Priests for Life Newsletter
Volume 9, Number 3
May - June 1999
Dear Brother Priests,
Priests for Life strongly embraces, in its proper understanding, the
consistent ethic of life. The US Bishops' 1998 document, Living the
Gospel of Life quoted the following words which our Holy Father spoke in his
homily in Giants Stadium, October 5, 1995 (See 25 Origins, p. 305 October
19, 1995): "Both as Americans and as followers of Christ, American Catholics
must be committed to the defense of life in all its stages and in every
condition." Our website offers the texts of major addresses of the late Cardinal
Joseph Bernardin on this topic (see
The ministry of Priests for Life focuses above all on abortion. As both
Cardinal Bernardin and the Bishops' Pastoral Plan for Pro-life Activities
affirm, "This focus and the Church's firm commitment to a consistent ethic of
life complement each other. A consistent ethic, far from diminishing concern for
abortion or equating all issues touching on the dignity of human life,
recognizes the distinctive character of each issue while giving each its proper
role within a coherent moral vision." (Pastoral Plan, 1985 Reaffirmation).
Beginning in this issue of Priests for Life, we intend to together
address the reasons why abortion deserves priority attention. We do this in the
context of our strong support for and eagerness to collaborate with every
ministry in the Church which addresses human dignity and justice. We likewise
affirm the distinctive charisms and vocations of the members of the Body of
Christ, each of whom is called to a uniquely specific mission.
It has been our experience that there is a strong adherence within the Church
to the affirmation that abortion is wrong and needs to be stopped. What is not
as consistently acknowledged, however, is that it is "the fundamental human
rights issue for all men and women of good will" (NCCB Resolution on Abortion,
November 7, 1989). We therefore offer our reflections to the consideration
of our readers, convinced that a proper evaluation of the fundamental nature of
the abortion tragedy is essential to its reversal.
With renewed fraternal respect and willingness to assist your ministry,
Fr. Frank Pavone
Fr. Richard Hogan
Fr. Peter West
Fr. Denis G. Wilde, OSA
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Abortion as the Fundamental Issue
(First in a series)
The recent document of the US Bishops, Living the Gospel of Life
"Respect for the dignity of the human person demands a commitment to human
rights across a broad spectrum…. Yet abortion and euthanasia have become
preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself,
the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others." (n.5)
As Fr. Richard Hogan points out, many of the public policy controversies of
our day deal with the question of how best to secure the rights of
others, whose basic personhood is acknowledged. In the matter of abortion,
however, the question at issue is not how, but whether those
rights will be secured at all, whether they even exist, and whether the human
beings affected are indeed persons.
This brings the issue to a more fundamental level than "someone was killed."
Many tragedies take human life, but not all deny it. The crux of
the Roe vs. Wade decision was the statement, "[T]he word 'person,' as used in
the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn." The child in the
womb, in other words, is legally obliterated before being physically
destroyed. The tragedy is not simply in the fact that the life is taken, but
that such taking is declared to be a matter of no legal concern. No due process
is necessary to end this life; it is regarded as fundamentally unequal to the
lives of all other human beings.
Nor is it denied in Roe vs. Wade that the unborn is a human being. Regarding
that issue, the Court simply pleads ignorance and irrelevance: "We need not
resolve the difficult question of when life begins…[T]he judiciary, at this
point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate
as to the answer."
One might think that in the light of such a statement, one would have to opt
not to destroy, just as one would refrain from shooting what one was not
sure to be a bear or a man, or would refrain from destroying a building if there
were a doubt about whether anyone was still inside.
The Court, however, pleaded ignorance about the nature of the unborn, but
then proceeded to strip him/her of legal personhood. This is a fundamental evil
even prior to the taking of the life, and removes all other rights besides.
…to be continued in next issue…
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Abolition of Death Penalty
Priests for Life would like to strongly echo the Holy Father's call for the
abolition of the death penalty.
Human problems call for humane solutions.
Death, whether of an unborn child or of a convicted criminal, does not bring
us closer to a civilization of love, but rather feeds the mistaken and dangerous
notion that killing is a solution to our problems.
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Gabriel Project: We are Here to Help You
As you know, Priests for Life is strongly promoting the Gabriel Project. We
invite all local leaders of the project throughout the country to continue to
give us their input on how we can assist. Our efforts in no way replace
local efforts. When parishes or dioceses express to us an interest in starting
the program, we put them in contact with nearby local efforts. In every way, we
intend to give priority to strengthening these local efforts which, after
all, constitute the essence of the Gabriel Project. At the same time, we will
give this movement unprecedented national attention. Visit our website for more
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Coming to your Community…
Priests for Life is blessed to have four full-time priests on staff: Fr.
