Tag Archives: fr. frank pavone

Implementing the plan for victory

Fr. Frank Pavone says pro-life gains are adding up quickly and victory is near . . .

Fr. Frank Pavone celebrates Mass with Fr. Rob Schenck during the annual Legatus Pro-Life Conference

Fr. Frank Pavone celebrates Mass with Fr. Rob Schenck during Legatus’ annual Legatus Pro-Life Conference

When I became director of Priests for Life 20 years ago, I began visiting national pro-life leaders to learn what they were doing and to offer our help.

This led us to develop a specific plan to end abortion, which marshals the strengths of the pro-life movement against the weaknesses of the abortion industry. We update and implement that plan through networking with leaders, not only through strategic summits but also through spiritual retreats.

I am more convinced than ever that we are winning the fight against abortion. I’d like to explore one of the key reasons why the plan is bearing fruit, and how we can build on this momentum. Two key issues for pro-lifers today are the battles for marriage and religious liberty. Priests for Life was among the first to file a lawsuit over the HHS mandate, and we are confident of victory. But the battle for the defense of life itself will always remain the most fundamental moral struggle, because one can neither be married, religious, or free unless one is first born. Murder, including abortion and euthanasia, takes away these other rights and goods as well.

In the fight against abortion, the words of St. Paul are playing out: “Have nothing to do with the fruitless works of darkness; rather, expose them” (Eph 5:11).

Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s trial and conviction exposed abortion to national debate. It opened many people’s eyes to three things: what is done to the child; what is done to the woman, who is often injured and even killed; and the unsafe, unscrupulous environment of the abortion industry, which doesn’t even measure up to the standards in place at veterinary clinics.

As various members of our Priests for Life team attended Gosnell’s trial, reporters would ask us if we thought Gosnell was “crazy.” I responded, “Not necessarily. He is simply following the logic of the abortion industry.”

Roe v. Wade did not deny that unborn children are living human beings, but it did remove their protection under the law. “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins” [410 U.S. 113, 159], the decision said, and at the same time, “the word ‘person,’ as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn” [410 U.S. 113, 158].

This leads to what Gosnell did — namely, killing the same babies even after birth. The Journal of Medical Ethics published an article entitled, “After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?” (Feb. 23, 2012). The authors state, “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.”

Controversial ethicist Peter Singer once said that the “location of the baby inside or outside the womb cannot make such a crucial moral difference,” and that to be consistent, there are “only two possibilities” — “oppose abortion or allow infanticide.”

My recent public letter to House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (LetterToNancy.com) caught such national attention because it demanded that she answer a question that we must all answer: What is the difference between killing a baby by legal abortion in the final months of pregnancy and killing the same baby outside the mother’s womb (for which Gosnell is serving life sentences)?

Raising this question has helped legislators to pass legislation that protects children after birth and in the later stages of pregnancy. Some 10 states — as well as the U.S. House of Representatives — have voted to prohibit abortion starting at 20 weeks of fetal age. This is monumental. Pro-lifers are also working with legislators to strengthen state laws that regulate abortion facilities, causing many of them to close. At least 58 U.S. abortion mills — almost 1 in 10 — have shut or stopped killing children since 2011.

These measures don’t represent the final goal; they represent the next logical step. Every abortion is equal in its moral violation, but not in its psychological impact. And regulating an abortion clinic doesn’t make the abortions right. But pedagogically, we take the public and our legislators from the more obvious to the less obvious, and real progress is being made. Just exposing abortion is enough to bring most people to reject it.

As our executive director Janet Morana points out in her new book Recall Abortion, the testimonies of those who have had the experience (and the studies of the damage it does) make the case for the government to protect these women — and ultimately to recall the procedure as harmful to the public. We are closer to that day than ever before!

FR. FRANK PAVONE is the national director of Priests for Life.

Catholic View for Women

Legates bring the New Evangelization to television with a worldwide audience . . .

The Catholic View For Women’s hosts: Janet Morana, Astrid Bennett Gutierrez and Teresa Tomeo

The Catholic View For Women’s hosts: Janet Morana, Astrid Bennett, Gutierrez and Teresa Tomeo

During the recent conclave, a number of mainstream journalists questioned the role of women in the Catholic Church. They angrily asked why women couldn’t be priests and why they weren’t in “leadership” roles.

Informed and inspired

For the last two years, EWTN has provided an answer to these questions — and to some outright misconceptions — through the weekly program The Catholic View for Women.

