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Priests for Life Newsletter

Volume 9, Number 5
September-October 1999


Table of Contents

Euthanasia: Talking Tips for Homilies

Abortion as the priority moral concern

Regular Radio Show

Possible Bulletin Insert material:

Prayer intentions

What can a busy priest do to assist the pro-life effort?

Board of Advisors


Note: MARCH FOR LIFE 2000: Will be on Monday, January 24!



Audio, video, printed material, and a colossal list of links to other groups: all this, and more, at the Priests for Life website, Over 1000 pages of information at your fingertips! Some 7000 visitors a day take advantage of it...Why not you?


Euthanasia: Talking Tips for Homilies

Tricky language: Advocates of euthanasia and assisted suicide advance their philosophy and legislative proposals by using terms such as "assist in dying," and "helping to die." This is carefully veiled language which blurs the critical moral distinction between giving assistance to a dying person and placing an act which brings about death.

Mother Teresa "assisted" many people "in dying" and "helped" many people "to die." She was present to them, assuring them that they would not die alone. She helped them find the courage to face death, the conviction that their dignity had not been lost, and the serenity borne of receiving love from people and from God. This is the legitimate meaning of death with dignity and of helping people to die. This, in fact, is the Gospel response to the dying members of the human family.

It is another thing altogether to place an act which causes death, claiming that one therefore "helps" the person to escape suffering. While the motive and intention may be good, the means to achieve the end -- directly causing death -- is morally illicit.

Studies clearly indicate that requests for death are withdrawn when the patient receives adequate counseling and pain management. Modern medicine is capable of handling pain and depression. Compassion for the dying demands that we strengthen and extend those services, rather than expand opportunities for ending life.


Abortion as the priority moral concern...

We continue here our series explaining why abortion is "the fundamental human rights issue for all men and women of good will" (1989 Resolution on Abortion, National Conference of Catholic Bishops).

What the Bishops Said

"Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics," issued by the US Bishops in November of 1998, explains the priority attention that abortion deserves in the following words:

Respect for the dignity of the human person demands a commitment to human rights across a broad spectrum: "Both as Americans and as followers of Christ, American Catholics must be committed to the defense of life in all its stages and in every condition."4 The culture of death extends beyond our shores: famine and starvation, denial of health care and development around the world, the deadly violence of armed conflict and the scandalous arms trade that spawns such conflict. Our nation is witness to domestic violence, the spread of drugs, sexual activity which poses a threat to lives, and a reckless tampering with the world's ecological balance. Respect for human life calls us to defend life from these and other threats. It calls us as well to enhance the conditions for human living by helping to provide food, shelter and meaningful employment, beginning with those who are most in need. We live the Gospel of Life when we live in solidarity with the poor of the world, standing up for their lives and dignity. Yet abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others. They are committed against those who are weakest and most defenseless, those who are genuinely "the poorest of the poor." They are endorsed increasingly without the veil of euphemism, as supporters of abortion and euthanasia freely concede these are killing even as they promote them. Sadly, they are practiced in those communities which ordinarily provide a safe haven for the weak -- the family and the healing professions. Such direct attacks on human life, once crimes, are today legitimized by governments sworn to protect the weak and marginalized. (n. 5).


Directly attacking life itself

We are called at the same time to recognize the interrelatedness of all "life issues" and the claim to more urgent attention that one or another of those issues has at any given time in history. One of the reasons abortion and euthanasia hold such a claim, the document explains, is that they "directly attack life itself." We have commented on this at some length in previous issues; let's look at it a bit more closely.

The child in the womb has been declared a non-person (and not necessarily a non-human) by the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision and subsequent decisions reaffirming it. This declaration in no way depends on any characteristic that the child has, whether skin color, nationality, economic status, or religion, but simply on his or her existence. Abortion "directly attacks life itself," not some aspect of life, or some right to a particular possession or activity or position in the world. What is attacked here is the very right to be in the world. When Roe vs. Wade declared, "The word 'person,' as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn" (Roe at 158), it referred to the amendment that speaks of the very protection of life: "...nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law...." From the vantage point of the child, the only criterion that makes him/her eligible for destruction by abortion is that he or she be alive. That, in fact, is what constitutes the difference between the abortion procedure and a perfectly legitimate medical process, using the same techniques, to remove a dead child from the womb. Abortion "directly attacks life itself."

