From the November 5, 2009 issue of The Catholic Light
Information & Inspiration
Pro-life supporters get both
at statewide conference here
By William R. Genello, Catholic Light Editor
has sometimes been called the
pro-life capital of the country.
Although that designation is
unofficial, our region recently was
at the forefront of pro-life activity
again when the Pennsylvania Pro-
Life Federation held its annual
statewide conference here.
Approximately 400 people
from around the state attended
the event on Oct. 24 at the Hilton
Scranton and Conference Center.
They left with a lot of information
and inspiration to continue
promoting the cause for life at
Bishop John M. Dougherty,
former auxiliary bishop of Scranton,
welcomed the conference to
the Diocese in the name of Cardinal
Justin Rigali, who had wanted
to be there but could not attend
due to other commitments.
Bishop Dougherty recalled
the thought of the French author
Pascal: “Between us and hell or
heaven there is nothing but life,
which of all things is the frailest.”
“The frailty of life is at its
start and ending – the very frailty
you are bent on protecting,” Bishop
Dougherty told the audience.
He praised, thanked and blessed
them for their work.
The banquet’s keynote speaker,
former Kansas Attorney General
Phill Kline, talked about the
principles of our nation’s foundation
and the rule of law to respect
God’s creation of human life.
“You cannot proclaim the
truth and live a lie. You cannot
destroy the innocent and claim
America’s promise (of life and liberty
for all),” he told The Catholic
Light in an interview prior to the
“If we walk away from that
(respecting all human life), then all
the rest will disintegrate over time.
We are playing a dangerous game
by trying to compromise with evil,”
said Mr. Kline, who gained national
attention for his battles with Planned
Parenthood, the nation’s largest
The banquet was preceded by
a day-long program of presentations
on a variety of topics.
Bobby Schindler, brother of
euthanasia victim Terri Schindler
Schiavo. The Schindler family
unsuccessfully fought the court
ruling that allowed Terri to die, but
Bobby Schlindler said his family
never sought attention or tried to
do anything heroic.
“We just wanted to bring
Terri home and care for her,” he
said. “But we were not allowed to
do that, and that’s a barometer of
how far we’re drifting and becoming
bankrupt as a society.
“As a result of the court decision,
it is okay to kill someone
purely on the basis of quality of
life. But all life is sacred. If we
don’t value life, how can we value
anything in our society.”
Terri’s case became a national
media event, but coverage of the
life issues is often scant or done
from a pro-abortion perspective,
according to Teresa Tomeo, who
spent 27 years as a talk show host,
radio and TV reporter, and newspaper
columnist before founding her
own speaking and communications
company. She hosts a daily radio
program, “Catholic Connection,”
that airs on 120 Catholic radio stations
across the country, including
JMJ Radio in our area.
In a conversation with The
Catholic Light, she referred to a secular
media “groupthink” that assumes
that the right to choose abortion
should be legal. “Some try to cover
the story objectively, but they can’t
seem to leave their own opinions at
the door. They end up promoting
what Pope Benedict called ‘a dictatorship
To counter this, she urged
people to write letters to the editor,
contact advertisers and continue to
speak the truth.
Other presenters included
stem cell research expert Dr.
David Prentice of the Family
Research Council; and two-time
cancer survivor and adult stem cell
transplant recipient Carol Franz.
Dr. David Prentice spoke
about the life-saving impact of
adult stem cell research.
“It’s only adult (not embryonic)
stem cells that are treating
people now,” he said, noting
that adult stem cell research has
resulted in successful treatments
for nearly 80 forms of disease.
He said “zero treatments have
resulted from embryonic stem
cell research. All it does is create
tumors in rats and mice.”
Special breakout sessions
for students included talks by
“Umbert the Unborn” cartoonist
Gary Cangemi and nationally-recognized
abstinence expert Emily
Pennsylvania Students for
Life was represented by its president,
Dennis Monaghan, a senior
at the University of Scranton.
He explained that the organization
tries to connect with various
student groups across the state to
further the pro-life cause through
collective action and individual
“It would be easy to go with
the flow and be tolerant, rather
than examine your own beliefs
and make the right decision to
respect life, be grateful for the life
you have, and commit to protect
the future lives of those yet to be
born,” Mr. Monaghan said.
PPLF Executive Director
Michael Ciccocioppo said the
conference was a “great success”
based on the comments he heard
from many attendees.
“They felt more informed,
more energized and more motivated
than ever to work hard for
life,” he said.
