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Priests for Life Newsletter

Volume 9, Number 4
July - August 1999

carenet.jpg (30565 bytes)CONTENTS

How Pastors Can Save Lives

General intercessions on abortion

Fr. Spitzer Advises on How to Talk About Euthanasia

Abortion: Fatherhood Lost

Abortion as the Fundamental Issue: Part 2

Priest Profile-- Fr. Daniel McCaffrey, S.T.D.

Pro-life Message for Masses with Children

Pro-Life Prayer Intentions for July - Aug.

Priests for Life Accepts Stock Donations

How Pastors Can Save Lives

  1. Can you put on the cover of your parish bulletin, as a constant item, a phone number for abortion alternatives?
  2. Can you put in the vestibule of your Church and school an 8 1/2 by 11 poster, which we will provide you free of charge in any quantity, like the one shown here? It is produced by Carenet, a nationwide network of pregnancy assistance centers.

General intercessions on abortion

Please feel free to choose from among the following to insert into the General intercessions at Mass, that the People of God may continue to pray for the protection of our weakest brothers and sisters.

  • That the Church, the People of Life, may bear joyful witness that each human life comes from God, belongs to God, and is meant to return to God, we pray to the Lord.
  • That the Church, called to a preferential option for the poor, may always speak up for the unborn child, the most defenseless of God's children, we pray to the Lord.
  • That children still on their way to birth may be welcomed and protected rather than feared and rejected, we pray to the Lord.
  • That mothers who are pregnant but afraid of their motherhood may, with the help of the Church, find the courage and strength they need to give life, we pray to the Lord.
  • That those who are tempted to have their children aborted may find in the Christian community the wisdom and resources to protect the new lives that have been entrusted to them, we pray to the Lord.

Fr. Spitzer Advises on How to Talk About Euthanasia

Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., President of Gonzaga University in Washington, and the author of the new book and training program, Life Principles, is an acknowledged expert on the subject of Euthanasia. When Priests for Life asked him recently what was the most effective way for priests to speak about this issue to their congregations, Fr. Spitzer gave the following insightful answer:

"Whenever we talk about Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, we must include three fundamental points that are of premium importance to most people. First, there is the terrifying subject of pain. We cannot be afraid to tackle this question, head-on. We have to get across that a) 96% of all pain can be 100% controlled with modern-day medications; b) nearly 100% of suicide requests from patients are reversed the moment pain and depression are treated; and c) most types of pain medications and treatments can be administered in the home. Patients need not be afraid that they will have to be locked up in hospitals for long periods of time in order to obtain pain treatment.

"The second area to look at is quality of life. People need to ask themselves: "What makes my life worth living?" I often tell them that there are four different ways of evaluating one’s quality of life--- four different levels, if you will. Level One is based on autonomy, Level Two is based on pleasure, Level Three on love, and Level Four on faith. If we define our life in terms of Levels One and Two, we are headed for a lot of trouble, because we must all necessarily endure suffering and a loss of autonomy. However, if we evaluate our life based on Levels Three or Four, we can always be happy, no matter how much suffering we go through. When our life’s worth is determined by love, family, wisdom, friends, work, faith and God, a grandmother of 90 can do just as well and better than a 30 year old. It is essential for us to help people define the quality of their lives before terrible things begin to happen to them.

"Finally, we have to address the question most often hurled at pro-lifers: "Who are you to tell me what to do?" Our response should be that we do not relish giving people directives. Rather, they are the ones who are opening up a can of worms by pushing to make Euthanasia legal. Giving people more options is not always best. In this case, more options will end up being far more burdensome to society than freeing."

Abortion: Fatherhood Lost

The abortion tragedy cannot be eliminated unless we address the role of men. First of all, of course, the imparting of responsibility, self-control, and chastity is critical.

The current state of the law, however, also has a large part to play and needs to be reversed. The law gives the father of a child no right to veto a decision by the mother to abort that child. Now since the other side of "rights" is "responsibilities," it is hardly surprising that men learn to abandon the mother in such circumstances.

Some of the psychological dynamics here are as follows: A man aware that abortion is seen as only "the woman's decision" may want to "respect her freedom" and therefore "keep a distance" from the subject. The mother in this case, however, can perceive that as "he doesn't care."

On the other hand, if the father, recognizing the mother's distress and confusion, tries to offer caring assistance, the mother can interpret this as "interfering with my choice."

