To: (Multiple email addresses may be specified by separating them with a comma)
BY Father Frank Pavone
It was early
1994. I had been national director of Priests for Life for several months and
was sitting with my first full-time employee, Sue Finn. I had one small office,
a few donated computers, a fax machine and a few thousand dollars.
“What is the vision you want Priests
for Life to accomplish?” she asked me.
I explained to her that ending
abortion required spiritual renewal among God’s people, and a readiness to
sacrifice a lot of personal comfort to battle this evil — just as was true in
the abolitionist movement and the civil rights movement.
Therefore, we have to renew the
clergy to lead us in this battle. Then they will fan the flames of God’s Spirit
in their people. And once the people of life are spiritually renewed, they will
take to the streets in numbers so massive and continuous that neither the media nor the government will be able to
ignore their demands for justice for the unborn.
is the vision. I repeated to Sue what I had said to Cardinal O’Connor when I
requested permission from him to do this work full time: “Your Eminence, I
don’t want to move papers; I want to move people!”
that’s just what Priests for Life has been doing. Priests and bishops are
speaking up more than ever. Catholics are mobilizing. We have won elections for
pro-life candidates and will do so again in November. Activists are mobilizing
at the mills through efforts we have pushed hard, like the 40 Days for Life and
the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants. The vision is being realized. We are winning.
hasn’t been a day that I have looked back. There hasn’t been a day that I have
not felt the enthusiasm of the very first day of this mission.
pro-life movement has entered a new chapter of this battle. It is time to
redouble every effort and to push over the finish line. Now is the time to cut
off any “dead wood,” any projects that aren’t bearing fruit, any expenditures
and efforts that are not actually moving us toward the goal of ending abortion,
and any bureaucracy in our structures that is hindering rather than advancing
few years ago I announced that we were starting a community and accepting our
own seminarians. I had discussed this with Cardinal O’Connor back in 1995. The
reasons we waited so long to start it, however, are the same ones that now lead
us to the conclusion that it is best for Priests for Life to remain an
association of the faithful, open to priests, deacons, seminarians and laity
everywhere, rather than become a society of apostolic life with its own
community. These reasons include:
mission has met with significant success within the bounds of its current
structure, activities and assets.
for Life makes extensive use of media, therefore making a specific geographical
locale less necessary.
for Life pastoral team members are itinerant missionaries, also making a
centralized location less necessary.
specialty of this ministry is the pro-life cause, and energies and resources
should be placed on that rather than on formation of men toward ordination.
a community and training men for ordination is a long-term process, and there
is an inherent urgency to the mission of defending the unborn and vulnerable,
and that goal is within reach now.
the one association, Priests for Life, which will also be called Missionaries
of the Gospel of Life, will remain focused exclusively on the pro-life work
itself — and leave to dioceses and religious communities the specific task of
forming men for the priesthood.
are also going to vastly scale down the building projects that we have in the
works. We don’t need big buildings, and I don’t want to divert all kinds of
attention and resources to building anything that may prove superfluous.
ministry of Priests for Life / Missionaries of the Gospel of Life will continue
to train, equip and encourage the faithful — clergy and laity — to build the
culture of life. Both laity and clergy may work full time for the
association. Moreover, lay persons can make promises to live out that
spirituality and mission as missionaries of the gospel of life. We are grateful
for the support and encouragement of our Bishop Patrick Zurek, the new bishop
of Amarillo, Texas.
We’re closer to victory than ever
before. The focus now needs to be getting the job done, not setting up more
structures for plans to get it done in the next generation.
The time is now.
Now is the time to stop all the
cautious dancing with language and plainly challenge our citizens to elect
Now is the time to stop lamenting
that we’re not reaching abortion-minded women, and instead, simply go to the
places where they obviously are — the abortion clinics — and be present at
those killing centers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, until the killing stops.
Now is the time to stop worrying
about those who aren’t doing their jobs, and partnering more closely with those
who are. It doesn’t take a majority to get the job done; it takes a minority
that risks everything and does whatever it can.
We have entered a new phase of the
pro-life movement. Come with us. It’s time for victory.
Frank Pavone is the national director of Priests for Life.