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Priests for Life Newsletter

Volume 9, Number 1
Jan.-Feb. 1999

CONTENTS

Abortion and the Politician: Thinking points, Talking points

Bearing Christ, the Author of Life

Our priests are ready to help your priests!

Excerpts from Homily of Fr. David A. Konderla

A New Resource for Youth: Computer Game on Life and Chastity

Help not just in the bulletin, but on the bulletin!

Dana’s Song Gives Priest Life

Prayer intentions


Abortion and the Politician: Thinking points, Talking points

Fr. Frank Pavone

Priests for Life is grateful for the recent statement of the United States bishops, Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge for American Catholics, in which, among other things, politicians are challenged to defend life. More and more Catholic voices are being heard to challenge those in public office who fail to take steps to protect children from being killed by abortion.

We can in the first place reflect in a general way upon the obligations of officeholders -- simply by virtue of their office, regardless of their religious affiliation -- to protect the unborn. We can then further comment on the special obligation of those who claim to be Catholic.

The obligation of one who holds public office to protect the unborn derives from the broader obligation of government officials to defend life. Defending human life is not merely a "position" or a plank in a party "platform." It is, rather, fundamental to the very purpose of government.

Many of the disputes between parties or candidates revolve around how to achieve particular goals, such as, for example, the education and safety of our children in inner cities. While many different proposals may be debated about how to do it, there is no argument about whether the education and safety of those children should be secured. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the abortion debate, however, is that it is a controversy about whether the children in the womb should be protected at all. Hence it goes beyond the level of many other political debates.

A very fundamental question for a politician to consider is that of who belongs to the political community. When dealing with the politics of abortion, some take refuge in a false neutrality by declaring, "I have to govern all the people." Yet that assertion is precisely at the basis of the pro-life position. Roe vs. Wade is a decision to exclude a segment of the human community from protection. The decision stated, "The word person, as used in the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, does not include the unborn." The politician who takes a pro-life position and seeks to implement it is working within the best tradition of inclusiveness and equality.

Along with these and other reasons why the right to life is a fundamental concern of every politician and legislator, those who are Catholic have particular obligations to be consistent. Catholic teaching is unequivocal in its rejection of abortion. To claim to be Catholic, therefore, necessarily involves an acceptance of that teaching. To claim, furthermore, to be "personally opposed" to abortion but unwilling to pass laws to stop it is a "false dichotomy," as Bernard Cardinal Law called it at a recent Vatican meeting. The Cardinal said,

"It has been a particular sadness to the bishops of the United States and to Catholics active in the pro-life movement that so many Catholic politicians have succumbed to the pressures exerted by pro abortion advocates. Many of these politicians resort to the explanation that they are personally opposed to abortion, but they do not feel that they can impose their own moral judgment upon others. Again and again the Bishops of the United States have attempted, both collectively and individually, to disabuse politicians of this false dichotomy." (October 23, 1998, meeting of European politicians and legislators convened by the Pontifical Council for the Family, Vatican City).

Certainly there is, and should be, religious and ideological pluralism in our nation. But freedom of belief can never be used as a justification for trampling the rights of others, especially the most basic right on which all the others depend…the right to life.

One man on the street put it simply and effectively when he asked me, "Father, if that politician can't respect the life of a little baby, how can I expect him to respect mine?" Good question.

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Bearing Christ, the Author of Life

Priests for Life is happy to have a collaborative relationship with the Christophers and their director, Fr. Tom McSweeney. The purpose of the Christophers is summed up in the word "Christopher" from the Greek "Christophoros," meaning Christbearer. Their aim is to encourage everyone to take personal responsibility for raising the standards of all phases of human endeavor by taking the spirit of Christ into the world. The Christopher motto is, "It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness." The Christopher movement depends on the initiative of individuals. There are no chapters, meetings, or dues. News Notes, published ten times a year, along with television and radio broadcasts, spread the Christopher message to millions throughout the world.

Fr. Frank Pavone recounts that as a teenager, the Christopher publications greatly strengthened his faith and sense of mission to spread the Gospel, and hence nurtured his vocation.

