Plans have been announced for the first ever Roman Catholic religious society devoted exclusively to fighting against abortion and euthanasia. The male-only group, to be called “Missionaries of the Gospel of Life,” will be headquartered in Amarillo, Texas and led by Fr. Frank Pavone. Pavone currently serves as the director for Priests for Life and was an outspoken figure in the Terri Schiavo controversy.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the new order will train priests and other anti-abortion lay men in lobbying and voter-registration drives. Most disturbing, however, the new group intends to train priests to “lead demonstrations outside offices where abortions and family-planning services are provided.” Planned Parenthood of Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle expressed concerns that the new society will orchestrate blockades of women’s clinics.
Indeed, as the director of Priests for Life, Pavone has written in a pamphlet “Our Media is the Streets” that clinic blockades or “breaking a law of trespass” at abortion clinics is “perfectly justified.” Adding to local clinics’ concerns, Bishop John Yanta of Amarillo told the Los Angeles Times the new group would not shy “away from using aggressive strategies to get their anti-abortion message across.” The Bishop also said, according to the LA Times, that the group is being established with the knowledge and blessing of the Vatican. Cardinal Renato Martino, who leads the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said that the Missionaries of the Gospel of Life “may be just what the world today needs.”
Pavone himself has long been associated with some of the most extremist elements of the anti-abortion movement who have organized and led blockades of clinics and targeted doctors in campaigns of intimidation. He participated in the founding convention of the American Coalition of Life Activists (ACLA) in which the ACLA unveiled a campaign called the “Deadly Dozen” – targeting 13 physicians across the country who performed abortions.