Defending Life Series #3 (1998)

-- A Worldwide Television Series Addressing Abortion and the Pro-life and "Pro-choice" Movements --

In August of 1997, Fr. Frank Pavone taped the third set of the Defending Life television series at the studios of the Eternal Word Television Network, the world's largest religious cable network.

This set of 13 half-hour shows is an effective tool to educate the nation on abortion, to motivate people to take the knowledge they have gained and to become active in the pro-life movement, and to inspire and strengthen those who are already active in defending life.

A description of the thirteen shows in the new series follows. The theme is the tragedy of abortion. There are many life issues. The focus of Priests for Life is abortion, which the US bishops have called "the fundamental human rights issue of our day." Abortion claims more victims than any other tragedy, and its victims are the most vulnerable and helpless among us.

As you will see in the description, some of the shows have guests, while others are a teaching by Fr. Frank. A new element that has been added to every show is a counter in the lower left of the screen, showing the number of abortions being committed in the United States during the course of the broadcast. The number increases by one every twenty seconds!

Another new element in many of the shows on this series is a concluding segment in which Fr. Frank and Fr. Richard Hogan, Associate Director of Priests for Life, share messages from other pro-life groups. Priests for Life invited other organizations to send in a message about their mission and activities on behalf of life. We received a great response from groups of many different backgrounds, religious and otherwise! (We wish we could have fit all of them in!)

Finally, many of the shows conclude with an actual close-up view, never seen before, of a living child at only nine weeks after conception, waking up from sleep in the womb!

Deacons for Life

In the first show, Fr. Frank interviews Deacon Keith Fournier, who has been well known in Christian circles for his work in evangelization and ecumenism. He is an attorney and an author, and assisted many Christians in the legal arena through the American Center for Law and Justice.

In this segment, Fr. Frank and Deacon Fournier discuss the role of the deacon in the Church and specifically in the pro-life movement. The diaconate is not new. It is one of the three orders of clergy (deacon, priest, and bishop) that have existed in the Church from the beginning. The Church is particularly blessed to have the presence and activity of "permanent" deacons, most of whom are married.

These men provide a special blessing to the pro-life movement. In the same spirit by which Priests for Life has shown priests why the fight against abortion is an integral part of their ministry, so now the association Deacons for Life and Family will show the same to deacons.

The diaconate is a ministry of service. Deacons for Life and Family arises at a time when, at the dawn of the third Millennium, there is a particularly urgent need to serve the most vulnerable, whose very right to live is denied, and to strengthen family life, whose very meaning is obscured.

By means of newsletters, conferences, educational materials, and personal guidance and encouragement, Deacons for Life and Family will highlight the call of the deacon to build the Culture of Life.

The Pro-life Movement and Christian Unity

In this segment, Fr. Frank again speaks with Deacon Keith Fournier, focusing this time on the call of the Church to ecumenism, and how that strengthens and is strengthened by the pro-life movement.

Ecumenism is an integral aspect of Catholicism. The unity of His followers was an explicit prayer of our Lord, and is an irrevocable goal of the Church's activity. Ecumenism is not to be confused with a false "irenicism," which pretends that there are no significant differences between Christian denominations. It does, however, involve an effort to break down ignorance and prejudice which so easily divide.

Fr. Frank and Deacon Fournier explain why the pro-life movement is the greatest incentive for ecumenism in our lifetime, and how through the effort to protect the unborn, including experiences of life in jail, Christians of different denominations have discovered a new experience of unity.

They also give a word of encouragement to Christians who are in denominations that do not hold a pro-life position: Be faithful to the truth and continue to witness to the Culture of Life within your congregation!

How Did We Get Into this Mess?

We know the evils in the world, including abortion. In this segment, Fr. Frank takes us on a Scriptural journey which, from the beginning of the Bible to the end, shows us how we arrived at the culture of death.

Scripture tells us that war broke out in heaven. The war essentially consisted of a dispute over who is like God. That war continues on earth, as Satan tempts us with the same lie he used in the Garden of Eden: you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.

This is the temptation of "choice," that is, of thinking that we decide the meaning of good and evil. In such a universe, nobody is safe if we decide that they are not worth our love and protection.

The way out of the temptation is the way of the Lord Jesus, who humbled himself and was obedient even unto death.

After this enlightening Scriptural lesson, Fr. Frank discusses with Fr. Hogan the work of the following groups: American Collegians for Life, Collegians Activated to Liberate Life (CALL), and the National Right to Life Committee.

Where is Your Brother?

Named after one of Fr. Frank's most popular audio tapes, this show brings us face to face with our obligations toward our brothers and sisters in the womb.

