Lenten Preaching on Life
A Note from the Vatican
Silent No More: A New National Campaign Begins
Celebrating the Annunciation
From the Abortion Providers
Reminder for Priests
Lenten Preaching on Life
The season of Lent prepares the faithful, through a special emphasis on
penitence, to celebrate the Paschal Mystery and to renew the vows of their
baptism. It is also a time of final preparation of catechumens to receive the
new life in water and the Holy Spirit.
This double meaning of Lent incorporates and illumines why the Church is
pro-life and provides a liturgically consistent way of preaching about it
throughout this time of year.
The dynamics of baptism are those of life, welcome, and mutual
responsibility. Baptism immerses us into the death and resurrection of Christ,
by which death in all its forms is destroyed. Moreover, God's sovereign choice
is the first step in the process. He has chosen us, and He has chosen our
brothers and sisters in the family of the Church that comes about through
baptism. Hence we learn that we have responsibility not only for those we
"choose," but for those whom God chooses to entrust to our care.
The penitential preparation for baptism -- whether for its reception or
renewal -- is necessary precisely because the dynamics of sin lead us to exalt
our own "choices" over and above the moral demands of justice and charity. Sin,
furthermore, obscures our judgment about the dignity and rights of others, and
makes us all too ready to ignore them. Hence, the sacrament by which we become
brothers and sisters in One Body is also the sacrament of "enlightenment."
The works of charity that constitute a fundamental form of penance can
include reaching out to those in need of concrete assistance in their pregnancy.
Volunteering at pregnancy resource centers is a perfect way to do this, as is
the effort to make such centers better known in the community. A common fund
could be established, for example, to purchase an ad in the paper or the Yellow
Pages. Giving to such a fund is, in fact, helping the poorest of the poor.
To stand up in any way for the unborn child can be a penitential act, since
it often brings unwarranted criticism, even from fellow worshipers who should be
doing more themselves to end abortion.
The vows of baptism call us to reject Satan's "empty promises." Chief
among them in our day is the empty promise that abortion is a solution to our
problems, as individuals and as a society. Preparing people for the sacraments
necessarily includes providing insights into this most urgent moral issue of our
The doctrines of the Eucharist, Confirmation, and the Holy Spirit provide
profound insights into our pro-life commitment. (Contact us for the brochures
and tapes that explain these connections in detail.) Meetings with sponsors
for baptism and confirmation provide an opportunity to explain their obligation
to strengthen others to understand and be faithful to the demands that the
sanctity of life places upon us.
A Note from the Vatican
On November 24, 2002, the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith issued a "Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the
participation of Catholics in political life." The document can be found in its
entirety on the Priests for Life website at
The date of the publication of such documents is often significantly linked
to the contents. In this case, the date was the Solemnity of Christ the King.
The Christian acknowledges that Jesus is Lord not only of individuals, but of
nations. His word is final not only in the way people live their private lives,
but also in the way they organize themselves politically.
An initial key point of the document is that the faithful are called to
"exercise their proper task of infusing the temporal order with Christian
values." Christianity is not a religion that has an open door to heaven but
a closed door to earth. Instead, it is open to both. The citizen of heaven is
called to be a good citizen on earth, and preparation for heaven implies filling
the earth with truth, justice, and peace. This effort is to be made regardless
of the magnitude of evil in the world. Some religious groups consider efforts to
improve this world as "washing the windows on the Titanic." But for Catholics,
participation in the political process is neither worthless nor dirty, but
The document then examines the problem of "relativism," and also seeks to
articulate the proper understanding of the rightful autonomy of Church and
State. The Catholic Church stands for religious freedom, and does not believe it
is the role of the state to impose sectarian beliefs and practices by law. Yet
the rightful distinction between Church and State does not divorce either entity
from the demands of morality. This is the third term in an often
oversimplified equation. There are demands of morality that flow from human
nature and the common good. The state, and those who serve in public office,
have the obligation to serve the human person and the common good. The values
involved here -- such as life itself -- transcend sectarian differences and
The kind of relativism often found (and imposed) in modern political life is
one by which the legislator, even if a believer, is expected to view all
opinions and convictions about values, morality, and what constitutes the common
good, as equally valid. From this flows the "duty" to keep a clear
separation between one's public role and one's personal beliefs.
