WASHINGTON, D.C., January 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A pro-life Catholic priest electrified the crowd at the National Prayer Service on the day of the March for Life with his homily about the inevitable victory of the pro-life movement over abortion.
“We are marching for a certainty,” declared Father Frank Pavone, executive director of Priests for Life.
Pavone’s homily was inspired by Christ’s victory over the grave.
“Our starting point in this movement is the victory over death that Jesus Christ has already won,” he declared. “We would not be here, we would not be the Church, we would not be the Body of Christ, and we would not be the pro-life movement, if it were not true that He came out of His own tomb, having suffered death, having joined Himself to our death.”
“He rose, and in doing so did not only conquer His death,” Pavone continued, “He conquered ALL death. He overturned the kingdom of death. He robbed death of its power. He conquered your death and mine. He conquered the death of every unborn child killed by abortion […]. He has conquered. Death is overcome.”
Pavone stated that because Christ conquered death, the pro-life movement knows with “certainty” that it will one day win the battle for the unborn. The marchers are merely marching towards that goal.
“And it’s not only the certainty that we will rise at the day of victory for the unborn. It is a certainty that the power which now dismembers them and crushes them and throws them in the garbage is a power which at its root has already been defeated,” he said. “And that is why we march today with confidence.”
He boldly asserted that the March for Life would not end until the unborn are granted their “God-given” right to life.
“Some people wonder, ‘When are you people going to go away,’” Pavone observed. “They’ve got a lesson to learn. We aren’t going away at all! Because we don’t wonder if we’re going to overcome the Culture of Death. We stand up today, and we look it in the eye and we say, ‘You have already been overcome. Away with you, you have no more power, no more authority over the human family. We do not belong to death. We belong to Christ, and He is Life.’”
Pavone spoke eloquently about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights movement. Every year he attends a commemorative service for Dr. King on his memorial day with King's niece Alveda King, who works full-time for Priests for Life, and her family.
“At that service, by the way, you always hear wonderful preaching about justice, equality, non-violence and fulfilling the creed of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by extending to those who are oppressed today the same rights and dignity that we try to extend to everybody else,” said Pavone. “And you know what? Over all those years going to that service, you know what word you never hear? ‘Abortion. ‘You know what word you never hear? ‘Unborn.’ But this year they had me speak.”
The crowd burst into laughter, followed by applause.
“They heard the word ‘abortion,’” Pavone continued. “They heard the term ‘unborn child.’ They heard the fact that when we advocate for justice, and for equality, and for non-violence, that includes the children in the womb.”
“Non-violence is not non-violence if you still tolerate some violence. Equality is not equality if some are still not equal. And so we come here in this city, the same city to which the Civil Rights marchers came under the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and remember what he said.”
'You can’t have any other rights unless you’re alive'
Pavone celebrated the fact that, after years of being ignored by American presidents, the unborn were going to be acknowledged in a few hours by President Donald Trump. He also stated firmly that although he understood and applauded people who work for the inmates on death row, for immigrants, for the poor, hungry and homeless, he could not agree with them that their issues outweighed the importance of the right to life for the unborn.
“You can’t have any other rights unless you’re alive,” he said. “If you kill that baby in the womb, you didn’t only take away her life, you took away her education, her right to work, her right to vote. You took away her health care. You took away her right to immigrate. You took away her protection from terrorism. You took away every right that she had, not just her right to life, but everything else because if you take away the foundation, the house collapses.”
Pavone also celebrated that fact that Congress was about to sign the Born Alive Bill. He said that in protecting unborn babies in their latest stage, Congress was not “abandoning the effort to protect them earlier” but “implementing the effort”.
He revealed that Priests for Life had been calling legal abortion centers across the country to find out if they will indeed do late-term abortions. Abortion advocates, he said, have been trying to make the American public think that late-term abortions only happen to save the life of the mother or because the baby has a serious medical condition.
Pavone then played a recording of a woman asking for an appointment to abort her 30-week, healthy unborn baby. After establishing that the mother was in good health, the clinic’s receptionist booked her abortion for the next Tuesday.
“Thirty weeks,” said the priest grimly. “Healthy baby. Healthy mother. The doctor will take you, come in next week. We have 30 other calls like that. Twenty different states so far.”
He ended his homily on a rousing coda of hope. He held up Norma McCorvey, the original “Roe” in the Roe v. Wade case, as the epitome of abortion advocates who become pro-life. He encouraged marchers to speak to the men and women of “Silent No More,” an activist group of people who regret having participated in abortion and who witness on the steps of the Supreme Court during the March for Life. He likened their healing from their shame and guilt from their abortions by the power of Jesus Christ to a raising of the dead.
