The meeting with Speaker Gingrich followed a morning address to members of
the Pro-Life caucus of the United States House of Representatives, in which Fr.
Pavone challenged the Congress to do everything in its power to "break the
silence and secrecy with which the abortion industry has shrouded the abortion
"We have not even begun to have a national debate about abortion," Fr. Pavone
stated. "Though abortion is the most commonly performed surgery in America, most
people have never seen it or even heard it described. We must bring all the
evidence out on the table, honestly and completely -- and Congress can do this
through public hearings."
Recalling the 18th century opponent of slavery, William
Wilberforce, Fr. Pavone said, "The efforts of William Wilberforce to end
Britain’s slave trade were successful largely because of The Book of Evidence,
which revealed the harsh realities behind the word "slavery." The United States
Congress now has an opportunity to provide America with a book of evidence on
what abortion does to babies and women."
Fr. Pavone was invited to speak to the Pro-Life caucus by Rep. Michael P.
Forbes (R-NY). Congressman Forbes stated: "Too often, the true objective of the
pro-life movement is misrepresented by the media and pro-abortion forces. That's
why it's so important for Fr. Pavone's message of what it really means to be
pro-life to be heard by members of Congress and across the Nation. We in the
pro-life movement should adopt Fr. Pavone's strategy of demanding that the
pro-abortion forces look, listen, and see the realities of what abortion really
is. The time has come to buttress our arguments with cold, hard facts about
fetal development, the legal but still dangerous procedures, and to address the
long term effects of abortion on both the woman and society."
In his remarks to the members of Congress, Fr. Pavone stressed the important
role his national organization will play in the political process. "I have
pledged that Priests for Life -- which reaches over 40,000 Roman Catholic
Priests and Deacons throughout the country -- will do all it possibly can to
train the clergy of America to call their people to appropriate political
action. Even within the limits of 501(c)3 organizations, there is a wide range
of activities that Churches can engage in. We have heard enough of what Churches
cannot do in the political arena. It is time to talk about what they can
do, and to help them do it!"
Election Year: What's A Priest to Do?
Our nation is getting ready to elect a president. And it makes everyone a
little edgy...especially about abortion. Fears about losing our tax exemption
arise. People approach us about handing out fliers --or maybe they do it without
approaching us. Some tell us to speak up, others tell us to shut up. It's
election year. What's a priest to do?
Our bishops once again have given us and our people excellent guidance in the
statement "Political Responsibility. Proclaiming the Gospel of Life, Protecting
the Least Among Us, and Pursuing the Common Good." If we haven't read and
studied it yet, we certainly should, and it is available from the USCC at
1-800-235-8722. If we have, we can begin sharing its message with our people.
"The Challenge for our Church," the document declares, "is to be
principled without being ideological, to be political without being partisan, to
be civil without being soft, to be involved without being used. Our moral
framework does not easily fit the categories of right or left, Republican or
Democrat. We are called to measure every party and movement by how its agenda
touches human life and human dignity."
Catholics are not second-class citizens. We have just as much of a role and
responsibility in the shaping of this nation as does anyone else. Holding moral
and religious convictions on issues, including abortion, does not disqualify a
citizen from attempting to shape public policy according to those convictions.
"Separation of Church and State" does not mean separation of God and State. Nor
does it mean the silencing of the Church. As an institution the, Church abides
by the regulations that apply to 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations. We do not
endorse specific candidates. The general counsel of the bishops' conference
offers helpful guidelines on the parameters of these regulations.
We encourage all our priests to do what is permitted, such as voter education
and registration, and encouragement of our people to be active, as citizens, in
the political process.
But we do have a role in calling our people to be active in the political
process, and to root that activity in moral truth. What good, in fact, is our
moral teaching if it does not shape lives and nations? Is it a teaching that
saves, or shall it become both impotent and irrelevant?
There is an even deeper question at issue here. What should the Church say
when the government begins declaring human beings to be "non-persons"? In 1973,
the Supreme Court said, "The word 'person,' as used in the Fourteenth Amendment,
does not include the unborn" (Roe v. Wade).
Many people say the government "should not be involved" in the abortion
decision. But when did it get too involved? It got too involved in 1973 when it
declared that it could decide who lives and who dies. It overstepped its
authority, and betrayed its own foundational principles, the self-evident truths
"that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit
of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men,
deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed" (Declaration of
If we cannot call our government back to do what it was founded to do, we are
failing to fulfill both our political and prophetic responsibilities.
