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Priests for Life Newsletter

Volume 5, Number 4
July - August 1995

smithffhuffman41b.jpg (55474 bytes)Contents

Welcome, Fr. Hogan!

Discussing Euthanasia

 Pregnancy: She is not "expecting" a child!

Homily: Accept the Whole Christ

Abortion: Ask the Right Questions

Sing a little Louder


Welcome, Fr. Hogan!

Dear Brother Priests,

I am happy to inform you that Fr. Richard Hogan of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis has been given permission by his bishop to work full-time with Priests for Life. This will greatly assist me and the entire association as membership continues to grow and as speaking invitations arrive literally every day in our office!

Fr. Hogan was ordained in 1981. He served as pastor of Blessed Sacrament in St. Paul, and among other writings has co-authored Covenant of Love: Pope John Paul II on Sexuality, Marriage, and Family in the Modern World. Thank you, Archbishop John Roach, for giving Fr Hogan this appointment. Thank you, Fr. Hogan, for embracing this special apostolate!

My own travel schedule continues to be completely full, with one or two trips a week to various parts of the country. I am grateful to the pastors who, every weekend, have me preach at all the Masses in their parishes and allow me to distribute to their people the Priests for Life handout, "What We Can Do To Stop Abortion." I am grateful to the numerous pro-life groups, crisis pregnancy centers, K of C councils, radio and television stations, and high schools and colleges, that have had me speak on the pro-life message.

Central, of course, in all my travels is my contact with priests and deacons. Recent clergy meetings have been held in St. Paul, MN, Elyria, OH, Wichita, KS, Louisville, KY, Immaculate Conception Seminary (Seton Hall, NJ), Norwalk, CT, Utica, NY, and numerous other places. The Archdioceses of Newark, NJ and Philadelphia, PA, and the diocese of Syracuse, NY are among the most recent dioceses who have officially begun the formation of Priests for Life Chapters.

I am particularly pleased with the meetings I have had with diocesan respect-life co-ordinators. In April I had the pleasure to speak to a gathering of the co-ordinators from throughout New York State, at the invitation of Msgr. Jim Lisante.

The Catholic papers, furthermore, have been most cooperative in printing the materials we send them every month. (When you see items published, we appreciate your sending a copy to our office.)

Pro-life retreats are another welcome activity. They give pro-lifers a chance to refresh themselves in the spiritual foundations of their pro-life work. Fr. Michael Mannion, who coordinated the annual Come Aside Retreats, invited me to preach this year's retreat from July 7-9.

I am grateful for all that you do for the cause of life! God bless you.


Fr. Frank Pavone
International Director


Discussing Euthanasia

It is necessary to more frequently address the problem of euthanasia from the pulpit. Although there are more moral complexities here than in the abortion problem, it is possible to make important distinctions and exhortations within the parameters of a homily.

One of the key pastoral elements here is to deal with the fear of pain and suffering. On the one hand we need to realize that pro-euthanasia forces play on the fear of "unmanageable pain." The reality is that modern medicine is quite capable of managing pain, and we need to reassure people of that. At the same time we need to counteract the notion that suffering is meaningless. We need to rediscover for ourselves, and preach to our people, that our sufferings can be joined to those of Christ for the salvation of the world, and that the suffering of others provide an occasion for care, compassion, and love Were suffering meaningless, then Christ on the cross would be an absurdity. Just as it is a contradiction for a follower of Christ to be "pro-choice," so is it a contradiction for a follower of Christ to consider suffering meaningless.

Considerations of the value of medical treatments, furthermore, must focus on the effectiveness or uselessness of the treatment rather than on the effectiveness or uselessness of the person's life. An inability to be productive or interactive does not reduce a person's value. People never become "vegetables." The denial of a treatment should be the judgment, "This treatment does not provide any benefit to this person." It should not be the judgment, "This person does not provide any benefit to society." These are two very different judgments which are too often mistaken for one another.


Pregnancy: She is not "expecting" a child!

When a woman is pregnant, people often say she is "expecting a child" or is "going to have a baby" or is "going to be a mother." We all use these expressions from force of habit, and using them has no reflection on the strength of our pro-life convictions.

Nevertheless, may I suggest that we no longer use these phrases. They do not accurately describe what is happening.

A woman who is pregnant is not "expecting" a child. She already has one. The child exists, is living and growing in her womb. She is not about to bring the child "into the world." The child is already in the world. The mother's womb is as much in the world as the mother herself.

The pregnant woman is not "going to be" a mother. She already is a mother. By saying she is "going to be" a mother, we inadvertently reinforce the notion that motherhood begins at birth. This reinforces the idea that the child really is a child only at birth.

A pregnant woman is fully a mother. She does not have "half" a child, or a child "on the way." The child is here, already in the world, fully unique and in possession of the same dignity as every other person.

If our language reflects this reality, we will help the world to understand that children in the womb are indeed members of the human family --- right here and now!



By: Fr. Frank A. Pavone

Suppose that at Mass today, someone came up to receive Communion and, when the priest said, "The Body of Christ," the communicant took the Host, broke a piece off, and gave it back to the priest saying, "Amen, Father, except this piece." This would not make sense, and we would be rightly shocked. When we accept Christ, we accept the whole Christ.

To accept the whole Christ also means we accept all His brothers and sisters. If we accept Christ, we also accept all those whom He accepts. This is true even when those He accepts do not seem so acceptable to us. Maybe they're different. Maybe they're annoying. Maybe they have offended us.

Or maybe they're just too small. A whole group in our society today, the boys and girls in the womb, are often rejected. When their mothers feel they cannot provide for them, many are led to abortion, without being given other, better choices. Somehow we think we can love and accept the mother while rejecting her child. Why do we do this? Christ accepts them both; Christ loves them both. Why can't we? Why can't our society?

