Tag Archives: priests for life

Business meets faith – and they get along well

“Don’t let the collar fool you,” our executive director (and Legatus member) Janet Morana tells the new employees of Priests for Life, as she speaks about my role as national director.

She helps our staff – which consists of approximately 50 people in various branch offices — to avoid a common misconception people have about the connection between their work and their faith.

The misconception is that somehow, conducting business in the context of faith means being less business-like, or exempting oneself or one’s company from the very best practices and highest standards of the profession with which one is associated.

Faith does not justify being less qualified, less disciplined, less professional, less precise, or less determined to succeed. If anything, conducting business as believers means we are more compelled to strive for excellence.

Why? Because we know that our work not only means earthly progress but heavenly progress, and by our professional excellence we seek to give God the glory, as His sons and daughters.

Indeed, the Church teaches that the good we bring into the world by our professional work endures into the world to come! (see Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, n. 36-39).

Janet tells our Priests for Life employees, therefore, that the priest who is also their employer is going to be no less demanding than any other employer.

Let’s take a practical example that often arises: the need for good planning. As people of faith, we believe in the Holy Spirit and rely on his inspirations. But it would be silly, and indeed contrary to faith, to think that this stance of faith exempts us from board meetings, rigorous business plans, training sessions, and accountability to deadlines.

On the contrary, the intelligence we exercise in strategic planning, the wisdom to consult our own experience and that of others, and the discipline to set and keep deadlines, are in themselves gifts of that same Holy Spirit. Planning should never be divorced from prayer, but neither should prayer replace planning.

Another aspect of the relationship between faith and the business environment is that one’s place of business should be a place where the religious freedom of the employees and the employer can live nicely together.

A Christian business is not a religious community; the employees can be of different faith backgrounds. And Christian employers want their employees – whatever their faith may be – to feel free to express and practice it.

And the same goes for the employer. His or her practice of the faith is not at all an imposition of religion on the employees. This was made clear in the whole battle over the Obama HHS Mandate, which sought to force employers to cover abortion-inducing drugs in the health insurance offered to their employees. Priests for Life, as well as Legatus and many others, challenged this mandate in court. We ultimately prevailed.

But one of the arguments the other side made – and a common misconception – was that we were forcing our employees to adopt our religious beliefs and practices. Not at all. Rather, the legal argument was that the government could not force us to violate our faith as we conduct our business.

My friend Joe Brinck told me long ago that on his business stationery he had the motto, “We Defend Life from Fertilization to Natural Death” – a simple, powerful example of being God’s witness in the workplace.

The Christian faith is based on the Incarnation. God really does get mixed in with human flesh and blood, relationships, families, businesses and nations. We can, indeed, each be a faithful believer and a top-notch professional.

FRANK PAVONE is national director for Priests for Life – the largest ministry in the Catholic Church focused exclusively on ending abortion. Learn more at www.ProLifeCentral.com

Commit to specific pro-life tactics

Last month I reached my 25th anniversary of leading Priests for Life. In the course of this work, one of the reasons for our team’s success in building and sustaining the largest Catholic ministry dedicated to ending abortion is that we have understood, articulated, and preserved our focus. And this is one of the most important things for all groups to do in this Respect Life Month.

As I have been saying increasingly in my talks, and in strategy sessions with other leaders in the movement to end abortion, the term “pro-life” has become too big for its own good. Why, indeed, is any issue an issue at all if it does not impact human life? An argument can indeed be made that any issue worth discussing is, for that very reason, a “pro-life” issue.

And I agree that wherever and however human life is attacked or endangered, we need to be there to protect it. I agree that human life is sacred “from conception to natural death.” I agree that all issues are interrelated and that, properly understood, there is a consistent ethic of life.

But every good strategic planner and successful businessman knows that there is a difference between a vision statement and a mission statement (as there are differences between a mission statement, a strategy, an objective and a tactic).

No business can grow, nor movement succeed, without defining these carefully for itself. Some well-meaning but very careless people and groups are substituting the mission statement of the pro-life movement for its vision statement. We speak of “a culture of life,” and “respect for life from conception to natural death.” Those are not good mission statements; they are statements of vision. Statements of vision are broad, idealistic, big- picture articulations of what kind of future you want.

Mission statements, on the other hand, talk about what your group intends to do to move toward the fulfillment of that vision. Who are you and what do you do? What has come to be known as the “pro- life” movement has a mission which is much more limited and specific than “building a culture of life.” It is, indeed, a mission to restore the right to life of children in the womb, protecting them from the violence of abortion.