Richard Hogan, Fr. Peter West, Fr. Denis G. Wilde, OSA, and Fr. Frank Pavone. We
are available to visit your community for a wide range of activities.
We offer seminars for the clergy, both Catholic and Protestant, on how to
handle the abortion issue in preaching, counseling, and parish activities. We
conduct training sessions for lay people who want to become active in the
pro-life movement, or who have been active but are looking for new ideas and
We speak at pro-life conferences, address students in their schools and youth
groups, give retreats, pray at abortion facilities, and conduct parish weekends
which include preaching at all the Sunday Masses. We are also glad to offer
individual consultation for the development of pro-life strategies and
activities in compliance with the Bishops' Pastoral Plan for Pro-life
And aside from travel expenses, we have no required stipend!
A partial listing of the travel schedules of our priests can be found on our
web site at http://www.priestsforlife.org/travel2.html.
To inquire about the availability of a Priests for Life priest,
contact our Travel Office at
P.O. Box 441
Front Royal, VA 22630
Liturgy of the Hours: Pro-Life Prayer Intentions
You are encouraged to remember the following intentions as you pray the
Liturgy of the Hours:
May intention: That graduates may use their academic and technical skills to
advance the pro-life cause.
June intention: That more people may dedicate some of their leisure time to
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Democrats for Life
Note: Priests for Life does not endorse candidates or party platforms. We
are, however, committed to making people aware of all the groups active in the
pro-life movement. Democrats for Life is an important aspect of the movement.
The abortion issue transcends party lines, and no member of any party should
feel out of place for opposing the killing of innocent children.
A survey of the media's treatment of abortion (Media Research Center, late
1995) revealed that one of the most invisible groups was pro-life Democrats. At
the same time, a Torrance poll showed that 55% of Democrats -- more than half --
would either ban all abortion, or allow it only for rape, incest, or "life of
As the following article reveals, pro-life Democrats are not only alive and
well, but becoming more visible by the day. --Fr. Frank Pavone
By Lois Kerschen, National President, Democrats for Life
In January, a new national organization for pro-life Democrats was formed in
response to an increasing demand for recognition for those in the Democratic
party who oppose abortion. It is very important for people to know that you can
be pro-life and a Democrat, despite the fact that the party supports abortion on
demand. Indeed, it is essential to the pro-life movement that Democrats who are
pro-life make their voices heard.
Pro-life members of the Democratic party must let their lights shine so that
others might see. We must question the platform, advocate compromise, pique the
consciences of other Democrats, and serve as a buffer against the more radical
elements in the party.
Democrats for Life (DFL) has existed for several years in the form of state
organizations in Indiana, Kentucky, and Texas. A previous national organization
faded away in the 1980s, but has now been reborn to provide a forum for pro-life
Democrats. In Texas, the experience has included sponsoring a booth at the state
party convention every two years to gain exposure and to reach out to people.
Sadly, there are still people who come up to the booth to say, "Thank God you
are here. I thought I was the only one." The party has sent out such a strong
and pervasive pro-abortion message that many pro-life people have felt silenced
or alienated. Therefore, the purpose of Democrats for Life is to identify and
connect pro-life Democrats. There is strength and courage in numbers. Together
we can promote a pro-life agenda within the party. Through organization and
education, we can become the majority, and then we can turn the Democratic party
around and make it pro-life once again.
After all, as the mission statement of Texas DFL says: "The Democratic
Party’s strong commitment to human rights leads naturally to a pro-life
position. Just as we care about the welfare of children, the disabled, and the
elderly, we care about unborn children and their mothers." Advocating the
killing of a woman’s child as a way to solve her problems is inconsistent with
the traditional Democratic philosophy of compassionate government. Suppressing
the pro-life voice within the party is also inconsistent with the image of the
Democratic party as the party of tolerance and free speech. Pro-life Democrats
must insist on a consistent ethic and must insist that they be allowed to take
their rightful place in the party.
