1. Structure and Finances
Priests for Life, the largest Catholic-inspired apostolate focused on ending abortion, is actually a family of interrelated apostolates and projects, including three corporations (Priests for Life, Inc., Gospel of Life Ministries, and Rachel's Vineyard), and various related projects and outreaches, including Deacons for Life, Seminarians for Life, Missionaries of the Gospel of Life, the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, African-American Outreach, Hispanic Outreach, Stand True Youth Outreach, Political Responsibility, Prayer Campaign, Life on the Line Media Outreach, and the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues.
Our Pastoral Team includes Janet Morana (co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign), Dr. Alveda King (niece of Martin Luther King, Jr.), Marie Smith (wife of Congressman Chris Smith), Dr. Theresa and Kevin Burke (co-founders of Rachel's Vineyard), Bryan Kemper (founder of Stand True), and others who work with the ministries that comprise the Priests for Life Family.
The priests who serve full time are Fr. Stephen Imbarrato, Fr. Frank Pavone, Fr. Denis Wilde, OSA (Associate Director), and Fr. Walter Quinn, OSA. They are all priests in good standing and possess the necessary faculties and permission to do this work.
The following report is a partial summary of some of our activities. More detailed reports of some of the other branches of our ministry for 2016 are being prepared and will be linked here shortly.
Independent Financial Audit
Priests for Life completed in a timely way its independent financial audit for 2015. We have had consistently positive audits for two decades. Our audit committee once again reported to our board of directors that the audit showed that our finances are in good order. The members of our audit committee include executives of JP Morgan Chase and various Wall Street financial companies. Their financial expertise has given us renewed confidence in our operations. You may view the audit at www.priestsforlife.org/audit.
Regarding our finances, the report issued by the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy after its Visitation was completed in 2013 -- a report about which the same Congregation directly updated the United States bishops, stated,
"The financial administration of PFL has been publicly called into question. Despite various accounts to the contrary, it is the opinion of the Apostolic Visitator that the Association has been relatively well administered financially… There has been an annual Audit of the Association every year…[T]he work and finances of PFL are in order… [T]he administrative costs of PFL are in keeping with other groups receiving similar funding in the United States."
It is our hope that this will satisfy any remaining doubts on the same topic that seem to occasionally surface in various dioceses.
Update of Organizational Bylaws and Mission Statement
Priests for Life is not an "association of the faithful" canonically. Though it was established as such in 1991, it has freely expanded its work and structure in such a way that the original statutes no longer apply. Most well known Catholic apostolates, of course, are not associations either -- such as EWTN and the Knights of Columbus. Like them, Priests for Life is an apostolate that spreads Catholic teaching and seeks to apply it to our culture.
The bylaws and corporate structure of Priests for Life have undergone a thorough review by our General Counsel who continues to be satisfied that they conform to proper corporate practices and all relevant laws.
Our Family of Ministries
Priests for Life (direct ministry to priests)
Our priests offer clergy seminars in dioceses, training materials for preaching and counseling, and individual consultation for clergy on the pro-life dimensions of their ministry.
Deacons for Life
Deacons are also members of the clergy, and often have opportunities not available to priests to promote the Gospel of Life. We train, encourage, and mobilize them, too.
Seminarians for Life
Those who are training for the ministry need to know, from the beginning, the ways in which they can prepare to be effective advocates for life. We therefore reach out to seminarians and provide them the tools and the example by which they can proclaim, celebrate, and serve the Gospel of Life. This involves presentations in seminaries, online resources, and more.
Missionaries of the Gospel of Life (pro-life spirituality for clergy and laity)
Being pro-life, and doing pro-life activities, is not a hobby or simply rooted in an ideology or political platform. It is a spirituality, and is rooted in our discipleship. We therefore teach both clergy and laity the spirituality of being a Missionary of the Gospel of Life, and how that spirituality shapes pro-life strategy and tactics.
Under the Priests for Life umbrella is the world's largest ministry for healing after abortion. Rachel's Vineyard holds hundreds of retreats each year for men and women who have lost children to abortion.
Silent No More Awareness Campaign
A project of Priests for Life and Anglicans for Life, the Silent No More Awareness Campaign is the world's largest mobilization of men and women who have lost a child to abortion, have experienced healing, and now want to share their testimony. The Campaign promotes healing and a greater awareness of the wounds abortion causes.
