Priests for Life Newsletter
Volume 5, Number 3
May - June 1995
Three Elements for a Pro-Life Homily
Florida Priest Sets Pro-Life Example
Caught in Hypocrisy
Abortion and the Eighth Commandment
Pro-Life TV Series in Progress
Letter to the Editor by Priests for Life
Three Elements for a Pro-Life Homily
There are three basic elements in a pro-life homily which can
be made in a very brief time and which cover crucial pastoral angles of the
topic. At the same time, these points can be adapted to various readings and
1. Stress that there are alternatives to abortion. Many are
"pro-choice" not because they like abortion but because they ask, "How can the
woman live without it?" We need to make it clear that no woman ever has to feel
that abortion is her only option. Help is available through thousands of helping
centers providing financial assistance, medical services, legal advice,
counseling, a place to live, jobs, education, and assistance to keep the child
or to place the child for adoption. Networks are established to refer women to
the help nearest to them. Call 1-800-848-LOVE or 1-800-TNN-4-MOM for pro-life
alternatives throughout the nation.
2. Stress that the Church offers forgiveness and healing
after abortion. This is critical, because so many feel they cannot be forgiven,
and this despair has been shown to lead to more abortions! (Some 46% of
abortions in America are repeat abortions.) Furthermore, many hesitate to voice
their opposition to abortion because they think it means opposition to those who
have abortions! If they see that being pro-life includes embracing these women
with forgiveness, they may be more inclined to join the effort. There is a
National Office for Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing at 1-800-5-WE-CARE.
3. Plead with people not to let themselves be deceived! Focus
on some basic facts that most people do not know: there is an abortion every 20
seconds in America; it is legal and happens through all nine months of
pregnancy; less than 1% occur because of rape or incest. Focus on one or more
deceptive slogans, such as "pro-choice." (Is a choice good or bad? It depends on
what you're choosing, does it not? My choices end where your rights begin!) A
moment of thought can dispel a lifetime of slogans.
Follow up on a pro-life homily with a hand-out to the parish,
such as "What We Can Do to Stop Abortion," offered by Priests for Life.
Encourage people to join the parish pro-life group.
From the Director
My Brother Priests,
A major goal of Priests for Life is to unite priests who are
very active in pro-life work. We therefore will include "Prolife Profiles" in
our newsletters, highlighting the work of our priest-members. Please send us
information on your own pro-life involvement so we can share it with others.
We are increasingly pleased at the co-operation we receive
from diocesan respect-life offices. Currently, more than 100 dioceses send out
our newsletter, and others join Priests for Life for joint projects. We always
want to work closely with them.
Please also remember to fill out a membership slip (see
cutout on page 2) if you have not already done so. By becoming a member, you
will receive special updates and mailings throughout the year. Your membership
fee will also help to financially support the work of Priests for Life.
God bless you!
Fr. Frank Pavone
Pro-Life TV Series in Progress!
"Defending Life" is the Priests for Life television series on
abortion which began airing on Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) and will
continue through July.
The purpose of the series is three-fold: 1) to teach what
abortion is and what its consequences are for babies, parents, and society; 2)
to motivate viewers to work for an end to abortion; and 3) to equip motivated
viewers to fight abortion by making them aware of the many legal, peaceful means
which exist to do so.
Be sure to publicize the series and encourage people to watch
it. Mondays 1:30 a.m., Tuesdays 1:30 p.m., Wednesdays 11 p.m., Thursdays 6 a.m.
- Eastern Time. We also have a radio series on Catholic Shortwave (WEWN)
PRIESTS FOR LIFE
To the Editor:
How encouraging it was to be among about 20 priests
who met with Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, at St.
Scholastica, Aspinwall, on Sept. 22. Fr. Pavone presented a wealth of
information as well as a video that reminded us of the 4,400 babies aborted
daily in our country.
Recognizing that we priests are subject to time restrictions
(like all people), we feel that a priest's time should be allocated in
proportion to the gravity of need. There is no graver need now than to protect
the lives of our pre-born sisters and brothers who are in fact, most vulnerable,
most defenseless, most endangered. Though many evils threaten our society, none
can compare in scale with the enormity of the killing of a pre-born child every
20 seconds in America; 1.5 million each year in the U.S. (roughly the population
of Allegheny County).
