Sunday, November 22, 2015

Dear Gabriella ...

Gabriella, you asked for a reaction to an article on a blog called Synesis. The blogger (couldn’t find his name) said he was sick and tired of people quoting Scripture out of context to press for a generous immigration policy. He was particularly exercised about people who quote the story of the Good Samaritan to make the point. Then he quoted several Fathers and Doctors of the Church who offered a specific lesson to draw from the text, an allegorical interpretation that did not lead him (the blogger) to see any relevance to caring for immigrants – nor for people in need in general, as far as I could tell.

I want to respond carefully – not to him, but to you. I have a lot of respect for you.

In 2012, I was shocked when I realized that the leaders of the fight against immigration (or for low&slow immigration) in Maryland were all pro-life leaders. I left teaching to push back against this painful inconsistency. Since the 1980s, I had seen abortion as one excrescence of the eugenics movement – and immigration restrictions are another. I had fought population control measures, and I thought I had been able to get some great things done – particularly in Bangladesh, a Muslim nation that I had helped to protect from a Western-inspired and Western-imposed (and Western-deceptive) measure that would have killed millions of Muslim babies. The push for immigration restrictions has been a key element of population control for a century. Pro-lifers fighting for immigration restrictions looked like a complete betrayal to me – although I understood that many pro-lifers (nearly all??) had been pulled into this stupendously murderous movement unawares.

I think it may be worthwhile if I sketch out how I built my response. I think it may answer your question about my reaction to Synesis.  So let me sketch my search, in six or seven steps. They overlapped, but it’s easier to understand them if you can pick them apart.

My thought was that I might be able to do something that most pro-immigration activists could not do. I thought I could reach some fierce and determined folks way off on the political right, people who identified themselves as conservative politically and religiously. I thought that I could get a hearing, because I am a pro-lifer – even though I do not consider myself a conservative.

Step #1. I was intent on reaching beyond the Catholic Church, so I started with Scripture. I searched for teaching about “immigration,” and found nothing. I floundered a bit, then bumped into Matthew 25, the Lord’s description of the Last Judgment (including the verses about strangers – care for immigrants and meet my Father, or don’t and go to hell). I was fascinated by the passage, because it was so familiar, but I had overlooked what it said about strangers/foreigners/migrants/pilgrims.

Step #2. Why did Jesus put strangers in that short list? When people recall that list, thy usually leave out strangers. Even the best teachers in the Church leave it out sometimes. For example, Msgr Robert Barron (now bishop), in his video series entitled Catholicism, reads Matthew 25 about the Last Judgment, then puts the Bible down and repeats the list for emphasis. When he repeats it from memory, ten seconds after he read it out loud, he skips strangers. I do not mean in any way to criticize him! He knows Scripture, and he lives it; he is among the best (among the saints of our age). My point is, if Msgr Barron skipped it, everyone skips it. Why? Well, I don’t know, but I think we skip it because it doesn’t seem to fit. Jesus thought it fit there, but we don’t agree.

So I wondered, why did Jesus interrupt the flow to insert this stray idea? What is this “stranger”? I went back to the Old Testament, hoping to understand why he put strangers in his short to-do-or-go-to-hell list. I searched for everything in the Old Testament mentioning strangers – and I was completely blown away. I spent a couple of months digesting what I found. Not digesting: just scratching the surface, starting to understand them a little. I read hundreds of passages.

Some highlights:

