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Priests for Life Newsletter

Volume 2 Number 1
1992

C O N T E N T S

A Reflection on the Sanctity of Human Life

Unto Us . . . A Poem by Spike Milligan

California's Proposed "Death with Dignity" Initiative

RU 486: Contraceptive, Abortifacient, and Human Pesticide

Board of Advisors

Beware Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA)

Wear the Pink and Blue

 

A Reflection on The Sanctity of Human Life

Bishop Sevilla delivered the following homily on the occasion of the Fifth Annual Interfaith Memorial Service for Life, January 17, 1992, at Temple Baptist Church in San Francisco. The program's theme was "Into the Light"--hence the references to light and darkness in the Bishop's remarks. The annual pro-life interfaith service in San Francisco was originally founded at the request of Archbishop Quinn through the efforts of the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women. It has brought local Catholics and Protestants together for the first time to pray and work --on behalf of life.

 We are here to unite ourselves with Jesus, the Light of the World. We are here to be with one another in our commitment to life wherever God's life is to be found --in human life from life in the womb until death; in the environment --God's precious gift to us to nourish, provide and sustain us. No doubt we will be tried and tested, but we realize that we must rely all the more on Jesus, who is the Light of the World.

 We come here to nurture each other in our struggle, but most of all to be nurtured by the Source of light and goodness, Jesus Christ. We have just heard the text of Ephesians 5: 8-14. The words from this text are a source of hope for us, especially verse 8: "You yourselves used to be in the darkness, but since you have become the Lord's people, you are in the light."

 It is a common condition of humankind to fear the darkness. Darkness and shadow are used to describe situations of mystery and death, representing the unknown and the terrifying. Evil and darkness are also associated with each other.

 For this reason the symbol of light is very important for Christians. Light breaks the darkness. It chases away fear. It wars against evil forces and ultimately conquers them. "Wake up, sleeper, and rise from death, and Christ will shine on you."

 Despite the coming of Christ, our world and our lives still are a mixture of light and shadow. We live in a condition that is not yet perfected, in a world which struggles toward the light but is restrained by the powers of darkness. The shadows that we find in our personal lives cloud our ability to be one with Christ, to be His presence in ways that the world needs.

 Our world reels and sometimes seems to sink from the heavy weight of so much darkness --the darkness of war and hunger and poverty. Every hour in this shadowed land called earth, 40,000 children die from hunger because their brothers and sisters in some other part of the world have not shared their bread. Over 40 wars still rage, destroying in their swath the young and the old, the innocent and the unprotected.

 This darkness is not new, nor is it particularly worse than it was two thousand years ago. It may seem so at times, when we feel especially vulnerable or tired. But it is age old. It reaches deeply into our psyches. It cast its pall over Adam and Eve, the great King David, and Judas Iscariot. It casts its pall over you and me.

 But there is a hope that we live by, a hope that love will conquer the darkness, that love will conquer death.

And that is why we are here, my brothers and sisters. Death and darkness penetrate the laws and culture of our land. People kill unborn children and call it freedom. The gift of life becomes clouded over with talk of suicide and euthanasia. As Pope John Paul II puts it, the problem is not only that these things exist, but that there is now a mentality—a culture of death that supports them. This mentality is the darkest shadow because it casts itself over our children. It sets a tone for lifestyles and tampers with the hearts of future generations. This darkness is severe, so severe that some, even Christians, prefer to avoid seeing it. They accept it as part of their everyday life. They choose to live with this darkness instead of confronting it with God's light and truth.

 Let us recommit ourselves to living like a people who are in the light. Let our souls be translucent with love and our actions bold and clear when we fight for God's truth, when we respect life which is made in His image. Let us be one in the Light that is Life. Let us be one in Jesus more and more, more and more, more and more, forevermore.

 --By The Most Reverend Carlos A. Sevilla, S.J., Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco

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Unto Us. . .

 

By Spike Milligan

 

Somewhere at some time

They committed themselves to me

And so, I was!

Small, but I WAS!

Tiny, in shape

Lusting to live

I hung in my pulsing cave.

Soon they knew of me

My mother --my father.

I had no say in my being

I lived on trust

And love

Tho' I couldn't think

Each part of me was saying

A silent 'Wait for me

I will bring you love!'

I was taken

Blind, naked, defenseless

By the hand of one

Whose good name

Was graven on a brass plate

in Wimpole Street,

and dropped on the sterile floor

of a foot operated plastic waste

bucket.

There was no Queens Counsel

To take my brief.

The cot I might have warmed

Stood in Harrod's shop window.

When my passing was told

My father smiled.

No grief filled my empty space.

My death was celebrated

With tickets to see Danny la Rue

Who was pretending to be a woman

Like my mother was.

 

The foregoing poem by Irish entertainer

Spike Milligan (generally known as a leftist

and an animal rights activist!) was shared

with us by the Rev. Mr. Stephen Doud,

transitional deacon from Belfast, N. Ireland. N.

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Proposition 161.

