Priests for Life Newsletter
Volume 2 Number 1
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"
RU 486: Contraceptive, Abortifacient, and Human
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
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
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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
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
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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"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!
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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).]
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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
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
-allocate public funds for abortion;
- eliminate any requirement for a second physician's consult
- 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
- 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.
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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