Civil Rights for the Unborn
Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is the director of Civil Rights for the Unborn, which is the outreach program of Priests for Life to the African-American community. Alveda declares that the civil rights movement of today is the pro-life movement!
Both in the US and around the world, we are assisting communities of Hispanic heritage to build the Culture of Life.
Gospel of Life Ministries
Gospel of Life Ministries brings to an interdenominational audience the wide variety of pro-life work that Priests for Life does.
Bryan Kemper, is the founder and president of Stand True Ministries, a Christ-centered pro-life group determined to awaken the youth of this country and share the message of life and the Gospel of Christ. He has spent years reaching out to youth and encouraging this generation to get involved, and now he continues that outreach with Stand True Ministries, which is an affiliate organization of Priests for Life and Gospel of Life Ministries.
Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues (PNCI)
Marie Smith is the Director of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues (PNCI), which falls under the umbrella of Gospel of Life Ministries. PNCI equips and encourages individuals to engage in the political process and works to ensure that elected and appointed officials not only uphold their obligations to protect life but are assisted in such efforts.
Life on the Line
Life on the Line is our broadcast ministry (radio, television, and internet), consisting of live and pre-recorded programs as well as short spots provided to media outlets around the world, including EWTN, Bott Radio Network, Radio Maria, Relevant Radio, Vatican Radio, and much more.
All we do is rooted in prayer, which both undergirds and fosters productive action. We foster prayer campaigns throughout the year, corresponding to various liturgical and secular seasons and holidays.
As both citizens of heaven and citizens of this world, we are called to exercise political responsibility to elect leaders who will defend life, and to sustain those leaders on the right path. We therefore teach and mobilize voters to make a difference in the voting booth.
Priests for Life occupies a strategic place of unity in the pro-life movement. We foster relations between leaders, groups, and ministries. We facilitate strategic planning sessions on every level, as well as leadership retreats and seminars.
2. Updates on Specific Projects and Activities
The Elections of 2016
Priests for Life conducted a wide range of activities leading to the victories in the Elections of 2016. See a detailed summary at www.PoliticalResponsibility.com.
These activities included mass distribution of the very popular non-partisan comparison piece of the party platforms, voter training of clergy and laity both on the ground and online, extensive television, radio, and internet broadcasts, training of Churches and organizations regarding what how they can influence elections, and more.
We continue to raise awareness about the freedom that the church has -- and must preserve -- to preach, teach, and "pass moral judgment even in matters relating to politics" (Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, n.76). This does not mean becoming partisan or violating the law, but rather applying the pro-life teaching of the church to the political arena, according to the teaching of the US Bishops' document Living the Gospel of Life (1998). We assist Churches and pro-life organizations to initiate non-partisan voter registration drives, voter education and get-out-the-vote activities.
Priests for Life Case Against HHS Mandate
Priests for Life was the fourth group to launch a federal lawsuit against the "HHS Mandate," which is an attack on religious liberty whereby the Obama Administration forces religious groups to be complicit in the expansion of abortion and contraception.
On November 6, 2015, the Supreme Court granted review to our case, (14-1453 PRIESTS FOR LIFE, ET AL. V. DEPT. OF H&HS, ET AL.), along with six other cases challenging the mandate.
In May of 2016, the Court, having heard from both sides that there may be a way to work out the dispute without burdening the religious liberty of the petitioners, sent the case back to the lower courts with the instructions that the government and the petitioners were to attempt to work out a solution.
Priests for Life has been participating in such discussions, and when the government opened up a public comment period, Priests for Life led the way in getting Churches, professionals, and the general public to weigh in on the matter.
We now await action on the HHS mandate from the new Administration once President Trump is sworn in.
Supreme Court Case Whole Woman's Health vs. Hellerstedt
The Supreme Court reviewed Texas law HB2 which was enacted to increase the health and safety of women getting abortions, by requiring that the abortionist have hospital admitting privileges in nearby hospitals, and that the abortion centers meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers. Neither of these measures was new or unique to Texas, and they provide for continuity of care, in case of a medical emergency, and for such things as a generator in case of a power outage during surgery. Yet the Supreme Court struck down these commonsense measures as unconstitutional because they create an "undue burden" on women seeking abortions.