Fr. Frank compares two poems which read like exact opposites of each other. One was written by a pro-lifer, and the other was presented at a conference of abortion providers.

The story of Cain and Abel then provides the context for God's question, "Where is your brother?" It is a question that echoes through the centuries. It was asked of the Supreme Court. It is also asked of each of us.

Fr. Frank also reflects on the meaning of "Love your neighbor as yourself," which provides the ultimate response to those who tell us to "mind our own business."

Following these reflections, Fr. Frank discusses with Fr. Hogan the work of the following groups: Americans United for Life, Human Life International, Vida Humana Internacional, and Libertarians for Life.

A Pro-life Homily

This show can prove especially helpful for priests who want to know how to preach on abortion. Fr. Frank presents here the basic elements of the pro-life homily he has preached in every one of the 50 states: a) there are alternatives to abortion; b) there is forgiveness after abortion; c) let us not be deceived by pro-choice slogans.

Beyond being helpful to priests, this homily will assist those who are confused about abortion, or who consider themselves "pro-choice," to see the good sense of the pro-life position.

As a result of this homily, congregations around the country have responded with applause, babies lives have been saved, priests have been encouraged to speak out more, and pro-abortion people have been converted. One such person told Fr. Frank after one mass, "I came in here today totally pro-abortion, but in 10 minutes your homily changed my views completely."

After his talk, Fr. Frank discusses with Fr. Hogan the work of the following groups: Family Research Council, The Christian Medical and Dental Society, American Life League, The St. Antoninus Institute, and Pro-life Action Ministries.

Earth's Trash--Heaven's Treasure

Artwork can be a powerful medium for the pro-life message, as it is in this show, in which Fr. Frank shows the viewers a painting called Earth's Trash-Heaven's Treasure. He describes in detail the various features of the painting, which shows angels picking up aborted babies from a dumpster outside an abortion mill, and then transporting them into heaven.

In the heavenly scene, one observes a long line of angels, each holding one baby. Each angel presents a baby to Jesus Himself, who names the child and then releases him/her to play in heaven's playground.

The painting is very powerful, and is available from Priests for Life for $15.

In this show, Fr. Frank also discusses with Fr. Hogan the work of the following groups: Morality in Media, The Pope Paul VI Institute, Heritage House, and Pro-life America.

The Holy Spirit and Abortion

In the Church's preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, the year 1998 has been designated as a year of special reflection on and devotion to the Holy Spirit.

In this show, Fr. Frank puts our pro-life commitment in the context of what the Church believes and teaches about the Holy Spirit. Equal to the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit has created all things. He is the Lord and Giver of life. He is the Spirit of Truth, helping us to appreciate, among other things, the value of the human person.

The Holy Spirit is the Consoler, reconciling those who are hurt by abortion.

He is also the Advocate, and as He pleads our cause in heaven, so we plead the cause of the preborn on earth. He, the Spirit who is Love, reverses the dynamic of abortion, which is the very opposite of love.

After these reflections, Fr. Frank discusses with Fr. Hogan the work of the following groups: Carenet, Catholic Campaign for America, the Missouri Synod of Lutherans, Presbyterians Pro-life, National Organization of Episcopalians for Life (NOEL)*, and Women of Hope.

*NOEL was renamed Anglicans for Life in March 2007

Reflections by Fr. Hogan

On this show, Fr. Frank Pavone speaks with Fr. Richard Hogan, the Associate Director of Priests for Life. As a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, Fr. Hogan has had the permission of his bishop since 1995 to serve Priests for Life in a full-time capacity. He travels throughout the country assisting the pro-life movement, and particularly the clergy, to deal with the problems of abortion and euthanasia.

Fr. Hogan has done extensive work in the areas of catechesis, natural family planning, and the thought of the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. In this segment, he explains how this Pope has brought about a new synthesis of the Catholic Faith with the philosophy of our time, while neither watering down the faith nor ignoring the way people think today.

Fr. Hogan also reflects on the question of why some priests do not preach about abortion, and describes the reaction of people to his own pro-life homilies.

Faith for Today and Covenant of Love are two of Fr. Hogan's books now available to the public.

Re-inventing the Pro-life Movement

Fr. Frank Pavone interviews Mr. Gregg Cunningham, the Founder and Director of the Center for Bioethical Reform (CBR), about the need to re-invent the pro-life movement.

Mr. Cunningham has been involved extensively with efforts within government to stop abortion. He has been just as active in bioethical research and the development of innovative projects that are yielding results which can only be described as astonishing.

