Priests for Life Newsletter
Volume 7, Number 2
March - April 1997
From The Director
One Picture is Worth Ten Thousand Words
From The Mail
Priest Profile: Rev. Charles P. Taffe
Words of Praise from Our Board
From the Director
Vatican Strengthens Ties With Priests for Life, Now An
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
There is a valid distinction between the concepts of ownership and
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
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:
That God may strengthen those who suffer ridicule and
rejection for their pro-life convictions.
That God may bless and console the fathers of aborted
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.
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
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
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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