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Priests for Life Newsletter

Volume 7, Number 2
March - April 1997 


From The Director

One Picture is Worth Ten Thousand Words

From The Mail

Homily Hints


Priest Profile: Rev. Charles P. Taffe

Words of Praise from Our Board


From the Director

 Vatican Strengthens Ties With Priests for Life, Now An International Effort

 My brother Priests and Deacons,

 As you have probably heard by now, I have been asked to assist the Pontifical Council for the Family in the work of advancing the pro-life cause throughout the world. Alfonso Cardinal Lopez-Trujillo, recognizing the success of the Priests for Life effort in the United States, would like me to co-ordinate that effort on a worldwide basis, from the Vatican. He also wants me to assist in the development of seminars on life issues both for priests and bishops worldwide.

 This is a great boost for the work we have done and will continue to do. All the programs and projects of Priests for Life will continue as usual. Our Associate Director, Fr. Richard Hogan, will be even more busy than he already is. He will travel throughout the country to continue to strengthen the presence of Priests for Life in America. Our Executive Director, Mr. Anthony DeStefano, will manage our growing staff (now of 10 full-time people). Our Defending Life series on EWTN will continue as will our outreach in many other branches of the media.

Above all, we need you more than ever, to help strengthen this effort in your own diocese or religious order. We need you to make the Priests for Life movement and resources known to the other priests and deacons in your area. We need you to keep us informed of your pro-life initiatives and suggested activities. We need you to continue to shepherd God’s flock out of the darkness of abortion and euthanasia and into the Kingdom of Life. We will continue to assist you and your people.

Thanks for all you do for the Gospel of Life.


Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director


Priests for Life Goes to Washington

On Wednesday, January 8, 1997, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in the Quill vs. Vacco case, which many experts feel will result in a landmark decision on Physician Assisted Suicide.

Priests for Life was there, in the Courtroom, as the Justices questioned both sides. Afterwards, Fr. Frank Pavone stated: "Priests for Life is very hopeful for a positive outcome in this case. We urge all our priest members to preach clearly and vigorously about the evil of assisted suicide. Priest for Life has an audio tape on the subject entitled, "The Right to Die?" which we can make available to you upon request."


One Picture Is Worth Ten Thousand Words

It was on a Christian cruise that George Johnson and his wife Marlys noticed a gentleman at their dinner table wearing an unusual lapel pin - a pair of tiny feet. The man explained that the pin represented "the size of the feet of a ten week old unborn child - the kind we abort 4,000 times a day in this country".

That experience energized the Johnsons to become active Pro-Life advocates. Marlys, a registered nurse, worked for five years as a volunteer at one of Chicago’s crisis pregnancy centers. Meanwhile, George created a series of Pro-Life bank checks bearing full color images of babies, mothers and families. With permission from the copyright owner, Johnson incorporated the "precious feet" image into the check series, and he now includes the lapel pin with each check order. Johnson said, "We have many letters from customers telling us how these checks have started conversations that have eventually led to saving the lives of unborn children."

Checks can help change things because a picture can be an effective conversation starter. Sometimes images touch people at a deeper, unspoken level. Johnson prays that these affirming images of families will have a positive impact on the sixteen persons who see each check as it travels through the financial system.

For more information, phone Heritage House at 877-472-0907 or see

From the Mail

We receive a lot of calls and mail from women who have had abortions, and many of them ask us to share their testimony with others.

One recently called and said she had many abortions. She had seen our TV show, and was very grateful for it, knowing that it can spare someone else from the grief of abortion.

Another woman recently wrote to us the following moving words: "When a woman has an abortion - is that the end of it? Is it over, once and for all? Believe me, I speak from experience, it is not over and forgotten. The most horrifying thing is that she is never able to pick up an infant and cuddle it without being reminded or her own. Yes, today, 30 years later, I find that if I should venture to pick up a small child, I will still break out in a cold sweat and become inwardly ill.

As time goes on you find you cannot accept yourself, depression and insecurity follow. Some take to drink, dope, but thanks to God, I turned to Him, and this was because my family doctor, whom I finally revealed my anguish to, took me to a priest. Confession followed.

