Priests for Life Newsletter
Volume 1, No. 3
C O N T E N T S
Chastity Education: Getting to the Root of
Priests for Life Granted Formal Approval
The Priest Ministering in the Era of
In the Mail
On Marriage and the Gift of Life
Out of the Mouths of Babes You Have Fashioned
Praise: A Homily
Board of Advisors
Chastity Education: Getting to the Root of the Problem
It is very frustrating to work and especially to
preach against abortion. The abortion mentality has become so ingrained in the
fabric of our society that we often feel overwhelmed. How did this happen? And
how do we return to sanity?
Speaking out against abortion--important though that is--is
not, by itself, enough. The abortion mentality follows naturally from the
attitudes of sexual liberation our culture adopted in the 1960s. If it really is
everybody's right to have sex whenever and with whomever one wishes, then
pregnancy indeed is an unwanted "burden" to be alleviated in any way possible.
Opposing abortion, then, becomes rather like trying to plug a leaking dam. No
matter how many holes you stop, new ones are always opening up.
The only way to combat this evil is to attack not only
the fruit--abortion--but the root: the abandonment of chastity. And the places
in which many of us look for this message are the pulpit and the Catholic
schools. So far, unfortunately, we haven't heard much.
It seems very difficult to speak about chastity. The virtue
has had a tremendously 'bad press', and has been misunderstood not only in this
generation but also in the last. Part of the reason for the sexual backlash of
the 1960s was a widespread earlier misunderstanding. Chastity used to be
preached as something essentially negative--a matter of "keep your clothes on so
you don't go to hell". Once upon a time schoolgirls were even warned against
patent leather shoes. One woman was cautioned by nuns that a kiss was a venial
sin after three seconds, a mortal sin after five. In an era of conformity, this
lopsided approach was relatively successful, but in the era of rebellion that
followed, it just didn't wash. Many adults still bristle at the word "chastity",
for it conjures up images of repressed suffering and medieval chastity belts.
Today's good news is that our children have never even heard
the word "chastity". Most of them think it refers to Sonny and Cher's daughter.
Certainly it is a word they need desperately to hear. And, since they lack any
preconceived notions, we are free to present the word, and the virtue, in all of
its positive, beautiful, blazing glory.
Chastity a positive term? It certainly is! For chastity, in
essence, is not about repression but about love! Teenagers today are not looking
primarily for sex. What they are looking for is love. And they are not finding
it in sex.
This is a very difficult time to be a teenager. Without any
solid guidelines beyond "follow your own value system", most teens today are
left alone to navigate a harrowing world of venereal diseases, teen pregnancies,
and, conveniently, abortions, They are disillusioned by what they see, and they
sense that something is not right. Yet they are often desperately lonely, and
for lack of a better solution, cling to each other. Thus is established the
vicious circle of teen promiscuity.
Chastity breaks the circle! For chastity is really nothing
other than using God's gift of sexuality the way He intended it to be used.
Since God created sexuality as a means for us to participate in His love, using
it correctly engenders love, while abusing it destroys love.
In explaining this to teens, I borrow heavily from John Paul
II's "Theology of the Body" (must reading!).* Simplifying the subject, I
tell teens that the body has a "built-in" language, and that body language
speaks louder than words. To learn what sex "says", we look at how it operates
when operating where God says it belongs--in marriage.
Of all His creation, God must be particularly proud of the
creation of sex. New life could have come from anywhere, but God chose a system
whereby His people come into the world through the love of others--not just any
love, but an act of love between two people who have committed themselves to
each other, for better or for worse, for life. The love of such a couple is so
strong that it becomes someone! Generations of people become generations
of love. Everything about the sex act is geared to this system. The act of
marital love brings new life. Psychologically and emotionally, a bond is formed
between two people through this act. This bond helps them stay together when
times get tough--for the sake of each other and for that of the child. (On the
physical level, there is an obvious benefit to such chaste lovemaking: if
neither partner had a venereal disease going into marriage, and both have
avoided illicit behavior after marriage, they are virtually free of risk of
sexually transmitted disease.) This bond is renewed and strengthened over time
through the marital act. The body, through sexual activity, speaks the language
of forever--the language of committed, exclusive love. It says "You, and only
What happens, then, when this act is taken out of marriage?