Priests for Life had a "Friend of the Court" brief in this case containing the testimonies of women injured by abortion, and we made extensive commentary on the case as well as lead a prayer campaign joined in by a coalition of dozens of groups. The educational effort will continue, as will our efforts to pass laws in states that enact measures to protect women and their babies from an unregulated, unscrupulous abortion industry.
We will continue our campaign to mobilize believers to pray each day for an end to abortion. We do this by means of a daily prayer to end abortion, and at special times, by means of seasonal prayers and novenas. The prayer website www.PrayerCampaign.org provides the faithful with specific pro-life prayers related to liturgical seasons, pro-life feasts, and other significant occasions.
Some of the larger recent prayer campaigns on this site have included the following:
-- Prayer for our National Elections (also accessed at www.ElectionPrayer.com)
-- Prayers for the transition of government
-- Prayer for the Reversal of the HHS Mandate
-- Prayer for the end of the atrocities committed by Planned Parenthood (also accessed at www.PrayPP.com).
All these prayers are made available online in English and Spanish, and some of them have printed prayer cards available as well.
New Resource on Preaching on Abortion from the Lectionary
In April of this year, Servant Books (Franciscan Media) released Fr. Frank Pavone's latest book about preaching on abortion ("Proclaiming the Message of Life.") Along with providing an overview about preaching on abortion based on the extensive experience of the Priests For Life team since 1991, the book includes the most frequently asked questions and concerns of clergy regarding preaching on this topic, as well as notes for homily suggestions, drawing from each set of Sunday readings for the entire three-year Sunday cycle of the lectionary.
Various bishops have provided the book to all the priests in their diocese.
Fr. Frank Pavone's book Abolishing Abortion, published by Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins in the summer of 2015, was distributed to key Church and political leaders in preparation for the elections. The book, a manifesto regarding what needs to be done next by both Church and State in the effort to bring an end to abortion, examines at length the misinterpretations of the political activity prohibition for Churches in the tax code, and concludes that Churches should stop censoring themselves out of fear of losing their tax-exempt status. It is an irony that, on the one hand, Churches fight against mandates from the government that restrict their freedom to live out the faith, but them impose their own mandates internally that restrict their freedom to live out the same faith in the political realm.
Select Panel on Infant Lives
Priests for Life has promoted, supported, and assisted the work of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, a special panel of the US House of Representatives which is investigating the abortion industry in the United States for potential violations of federal law.
Fr. Stephen Imbarrato, a priest of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe who works full time for Priests for Life, assisted in gathering information that went to the panel and resulted in action to further investigate late term abortion activities in New Mexico.
Immediately after the elections, Priests for Life led a grassroots effort to express support to Congress for the continued work of this Panel. Congress voted to continue and increase the funding for it.
Priests for Life has expanded its efforts to expose the reality of abortion. On the website ExposeAbortion.com, on Facebook.com/ExposeAbortion, and on the Twitter account @ExposeAbortion, one quote per day is provided from abortionists, from medical texts, from court testimony, from those who have had abortions, and from other sources that reveal the damage abortion does to the babies and their mothers. This site is now being expanded to include the information Priests for Life has gathered from within the abortion industry, and from other sources, exposing the abortion procedure, the damage it does, and the corruption within the abortion industry.
Jubilee Year of Mercy: Connections with the Pro-life Movement
Priests for Life, having welcomed with joy the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, continued until its completion to produce commentaries and educational/pastoral resources to help believers and their pastors connect the theme of mercy with the pro-life movement -- mercy both as intervention to save the helpless (including the unborn) and forgiveness of sins (including abortion). We focused on this theme in our various radio, television, and internet broadcasts, on our special website www.JubileeOfMercy.net, and in our talks and homilies across the country.
Healing the Shockwaves of Abortion
Throughout 2016, Priests for Life, through its Silent No More Awareness Campaign (a joint project with Anglicans for Life) continued its campaign called Healing the Shockwaves of Abortion. It promotes educational and pastoral activity based on the fact that every abortion impacts multiple groups of people: not only baby and parents, but also grandparents, siblings, friends, abortion providers, pro-life advocates, and our entire society. Since the wound is multifaceted, so is the healing. Nobody can be healed from abortion in isolation. The healing must extend to all of the relationships the wounded person has. We all heal together. Each month we focus on a special target group that has been directly impacted by abortion loss, with helpful information, resources, and abortion-recovery programs.