And the fulfillment of a mission involves various objectives, which are more specific still, quantifiable, and involve specific deadlines. In this Respect Life month, one of those specific objectives is to increase the pro-life majorities in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate by electing more pro-life candidates in the midterm elections.The deadline, clearly, is Election Day, November 6.

If there was ever a year that pastors do not have to be afraid of “losing their tax exempt status” by preparing people for the election, it’s this year. As I explain in my book Abolishing Abortion (AbolishingAbortion.com) this has never been a reason to be silent. And now, the Trump Administration, by executive order, has directed federal agencies not to enforce any measures against churches and pastors in a discriminatory way to silence them on political matters.

So we are asking churches, Legatus chapters, and many other groups to do two simple things:

Co-sponsor the National Election Prayer Campaign by promoting the simple prayer at ElectionPrayer.com, and distribute the Party Platform Comparison Piece at VotingInfo.net. This single sheet compares the Democratic and Republican platforms, quoting their own words on a variety of key issues.

This Respect Life Month, let’s recommit ourselves to a specific, practical, effective pro-life mission to save children from abortion!

 

FR. FRANK PAVONE is a national director for Priests for Life – the largest ministry in the Catholic Church focused exclusively on ending abortion. Learn more at www.ProLifeCentral.com

Shockwaves – abortion’s rattling impact

The trauma of abortion spreads beyond the baby, to the couple, siblings, family, and other relationships – even to workplaces and broader societal circles. Yet, only the healing power of Christ soothes its distress for good.

Abortion is never an isolated incident. There are relationships affected in addition to the baby who was denied a chance to live and the mother who lives with regrets, whether buried or on the surface. The shockwave-effect from each abortion is one of the reasons so many Legates are passionately involved in pro-life causes. The other reason is that God is pro-life. Thus, it leaves faithful Catholics with no other moral choice.

For Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life and the co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign and member of the Orlando, Florida Legatus chapter, her life is dedicated to the pro-life cause. Since 1989, she has held various local and national leadership roles in the movement and has assisted Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, since his ordination in 1988. In 2009, Legatus International awarded Morana the Cardinal John O’Connor Pro-life Hall of Fame Award.

Her latest book, Shockwaves: Abortion’s Wider Circle of Victims, shares personal accounts of the wounds left by abortion. “Since the early days, I’ve focused on the damage abortion does to women,” Morana explained. “In October of 1990, I prayed outside an abortion clinic for the first time and saw women with visible baby bumps going in to destroy their babies.” She was shocked to see women so far along in the pregnancy aborting their babies.

“Father Frank and I had the idea to make signs saying: ‘Abortion hurts women,” Morana said. “It’s always been on my heart from the beginning to help women who would tell us how they’ve been hurt.”

On November 11, 2002, Morana founded the Silent No More Awareness Campaign as a joint venture with Priests for Life and the Anglicans for Life. It offers post-abortive support and a platform for testimonies. The “I Regret My Abortion” signs first began appearing at their events.

Currently, there are 18,240 people registered with the Campaign, representing 77 countries. A survey among members shows that more than half of them waited over 20 years before seeking healing, although that time varied from one month to 36 years.

“In 2004, we had the first man give his testimony at the March for Life in D.C.,” Morana said. “And we’ve started having more people come forward like grandparents and siblings.”

Testimonies

Shockwaves is the outgrowth of these testimonies, giving a glimpse into the wound our nation has suffered after 45 years and over 59 million have been lost to legalized abortion.

“Abortion hurts people psychologically, physically, and emotionally,” Morana said. “And sometimes later in life, the women are unable to have more children.” She said that she wrote the book to reveal the extent that abortion’s shockwaves have affected society while also offering healing through support and resources.

Before we can heal, Morana explained that we need to understand what ails us. “Denial begins with the professionals,” she said. “The American Psychological Institute doesn’t even acknowledge abortion trauma.”

Her book contains a myriad of stories that demonstrate the shockwaves. For instance, in the chapter “Fatherhood Forever,” men reveal the painful aftermath of losing a child whether it was what he thought he wanted at the time or not.

John changed his mind about his girlfriend getting an abortion while sitting outside the facility in his car. He ran in, hoping to stop the abortion but was too late. “How could they do this to my child… Why was this child sacrificed because of our stupidity?” he cried. “I stopped seeing Janet. I was too filled with rage, anger, and grief to even look at her.”