To accept Christ means to accept the whole Christ, to accept and love all those He loves. If we support abortion, we are rejecting those whom Christ loves, and in that respect, are rejecting Christ Himself! It is like breaking off part of the Host and giving it back!

Love and acceptance are not always as easy and pleasant as they sound. If we truly love our neighbor, we will begin doing more to eliminate abortion. We never eliminate problems by eliminating people. We never serve women by destroying their children. We never improve society by rejecting society's future members. We never build up the Body of Christ by killing Christ's future disciples. Yes, there is an alternative to abortion. It's that accepts and nurtures not only some people, but all. Amen.


Keep Reminding Your People

There are 4400 abortions daily in the USA, one every 20 seconds, through all 9 months of pregnancy.


EWTN Series Extended

EWTN will repeat the entire Defending Life 13-part series on abortion during the months of August, Sept. and Oct., 1995. Times (Eastern) are Mondays 1:30 a.m., Tuesdays 1:30 p.m., Wednesdays 11 p.m. and Thursdays 6:00 a.m.

WEWN shortwave radio broadcasts an extended version (26 parts) of this series, and will also air another series by Fr. Pavone addressing those who call themselves "Catholic" but "decide for themselves" what is right and wrong. Don't miss it! Call 205-672-7200 for program details.


Priest's Retreat

It's short notice, but the Apostolate for Family Consecration, together with Priest's for Life, will offer a retreat for priests from September 18-22, 1995 in Bloomingdale, OH. The focus will be Pope John Paul's encyclical The Gospel of Life. Fr. Pavone, Fr. Hogan, and Jerry Coniker will speak. Cost is $115. Call 1-800-FOR-MARY.


Free Videos

Here's the deal. You arrange to have a pro-life video educational presentation at your parish or school, and Project Truth will provide you with one of several top-quality pro-life videos free of charge. Call Vicki at 201-947-3090.


New Priests for Life Audio Tape

"The Holy Spirit and Abortion." In this very scriptural talk, Fr. Pavone explores why belief in the Holy Spirit demands a strong, active opposition to abortion. Please order the tape by sending $4.50 to Priests for Life.


Abortion: Ask the Right Questions

People do not merely give different answers to the question of abortion. They ask entirely different questions, often without recognizing the difference. Distinguishing the questions is a key point in pro-life education and preaching.

The reasons many give in support of abortion, and the reasons many obtain abortions, focus on the question, "Should she have another child?" Issues such as partner support, maturity, and resources are discussed. When we say "no abortion," they hear us saying, "Have a child no matter what." They conclude we are unrealistic or insensitive to the real-life plight of the woman.

But the question here is NOT, "Should she have another child?" Our answer to that question can sometimes be "no." The Church acknowledges that there can be circumstances---medical, financial, and social---in which a person should not have another child. (See Vatican II, Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, #50). That concrete decision, furthermore, is made not by Church or State, but by those who would become the parents. (Such decisions must accord with objective reasons and with the moral law. Contraception as immoral in all cases.)

The question at issue in abortion is not, "Should she have a child?" If she is pregnant, she already has a child. The child exists. He, she, is living and growing. There is no longer a question about whether this child will come into existence. The only honest question or choice left at this point is, "Will this child be cared for or will this child be killed?" That is the question. While we can sometimes say that circumstances dictate not having another child, we can never say that circumstances dictate killing a child.

Unless people distinguish the question of "having a child" from "killing a child you have," they will not even begin honestly evaluating abortion, and will argue past each other. Unless we distinguish these questions in our preaching, people will not understand our real message. We are in fact very sensitive to circumstances such as immaturity, or lack of resources to raise a child.

Were the child born, however, would the problems of immaturity or lack of resources disappear the day after birth? Yet on that day, even the "pro-choice" person can see that killing the child is not justified. What makes abortion different? What is the difference between killing the child before or after birth to solve the problems? It's the same woman, the same problems, the same child. There is no difference in reality. There is only a different question.





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Seminars for Clergy on Abortion

We invite bishops, offices of Continuing Education for clergy, offices of the permanent diaconate, and seminaries to host a seminar for clergy on abortion. You may request our free brochure which outlines the seminars we offer. They can vary in length and in the particular aspect of abortion they focus on.



Sing a Little Louder

After a speech, Pro-Life activist Penny Lea was approached by an old man.

Weeping, he told her the following story:

"I lived in Germany during the Nazi holocaust. I considered myself a Christian. I attended church since I was a small boy. We had heard the stories of what was happening to the Jews, but like most people today in this country, we tried to distance ourselves from the reality of what was really taking place. What could anyone do to stop it?

A railroad track ran behind our small church, and each Sunday morning we would hear the whistle from a distance and then the clacking of the wheels moving over the track. We became disturbed when one Sunday we noticed cries coming from the train as it passed by. We grimly realized that the train was carrying Jews. They were like cattle in those cars!

Week after week that train whistle would blow. We would dread to hear the sound of those old wheels because we knew that the Jews would begin to cry out to us as they passed our church. It was so terribly disturbing! We could do nothing to help those poor miserable people, yet their screams tormented us. We knew exactly at what time that whistle would blow, and we decided the only way to keep from being so disturbed by the cries was to start singing our hymns. By the time that train came rumbling past the church yard, we were singing at the top of our voices. If some of the screams reached our ears, we'd just sing a little louder until we could hear them no more. Years have passed and no one talks about it much anymore, but I still hear that train whistle in my sleep. I can still hear them crying out for help. God forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians, yet did nothing to intervene."

A brochure, "Sing a Little Louder," is available from Heritage House, 1-800-858-3040.

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