At one of our rallies in front of the Supreme Court after the March for Life, where we gathered with representatives of all these groups, we were joined by the Papal Nuncio at that time, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who blessed the gathering and said,
“I am glad to be here in the name of Pope Francis, representing him and the mercy of God to each one of you who are taking part in this March for Life. I want to share with you the joy that God has put into our hearts, because we love Him and we want to share with you the mercy He’s given to each one of us, especially those who ask for mercy. Pope Francis said that we should ask for mercy.”
The book Recall Abortion, written by Priests for Life Executive Director Janet Morana, was reprinted this year in its paperback version.
Because abortion kills children and hurts everyone else in its path, and because it lacks any medical benefit whatsoever, it should be treated like a defective product which the government recalls from the market in order to protect people from harm
Moreover, those who have experienced that harm always recall it, and some do so through sharing their stories publicly.
This book presents an entire strategy based on this play on words and on the testimonies of those who have had abortions. The Recall Abortion effort is an aspect of the broader work of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, a project of Priests for Life and Anglicans for Life.
Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
Priests for Life continues to provide strong educational and lobbying support for the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which continues to advance on the state level and will be introduced again on the Federal level. This time, with a new Presidential Administration, the measure will be signed into law.
This measure protects unborn children who can feel pain.
Does the focus on fetal pain obscure our message that abortion is wrong whether the child feels pain or not? No, not any more than that message that "abortion hurts women" obscures our message that abortion is wrong whether the woman is hurt or not.
The fact is that in a society in which so many have lost their grasp of fundamental morality, the experiential dimension of the impact of abortion (whether from the vantage point of the experience of the mother or of the child) can help them to begin to re-evaluate the position of abortion on demand and begin moving in the direction of reasonable restrictions on the procedure, with many lives saved as a result.
Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act
Priests for Life also continues to provide strong educational and lobbying support for the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, which continues to advance on the state level and will eventually be introduced on the Federal level. This measure protects unborn children from any and all procedures involving dismemberment.
Civil Rights for the Unborn
Under the leadership of our full-time associate Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King Jr., we have re-branded our African-American Outreach at Priests for Life as "Civil Rights for the Unborn." Through a variety of educational and media efforts, Alveda continues to proclaim that the civil rights movement of today is the pro-life movement, and that the dream of her uncle Martin cannot survive if we murder our children.
Reversal of RU-486
The abortion technique of RU-486 involves taking two distinct drugs separated by a short period of time. The circumstance arises regularly that mothers take the first drug and then change their mind about aborting their child prior to taking the second drug. One of our medical advisors at Priests for Life, Dr. Matt Harrison, pioneered the technique of using progesterone to reverse the effects of the first drug in the RU-486 combination and save the life of the child. Since then he has collaborated with another one of our medical advisors, Dr. George Delgado, who has formed the "Abortion Pill Reversal" network, enabling other physicians to use this protocol.
This protocol has been developed, and a medical kit now made available to physicians to reverse the deadly effects of this abortion procedure.
Priests for Life continues to collaborate with these physicians to educate both the public and the medical profession about this and to spread the word about this to physicians, pregnancy centers, Churches, pro-life groups and the general public. See www.AbortionPillReversal.com.
National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children
Priests for Life again sponsored the National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children on September 10, 2016. At over 40 different gravesites throughout the United States, where tens of thousands of aborted children are buried, simultaneous memorial services were held on that day. Leading up to this observance, educational efforts focused people on how these burial places came to be, how the babies were found, and how they were killed in the first place.
This summer we had five interns with us full-time. Under the direction of our Youth Outreach leader Bryan Kemper, these interns experience a full immersion in pro-life activism, and interaction with key national leaders. Many of our interns end up devoting themselves full-time to key positions in the pro-life and pro-family movements.
A Pro-life Prayer At Every Mass
In section IV of the US Bishops' Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities, A Campaign in Support of Life (November, 2001) we read, "Parishes should include in the petitions at every Mass a prayer that ours will become a nation that respects and protects all human life, born and unborn, reflecting a true culture of life."