Catholic teaching, again, does not hold that all personal and sectarian
beliefs should or can be translated into law. To attempt to criminalize all sin
would lead to absurd and unenforceable scenarios. But fundamental rights,
starting with life, are to be defended by the state without exception or
compromise. If a public official is not personally convinced of someone
else's fundamental rights, he or she has no right to publicly obstruct them.
Section 6 of the document summarizes these points in the following words:
"Promoting the common good of society, according to one’s
conscience, has nothing to do with «confessionalism» or religious intolerance.
For Catholic moral doctrine, the rightful autonomy of the political or civil
sphere from that of religion and the Church – but not from that of morality – is
a value that has been attained and recognized by the Catholic Church and belongs
to inheritance of contemporary civilization.[
"All the faithful are well aware that specifically religious activities (such
as the profession of faith, worship, administration of sacraments, theological
doctrines, interchange between religious authorities and the members of
religions) are outside the state’s responsibility. The state must not interfere,
nor in any way require or prohibit these activities, except when it is a
question of public order. The recognition of civil and political rights, as well
as the allocation of public services may not be made dependent upon citizens’
religious convictions or activities.
"The right and duty of Catholics and all citizens to seek the truth with
sincerity and to promote and defend, by legitimate means, moral truths
concerning society, justice, freedom, respect for human life and the other
rights of the person, is something quite different. The fact that some of these
truths may also be taught by the Church does not lessen the political legitimacy
or the rightful «autonomy» of the contribution of those citizens who are
committed to them, irrespective of the role that reasoned inquiry or
confirmation by the Christian faith may have played in recognizing such truths."
We will continue commentary on this document
in future newsletters.
Silent No More: A New National Campaign Begins
This past January, as our nation reached the 30-year mark of Roe vs.
Wade, something new took place at pro-life marches from coast to coast. Women
who have had abortions gathered with signs saying "I regret my abortion." Many
of them spoke about their experience. Following is an excerpt from an article by
Georgette Forney, Executive Director of NOEL and Co-Founder of Silent No More.
"This mobilization of women will be the beginning of a national campaign to
raise awareness about the negative after-effects of abortion and speak the truth
about abortion's emotional, spiritual and physical consequences for women. The
campaign is entitled: "Silent No More - Women speak out about their abortion
experience." The campaign will also seek to reach the many women who are
suffering in silence, offering them abortion recovery, help and resources.
Please spread the word about the campaign. Encourage women who regret their
abortion to participate in it!
"The campaign is being sponsored by a partnership between NOEL (the National
Organization of Episcopalians for Life)*, the Justice Foundation and Priests for
Life. In addition, we have also developed an ad hoc coalition of abortion
recovery programs to provide the support and healing for women who come forward
when they learn help is available.
"As a woman who had an abortion at age 16, I believe we are the voice that
hasn't been heard. There is a lot of talk about whether or not abortion should
be legal, but very little attention is given to the women who have actually had
abortions. I regret having an abortion and I know that there are millions of
women who feel the same way. The truth is abortion affects us physically,
emotionally and spiritually. It's time to speak honestly about the pain we've
lived with and we want to help women who are hurting find healing. After 30
years it's time to listen to the women who have experienced it. Silent No More
needs to connect with women who regret their abortion and are ready to speak
out. During the events, each woman is encouraged to participate by sharing a
brief testimony, and the rest of the time holding a sign that reads "I Regret My
Abortion." While the campaign is encouraging women to speak publicly, we
recognize not everyone is comfortable doing so. Therefore, we also invite women
to join us and simply hold a sign as their testimony."
You can find more information about "Silent No More" at
www.HelpAfterAbortion.com. You can read hundreds of post-abortion testimonies by
going to www.priestsforlife.org/postabortion/postabortiontestimonywomen.htm.
