Fr. Frank Pavone

We must be willing to suffer the consequences of being pro-life

Fr. Frank Pavone

An 11-year old girl who is a supporter of Priests for Life sent me the following email very recently: “My mother and I are taking a bus and will be coming to the March for Life. My teacher said that I will receive zeroes on any work that I miss and it can’t be made up. I told her missing a day at school in order to stand up for life is more important and I’m willing to suffer the consequences.”

That’s what the pro-life movement needs most – people who say, “I’m willing to suffer the consequences.”

The children living and growing in the womb right now endure a great risk without having chosen it. They live in a place that has become more dangerous than any battlefield or terrorist target, and their lives hang in the balance at every moment. They did not choose this risk; someone else chose it for them.

We who defend these children have to choose to accept a share in that risk. That is solidarity. We bear willingly the risk that they bear unwillingly. Many ask what they need to do to stop abortion. But most know the answer already. They see the next step they can take, but are just trying to muster up the courage to do it. Risk is involved, and there’s no way around it. We’re afraid to speak and to act. Perhaps it’s because our pastor is not supportive, or we might get in trouble at our job; perhaps it’s because family and friends may not like our pro-life stance, or because it may lose business or votes; perhaps we fear it will impact our health. We make a continuous calculus in our minds and hearts, and often end up in paralyzed inaction.

We are always told of reasons why we can’t speak up against abortion. If we speak in Church, we’re told it’s too political; if we speak in the political arena, we’re told it’s too religious. If we speak in the media we’re told it’s too disturbing; in the educational realm, it’s too disruptive. On the public streets, it’s too distressing for children; in the business world it’s too controversial, in the family it’s too divisive, and in social settings it’s just impolite. So if abortion is wrong, where do we go to say so?

The answer is that we have to stop looking for a risk-free place to fight abortion, and speak up in all those arenas! There is a calculus in the heavens that says, “Greater love than this nobody has, than to lay down his life for his friends.” If we want to protect the unborn, then let’s be willing to give our lives for them. Let’s stop counting the cost for ourselves if we speak up and start counting the cost for them if we are silent. The pro-life movement does not need a lot of people; it needs people who are willing to take a lot of risk.


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Emily’s ‘abortion video’

Fr. Frank Pavone
Fr. Frank Pavone
Image

Various people have asked me what I think about the young woman, Emily, who filmed her abortion.

Actually, Emily did not film her abortion. She filmed her smiles and sighs during a procedure which we take her at her word was an abortion. But to really film an abortion, you have to film the arms and legs of the baby being ripped apart and the head being crushed. That’s not so good for abortion clinic PR. (See www.priestsforlife.org/images/abortion-images-galleries.aspx).

Furthermore, as Pastoral Director of Rachel’s Vineyard and the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, the world’s largest ministries dealing with the aftermath of abortion, I have ministered to many women whose initial response to abortion was relief and who, when the relief wore off, entered the darkest phase of their lives. Their stories, at AbortionTestimony.com, are getting more and more attention. Perhaps that’s why abortion salespersons feel the need to get a ‘positive abortion story’ out there. We have nothing but compassion for Emily. When she hits bottom, our door will be open for her, too.

Reprinted with permission from Priests For Life


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The pope, the president, and the right to life

Fr. Frank Pavone
Fr. Frank Pavone

Pope Francis and President Obama met in Rome today, and the meeting has naturally generated commentary, both before and after the fact, including by the President himself at the National Prayer Breakfast last month.

I am confident that the meeting itself will bear good fruit. I am not so confident that the commentary about it will bear as much fruit.

What I mean is that I believe we are heading for a media and blogosphere circus in which commentary after commentary will reinforce the error that we can promote “human rights” and “social justice” while ignoring the most fundamental right of the most vulnerable people: the right to life of the children in the womb.

It’s not because I think the Pope or his advisors aren’t fully committed to protecting them. They certainly are. And I have had the privilege of conversing with the Pope about the pro-life efforts of the Church.

But there is a profound contradiction between Obama’s position in favor of abortion and the Church’s position against it, and my concern arises from the fact that so much commentary makes light of this contradiction, either by saying it’s not important, or by pretending it’s not there.

And sometimes this impression is given in commentary even by those who share the Church’s pro-life position.

Miguel Diaz, a Catholic theologian who served as Obama’s ambassador to the Vatican until recently, commented, “Some said that under [Pope John Paul II] and [President Ronald Reagan] there was a meeting of the minds, and it’s potentially true again under Obama and Francis around the issues of social justice.”

But in reality, that is not potentially true at all.

