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Our Pro-Life Commitment

The Cemetery of the Innocents

frjoeprolife

Here is a picture of me and the Knights of Columbus who set up 721 crosses that represent the children lost to abortion in one hour of one work day.  This MEMORIAL OF THE INNOCENTS was set up at Holy Family Church in Mitchellville in 2009 and every year since then.  We often have it up until the annual March for Life in Washington, DC.  We received a lot of support although there were a few complaints.  One lady argued against putting such a thing up at Christmas time.  I explained that Advent and Christmas was the perfect time.  During Advent we recall the Christ-child in the womb and on Christmas he is born.  We are reminded that every child is a reflection of the Christ-child.  Another person argued that it was insensitive as she was a pro-choice Catholic.  I told her that she was deceived.  There is no such thing as a pro-abortion Christian; abortion attacks the central mystery of the Incarnation.  Abortion is murder and as such it is a repudiation of Christ’s Gospel of Life.

One of my favorite memories is working with the American Life League back in 2005 and the CRUSADERS FOR LIFE.  Here is a reposting of the news around that event at my old parish, Holy Spirit Church:

A.L.L. Crusaders Come to Washington 2005

A dozen young people from colleges across the country walked from Augusta, Maine to Washington, DC in “Defense of the Catholic Church” and to spread the message that you cannot be Catholic and pro-abortion. Nevertheless, while many have applauded young people for taking up the “right to life” cause, this group of remarkable crusaders was purportedly banned from speaking in churches by several dioceses like Philadelphia and Baltimore.

Myself, Dr. Grier & a Crusader

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The American Life League ran a series of stinging ads challenging the American bishops to enforce canon law and to protect the Eucharist from sacrilege when pro-abortion politicians and others (who have made such “public” stands) take it upon themselves to receive Holy Communion. The young people have shown no spite or anger, only sadness that some of the nation’s shepherds have chosen to remain on the sidelines. One priest remarked that the ads in protest were so severe that the American Life League owed the leaders of the Church an apology. However, others thought that these good men should at least have shown the same respect and hospitality to the young marchers for life as they have in the past to the high profile anti-life politicians. While they were able to find lodging in the city, they attended 9:00 AM Mass at Holy Spirit Church on Friday, July 30 and were invited to say a few words afterwards. I contacted the archdiocese’s Pro-Life Office several weeks earlier about the matter to insure a level of approbation and to insure proper discretion.  (Although the ads pained him, to his credit, Cardinal McCarrick did not formally forbid the young people to speak in his churches. Throughout, nothing the young people said violated the archdiocese’s rules against participation in partisan politics– they did not name politicians by name, did not tell people for whom they should vote, and spoke with respect in regard to the Church’s shepherds.)  Following the celebration, a reception was held in the Parish House were the young people had a hearty breakfast and got to meet parishioners. Also in attendance was SK Reginald Grier, a parishioner, a fourth degree Knight of Columbus and volunteer member of the archdiocesan Office for Black Catholics. John Stakem, a Knight of Columbus from St. Pius X Council, and past parishioner was present, too. John Stakem and Joseph Markauskas were long-time pro-life volunteers and were involved with the local pregnancy center. Joe and Betty Markauskas had even offered to give the young people housing while in town. We were very pleased that the director for the Forestville Pregnancy Center was present, Chyllene McLaughlin, along with her assistant. We wanted to communicate to these young people that they were not alone. Holy Spirit Parish, the Knights of Columbus, and the Pregnancy Center in the larger pro-life community, was very much behind them.

ALL Crusaders at Holy Spirit Parish

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May God bless them for their sacrifices and may their witness bear fruit.

DISCUSSION

FRANK:  News releases indicate that the Church after Vatican II had converted the Kennedys and other Catholic politicians into believing that the liberal backing of the culture of death is acceptable.

FATHER JOE:  What news releases were these? Cite them; I would like to read further. As far as I recall, John Kennedy was chastised by churchmen for his liberal response about how little his faith would inform his work as president. As for the other Kennedys and the issue of abortion, I fail to see how Vatican II can be blamed for their pro-abortion stances. I have read and studied all the Vatican II documents and post-conciliar documents. Nothing comes to mind that would condone such thinking against the Gospel of Life. Are we throwing mud again? Give me specifics, please.

FRANK:  Having attended the seminaries after Vatican II where the divinity of Christ was challenged, as well as the papacy, and all that was to be infallible before the “Catholic reformation” of 1962-1965; what is your take on recent developments and the continued blasphemies to this day condoned by the Church where the USCCB still can’t come to a consensus to deny our Lord to baby-killing Catholic politicians?

FATHER JOE:

Certainly there was a heightened stress upon the humanity of Christ in many theological schools after Vatican II. However, I do not recall ever being taught that Jesus was not a divine Person.

Fr. Patrick Granfield taught my class on the papacy at Catholic University and his lectures defended the Holy Father’s authority with a great deal of explanation.

Those things that were changed were not deemed infallible but rather mutable accidentals. This thinking was even shared by Pope Pius XII prior to Vatican II on matters like the prehistoric generation of human beings and the liturgy.

