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Priests for Life Newsletter

Volume 14, Number 1
January - February 2004

Table of Contents

"Suspect" and "Illusory"
Silent No More Awareness Campaign Continues to Grow
National Day of Prayer (May 6): An Interview with Shirley Dobson
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and her request of Priests for Life
A Double Invitation from Fr. Frank
Calling all parish respect life coordinators
Our Latest Product for 2004!
Prayer Intentions

"Suspect" and "Illusory"

Pope and American Bishops have strong words for Pro-abortion politicians

"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, 1998, Living the Gospel of Life, n.23).

"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" (Pope John Paul II, 1988, The Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World (Christifideles Laici), n.38).

Those are clear and strong words. The Vicar of Christ has spoken them to the entire world. The Successors of the Apostles have spoken them to our entire nation. Now it is time for us as priests to echo them to every corner of our parishes, schools, and other avenues of ministry. It is time to echo them in our parish bulletins, our publications, our homilies, our talks, our counseling, and our private conversation.

We are on solid doctrinal, moral, and legal ground. These are words spoken by those to whom we are accountable. It is difficult to go wrong when we are quoting our own bishops and Pope!

Yet often we tiptoe in an embarrassed and over-cautious silence when it comes to pointing out the contradiction inherent in the positions of candidates for public office. Let us not confuse moral teaching with political endorsement. We are not called to say, "Vote for John Smith." Yet neither are we called to be silent when "John Smith" tramples underfoot the law of God and the very principles of civilized society by defending the slaughter of children in the womb.

The Second Vatican Council's Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World states, "…At all times and in all places, the Church should have the true freedom to teach the faith, to proclaim its teaching about society, to carry out its task among men without hindrance, and to pass moral judgment even in matters relating to politics, whenever the fundamental rights of man or the salvation of souls requires it" (GS 76).

In the case of abortion in America, the "fundamental rights of man" certainly require that we speak. Let's examine why.

Abortion is not, and never has been, simply an "issue." It is, rather, the most radical break with civilization that history has ever seen. The legal reason this is true becomes clearer when we realize that Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy for any reason or no reason, never denied that the unborn child is a child. The Court instead declared that this question was beyond its competency to answer. "We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer"(Roe, at 159).

Yet just three paragraphs earlier, Roe declares, "[T]he word "person," as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn" (Roe, at 159).

Had the Court said, "We have concluded that the unborn are definitely not human, and therefore we can legalize abortion," at least it would have preserved the principle that government cannot authorize the destruction of the innocent. But the Court failed to do that. Instead, the Court asserted that although unborn children may well be human beings, government can authorize their destruction anyway.

That's the stuff of which holocausts are made. The Court, in fact, declared a new kind of government -- the kind that has mastery over life and death. If a government claims that kind of mastery, there's no reason to limit its use to one group of people over another. Either all our rights are subject to the government, or we have some rights that no government can touch. If government can take away the very right to life, then obviously that right does not come from the mere fact that we are human. Instead, it comes from criteria set by others. And if others can set the criteria for life and death, they can set the criteria for any other right as well, since we can possess and exercise our rights only if we are alive.

This is why the bishops can say that when a public servant cannot stand up for the right to life, his stand for other human rights is "suspect". It is suspect in its very foundations, even if the motives for such a stand are pure. It is suspect in its logic and also in its efficacy. If one tries to build a just society while tolerating the most fundamental injustice, or tries to welcome the poor and weak while ignoring the poorest and weakest, one builds on sand.

This is also why the Pope can call the outcry for human rights "false and illusory" without the right to life. Such an assertion is not a hollow denunciation or a sectarian imposition. Rather, it reflects what our Founding Fathers asserted by calling our rights "inviolable."

The Founding Fathers knew the difference between Divine law and human law, and wrote about it clearly. Alexander Hamilton, a signer of the Constitution, wrote, "[T]he law…dictated by God Himself is, of course, superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times. No human laws are of any validity if contrary to this" (The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, Vol. I, p. 87).

