Priests for Life Newsletter
Volume 5, Number 1
January - February 1995
C O N T E N T S
Making Pro-Life Preparations for the Year 2000
Physician-Assisted Suicide Must Not Spread
Homily Hints: Unmasking Distinctions
Priests for Life Defends Pro-lifer's Rights
Let's Face Our Fears, Part 5
From the Director
Making Pro-life Preparations for the
Dear Brother Priests,
On November 10, 1994, Pope John Paul II issued the
apostolic letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente, on preparation for the
Jubilee of the Year 2000. "Preparing for the Year 2000 has become as it were a
hermeneutical key of my Pontificate", the Pope explains. He asks "that the time
leading up to it be lived as 'a new Advent'," for "it is aimed at an increased
sensitivity to all that the Spirit is saying to the Church" (#23).
The Jubilee, marking the beginning of the third Christian
Millennium, will be marked by numerous international and local celebrations, and
by a specific, thematic preparation over the next five years.
The first phase of that period is a church-wide examination
of conscience and repentance. The Pope points to several themes, including "the
widespread loss of the transcendent sense of human life, and confusion in the
ethical sphere, even about the fundamental values of respect for life and the
Priests for life certainly plays a key role in this aspect of
the preparation. We ask all members to renew their commitment to preach and
teach on the sanctity of life, and to dispel the moral confusion of our times.
In this way we will assist the Church to more clearly be the Light of the
Nations, into the Year 2000 and beyond.
Fr. Frank A. Pavone
PHYSICIAN-ASSISTED SUICIDE MUST NOT SPREAD
The time to respond vigorously to the legalization of physician-assisted
suicide is now. Those in Oregon who voted for Ballot Measure 16, which allows
physicians to prescribe lethal drugs, have made a serious mistake. It is the
duty of the entire nation to see that this mistake spreads no further.
People who are suffering from terminal illness deserve better choices than
death. They deserve the care and love of people around them, and the full extent
of pain management treatments that are available to medical science. The law and
the medical profession should not give them the false solution of throwing away
their lives like they would junk a car that no longer works. Human life is not
disposable, whether that life is another's or our own.
Priests for Life is responding to the tragic Oregon vote by organizing a
euthanasia education campaign among the clergy, so that they may educate their
people to reject death as a solution to suffering. Clergy and laity may write us
for an educational packet, or contact the International Anti-Euthanasia Task
Force, P.O. Box 760, Steubenville, OH 43952, or the N.C.C.B. Office of Pro-Life
Activities, 3211 4th St. NE, Washington, DC 20017 (202) 541-3070.
Homily Hints: Unmasking Distinctions
We tend to do it all the time. We think that because another person is
different, he/she has less value. We make artificial distinctions, particularly
with those to whom we are hostile. We forget that they are our neighbors.
We see in the Gospel that Christ constantly breaks down artificial
distinctions regarding the value of people. He does so in regard to 1) race:
Despite hostility between Jews and Samaritans, He does not hesitate to speak
with the Samaritan woman and offer her and her people the gift of faith (Jn. 4);
2) gender: Despite His society’s unequal treatment of women, He allows women to
travel with Him (Lk. 8) and entrusts a woman with the task of testifying to the
Resurrection (Jn. 20:17); 3) health and condition of dependency: He tends to the
sick, the lunatics and the possessed (Mk. 1:32); 4) occupation: He associates
with tax collectors, who were despised in society, and even calls one of them to
be an apostle (Mt. 9:9); 5) moral status: He calls His followers to love their
enemies, to pray for their persecutors and to forgive from the heart (Mt. 5:44;
18:21-35); and 6) age: He welcomes and blesses children and infants over the
objections of His disciples (Lk. 18:15-16).
Christ does not allow artificial distinctions to stand. He cuts through
discrimination with the clarity of the truth that we are all children of one
Father. Our attitudes to the preborn children will also be judged by this truth.
Our society has falsely discriminated against them, pretending that because
their age is different, their value is different. Is this not precisely the kind
of false assessments of others that Christ continually challenges in the
We who follow Christ need to be busy about unmaking distinctions between the
born and the preborn. Physically, the distinctions are fewer than people
imagine. In regard to this value, there are no distinctions at all. "See that
you never despise one of these little ones" (Mt. 18:10).
Fr. Frank A. Pavone
THIS NUMBER SAVES LIVES
Twenty-four hours a day, every day, women in crisis pregnancies can call
1-800-848-LOVE (5683) from anywhere in the nation. Spread the word!
PRIESTS FOR LIFE DEFENDS PRO-LIFERS' RIGHTS
Priests for Life took the rights of all pro-lifers to the Department of
Justice in Washington in a rare meeting of three national pro-life leaders (Rev.