We see the obvious consequences: diseases, pregnancies, abortions. But there are
also subtler results. What is being communicated when our bodies are saying
"forever", "committed", "exclusive", but we are saying "well, maybe we will get
married someday" or "we'll see what happens after finals"? We are communicating
a lie with our bodies! We are using the other person -- no matter how much we
may care about him or her. We cannot learn to love while we are using; it is a
contradiction. Our hearts discern no meaningful distinction. The emotional bond
that comes with sexual activity is real, and not designed to be broken. To break
it is devastating, especially to an already vulnerable teenager. To many, it is
a blow from which they never recover.
So many teenagers today are "walking wounded". How does our
society deal with this fact? "Use condoms." "Don't get pregnant." "Be safe." It
is no wonder youngsters are flocking to abortion clinics. Many of them never had
a chance, they never understood the system. They never knew the love behind the
system -- the Divine Love that drives it. It is no wonder respect for life falls
by the wayside. The whole foundation has crumbled.
Don't get me wrong. Kids need to hear that premarital
sex is a serious sin -- a mortal sin. In the "heat of the moment," when every
other argument fails, the fact that it is sin sticks with you. They need to be
warned of what leads to what. The young need to hear exactly what abortion is,
what it does to them, and what it does to their unborn children. Most of all,
they need to hear about a God Who loves them unconditionally -- no matter what
they've done -- and Who forgives anyone willing to try to make a clean start.
I've learned from years of experience presenting chastity to young people all
over the country, that when the Church's teaching is presented to them in the
context of love, and they are shown how the awesome system God has designed for
us to share His love operates, they eat it up. It's a message they are starved
Please bring this message to them. Preach it from the pulpit.
Implement chastity education in your schools. We need not (and should not)
discuss the intimate details of sexual activity in the classroom -- that is
private, and the kids sense that. We have to help teens and their parents
understand what chastity is, and how to work with God's plan for human
sexuality. Only then will we be striking at the root of the abortion problem.
Please hurry. We can't afford to lose another generation!
Mary Beth Bonacci
*The Theology of the Body was a series of 63
addresses by the Holy Father at Wednesday audiences given from 1979 to 1981 and
originally published in L'Osservatore Romano (Engl. Ed.) from Sept. '79
to May '81. It is available from the Daughters of St. Paul in two volumes:
Original Unity of Man and Woman: Catechesis on the Book of Genesis, and
Blessed are the Poor of Heart: Catechesis on the Sermon on the Mount and the
Writings of Saint Paul (Boston: Saint Paul Editions, 1981, 1983).
Editor's note: Mary Beth Bonacci, a national
speaker on chastity education, is cofounder and director of the Alliance for
Chastity Education. For further information about available chastity education
materials, write her at: Alliance for Chastity Education; 7018 Braddock Place,
Springfield, VA 22151.
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Priests for Life Granted Formal Approval
[Click here to see actual handwritten letter]
Father Kaylor has received the following letter, dated April 30, 1991, from
the Archbishop of San Francisco:
Dear Father Kaylor:
I have reviewed the Articles of Agreement and the Bylaws of Priests for Life.
I have determined that the documents are satisfactory.
In accord with Canon 299, I recognize Priests for Life as a private
association. In addition, I recommend the laudatory goals of the association.
Asking God's blessing upon you, I am,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+ John R. Quinn, Archbishop of San Francisco
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The Priest Ministering in the Era of Choice
"Sure, it's a human life," responded the Japanese
gynecologist. "What any woman bears is not going to be a monkey or some other
animal. We all know that."
"Then, how can you accept legal abortion?" I asked.
The man thought for a while, then said: "I guess we don't
issue a visa for some of them."
I had been in Japan long enough to realize that many people
here do not see much connection between reverence for God and respect for the
ten commandments. I told him, nevertheless, that a baby living in its mother's
womb has a visa from God entitling it to live where its parents live. I think he
agreed, but was unwilling to extricate himself from the trap in which Japanese
law and social expectations capture gynecologists.