Shari Lewis and Shannon
O’Donnell came from Westmoreland
County outside Pittsburgh
to be there, and Ms. Lewis told
The Light that it was “important to
keep up-to-date and learn as much
as possible, not only about saving
babies in the womb but also about
euthanasia, stem cell research and
Ms. O’Donnell considers
everyone involved in the pro-life
cause as “champions for Christ
who have to keep spreading the
message of life and hope.”
Two of those champions
were honored at the conference.
Betty Caffrey and Helen Gohsler
received the 2009 Pennsylvania
Pro-Life Lifetime Achievement
Award for their commitment to
protecting and defending the right
to life from conception to natural
death, while promoting respect for
the dignity of human life.
Mrs. Caffrey and Mrs.
Gohsler have been president of
the Wyoming Valley and Scranton
chapters of Pennsylvanians for
Human Life, respectively, for a
combined 59 years.
Click here for the November 5, 2009 issue of The Catholic Light, including the original version of this article.
Charlene Bashore, Esq. is the Legislative/ PAC Director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation. Prior to joining the Federation, Charlene was on the staff of the Republican Legal Staff in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. In addition, Charlene has served as an adjunct instructor at Messiah College. She also clerked for the late R. Dixon Herman of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Charlene is a summa cum laude graduate of Grove City College where she majored in Business Administration and History and received her J.D. from the Dickinson School of Law. www.paprolife.org
Cartoonist Gary Cangemi is the creator of the pro-life comic strip
Umbert the Unborn, which now appears in more than 120 publications with more than 700,000 readers in the U.S. and abroad. Cangemi is Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Scranton chapter of Pennsylvanians for Human Life, a chapter of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation. His first book, Umbert the Unborn, a Womb With a View, was released in 2003 by Circle Press.
Emily Parke Chase, MA, has served as Coordinator of Educational Services at the Capital Area Pregnancy Centers of Camp Hill, PA, for more than 20 years. She developed the "Waiting-the Smart Choice!" abstinence education curriculum and speaks hundreds of times each year to teens and adults about relationship issues. Her curricular materials are used across the country and also in Africa, Europe, Canada, and Central America. Chase is the author of
Why Say No When My Hormones Say Go? (Christian Publications, 2003), among other books.
Michael Ciccocioppo has served as executive director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation since 2002. He energizes pro-lifers at the grassroots to work for a society that respects human life from conception to natural death. Prior to joining the Federation, he spent 31 years in hospital administration in the U.S. Air Force and Catholic health care. He earned a Master of Health Administration degree from Baylor University. He and his wife, Peggy, have been married for over 35 years and have four grown children.
Carol Franz is a testament to the success of adult stem cells. She survived two bouts of myeloma cancer, thanks to adult stem cell transplants. Franz is an avid supporter of the use of adult stem cells and continues to lobby the government and educate the public about the benefits of adult stem cell treatments. She was on the dais with President Bush when he vetoed legislation that would have provided for taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research.
Phill Kline, Esq.,
former Attorney General of Kansas, is known as the prosecutor who took on Planned Parenthood. Kline served as both a district attorney in Johnson County, Kansas, and as Kansas' 41st Attorney General. He was known for his efforts to protect society's most vulnerable citizens, including children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. A former member of the Kansas House of Representatives, Kline now serves as a law professor at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Dr. David A. Prentice currently serves as Senior Fellow for Life Sciences at the Family Research Council. Prior to that, he devoted nearly 20 years to teaching and research as Professor of Life Sciences at Indiana State University and Adjunct Professor of Medical and Molecular Genetics at the Indiana University School of Medicine. He is a founding member of Do No Harm: The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics.
Bobby Schindler is the executive director of the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation Center for Health Care Ethics which works to protect the lives of the medically vulnerable and disabled from the threat of euthanasia. After his sister Terri's tragic death by euthanasia, Schindler gave up his job as a high school teacher to become a fulltime prolife and disability rights advocate. He has appeared on such programs as The Today Show and Good Morning America to discuss endoflife issues.
Teresa Tomeo is an author, syndicated Catholic talk show host, and motivational speaker with nearly 28 years of experience in TV, radio, and newspaper. Tomeo's daily morning radio program, "Catholic Connection," is heard on more than 120 Catholic stations nationwide. She appears frequently on EWTN Catholic Television and has been featured on The O'Reilly Factor and Fox News. Tomeo has written several books, including Noise-How Our Media Saturated Culture Dominates Lives and Dismantles Families.
Maria Vitale is Education Director for the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation and a columnist for LifeNews.com. Prior to her work in the pro-life movement, Vitale was an awardwinning reporter in public broadcasting. Vitale also has experience as a television producer and served as an adjunct faculty member in
journalism at Ohio State University.