He describes the seminars offered around the country by CBR on pro-life strategy, speaking, political action, and personal support raising for those who wish to do full time pro-life work. Fr. Frank Pavone endorses these seminars based on the personal experience of having taken them himself.

Listen as Gregg also shares his thoughts about silence in the Churches, and about the need to engage people visually in order to push the abortion debate forward in a society steeped in denial.

Making Abortion Real

People will not be judged on how they felt about hunger, but on whether or not they fed the hungry. Similarly, we will not be judged by our attitudes regarding abortion, but by the actions we have taken to stop it.

In this segment, Fr. Frank Pavone interviews Gregg Cunningham, Director of the Center for Bioethical Reform (CBR), about pro-life strategies that break through the web of denial and indifference about abortion in this country.

CBR gives presentations on legal and medical campuses, and ends up with students standing in long lines to tell the speaker that they now see the sense of the pro-life position.

CBR has strategies for the Church, and also for the wider society, where there is a need to bypass the "gatekeepers" who often try to shield their public from the truth about abortion. Gregg describes the "big poster project," which is waking people up in some unexpected public places.

Finally, he describes the actions one abortionist has taken to publicly advertise baby killing activity at 37 weeks into pregnancy!

Jane Roe no More

In one of the most significant pro-life shows ever taped, Fr. Frank Pavone interviews the woman who was the plaintiff in the US Supreme Court's abortion decision Roe vs. Wade, Norma McCorvey.

She reveals, "I was desperately ashamed of being Jane Roe." She tells how, while working in an abortion facility which was next to a pro-life office, she was won over by the persistent invitations of a little girl and the Christ-like forgiveness of Rev. Flip Benham, the National Director of Operation Rescue.

Norma reaffirms in this interview that she is 100 percent pro-life, and that no abortion is ever justified. She further maintains that one cannot consistently be a Christian and be pro-choice when the choice is the death of a baby. She describes the pro-life work she does now in her new ministry, "Roe No More," and shares her advice with viewers who may be tempted to have an abortion or who have had one in the past.

Her new book Won by Love, and her video, Reversing Roe, tell the story of her conversion.

During the interview, Fr. Frank blesses a cross Norma is wearing, a cross that was made from a "pro-choice" bracelet that Norma wore in days that are now gone forever. 

Lime 5, Exploited by Choice

Most people realize on some level that abortion is wrong, yet all too many of them think that if it is kept legal, "at least it will be safe."

The book Lime 5 destroys that myth.

In this show, Fr. Frank Pavone gives viewers a glimpse into one of the most important books pro-lifers can read. Lime 5, written by Mark Crutcher of Life Dynamics, Inc., is a study of how dangerous the abortion industry is, and how women obtaining legal abortions are deceived, injured, sexually abused, and even killed. Every case in the book is documented, and the cases contained here are only a fraction of those that have come to light.

You will learn of legal abortion facilities that function without sterilizing the instruments, and without having emergency medical equipment on hand. You will hear of abortion providers who have performed incomplete abortions, sending the woman home with part of the baby still in her because she did not have enough money up front.

But this book goes beyond lamenting these evils. It makes concrete proposals, called A Contract With American Women, that challenge the abortion-rights movement to care more about the woman than about protecting the abortionist.

Lime 5 is available through Priests for Life.

On this segment, Fr. Frank and Fr. Hogan discuss the work of the following groups: Human Life Alliance, the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and various state affiliates of the National Right to Life Committee: Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and North Carolina.

We Believe in a Consistent Ethic of Life

Quoting from speeches of the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, Fr. Frank Pavone explains the meaning of the consistent ethic of life.

The wide and complex range of threats against human life at all stages cry out for a consistent ethic, that is, an approach that values and defends the dignity of human life comprehensively, at all stages and in all circumstances. The Church defends the human person on all fronts and understands that progress in any one aspect of advancing human dignity assists that struggle in all its other aspects. Likewise, the authenticity of our commitment to defend life at one stage requires us to be concerned about that same life at all stages.

The Cardinal has said, however, that this does not mean that every person or group has to attempt to address every issue. That would be an unrealistic effort to stretch our limited time and energies. Nor does it mean that all the "life issues" are collapsed into one. Each issue has its own particular moral characteristics. Yet our approach to life is consistent not only by virtue of our attitude, but also on the level of moral principle: the killing of the innocent is never morally permissible.

Later in this segment, Fr. Hogan again joins Fr. Frank to discuss the work of other pro-life groups. Several Sources Foundation and Mercy Ministries are highlighted this time.

Priests for Life
PO Box 236695 • Cocoa, FL 32923
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