A revision of the liturgy was in the working stages going back to the 1930′s and 40′s. The reformed liturgy we have now has lasted a few decades and will probably remain for many more, although with the old liturgy alongside and with continuing adaptations by the Holy See. We have had to suffer the experimental phase, but Pope Benedict XVI said that such has come to an end.

As for the passivity of churchmen in reference to Holy Communion and the standing of pro-abortion politicians, such is also not attributable to Vatican II. The Church has gone through periods in the past where it was the lackey for parliaments, kings and queens. The Popes made clear statements from the 1600′s onward that slavery was detestable and should be abandoned. However, Catholics owned slaves in the colonies and later in the United States of America. The Jesuit landowners of Maryland had slaves. Bishops were often mute on the subject, except for admonishing their baptism in the faith. Dissent is not something new but something very old.

PADRE XYZ: 

Father Joe, Your welcome to the pro-life young people did not go unnoticed. I know it cost you personally.  I think you can be rude and you definitely lack tact, but it did take some nerve to stand virtually alone and make the challenge against silence or business as usual.  You honestly shared your heart to the bishops and your brother priests.

You asked…

Would you give communion to Nazis who promoted the murder of Jews?

Would you give communion to White Supremacists who incited the lynching of Blacks?

Why should we prize the life in the womb any less or their murders as somehow less grievous?

Silence befell all the big guns. You lost a lot of friends that day. If you had career hopes in the church, they were suddenly shattered. Hushed and whispered voices were the only response, “How do we shut this priest up?”

You became an embarrassment. I could not do what you did. You angered a lot of people. You took a promise of obedience and you were reprimanded for your slight as an act of betrayal. Some of us witnessed it, although you were left unnamed.

You changed after that, became quiet, even sullen. It was as if something died in you. You gained weight.

I know you were disappointed in me. But to be frank, I was afraid. Who are we to question the shepherds over us? What happens if we tell the majority of Catholic politicians they are no longer welcome at the altar?

Take care of yourself.

FATHER JOE:  I was going to erase this comment. I still might. If you are who I think you are, email me. Peace!

(I am not really brave.  I speak my mind and I love the Church.  When all is said and done, I do as I am told.  I am the Church’s man.  Some would contend that I am too conservative or right wing.  But how can we be too committed to the Gospel of Life?  Every day I work to control my temper.  As long as I can remember, I have been very passionate about our faith and its values.  Am I ambitious?  Like most priests, it is nice to know that one is appreciated and that one’s talents are acknowledged.  However, by comparison to most priests that I know, my rating would be very low.  It is not false humility but the truth when I say that I count myself as the least of my brothers.  As for the bishops, it must be a frightful responsibility they carry.  Who would want it?  They are criticized from every side.  It is easy for us to judge, but we do not walk in their shoes.  Pray for priests and pray, especially for our bishops.  They are Christ’s apostles in the world today.)

DR:  I nominated you for a pro-life blog award (FATHER JOE Blog).

JOHN:  Fr. Joe, abortion is murder. These babies can’t speak for themselves. Other bishops have stood up and said priests should not give communion to pro-choice politicians as they have the power to stop the murder (Bishop Burke-former bishop of St. Louis archdiocese and Bishop Finn of Kansas City diocese, for instance.) I’m glad priests like you and Fr. Frank Pavone speak out on this issue. It’s a serious matter and it should be treated as such. Thanks for all you do.

LENBER:

“President Bush has had a very cozy relationship with the Vatican, and set a presidential record by meeting with the Pope six times.”

Very cozy indeed, sometimes for the good, and at other times for utterly and criminally contra-productive [things], such as siding with Bush in Criminal Wars (for the Vatican just Abortion is a Crime) or siding with Israel on their Criminal Occupation of Palestine.

All Thanks to Vatican II Double Crossers.

FATHER JOE:  I am not sure I would coin the Bush Doctrine or International efforts in such negative terms. However, as for the Pope, you seem to be terribly deceived. The Vatican opposed the invasion of Iraq. Tarek Aziz (the former president) was a Catholic. He made a retreat in Rome and saw the Pope (John Paul II) the week prior to the invasion. The state of Israel is also not entirely happy that the Vatican, again and again, sides with Palestinians (who are largely Islamic but include an ancient Christian community). Formal recognition and diplomatic ties were held up because of Vatican concerns for the Palestinian people. The late Arafat, at the end of his life, remarked that he saw the Vatican as his ally in the conflict for Palestinian rights. Zionism was condemned by both the UN and by the Church. Arafat used to attend the Christmas Mass in Bethlehem with his wife (who is a Christian). The Catholic Church is no one’s stooge, not for Bush and not for Israel. The Holy Father (both JPII and BXVI) has spoken to President Bush, (he meets a lot of people) and they share much in regard to the unborn, however on matters like the Middle East and capital punishment, there is a great divide.

MICHAEL:

Tomorrow marks the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Think of the millions of lives that were snuffed out in this “free” country.

May God have mercy on us!

GENUS LILIUM:

I am completely against abortions. I have children and I have learned that some vaccinations are grown off of human diploid cells from aborted fetal tissue, not to mention all the other chemicals, heavy metals, and animal products. That seems like it might be a problem to me. Now that I know this, would it be wrong for me to continue to vaccinate my children? Is it just a money scheme? I really don’t want that stuff in my kids.

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