I had the opportunity to interview Fr. Frank Pavone last Friday, and this posting will touch on the highlights of this interview. As mentioned before, representatives from Priests for Life reached out to me to do this interview and the timing of this happened to coincide with Missy Smith’s campaign for the congressional seat in Washington, D.C. The interview, originally scheduled for 15 minutes, went 40 minutes, and for the sake of brevity, I had to condense as much as possible without changing the esence of what was said. I had pre determined questions, but due to the nature of the discussion, we went into other aspects of the pro life organizations and the general problems with them. I will write the questions, and then give Fr. Frank’s response.
Does the 501c3 tax exempt status hurt the Churches ability to address politicians and laws?
Fr. Frank: Not if the Church has allowed the organization to do the work. As far as PFL (Priests for Life) is concerned, we have to deal not only with civil law, but Church law. We have the ability to put out non partisan voter guides, but cannot explicitly point out or endorse any specific candidates. However, the Church does need to allow for the full extent of the c3 laws, and in some quadrants, there is some hesitancy to do this. Church teachings often are opposed to the reality of the situation, in that they do not always teach with the conviction that they need to. There can be many reasons for this, but much of it can be attributed to sometimes being out of touch with the common man and his situation. Then there is the larger church culture that seems to imply ‘don’t push this too much”.
You have talked about influencing the 2010 elections, yet you are a 501c3. Is it true that you cannot advocate for the defeat of a candidate by name that supports the murder of babies?
Fr. Frank: I cannot communicate that through the PFL channels. As a private individual, I would be able to do so, but it is a very fine line between identifying my own beliefs as opposed to my association with PFL. There are not only civil laws I must be aware of, but church law since I am a Priest. Traditionally speaking, the church has attempted to stay clear of partisan politics, and discourages priests from doing this activity.
Fr. Frank, you have a great deal of influence and I think it would make a big difference if you did get out there and make a clear statement about Missy Smith’s candidacy, especially given the fact she is showing graphic images, that corresponds with your own statement “America will not reject abortion until America sees abortion”.
Fr. Frank: I know Missy Smith very well, and am all for her doing what she is doing. I do believe America needs to see these images and what she (Missy) is doing is very courageous and needs to be supported by the pro life movement. But I want you to know that I use images on my television show and advocate for others to do the same. I think there is a hesitancy to do this with many of the pro life organizations due to various reasons, and there seems to be a significant amount of discomfort with these ads.
Fr Frank, your television show is’ preaching to the choir’. Missy Smith’s ads are going into the ‘belly of the beast’ and are garnering a great deal of ‘hate mail’. Missy informed me that she needs to empty her voice mail at least 2 times per day from all of the hate and vile messages left for her. Her spots are hard hitting and have to be run, unedited on the MSM airwaves. This is unprecedented not only in politics, but in the nation’s capital, and for the first time that I can remember; the pro death camp is on the defensive. Then we have an organization such as the Susan B. Anthony List that is embroiled in a dispute over billboards in Ohio. It is beyond me that many in this ’movement’ cannot distinguish between spending a great deal of money defending billboards that will do little to nothing, versus a fair amount of money in showing the graphic nature of abortion to the nation’s capital, where many of the politicians will have to see it. Talk about not understanding the nature of the battle, or knowing where to spend the money in a very cost effective way. Where is the coverage and support for Missy Smith if we really need to show America what abortion is?
Fr Frank: First, I agree with you. It is unprecedented for the nation’s capital, and needed. However, there seems to be among many in the pro life movement a lack of political savvy, political willfulness. There is also a level of discomfort and even a fear of being explicit with the images used. There have also been debates about how to best deal with the elections and many of the groups have done what they think they need to do with getting candidates elected. Many want to stay out of controversy in order to get many of these candidates into office.