Hosted by three Catholic female leaders — two of them Legates — the show explores a range of issues specific to women. Topics include: radical feminism vs. new feminism, contraception, women leaders in the Church past and present, and pornography and its effects on women. The hosts speak about living single and challenges facing those who are divorced or separated. And they speak from experience: One of the hosts is single, another separated and another happily married. Their conversation is intelligent, informative, professional, fun — and unlike other similar-format television shows — civil.

“I got the idea about doing this show after meeting Teresa Tomeo in 2005 at the Catholic Radio Cruise,” said Janet Morana, a member of Legatus’ Northern New Jersey Chapter and executive director of Priests for Life. “Teresa and I started doing a radio show together every week after that, and then I thought, ‘Why don’t we do a good and wholesome TV show about women that could be an alternative to ABC’s The View, which is garbage.”

The Catholic View for Women debuted in March 2011. All three of the show’s hosts, it should be noted, were once far from the Catholic Church. All of them can relate to confused Catholics — and non-Catholics — when it comes to the “hard” issues: divorce, an all-male priesthood, abortion and contraception.

“I never had a problem with an all-male priesthood. My thing was abortion and contraception,” said Tomeo, a member of Legatus’ Detroit Northeast Chapter. “Again, I was on the surface. I was a hard-nosed journalist who had never cracked a Church document. Then I had a crisis in my marriage and lost my job. It was then that I realized my life had been built on sand.”

Tomeo’s husband Dominick Pastore came back to the Church and she eventually followed. Since 2000, Tomeo has hosted Catholic Connection, a daily morning radio program. She is an author, motivational speaker and columnist.

Coming home

“I was raised in pre-Vatican II,” Morana explained. “When I reached high school, I left the Church. I felt that women had the right to take the Pill. And the infallibility of the Pope? Why could he tell people what to do? I started skipping Mass and only went to Church for Easter and Christmas.”

After Morana got married and had children, she and her husband moved into a two-family house with her in-laws. Her mother-in-law went to daily Mass and began taking Morana’s children along. One day, Morana went to church — begrudgingly — to light a candle after having been hired during a difficult employment time in New York City.

Her eight-year-old saw her and introduced her to a young Fr. Frank Pavone, saying, “This is my mom, who won’t go to Confession.” Father Pavone wrote down his phone number and told Morana to call him.

“That phone number stayed in my purse for weeks,” Morana said. “Then I found it and finally called him. We met and I told him all my problems with the Church. He listened and then told me, ‘You’re an intelligent woman. You like to read and study. Tell you what: I’m going to give you a document. You read it and we can talk about it.’ He gave me Humanae Vitae.”

Within a few months, Morana had her first Confession in years and began attending Mass regularly. Through her subsequent ministries, she has become one of the most notable Catholic female leaders in the country, recently writing a new book, Recall Abortion.

Astrid Bennett Gutierrez, executive director of Los Angeles Pregnancy Services and vice president of Hispanics for Life and Human Rights, also went through a period of questioning and disbelief.

“I was poorly catechized,” she explained. “I went through 13 years of Catholic school and never once learned about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. My parents separated and I stopped believing in a loving God.”

Gutierrez went to UCLA where she met a group of faithful Catholics who taught her about the faith and Who the Eucharist really is.

Social impact

EWTN reaches 100 million households around the world. Since The Catholic View for Women debuted two years ago, the show has made an impact on men and women from every continent.

“I have received emails from Catholic women in Nigeria, Australia and England,” Tomeo said. “We also have an impact on Protestant women who send us letters. The show makes Church teachings real for women.”

One of the program’s unique features is that the hosts give viewers “homework” at the end of every show: discussion questions and papal documents to read. All assigned readings can be downloaded from the show’s website —TheCatholicViewForWomen.com.

Viewers have also formed Catholic View For Women study groups. They use resources on the show’s website to fuel their discussions, including the ability to watch previous episodes online.

“We have done shows on women leaders in the Vatican — both past and present,” Tomeo explained. “We interviewed Dr. Flaminia Giovanelli, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. She is the number two person in this very important dicastery and has been working in the Vatican for 25 years.”

In 2008, Tomeo took part in the international Vatican Women’s Congress and was one of only 270 delegates. She is well acquainted with scores of women who work throughout the Vatican as leaders in their respective fields — as well as Catholic female leaders around the world.

Future topics the show plans to tackle include the contribution of Latinas to the U.S. church and the spiritual values of immigrants. Both of these issues are close to Gutierrez’s heart.

“Our dream is to get this show on the road,” said Morana. “Just like the show Crossing the Goal does men’s conferences, we would like to do women’s conferences.”