We at Priests for Life have heard, from coast to coast, a constant call from the laity for initiatives such as this. We have therefore written such prayers for every Sunday of Years A, B, and C in the liturgical cycle, consistent with the readings assigned to each of those Sundays.
We have initiated a special project to encourage the priests and laity in each parish to fulfill this provision of the pastoral plan by having such a prayer offered in the General Intercessions.
"Have You Seen It?"
At Priests for Life we continue to be convinced that America will not reject abortion until America sees abortion. Therefore, we have developed educational resources that show what abortion does to a child, and initiate grassroots campaigns by which people can challenge one another, on a one-on-one basis and in social media, with the question, "Have you seen it?", urging them to look at the reality of what abortion is before forming an opinion as to whether it should be legal or not.
In 2016, we taped four new 13-part television series for EWTN.
Two new seasons of Defending Life were taped, and another two new seasons of The Catholic View for Women.
Fr. Stephen Imbarrato join Janet Morana and Fr. Frank Pavone in the production and taping of various episodes of Defending Life, and Teresa Tomeo, Astrid Bennett Gutierrez, and Elena Rodriguez join Janet for the Catholic View for Women.
Our internet program Pro-life Straight Talk, as well as daily broadcasts by Fr. Frank on Facebook Live, continue as part of our online broadcasting, as does a Sunday homily series.
Cardinal John O'Connor Institute for the Pro-life Training of the Clergy
Cardinal O'Connor was instrumental in the genesis and growth of Priests for Life, having released Fr. Frank Pavone to do this work full time and having told him that he thought no work was more timely in the pro-life movement than efforts to train and mobilize the clergy in the defense of life.
Moreover, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a key architect of the abortion industry who later became pro-life and eventually a Catholic, said publicly that he and his pro-abortion colleagues in the 1960's and 70's "would never have gotten away with what we did if you (the clergy) had been united, purposeful, and strong."
It has, therefore, been the conviction of Priests for Life that today's proponents of the culture of death will still not get away with what they are doing if we become more united, purposeful, and strong.
Mindful, then, of the teaching and example of Cardinal O'Connor and Dr. Nathanson in this regard, Priests for Life has increased its efforts to train the clergy. With the support of Cardinal O'Connor's sister, Mary Ward, we launched the Cardinal John O'Connor Institute for the Pro-life Training of the Clergy, which include a re-packaging of many of the activities Priests for Life has done all along, together with some new initiatives. Among the Institute's activities will be the following:
- Training seminars for seminarians, deacons, and priests, in which our team will travel to seminaries and dioceses, and present a flexible package of presentations ranging in length anywhere from a luncheon talk to a seminar of several days, and covering the themes of preaching, counseling, and pro-life strategies and activities that can be carried out and promoted in parishes, schools, and other Catholic institutions.
- Training in pro-life spirituality, with retreats and days of recollection available for seminarians, deacons, and priests.
- In line with the activities above, the growth of Deacons for Life
- The new book Proclaiming the Message of Life, containing, among other things, answers to the most common fears about addressing abortion, and homily hints based on the readings of every Sunday of the three-year liturgical cycle. These homily hints are also available for each of these Sundays in video format on You Tube (www.YouTube.com/PriestsForLife).
- Special training days offered for clergy at our New York headquarters of Priests for Life, as well as at our Washington DC office, right behind the Supreme Court. Sessions in Washington will include special opportunities to interact with practicing Christians in Congress and to learn more about how to support pro-life legislation.
- Specialized training in post-abortion healing, making use of our expert team who developed Rachel's Vineyard Ministries, which operates under the umbrella of Priests for Life, and also making use of the insights of our Silent No More Awareness Campaign.
- Specialized training in the healing of former abortion clinic workers and abortionists, based on the research and experience of the "Society of Centurions," a worldwide organization of former abortionists, who have gone through healing based on the model developed by Canadian psychiatrist Dr. Philip Ney, foremost expert in the psychology of abortionists.
- Specialized training in how to dialogue with advocates and practitioners of abortion, and show to them the face of Christ, inviting them to conversion based on a recognition that our belief in the sanctity of every human life includes theirs, too.
Priests for Life is a registered Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) at the United Nations, and participates in many conferences and makes many interventions on behalf of the unborn. Priests for Life also provides extensive service to the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations and other Vatican agencies as they seek to defend human rights and promote human development around the world.