The contradiction between Obama’s position and the Pope’s position on the right to life is a contradiction about the very core and foundation of social justice. Without the right to life, everything else falls. Pope Francis himself made reference to this in his recent Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, when he said,

“[D]efense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable…Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defense of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be.” (n. 213)

Pope John Paul II, about to be canonized as a saint, made a similar point 25 years ago in another Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles Laici,

“[T]he common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights — for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture — is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.” (n. 38)

And Cardinal Renato Martino, who served as President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, that is, the Vatican’s office charged with fostering the understanding and pursuit of social justice within the whole Church, explained,

“The Holy Father speaks of the protection of life as the fundamental realization and respect for human rights. Without that realization, without that respect for the right to life, no other discussion of human rights can continue.” (Interview on EWTN, 2004.)

That’s the kind of commentary we need to see about the discussion between the President and the Pope.

Reprinted with permission from PriestsforLife.org.


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We will not give Obama his pinch of incense

Fr. Frank Pavone
Fr. Frank Pavone

W. A. Criswell, in The Offense of the Cross, points out,

The Roman Empire was the most tolerant, the most liberal, the most wise, and the most accurate in its handling of the many provinces and religions of its empire of any kingdom that ever existed. Men could worship, have temples, and do as they pleased. And yet the Roman Empire and the Caesars persecuted the Christians. Why? For one simple reason: the Christian refused to compromise his faith with any other religion whatsoever.

That refusal to compromise is seen in the response of the apostles themselves to the command not to teach in the name of Jesus: “We will obey God rather than men!” As it was in the beginning, so it is now. Christians in America face another one of those key moments – seen frequently in Scripture and Christian history – of conflict between the commands of civil authority and the demands of their faith. And believers of other traditions are standing with them as well.

The Obama Administration, implementing one of the provisions of “Obamacare,” has declared its intent and goal to increase access to various “preventive services” that include contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. This is an open, publicly-announced plan. Numerous Americans, and the religious traditions they embrace, teach that such “drugs and services” are immoral to use. Therefore, they oppose this plan.

But the conflict goes deeper than that. If those believers are also employers who offer their employees health insurance, the Obama Administration is requiring them to cooperate in the plan by making coverage for those drugs and services an essential part of those health insurance plans.

And that’s where we say “No!” If the government wants to expand access to these immoral – and in some cases lethal – activities, it’s going to need to do it without us. We do not want to be involved.

And that is the argument regarding the HHS mandate, and the theme of the multiple lawsuits that have been introduced against it. We at Priests for Life filed the fourth of what are now dozens of such lawsuits launched both by religious groups and for-profit businesses.

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On Tuesday, March 25, the Supreme Court is hearing two consolidated cases on behalf of two of those businesses, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods, run by believers who refuse to cooperate with the mandate. The Court will consider, among other things, whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to for-profit corporations to protect them from this mandate.

In a separate action, the Supreme Court is also being asked to take up the matter of the non-profit and religious entities who object to the mandate, and whose rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act are not in doubt. We at Priests for Life have petitioned the Supreme Court to hear our case, and this Friday, March 28, the Justices will consider whether or not they will do so.

The claim that the government is making is that it is in fact exempting the religious groups like Priests for Life from following the mandate. In fact, President Obama himself addressed this in his February 2 interview with Bill O’Reilly. The President said, “Here’s the way this thing works. All they have to do is sign a form saying they don’t — they are a religious institution —And — and they get what they want.”

In other words, the form we are being asked to sign states that we object to the mandate because of our institutional religious convictions. Then, our insurance policy will not have to include coverage of the objectionable drugs and services.

At first glance, that sounds quite reasonable to sign. But what the government says further is that upon us signing the form, and receiving the names of our employees on the plan, they will make separate provision to cover the objectionable drugs and services. In other words, by signing the form, we are still part of implementing the plan to provide access to those drugs and services. The form is an authorization; our employees are covered precisely because they are our employees. It’s not a matter of who pays for it; it’s a matter of being the gateway to the immoral activities.

President Obama, in his O’Reilly interview, seems to indicate that he understands this. He said, “The problem is they don’t want to sign the form — Because they think that that somehow makes them complicit.” Exactly right. And Mr. President, that’s not only what we and the other religious plaintiffs think; that’s precisely what our religion teaches. And the freedom to follow that teaching is precisely what you and the law need to respect.

All this may seem like a big deal to be making over the signing of a form. But to go back to W.A. Criswell, he points out, “When the Christians were invited just to bow down before the Roman image, their lives could be spared if they would merely take a pinch of incense and put it on the fire that burned in the presence of the image of the Roman Caesar. The Christian died rather than compromise with a pinch of incense.”

Whether it’s about government incense or a government form, we will obey God rather than men.

Reprinted with permission from PriestsforLife.org.


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