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Catching Up with Fr. Frank Pavone On the Election and Voter Guides
By Deacon Keith Fournier
October 6th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
When the history of the great human rights movement of our age is written there will be several women, men, associations, movements and organizations holding a deserved place of honor. Right at the top of that list will be Fr Frank Pavone and Priests for Life.
WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - The great human rights movement of our age is the struggle to restore to the Civil and positive law of this Nation - and the rest of the nations - the legal recognition of the fundamental Human Right to Life.
Without recognizing this first Right, the Right to life, there can be no recognition of any other derivative rights. In fact, the entire infrastructure of human rights is placed at risk. All true Human Rights are goods of human persons. When there is no human person there can be no rights endowed upon them or exercised by them. All the "rights talk" in the world will not change that.
Every procured abortion is intrinsically immoral because it takes an innocent human life. It is always and everywhere wrong to take innocent human life. Medical science confirms what our conscience has always known; the child in the womb is one of us, our neighbor.
No positive law can change that fact. When they seek to do so they are unjust laws which are not law at all. The great civil rights movements of the past two centuries have depended upon the recognition of an objective truth; every human being, at at every age and stage, has human dignity and a right to life.
Civil Rights are those human rights which are first recognized - and then properly protected by - civil government. The American founders stood in the best trajectory of Western civilization in their insistence that human rights are not given or bestowed by government but by the God in whose Image we have all been created.
Truly just governments are instituted precisely to secure these human rights. The first among them is the Right to Life. The Right to Life is revealed by the Natural Law which can be known by all men and women through the exercise of reason.
There is no more urgent work in the contemporary culture than the work of the movement called "Pro-Life". That is precisely because the Right to Life movement is the foundational human and thus civil rights movement.
The egregious sin of the United States of America continues. We fail to hear the cry of our youngest neighbors in the first home of the whole human race, their mothers womb. When we allow their killing for any reason and by any means - and then actually call it a "right" - we profane the very word. We also place our future survival as a Nation at risk.
When we allow their innocent blood to be shed and then protect the evil act with the Police Power of the State we betray our claim to being a civilized people. When we deny them the Freedom to be born we undermine the very understanding of ordered liberty upon which our Nation was founded.
Those engaged in the Pro-Life movement assert with the American founders that there are truths that are self evident - such as our equality before God - and rights which are inalienable - such as the Right to Life.
When we are victorious in this monumental struggle - and we will be victorious - there will be many heroes whose sacrifice and courage will be recounted in our history books. They will be celebrated by our children and grandchildren as Champions of Life who overcame the current culture of death, replacing it with a new Culture of life.
When recognition of the fundamental Human Right to life is restored to the Civil and Positive law, these heroes will be remembered, honored and imitated. Right at the top of that list will be a Catholic Priest named Fr. Frank Pavone. He may be of small physical stature, like David of the Old Testament story, but he has a heart which is huge and the courage of a spiritual warrior.
Fr Frank Pavone has wielded his small smooth stones and sling mightily in the battle against the Goliath of the contemporary Culture of Death and that giant staggers as a result. He is one of my heroes and has been for decades. I also have the privilege of calling Fr Frank my friend. We have walked and worked together for several decades.
I asked Fr Frank a few questions. His answers underscored why he is so effective in his work at the helm of the organization he founded, Priests for Life. The first question I asked was "Fr. Frank, can you please help our readers and viewers put in perspective the importance of the upcoming elections".
His answer, "We need to elect public servants who can tell the difference between serving the public and killing the public. If a politician can't respect the life of a little baby, how is he supposed to respect yours? Each of us has one vote, but we can each influence hundreds of other votes."
Next, I asked him about the Catholics and other Christians who write to me claiming they were not pleased with either major Party Presidential candidate. Some tell me they are considering either not voting - or voting for an alternative candidate who is incapable of winning.
"Father", I inquired, "what do you say to those who have decided that neither of the two major candidates are fully Pro-Life and so have decided to not vote or vote for a third party candidate who cannot win. They write to me and tell me in person that they do not want to vote for "the lesser of two evils"".
Fr Frank responded bluntly, "Choosing the better of two imperfect candidates is not choosing the lesser of two evils. We can never choose evil. But we can choose to limit evil, and that is a good." To which I heartily responded, "Amen". I hope all who have told me this - in writing or in person - not only read his astute and accurate response but act accordingly!
I next asked how he deals with the opponents of our Pro-Life work who accuse Catholics of trying to impose our beliefs on the American people. I knew how I would answer the question, I have written extensively about it.
"Fr Frank", I asked, "how do you deal with those who accuse you as a Catholic Priest and human rights activist of trying to impose Catholic values on America?" His answer was again brief, and right to the point. "I am not calling for a Vatican takeover of America; I'm calling for an American takeover of America!"
I have worked with Fr Frank over the years in many Pro-Life efforts. One of the efforts is "Deacons in the Service of Life"an outreach of Priests for Life. I know that during every election cycle, as we draw close to the time to cast our ballots, Voter Guides begin to be circulated.
As a constitutional lawyer I know the requirements for such guides to be acceptable for Churches and other non-profit organizations under Section 501 c3 of the Internal Revenue Code. Yet, as a Deacon, I have also experienced the reticence on the part of many Catholic Clergy to allow such guides to be distributed, even when they are in compliance with the law.
Priests for Life just released a Non-Partisan Voter Guide for the 2012 US Presidential election which is completely compliant with the law. It is entitled "Where Do the Candidates Stand on key Issues?" So, I asked Fr Frank two final questions concerning Voter guides.
"Fr Frank, many Catholic clergy are concerned about offering Voter Guides. Can you help us to understand if there is a proper use for them? Are they an improper political activity for a parish?" His response was accurate and simple.
"For the Church to inform her people, in a non-partisan way, of the positions of the candidates is not a political activity - it is a pastoral activity. In fact, it is one of the spiritual works of mercy: instructing those who do not know. It is an equipping of the People of God to go into the world and make a change, consistent with the Great Commission and the New Evangelization."
"We will hear in the coming weeks, as we do in every election cycle, of numerous refusals by Churches and dioceses to permit the distribution of voter guides. When someone tells me, 'We can't distribute yours,' I challenge them, 'Well then where is yours?' But unfortunately, the alternative ends up being none at all."
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