Bishop John W. Yanta has recently become well-known around the United States and even around the world for being the sponsoring bishop of the first religious society of pro-life priests. The Society of the Missionaries of the Gospel of Life was canonically set up on December 12, 2005 with the approval of the Vatican and as a society of diocesan right in Bishop Yanta’s Diocese of Amarillo, Texas. Father Frank Pavone is the founder of the society and has worked with Bishop Yanta to establish this great initiative which has the local Planned Parenthood feeling a bit threatened!
Rightly so: Bishop Yanta has not been one to be silent in the face of the wholesale killing of babies in his diocese. He became the bishop of the Diocese of Amarillo in 1997 and immediately began to lead his flock in pro-life prayer services in front of the many abortion mills and Planned Parenthood facilities in the area. Since that time the number of such facilities has been reduced from 11 to just two! (That is two too many.)
As he issued a strong message of discipline to his flock about the killing centers, he also balanced his firm message with hope: “As your bishop and shepherd, I ask all Catholics not to use Planned Parenthood’s services, not to belong to any of their boards, not to serve as a volunteer and not to be employed there. In resigning your employment there, I will be happy to assist you in finding employment elsewhere so you will not be cooperating in these immoral practices and being a source of scandal both within and outside the Church and community. I make this plea, in love, as my duty to continue the mission of Jesus Christ: to teach, to sanctify and to govern” (October 1, 1998).
Bishop Yanta has also been clear about the obligation of Catholic politicians to stay clear of abortion and warned that, after appropriate fraternal correction, he would refuse Communion to any Catholic politicians in his diocese who persisted in advocating abortion. Bravo!
To top it off, in the month of February 2005, Bishop Yanta issued a pastoral letter on Natural Family Planning and made instruction in NFP mandatory within the marriage preparation course in his diocese.
For these and many other reasons, HLI presents the Cardinal von Galen Award for courageous pro-life leadership to Bishop John W. Yanta of Amarillo, Texas.