(a) Moses describes the key moral lesson from the Exodus in terms of strangers. The deepest lesson is about God: he is our protector. But there are also lessons about how we should behave, and Moses built the lessons around strangers: Welcome strangers, because – remember! You too once were a stranger in a strange land.
(b) God has a particular concern for a familiar pair: widows and _____ . Everyone can fill in that blank. It’s a part of the language now. Word processing programs can toggle on widow/orphan protection. But about half the time, this duo is actually a trio: widows and orphans and _____ . I realized slowly that anyone immersed in that culture who heard “widows and orphans hrrumph” would fill it in easily: widows & orphans & strangers.
(c) I was bowled over by what I found in Leviticus. It’s the broccoli book of the Bible: good for you, but not too tasty. Rules all over the place. But about strangers, Moses says a couple of things. One: don’t even think about treating them as second-class in the eyes of the Law, or I swear God will punish you severely. And second, there were some funny rules about harvesting olives and gleaning fields of grain. Moses said, be sloppy about harvesting, so that widows&orphans&strangers can get some food there when you are done. Why? Because: remember that you too were once a stranger in a strange land. Feed them, and protect their dignity. Feed them, because they are just like you when God rescued you. When I saw the tenderness in the broccoli book, I wept.
I worked to understand 200 passages about strangers. These three examples are just that – examples. It was one of the most joyful periods of my life.

Step #3. When I started trying to get a handle on the teaching about strangers, I listed all the passages that used the word GER, Hebrew for stranger. But when I thought I understood the idea a little, I expanded what I read, and looked for passages about hospitality to strangers, with or without the word GER. (Second time through the whole Bible.)

Some highlights (again, just examples out of dozens and dozens):

(a) The story of Abraham meeting God at Mamre is a story of hospitality. This first feast in the Bible foreshadows the Last Supper. To understand the Mass, you want to understand Abraham and his preparation to sacrifice his son Isaac, which foreshadows the new covenant sealed with the blood of Abraham’s descendant Jesus. But you also want to understand the feast.
(b) The Our Father includes requests that God feed us daily, and forgive our sins. Jesus, who taught the prayer, is Lord and Savior. Savior: forgive. Lord: feed us – like a king spreading a feast, and feeding his courtiers every day. The kingship of Jesus is not about spears and bombs and power and pomp; it’s about hospitality. Hospitality – feeding us daily, at every level of human existence.
(c) Luke: when Jesus was born, angel knew what was happening, and so did a handful of strangers, shepherds. Matthew: when Jesus was conceived and then born, Mary knew, then Joseph, then Elizabeth and John, then some strangers – the Magi. John: when Jesus was born, his own people treated him as a stranger.
(d) Moses asked that we exercise our memories and imagination, to get inside the experience of strangers. Jesus said the same thing, in a slightly different way. Jesus didn’t talk about strangers, but about neighbors; but the boundary between native and stranger is the same thing as the boundary between neighbor and non-neighbor. Same question, different terms. And Jesus, just like Moses, asks us to get inside the experience of the stranger. Who was neighbor to the man in trouble? See the question from the stranger’s perspective! Then do what another stranger (the Samaritan) did.

Step #4. When I was looking at the story of Mamre, I noticed that the story of Mamre and the story of Sodom are parallel, in at last 13 ways. Reading the story of Sodom without Mamre is silly; they go together – and once you see how thy fit, you can’t un-fit them. So Sodom is also a story of hospitality, and that got me looking at punishments for inhospitality. (Third pass through the whole Bible.)

(a) Sodom is about inhospitality to strangers. Homosexual gang rape is about as inhospitable as you can get. So the perpetrators were obliterated in fire and brimstone.
(b) The story of Gibea (Judges 19-20) is parallel to the story of Sodom. Same inhospitality. Sam attempted homosexual gang rape. Murder. Obliteration. It’s worthwhile reading the story if you are inclined to scoff at the idea that Sodom isn’t just about “sodomy.” (There are 40 references to Sodom in the Old Testament, and none refer to same-sex activity. Three prophets and two Gospels link Sodom to inhospitality or selfish luxury or injustice; two epistles link Sodom to homosexuality.)
(c) I already mentioned the Exodus. Why did God wipe out the Egyptian army at the Red Sea? It takes a book to tell the whole story, but when Moses wants to catch the whol experience in a phrase, he says we shouldn’t do what the Egyptians did – so welcome strangers, because – remember! – you too once were a stranger in a strange land. Slavery, genocide, tyranny – Moses lumps it all together in terms of hospitality.
(d) When the prophets threatened or explained the exile in Babylon, they talked about several sins of the people of Israel, including: idolatry (of course), and injustice (pretty broad), and abusing the poor, and mistreating strangers. The lists of sins vary a little, but the lists are short, and references to strangers are a constant. One reason (among several) for the exile was abuse of strangers.
(e) Why did Jesus say that you risk eternal punishment when you are careless about strangers? Well, part of the answer is, he was Jewish. Our culture may not protect strangers the way his did; but that’s our problem, not theirs.

