Burning for life

Sacco brings up-tempo
energy to BCRTLC
By luke eggleston / SUN staff writer

James Sacco had always considered himself pro-life. It wasn’t until he attended law school, though, that his ideas would crystallize.
In what he describes as the virulently “pro-abortion” atmosphere of the University at Buffalo, Sacco said he was able to strengthen his argument as he was constantly confronted with those who consider abortion a right.
“As a matter of constitutional law, the notion that abortion is a right is nonsense,” said Sacco, who was a member of the Federalist Society while attending UB. “I was constantly confronted about being pro-life. I honed my skills because I was pretty much in constant debate.”
After law school, Sacco’s enthusiasm for pro-life politics continued to grow, despite the fact that he was without an outlet for activism. That is until last year when he was asked to become the director of the Broome County Right to Life Committee (BCRTLC). Sacco believes the role is the result of prayer and his passion for the pro-life movement.
“I had a fire burning in my heart,” said Sacco, whose home parish is St. Mary of the Assumption in Binghamton. “I prayed that I would have the opportunity to lead some kind of pro-life crusade.”

Last year, Sacco recruited Colleen Cortese to become BCRTLC’s events coordinator. Although she only knew Sacco in passing before he accepted the role, Cortese, who attends St. John the Evangelist Church in Binghamton, has been impressed with him.
“He is a very energetic and dynamic person who is aware of current events and issues,” Cortese said. “He’s quick witted and has a great awareness of legal matters. He is the perfect person for what I consider to be a grand responsibility.”
Sacco is a native of Binghamton and he was a member of the second graduating class of Binghamton Free Academy in 1984. Following high school, he attended Broome Community College where an internship at a local law firm inspired to him to pursue a career in that field. Sacco earned his bachelor’s degree at the University at Albany, where he majored in psychology, before moving on to Buffalo.
“[While at UB] I saw up close and personal what the culture of death mindset is actually like,” Sacco said.
During the ensuing years, Sacco was largely isolated from the political arena and his interest in pro-life issues was relegated to casual conversation.
He ran for Broome County legislature in 1998 and 2000, suffering narrow defeats in both elections. Although his platform was more squarely focused on local issues, Sacco had hoped a seat on the county legislature might lead him to a stage upon which he could further the pro-life cause. Despite the election setbacks, Sacco felt that he had made an impact locally simply by running.
“My primary motivation was to influence the public decision-making process,” Sacco said.
Several years ago, his passion for the pro-life movement inspired him to found, with the blessing of Father Daniel Caruso, a pro-life organization at St. Mary’s, where Sacco has taught religious education since 1997.
Then, in 2006, Binghamton area pro-life activist Nate Cortese (now deceased) approached Sacco regarding the open director position with the Broome County Right to Life Committee. After careful consideration, Sacco decided to accept the position with gusto.
Over the course of the last year, the organization has set up tables with literature at various local events and also continued its efforts to educate through its newsletters as well as some minor lobbying.
Sacco also instituted several annual events. Sept. 27, BCRTLC hosts its second annual “Proudly Pro Life” event at Our Lady of Angels in Endwell.
Last year, the event was held at Cortese’s in Binghamton and, according to Sacco, the restaurant was filled to capacity.
This year, Sacco said, the event will feature a reflection on the past year in pro-life activity, but it will also include a presentation on “heroes of the pro-life movement.”
“Number one, we want to make sure they’re given full honor and, two, we want to do as they did,” Sacco said.
He added that he hopes the event will have a “pep rally kind of feel to it.”
Other events BCRTLC prioritizes are the “Leap for Joy Advent Celebration” and “Love Them Both.” The latter event is loosely connected to Valentine’s Day and stresses the importance of loving both the mother and the child.
According to Sacco, such events help maintain morale, build the group’s numbers and, above all, educate.
In addition, Sacco asked Father Tom Ward, the pastor at Immaculate Conception in Greene, to serve as the group’s chaplain.
The group also stepped up its billboard campaign, with several signs in both Binghamton and Endicott.
“They say, ‘Life is precious.’ They’re about as upbeat as they can be,” Sacco said.
Cortese said BCRTLC hopes parish priests will take a more significant role in promulgating the pro-life cause.
“We hope parish priests become more willing to exercise their pastoral responsibility to promote a culture of life and be a guide to their flock,” Cortese said. She acknowledged that while priests ought not press the agenda of certain politicians, she said, “They do have a responsibility to teach Catholic social values regarding life.”

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