When Paul Marshall’s girlfriend became pregnant in high school, their families insisted on abortion. Another pregnancy followed but Paul and his girlfriend turned to Planned Parenthood for parenting classes, hoping for a better outcome. “When we asked about taking classes, a clinic staffer told us that was the most foolish thing we could do and that we should have an abortion,” he said. The couple was told the baby was not even human yet.

Later when Paul came to realize he had destroyed his children, he turned to alcohol, burying his feelings until he heard there were other men hurting from abortion and attended an abortion-recovery program for men. “I am now the president and executive director of Care Net Pregnancy Center of Central New York, and we are committed to educating individuals with the truth about fetal development,” he explained. “I was lied to at Planned Parenthood and we know they are still lying about the humanity of the child in the womb.”

Stephen shared his testimony: “Clearly, I let her know it was her responsibility, not mine. Years later I realized she had the abortion for me.” More than 25 years after the abortion, Stephen was in the seminary, deep into prolife work. He contacted his old girlfriend to apologize for not being stronger and learned only then that he had not lost one child, but two—twins.

Stories include grandparents wanting to “fix” the problem and pressuring their children, friends thinking they are being supportive, former clinic workers and even former abortionists themselves. The extent of the shockwaves reveals just how very wounded a country that legalizes abortion becomes.

Healing Needed

Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, the director of the Institute for Marital Healing outside Philadelphia, addresses the effect that previous abortions can have on marriages in his forthcoming book with Ignatius Press on strengthening Catholic marriages. According to him, mistrust, feelings of betrayal and anger can emerge from the trauma of a previous abortion, requiring the work of forgiveness. Sometimes, however, the painful memory causing the conflict is buried so the couple does not even realize it is the source of much of their trouble.

“Spouses report being greatly helped by taking the post-abortion pain to the Sacrament of Reconciliation,” Dr. Fitzgibbons said. “Also, participation in a post-abortion healing programs, such as Project Rachel, has helped many spouses find healing.”

A priest once related to him that he often discovers there is a past abortion for couples with excessive anger. Dr. Fitzgibbons began discovering the same situation when he started asking about it.

“The most severe post-abortion psychological consequence that I have seen is the total loss of trust in a spouse which can progress to the development of paranoid thinking which requires antipsychotic medication,” he said. “I have also treated single males involved with a number of abortions who later developed bipolar disorder with grandiose delusions that were an unconscious attempt to escape from their guilt.”

“The awareness of the shockwaves from abortion is essential to breaking this silence and transforming the ministries of the Church and the health care profession,” Morana explained. Her book also offers a list of resources and explains the healing initiative game plan at AbortionShockwaves.com.

“We are making a difference,” Morana said. “I see people healing and going to Christ to stop the abusive behavior and be made new in Him. There are now three to four more pregnancy centers than there are abortion facilities. We are gaining.”

PATTI MAGUIRE ARMSTRONG, who wrote the newly published book, Legatus @ 30, is an award-winning author and Catholic journalist, TV and radio commentator, and mother of 10.

Janet Morana, Northern New Jersey Chapter

Janet Morana has been a pro-life leader on the local and national stages since 1989. She co-founded the Silent No More Awareness Campaign — the world’s largest mobilization of women who have had abortions. She is a weekly guest on EWTN Global Catholic Radio with Teresa Tomeo, is seen on EWTN’s Defending Life television series, and she co-hosts The Catholic View for Women, also on EWTN.

Janet Morana

Morana’s 2013 book Recall Abortion: Ending the Abortion Industry’s Exploitation of Women exposes the myriad ways in which abortion harms women and calls for a national recall of the procedure. She spoke with Legatus magazine staff writer Brian Fraga.

How did you get involved in the pro-life movement?

Basically, it was through Fr. Frank Pavone. He was my parish priest and it was his involvement that made me aware of how bad the problem is — and it gave me the desire to get involved. I started assisting him with activities in Staten Island, N.Y. Then when he went off to be the national director of Priests for Life, I continued to help him while I worked full time as a teacher and a mother. In 2000, I decided to leave public school teaching. Later I became the executive director at Priests for Life.

What did Fr. Pavone say that got you interested in the pro-life apostolate?

As a parish priest, he would preach often on the subject, so we got to learn a lot about it, and he invited everyone in the parish to be involved. I was a participant in life chains and praying in front of abortion clinics. It was praying in front of an abortion clinic for the first time that opened my eyes. Seeing women with noticeable baby bumps going in to destroy their child, it became a harsh reality for me.

Is there enough societal support for women in crisis pregnancies?