California's Proposed:
"Death with Dignity" Initiative

On November 3, Californians will vote on an initiative to legalize physician-assisted suicide in the State. Billed as a "Death with Dignity" measure, the initiative would give individuals a "right" to the assistance of a physician in procuring their death by lethal injection, poison, or other means. These means would be available if the patient has been diagnosed by two doctors as terminally ill, and if death is expected to occur within six months. Should the initiative pass, (and, as we go to press, indications are that it will), the State of California will become the first political unit in all history to legalize the deliberate killing of patients by physicians.

 Much confusion exists in the public mind as to the precise nature and implications of the initiative. By the clever use of such expressions as "mercy killing", "rational suicide", "aid in dying", etc., proponents have created the impression that the measure is a humane and sensible response to otherwise unmanageable problems of suffering and needlessly prolonged dying. In fact, the initiative goes far beyond the existing law of self-determination, which already allows a patient to refuse unwanted medical and life-sustaining treatment. It would destroy the boundary between healing and killing, and would mark a radical departure from age-old legal and medical traditions as well as Christian teaching. The measure fails to provide such basic and prudent safeguards as requirements for psychological evaluation of patients requesting assistance in dying, for witnesses, for family consultation or notification, for careful verification of diagnoses, for informed consent, etc. It would open the door to widespread abuses including, inevitably, involuntary euthanasia of the disabled, the elderly, and the mentally ill. Because of the lack of safeguards, even many groups and individuals that would normally support a more liberal policy with regard to euthanasia have come out against this initiative.

 Because a preliminary poll taken last spring indicated that a majority of Californians have no moral qualms about euthanasia, the general campaign against Prop. 161 has elected not to address the moral issues at all, but has emphasized pragmatic and utilitarian considerations. The wisdom of such a strategy has been questioned behind closed doors--and not just in Catholic circles--because such a strategy implicitly concedes the acceptability of active euthanasia under certain circumstances. Even if this proposition is defeated, critics complain, the euthanasia issue will return to haunt us, only next time it will be a "better", i.e., a more carefully crafted, proposal and even harder to defeat, because the opposing case will then have to rest on the moral issues alone. Why not just start teaching people the truth from the beginning? That is what Catholic Church leaders (and those of some other churches) are doing, of course, but the effort is not sufficient in this very secularized state to have an impact outside of church circles. Please, PRAY that the voters of California will reject this abominable initiative on November 3. And be alert to similar "progressive" initiatives in your own areas!

--The Editor

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~An Invitation ~

 Who would deny that ours is a period of particular trial in the history of the Church? As priests who are trying to live by Our Lord's teachings, and to follow and support our Holy Father and our bishops in serving God's people, we are met with countless disappointments, discouragement, and even temptations to despair. We feel under attack on all sides--because we often are. The Gospel message we preach is one that secular society does not want to hear. Sad to say, there is great confusion about the truth within the Church as well. It is not an uncommon experience today for a priest to find himself at serious odds with a brother priest, or with parishioners or others, on matters of faith and morals.

 If this has been your experience, and if the cross has seemed at times too heavy to bear alone, or if you have struggled through particularly difficult situations and would like to share your experience and insights with brother priests, write to us (mark the envelope "Confidential") at Priests for Life.

 --Rev. Robert Kiefer

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RU 486: Contraceptive / Abortifacient

The controversy over RU-486 (the anti-progesterone drug, Mifepristone) has begun to heat up around the country as a powerful lobby, comprised of financial, medical and pharmaceutical interests, population control advocates, some women's groups and feminist politicians, works to get FDA approval for the drug's distribution in the US.

 Etienne Baulieu, the drug's inventor, has described RU-486 as a "contragestive"—a term which suggests that the drug functions as a contraceptive. In fact, RU-486 is an intentional abortifacient -- "morning-after" pill. It is also very dangerous. In one study of 2000 women to whom the drug was administered, serious hemorrhaging occurred in 823 cases—an astounding rate of 41 %!

 It has been difficult until recently to get clear, concise information about RU-486 and the manner in which it works. We therefore commend to your attention two informative publications.

RU-486: The Human Pesticide.

 A Report by Judie Brown, Jerome LeJeune, and Robert Marshall (Stafford, Va.: American Life League, no date), 70 pages.

 This pamphlet presents various aspects of the RU-486 controversy in summary form. Breaking the subject down into brief sub-topics, it examines the purpose for which the drug was developed, identifies the drug's proponents (along with their attitudes, values and strategies), reviews the medical literature concerning the drug's action, and exposes the racist, anti-Third World agenda behind the development and marketing of the drug.

 The brevity, clarity, and scope of this pamphlet, together with its bibliographies, makes it especially useful. It is written simply enough for reading by the general public from junior high school level on.

 Available for $2 from: The American Life League, P.O. Box 1350, Stafford, VA 22554. (540) 659-4171.

RU 486: Misconceptions, Myths and Morals

by Janice G. Raymond, Renate Klein and Lynette J. Dumble. (Cambridge, Mass.: Institute on Women and Technology, 1991), 151 pages.