A survey among Japanese doctors indicates that they feel two
moments to be very sacred: the time of birth and the time of death. In awesome
silence they then bow to the immediate presence of divinity. For perceptive
doctors, abortion is thus a sacrilege. Gynecologists who abort desecrate what
they ought to consecrate, namely the moment when new life arrives fresh
from the hands of the Creator. As Cardinal Ratzinger said recently:
Man is created in the image and likeness of God (Ge 1:26);
man is Capax Dei and because he lives under the personal protection of
God, he is "sacred": "If any one sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood
be shed; for in the image of God has man been made' (On 9:6). This is an
apodictic statement of divine right which does not permit exceptions: human life
is untouchable because it is divine property [L'Osscrvatore Romano (Engl. Ed.) 8
So, pro-life priests have much going for them: with them,
doctors, parents, bystanders experience reverence for life at births and at
deaths. Priests bond well with their people at these precious times. Our
strength holds them up, and we move forward together in the pilgrimage of life.
We trust that the anti-life craze, which now grimly thins out
huge globs of population, will leave a solid remnant of pro-lifers intact to
carry the human race into a better future. In 1985, among the 850-880 million
married couples of reproductive age around the globe, about 55 million were
surgically sterilized; 80 million used the IUD; 61 million used hormones,
primarily the pill, (55 million); and 38 million used condoms or spermicides.
This adds up to about 340 million couples- 40% of all married couples of
reproductive age. In addition to these contraceptions, 40-60 million people are
killed surgically before they are born (see Studies in Family Planning,
Nov/Dec 1988). In the USA, 13.8 million couples use the pill, whereas perhaps
1.2 million use Natural Family Planning. (Put your money on NFP, however: we
must prod this turtle to pass the hare who laughs now but will nap in the
We priests of the pill era are God's elite corps: has God not
selected us specially to see our people safely through this time of turmoil? Has
He not planned this work for us from long ago, from eternity? "God has made us
what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus He has created us for a life of
good deeds which He has already prepared for us to do" (Eph 2:10). Our deeds are
His deeds, already patterned for us in advance. So, we can't lose.
Sometimes preachers and confessors are careful not to "break
off a bent reed, or put out a flickering lamp" (Mt 12:20). Pastoral prudence
prompts them to wait for the right moment. At other times they capture a surge
of God's power, saying to habituates: "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,
I order you to get up and walk!" (Acts 3:6). "Thou shalt not kill; thou shalt
not contracept. Don't do it!" Again the preacher, the confessor, helps the
person to his feet, and that individual then begins walking and jumping around
and praising God (see Acts 3:7-8).
The providential cure for the moral malaise of families today
is Natural Family Planning. To use it successfully, couples make sacrifices,
discipline themselves, take control of their lives, love truly. These parents
convince their children about chastity even in the sex jungle of the world. And
so the human race moves into the future largely through the bottleneck of NFP.
The Japan which foolishly led the world into legal abortion
with its 1948 Eugenic Protection Law may now be turning around to do a beautiful
thing for God. About 1000 couples per month are buying a newly invented home-use
electronic device to ascertain the fertile days of the cycle. Women take 2-3
minutes to record their temperature before rising in the morning, and the
computer takes care of the rest, identifying clearly the fertile days of each
cycle. For the first time, NFP is moving into the consumer market, elbowing a
niche among pills and gadgets. Once people are confident, many prefer to go the
rest of the way--to love truly, to do without contraceptives, to be I happy with
each other, to despise divorce, to invite additional children -- and so to
experience life as God planned it, as a challenging pilgrimage on a road, narrow
and steep, which terminates in a heaven of glory.
"Watchman, what of the night?"
"The darkness is deep; but light glimmers in the east."
Fr. Anthony Zimmerman, SVD
18 April 1991
(Editor's Note: Fr. Zimmerman is retired professor of Moral Theology,
Nanzan Universlty, Nagoya, Japan. Two of his recently published books are
availabie: 1) Original sin, Where Doctrine meets Science and 2)The
religion of Adam and Eve. Both published by Vantage Press, Inc., New York.)
