Catholic Pro-Life PAC Raises Crucial Funds for Pro-Life Candidates

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 8, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Pro-Life PAC Raises Crucial Funds for Pro-Life Candidates

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
January 8, 2004

Ann Arbor, MI ( — Many in the pro-life community are familiar with the pro-abortion EMILY’s List PAC, but an up and coming supporter of pro-life candidates is the Ave Maria List PAC, a lay-Catholic political action committee led by former Domino’s Pizza owner Tom Monaghan.

The pro-life political group has raised over $325,000 for pro-life candidates since its formation in May 2002.

"Catholics represent the largest Christian denomination in the country and the fastest growing Christian denomination in the country,” Joe Cella, Executive Director of the Ave Maria List told

“Catholics are finally realizing that it is high-time that we unite in solidarity behind the teachings of our faith and convert them into nuts and bolts action in the political arena," Cella added.

Other national political action committees exist, such as the Susan B. Anthony List and the National Right to Life PAC, which have provided much-needed funds to candidates running for Congress and governor.

Ave Maria will hopefully bring additional funds to the table to help compete with pro-abortion groups, that have the money to throw millions of dollars into national elections.

Monaghan and and other prominent Catholics, including former Major League Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, formed the PAC in response to a speech by Pope John Paul II entitled "Reaffirm the Culture of Life. In the speech, the pontiff urged a "general mobilization of consciences and a united ethical effort to activate a great campaign [in] support of life."

In order for the PAC to support a candidate, the politician’s stance must be in line with the PAC’s “philosophy of protecting life, family and the dignity of the human being." The campaign must also demonstrate “the ability to mount an effective campaign that includes a reasonable strategy for victory, and sufficient fund raising to execute the strategy.”

"They’re wise in how they spend their money," said Chris Brennan, a New Jersey attorney and donor to the Ave Maria List. "They look at races, see what the criteria is. They’re not just going to throw dollars at a candidate who really doesn’t need the help."

Other donors included Monaghan and his wife, Marjorie, who both donated the maximum allowed individual contribution of $5,000 in each of the past three years, and Wellington Mara, owner of pro football’s New York Giants, who donated the maximum in the last two years.

In the 2002 election cycle, the group contributed directly to several Senate campaigns, including John Thune of South Dakota, Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO), Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN). The PAC also paid for issue advocacy ads, telephone campaigns, and mailings for a few of the supported campaigns.

An issue advocacy ad during 2003 for William Pryor, the Alabama attorney general nominated for a federal judgeship by Bush, that drew public attention to the Ave Maria List. The ad attacked pro-abortion Democrats fighting the nomination by depicting a closed courtroom door with a sign reading, "Catholics Need Not Apply," a reference to historical discrimination of other ethnic groups including blacks, Jews, and the Irish.

The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call called the ad "despicable,” but the Ave Maria List earned “a groundswell of support from across the country," according to Cella.

While the pro-life group will consider expanding efforts to presidential and House candidates, Cella told his group "is focusing like a laser beam on key Senate races,” in 2004.

“This is the most critical battleground in the 2004 election cycle, for if we can expand the existing majority, many of President Bush’s very well qualified but long-delayed judicial nominees will be confirmed, and key pro-life … legislation will be able to be passed through the Senate and on to the President for his signature,” he commented.

However, if the group chose to get involved in the presidential elections, it would likely back Bush.

“I am quite certain President Bush would meet our candidate criteria for endorsement,” Cella added.

Catholic pro-life advocates are delighted to have another organization to support that is helping elect pro-life candidates.

"I am excited to be a part of the Ave Maria List because we finally have a serious Catholic presence in the political arena, making a difference in key races across the country,” said Florence Sorensen of Lake forest, IL. “In the ongoing battle between the culture of life and the culture of death, it is critical for Catholics to answer the call of the Holy Father and engage our faith in the political arena behind candidates that stand up for beliefs that are a part of our faith."

Related Sites:
Ave Maria List –