Moreover, the awareness that the fate of the child is more in her hands than his interferes with his ability and desire to bond with that child. This in turn increases the mother's sense of isolation, which in turn increases the likelihood of her choosing abortion. The choice of abortion, furthermore, makes it more difficult for both of them to stay together (80% of such cases result in the breakup of the couple), and if they do stay together, makes it more difficult to bond with future children. (For more information on these dynamics, consult the International Institute for Pregnancy Loss and Child Abuse Research and Recovery, PO Box 27102, Colwood Corners, Victoria, BC Canada V9B 5S4, 250-391-1840 and ask for their book, Deeply Damaged.)

The reality of post-abortion distress in men is also coming to light. Warren L. Williams of Colorado has been doing groundbreaking work in this area and has recently published a manual which offers guidance for those who counsel men whose children have been killed by abortion. The booklet, Fatherhood Lost: Suggested Guidelines in Leading A Bible Study, is published and distributed by Life Issues Institute, Inc., 1721 West Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, OH 45239, Phone 513-729-3600, Fax 513-729-3636, Email, Web site


Abortion as the Fundamental Issue: Part 2

In our last newsletter, we indicated the beginning of a series of reflections, drawing from the teachings of the US bishops, on the theme of Abortion as the Fundamental Human Rights Issue of our Day. We here continue these reflections, to which all of our full-time priests' staff have contributed.

The 1985 Reaffirmation of the US Bishops' Pastoral Plan for Pro-life Activities states the following:

Moreover, among the many important issues involving the dignity of human life with which the Church is concerned, abortion necessarily plays a central role. Abortion's direct attack on innocent human life is precisely the kind of violent act that can never be justified. Because victims of abortion are the most vulnerable and defenseless members of the human family, it is imperative that we, as Christians called to serve the least among us, give urgent attention and priority to this issue of justice. Our concern is intensified by the realization that a policy and practice allowing over one and a half million abortions annually cannot but diminish respect for life in other areas. As we said in our pastoral letter, The Challenge of Peace: "Abortion in particular blunts a sense of the sacredness of human life. In a society where the innocent unborn are killed wantonly, how can we expect people to feel righteous revulsion at the act or threat of killing noncombatants in war?" (no. 285). In a society where abortion is claimed as "a woman's right," the most fundamental right—the right to life—is denied, and the basis for defending the rights of all women and men is, thereby, eroded. In this Pastoral Plan we, therefore, focus attention especially on the pervasive threat to human life arising from the present situation of abortion virtually on demand.

The passage, whose theme was also recently reflected in Living the Gospel of Life (November, 1998) brings to mind the words of Mother Teresa, "And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?" (National Prayer Breakfast, 1994, Washington DC.

In considering this, we should keep in mind that supporters of abortion increasingly admit that it is the killing of a baby. In fact, half the respondents of a 1998 CBS/NY Times poll were willing to call it "murder," but one third of that group said it is sometimes the best course of action. Abortion, in other words, does not only lead to other evils; it already contains them within itself. It is not only the taking of a life. It is the claim to validate the taking of life as a perceived solution to problems.

Moreover, those whose lives are taken by abortion are the most defenseless. The Church has a "preferential option for the poor," just as Christ Himself has. "The poor" is a concept that goes beyond the materially disadvantaged. The poor are those who have only God as their help, those most cast aside or abandoned by others, and considered insignificant.

Children still in the womb are defenseless first of all because they are largely unseen. "Out of sight, out of mind…" They are easy to ignore, easy to forget about, easy to reduce to just a bothersome concept.

Yet the Church teaches that they are to be treated as persons from the first moment of conception. To treat them as persons, when the law says they are not persons, and when they cannot vote, speak, organize, write, protest, or even pray, demands an extra effort on our part. We have to pick up the slack created by the special and extreme disadvantages that this group of human beings has. To care about them as much as we care about any other people requires extra effort. To care about them with a preferential option requires priority effort.

On February 13, 1986, the Holy Father spoke the following words to a Congress organized by Food and Disarmament International: Permit me to observe, with sorrow, that, in face of a very deep and, as it were, sacrosanct sensitivity to offences against life which are the result of hunger, war and terrorism, one does not find a similar sensitivity to the crime of abortion, which, however, cuts off innumerable innocent lives.

…to be continued in next issue…

Priest Profile-- Fr. Daniel McCaffrey, S.T.D.