If anything, the conclave that elected Pope Francis highlighted an increasing aggressiveness towards the Church — in particular with regard to the all-male priesthood. The Catholic View for Women celebrates Catholicism’s treatment of women — and it explains why. Though this seems counter-cultural, it’s completely natural for well-formed Catholics.

“I once had a TV anchor say to me, ‘Women should be allowed to speak from the pulpit.’ Well I reach more people than the average priest does from his pulpit,” said Tomeo. “I reach people across the U.S. with my radio show — and we reach millions with our TV show. We have to challenge people when they say these things, because they are not reality. We have to keep encouraging people to read Church documents and see how the Church’s teachings are true.”

SABRINA ARENA FERRISI is Legatus magazine’s senior staff writer.

Summit on the Bayou

Religious liberty and the new evangelization took center stage at the Summit in Phoenix . . .

Raymond Arroyo

Raymond Arroyo

Despite its arid location, Legatus’ 2013 Summit had a distinct Louisiana flair — everything from Cajun food to a raucous Mardi Gras-themed evening presided over by the bead-tossing New Orleans native and master of ceremonies, Raymond Arroyo.

The three-day annual conference, hosted by Legatus’ Baton Rouge Chapter, drew more than 400 Legates and guests from across the country and beyond to the luxurious Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., from Feb. 7-9.

Religious Freedom

Speakers from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to Catholic historian George Weigel touched on the Summit’s dual themes of faith and freedom. In his Feb. 8 address, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori exhorted Legates to help the country return to its founding principles amid challenges to religious liberty. “In the spirit of the new evangelization, may I invite you to engage your network of family members, colleagues, and friends to understand more profoundly how religious freedom is threatened and to think of our political system with more than enlightened self-interest?” he asked.

Archbishop William Lori

Archbishop William Lori

The 1884 Council of Baltimore, he said, decided that there is a fundamental compatibility between the U.S. Constitution and “the Church’s understanding of the natural law.” However, Archbishop Lori noted, this view “has recently been called into question.”

The diminishing role of religion in America is leading to a different understanding of religious freedom than existed in the past, and this “is part of the challenge of the new evangelization to which Pope Benedict has called us in this Year of Faith and beyond.”

Bush, who spoke to Legates just one year after his more famous brother, talked about his conversion to the Catholic faith and how it has made all the difference in his life — both personal and political.

“But for my faith, I don’t know what the outcome [of my life] would have been,” he said. “My faith has brought me the greatest happiness of my life.”

Like many of the speakers and clergy who addressed Summit attendees, Bush said faith must inform every aspect of one’s life.

“If your faith means anything to you, it must inform your public policy,” he said. “We should encourage people in public life to stand on principle. At a time when we should be excited about the future, we have lost our optimism. I reject that completely.”

Call to Evangelize

Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted

Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted

In his homily at St. Thomas the Apostle parish, Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted told Legates that the Church — and Legatus’ mission statement — asks them to be formed in the faith and to go out to the world as missionaries and evangelists.

“Legatus means ‘ambassador,’ one sent on a mission, an apostle,” he said. “At the end of every Mass, we are sent forth on this mission.”

Along with Bishop Olmsted and Archbishop Lori, Summit-goers attended Masses celebrated by Bishop Sam Jacobs, Legatus’ international chaplain; Cleveland Auxiliary Bishop Roger Gries, chaplain of Legatus’ Cleveland Chapter; and Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.

Other speakers included Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), Relevant Radio’s Fr. “Rocky” Hoffman, author Matthew Kelly, Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God, and Los Angeles Dodgers’ general manager Ned Colletti.

Legates were also treated to a presentation of Legate Jason Jones’ new film Crescendo; a sneak peak of the History Channel’s The Bible, a mini-series produced by Hollywood super-couple Mark Burnett and Roma Downey; a panel discussion on religious freedom; and Evangeline, a full-fledged stage musical.

Ken Cuccinelli

Ken Cuccinelli

The Summit was an uplifting and faith-building experience, Legates agreed.

Salvatore and Josephine Caruso, members of the San Jose Chapter, attended their first Summit. The experience helped the couple to be “fortified in our faith and to better understand our responsibilities in our faith,” he explained. “As lay persons, what are our responsibilities? Faith is not something you just keep to yourself personally. It’s something you use in society for the greater good.”

Joe Melançon, who chaired the Summit with his wife Paula, said he was pleased with the way Legates responded to the event’s Year of Faith theme — The Door of Faith: A Summons to a Deeper Conversion.

“My greatest hope is that they, like Paul, will have a summons to a deeper conversion,” he said.