Flip Benham, Rev. Pat Mahoney, and Fr. Frank Pavone) with the Assistant Attorney
General of the United States, Jo Ann Harris.
At the meeting, Fr. Pavone made it clear that while we oppose violence,
pro-lifers will not be intimidated from exercising their First Amendment rights
of speech and assembly on the streets and at the abortion mills. Speech which
may be unpopular or may upset people does not thereby lose its protected status
under the First Amendment.
The Department of Justice said that it would investigate any evidence of
infringements of the First Amendment rights of pro-lifers. Fr. Pavone called for
an increase of peaceful pro-life activity in the streets and said that when
pro-abortion forces violate the rights of pro-lifers, he and other leaders will
be back at the Department of Justice.
Priests for Life was also present for a Congressional Hearing on the FACE
law. Sue Finn, administrator of Priests for Life, testified before the House
Judiciary Committee in September about the peaceful means pro-lifers use to save
babies. In a noteworthy comment, Mr. James Brown from the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, and Firearms, said, "the BATF has found no conspiracy to commit
violence within the anti-abortion movement."
Congratulations to Bishop John Yanta, ordained to the episcopacy on December
30, 1994! He has been an active member of Priests for Life and we all rejoice
with him and support him in prayer as he serves as Auxiliary Bishop of San
Let's Face Our Fears, Part 5
We continue to address some obstacles to preaching on abortion.
1. Am I "turned off" by the eccentricity of some pro-lifers? There are
"eccentrics" in every movement. But if our own prevailing impression of
"pro-lifers" is that they are eccentric, it may indicate that we ourselves have
had very little exposure to the people in the movement. Pro-lifers are among the
most dedicated and selfless people in the world. They love those who cannot love
them back, and endure ridicule, cost and injury in the process. The pro-life
movement is the largest grassroots movement in the history of the United States.
Of course there are eccentrics. There are also many saints. (Sometimes these
categories overlap!) Studies show that the pro-life movement, vast and varied as
it is, is more a reflection of America than the pro-abortion movement.
It is very much in our power, furthermore, to strengthen the pro-life
movement by bringing as many people into it as possible, including professionals
of every field. The parish itself (in conjunction with non-Catholic groups)
should be the pro-life movement of the neighborhood! It is up to us to make that
happen! Nobody is exempt from the call to be a "pro-lifer". What, after all, is
2. Do I see the "consistent ethic of life" incompatible with a focus on
abortion? The 1985 Reaffirmation of the Pastoral Plan for Pro-life
Activities (NCCB) stated, "Focus on abortion and the Church's firm commitment to
a consistent ethic of life complement each other." Consistency does not mean
watering down anything. It means speaking up! Consistency also means that if
abortion is murder, we need to treat it that way.
3. Do I feel the people already hear and know enough about abortion?
Many priests feel this way. But think again. In over 21 years of fighting
legalized abortion, every child in the womb today still remains legally
abortable; these abortions still occur at the rate of one every 20 seconds (i.e.
4400 a day, 1.6 million a year), and Catholics procure abortions as much as
anyone else. Knowledge is still lacking. Most people still do not know the
extent of abortion, or the revolting ways it is performed, or the harmful
physical and psychological after-effects of the procedure on the mother. Many
know abortion is evil, but they do not realize HOW evil it is. Moreover,
knowledge is not virtue. Our task is to rouse people to DO something about it.
If they already know enough about it, where are our local pro-life groups? Where
are our local crisis pregnancy centers and shelters for unwed mothers? Many
exist, but so many more are needed! How many people are really responding to
abortion for what it really is, the killing of a child? People need
encouragement from us more than ever, as they are bombarded with pro-abortion
slogans and lies, and as fear of lawsuits is keeping many away from perfectly
legitimate pro-life activity. If at times we feel like we are "preaching to the
choir", let's realize that people can quit the choir, which is exactly what the
other side wants to happen.
HELP STOP RU-486
Priests for Life has joined a host of other National pro-life groups in a
consumer boycott that aims to persuade Hoechst AG to take RU-486 (used for
abortion) off the market. For cards indicating more information, write Life
Issues Institute, 1721 W. Galbraith Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45239.
"Abortion, Justice, and Worship", a talk given by Fr. Frank Pavone to the
Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation, is available through Priests for Life for $4.00
total. This tape shows why tolerating abortion is inconsistent with worship, and
how worshippers can do more to assure justice for all.
Ask for a list of our other resources as well! Quantities can be
ordered for parishes.
PFL Previous Newsletters