We pray that all priests may be good stewards of the
time that God has given us in our ministry to serve the people of God. We invite
our brother priests to allocate their discretionary time in proportion to the
gravity of the need of our pre-born sisters and brothers. Whether it is in
private prayer or praying the Rosary in front of an abortuary, whether in
homilies or the prayers of the faithful, whether in the Life Chain or in the
March for Life, whether in counseling women and men experiencing post-abortion
syndrome or teaching teenagers about the empty promises of abortion, we
encourage our brother priests to not withdraw from our leadership role as
ministers "consecrated in truth" (Jn. 17:19).
FR. JOSEPH LUISI
Chaplain, University of Pittsburgh
FR. RICHARD INFANTE
Parochial vicar, Immaculate Conception
and St. Joseph Church, Bloomfield
Priest Sets Pro-Life Example
The people who attend Queen of Peace Church in Ocala,
Florida, are reminded often of the least of their brethren. Fr. Patrick
O'Doherty, the pastor, speaks up for the pre-born babies by means of the weekly
parish bulletin. A portion of the "Dairy of the Unborn Child" is printed each
week. As parishioners read of the gradual development of the child, they are
reminded in a gentle, factual way that abortion is not about hypothetical
people, but about real people who are really living and growing, and also really
in danger of being destroyed.
Another vivid reminder is given by the white crosses set up
on the Church property, reminding people of the babies killed each year in
Florida. The crosses have been displayed for over six months and will eventually
travel to other locations.
Fr. O'Doherty is not content only with symbols, however. He
actually goes to the place in Gainseville where babies are killed. He joins
people there every first and third Wednesday for two hours of prayer. Isn't it
enough to pray in Church?, some may ask. Fr. O'Doherty responds that John stood
beneath the cross, at the most evil scene of history, in prayerful solidarity
with Jesus and Mary. We go to the scene of baby-killing with the same spirit.
And lives are also saved daily because of the prayerful presence of pro-lifers
in front of abortion mills.
Fr. O'Doherty can be reached at 6455 SW State Road 200,
Ocala, Fla. 34476, 904-854-2181. He is willing to share the "Diary of the
Unborn." Thank you, Father, for being a Priest for Life!
Fr. James Heyd, Associate Director of Priests for Life
It is peaceful here on the corner of Cortland and Kedvale
streets as I gaze out my rectory window at St. Philomena Parish in Chicago.
However, as I look farther down Kedvale, I see the yellow brick apartment
complex where 18-year-old Marisol Melendez gave birth, and then, tragically and
unbelievingly, threw her newborn infant on the garbage heap nearby.
Perhaps, and rightly so, many are aghast at Marisol's
inhumane deed. To think that a newborn infant could be the victim of such
cruelty is a painful thought jarring our sense of right behavior in a civilized
society. To think that some are throwing away children like mere trash is
sickening to us. Yes, we are offended by what has happened on Kedvale Street.
However, lest we rush to judgment and condemnation of
Marisol, we as a society have to ask some serious questions. We have to reflect
long and hard on what we as a people have created. We are not solitary beings.
We are shaped and influenced by our environment. Marisol and what she did on
Kedvale cannot be isolated from the environment and influences around her.
Certainly her action was gravely wrong, it was an act of
cruelty to dispose of a baby from a second-floor apartment onto a dark and dirty
back alley. Objectively, it was criminal and deserving of punishment. Marisol
needs firm but gentle guidance.
But Marisol is a product of our times. We have separated
morality from our public discourse and entertainment, from our schools and more
and more from the inner sanctuary of the home. What does one expect from
adolescents when on the one hand, they are encouraged by public and school
officials to have "safe sex," but then, little is done to help them live up to
the responsibilities of being mothers at such a young age. Little is done to
ease the burden of these young people. How will they tell their parents, who
might let family pride and honor run roughshod over compassion and mercy, of
their pregnancy? How will they deal with being mothers so early on? Yes, Marisol
was terribly confused, but it was others who helped confuse her, whether they
want to admit it or not.