“The dead are rising every day,” said Pavone. “Let’s hear their voices. Let’s spread their testimonies. And let’s let their redemption encourage us in our new journey to the Lord.
“Let us march. Let us march to victory. Let us honor and proclaim the Lord of Life Whose name is Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Full text of Father Pavone’s homily at the National Prayer Service on January 19, 2018 in Washington, D.C.
We’re not just marching in defense of life, we are marching towards life.
Pastor Capizzi has proclaimed the Gospel word to us today in which our Lord said “The time is coming when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who are in tombs will come out.” God has conquered death. [Applause.]
We in this great movement say this all the time, and we want this to be a strong conviction as we go forth from this place to march. We say that we are not only working for victory, working towards victory, trying to accomplish a goal of victory; we are working FROM victory.
Our starting point in this movement is the victory over death that Jesus Christ has already won. We would not be here, we would not be the Church, we would not be the Body of Christ, and we would not be the Pro-Life Movement, if it were not true that He came out of His own tomb, having suffered death, having joined Himself to our death. He rose, and in doing so did not only conquer His death, He conquered ALL death. He overturned the kingdom of death. He robbed death of its power. He conquered your death and mine. He conquered the death of every unborn child killed by abortion, and everyone else killed by […]. He has conquered. Death is overcome.
Now this is a reality, brothers and sisters, that will be manifested fully on the last day, because we know that we still have tombs around. We still have cemeteries around. People have died, and their bodies are still in the ground. Those are human bodies.
Sadly the bodies of the children we speak up for today, killed by abortion, most of them don’t even have the dignity of having a tomb. They’ve been thrown down the sewers, in the medical waste, incinerated like garbage. But those are human bodies, too.
Brothers and sisters, the Good News that Jesus Christ has proclaimed to us in this Gospel passage is that the day will come when those tombs will be empty, and those bodies will rise again. Even of the unborn, scattered throughout the countryside, blood seeping into the ground like it did at the first murder of Abel by Cain. Those bodies, too, will be restored and will rise. What we will see on that day is the full unfolding of a victory that has already happened, that death has been conquered, which means it cannot have the last word over human beings.
Some people think that the human story is birth, life, and death. We proclaim differently here today. The human story is life, death, and resurrection. The grave cannot hold us. We were created for the heavens. We were created to be on the throne with Christ. The grave cannot hold us. It is not the place that God has destined us to. It is not our destination, of our march during life […]. No. It is the throne of the fullness of life.
That is why when we speak up for life, when we defend life, when we march for life, we are not saying, “Oh, we HOPE that these children will be free from the power of death.” And we are far from saying, “Oh, I wonder IF we can set these children free from death. I wonder IF we can overcome the power of abortion. I wonder IF we can defeat Planned Parenthood. I wonder IF we can change the laws of this country to finally protect these children.”
No, we’re not here today wondering IF. We are not here today wondering IF death has been conquered. We are not here today wondering IF Christ came out of His tomb. We’re not wondering IF the dead will rise on the last day. It is not a question mark; it is a certainty. It’s an exclamation point. That is why we are here, clergy, ordained. We’re not ordained to preach a question mark. You’re not commissioned to march for a question mark. We are marching for a certainty.
And it’s not only the certainty that we will rise at the day of victory for the unborn. It is a certainty that the power which now dismembers them and crushes them and throws them in the garbage is a power which at its root has already been defeated. [Applause.] And that is why we march today with confidence. That is why we have energy in this movement. That is why it’s the 45th Annual March for Life–although some people wonder, “When are you people going to go away?” They’ve got a lesson to learn. We aren’t going away at all! [Applause] Because we don’t wonder if we’re going to overcome the Culture of Death. We stand up today, and we look it in the eye and we say, “You have already been overcome. Away with you, you have no more power, no more authority over the human family. We do not belong to death. We belong to Christ, and He is Life. [Applause.]
And if we […] to have that victory, it’s because Christ Himself marches with us to a destination that He already holds in His hands. It is because of that, that we can speak the truth, in THIS city especially. There are marches around, taking place from coast to coast, in fact, not only across the United States but around the world. But, brothers and sisters, especially significant is that we are marching in this city of power, the power of government. Legitimate power.
We are not anarchists. We acknowledge the legitimate authority of the courts and of the Congress and of the President. But authority is legitimate only when it is submitted to the authority of God. Then, only then does it require our obedience, so therefore we can prophesy. We can correct it when it goes astray. And that’s a big part of this march today, not only proclaiming that death is conquered, not only proclaiming that we’re on the side of the children, not only proclaiming that death is conquered, not only proclaiming that they must be allowed to live, but we’re sending a message here to the government.