Tom Moran, a member of Legatus’ Orlando Chapter since 2006, said the Summit was a remarkable call to action. “It was encouraging direct action and involvement not by scare tactics, but by giving sound, intellectual basis for concern,” he said.

Keith Tigue of the Phoenix Chapter not only enjoyed having a Legatus Summit in his hometown, but was encouraged by the speakers and the entire Legatus community. More importantly, he said, Legatus helps him to be a better businessman.

“As business leaders, we really have to narrow down on what [God wants] and get out of the way and let God work through us and the dream He has given us in our business.”

In particular, Tigue said, Matthew Kelly’s talk on “The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic” inspired him to do more. “It made me realize that I’m glad I’m doing this,” he said, “but I need to do better.”

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is the editor of Legatus magazine. This article contains reporting from Catholic News Agency and Ambria Hammel, staff’ writer for The Catholic Sun.

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2012 Award Winners

DEFENDER OF THE FAITH
Archbishop William Lori

AMBASSADOR OF THE YEAR
James Sheehan

OFFICER OF THE YEAR
Tom Spencer

COURAGE IN THE MARKETPLACE
Ken Cuccinelli, Bill & Andy Newland, Weingartz Family, Christopher & Mary Ann Yep

BOWIE KUHN SPECIAL AWARD FOR EVANGELIZATION
Mike Caspino, John Reid

CARDINAL JOHN J. O’CONNOR PRO-LIFE AWARD
Richard Doerflinger, Chuck Donovan, Michael Schwartz

ANGOTT AWARD
Baton Rouge, San Juan Capistrano

CAMPBELL AWARD
Western Massachusetts, Lexington, South Bay of Los Angeles, Detroit Northeast, Fort Worth

The future of America

Life issues divide Obama and McCain

Like many U.S. Catholics, Umberto Fedeli believes this year’s presidential election presents Catholic voters with a clear choice — one that hinges on the sanctity of human life.

“If you’re not right on that issue, it has me concerned about your compass or your direction on other issues,” said Fedeli, a member of Legatus’ Cleveland Chapter.

Life issues

When it comes to the life issues, there’s little doubt that the differences between Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama are profound. According to a nonpartisan voter guide prepared by Priests for Life,McCain has voted to oppose Roe v.Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, while Obama has made unrestricted abortion a priority.

McCain also supported legislation providing protection for infants who survive abortion while Obama opposed a similar bill in the Illinois State Senate.

But with both McCain and Obama touting their positions on an array of other issues from the economy to the Iraq war, some Catholics may wonder whether a single issue like abortion should hold sway over others in their choice of a candidate.

After all, faithful Catholics should also be concerned about poverty, marriage and a host of other social issues. Many question whether war, for example, isn’t as evil as abortion — or whether providing healthcare for the poor isn’t as important as helping unborn children.

The answer, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is that “not all issues are equal.” The USCCB’s 2007 statement on political responsibility, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, draws a line between issues involving “matters of intrinsic evil” such as abortion and “affirmative obligations to seek the common good,” such as helping the poor.

Faithful Citizenship lays out 10 policy goals intended to help guide Catholics as they weigh the moral dimensions of their voting choices. Topping the list is protecting “the weakest in our midst — innocent unborn children” through an end to abortion, followed by such issues as immigration reform (on which Obama and McCain have nearly the same voting record), poverty, prejudice, peace, human rights and healthcare.

Guides developed by Priests for Life and Catholic Answers Action differ slightly in approach, but emphasize the pre-eminence of abortion and other life issues.

The Catholic Answers Voter’s Guide for Serious Catholics identifies five non-negotiables involving intrinsically evil actions: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning and homosexual “marriage.” The guide also says Catholics should “avoid to the greatest extent possible voting for candidates who endorse or promote intrinsically evil policies.”

All issues are not equal

Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput has staunchly defended Catholic teaching on the life issues this election season.

“One of the pillars of Catholic social thought is this: Don’t intentionally kill the innocent, and don’t allow others to do it. That’s where our political reasoning needs to start,” he explained. In Render Unto Caesar, his new book about the Catholic citizen’s role in public life, Archbishop Chaput calls abortion “the foundational issue of our age.”

“Obviously we face many other issues this fall — the war in Iraq, the economy, the need for immigration reform and others,” the archbishop told Legatus Magazine. “These are urgent and important. But they can’t be used as an alibi or counterweight to avoid defending the unborn child.”

Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, said common sense also dictates that all issues are not equal. For example, he said, although every life has the same value, the number of those being lost through abortion far exceeds that of other tragedies, including war. The key difference, he added, is that in war, although innocent people are sometimes killed, the government does not authorize their deliberate killing, as is the case with every single abortion.