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In the Mail
Dear Father Kaylor,
15 August 1991
Your publication and organization, Priests for
Life, are a great gift to the pro-life movement and to the Church. In
particular, your plan to provide assistance to priests for preaching and
teaching on the life issues is one which I support wholeheartedly.
I agree with those who say that to be a priest is to be "for
life", but I am well aware of the heavy demands placed on our priests, demands
which sometimes do not afford them the time for extended research and study on
the life issues. Your organization will offer priests one means of keeping
abreast of the issues in preparation for their ministry to God's People.
Please be assured of my prayers for you and your work. Please
pray for me.
Fraternally in Christ,
John Cardinal O'Connor
Archbishop of New York
Dear Father Kaylor,
With your letter of June 23, 1990, you requested Cardinal
Edouard Gagnon, former President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, to
become a member of the advisory board of Priests for Life.
Upon receipt of your request, in accordance with the usual
procedure, His Eminence asked Bishop [sic] Quinn for information about the
status of the association. This information has recently arrived, and I am
happy, as the new President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, to accept
your kind invitation to become a member of your advisory board.
The defense of life is a vital issue in today's society and
its importance for the Church was recently demonstrated by the special
Consistory called by the Holy Father last month. I was very pleased to learn of
the existence of Priests for Life. It is both a boon and consolation to
have an association of priests which promotes personal holiness in carrying out,
together with their bishops, the sacred priestly duty of moral leadership in
forming consciences in accordance with the Magisterium of the Church regarding
the important issue of life. May the Lord bless you in your undertakings for the
defense of life, and perfect in you the work which He has begun. You may be sure
of the support of this Pontifical Council in your work. I will see that you
receive our bulletin, Familia et Vita.
With every prayerful best wish and a special blessing for
Priests for Life, I remain,
Sincerely yours in the Lord,
+ Alfonso Cardinal Lopez Trujillo
President, Pontifical Council for the Family
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On Marriage and the Gift of Life
While in Poland, the Holy Father celebrated Mass on 3
June, 1991 in Kielce. The following excerpt is from his homily on that occasion.
Reprinted with permission from L'Osservatore Romano, English
Edition 17 June 1991.
. . . The charism of the Sacrament of Matrimony is also
the charism, grace and the gift of life. "Honour thy father and thy mother",
says the fourth commandment of God. But for the children to honour their
parents, they must be considered and accepted as a gift from God. Indeed,
each and every child is a gift from God. That gift is always priceless, even if
it is sometimes difficult to accept. First, the attitude to the newly-conceived
child must change. He is never an intruder or an aggressor, even if one assumes
that he has arrived unexpectedly. He is a human being, and therefore has
the right to receive from his parents the unstinting gift of themselves,
even if that would require particular sacrifice on their part.
The world would become a nightmare if the spouses enduring
material hardship would perceive their unborn child as a mere material
encumbrance and a hazard to their financial stability; or, for that matter, if
well to-do spouses regarded their child as a costly, unnecessary appendage. For
that would mean that love no longer counts in human life. That would mean that
the great dignity of man, his true vocation and ultimate destiny, have been
completely and utterly forgotten.
Genuine love between spouses is the foundation of the genuine
love for their child, while reliance on God is the foundation of both marital
and parental love.
Spouses correctly model their parental outlook when they
strive to make gifts of themselves to each other. The raising of a child does
not consist solely in making sacrifices for him. The point is that a sacrifice
should be wise, serving the education of the child in genuine love. They educate
a child in total love by demanding, but only by loving can they demand. They can
demand, but they should be demanding of themselves. That is why it is necessary
that, with the good of the future generations in mind, spouses should
strengthen, purify and deepen their love for one another. Only then will their
children be able to establish their own genuinely Christian families one day,
and love their parents.
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"Out of the Mouths of Babes You
have Fashioned Praise"
(Ps. 8:3): A Homily
The following homily was delivered recently by Fr. Milton T.