The real irony and hypocrisy of all this is that Marisol will
be prosecuted for doing a post-partum abortion. In our culture of death, it is
accepted legally to abort a child throughout the ninth month of pregnancy with
an abortionist's assistance. Marisol could have ended little "Zoe's" life a week
or two earlier and nobody would have winked an eyelash. And this is done over
and over to the detriment of many young girls who chose abortion because no one
will help or listen to them.
No, we should not be surprised that we now have more and more
infanticide in our country. It is the fruit of abortion. It is hypocrisy to
condemn Marisol without condemning ourselves. We need healing in our society; we
need to help our children learn what is right and good and beautiful. As adults,
we need to reflect on what we are teaching our children so that they can turn
out to be responsible and caring human beings.
From my Christian perspective on life, I recall Jesus' words
to the Pharisees who wanted to condemn the woman caught in adultery. He said to
them sternly, "All right, hurl the stones at her until she dies. But only he who
never sinned may throw the first!" (John 8:7) Let us pray for Marisol, let us
pray especially for her infant Zoe, and let us pray for ourselves.
Fr. James Heyd is associate pastor of St. Philomena Church,
Associate National Director of Priests for Life.
Priests for Life Pilgrimage
Fr. James Heyd, Assistant National Director of Priests for
Life, will lead a pilgrimage retreat to Lourdes from June 6-13, 1995. Prayers
and conferences will focus on the sacredness of human life. For information,
call Best Catholic Pilgrimages at 1-800-908-2378.
Priests for Life welcomes with joy the new encyclical, The
Gospel of Life. Fr. Pavone has prepared a 90-minute audio tape with
reflections on this document. The tape can be obtained from us for a $5
donation. The document is a positive and joyful proclamation, calling us to
preach, celebrate, and serve life, because we are the people of life.
Help Women in Crisis
Many abortions can be stopped if we publicize the resources
available for women in crisis pregnancy. Any woman anywhere can call the crisis
hotline of The National Life Center, 1-800-848-LOVE (5683) to receive
assistance. National Life Center asks for your financial help as well to keep
this outreach going. Write them at 686 N. Broad St., Woodbury, NJ 08096.
"Go to Joseph!"
St. Joseph's Communications carries a fine array of Catholic
tapes. Look especially for the Priests for Life series on abortion. For a
catalogue or to order, call 1-800-526-2151. Write them at P.O. Box 720, West
Covina, CA. 91793.
Pro-Life Mass Prayer
A particularly appropriate opening prayer for special masses
with a pro-life theme can be found in the sacramentary at the 17th Sunday in
Ordinary Time, alternative prayer. It speaks of the beauty of human life and the
need to cherish the gifts around us.
Abortion and the Eighth
We usually think of abortion as a violation of the Fifth
Commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," and that is true. But abortion is wrong for
many reasons. It breaks all the commandments.
The Eighth Commandment says, "Thou shalt not bear false
witness against thy neighbor." This is not only a matter of falsely testifying
that somebody did something wrong, as we see, for example, in the Old Testament
story of Susanna (Daniel 13). This commandment also forbids false testimony
about who our neighbor is, about what value and dignity our neighbor
possesses, and about what our obligations to our neighbor are.
The question in abortion is not only, "When does life begin?"
but more deeply, "What does life mean?" What are the implications of being
human? Is human life disposable when it is unwanted, or inconvenient, or not
recognized by a government? Is there anything about human existence that cries
out for recognition and protection apart from what a particular society decides
to bestow? What is the truth about humanity? What is the human person destined
for? Are we made for the grave or for the skies?
Abortion not only takes a life; it makes a statement about
life, and not only about the life it takes, but about the lives of all of us.
Abortion says we are disposable. Abortion says our value is determined by
others. Abortion says there is no intrinsic dignity in human life that requires
its absolute protection, and no destiny that reaches beyond this world or even
beyond this Supreme Court.
Do not bear false witness against your neighbor! Abortion
lies about the human person. Christ, on the other hand, reveals the truth about
human life (see Vatican II, Constitution on the Church in the Modern World
#22.) Particularly by His Ascension, He shows that we are made for the heights
of heaven, not for the medical waste bag.
"Lord, what is man that You care for him?" (Ps.8:5). The
psalmist asked the question, and God Himself answered it in Christ. May our
treatment of human life faithfully echo that answer!
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