Surveys of various precincts and congressional districts across the country
show a pro-life majority among Democratic voters. These results are not a fluke
but may be truly representative of the party’s membership. It is the leadership
of the Democratic party that has gone astray from its own people, but they have
successfully painted a facade of being mainstream, and they claim that pro-life
candidates can’t get elected. But election results prove that rarely does anyone
lose because of a pro-life stand. On the contrary, being pro-life usually
increases a candidate’s chances. The 40 pro-life Democrats in the U. S. House of
Representatives are evidence of that fact, and because of their united effort
the Democratic party platform now includes a conscience clause that admits that
some members of the Democratic party cannot support the pro-choice plank because
of moral or religious objections. This language of inclusion is a big step
forward for the pro-life movement. We must take advantage of this opportunity
and make our presence felt by serving as precinct and committee chairs attending
our precinct, county, state and national conventions and passing pro-life
resolutions. It is also critically important that we support pro-life candidates
and elected officials.
The Democrats for Life organization is proof that all people can and should
be pro-life. It is consistent with the root principles of the Democratic Party
to respect life and to encourage the development of everyone’s full potential.
Freedom and equality are not attainable if there is not first life. So, I call
upon Democrats who are pro-life to make your opinion known. Democrats who are
closet pro-lifers, I call upon you to stop being afraid to speak the truth. On
Judgment Day you will not be asked if you are follower of the Democratic
platform, but rather if you were a follower of the word of God. A little
political power is not worth becoming an accomplice to the murder of millions of
If you would like more information about Democrats for Life, please go to the
website at www.democratsforlife.org
or contact Dr. Lois Kerschen, the national president, at
or 806/289-5510; or Rt. 4, Box 215, Hereford, TX 79045.
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Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., P.H.D.
By Anthony DeStefano
Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., P.H.D., recently selected as Gonzaga
President, has been compared at various times to a "whirlwind," and a "speeding
locomotive." The 46 year old native of Honolulu, Hawaii, left a promising career
in accounting almost 25 years ago to become a priest, and has been serving the
Lord at light speed ever since.
During that time, he obtained degrees in philosophy from St. Louis
University, theology from the Gregorian University in Rome, a T.H.M. in
scripture at Cambridge, and a Ph.D. from Catholic University in Washington, D.C.
He served as a philosophy teacher at Georgetown University for six years, and
did an eight year stint at Seattle University as an associate professor of
philosophy, a member of the Board of Trustees, director of the Institute on
Character Development, and a holder of the Frank Shrontz Endowed Chair in
Professional Ethics. Fr. Spitzer is perhaps best known for writing the landmark
text: Business Ethics. He gave a course based on this book to 50
different high-level organizations, and estimates that he put over 40,000
managers of various companies in the U.S. and Europe through the program.
Stories about Fr. Spitzer’s talent as a teacher abound. Many of his admiring
students at Seattle University and Gonzaga refer to themselves as "Spitzerites."
On the corporate level, some of his fellow Jesuits jokingly call him, "Spitzer
Enterprises," describing how he often gets an idea for a new program in the
morning, secures funding for it by noon, and gets the program running by dinner.
Where does he get all his boundless energy? "The Holy Spirit," he unhesitatingly
proclaims. "God supplies the energy and vision--- as long as I exert myself and
am attentive to the clues that He gives."
Though most of his time is presently being spent steering Gonzaga into the
next millennium, Fr. Spitzer is deeply involved in an important pro-life
project. While putting the finishing touches on his new book, Life Principles,
he is developing an entire pro-life program utilizing the text, a 5-hour video
series, and corresponding work books. His goal is to get the program into as
many Catholic parishes around the country as possible.
The idea of this "Life Principles" Course, is to build a comprehensive
pro-life philosophy, beginning with an in-depth discussion of "the
basics." According to Fr. Spitzer, "there’s no use talking about the abortion
and euthanasia issues until adequate foundations are first laid." These
foundations include understanding questions like: "How do I define the quality
of life?", "What is the purpose and meaning of life?", "What makes life worth
living?", "What is the value of suffering?" and "What is a Right?" "Once people
have a clearer understanding of these basic life-questions," Fr. Spitzer says,
"the Church’s teaching on abortion and euthanasia will resonate much better."
Priests for Life asks the Lord's blessing upon Fr. Spitzer’s work. To find
out more about the "Life Principles" program, and how to get it into your
parish, you can call Ms. Camille De Blasi at (877) 345-LIFE. To contact Fr.
Spitzer directly, you can write to: Gonzaga University, 502 East Boone Ave.,
Spokane, Washington, 99258; or call (509) 328-4220.
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