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Priests for Life Newsletter

Volume 4 Number 2

Encouraging Priests in the Pro-Life Cause


A Jailed Priest's Reflections for his Brother Priests

Homily: The Lazarus of the 20th Century

Abortion Down the Street

You May Not Believe This

Action Report of Priests for Life (PFL)

Facing Our Fears, Part II

Encouragement from the Pews


A Jailed Priest's Reflections for his Brother Priests

 The following is an excerpt of an interview with Fr. Rosario Thomas Carleton after he served 11 months of a 2 1/2 year jail sentence in Billerica, Mass. He was put in jail for attempting to peacefully rescue babies from abortion. He was approved for early parole and released on December 23, 1993. He was interviewed by Thomas Herlihy, and this excerpt is reprinted from The Witness, a publication of Sons of Mary, an association of active pro-life priests (P.O. Box 81, West Long Branch, NJ 07764).

Q: Father, do you have any thoughts that you would like to deliver to your fellow priests about the direction society is going in general, and in particular in regard to abortion, and what would you advise your fellow priests to do?

FATHER: Operation Rescue is one very special means of fighting legalized abortion and there are many means and, while I do not say that any particular priest is obliged to do what I did, I do think every priest is obliged to be very active in pro-life, very active in trying to bring about the end to abortion, because fundamentally you have to say that the priest's main job is to lead people to heaven. Well, how could members of the faithful who are participating in this holocaust, in legalized abortion, even by simply voting for abortion politicians, how could these people go to heaven? So, in other words, it is not just like a side issue of justice in which we are trying to help the babies who are involved; it is a basic question of religion itself. In abortion God is being mocked. The society is saying we do not care what God says. The priest, while he is a man of the people, is primarily a man of God. Men of the people are everybody. Politicians are men of the people, and priests are men of the people. But priests are different from all other types of leadership roles in a sense opposite politicians in that their primary goal is to be a man of God. The priest is God's portion, and He must in justice receive his portion. So to have the entire society say: we do not care what God says, we have decided we want abortion--that is as much as saying that religion is over, religion is dead. Either that has to be turned around or nothing we are able to do will be able to overcome that basic position. Oftentimes people in moral theology talk about the fundamental option. There are ways in which that theory of fundamental option can be misapplied and I am not trying to give some kind of blanket acceptance to the various ways that the theory could be used but certainly you might use that concept here in saying that a society that says we are going to allow legalized abortion even though God forbids it, is a society that clearly has made their fundamental option against God? So what is the sense then of carrying on other functions of religion when the overall fundamental commitment has been made against God. It is not just a social justice issue. A social justice issue is a very important issue and I do not want to minimize it, but here we are dealing with the honor of God. The honor of God demands that men of God, God's portion, stand up and say this can not be; we do not care how many parliaments, how many presidents, how many democracies, how many majorities, or even unanimities in a society want abortion, God does not want it and that is enough for us; He does not want it and we are going to have to battle it even if it means that we have to die; we will never accept it, no matter under what conditions it comes, no matter how many Gallup polls say that everybody wants it. God does not want it and we will battle it to the end, to whatever the end is.

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 Homily: The Lazarus of the 20th Century (Lk. 16:19-31)

Fr. Frank Pavone

We learn many lessons from those who go to heaven. In the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, we learn a lesson from one who went to hell.

Why was the Rich Man condemned? Was it because he had so much? Was there something inherently sinful about the purple and linen in which he dressed, or the feasts in which he indulged? No. The rich man went to hell because he ignored the other man. He was not condemned for what he did, but for what he did not do. He did not recognize or treat Lazarus as his equal, his brother. Instead, he thought that because Lazarus' possessions were less valuable than his, that Lazarus was less valuable than he. The beggar's cries went unheeded.

The story causes us to wonder what we would do if we were there. Brothers and sisters, we are there. You and I have an appointment with Lazarus today, and we will be judged on how we respond. The Lazarus of the 20th century is in our midst. He is in our midst in the poor, the troublesome, the annoying, the person who is smaller and weaker than we are, and the person who seems different and less valuable.

In particular, the Lazarus of the 20th century is our preborn brother or sister. This is the person rejected by society, the person who begs for help to live but whose cries are rejected 4400 times a day in our country. This is the person torn apart and thrown away by abortion.

The rich man was condemned for not treating Lazarus as his brother. We also will be condemned if we do not treat the preborn as our brother and sister. Many oppose abortion and would never have one, but they then ask, "Who am I to interfere with a woman's choice to abort?" Today, I will tell you who you are. You are a brother, a sister of that child in the womb! "Who am I to interfere with her choice?" You are a human being who has enough decency to stand up and say "NO!" when you see another human being about to be killed. "Who am I to interfere with her choice?" You are a person who has enough wisdom to realize that injustice to one human being is injustice to every human being, and that your life is only as safe as the life of the preborn child. "Who am I to interfere with her choice?' You are a follower of the One who said, "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, you do to Me." Do we not believe that if we allow a person to die of starvation, that we are allowing Christ to die of starvation? Do we not believe that if we leave the sick untended, that we are leaving Christ untended? Must we not then also believe that whenever a child in the womb is ripped apart, burned, crushed, and then thrown away, that Christ is ripped apart, burned, crushed, and thrown away! It is Christ in the womb! When we stand up for life we stand up for Him!

