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Priests for Life Newsletter

Volume 9, Number 2
March - April 1999

CONTENTS

Message from the Director

Intentions for the Liturgy of the Hours

Priests for Life Promotes the Gabriel Project

Denouncing Violence

Priests for Life Holy Hour Videos

Persuading People that Rape Does Not Justify Abortion

New Defending Life Series

Democrats for Life

Wills and Bequests

 

Message from the Director

My brother priests,

The work of Priests for Life continues to grow rapidly, both at home and internationally.

Since the beginning of 1997, I have been working at the Vatican as an Official of the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Dicastery of the Roman Curia which is entrusted with the task of promoting and coordinating the Church's efforts in the defense of human life. During that time, we have welcomed two additional full-time priests to the USA staff of Priests for Life, bringing the total to four.

As of January 18, I have resumed residence in the United States, where I will continue to coordinate this growth while maintaining close collaboration with the Pontifical Council for the Family.

One of the special initiatives we have recently helped to coordinate was a pro-life leadership conference held in Washington, DC from March 2-5, 1999. The Conference was convoked by Bernard Cardinal Law and John Cardinal O'Connor in conjunction with the Bishops' pro-life committee and with Alfonso Cardinal Lopez-Trujillo and the Pontifical Council for the Family. It provided pro-life leaders with an opportunity to reflect anew on their task of building the Culture of Life, and to encourage one another, in union with the bishops and the Vatican.

Another new aspect of our work, also spurred on by the Pontifical Council for the Family, will be promoting the pro-life agenda at various United Nations meetings as a Non-Governmental Organization. We have a lot to say at these meetings, particularly regarding why children in the womb should be protected from the forceps of the abortionist.

I also continue to receive expressions of interest from young men who want to join some form of religious order which does full-time pro-life work. Anyone with an interest in this idea is welcome to write to me at Priests for Life, PO Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314, Tel. 888-PFL-3448, Fax 718-980-6515, Email pfl@priestsforlife.org, Web site www.priestsforlife.org

Thanks for all you do for Life!

Fr. Frank Pavone

 

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

March intention: That the fathers of aborted children may have the courage to make use of post-abortion counseling programs to find healing.

April intention: That faith in the Resurrection of Christ may strengthen the pro-life resolve of the People of God.

 

Priests for Life Promotes Gabriel Project

Father James T. Ruggieri from the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island was first introduced to the idea of the Gabriel Project when reading an article in the Priests for Life newsletter. "After reading the overview of what the project was all about, I called Houston, TX, where the project was up and running, to obtain additional information. It seemed to be ideal for the City of Woonsocket," he said. He voiced his interest and immediately received the support of the bishop, the Vicar for Social Ministry, the Respect Life Office, and his pastor. As Father Ruggieri states, "This immediate favorable response made it clear to me that God wants this project for our city. To me, the Gabriel Project is a concrete way that the local churches in Woonsocket can witness to the sanctity of human life." Fr. Ruggieri also said, "It is a real way to further the Gospel of Life in our Catholic community and city." As an added boost, he has already had a parishioner, Mrs. Claire Riendeau, step forward and offer to be the coordinator for his parish community.

"From the beginning the Respect Life Office has been instrumental in the implementation and organization of the project. They immediately assigned a Gabriel Project coordinator, Susan Boczar, and she set up an introductory meeting inviting the various crisis pregnancy centers throughout the state. We previewed the concept and discussed various ideas surrounding the project. Once again the response was 100% in favor of piloting the project in Woonsocket and this further reinforced my conviction that this project would be a successful one," said Fr. Ruggieri.

Susan, the assigned Gabriel Project Coordinator and a diocesan employee of the Respect Life Office, said, "I think this is an excellent way to tap the many resources of the ‘baby-boomers’ who now are faced with empty nests and do have available time." She states that in her position as Asst. Coordinator of Public Policy, many contacts have actually indicated a desire to help, but don’t know what they could possibly do, and don’t feel ready to make a long-term commitment. She said, "I feel certain that these very same people would be willing to answer a spontaneous and concrete call for help, especially from within their own parish." In addition, "to further validate my expectations, I have already received inquiries from outlying parishes as to when they will we be able to introduce the Gabriel Project. It is my honest impression that this type of outreach from the parish to its parishioners has been long awaited and will be wholeheartedly welcomed."