Priests for Life would like to draw special attention to two Christopher News Notes brochures. To Save a Life provides key statistics, practical action steps, and real-life stories related to the effort to end abortion. It is number 341 in the News Notes series. Sharing the Gospel of Life takes quotes from Pope John Paul II's great encyclical Evangelium Vitae, and illustrates how that teaching is being carried out by people all around us. It is number 383 of the series. A copy of Christopher News Notes is sent to anyone who requests it, and they are available in bulk quantity at very reasonable rates.

Contact the Christophers at 12 E. 48th St., New York, NY 10017, 212-759-4050, and visit their website at www.christophers.org

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Our priests are ready to help your priests!

Priests for Life is a ministry of encouragement. Our full time priests travel the nation to meet with priests, speak to pro-life groups, and assist the growth of pro-life projects. Seminars, Masses, prayer vigils, retreats, talks in schools, and media opportunities are just some of the activities are priests are ready to carry out in your area.

Fr. Richard Hogan, Fr. Peter West, Fr. Denis G. Wilde, OSA, and Fr. Frank Pavone (when available from Rome) can be scheduled for visits.

Contact the Priests for Life Travel Office at

P.O. Box 441
Front Royal, VA 22630

Phone: 540-636-4855
Fax: 540-636-4890

E-mail: 110733.124@compuserve.com

 

Excerpts from Homily of Fr. David A. Konderla
Associate Director of Campus Ministry, St. Mary's Catholic Center
Texas A&M University
on the occasion of the 1998 Respect Life Mass of the Diocese of Austin, TX

Brothers in the priesthood, our ordination calls us to this battle. Through baptism and confirmation God has surrounded us by troops ready to help us win it. We support one another in this great battle. The ministerial priesthood exists to serve the priesthood of the baptized…All of us live and work and shop and play and go to Church in a society that is marked by many confusing messages and half-truths. As we preach, as we converse with our family, friends and co-workers, as we read the morning paper and prayerfully prepare ourselves to vote…there are four essential truths that we must learn and make known to everyone about abortion.

First, abortion is always a grave evil and the worst kind of injustice because it takes the life of the most innocent and defenseless among us. The child is killed and the mother is terribly wounded. Legalized abortion undermines the laws of the nation, rendering them hollow and weak.

The second truth that we must work to make known is that abortion is never necessary. As long as there is life, there are possibilities. How is it that the most powerful nation on earth, with the technological capability to launch into space rockets weighing thousands of pounds, cannot figure out what to do with a little, eight pound baby? ... The song says they will know we are Christians by our love. The Gospel says they will know we love and protect life by our work and commitment to provide pregnant mothers in crisis situations with alternative solutions to abortion and loving support.

Thirdly, we must educate ourselves about the dangers of contraception, about its causal connection to abortion, and about Natural Family Planning which is God's gift to spouses.

And the final truth that absolutely must be made known is the desire on the part of the Church to heal and reconcile those who have been wounded by an abortion…Those who have been wounded by an abortion already know the pain of its consequences. They do not need to be reminded of the penalty, but surrounded by people who will love them and help them heal…Never preach about abortion without also preaching about the Church's desire to heal and forgive.

In Christ the final victory over abortion and all sin has already been won for us. Let us do our part to hasten the day of its fulfillment in our nation.

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A New Resource for Youth: Computer Game on Life and Chastity

Priests for Life has been happy to assist our long time friend, Kathy DiFiore, of Several Sources Foundation, in her effort to reach teens with the pro-life, pro-chastity message by means of The Choice Game, now available on CD-rom. Making use of Real Quicktime Video, the game gives the player the opportunity for interactive real-life decision-making about such things as friendship, dating, sex, abortion, adoption, and more. The dialogue, which over 100 young people assisted to produce, presents the consequences of various choices and represents the pressures of bad advice and the wisdom of good advice. Players can also "chat" with others who are playing the game around the world.

Find out more about the game by visiting www.thechoicegame.com. To order it, call 1-877-2BY-GAME.

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Help not just in the bulletin, but on the bulletin!

Abortions can be stopped and lives can be saved long before laws are changed. The children scheduled to die tomorrow don't have time for legislators to pass laws to protect them. This is one of the ways in which the pro-life cause reveals itself to be much more than a "political" issue. It is an emergency to which the People of God need to respond here and now, to save the lives of the most defenseless among us.

There is a simple way we can activate our parishes to respond: Spread the phone numbers at which people can find alternatives to abortion.