If abortion is not wrong then nothing is wrong. If we cannot be stirred to respond as individuals, as a Church, and as a nation, to the plight of the preborn children, then we have lost our soul. Indeed, the Lazarus of the 20th century is knocking at our door. God, have mercy on us and help us to respond! Amen!

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Abortion Down The Street

Abortion is a local phenomenon. There is great merit to the efforts to petition the government, and those efforts must go on. But abortion does not occur in the halls of Congress. It occurs down the street from where we live and work. It occurs in our neighborhoods, and within our parish boundaries. It is a local phenomenon, and it demands a local response. The local community is responsible for stopping the killing in its own midst.

Two questions, therefore, need to be asked and answered by every local community: 1.Where is the nearest place where babies are being killed? 2.Precisely who is doing the killing? Pro-lifers in each parish should find the answers to these questions and publicize them! So many abortionists get away with their actions because people don't know about them. Some abortionists take out ads in the yellow pages and kill babies for a living. But there are many abortionists who do it secretly on the side, while most of their time is spend serving the legitimate needs of patients who have no idea that their doctor kills babies. These part-time abortionists don't want to be known as abortionists and most would be terrified to think that pro-lifers might find out and make them known. Not all of them are OB-GYN's. Some are general practitioners. Most, if made known, would quit doing abortions, lest they lose their legitimate practice.

There are legal, peaceful, non-violent ways to unmask these part-time abortionists. There is a special project that addresses this, and we would like to help pro-lifers to do it. Write us for details.

There is still a spiritual work of mercy called "admonish the sinner." This is mercy; it is love. Authentic love does not allow a sinner just to keep destroying him/herself and others. It loves him/her too much for that. Love, rather, challenges and calls one to change. Abortion is a horror because of what it does to the child, the mother, the father, and society, and also what it does to the abortionists. Vatican II says of abortion and similar sins, "They debase the perpetrators more than the victims." (GS #27). Let us not fail in our duty to help save the abortionists together with the child, parents, and all society! They are in danger of perishing today, right down the street!

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You May Not Believe This

 In a presentation entitled, "What about us? Staff Reactions to the D & E Procedure," given in 1978 to the Association of Planned Parenthood Physicians in San Diego, Warren Hern, Boulder, Colorado abortionist stated:

"We have reached a point in this particular technology where there is no possibility of denial of an act of destruction by the operator. It is before one's eyes. The sensations of dismemberment flow through the forceps like an electric current."

If he can be honest about it, so can we.

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Action Report of Priests for Life (PFL)

Priests for Life is growing and is busy assisting the wider pro-life movement in numerous ways. Through the constant traveling of the director, Fr. Frank Pavone, and the activity of local chapters, PFL directly reaches some 20,000 priests nationwide. Over half of the US dioceses have agreed to distribute our newsletter, and we are very grateful for their cooperation. Requests are received daily for homily materials, bulletin inserts, and other information and assistance for pro-life activities. Priests for Life chapters are in formation in about twenty cities. The priests meet at regular intervals to pray and discuss their pro-life work. Among the groups that Fr. Pavone has been able to meet with are New York, San Francisco, Dallas, Birmingham, Montgomery, New Orleans, Lake Charles, Chicago, Los Angeles, and others. Deacons are also invited. Fr. Pavone recently gave a training day in pro-life work for deacon candidates in New York, and Father Jim Heyd has been organizing Chicago deacons to conduct pro-life holy hours. Lay auxiliaries continue to join and support the association.

PFL has been meeting with lay pro-life groups and is putting into action a brand new training program (for clergy and laity) based on the Pro-Life Activist's Encyclopedia by Brian Clowes, Ph.D. After attending a special meeting on the program in Miami, Fr. Pavone has initiated it in New York and is planning to assist other groups to sponsor it. The program gives pro-life activists in one month the training they would otherwise obtain only after three years.

PFL is now in active cooperation with 34 other national pro-life organizations, and is in contact with most others through various networks, among which is the National Federation for Life, an umbrella group initiated by Cardinal O'Connor.

PFL has gained more publicity in the media, particularly when Fr. Pavone was able to address the crowd gathered for the annual March for Life in Washington, and when he also appeared on Mother Angelica's Eternal Word Television Network on March 1 discussing abortion.

PFL has had much involvement with younger pro-lifers. Fr. Pavone gave two pro-life retreats in the San Jose area to Youth for Life and to the Young Adult Group of Our Lady of Peace, Santa Clara. Youth for Life has been organizing National Youth Day for Denver this summer, and PFL will serve as spiritual director for the event. Fr. Pavone has met with representatives of other youth groups such as CALL, American Collegians for Life (at their annual convention), the pro-life group at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and the St. Dominic Savio prayer group in Birmingham.