Here’s the problem with that. Most of these so called ‘pro life’ candidates, once elected, don’t follow through on their promises. We have had too many instances in which supposed pro life candidates, once in office, turn on us, such as Lindsay Graham, then get re elected, and are supported by the PRO LIFE ORGANIZATIONS! Then you have people like Steve Ertelt of life news, stating the way to ‘win’ is to get a majority of pro lifers in the legislative and executive branches. Maybe he does not remember, but we had that opportunity with Bush, and it didn’t happen. We had the Sotomayor and Kagan nominations, and virtual silence by nearly all of the pro life movement, and I have this well documented. Many in the ‘pro life movement’ seem to have no clue about this fight, and even when they do identify a source of the front, do little to nothing about it.
Fr. Frank: Accountability is a problem. It seems as time goes on the passion begins to wane. The church moves slow because it is institutionalized and sometimes it takes longer to get things going due to the precedents set….
Sorry to interrupt you, but the Church is 2000 years old, and it’s understandable for institutionalization there, but the pro life movement is 38 years old, and there is really no excuse for it to be institutionalized already.
Fr. Frank: yes, it seems to have happened quickly. Many seemed to have lost touch with the mission of what we need to do.
I’m glad you said that. I’m telling you now, that there will be a great deal of anger by the ‘man on the street’ after this is said and done, after the election. There is no passion, no ‘urgency’ in this movement anymore. Things just plod along. The vast majority of the ‘leadership’ is out of touch with the front line people in this movement. Missy Smith’s ads will get out there after the election, and many of the front line people are going to be furious with much of the leadership because they didn’t inform them of this option, and they took it upon themselves to make decisions for these people. I consider myself a front line pro lifer. I get up on Saturday mornings, regardless of the weather, and stand out at the mills and counsel women. I am sick of doing this, and I want to see this holocaust end. Unfortunately, there are organizations that have huge budgets, nice offices, some of the leaders are well compensated for speeches, and get invited to activities. They would be in ‘existential angst’ if legalized child killing ended tomorrow. Unlike them, I have a career, and pay my bills through those means, and want to see every worthwhile tool used to end this holocaust. Most of the front line people think the way I do, and don’t think these organizations have the ‘right’ to speak for us. These organizations are going to be in trouble once the front line people find out the opportunity was there, but they didn’t pass this on. And by the way, we are documenting who is helping and who is not. And we will be publishing a list shortly after the election with names of the organizations and individuals with who did and did not respond. Good luck to their fund raising then.
Fr. Frank: Yes, I am surprised at how quickly this movement has been institutionalized. I believe the organizations need to get back to their roots. There needs to be passion in this movement, and the leadership needs to do these things. First, they need to get back to their roots. They need to be praying regularly in front of abortion mills. They need to look at the images and view the videos we use on a regular basis to remind themselves of the mission, and to keep the urgency alive. They especially need to talk to the women who either are going in for abortions, or are post abortive. They need to understand and hear for themselves the pain and agony of these women. There is no greater motivator than that. There needs to be more hands on and way more involvement by the leadership, and yes, there needs to be urgency in this matter.
Last question Fr. Frank. We have requested of all the leadership in the various organizations to do three things: Personally donate to Missy Smith’s campaign, personally endorse her, and pass her information along to their distribution lists. This can be done without violating 501c3 and non profit status as demonstrated by Jack Ames. Will YOU personally commit to doing these same things for Missy Smith?
Fr. Frank: Being mindful of the organization, I can send out a memo with Missy’s information on it and encourage people to look at it and act on the information. I can also put Missy Smith on the voter guide and encourage support for her candidacy in that way. I also can endorse her and give her a ‘plug’ in my communications.
Thank you for your time and I’m sure I will be speaking to you in the near future.
So, we have it on record that Fr. Frank is supporting and endorsing Missy Smith for Congress. This is an unprecedented opportunity, and it is good to have the one who coined the term “America will reject abortion when America sees abortion.” We have a week or so left to make a significant impact on the nation’s capital, and we need to make this happen.
To donate to Missy Smith’s campaign, go to www.missysmith2010.com