You just can’t take a life and be able to live comfortably with yourself.

Believe me, there will never be a day that you will not be reminded of your crime. Your child will be ever before you. Many things will remind you -- an assassination, a mother discarding her child, neglect of care for a child, a pregnant woman, a small infant. For many years I dreaded Holy Week Services because they so centered on death. It was someone taking another’s life.

I advise anyone who is contemplating an abortion, think, before you do it, because you will always long to hold that child."


For Homily Hints

The Eye of the Storm

We are grateful to Fr. Tony Lehmann, S.J., Alumni Chaplain at Gonzaga University, Spokane, for submitting the following reflection:

I can imagine myself caught up in a whirlwind of concepts, issues, and perspectives, a veritable hurricane of unanchored ideas, and sensing that it is my job to sort them out, pin them down, and then evaluate and choose among them. I am convinced now that it is not realistic to attempt to tame this storm, to harness and batten down any free-floating, spinning value. Rather, I find the only sane strategy for me is to seek the "eye of the storm", and there to anchor myself.

The one issue that I see as the most elusive, divisive, and defining is the respect of life, life from conception to resurrection. I see much confusion, fuzzy thinking, and ambiguity concerning both abortion and euthanasia.

I submit the following as a firmly planted standard in the "eye of the storm".

There is a valid distinction between the concepts of ownership and stewardship.

Owners may sell, alter, rent, lease, remodel or destroy whatever they possess. Stewards may not do any of the above without the consent of the owner.

Stewardship is not a second-class responsibility ever, but especially not when the realities confided by the owner are the values of life and body, confided to each one by the Author of Life and Revealer of Purpose.

The constant understanding of all the sources of Revelation of the Catholic tradition is that we are not owners of life and body, but that we are stewards.

To believe that one is an owner is an error.

To pretend that one is an owner is dishonest.

To act on that pretension is sinful.

But what about rape? incest? Painful, terminal illness? Fetal life defects? Loss of quality life?

Ownership decisions in these areas may not be illegal nor a crime in our society, but for an informed and grateful steward, they are dishonest and sinful.

But where is compassion, sensitivity to human suffering, fairness?

The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ was a "scandal" to the religious leaders and zealots of Jerusalem, and it was "folly to the gentiles, but nevertheless was the wisdom of God."

The believing steward is not alone in "taking up a cross daily". The believing steward embodies the fragile human condition, too, and experiences failure, but trusts in God’s forgiveness when sin is acknowledged and regretted.

The Catholic Church is widely seen to be intransigent, unyielding, reactionary in life issues. To be fair, it must be re-stated that the Church is not the author of the message, but it is the medium of the message.

 That message of the dignity of life -- and an invitation to participate in grateful trusting stewardship of it -- is at the heart of the matter. It is my "eye of the storm".

Intentions for the Liturgy of the Hours

You are encouraged to remember the following intentions as you pray the Liturgy of the Hours:

March Intention:

That God may strengthen those who suffer ridicule and rejection for their pro-life convictions.

April Intention:

That God may bless and console the fathers of aborted children.

Priests for Life is happy to accept Mass intentions that you wish us to offer for yourself or your loved ones. Please send them to the attention of our Port Chester office -- PO Box 307, Port Chester, NY 10573.


Priest Profiles: --- Rev. Charles P. Taaffe

by Fr. Richard M. Hogan, Associate Director

The Reverend Charles P. Taaffe, a priest of the Archdiocese of Portland, ordained in 1955, is retiring from St. Mary’s parish in Aumsville, Oregon. Normally, a priest’s retirement would not merit a notice in this column. However, Fr. Taaffe’s retirement is not like most retirements. At seventy, he will continue to raise the $90,000 it takes every year to run the two homes he founded: St. Brigids, and St. Monicas.

