Ending Abortion the Church’s Way – Part 4

While some pro-life organizations have tried to activate the Church for pro-life by criticizing the bishops, Priests for Life has instead promoted their teachings and documents, encouraged their initiatives, and served the clergy and laity of their dioceses through seminars, parish weekends, and materials provided without charge.

To work in harmony with the bishops, it is important to understand their role in relationship to the pro-life movement.

A careful reading of the bishops’ own Pastoral Plan for Pro-life Activities, as well as of the many documents of the Magisterium about the structure of the Church, tells us that the bishops do not see themselves as sitting at some master control switchboard, creating strategy and projects for pro-life organizations. In fact, the pro-life committee of the US bishops’ conference does not even see its role as giving “approbation” to pro-life groups. Rather, as confirmed by correspondence between the committee and Priests for Life, the committee sees its role as encouraging all those who are engaged in promoting the Gospel of Life. Catholics are to be in union with the teachings of their bishops. But they are responsible for implementing those teachings through their own new initiatives. Moreover, the pro-life movement reaches far beyond the Catholic Church.

Who, then, “directs” the pro-life movement?

The answer is that the movement is not a single entity that anyone directs; it is a movement, which gives rise to many entities. It starts in the depths of the human heart and soul, moved by the call of conscience. It begins to take shape around the kitchen table and the telephone, the email and the coffee shop. It coalesces into county groups and parish committees, pregnancy centers and lobbying efforts.

It is the role of bishops to herald the Gospel of Life by their preaching, teaching, and stirring into flame the gifts of God in the hearts of the laity. They are a sign of Christ among us, proclaiming reconciliation for all who have had abortions. They are good shepherds and servants of the People of Life.

And it is to that people that the movement belongs.

Fr. Frank Pavone


Father Frank A. Pavone is an American Roman Catholic priest and pro-life activist. He is the National Director of Priests for Life and serves as the Chairman and Pastoral Director of Rachel's Vineyard.

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  • Warren Jewell

    Very well, but now with our anti-life enemies – for such they are – getting so organized, pro-life forces need coordination that we focus our efforts and prayers where they are most useful to our unborn brothers and sisters.

    I have felt myself this lack of bringing grace to bear at the points where it is most needed, and not only about abortion.

  • Father Pavone – I pray that the bishops would be a united voice when talking about pro-life issues. Instead we read Archbishop Wilton Gregory’s quote about president elect Obama having this effect on our nation … “a great step forward for humanity and a sign that in the United States the problem of racial discrimination has been overcome.”

    (UK Times on line..mhtml:%7B7C7E04DA-E9BB-4958-B7A8-EC6C800CF3E6%7Dmid://00000178/!x-usc:http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article5097668.ece.)

    When fifty percent of all black children are aborted … where is the racial equality? With three thousand babies aborted in America every day – where is the step forward for humanity? Why does the good archbishop laud Mr. Obama and his genocide and infanticide leanings?

    As a post abortive woman, I find his statement to be contrary to church teaching and to be a dismissal of life issues.

    I have written to him and I pray that he reads my letter for although I do not wish to challenge or criticize am archbishop, I find that as a follower of Christ, trusting in His Church, I have been betrayed by the archbishop’s statement.

    Because the bishops are public figures, it is incumbent upon them to chose their words carefully and not cause the faithful to be scandalized by them.

    Yours in Christ –

  • terrygeorge

    I do not think that the bishops failure to provide better leadership and unity on this issue is an excuse to not criticize them. Back in my home diocese, the priest was proudly pronouncing that it is no sin to vote for a any candidate, and people were saying that statement was in line with the bishop’s statements. no further explanation was given, just vote your conscience. thats all. I’m sorry, but if catholics voted 95% pro life as blacks voted 95% pro obama, we’d be out of this mess already

  • terrygeorge

    also, we can be every bit as cricital of our bishops as they have been of our current prolife president, undermining the pro life position and majorities which had once been attained

  • Grace Harman

    I too see something terribly wrong with President-elect Obama’s support of Planned Parenthood’s racist attack on Black women’s babies. Margaret Sanger was racist and wanted to eliminate Blacks, Orientals, and other dark skinned people by contraception and sterilization. Her P.P. Organization now targets these same groups here and around the world, but now they use abortion (by placement of abortion mills) in black and hispanic neighborhoods and countries. Abortion is now the largest cause of death -above heart disease, stroke, cancer and AIDS combined -for U.S. blacks. Doesn’t he care??? Wake up everyone! These are Paid Killers feeding on fear and poverty of these people who need help and support – not the murder of their babies. Contraceptives don’t work and do harm to women and actually cause a “need” for abortion. Teach chastity and waiting for marriage, not “safe sex” -which is only fueling the massive S.T.D. epidemic.

