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Priests for Life Newsletter

Volume 5, Number 3
May - June 1995 

Photo: Fr. Richard HoganContents

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 Members


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 settings.

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
International Director


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) (Information: 205-672-7200).



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).



Chaplain, University of Pittsburgh
Medical Center



Parochial vicar, Immaculate Conception
and St. Joseph Church, Bloomfield


flwhite.jpg (14628 bytes)Florida 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!


Guest Commentary

Fr. James Heyd, Associate Director of Priests for Life


Photo: Girl aborted by saline (22495 bytes)Caught in Hypocrisy

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, Chicago, and

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.


New Encyclical

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 Commandment

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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