PFL has been closely following legal developments. On December 8, after celebrating Mass for Joe Scheidler and his staff at the National Shrine in Washington, Fr. Pavone was present for oral arguments in the NOW vs. Scheidler case, and was also in Washington when the decision was issued on January 24. PFL reminds all pro-lifers that they must continue exercising their First Amendment rights without being intimidated. Fr. Pavone also represented PFL at a convention sponsored by Americans United for Life in Washington, at which legal experts spoke on the free speech rights of prolifers. PFL also signed on to an amicus curiae brief submitted to the Court in the Loce case, arguing for a recognition of the personhood of the fetus.

PFL is also in frequent contact with the Sisters of Life in New York, and was represented at the Profession of Vows of five members in February. There are about twenty members in this community.

Among other activities of PFL, we are promoting 1) Project Truth, a special parish video presentation on abortion, 2) the peaceful prayer vigils of the Helpers of God's Precious Infants, started by Msgr. Reilly of Brooklyn, and 3) the "Be Not Afraid" Family Holy Hours of the Apostolate of Family Consecration (PO Box 151, Bloomingdale, OH 43910).

All of this is only the tip of the iceberg. We recently sent a progress report to our Board of Advisors and the NCCB Pro-life Committee. There is much more to do. "We've only just begun!" And we need YOU!

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Facing Our Fears, Part II

We continue here addressing some of the fears which keep some priests from preaching about abortion.

1. Am I afraid I may alienate some of my parishioners? Certainly, we do not want to unnecessarily offend or alienate anyone from the parish. We are reconcilers. At the same time, the One we reconcile the people to is God. To have the people coming to the parish is one aspect of our mission; another aspect is to make sure that when they come, they hear the full message of God through His Church. This is not a favor to them; they have a right, in strict justice, to hear the full truth of Church teaching. To believe we can do this faithfully and at the same time NEVER alienate ANYONE is to ignore the fact that even Christ Himself alienated some people (see, for example, the conclusion of His Eucharistic discourse in John 6). Can we do better than He did? Such alienation is not intentional on our part, but it is inevitable. This is so because of the mystery of freedom. Some people have alienated themselves from the truth about abortion. If, then, we faithfully expose that truth, they may choose to alienate themselves from us, too. This is not the same as "driving them away," which is a situation in which we provide the cause of alienation by our carelessness or unkindness.

2. Am I afraid of "dividing my parish?" The fact is, every parish is already "divided" in the sense that you will find people on different sides of the abortion issue. If we never speak of the issue, we may cover over the division for a while, but that is not the same thing as unity. Unity is founded on truth, and is fostered by a clear exposition of truth. "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to Myself" (Jn. 12:32). We do not build unity by our own human plans, efforts, and programs. We build it by lifting up Christ for all to see and hear. We build it by proclaiming His Word, without ambiguity or apology. Sure, there will be some division for the same reason that there will be some alienation. But the Word itself causes that. "I have come for division" (Lk. 12:51). It is the division between truth and error, grace and sin, life and death. This division must come before unity is possible; otherwise the unity will be superficial and illusory.

3. Am I afraid that by addressing abortion I may be forced to address contraception too? As priests we are publicly committed to teach what the Church teaches. Not only is there a link between abortion and contraception, but there is a marvelous link and unity among ALL the truths which the Church proclaims. They form one organic whole, because ultimately the message is a Person, Jesus Christ. "Be not afraid; I go before you always." These words are sung so often today in our Churches. They are words for us priests. Never in history has there been so much assistance offered to us, particularly in Papal teaching and faithful commentary, to teach the truth about contraception, as there is today. Let us use the help that is available.

4. Am I just too busy to get more involved? Much of what we are called to do for pro-life does not take more time. Rather, it takes more spirit. It doesn't take any extra time to preach on abortion than to preach on any other topic. It doesn't take any more time to put a pro-life announcement in the bulletin than it does to put in any other kind of announcement. Beyond this, we can reflect that innocent life is at stake. If we would take time to try to save a child who was struck by a car out on the road near our Church, can we not also take the time to do something about 4400 children being deliberately torn limb from limb every day? All our time is God's anyway. Let's use more of it to save His children!

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National Youth Day

 Please promote National Youth Day, a gathering for youth ages 13-35 in Denver from August 4-7, l 994. This is a response by the youth to our Holy Father's call to them last summer to spread the Gospel and defend life! Many well known Catholic speakers are being invited. We need the assistance of priests as well. For more details call National Youth Day, 408-955-9935 or write to PO Box 443 l, Mountain View, Ca. 94040.

 Encouragement from the Pews

A teenager writes to us:

"I think teenagers are influenced by what they see and hear in the church as well as in society and it seems that they are hearing more from a pro-abortion society than a pro-life church. Young girls in the situations of unwanted pregnancies need to hear exactly how harmful it is."

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