This Is My Body
By Fr. Frank Pavone
International Director, Priests for Life
Did you ever realize that the same four words that were used by the Lord
Jesus to save the world are also used by some to promote abortion: "This is my
body." The same simple words are spoken from opposite ends of the universe, with
meanings that are directly contrary to each other.
Scripture tells us that on the night before He died to save all people, the
Lord Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to His disciples,
saying, "This is My Body, which is given up for you." He was pointing to what
would happen the next day, when He would give that same Body on the cross. He
sacrifices Himself so that we may live. He gives up His Body so that He can
destroy the power of sin and death. As a result, He welcomes us into His life,
into His Kingdom. He makes us members of His Body!
On the other hand, abortion supporters say, "This is my body, so don't
interfere with it! It's mine, so I can do what I want, even to the point of
killing the life within it. All is secondary to my dominion over my body." In
fact one abortion supporter has written, "I say their [pro-lifers'] God is worth
nothing compared to my body" (Michelle Goldberg, "Rant for Choice," in the
University of Buffalo student newspaper, 1995).
"This is my body." Same words, different results. Christ gives His Body away
so that others might live; abortion supporters cling to their own bodies so that
others might die. In giving His Body, Christ teaches the meaning of love: I
sacrifice myself for the good of the other person. Abortion teaches the opposite
of love: I sacrifice the other person for the good of myself!
"This is my body." If, indeed, our body is ours, then let's ask the next
question: Why? The answer is so that we can give our bodies, our lives,
ourselves, away in love to one another and to God. Christ declares, "Do this in
memory of Me." He calls us to do what He did, and that is precisely how we
reverse the dynamic of abortion. Mom and Dad must say to their child, "This is
my body, my life, given for you," rather than, "This is my body, my life, so go
Human happiness and fulfillment are never found by pushing other people out
of the way. They are found when we push ourselves out of the way.
"This is my body." It is no accident that the same words are used for such
different purposes. A spiritual conflict rages here. We win, in our own lives
and in the world, by living these words in self-giving love.
Priests for Life has an audiotape and brochure based on this theme.
Please write and ask for the "This is My Body" tape and brochure for $4.
Join the Fight Against RU-486
Priests for Life is one of the many major pro-life groups who are calling for
a boycott of the consumer products of Hoechst Marion Roussel, the drug company
responsible for RU-486, a drug with no demonstrated purpose except to kill
Please publicize the following boycott information:
Don't Miss Out On Pro-Life Bulletin Board!
By making one phone call, you can receive a free, camera-ready bulletin
insert each month. The 8 1/2 x 11 insert is called "Pro-Life Bulletin Board." It
is a joint project of Priests for Life and American Life League. We would like
to offer it to every
parish. Call 540-659-4171 and ask to receive Pro-Life Bulletin Board. It
includes doctrinal reflections on abortion as well as prayer requests, parish
projects, and action items. Look at it each month, and then use it whenever and
in whatever way you see fit.
Project Truth, a pro-life parish video program, offers free videos to any
priest or deacon. Call 201-947-3090 (New Jersey).
Preaching to Children on Abortion
The January 1996 issue of Homiletic and Pastoral Review carries an
article by Fr. Frank Pavone on this topic.
Following is an excerpt:
At the start of the homily, I asked for a volunteer from among the
youngest, smallest members of the congregation. Sharon, who was about six, came
forward. I had her stand next to me facing the people and asked her, "Sharon,
are there people out there who are bigger than you?" "Yes!" she exclaimed. "Are
there people out there who are older than you?" "Yes!" she exclaimed. "Are there
people out there who are stronger than you?" "Yes!" she exclaimed. "Are there
people out there who are more important than you?" "No!" she declared, with even
more conviction in her voice. All the other children understood the same thing.
And thus they understood the key problem in the abortion tragedy. Abortion
builds on the lie that the smallest and weakest among us have less value and can
even be discarded.
Teaching children about abortion is not as difficult as many think. Children
are particularly receptive to the message of the equality of all people, and to
the truth that might does not make right.
SUMMER INSTITUTE FOR PRIESTS
The National Institute for Clergy Formation will present the Ninth Annual
Summer Institute for Priests from June 23 - July 26, 1996 at the San Alfonso
Retreat Center in West End, New Jersey. Priests may attend any or all of the
week-long sessions, or individual days. For complete information on the faculty,
presentations, schedule and fees, contact Msgr. Andrew Cusack's office at
201-761-9739, or fax 201-275-2382.
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