Life: The Foundation

The bishops' statement goes on to describe "life itself" as "the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others." While it is quite obvious that one's "rights" do a person little good when he or she is dead, the point requires emphasis in order to understand why abortion is so critical a problem. Nobody should claim that abortion is the only issue, but nobody should miss why it is the foundational issue. Of course we need to be actively concerned, as the bishops' statement says, about enhancing the conditions for human living by helping to provide food, shelter and meaningful employment, beginning with those who are most in need. But why is that a concern at all? Because human beings need food and shelter to live, and they have a right to live. They have a right to employment because they have a right to make a living, and that is so because they have a right to live. Abortion attacks, in principle and in fact, the very right which is the foundation and constitutes the motive for every other right. It is the right to life which makes other issues to be issues at all.

...reflections to be continued in the next newsletter...

Regular Radio Show

Priests for Life now has a regular radio show on the expanding Catholic Family Radio. Known as "Life and Choice," this one hour show of pro-life commentary airs every Sunday morning from 8-9am Pacific Time, and is heard on the following stations: KPLS-830 (Los Angeles), WAUR-930 (Chicago), WPWQ-1590 (Philadelphia), WWTC-1280 (Minneapolis), KKYD-1340 (Denver), KCNW-1380 (Kansas City, KS), and WZER-540 (Milwaukee). If you have pro-life themes you would like to hear us address on this show, just let us know at our main office! The show can be heard on the internet at


Possible Bulletin Insert material:

We present the following "blurbs" as possible educational items for your parish bulletin.

  • The Alan Guttmacher Institute, which favors the "freedom to terminate unwanted pregnancies" (Mission statement), indicates that "about 14,000 women have abortions each year because they became pregnant after rape or incest." At the same time, it indicates that in 1996, "1.37 million abortions took place." In other words, some 99% of all the abortions that occur have nothing to do with rape or incest, according to "pro-choice" sources. (Source: Website of the Alan Guttmacher Institute)
  • The Alan Guttmacher Institute, which favors the "freedom to terminate unwanted pregnancies" (Mission statement), indicates that "on average, women give at least 3 reasons for choosing abortion: 3/4 say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities; about 2/3 say they cannot afford a child; and 1/2 say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner." In other words, the dominant reasons women ask for this medical procedure have nothing to do with medical needs, according to "pro-choice" sources. (Source: Website of the Alan Guttmacher Institute)
  • Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" of the Roe vs. Wade 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, is now a pro-life Catholic. On March 23, 1997, she declared these memorable words: "I am Norma McCorvey. I became known as Jane Roe on January 22, 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court released the Roe v. Wade decision, which created a woman's "right to abortion". I am now a child of God, a new creature in Christ; I am forgiven and redeemed. Today, I publicly recant my involvement in the tragedy of abortion. I humbly ask forgiveness of the millions of women and unborn babies who have experienced the violence of abortion. In this place of healing, the National Memorial for the Unborn, I stand with those who honor the worth of every unborn child as created in the image of God. I will strive, in the name of Jesus, to end this holocaust."
  • Sandra Cano, the "Mary Doe" of the Doe vs. Bolton 1973 Supreme Court abortion decision, is a pro-life Christian. On March 23, 1997, she declared these memorable words: "I am Sandra Cano. I became know as Mary Doe when the U.S. Supreme Court released Roe v. Wade's companion decision, Doe v. Bolton, which allowed abortion for virtually any reason. I am against abortion; I never sought an abortion; I have never had an abortion. Abortion is murder. For over twenty years, and against my will, my name has been synonymous with abortion. The Doe v. Bolton case is based on deceit and fraud. I stand today in this place of healing, the National Memorial for the Unborn, and pledge to the memory of these innocent children, that as long as I have breath, I will strive to see abortion ended in America."



Prayer intentions

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


September intention: That the pro-life message may be adequately and fairly represented in educational institutions of every level during this academic year and in the years to come.

October intention: That the many initiatives of respect life month may bring many of the faithful to a sustained level of activity in the pro-life movement.


What can a busy priest do to assist the pro-life effort?

Priest Profile: Rev. Thomas J. Paprocki

By Anthony DeStefano, Executive Director

Fr. Thomas J. Paproki, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Chicago under Francis Cardinal George, is surely one of the busiest priests in the United States. Yet, he insists that it is possible for clergy to make the life issues a "main part of their ministry."

Ordained a priest in Chicago in 1978, Fr. Paproki studied law at DePaul University College of Law and was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1981. Working as a parish priest at St. Michael's Church in South Chicago, a neighborhood with high unemployment due to shutdowns of the local steel mills, Fr. Paproki co-founded the South Chicago Legal Clinic to help answer the need for legal services for the poor. (He still serves in a volunteer capacity as President of the organization.)