*NOEL was renamed Anglicans for Life in March 2007
Celebrating the Annunciation
We encourage you to celebrate with special emphasis the Feast of the
Annunciation this year. The following prayer may be useful, and you will find
other resources at www.priestsforlife.org/annunciation.htm.
Redeemer in the Womb
Lord Jesus Christ, You took our human nature upon Yourself. You
shared our life and death, our childhood and adulthood.
You also shared our time in the womb. While still God, while worshiped and
adored by the angels, while Almighty and filling every part of the universe, You
dwelt for nine months in the womb of Mary. You were our Redeemer in the womb,
our God who was a preborn child.
Lord Jesus, we ask You to bless and protect the children who today are in
their mothers’ womb. Save them from the danger of abortion. Give their mothers
the grace to sacrifice themselves, in body and soul, for their children. Help
all people to recognize in the preborn child a brother, a sister, saved by You,
our Redeemer in the womb.
Redentor en el Vientre
Señor Jesucristo, compartiste nuestra misma naturaleza. Nuestra vida y
nuestra muerte, nuestra infancia y nuestra madurez.
También compartiste nuestra vida dentro del vientre maternal. Siendo Dios,
adorado y alabado por los ángeles, Tú que llenas a plenitud todo el universo,
viviste nueve meses dentro del vientre de María. Eres nuestro redentor en el
vientre, nuestro Dios en condición pre-natal.
Señor Jesús, te rogamos, bendice y protege a los niños que se encuentran en
los vientres de sus Madres. Sálvalos del peligro del aborto.
Dale a sus Madres la gracia que necesitan para que puedan sacrificarse en
cuerpo y alma por sus hijos. Ayuda Señor a la gente para que puedan reconocer en
los niños, aún antes de nacer, a un hermano o hermana, que ha sido redimido por
Ti, nuestro Redentor en el vientre.
The bishops have requested a pro-life prayer in the petitions at every
Mass. Priests for Life provides, on our website, suggested intercessions based
on the readings for each Sunday. We offer these, furthermore, both in English
and in Spanish. They are prayers for a culture of life, and thus cover a broad
spectrum of life issues. See
www.priestsforlife.org/prayers/intercessionindex.htm, and please bring it to the
attention of other priests!
The Ashes that Still Remain - Rev. Thomas Koys
The author of this book is a member of the Chicago chapter of Priests for
Life. Using his knowledge of the Civil War and his love of the Catholic Faith,
Fr. Koys draws lessons from both to give his readers a deeper understanding of
the pro-life movement.
Published by CMJ Marian Publishers, Oak Lawn, IL
This book may be ordered from Priests for Life (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sterilization Reversal - A Generous Act of Love - John L. Long, Ed.
In this book, twenty couples share their stories about how repentance led
them to reverse surgical sterilizations that either the husband, or wife, or
both had undergone. This is a helpful pastoral resource to awaken the
consciences of married couples.
Published by One More Soul, 1846 N. Main St., Dayton, OH 45405-3832; Tel.
800-307-7685; OMSoul@OMSoul.com; www.OMSoul.com
You are encouraged to remember the following intentions as you pray
the Liturgy of the Hours:
March intention: That God may strengthen those who suffer ridicule and
rejection for their pro-life convictions.
April intention: That God may bless and console the fathers of aborted
From the Abortion Providers…
"The physician will usually first notice a quantity of amniotic
fluid, followed by placenta and fetal parts, which may be more or less
identifiable." (Warren Hern, Abortion Practice, p.114, in section on
First Trimester Abortion).
Reminder: All priests are asked to sign and
return the statement regarding political responsibility that was in our previous
newsletter. You can view it at
Good News: Fr. Frank Pavone has been elected
President of the National Pro-life Religious Council (www.nprcouncil.org),
an ecumenical organization through which many denominations work together to end
abortion. This group can be a good resource to introduce to local ecumenical