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  • billy2231

    I am not sure how anyone can think there is going to be a change with our goverment with regards to abortions, we have had both parties in control and no President has step up to the challange. I have heard President elect Obama say. “we need a better approch to abortion by reducing the numbers of abortion” I am not totaly sure how that may be acomplished. If we could reduce the numbers it would be much easer to elaminate the procedure. I feel we need God’s guidance in this issue, I am sure God has blessed someone with wisdom how to reduce the number of woman not willing to carrie their baby’s to term.

  • plowshare

    Unfortunately, billy2231, there is plenty of room for change with our government. FOCA (the Freedom of Choice Act, which Obama promised Planned Parenthood he would sign) all by itself would wipe out every legal restriction on abortion. This includes parental consent laws, parental notification laws, waiting periods for abortion, the ban on partial birth abortion…

    At first I was skeptical when I read about FOCA doing all this, but the August 15 memorandum of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops lays out the reasons why it probably will do that, with cogent arguments. You can read it at:

    Particularly telling is the fact that the Casey decision adopted an “undue burden” standard substantially more lenient towards abortion regulations than the “strict scrutiny” standard of Roe v. Wade, which would be reinstated by FOCA. Justices Souter, Kennedy, and O’Connor explicitly said in “Casey” that “All abortion regulations interfere to some extent with a woman’s ability to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy” and FOCA explicitly forbids any interference at all.

    Even now, Democrats are spending millions of dollars a week trying to influence a runoff election in Georgia for the US Senate. If they can win that and also the seats in Alaska and Minnesota that are still in doubt, they will have a filibuster-proof majority in the US Senate. I hope I am wrong, but I am afraid a filibuster is the only thing standing in the way of FOCA now that Obama is going to be President.

    Furthermore, if Obama has his way, abortion will probably be treated like any other medical expense under his health plan. That will mean our tax money going in part to fund abortions. Worse yet, the cost of abortions is surely going to rise steeply as women don’t have to pay for most of the cost out of their pockets. I’ve watched the cost of medical treatment climb through the roof for practically all insurance-covered expenses, and you can expect the same for abortion.

  • merlevross

    The mission of the Pope, Bishops, and Priests is to teach the Faith to the people of the Catholic Church. I submit they have failed miserably when over 50% of Catholics believe that abortion is OK and that life does not begin at conception. Two of the most basic and important doctrines of our faith. If were hired to teach your children the most basic concept of math, namely that 2 plus 2 equals 4, and after one semester of teaching over 50% of my students fail a test that only has one question, namely what does 2 plus 2 equal? You would fire me as one who failed miserably in my job. We Catholics are now in the rediculous position of having our Bishops tell us that to vote for a candidate who supports abortion is a mortal sin in St. Louis but it is a virtue in the Diocese of Dubuque? Morality is now determined by geography?? How prescient can we be?? My friends won’t listen to me. They say “Who are you to tell me what my faith should believe? I won’t believe until I hear it from the pulpit. What a shame we are such cowards! Merle V. Ross

  • tarasz

    Where are parts Two and Three? I found Part One in Fr. Pavone’s archives under “Columnists.”


    In June of 2004 Bishop Gainer spoke out against local politicians support of abortion rights and asked them to refrain from receiving Holy Communion. In November of that same year Bishop Ronald Gainer and the other three bishops of Kentucky decided to allow the “morning after pill” in Kentucky Catholic Institutions. This form of abortafacient has been deemed intrinsically evil by Church teaching, from the Didache to present. Pope Pius XII emphatically stated that “To stop ovulation for the purpose of preventing conception is an illicit act of direct sterilization.” An act, which according to Humanae Vitae, is to be “equally rejected” as a form of contraception. In other words, it is intrinsically evil. How scandalous of the bishops to allow this and just a few months earlier condemn Catholic politicians. Also, on November 2 (the Sunday before the presidential election) of this year our priest was asked to read a statement from the bishop telling of the evils voting for a pro-abortion candidate. I found the letter very disturbing and very hypocritical. I have emailed the Bishop’s office for over two months seeking an explanation to his and the other bishop’s 2004 decision to no avail. The only explanation I have been given is by the local Catholic radio call-in show where I sought an answer. The explanation I received was this, “Science says that it takes at least 24 hours for sperm to reach the egg and so that is what the bishop’s decision is based on.” I have one question, are we putting Almighty God in a box? I know of one person (The Blessed Virgin) that was conceived without sperm and I bet it was within 24 hours. Let science figure that one out!

    The bishop’s decision is contained in this document:

    CCK Guideline for Catholic Health Care Institutions Treating Victims of Sexual Assault for The Dioceses of Kentucky (You won’t find it on the CCK website)

  • Mary Kochan

    The Blessed Virgin was not conceived without sperm. She was conceived in the normal human manner, except without sin.

    Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

    Perhaps you meant to say that the “Blessed Virgin conceived….”

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