In 1985 Fr. Paproki was the recipient of the Chicago Bar Foundation's Weigle Award, given in recognition of outstanding service to the legal profession. He is a Fellow of the Illinois Bar Foundation.

In November of 1985, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin appointed Fr. Paproki Vice-Chancellor to assist in the administration of the Archdiocese of Chicago. To further prepare him for handling these responsibilities, the Cardinal sent Fr. Paproki to Rome for post-graduate studies in Canon Law at the Pontifical Gregorian University. He completed his doctoral degree in 1991, returned to Chicago and was appointed Chancellor in March of 1992. Following Cardinal Bernardin's death in 1996, Francis Cardinal George retained Fr. Paproki as Chancellor. As Chancellor, Fr. Paproki is canonical advisor to the Cardinal and to all the agencies and parishes of the Archdiocese. He also chairs a number of committees in the Archdiocesan administration.

With all his responsibilities as Chancellor, and with all his varied personal interests, (at 47, he has raised over $81,000 for charity by running six marathon races!--- Chicago, 1995-98, Ohio, 1998, and Boston, 1998), Fr. Paproki still finds time to give priority to the life issues.

"There are three simple things that I always try to do," he says. "First, I preach homilies on abortion whenever I can, especially on those days when it is particularly appropriate to focus on pro-life, like Respect Life Sunday, and the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision. Second, I make sure that I participate in pro-life events, like the annual March for Life in Washington D.C., or at local prayer vigils in front of abortion clinics, such as The Womens' Center, on the North Side of Chicago. Finally, I always try to write letters to the editor of the various local newspapers. These letters might criticize stories that portray the pro-life movement in a negative light, or they might be positive letters praising journalists who write stories that support our cause."

Fr. Paproki insists that priests should not allow themselves to be "marginalized" by the media. "I encourage all priests to incorporate the pro-life message into their ministries as much as they can, no matter how busy they are. Defending innocent human life is a mainstream part of our role as priests. It is not something extra."

Fr. Paproki can be reached at the Archdiocese of Chicago, P.O. Box 1979, Chicago, Illinois, 60690. Phone: (312) 751-8220, Fax: (312) 751-5381.


Board of Advisors

Periodically, we publish the list of our Board of Advisors in this newsletter. We are grateful for the collaboration, guidance, and support given to us by these and by so many other bishops across the nation and around the world. We pledge, as an association of priests, to always work in union with the bishops and to give fraternal support and encouragement to their ministry, which is particularly challenging in our day.

We are also blessed with special advisors who share their expertise in the fields of medicine, law, and the media, as indicated listed below.


His Eminence Alfonso Cardinal Lopez Trujillo

President, Pontifical Council for the Family, Vatican City

Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., D.D. Archbishop of Denver

Most Reverend John Francis Donoghue, D.D. Archbishop of Atlanta

Most Reverend John J. Myers, D.D., J.C.D. Bishop of Peoria

Most Reverend James S. Sullivan, D.D. Bishop of Fargo

Most Reverend James C. Timlin, D.D., Bishop of Scranton

Most Reverend Juan Fremiot Torres, D.D., Bishop of Ponce

Most Reverend John Quinn Weitzel, M.M., Bishop of Samoa-Pago Pago

Most Reverend Daniel E. Sheehan, D.D., J.C.D., Archbishop Emeritus of Omaha

Most Reverend Paul V. Donovan, D.D., Bishop Emeritus of Kalamazoo

Most Reverend Rene H. Gracida, D.D., Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi

Most Reverend James D. Niedergeses, D.D., Bishop Emeritus of Nashville

Most Reverend Albert H. Ottenweller, D.D., S.T.L., Bishop Emeritus of Steubenville

Most Reverend Francis Quinn, Bishop Emeritus of Sacramento

Most Reverend George Lynch, D.D., Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Raleigh

Medical Consultant: Anthony Levatino, MD. Both a doctor and a lawyer, Dr. Levatino, who formerly performed abortions, is a friend of Priests for Life and a great witness for life.

Media Consultant: A. Scott Hults III. Scott works at EWTN Global Catholic Radio and is responsible for much of the outreach of Priests for Life through this medium.

Media Consultant: Fr. Peter Grace. Working at St. Anne's Shrine in Scranton, PA, from where the Mass is televised regularly on the Odyssey network, Fr. Grace enables us to be present to that vast viewing audience.

Legal Consultant: Jerry McKenna. Jerry has been involved from the earliest days of Priests for Life's establishment at its New York headquarters.

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