Priests for Life Newsletter
Volume 9, Number 2
March - April 1999
Message from the Director
Intentions for the Liturgy of the Hours
Priests for Life Promotes the Gabriel Project
Priests for Life Holy Hour Videos
Persuading People that Rape Does Not Justify
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.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
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."
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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