service personnel who may be called upon to help an abortion facility. Some 90% of abortions are performed outside of hospitals. Like any facility, these abortion mills require servicing from a wide range of people. When the roof leaks, someone is called to fix it. When the heat or air conditioning fails, someone is called to service it. When the copy machine is broken, someone is called to repair it.

Is it not time for the People of Life to say that they will not cooperate in servicing abortion facilities? The fact that abortion is legal does not imply that any citizen, particularly one opposed in conscience to abortion, has to do anything to help it to happen. Putting aside the nuances about the forms of cooperation and the levels of obligation associated with them, is it not time for a strong and pure witness of non-cooperation?

Businesses need not contract with abortion facilities, and employees can refuse to take an assignment that brings them to an abortion mill. Many, in fact, may be servicing facilities without realizing that abortions are committed there. Local pro-life activists can find out which businesses service the local abortion facilities, and then begin informing the businesses and their employees of that fact.

Federal law, under Title VII, states, "It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's … religion," and further indicates that "[t]he term ``religion'' includes all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief…" There is certainly a strong defense here for those who are opposed to abortion to refuse to service abortion facilities.

Let this witness begin, from plumbers, electricians, office supply companies, delivery services, printing companies, lawn and garden companies, snow removal services, computer consultants, office machine repair services, sanitation workers, roofing companies, taxi drivers, security companies, lock and key companies, cleaning and maintenance services, sign and fence companies, food services, exterminators, and every other conceivable service! It takes a village to kill a child, and we don't have to participate!

Priests for Life is ready to assist all who refuse to service abortion facilities, and we call upon the pastors of the Church to summon their people to conscientious objection.

Reminders

The bishops have requested a pro-life prayer in the petitions at every Mass. See suggestions for each Sunday at www.priestsforlife.org/prayers/intercessionindex.htm

Recommend our website, www.priestsforlife.org, to your parishioners and students for great pro-life information and inspiration!

 

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