The pro-life movement has really stepped up to the plate and has expanded its outreach to women. There are more than 2,500 pregnancy health centers nationwide, but the sad thing is that not all women know the health care and support that’s available.

If you can, visit your local pregnancy center and see how you can help. The more we can be ambassadors of the good news to let women know that we’re here for them and here to help them, the better we can do at spreading the good news of the pro-life message.

Do you think Roe v. Wade will ever be overturned?

For me, it’s not just whether abortion is illegal or legal. My goal is to make it an unthinkable choice for any woman in an unexpected pregnancy. Having abortion legal gives permission. Some women would never have an abortion if it was illegal, but let’s face it, many would.

The goal is to absolutely overturn Roe v. Wade, but at the same time we have to work to change hearts and minds. It doesn’t matter what the law is if nobody will want to do it. Yes, abortion is an evil. It’s bad for your health. We’re going to work to make it illegal, but my basic goal is to make it unthinkable so nobody would ever want an abortion.

How can pro-life voters discern their choices in this election year?

The first thing I challenge them to do is go to our special website: PoliticalResponsibility.com. We have a comparison of the party platforms. If you look at the Democratic and Republican platforms on a whole host of issues, it’s a stark difference. To me, it makes it crystal clear how to vote when you look at the platform because the party does matter.

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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.

Recall Abortion

Janet Morana exposes the evils of the abortion industry and its harm to women . . .

MoranaRecall Abortion
St. Benedict Press, 2013
232 pages, $21.95 hardcover

New Jersey Legate Janet Morana’s new book, subtitled Ending the Abortion Industry’s Exploitation of Women, warns of legal abortion’s dangers, which are all but ignored by the government, the media and the judiciary.

The executive director of Priests For Life, Morana exposes how abortion risks and degrades women’s health — and she exposes the industry’s lies. She also investigates abortion’s debilitating aftereffects and gives voice to women who have chosen abortion and have regretted it. Their testimonies are a powerful glimpse into the real suffering abortion causes, including depression and lasting emotional scars.

Order: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

BloodMoney

Filmmaker David Kyle exposes the evil greed and exploitation of the abortion industry . . .

BloodMoney
Writer/Director: David Kyle
TAH.LLC Films, 2010. Not Rated. 80 min.

Filmmaker David Kyle’s BloodMoney goes where few documentaries have dared go — into the belly of the beast that is Planned Parenthood. He exposes the truth behind the nation’s billion-dollar abortion industry and its systematic exploitation of women.

Kyle is joined by Alveda King, Fr. Frank Pavone, Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade, who later converted to Catholicism), and others. He examines abortion’s devastating effects on women.

Order: Ignatius Press, Aquinas and More

Pro-life powerhouse

After 20 years, Priests for Life continues to save lives and change the culture . . .

cover-april10

Mention Priests for Life to the average Catholic, and he’s likely to recall the visiting priest who preached at his parish on Respect Life Sunday.

But to someone else, Priests for Life might mean a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat for those suffering from the pain of abortion, the face of Dr. Alveda King and her efforts to reach the African-American community with the pro-life message, or the Silent No More Awareness Campaign’s presence at the annual March for Life. All these ministries and others are part of a group that has become one of the world’s largest pro-life organizations.

Multi-faceted

Priests for Life began 20 years ago in San Francisco doing what it still does — equipping and sending priests to preach the pro-life message. Propelled by a desire to serve the pro-life movement, the group has expanded its mission and reach over the years, unifying pro-life efforts across the country in the process.

Father Frank Pavone is the man responsible for growing Priests for Life into the powerhouse it is today. A genial priest with an upbeat outlook, he has the steely resolve of a general engaged in battle.

In 1993, Fr. Pavone took the reins as Priests for Life’s first full-time national director with only $3,000, a tiny office and no staff. He began by traveling around the country to meet with pro-life leaders. “I would say to them, ‘How can we help you?’ — even though they were bigger than we were at that point,” he said.

In order to train priests to lead pro-life efforts in their communities, Fr. Pavone said he first had to know the movement inside and out — and then serve it. “The priest,” he explained, “is never ordained for himself. He is ordained to serve the people.”

As he worked with priests around the country, he said, “we found that we could be of service to lay groups by giving seminars, helping with post-abortion healing — all those things that tied in so naturally to the ministry of the priest.”

Theresa Burke

Theresa Burke

One of the first groups he encountered was Rachel’s Vineyard, a post-abortion training and healing ministry developed by psychotherapist Theresa Burke. Father Pavone met Burke in 1996 and later helped her with a retreat. At the time, the ministry was operating out of Burke’s home.