Walsh, pastor of St. Mary's Cathedral, San Francisco.
Three-year-old Andrew (not his real name) often accompanied
his mother to our parish meetings. She was a single parent, unable to get a baby
sitter, so he came along for the ride. Needless to say, he was an engaging
child, joyful and boisterous.
Minor health problems escalated into a critical condition,
and Andrew's mother had me come to the hospital. As her child's condition
worsened, we came to accept that God was calling Andrew home. As we prepared for
the funeral, I learned the story of this amazing child.
Andrew was the product of a rape. His mother made the
decision to keep the child, and stayed with the Missionaries of Charity until
Andrew was born. The sisters were delighted with this new child of God, and
asked his mother if she planned to have him baptized. Andrew's mom had been
raised as a Baptist, but had been away from church for a number of years. She
decided that it would be nice to baptize her baby, and to follow him into the
Andrew generously gave his mother all three theological
virtues: Catholic faith, the unconditional love of a child, and the hope that
life truly held the promise of many blessings. She told me, "This baby
completely turned my life around. I got so much love and happiness from him over
the past three years that my life will never be the same."
Since this little child did so much, there is a vacuum now
which is painful for his mother and for all of us. Any funeral is hard, but the
burial of a child is hardest of all. We think what he might have done, what his
accomplishments might have been, and so on. This is understandable, but our
faith invites us to see such a funeral from a different perspective. As St. John
of the Cross reminds us, "In the evening of our life we shall be examined on
love." The only accomplishment which matters is the force for good we have been
on others. The newspaper headlines fade, the awards gather dust; only love is
stronger than death.
Seen in this light, the short life of Andrew was full of
accomplishment. He can stand before God and say, "You gave me three years, and
in that three years I completely transformed another person." That kind of
achievement makes headlines in the heavenly newspaper, where so many human
"feats" get hardly a mention.
Certainly rape is one of the "hard cases" raised in the
abortion debate. To many, abortion seems to promise the victim of rape an
opportunity to put this traumatic, violent crime behind her. In fact, it only
continues the cycle of violence. Hatred is vanquished only by love. Andrew,
brought into existence through violence, stayed among us just long enough to
heal the heart of his mother—and to win the hearts of all of us who knew him.
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Board of Advisors
His Eminence Alfonso Cardinal Lopez Trujillo
President, Pontifical Council for the Family
Most Reverend John L. May
Archbishop of Saint Louis
Most Reverend Daniel E. Sheehan
Archbishop of Omaha
Most Reverend John J. Myers
Bishop of Peoria
Most Reverend Rene Gracida
Bishop of Corpus Christi
Most Reverend Juan Fremiot Torres
Bishop of Pone, Puerto Rico
Most Reverend Albert H. Ottenweller
Bishop of Steubenville
Most Reverend Paul V. Donovan
Bishop of Kalamazoo
Most Reversed James Timlin
Bishop of Scranton
Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Bishop of Rapid City
Most Reverend J. Quinn Weitzel, M.M.
Bishop of Samoa, Pago Pago
Most Reverend George Lynch
Retired Auxiliary Bishop of Raleigh
Most Reverend John F. Donoghue, D.D.
Bishop of Charlotte
Most Reverend Francis Quinn
Bishop of Sacramento
Most Reverend James Sullivan
Bishop of Fargo
Most Reverend James Niedergesses
Bishop of Nashville
President: Rev. Lee Kaylor
Secretary: Rev. Robert Cipriano
Treasurer: Rev. Robert Kiefer
Editor: Mary Ann Eiler
Notice of the Annual Meetings of the Members and Directors
The Annual Meeting of the members of Priests for Life will be
held on Saturday, December 14, 1991 at 2 pm in the Library of the Rectory of St.
Mary's Cathedral, 1111 Cough Street, San Francisco, California (415-567-2020).
The Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors will be held immediately after the
members' meeting. The following items will be discussed:
1) Organization and functioning of staff,
2) Editorial policy.
3) Promotion and distribution policies,
All members in good standing are invited to attend these
Rev, Lee Kaylor, President
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