Msgr. George L. Frappier, Diocesan Vicar for Social Ministry, voiced strong support for Father Ruggieri and the project. "Father James Ruggieri of All Saints Catholic Community has been an inspiration to all of us. His enthusiasm and his desire to serve God through pregnant women in need of help has challenged all of us at the diocesan level to catch up and keep up with him." Msgr. went on to say, "Woonsocket, where I also make my home, is a city which suffers from a very high teen pregnancy rate. It is a poor community and it is badly in need of the services that the Gabriel Project provides." The diocese has authorized Father Ruggieri to implement a pilot program in Woonsocket; and, following successful implementation, the plan is to extend this project throughout our diocese. Monsignor emphasized his approval by saying, "I am particularly pleased that this is a ‘parish-based,’ and collaborative effort and that we have the involvement and support of all the crisis pregnancy centers in the state. It is clear that we all see this as a great opportunity to share resources and collaborate more closely with one another."

 

Denouncing Violence

Fr. Frank Pavone

Priests for Life denounces the incidents of violence that have occurred against abortion providers. Echoing Pope John Paul II, we declare that "not even a murderer loses his personal dignity"(EV #9).

We also denounce the efforts continuously made by abortion advocates to blame pro-life groups for that violence. If anything, the violence done against abortionists is encouraged by the mentality and actions of those who promote abortion. Briefly, here's why.

First of all, for over 25 years, the so-called "pro-choice" mentality has been telling us that sometimes it's OK to choose to end a life to solve a problem. Though some try to defend abortion by saying "It's not a human life," more and more -- both on the streets and in leadership -- are abandoning that line of reasoning and admitting that abortion takes a human life. (See Naomi Wolfe's article Our Bodies, Our Souls October 1995 issue of New Republic.) The same thinking was conveyed to me on the street by a man supporting abortion rights by holding a sign saying "Keep Baby-Killing Legal."

Besides the dangerous pro-choice rhetoric, the constant efforts of abortion supporters to suppress peaceful pro-life activity contributes to a "pressure-cooker" effect in society that can lead to violence. The FACE law (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) signed by President Clinton in 1994, for example, does not simply punish violent activity. It also punishes the perfectly peaceful activity of blockading a doorway into which another human being is going to be brought to be killed. Whether one agrees with the strategy or not is beside the point. The point is that what the person does in that instance is peaceful. The law now treats it as criminal.

Countless court cases are regularly introduced by pro-abortion groups targeting activities such as picketing, leafleting, and publicly displaying posters -- all of these traditional vehicles throughout American history allowing the poor and rich alike to convey the message of their convictions. I have seen with my eyes the blue line on a public sidewalk indicating the "bubble zone" around a Florida abortion center, into which no pro-life person can walk without being subject to arrest.

President John F. Kennedy once said that if you make peaceful protest impossible, you make violent protest inevitable. It is not impossible to peacefully protest abortion in our country, but abortion supporters are going way too far in trying to make it increasingly burdensome. Violent consequences, unfortunately, can follow for those inclined to act out their frustration in that way. I found it interesting, for example, to read the story of Richard Andrews, who admitted to setting fire to seven abortion facilities. In the 1980's, this man peacefully and prayerfully blockaded the entrances to these facilities. His violent activity did not start until after something changed in the early 1990's -- namely, a group of Washington facilities successfully sued to stop the blockades. This, of course, does not prove anything. But it would be shortsighted not to include this dynamic in our evaluation of the causes of violence against abortion providers.

All violence must be opposed, whatever one's beliefs about social issues. The government and the abortion supporters will agree with these words. Bill Lann Lee, for instance, as acting attorney general for civil rights stated, "Even those who disagree [with abortion rights] must agree that the violent destruction of property has no place in our society." Dr. Garson Romalis, himself wounded in an attack, said, "No matter what people's beliefs are with regard to the abortion issue, the shooting of a doctor is a violent act. It’s a terrorist act."

We agree.

But then we also wonder why, at the same time, one's "belief" that abortion is justifiable takes precedence over that fact that it, too, is a violent act.

 

Priests for Life Holy Hour Videos

The Apostolate for Family Consecration promotes "Be Not Afraid" Family Holy Hours, which bring families together before the Blessed Sacrament to pray for their sanctification, and for an end to abortion. Fr. Frank Pavone's reflections are featured in the latest series, which has a Marian theme and clarifies the relationship between devotion to Mary and commitment to the pro-life cause.

For more information, contact the Apostolate for Family Consecration, PO Box 151, Bloomingdale, OH 43910, or call 1-800-FOR-MARY or 614-765-4301.

 

Persuading People that Rape Does Not Justify Abortion

Fr. Frank Pavone

"Well what about rape? Are you saying that woman can't have an abortion?"

Normally, the primary concern of this question, normally, is not Do you think abortion is OK in this instance?, despite the fact that this is how the question may be expressed. The concern which is uppermost for the questioner is, Don't you care about this woman? Won't you have compassion and help her?

