HOW TO ENCOURAGE YOUR PRIEST TO BE ACTIVELY PRO-LIFE
By Fr. Frank A. Pavone
Priests for Life
"I never hear any sermons in my church about abortion." "We don’t get much
leadership or encouragement for the pro-life activities we suggest in our
parish. Father doesn’t seem to be very interested in the pro-life movement. He
seems afraid to address abortion."
Many good people voice such concerns across the country. While some
complaints spring from unrealistic expectations, we nonetheless rightfully look
to our priests for moral leadership in what the bishops have called "the
fundamental human rights issue of our day"(1989 Resolution on Abortion).
People have a right to hear from their spiritual leaders the truth about
abortion. And thank God, there are many courageous and even heroic church
leaders who have been doing their duty.
But if it hasn’t been happening enough, there are things that you can do
about it. You’ve probably tried before, but don’t stop now. The babies and their
parents need us more than ever! Following are some practical steps you can take
to help your priest become a more active pro-life leader.
A special national association, recognized by the Catholic Church, is now
actively working to activate all priests for the pro-life movement. This
association is "Priests for Life." With headquarters in New York, Priests for
Life reaches priests throughout the country with a regular newsletter that
provides ideas, sample homilies, and encouragement to priests to fight abortion.
We publish a brochure called "Addressing Abortion with Confidence" It helps
priests to identify and overcome fears they might have about addressing
abortion. Priests for Life also has chapters in various cities. Priests gather
to encourage and cooperate with one another on pro-life projects. Everybody
benefits: the priests, the parish, the pro-life movement, and the babies! When
Priests for Life approaches a priest, it is on a peer-to-peer level, and this
proves very effective.
To sign your priest up for Priests for Life, you can
send us his name and parish (and
address, if you have it) and we will send him information. (You may want to send
us a donation to cover expenses of materials and mailing.) As another option, we
can send materials to you which you can pass on to your priest, or you can write
him your own note simply telling him that Priests for Life exists and giving him
the address. The best strategy will vary from case to case. (You may want to try
Priests are people. They are affected by praise and criticism. Whenever your
priest speaks up for life, let him know you are behind him! Tell him to keep it
up, and write a note of thanks!
Write to Priests for Life and ask for our brochure "A
Letter to My Priest." This can be given to your priest and is a request that
he be more involved in pro-life work.
Approach other key leaders in the parish about pro-life concerns. Besides the
pastor, talk to the associate priests, deacons, religious and lay staff.
Arrange a meeting between your priest and two or three active, well-informed,
pro-lifers of the parish. Use a humble approach that seeks to educate rather
than criticize. Do not take the approach "Father, you’re not doing your job."
Rather, tell the priest you value his leadership, and explain what motivates
your own pro-life involvement. Seek to understand your priest. Listen to his own
thoughts about pro-life issues, and help him find the best "point of entry" for
him to address abortion. Bring him up to date on the movement, and on practical
possibilities for action. Mention several possible activities, not just one, and
then leave it in the priest’s hands to choose one of them or to come up with his
own. Even if he does neither, you have educated him a little more on the issue.
Stress that people like you are ready to do the work involved in any project.
Have realistic expectations about what your priest can do. Understand the
demands and limitations he faces in his role of caring for the entire parish.
Pray for all priests!
For more information, listen to our audio tape
"Helping Priests Fight Abortion.". It may be especially helpful to gain
a proper understanding of the
consistent ethic of life.
Priests for Life Brochures
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