Step #5. Enough grim stuff. What are the upsides of hospitality? (A fourth pass through Scripture.)

I already mentioned the Our Father, the Three Kings, the Eucharist. But just to pull it together: what Jesus said was, when you welcome a stranger, you welcome God. Not sometimes, like Odysseus or Abraham, but always. Jesus is explicit about it: we will not recognize him most of the time when he comes to us in a distressing disguise (Mother Teresa’s phrase). But it is always him. Whatsoever you do for a stranger, you do for me. Whatsoever.

Step #6. I’m a Catholic, and I don’t approach Scripture without the Church. What does the experience of the Church say?  (Although I am putting this sixth, I was reading this material concurrently with the search for GER in Scripture, step one.)

The Desert Fathers talked about welcoming Christ in strangers all the time. Every 15th story?? It’s in the Rule of St. Benedict: welcome strangers as Christ. St Martin of Tours gave half his cloak to a stranger, and Christ accepted the gift. St Francis kissed a leper, Christ.

In 1915, Benedict XV inaugurated the annual World Day of Migrants and Refugees. There’s a rich body of teaching in the annual statements, although only 60 years or so are easily available in English on line.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is forceful and balanced on the issue.

In 1989, when I was working as the executive director of the American Bioethics Advisory Commission (ABAC – a pro-life response to President Clinton’s National Bioethics Advisory Commission, or NBAC), I collected the encyclicals that dealt with bioethical issues, including immigration. I can’t find the list, but it’s in the archives of the NBAC. But what is easily available today is the tremendous pastoral letter of the American and Mexican bishops, writing together, “Strangers No Longer.” The bishops’ letter says the same things about Scripture that I am saying, although they are much more confident and efficient and practical in their teaching. Gabriella, you asked for my response to Synesis, and I gave mine; but it might have been better to say simply, read the bishops’ letter.

Step #7. In progress now. I have come to understand that hospitality is one of the themes in Scripture that is like “covenant” or “sacrifice” or “marriage.” It’s a mystery – a mysterion, not an unanswerable question, but something so rich that the more you see, the more you know there is far more to see, for eternity.  You know those pictures and icons of the Lord that show light emanating from him, from his hands or his heart? Sometimes the rays are specific – gifts of chastity or gifts of martyrdom – different gifts. I think that hospitality is one of those. It’s not a decoration that Emily Post or Amy Vanderbilt can teach; it’s something that comes from the radiant heart of God.

So. You asked about my response to Synesis, who says people like me shouldn’t misinterpret the story of the Good Samaritan. I think he has overlooked a few other passages.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

ISIS scares Republican governors silly

Once you notice how central hospitality is in Scripture, you see it everywhere. Today’s Gospel reading at Mass is about Jesus visiting Jericho, and meeting Zacchaeus. Jesus asks Zacchaeus to be his host for a meal; Zacchaeus accepts, with delight, and is transformed.

Who was host? Who took the initiative? That’s worth some thought. But in brief, Zacchaeus met God in the breaking of bread – recall the stories of the first feast and the Last Supper, Abraham at Mamre, Elijah at Zarephath, Moses in the olive groves, the disciples at Emmaus, Jesus in Jerusalem, and dozens more.

Jesus said, be my host. Zacchaeus agreed, and was filled with joy.

Jesus says now, to the USA, be my host. Obama says, maybe slowly maybe next year maybe sort of YES. Republican governors say, NO. And we are filled with fear.