James Wilson, another signer of the Constitution and a US Supreme Court Justice, wrote, "All [laws], however, may be arranged in two different classes, 1) Divine. 2) Human…Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is Divine" (The Works of the Honourable James Wilson, Vol. I, pp. 103-105).

In short, to allow legalized abortion is an attack on the entire moral order. If abortion is not wrong, nothing is wrong. If it is wrong, civilization will not survive unless it is set right.

 

Silent No More Awareness Campaign Continues to Grow

"I Regret My Abortion." These four simple words confirm the growing doubt in the mind of the American public that abortion is any kind of benefit. More and more women are holding signs with this very message, as they come into the public square repenting of their abortion, proclaiming the mercy of Christ, and reaching out to their sisters, lest they make the same mistake.

The Silent No More Awareness Campaign is a project of Priests for Life and NOEL, and is an ecumenical effort to bring healing to those who have had abortions, and to enable them to teach others that abortion hurts women.

Actress and model Jennifer O'Neill is the National Celebrity Spokesperson for the campaign. On January 22, she will again join dozens of other women at the steps of the Supreme Court. They will share their testimonies publicly. Similar events will be held across the country, and you can sign up for such events at the campaign's website, www.SilentNoMoreAwareness.org.

Singer and Actress Melba Moore has also joined the campaign. As a post-abortive woman, she too has found the forgiveness of the Lord through the Church, and now assists the pro-life movement with her gift of song.

After public rallies during the month of January, we call upon Churches to have special healing services in February for those wounded by abortion. Our web site has suggested formats. Please tell all those you know who have had abortions about the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. They will be grateful for the special fellowship this campaign will provide.

National Day of Prayer (May 6): An Interview with Shirley Dobson

Mrs. Shirley Dobson has served as chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force (NDP) since 1991.

1. How and when did the National Day of Prayer start?
The National Day of Prayer is a vital part of our heritage and actually predates our Constitution. Since the first call to prayer in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation, the call to prayer has continued through our history. President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation call for a day of "humiliation, fasting, and prayer" in 1863. In 1952, a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Harry Truman, declared an annual, national day of prayer. In 1988, the law was amended and signed by President Ronald Reagan, permanently setting the day as the first Thursday of every May. Each year, the president signs a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day. Last year, all 50 state governors plus the governors of several U.S. territories signed similar proclamations.

2. Is this an event for all religions?
The annual National Day of Prayer is a day set aside by Congress and the President asking all Americans to celebrate their faith through prayer, regardless of their religious perspective. However, the National Day of Prayer Task Force is the Judeo-Christian expression of the annual National Day of Prayer.


3. What kind of events occur on the National Day of Prayer?

Thousands of local volunteers and coordinators organize a variety of activities ranging from prayer breakfasts, Bible reading marathons, concerts of prayer, rallies, church prayer vigils, student flagpole gatherings and observances held in sports stadiums. The sizes of the events vary from something as small as a group of co-workers gathering to pray during their coffee break to events with as many as 20,000 participants.

4. How can Christians observe this Day in their own homes and Churches?

We receive reports each year about events in the public square as well as prayer vigils in homes and churches. Some churches will open its sanctuary during the midday hours so people can stop by to pray during their lunch hours. All the while some churches will hold observances in the evening so the congregation can pray corporately.

As for homes, we’ve received reports from some families who invite their neighbors to their house for dessert and prayer time. And, some families will take a walk through their neighborhood and pray for the people who live in the area.

5. In our day, attacks on the sanctity of life are unprecedented, and the prayers of all are urgently needed. How do you see the National Day of Prayer meeting this need?

As a nation, we see immorality masquerade as authority. God said, "Thou shall not murder." Yet, for over 30 years, we have been entrenched in a Culture of Death. Since Roe v. Wade, more than 41 million babies have been murdered. However, prayer realigns our will with God’s will and brings His standard of morality back into focus. Prayer is the process that God uses to help us understand what is healthy and what is unhealthy. Without prayer – without seeking the Lord’s guidance – it becomes difficult to recognize immorality for what it is. The National Day of Prayer provides us the opportunity to corporately come together, repent of our wrongdoings and ask for the Lord’s intervention.

