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Priests for Life Newsletter

Volume 6, Number 3
May - June 1996 

Fr. Frank meeting with Speaker Newt Gingrich and Congressman Mike Forbes (31103 bytes)Contents

Fr. Pavone Meets With Speaker Gingrich and Members of Congress

Election Year: What's a Priest to Do?

This Is My Body

Join the Fight Against RU-486

Preaching to Children on Abortion



In a private meeting in the Capitol on March 5, Fr. Frank A. Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, urged Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) to give top priority to the problem of abortion. Calling abortion "the single most urgent moral crisis of our nation," Fr. Pavone asked the Speaker: "What is more central to political issues than the question of who belongs to the political community?"

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 procedure."

"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 Independence).

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 away!"

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 babies.

Please publicize the following boycott information:


Prescription Drug Use Substitute
Cardizem calcium channel blocker generics available
Seldane antihistamine Claritin or Hismanal
Claforan antibiotic substitutes available
Lasix diuretic generics available
DiaBeta diabetes Micronase, generics
Nicoderm smoking cessation Habitrol patch, Nicotrol, Pro


 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.


Free Tapes

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.



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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