As Rachel’s Vineyard continued to grow, Priests for Life gave the ministry practical support and, about six years ago, proposed that it become part of Priests for Life. Such groups have made Priests for Life what it is today: a diverse, multi-faceted organization with a shared mission of spreading the pro-life message.

Jerry Horn, Priests for Life’s senior adviser and public relations director, describes the organization as “one-stop shopping for life issues from activism to education to ministry to healing and all the different areas that embody the pro-life movement.”

Its programs cover clergy and lay training, post-abortion healing, prayer, political responsibility and outreach to youth and the African-American and Hispanic communities. The group’s presence is pervasive. It’s at the United Nations as a nongovernmental organization; it’s on television and radio with its Defending Life series, seen and heard on EWTN and the Internet.

Executive director Janet Morana is co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign and a member of Legatus’ Morris County Chapter. She credits Fr. Pavone with making sure that Priests for Life is always developing new ways to communicate the pro-life message. “He saw what technology could do for our cause,” she said.

Aside from the group’s radio and television presence, they’ve made inroads on social networking sites like Facebook, added a YouTube presence and developed a sophisticated website.

Mobilization

Fr. Frank Pavone and Janet Morana

Fr. Frank Pavone and Janet Morana

Although the last two decades have seen Priests for Life bring other ministries and programs under its umbrella, Morana believes its most important accomplishment thus far has been its original work: helping clergy speak about abortion from the pulpit.

“The other side makes it seem like we’re picking on women and hurting women, but when they see one of our priests come in and preach, they notice that people don’t run out of the pews. Laypeople are hungry to hear our message,” she said.

Other pro-life leaders agree that Priests for Life has successfully mobilized thousands for the pro-life cause. “They’re activating and motivating ordinary Catholics and their parishes to truly make the sanctity of human life a major focus within their own volunteer life and within their parishes,” said Peggy Hartshorn, president of Heartbeat International and a member of Legatus’ board of governors.

In addition, Hartshorn said, the group has brought Catholics and other Christians together around the life issue.

Horn noted that Priests for Life has also helped unify the pro-life movement to focus on building a culture of life. Horn, who has worked in the pro-life movement since 1983, said one of his greatest frustrations was disunity in the movement.

“In the last eight to 10 years, Fr. Frank and his leadership have been able to draw those together who might not have been together before. There is a greater force of unity today, and in that unity is great strength.”

David Bereit, an evangelical Protestant who is national director of 40 Days for Life, agreed. “When you look at the diversity of the movement, I don’t think any other organization or leader has been as successful at bringing together all the different facets of the movement to make sure they’re moving in the same direction and in communication with each other.”

Bereit said he met Fr. Pavone a few times before trying to expand 40 Days from a few independent local campaigns into a national event. But when Bereit finally bounced the idea off him, Fr. Frank “was unbelievably encouraging. He said, ‘Not only do I think it’s a good idea, but let me know if there’s anything we can do to help.’”

When 40 Days went national and then international, Bereit said Priests for Life helped promote the events through EWTN, YouTube and Silent No More.

“I’m confident that we would not have seen the growth we have had were it not for Fr. Frank and the Priests for Life team. They’ve provided constant encouragement to us.”

Bereit said he also appreciates Fr. Pavone’s spirituality and focus on the importance of keeping God at the center of pro-life efforts. “He and Priests for Life are involved in political and educational awareness, but they understand that first and foremost, they are involved in a spiritual battle.”

Dr. Thomas Hilgers, founder of the Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha, Neb., said he believes Priests for Life’s spiritual component is crucial to the success of building the culture of life. “This organization works tirelessly in many areas, yet the importance of prayer is always front and center,” he said.

Father Pavone is keenly aware of the spiritual warfare that he and his team are engaged in. Although it involves real people, he said he knows that the enemy is ultimately Satan.

“I often say in my talks that the abortion advocate, the abortionist, the pro-abortion politician, are not in their essence our enemies because these are our brothers and sisters,” he explained. “But they are captive to the enemy, carrying out his work. The works they advance are part of the enemy’s assault. But we separate those works from the individuals as people because we want to liberate them from the enemy and see them come over to the cause of life. And we will welcome them when they do.”

Judy Roberts is a Legatus Magazine staff writer.

The gift of life

If you aren’t progressing in your relationship with God, you are in fact regressing . . .

Patrick Novecosky

Patrick Novecosky

I was listening to an NPR interview with a rabbi this morning. The reporter asked him if his relationship with God had changed over the course of the last 20 years. To my surprise, he said No!