We’re coming here to do what was done in the Civil Rights movement. Just on Monday, this past Monday, the holiday of Martin Luther King, Jr., I was, as I always am on that day, with Alveda King, who works on our team, full-time with Priests for Life. And we were with the rest of her family at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, in a national commemorative service. At that service, by the way, you always hear wonderful preaching about justice, equality, non-violence and fulfilling the creed of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by extending to those who are oppressed today the same rights and dignity that we try to extend to everybody else. And you know what? Over all those years going to that service, you know what word you never hear? ‘Abortion. ‘You know what word you never hear? ‘Unborn.’ But this year they had me speak. [Laughter, applause.]
They heard the word “abortion”. They heard the term “unborn child.” They heard the fact that when we advocate for justice, and for equality, and for non-violence, that includes the children in the womb. Non-violence is not non-violence if you still tolerate some violence. Equality is not equality if some are still not equal. And so we come here in this city, the same city to which the Civil Rights marchers came under the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and remember what he said.
[King] said, “We come here to cash a check. This nation has said on paper that all are created equal. That we all have God-given rights, and that this government exists to secure those rights.” He said, “So we’ve come here to cash a check today because the tragedy, the evil we face, is that in regard to our African-American brothers and sisters, we’ve been given a returned check marked ‘Insufficient Funds’.” And he said, “We refuse to believe that, that the vaults of justice and equality and protection in America aren’t full enough, aren’t rich enough to include us.” So they marched to cash a check. To say to America, “Be true to what you said on paper. Give us that recognition of our dignity and equality.”
My friends, guess what we are here to do today. We are here to march, and we are demanding a check for the unborn that does no longer say ‘Insufficient Funds’, that no longer says, “We don’t have the ability to protect you. There’s not room in America to recognize you as persons.” We demand to cash in on the check promised in our Declaration of Independence that, yes, the unborn children, too, are equal in dignity, and their God-given rights must be protected and respected.
Now we had this prayer service so many years under a presidential administration that did not recognize that. I started going to this service and helping to lead it back in the day when in the White House sat a man named Bill Clinton. And he kept sending punk checks marked ‘Insufficient Funds’ to the unborn children during those 8 years. And then a man named Barack Obama sat in that Office, and the message continued to be, ‘Insufficient Funds’. But I heard about an election in 2016. [Cheers, applause.] I heard something about an inauguration in 2017. [Cheers, applause.] I heard something about a man named Donald Trump who’s now in the White House. [Cheers, applause.] And we’re all going to hear him speak today, himself, for the unborn children. [Cheers, applause.]
My brothers and sisters, let’s make something clear. People disagree on many issues. People even in the churches will stand up today and say, “We have got to get straight on capital punishment. We cannot kill these people even if they are guilty of capital crimes.” We’re going to have people standing up and saying, “We have to take care of the immigrants. That’s a human rights issue; that’s a [Civil Rights] issue. And we have to make sure they can cross the borders of this country in a way that respects their freedom and dignity.” And we’ll have people talking about how we’ve got to serve the poor and feed the hungry and shelter the homeless. And, brothers and sisters, we need applaud all those whose organizations and whose personal efforts are directed to serving people in all these situations.
However, we have something to proclaim today: that if one advocates for human rights and does not recognize the rights of these children in the womb to life, they are building on quicksand. They, in fact, contradict themselves. It’s not just a matter of saying that this issue of the Right to Life of the unborn is more important. I do say that. It’s more important because it’s […]. You can’t have any other rights unless you’re alive. If you kill that baby in the womb, you didn’t only take away her life, you took away her education, her right to work, her right to vote. You took away her health care. You took away her right to immigrate. You took away her protection from terrorism. You took away every right that she had, not just her right to life, but everything else because if you take away the foundation, the house collapses. [Applause.]
So I say to those, whether they are politicians or educators or pastors, those who will stand up and say “But it’s more important right now to be focussed on all these other rights”, I say, “Not only is it not more important, but when you stop advocating the rights of these children in the womb to be protected, you are NOT advocating for the poor, the immigrant, health care, or the death row prisoner. You’re not even advocating adequately for them. Because if you’re defending them, it’s only for one reason: their humanity, their human rights.”
“YOU don’t give the immigrant his or her rights. YOU don’t give the death row prisoner his or her rights. YOU don’t give the person in need of health care his or her rights. Any rights they have they have already. If you’re saying it’s because of their human dignity, isn’t it because they’re human? And when did they start being human? That’s the point: our humanity. The protection of our human rights must begin when our humanity begins. And that is when we are in the womb.”