The Pope says over and over to America, welcome immigrants and refugees. Ted Cruz says over and over to America, keep them out. I set before you joy and fear, life and death. Choose life, that you and children may live.

Come, Lord!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Response to Inhospitality, OT & NT

Immigration: an incomplete thought about Old and New Testament responses to inhospitality

It was a great delight to see Doug Harbo and his wife Pat! I was hoping their car would break down and they would be stuck here for a month, but it didn’t happen.

Doug asked what was on my mind these days. A book on marriage (complete) and a companion book on immigration (in process), to be published as a pair. But also: the punishments for inhospitality to immigrants in Scripture are extraordinarily severe! This is an incomplete thought. But Doug pressed a little, so I launched. He was startled that I was so interested in blood, and lost interest, at the fourth of five. So I’ll sketch it again here, and get to the fifth, which is the most interesting one.

This is an incomplete essay. To do this right, I need a much better understanding of sacrifice. And if I see a pattern in Scripture that recurs five times, I’m pretty sure I’m missing two. Still, here’s the incomplete thought.

#1. The pattern of hospitality emerges in Genesis.  Abraham and then Lot welcome strangers, treating them as if they were from heaven – which is good, because they are. There are a dozen details in the story of Abraham at Mamre that recur in the story of Lot at Sodom; once you have seen the parallels, you cannot un-see them; and you too become convinced that the stories (Genesis 18 about Abraham, and then the next chapter, Genesis 19, about Lot) must be read together. Explored elsewhere. What I want to focus in here is that there was a violation of hospitality, and a punishment. Abraham and Lot welcome the strangers, but Lot’s neighbors don’t. They want to rape the strangers, and homosexual gang rape is about as inhospitable as you can get. The punishment is noteworthy: angels scatter their dust across the trackless desert. Crimes: inhospitality, attempted rape. Intended victim: two strangers. Perpetrators: whole community. Punishment: towns obliterated.

#3. The Sodom story is often smudged up, reduced to a lesson about same-sex activity. So it’s worthwhile looking at Genesis 18 and 19 together, but also looking at a relatively obscure story about events in Gibea (in the First Book of Kings, ch 19). The Gibea story starts out parallel to the Sodom story, but swerves away. Stranger stops in Gibea, accepts hospitality at a man’s house, neighbors gather for a homosexual gang rape, stranger pushes out his concubine instead, neighbors rape her instead, man lines up allies among the twelve tribes of Israel, explains what happened SKIPPING THE RAPE ATTEMPT and focusing on hospitality and murder, the Hebrews attack Gibea, are repulsed twice, then attack a third time and slaughter everyone in ten towns. Crime: inhospitality and murder. Victim: stranger (abused) and concubine (murdered). Perpetrators: whole community. Punishment: ten towns wiped out.

#2. Between these two, there’s another. The whole story of the Exodus, from beginning to end, contains interesting insights into hospitality. The story is not about God’s act, saving his people from slavery. But it’s noteworthy that Moses (and writers in the Mosaic tradition, writing in his name) repeatedly sum up the lessons from the experience in terms of hospitality: “Welcome strangers, because – remember! – you too once were a stranger in a strange land!” The Hebrews went down to Egypt, and were welcome while Joseph lived, then had trouble, including slavery and genocide. Forever after, the lesson is summed up in terms in hospitality: don’t be like an Egyptian, don’t do what they did, remember that you too once were a stranger. Crimes: inhospitality, slavery, genocide. Victims: the Hebrew people. Perpetrators: the Egyptians, especially the Pharaoh. Punishment: the destruction of the army at the Red Sea (after some warnings including the ten plagues, including the deaths of all the firstborn Egyptians).

#4. Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel say that the Babylonian Exile was a punishment for the sins of the people of Israel. The first sin is idolatry, turning away from the covenant with the Lord. Other sins include injustice and oppression. But it matters to note that the lists of sins that bring on the Exile always include inhospitality to strangers. Crimes: idolatry, injustice, oppression, inhospitality. Victims: the poor, especially widows and orphans and strangers. The perpetrators: the Hebrew people. The punishment: the destruction of Jerusalem and the entire nation, and exile.

