Priests for Life, an organization of priests, deacons and lay people working to combat abortion and euthanasia, is going international.
The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family has asked U.S. National director Frank Pavone to establish Priests for Life chapters in countries around the world. Father Pavone will also co-ordinate pro-life movements worldwide.
Priests for Life is an officially approved association which prepares educational materials and information kits to help priests respond more readily to right to life issues.
Father Pavone will develop training seminars for priests and bishops and work towards the establishment of Priests for Life as an international organization.
He will leave his Staten Island, New York office for a posting in Rome.
Father Pavone will bring seminars developed in the U.S. to a world-wide level in the systematic training of bishops for a renewed prolife response.
“The Pope has taught very clearly that in order for us to win the war against abortion, all the bishops and priests of the Church must be strong leaders,” Father Pavone told supporters. “When this happens, millions of people will be activated and victory will be close at hand. The bishops’ training seminars I will help to give represent a major step toward this goal.”
Father Pavone will also help the Pontifical Council for the Family – which directs the church’s policy on life issues – to communicate its teaching to the laity.
As well, Father Pavone will assist the Vatican in bringing chapters of the Priests for Life to every country of the world.
Pro-life officials in North America see the move as significant in promoting an increased awareness of right to life issues.
Father James Whalen, director of Priests for Life Canada, said the initiative shows the potential for the organization.
“We’re very pleased for Father Pavone and for the new responsibilities he has taken on,” Father Whalen said. “It will help formalize pro-life strategy among clergy around the world.”
Father Whalen, pastor of St. Margaret Mary parish in Cumberland, near Ottawa, said the response to the Canadian organization has been overwhelming. “We’ve now got 25 Canadian bishops signed up and membership has grown to nearly 400, more than half of whom are priests and deacons.”
To date, Priests for Life chapters exist only in the Canada and the U.S., but Father Whalen expects several more countries soon to join the fold.
Of immediate concern to Priests for Life is the U.S. Supreme Court case considering states’ authority to banning doctor-assisted suicide.
A Supreme Court ruling to overturn the ban could lead to a wide increase in the practice.
In addition to filing a friend-of-the-Court, Priests for Life is launching a major educational campaign to alert people to the dangers of assisted suicide. “The big challenge to Priests for Life is that most people don’t’ even know what to think, let alone how to argue against euthanasia,” Father Pavone said.
“Priests preach even less on this topic than on abortion.”