Brothers and sisters, we’re never going to build a society that protects the guilty when we can’t protect the innocent. We’re never going to build a society that feeds the poor when we can’t feed our own flesh and blood in the womb. And we are never going to treat right those who want to cross the borders and into this country if we don’t treat right those who have crossed the border from the womb to birth. [Applause.]
[…] You realize, we’re in a moment now when our nation is beginning to wake up to the reality of late-term abortion. The actions–the President may mention it today, but the actions of the Congress right now are focussed in a particular way at protecting babies in those last stages, not because they’re abandoning the effort to protect them earlier, but because they’re implementing that effort.
We wake up people where things are most obvious. Eventually, I’m going to play for you a telephone call. This is one of about 30 calls we made at Priests for Life into legal abortion clinics around the country to demonstrate to the American public that you can get an abortion on a healthy mother carrying a healthy [baby] even at 30 weeks into the pregnancy. And the reason we’re trying to prove this, is that the other side tries to make the public think that these only happen to save the life of the mother, or [because of] terrible medical conditions of the baby. That’s nonsense. Listen for a moment to this call:
Receptionist: [….] How can I help you today?
Caller: Yes, I need to schedule an abortion.
Receptionist: Okay. Can you tell me the first day of your last normal period?
Caller: Yes, it was back on October 8, 2016.
Receptionist: And, um, have you had an ultrasound done?
Caller: Yes, I have.
Receptionist: Okay. Can you tell me if you have a […] measurement or a due date?
Caller: Uh, I have a due date. July 15.
Receptionist: So, yeah, almost 30. Thirty. Is there anything wrong with the fetus?
Caller: No, there’s not. There’s just [a lot] happening. My husband lost his job. We already have some kids, and I was planning to continue the pregnancy, but now with our world falling apart, we just felt like this was the best way out.
Receptionist: Do you yourself have anything going on medically, like asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure?
Receptionist: Are you currently taking any medications for any reason?
Receptionist: Well, uh, the doctor accepting you as a patient, um, will be scheduling you for Tuesday next week. Uhhh…
Thirty weeks. Healthy baby. Healthy mother. The doctor will take you, come in next week. We have 30 other calls like that. Twenty different states so far. And we’re continuing to do this.
We come today to cast a light in this darkness. We come to Washington today to cash a check for these babies. We will hear from a President today who is quite aware of this tragedy. He has no magic wand. He has his role to play. We have our role to play. We will not cease until these babies are protected. And we, furthermore, have every hope that those on the wrong side can see His light that we are shedding. And that is why in this service we also recall that the woman who was the Jane Roe of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, Norma McCorvey, whom many of us here knew and ministered to personally, she, Jane Roe, who definitely won that case, became pro-life, rejected the case she won, became a Christian.
I had the privilege of receiving her into the Catholic Church in 1998. She spent the rest of her life working to end abortion, and she herself has been present at this service, and we are happy this morning, at various years at the March for Life and given witness for life. Norma McCorvey, who died last February, and who shows us all what happens when we’re willing to courageously take those steps that God indicates to us. The right steps. The just steps. The steps that lead to him.
It wasn’t easy for her. We’ll hear more about her when our friends the Benham Brothers speak in a little while. But we take that example of Norma as a sign of hope. We commend her again in this service to the Lord. We thank the Lord for the example of His Grace powerfully at work in her, and we say once again, “Lord Jesus Christ, You have conquered death. Just as you have promised that the dead will rise on the Last Day, so you promised that those dead in conscience can hear Your voice and rise from the dead now, that those in such despair that they’re going to turn to abortion can rise from despair now.” And as you will see later, my friends, at the conclusion of the March as we go in to the Supreme Court, stop there a moment as the March passes by and listen to the testimonies of the women and men of Silent No More, who have had abortions, many of whom have been crouched in a dark corner, burning [with] the shame and the sin and guilt of their abortion.
But today, because of the Jesus Christ you proclaim, you will see them, you will hear them in front of that Supreme Court, standing up and saying, “I don’t have to be crouched there in that corner in darkness, silence and shame. I’m standing up. Why? Because there is Someone Who is shedding His life on me right now. There is Someone Who is saving me, redeeming me, Who’s taking my hand, Who is lifting me up. His name is Jesus Christ, and He’s saying ‘Rise from this darkness. Be free of your sin, and proclaim that gift of life that I give you anew.’”
The dead are rising every day. Let’s hear their voices. Let’s spread their testimonies. And let’s let their redemption encourage us in our new journey to the Lord. Let us march. Let us march to victory. Let us honor and proclaim the Lord of Life Whose name is Jesus Christ. Amen. [Applause.]