By Anthony DeStefano, Executive Director

Proclaiming the Church’s teaching on human sexuality can be a daunting task in today’s hedonistic world, but it is something that Fr. Daniel McCaffrey has been doing faithfully for over 40 years.

Ordained to the priesthood in 1958, Fr. McCaffrey received his doctorate in Sacred Theology at the Angelicum in Rome. He served for eight years as a missionary in Pakistan and has spent over two decades as a U.S. Army Chaplain in Vietnam, Korea, Germany, Honduras and Army bases across the country.

Throughout his ministry, Fr. McCaffrey has shown himself to be a leader of uncommon passion. He has worked diligently in the Apostolate of Marriage Enrichment, establishing successful Natural Family Planning programs on the diocesan and parish levels, and is dedicated to working with and promoting all legitimate methods of NFP. In 1997, at the invitation of Archbishop Eusebius J. Beltran, Fr. McCaffrey founded "Natural Family Planning Outreach" in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. Today, with the permission of the Archbishop, he directs this ministry full time, traveling the country, giving parish missions, proclaiming the "Gospel of Life," and challenging Catholics to follow the church’s "beautiful, though countercultural" teaching on the meaning and purpose of human sexuality.

"This teaching must be preached!" he insists. "I don’t think the people have rejected Humanae Vitae; they just haven’t heard it. That is the real problem. We members of the clergy have not preached as we should have."

Fr. McCaffrey often speaks of the high rate of contraception and sterilization to prevent child birth. "This cancer is destroying the spiritual life of our people," he says. "This is a very critical situation."

"Also," Fr. McCaffrey points out, "a lot of people don’t realize that some of these contraceptives have an abortifacient effect. It’s amazing how many Catholics have never even heard that before. And even when the contraceptive is not an abortifacient, it nevertheless opens up people’s minds to the abortion mentality, and to abortion itself. Contraception is a thus a 'trigger' for abortion."

Fr. McCaffrey and his Mission team, which includes lay couples committed to living "non-contraceptive" marriages, as well as prominent OB/GYN physicians like Martha Garza, M.D., in Texas, and Michael Dixon, M.D., in Missouri, are willing to come to your area to give "4-day Parish Missions" and shorter "Mission Weekends." These Missions include Masses, seminars presented by Fr. McCaffrey and the board certified physicians, "Witnessing," by the Mission couple, slide presentations, question and answer time, Holy Hours, and Confessions upon request.

Fr. McCaffrey can be reached at: Natural Family Planning Outreach, 3366 NW Expressway, Bldg D, Suite 630, Oklahoma City, OK 73112; (888)NFP-6383, (405) 942-4084, Fax: (405) 942-4022

Pro-life Message for Masses with Children

Want to preach on abortion at a Mass for Children? Here's something that works every time:

At the start of the homily, I asked for a volunteer from among the youngest, smallest members of the congregation. Sharon, who was about six, came forward. I had her stand next to me facing the people and asked her, "Sharon, are there people out there who are bigger than you?" "Yes!" she exclaimed. "Are there people out there who are older than you?" "Yes!" she exclaimed. "Are there people out there who are stronger than you?" "Yes!" she exclaimed. "Are there people out there who are more important than you?" "No!" she declared, with even more conviction in her voice. All the other children understood the same thing.

The children always get it right; sometimes we adults get it wrong. Our abortion policy in the United States is a direct contradiction of the truth that every human being is equal, despite age or size.

In response to the question about how soon we should talk to children about abortion, we might want to borrow a thought from an ad from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America: "The perfect time to talk to your child about using marijuana is when you think he's too young to talk about using marijuana. Talk to your child before someone else does."

Prayer Intentions

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

July intention: That the nation's celebration of independence may turn its thoughts to securing the freedoms and rights of the unborn.

August intention: For God's blessing upon pro-life associations of young people throughout the world.

Priests for Life Accepts Stock Donations

As you know, Priests for Life is not funded by Church or Government structures. We are only able to carry on our important work because of the generosity of our friends and benefactors. Many of these good people have voiced a willingness to make contributions to our organization in the form of stock. Priests for Life gladly accepts such donations! We realize that it is sometimes easier for our benefactors to support us in this fashion, and we encourage them to do so. If you are considering donating shares of stock to Priests for Life, please call Jerry Horn at our Washington D.C. regional office, at (540) 785-4733. Thank you!


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