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"I never hear any sermons in my church about abortion." "We don’t get much leadership or encouragement for the pro-life activities we suggest in our parish. Father doesn’t seem to be very interested in the pro-life movement. He seems afraid to address abortion."
Many good people voice such concerns across the country. While some complaints spring from unrealistic expectations, we nonetheless rightfully look to our priests for moral leadership in what the bishops have called "the fundamental human rights issue of our day"(1989 Resolution on Abortion). People have a right to hear from their spiritual leaders the truth about abortion. And thank God, there are many courageous and even heroic church leaders who have been doing their duty.
But if it hasn’t been happening enough, there are things that you can do about it. You’ve probably tried before, but don’t stop now. The babies and their parents need us more than ever! Following are some practical steps you can take to help your priest become a more active pro-life leader.
A special national association, recognized by the Catholic Church, is now actively working to activate all priests for the pro-life movement. This association is "Priests for Life." With headquarters in New York, Priests for Life reaches priests throughout the country with a regular newsletter that provides ideas, sample homilies, and encouragement to priests to fight abortion. We publish a brochure called "Addressing Abortion with Confidence" It helps priests to identify and overcome fears they might have about addressing abortion. Priests for Life also has chapters in various cities. Priests gather to encourage and cooperate with one another on pro-life projects. Everybody benefits: the priests, the parish, the pro-life movement, and the babies! When Priests for Life approaches a priest, it is on a peer-to-peer level, and this proves very effective.
To sign your priest up for Priests for Life, you can send us his name and parish (and address, if you have it) and we will send him information. (You may want to send us a donation to cover expenses of materials and mailing.) As another option, we can send materials to you which you can pass on to your priest, or you can write him your own note simply telling him that Priests for Life exists and giving him the address. The best strategy will vary from case to case. (You may want to try them all!)
Priests are people. They are affected by praise and criticism. Whenever your priest speaks up for life, let him know you are behind him! Tell him to keep it up, and write a note of thanks!
Write to Priests for Life and ask for our brochure "A Letter to My Priest." This can be given to your priest and is a request that he be more involved in pro-life work.
Approach other key leaders in the parish about pro-life concerns. Besides the pastor, talk to the associate priests, deacons, religious and lay staff.
Arrange a meeting between your priest and two or three active, well-informed, pro-lifers of the parish. Use a humble approach that seeks to educate rather than criticize. Do not take the approach "Father, you’re not doing your job." Rather, tell the priest you value his leadership, and explain what motivates your own pro-life involvement. Seek to understand your priest. Listen to his own thoughts about pro-life issues, and help him find the best "point of entry" for him to address abortion. Bring him up to date on the movement, and on practical possibilities for action. Mention several possible activities, not just one, and then leave it in the priest’s hands to choose one of them or to come up with his own. Even if he does neither, you have educated him a little more on the issue. Stress that people like you are ready to do the work involved in any project.
Have realistic expectations about what your priest can do. Understand the demands and limitations he faces in his role of caring for the entire parish.
Pray for all priests!
For more information, listen to our audio tape "Helping Priests Fight Abortion." It may be especially helpful to gain a proper understanding of the consistent ethic of life.