 This paperback covers much of the same material as the pamphlet described above, but it treats that material from a very different perspective.

 We recommend the book--despite our profound disagreement with the value orientation of its authors (they are pro-choice / pro-abortion)--because it presents a persuasive and readable case against RU-486 from both scientific and feminist perspectives. It is precisely the kind of book to place in the hands of those influential people in your community who are undecided about the drug.

 Available by mail from: The Institute on Women and Technology, c/o Rm. 3405, Dept. of Urban Studies & Planning, MIT, Cambridge, MA. 02139. [Make check ($10.95) payable to the Institute. (Outside U.S. and Canada, add $3.50 for Air Mail).]

 The Editor

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Board of Advisors of Priests for Life

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 Ponce, Puerto Rico

Most Reverend Albert H. Ottenweller

Bishop of Steubenville

Most Reverend Paul V. Donovan

Bishop of Kalamazoo

Most Reverend 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

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

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BEWARE FOCA

 

In recent years some observers have been describing America as a society verging on civil war. The issue dividing our people? Abortion! And it divides not only political candidates and parties, but friends, families, even members of our own Church. Nor is it fanciful to see in the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) currently before Congress a sinister analogy--in content and in effect--to the Dred Scott decision of 1857. That decision held that slaves were property, not persons; and, as property, they could be disposed of as objects by their masters. In effect, the Dred Scott decision put the Constitution behind slavery. Less than four years later, the country embarked on a bloody Civil War.

 If passed by this or any subsequent Congress (if defeated now, it is certain to be re-introduced), the Freedom of Choice Act will:

 -allow non-physicians to perform abortions;

-cease to require of the woman a signed affirmation of informed consent and non-coercion;

-deny parental notification and consent;

-negate conscience-clause protection for doctors, nurses and health workers;

-allocate public funds for abortion;

- eliminate any requirement for a second physician's consult after viability;

- absolve abortionists of record keeping and reporting;

- eliminate the obligation to provide the pregnant woman with information about abortion alternatives or about fetal development;

- dissolve the waiting period requirement after information is given before the abortion is performed;

- allow abortion methods least likely to preserve the life of a viable child;

- enable abortion for gender selection;

- promote abortion as a method of birth control;

- exclude the requirement for post abortion pathology reports; and preempt states from passing any antiabortion laws or restrictions.

 In addition, FOCA would seek to establish abortion as a constitutional right guaranteed by our founding fathers. It would deny that two human beings -- mother and child -- exist during all nine months of pregnancy. It supposedly would supercede decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. It would legalize abortion through all nine months of pregnancy.

 What Abraham Lincoln said in the Lincoln-Douglas debates has a poignancy for today's abortion conflict:

 Two principles . . . have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity, and the other is the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, "You work and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat it." No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.

 Adults who wish to abort innocent babies are seeking a more absolute right than that of tyrants -- they are arrogating to themselves a right which belongs only to God, Who alone has dominion over life and death.

 --by Regina Moore

 Regina Moore its the director of a pro-life fundraising group a long-time pro-life activist in Santa Clara County, CA.

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Wear the Pink and Blue

 The following report and suggestion comes from Fr. Frank Pavone of St. Charles Church in Staten Island, N.Y. Our thanks to Fr. Pavone for sharing a wonderfully positive way to witness on behalf of life.

Like every other community, ours was not without its display of yellow ribbons during the Persian Gulf war. The ribbons were a praiseworthy show of support for the men and women serving our country in a moment of danger.

 In a Sunday homily I encouraged the continued use of yellow ribbons and went on to point out that a much larger group of people than those serving in Desert Storm were also in mortal danger. Many, many more of these people would in fact be killed than had ever died in all of our wars combined. How about sporting ribbons for them, I asked. I suggested a "pink and blue" ribbon campaign for the little girls and boys in the wombs of mothers who were troubled by their pregnancies and who were tempted to abort their little ones.

 To my surprise, a package arrived at the rectory the next day. "Father Pavone," a note read, " I was at your Mass yesterday." That was it. No signature. I opened the package and found four spools of pink and blue ribbons!

 The next week, a high school teacher who had also been at that Mass told me excitedly that she had added pink and blue ribbons to the yellow ones already displayed in her classroom. "The yellow ribbons," she explained to her students. "symbolize our hopes for the safe return of our troops; the pink and blue ones stand for our hope that all babies in the womb will come into the world safely."

 Several parishioners subsequently mobilized for action and neighborhood trees and telephone poles soon were adorned in pink and blue. I was given a large number of ready-to-wear ribbons, and these I distributed after Mass. One of our local Knights of Columbus has written a song promoting the wearing of the pink and blue ribbons for the babies who may never have a chance to wear anything, who may never have a chance for life!

Although Desert Storm is now behind us, the battle for the unborn rages on. Let's use the pink and blue ribbons as a simple way to witness to the reality, to the personhood, of babies in the womb, and so help bring an end to the tragedy of abortion!

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