Maybe it’s just my Catholic upbringing, but I had always heard that if you weren’t progressing in your relationship with God, you were in fact regressing. With his infinite understanding of us, God is always inviting us to grow in a dynamic relationship with him — not only for our own benefit, but for the good of humanity.

One of the things I’ve come to understand more deeply over the course of my career as a Catholic journalist is how crucial the pro-life movement is to the survival of Christianity, not to mention the human race! It boils down to the simple fact that humans are the only creatures made in the image and likeness of God. That makes us special. It sets us apart. There are some who claim that people are merely “thinking animals.” Their radical claims have led to movements that promote euthanasia, abortion and environmental extremism. These are the folks who believe that people are behind all of the problems facing the planet, so the ultimate solution is to stop having children so the earth can return to its natural state.

All of these movements fly in the face of logic — and the entire history of Judeo-Christian thought. Without people, creation is without purpose. God created us to be with him, and the framers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence knew it. They wrote that God endowed each of us “with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” There’s a reason they put “life” first. Without it, the others are irrelevant!

The pro-life community in the United States is a beacon to those around the world who defend the dignity of every human being. The movement is stronger and more united than it has ever been. Much of the credit for that goes to Fr. Frank Pavone and his team of pro-life warriors at Priests for Life. (Click here for a related story) The organization has gone out of its way to bring pro-life leaders together in order to promote the culture of life. By uniting the movement, they’ve worked to eliminate misunderstandings and overlapping efforts. And the timing couldn’t be better because pro-lifers are more vital to humanity’s survival than ever before.

By the grace of God and a lot of hard work, the pro-life movement is bearing fruit. Survey after survey over the past year has shown that the majority of Americans consider themselves pro-life. There is still a lot of work to do, but the tide has turned, and it’s up to us to maintain the momentum. How? By ensuring that our relationship with God doesn’t grow stagnant and by taking every opportunity to defend life.

Patrick Novecosky is Legatus Magazine’s editor.

Legatus conference rejuvenates pro-life advocates

Legatus members find that the pro-life movement is coming together like never before. . . 

Kathleen Eaton has been working full-time in the pro-life movement for nearly 30 years. But even with her depth of knowledge and experience, Eaton says she left the annual Legatus Pro-Life Conference full of enthusiasm.

“I came back from the conference on fire for my ministry and the issue of life,” said Eaton, who runs a number of crisis pregnancy clinics and shelters in Southern California.

Legates like Eaton from across the country received in-depth education on the pro-life movement’s challenges during the three-day conference held in Washington, D.C. Attendees not only heard from pro-life experts, but they also attended a special Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Fr. Frank Pavone

Fr. Frank Pavone

The May 6-8 conference began with Mass and a reception at the Hilton Washington. Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute gave the opening address on the “legal and political conspiracy to impose abortion on the world.”

Many attendees said that one of the highlights was a panel discussion with prolife leaders like Janet Morana (Priests for Life), Fr. Thomas Euteneuer (Human Life International) and Eric Scheidler (Pro-Life Action League). They discussed bringing the pro-life message to the grassroots.

“I realized that our battle won’t be fought in Washington,” Eaton said, a member of Legatus’ Orange Coast Chapter. “It has to be grassroots, fought in our communities and our churches.”

Austin Ruse

Austin Ruse

But Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes, a member of Legatus’ Toronto Chapter, said pro-life legislation has to accompany grassroots change.

“The law is the great educator,” he said. “In a new poll, over 90% of women said they wouldn’t have an abortion again if it were illegal.”

Delegates also attended the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on May 8. The keynote speakers were U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Archbishop Raymond Burke, head of the Vatican’s highest court.

The archbishop discussed the Notre Dame scandal in his address.

“The profound granting of an honorary doctorate at Notre Dame University to our President who is as aggressively advancing an anti-life and anti-family agenda is a source of the gravest scandal,” he said, referring to Notre Dame’s May 17 commencement. “Catholic institutions cannot offer any platform to, let alone honor, those who teach and act publicly against the moral law.”

The entire Legatus event was geared toward enhancing members’ understanding of the complex issues facing Catholic leaders in our day, said Laura Sacha, Legatus’ conference director.

“Members have their own chapter experience, which is essential,” she explained. “But our conferences allow them to learn from and network with like-minded leaders from across the country. Everyone who attends our summits and conferences grows from the experience and goes away more excited about being Catholic.”

Patrick Novecosky is the editor of Legatus Magazine.