More info: www.nationaldayofprayer.org

 

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and her request of Priests for Life

-- Fr. Frank Pavone

In June of 1994, I visited Mother Teresa in Calcutta, and discussed the strategies of the pro-life movement. Four months earlier, Mother Teresa had given her powerful prayer breakfast speech in Washington, DC, in which she declared, "[T]he greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?"

I thanked her for that speech, and told her many Americans saw it on television. But she wanted to reach those who had not seen it, and brought me a copy of it, typed out by a rather primitive typewriter. She asked if I could spread it to more people, and I promised that through Priests for Life, we would spread it far and wide.

We have been doing so for the past ten years, completely free of charge. You, too, can help fulfill her request. Contact us for copies of this powerful speech for your parish, school, prayer group, Bible study, family, and friends! (Priests for Life, PO Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314, Phone: (718) 980-4400, ext. 237; Fax: 718-980-3900; Email: orders@priestsforlife.org).

A Double Invitation from Fr. Frank

You are invited to the largest indoor pro-life gathering on Capitol Hill! On January 22, starting at 9:30am, the annual National Memorial for the Pre-born and their Mothers and Fathers will take place in one of the Senate buildings in Washington, DC. Clergy and laity from all denominations will participate. You and your family are welcome, free of charge. Fr. Frank Pavone will preach the sermon and also announce a new national pro-life award. For more details, call (718) 980-4400.

Also, on March 2-3, Priests for Life will offer a clergy briefing in Washington, in conjunction with David Barton of WallBuilders. Meetings with key members of Congress, and a special tour of the Capitol explaining the spiritual foundations of our nation, are included. Space is limited. If you are a priest and would like an invitation, call (718) 980-4400, ext. 224.

 

Calling all parish respect life coordinators

Dear Friend,

Priests for Life would like to know how to contact the respect life coordinator for your parish. As we interact with priests from coast to coast, we learn many effective pastoral programs, and we want your parish coordinator to be aware of them. Kindly fill out the form below and mail or fax it to us. Thank you!

Name of Parish: __________________ City _________ State _______

Parish Respect Life coordinator ________________________________

Coordinator's Mailing Address _________________________________

_________________________________________________________

Phone: ____________________________

Fax: _______________________________

Email: ______________________________

Mail to Priests for Life - Dept. J, PO Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314

Or fax to 413-803-0092. Thank you!

 

Our Latest Product for 2004!

Don't miss this simple tool by which you can teach your people what our bishops have taught about the political responsibility of Catholics. It is a study guide to the bishops' 1998 document Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics. The discussion questions and additional documentation you will find here will aid your preaching, provide material for the bulletin, and give adult education classes a valuable item for the curriculum. Or you can just make it available for personal study. Order it by calling 888-PFL-3448, ext. 239, or by fax at 718-980-3900, or email orders@priestsforlife.org

Prayer Intentions

January: That in this election year, believers may take their political responsibility more seriously and build a culture of justice and life, we pray to the Lord…

February: That the criminal justice system in our nation may be reformed in ways that accord with the dignity of our brothers and sisters who have done wrong, we pray to the Lord…

We welcome priests to work with us

Many priests feel the call to devote more time to pro-life activity. If, with the permission of your ordinary, you can devote a year or more to working with Priests for Life, give us a call! (718) 980-4400

Partial-Birth Abortion: Priests for Life rejoices in the ban on Partial-birth abortion signed by President Bush. Since 1993, when Priests for Life first came into possession of the medical paper by Dr. Martin Haskell, we have been preaching about this horror in pulpits across America. We will continue to defend the ban as it is challenged in courts that are out of touch with the will of the American people. For more info, visit www.priestsforlife.org/partialbirth.html

Elections: Want to know what you are and are not permitted to do in your parish regarding this year's elections? Visit www.priestsforlife.org/elections

In Spanish: Prayer and educational material in Spanish: See www.priestsforlife.org/spanish

Sponsor our newsletter for your diocese or state: Call Jerry, 540-785-4733

 

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