(Note: Following is the text of a full-page ad which Priests for Life placed in the New York Times on Friday, July 21, 2000. Click here for more information regarding the educational campaign of which this ad is a part.)
We, the undersigned Catholic Priests from every region of the country, representing thousands of other priests in the Priests for Life Association, call the attention of all Christians and Americans to the US Bishops’ statement Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics (Nov. 1998) and the statement Faithful Citizenship: Civic Responsibility for a New Millennium (USCC Administrative Board, Sept. 1999). As this election season intensifies, we consider it critical to do our part to bring these documents to the attention of American voters, candidates, and all who hold elected office, no matter what their religious affiliation. Both documents underscore the fact that "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" (LGL 5, FC p.16).
Together with the bishops, " we commend … public officials who, with courage and determination, use their positions of leadership to promote respect for all human life" (LGL 31). We likewise affirm with them that "the inherent value of human life, at every stage and in every circumstance, is not a sectarian issue any more than the Declaration of Independence is a sectarian creed" (LGL 6). Every Christian and every American is called to respect life.
Abortion is a violent act which destroys a human being. We call upon those who do not admit this to demonstrate the contrary, and upon those who do admit it but would still defend it to demonstrate why legalized abortion does not violate our nation’s recognition of the unalienable right to life and of equality before the law.
We are not speaking here about imposing religious beliefs by law, but rather about defending a value which is as fundamental to the state as it is to the Church. The law rightly prohibits any Church from trying to introduce the killing of children as part of its worship service, no matter what it may "believe" about those children. Such a prohibition does not violate the separation of Church and State. Should, then, the Church be silent when the State allows the killing of children by abortion?
To those who would allow abortion and claim to be Christian, we say, "Stop being a scandal to the Gospel of Jesus Christ." To those, furthermore, who identify themselves as Catholic, we repeat the words of our bishops, "We urge those Catholic officials who choose to depart from Church teaching on the inviolability of human life in their public life to consider the consequences for their own spiritual well being, as well as the scandal they risk by leading others into serious sin. We call on them to reflect on the grave contradiction of assuming public roles and presenting themselves as credible Catholics when their actions on fundamental issues of human life are not in agreement with Church teaching. No public official, especially one claiming to be a faithful and serious Catholic, can responsibly advocate for or actively support direct attacks on innocent human life" (LGL 32).
We stand ready to help Christians and all Americans to understand and follow these principles. We will not be intimidated, nor frightened into complacency, by those in the government and the media who would prefer us to keep silent behind the walls of the Church sanctuary. Rather, we pledge to repeat these teachings throughout this election season and throughout the year, from thousands of pulpits all across America, using print media, radio, television and the internet, and to do all in our power to lead believers to build a nation based on a consistent ethic of respect for every human life!
Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life