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