And one of the most effective ways to spread them is not only to put them in the bulletin but to put them on the bulletin, in other words, right there on the front cover along with the other standard phone numbers that we always want to make known to our people. After all, the need for abortion alternatives is not seasonal or occasional, and, as a matter of life and death, certainly has priority importance over other numbers.

Now which numbers do we use? Certainly, local numbers through which people can contact resources in the diocese or community are always valuable.

As a national movement, we also make known national hotline numbers that can connect people to help in any part of the country. The criteria we use for which numbers we publicize are that they are 1) toll-free, 2) accessible 24 hours a day, 3) available from anywhere in the country, and 4) serviced by a live person at all times. You may wish to call the number yourself to find further information in order to determine which you want to publicize.

We therefore invite you to put one or more of the following numbers somewhere on the cover of your bulletin as a permanent item:

Nurturing Network 800-TNN-4MOM
Pregnancy Hotline 800-848-LOVE
Bethany Christians Services. 800-238-4269
Several Sources Foundation 800-NO-ABORT
America’s Crisis Pregnancy Helpline 800-67-BABY-6
Birthright 800-550-4900

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All our information at your fingertips!!

No waiting for orders to be filled…and no cost!

Receive our printed material, listen to our audio tapes, watch our videos, find research material for papers, homilies, or just personal inspiration…

See whether our priests are traveling to your area, and hear the latest Priests for Life news from the Vatican…

All this and more at www.priestsforlife.org

 

Good news continues: Our staff counselors, who take phone calls each day, continue to tell us good news about babies who are saved because a relative saw the Priests for Life TV programs and called us for help finding alternatives to abortion. All of you who support our work share in the merit of saving these lives!

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Dana’s Song Gives Priest Life

by Fr. Bill Quinlivan
Diocese of Buffalo

Several years ago Fr. Pavone shared with Irish-born Christian singer Dana his insight that ironically, people defending "choice" in life issues use the same words Christ used to institute the Eucharist, "This Is My Body." She subsequently wrote a powerful song incorporating that concept into a musical conversation which weaves the "voices" of a woman considering abortion, one who has made that tragic choice, and Jesus himself (available on her CD, Humble Myself, Heartbeat Records, (800) 433-3262).

Last summer, I had the unique privilege of being invited to sing the part of Jesus at a Dana concert in Buffalo. Being familiar with Dana’s recording (with professional singers including gifted tenor Mark Girardin as Jesus) I was more than a little nervous. But I believed strongly that a life performance of "This is My Body" would beautifully cap off an evening of her music. Since Dana was sharing the witness of her candidacy for President of Ireland with a Pro-Life, pro-family emphasis, this song seemed perfect!

Dana agreed, and was especially convicted that having a priest sing the words of Jesus would add another powerful element to an already moving song.

However, the final decision of whether we would sing it was left up to me (more irony: a choice!) My point of concern was that this Irishman is an avowed baritone, and my voice had always cracked when I tried to sing the part of Jesus with the recording. Dana’s key is too high for me.

Therefore, my "choice" was difficult: should I risk my voice cracking and spoiling the musical movement? And, more personally, should I let my pride keep us from giving life (in live performance) to this important message?

In the end, I decided to take the risk. Dana’s kind reassurances during a quick pre-concert rehearsal and her encouragement to "soften" my approach (singing falsetto) for the highest notes were a deciding factor. I decided to put my body (including my voice box!) into sacrificial mode, and my ego on hold, so that the song could be heard. And the Holy Spirit did the rest, as the performance became a prayer that was profound for all of us.

In the end, the Lord in His mercy provided what was needed, and the good news of the Gospel of Life was proclaimed in song.

My brother priests: we use our voices to pray Jesus’ words daily, as we celebrate the Eucharist. May it always be a life-giving song!

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Prayer intentions:

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

January intention: That as the United States marks 26 years since Roe vs. Wade, God may grant the nation more judges who discern the dignity of every human life.

February intention: That in this year of God the Father, all fathers may be renewed and strengthened to protect and care for the lives entrusted to them.

 

New EWTN series by Priests for Life will begin airing soon! Check our website for airtimes or call EWTN at 205-956-9537.

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[Previous issues of this bimonthly newsletter]

 

 

Priests for Life
PO Box 141172 • Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. 888-735-3448, (718) 980-4400 • Fax 718-980-6515
mail@priestsforlife.org