When we answer the question, therefore, let's start by addressing this point head on. Before we even mention abortion, we should stress that we agree totally that the woman who has been raped has undergone a terrible trauma, which we can hardly begin to understand, and that her well-being is very much our concern. Stress this point strongly, and go further by saying that we in the pro-life movement are ready to reach out to such women, giving them counsel, healing, and compassion.

This approach, of course, differs in that it does not start where most people would start in answering this challenge: namely, with the rights of the child. It starts with concern for the woman, which is where the questioner is.

Then, having agreed that the woman has been victimized and needs our help, you can frame the question of abortion in this manner: Will an abortion help her? By asking this, you are now questioning what is normally an unspoken, unchallenged assumption, namely, that the abortion is somehow a solution to the rape, and somehow helps alleviate the pain and trauma of the woman.

Having questioned this assumption, therefore, bring in the evidence that not only does the abortion not alleviate the trauma of the rape, but it brings a trauma of its own. Countless women suffer for years and decades after abortion.. I know of women who have been raped and then had abortions, and are in counseling not for the rape but for the abortion! In rape, the trauma is "Someone hurt me." In abortion, the trauma is "I hurt and killed someone else: my child." That brings even more grief.

We therefore help the questioner to see that our reason for denying the rape victim an abortion is not based on insensitivity but rather on compassion, that is, the same basis on which the questioner is challenging us to allow the abortion.

The next step of the process is to show that our compassion actually is more inclusive than that of those who would allow abortion. Having established that we care about the rape victim, we then ask the powerful question, Why can't we love them both? Why can't we extend to the child the same practical compassion which we both agree belongs to the woman? Why can't we expand the boundaries of those we welcome and care for? Why should helping and loving one (the mom) mean destroying the other (the child)? In reality, you cannot help one without helping the other and you cannot hurt one without hurting the other.

 

New Defending Life Series

In August of 1998, Fr. Frank Pavone taped a new 13 part series of television shows on abortion. It will begin airing soon on the Eternal Word Television Network, the largest religious cable network in the world. Some twenty-two guests, including many well-known pro-life leaders, appear in interviews on the series. Here are some of the highlights:

Deborah Cardamone and Kay Stile each had a daughter who obtained a "safe and legal" abortion. Deborah's daughter Marla died as a result and Kay's daughter Christie ended up in a persistent vegetative state for life. In this emotional interview, they explain what happened, and how they try to cope with it. The story of Kay's daughter is told in a powerful video, Christi's Choice, available through Priests for Life

Lorraine LaNeve worked for the abortion industry for five years, helping to set up abortion facilities, lobbying, and assisting in the procedure itself. In a stirring interview, she reveals the horrors of what really goes on inside abortion facilities. She speaks of how the children are killed, how the women are degraded, and how the abortion mentality distorts the minds of those who embrace it. She also reveals a startling incident that made her realize it was time to get out: a victim of incest came for an abortion, and when Lorraine asked what follow-up would be done, her co-workers told her nothing could be said because of "patient confidentiality."

United Methodist pastor and pro-life activist, Rev. Paul Stallsworth, speaks about the work of the Task force of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality.

Dr. George Isajiw, past president of the Catholic Medical Society, discusses why the practice of abortion is inconsistent with the calling of a doctor, and also lays to rest the myth that abortion is ever medically necessary.

At the very time this article was being prepared, Fr. Frank received this message from one of the Priests for Life staff:

I just took a crisis pregnancy call from a woman who has been watching Fr. Frank on EWTN. (She had an abortion in the past and said it has been very, very hard on her.)

She is now pregnant again and, fortunately, has been watching Fr. Frank on EWTN. She said, "Fr. Frank made a big difference. If I hadn’t seen all his shows I would have done it (aborted) again."

I asked her what in particular with the shows made a difference to her and she said: "Seeing how many abortions are performed during the show [This refers to a counter which runs at the bottom of the screen, indicating one abortion every 20 seconds]. Seeing the picture of the baby in the womb. All that Fr. Frank says really makes you think…"

For information on airing schedules, call EWTN at 205-271-2900 or check their website at www.ewtn.com

 

Democrats for Life

Priests for Life is happy to inform you of the existence of Democrats for Life, which, together with the National Coalition of Pro-life Democrats, makes it clear that the pro-life position can and should be consistent with being a Democrat. Check out developing website www.democratsforlife.org.

 

Wills and Bequests

Recently, one of our long-time benefactors passed away and left Priests for Life a generous sum of money. Her bequest helped make it possible for us to produce and distribute several very important pro-life audiotapes, which will no doubt save countless babies' lives. Certainly, all of us here will be praying daily for her soul, and our priests will be offering Masses for her as well. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all our friends and supporters to remember Priests for Life in their Wills, as did this dear and humble lady, who was able to help us so much, both in life and in death.

Anthony DeStefano

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