The U.S. bishops’ Faithful Citizenship document further notes, “It is essential for Catholics to be guided by a well-formed conscience that recognizes that all issues do not carry the same moral weight and that the moral obligation to oppose intrinsically evil acts has a special claim on our consciences and our actions…. In the end, this is a decision to be made by each Catholic, guided by a conscience formed by Catholic moral teaching.”

Conscience, however, is not a matter of personal preference or opinion, as Archbishop Chaput points out in Render Unto Caesar. “For Catholics, ‘conscience’ demands a mind and heart well formed in the truth of Jesus Christ. And these come foremost through the teaching of the Catholic faith.”

Archbishop Chaput is quick to point out that he doesn’t tell Catholics who to vote for. “I don’t do that,” he said. “But if we describe ourselves as ‘Catholic,’ then we need to act in accord with Catholic teaching.”

Dissenting Catholics

Nonetheless, there are Catholics who, while claiming to accept Church teaching on human life, support pro-abortion candidates.

Among these is constitutional law scholar Douglas Kmiec of Pepperdine University, who has outlined his reasons for backing Obama in a new book, Can a Catholic Support Him? Asking the Big Question about Barack Obama.

Although Obama is a co-sponsor of the Freedom of Choice Act, which would undo nearly all state and federal limits on abortion, including partial-birth abortion, Kmiec said he thinks the Democratic candidate has better ideas than McCain on how to reduce abortion.

McCain and the Republicans, Kmiec argued, are focused on overturning Roe v.Wade, which Kmiec considers a “failed and uncertain path” because it would return the matter to the states, allowing them to become pro-abortion.

Kmiec said Obama’s approach, while retaining legal abortion, would provide prenatal and income support, paid maternity leave and greater access to adoption as means of reducing the incidence of abortion.

Archbishop Chaput, however, said all public leaders should be working to offer abortion alternatives.

“But ‘pro-choice’ candidates have used this bogus approach while running for office for 35 years with virtually no results,” the archbishop said. “We still have more than 1 million abortions a year.”

Kmiec also argues that Obama’s positions on the living wage, healthcare, family home foreclosures and the needs of the disadvantaged are more consistent with the Church’s social justice mission.

But Archbishop Chaput said the problem with that line of thinking is that “there’s no way to justify or ‘balance out’ killing an innocent unborn child by weighing it against other social benefits. No amount of good social welfare legislation can excuse support for a phony ‘right’ to abortion.”

Catholic outreach

Both McCain and Obama have reached out to Catholic voters, who make up nearly a quarter of the country’s electorate.

McCain launched a Catholics for McCain effort in December, setting up conference calls with key Catholic leaders and organizing groups in various states, particularly battlegrounds like Ohio.

The Obama campaign followed suit in April, appointing a 26-member National Catholic Advisory Council. In late September, Obama’s campaign revived its religious outreach by announcing a “faith, family and values” tour in key battleground states targeting voters less concerned about abortion or same-sex “marriage.”

Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), national co-chair of Catholics for McCain, said the Republican candidate’s campaign resonates with Catholics on core issues like abortion, euthanasia and marriage — and on social justice matters such as immigration.

Fedeli, who co-chairs Catholics for McCain in Ohio, agrees.

McCain wants to create a culture where all Americans will want to serve an interest greater than themselves, Fedeli said. “He is shy to talk about his faith and doesn’t talk much about religion, but when he says things like that, he’s saying we are called to be men for others.”

Brownback told Legatus Magazine that McCain’s position on core issues resonates with Catholics, whose vote will be critical in this election.

“We’re one vote away from overturning Roe v.Wade,” Brownback said. “If McCain wins, we’re likely to get one to three Supreme Court judges. If Obama wins, he will get to appoint the same number and we could well lose the chance to overturn Roe for 20 to 40 years. That’s at the core of this election. I would hope people would pray about it before they vote.”

Judy Roberts is freelance journalist based in Graytown, Ohio.

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Resources for Catholic voters

Booklet: Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States. www.faithfulcitizenship.org

Statement: Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics. U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.usccb.org/prolife

Various: Voter guides comparing the Republican and Democrat presidential candidates and party platforms, Voting with a Clear Conscience and more. Priests for Life Political Responsibility Center. www.priestsforlife.org/elections

Booklet: Voter’s Guide for Serious Catholics. Catholic Answers Action. www.caaction.com

Book: Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life by Archbishop Charles Chaput (Doubleday, 2008) Available at book stores everywhere or call toll-free (800) 726-0600.