St. Brigid’s Home for Unwed Mothers was established in 1975 on St. Patrick’s day, only two years and some days after the disastrous Roe v. Wade decision. It was founded because Fr. Taaffe decided that something had to be done to help save the children who were endangered by the terrible scourge of abortion. Within the space of a few months, three different unmarried women had come to Fr. Taaffe and asked if he knew of a place where they could live until they delivered their children. Not knowing anywhere and realizing that these mothers might resort to abortion, he visited a home for pregnant women in Eugene and then decided to found a similar home in Salem. In 1992, Fr. Taaffe responded to a further need and established St. Monica’s Home for single mothers and their children. Both St. Brigid’s and St. Monica’s are funded through the Fr. Taaffe Foundation, which sponsors dinners, a truck raffle, an auction, and similar events to raise money.

St. Brigid’s Home can accommodate five women at one time and St. Monica’s has space for five mothers and their children. In addition to some volunteers, both homes together have a staff of nine people. These people are professionally trained and receive salaries for their eight hour shifts. There is someone in each home twenty-four hours a day. Fr. Taaffe makes the point that it is not sufficient simply to provide housing for these women. They need to be taught some basic skills so they can function in society. Father distinguishes between the average residents twenty years ago, and the average woman today. Twenty years ago, he notes that most of the residents at St. Brigid’s were middle-class young woman who were ashamed and embarrassed about their pregnancy. They were often unable to live at home and needed somewhere to go. They had basic skills from their families. Today, most of the women who approach his two homes have been abandoned by family and boyfriends and have been abused in various ways. They are usually younger than their sisters of twenty years ago. They have lived on the street and done drugs. They lack even the most basic skills such as cooking, cleaning, shopping. They do not know how to establish a checking account or to handle money, and they have few if any interpersonal skills. Fr. Taafee’s staff tries to help the women develop such skills.

His success has been amazing. Over the last twenty-some years, Father Taaffe estimates that his homes have helped seven to eight hundred women!

Fr. Taaffe’s retirement promises to be quite active. Now, joyously, he has the time to devote all his energies to this important effort. He insists that any priest can do what he did and encourages all of us to become more active because "something has to be done about the terrible, terrible reality of abortion." Ad multos annos, Fr. Taaffe.

If anyone would like to contact Fr. Taaffe, write him at St. Mary’s Church, PO Box 338,

Aumsville, Oregon 97325 or call (503) 362-6159.


Words of Praise From Our Board:

I remember when I first came to know PRIESTS FOR LIFE and now see, to my great satisfaction, how the association has grown. I am delighted to see that PRIESTS FOR LIFE is associated with so many dioceses and that the bishops are giving you the support you need in this vital ministry. May the Lord and our Blessed Mother bless PRIESTS FOR LIFE.

His Eminence Alfonso Cardinal Lopez Trujillo

President, Pontifical Council for the Family


As a member of the Board of Advisors I can hardly give you better "advice" than to continue exactly as you have been doing.

Bishop George E. Lynch


I think your organization does a wonderful job and I am very happy to be associated with it by serving on the Board of Advisors. I look forward to many years of association

John F. Donoghue
Archbishop of Atlanta


Please know what I am honored and feel very privileged to be on the Board of Advisors and I want to commend you and all your coworkers for the marvelous job you are doing for the unborn.

James C. Timlin, D.D.
Bishop of Scranton


Congratulations on the very fine growth of Priests for Life and the expansion of its service. I am happy and proud to be associated with your group.

John J. Myers, Bishop of Peoria


I both admire and am grateful for your work. Thank you so much for your generous gift of yourself and your time to the clergy and people of our diocese. You were spectacularly wonderful and we are deeply grateful.

Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Bishop of Rapid City


I am pleased to participate in a small way in this program. I want to assure you of our desire to assist the program in every possible way.

J. Quinn Weitzel, MM, DD
Bishop of Samoa Pago Pago


It is very apparent that God is blessing the work of Priests for Life abundantly. I am still hearing favorable comments about your talks and how you raised the consciousness among the clergy about the importance of promoting Pro-Life activities.

Rene H. Gracida
Bishop of Corpus Christi


The mission of Priests for Life is to assist God’s people to respond to the evils of abortion and euthanasia.

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