Father Frank's Crusade

A Staten Island Priest Leads a Costly and Well-Organized Campaign Against Abortion

When Priests for Life's television ads do air, politicians may find it difficult to criticize them and Pavone. State Senator Schneiderman learned this lesson in the wake of his anti-Pavone protest. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights sent out a press release: "NYS Senator Schneiderman Libels Pro-Lifers." Angry e-mails poured into the senator's office. Staten Island borough president Guy Molinari attacked him in a local paper. And the senator began receiving menacing messages on his home telephone.

Schneiderman insists he will keep up his efforts. But, he says, "I think a lot of people are intimidated by the prospect of offending Catholic voters, and several people have told me this is a stupid thing to be involved in."

For pro-choice leaders, Pavone is also a difficult target. His strong ties to the Vatican and his status as a priest seem to act as a sort of Teflon to protect him from charges of extremism. Pro-choice leaders only began publicly criticizing him last year. Meanwhile, Pavone has been building his network, averaging two trips a week, for seven years. Now that the nation has an antiabortion president, especially one who recently proclaimed the importance of the Catholic vote, Pavone has never been better positioned to push his agenda.

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