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Priests for Life Newsletter

Volume 1, No. 3
Fall 1991


Chastity Education: Getting to the Root of the Problem

Priests for Life Granted Formal Approval

The Priest Ministering in the Era of Choice

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 you, forever."

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 for.

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 April 1991].

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 future!)

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



May 7,1991

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 Catholic Church.

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 meetings

Rev, Lee Kaylor, President

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