#5. [Probably should be #7, if I weren’t missing some things]. One aspect of the story of Jesus is radical inhospitality. In the beginning of the universe, there was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; but when he came among his own people, they did not recognize him. He came as a stranger, and eventually his own people crucified him. Crimes: not just idolatry but also deicide, plus every sin ever, including prominently inhospitality. Victim: Jesus, Lord of the history and of the universe, Son of God, the Messiah. Perpetrators: all of us, including his chosen people and his chosen apostles who betrayed him. Punishment: the crucifixion – of the victim of the crimes.


Monday, November 2, 2015

REACH LEFT: New Jersey pamphlet


Or: Why Am I in New Jersey?

Random Notes for a Modest Planning Session
Building Toward a Global Pro-life Century
(seven ideas and two action items)

John Cavanaugh-O’Keefe

What follows:

Intro, warming up …
Why am I here?
Unceasing Prayer
Seven convictions …
1. The Unity of the Church
2. Follow Pope Francis
4. Study nonviolence (and then return to action)
5. Priceless kindness (a prerequisite to nonviolent action))
6. Study eugenics, the ideology of arrogance
7. Reach left!
Two action items …
1. Action item #1: Campus outreach
2. Action item #2: Cemetery of the innocents – kinetic & global & inclusive version
Note on author: A silly brag sheet

Do I Belong Here?

Come, Lord Jesus! Come, Holy Spirit! Bring us to the Father!
Chris Flaherty invited me to come to a New Jersey strategic planning session. I knew before that she was an effective leader. But now I know she is also a courageous person! Invite JCOK?? Are you kidding?
If I go to a pro-life meeting now, I know what I’m supposed to say. I know what the Lord has been teaching me. Do I know that this group, at this time, wants to hear what’s on my heart? Nope.
I’ve been talking about pro-life nonviolence since 1975. I am certain that it is the heart of an effective pro-life movement. But I am aware that most people, including most pro-lifers, think that “nonviolence” means “don’t hit anybody.” So a serious nonviolent campaign will require serious preparation – including remediation.
I’ve been writing about eugenics since 1985. I am certain that eugenics is the driving force behind abortion. It’s not the reason that a woman shows up at an abortion clinic, but it is the reason that the abortion clinic exists, and that many people think she oughta go there. I am convinced that we misunderstand our opponents completely until we understand eugenics thoroughly.
But more fundamentally, the version of the “Morning Offering” that the nuns taught me in the 1950s included a prayer for the unity of the Church. And my thinking as an adult was shaped, at root, by the Second Vatican Council, especially “The Church in the Modern World.” When I started college, I was interviewed by a Crimson reporter for an article about the concerns of incoming freshmen. Vietnam? Civil rights? Freedom of speech? Free sex and drugs? I remember the disgust and contempt that washed over the reporter’s face when I answered that what worried me most was the deep division in the Church – leftwing Catholics at the Catholic Student Center focused on war against rightwing Catholics at the Opus Dei House focused on Humanae Vitae. They didn’t cooperate much, didn’t like each other. Today, I remain convinced that the Church is supposed to be unified. Every real strategy starts here.
For a Catholic, the unity of the Church requires reference to the Bishop of Rome. And the popes throughout my adult life have taught eloquently, forcefully, repeatedly about nonviolence and solidarity. Also, they have pushed back hard against the materialism of the West, and materialism applied to human sexuality means eugenics. I’m pretty confident that my thinking is in tune with the Church.
I trust Pope Francis. I admire him, and I intend to follow his teaching and imitate his approach. I understand that some pro-lifers doubt his concern and credibility; I think the doubters are screwy. Pope Francis cares deeply about tone. And he cares deeply about unity and balance. I intend to follow his leadership. If I’ve failed in that, show it to me, and I’ll fix it.
I’m glad to visit New Jersey. It’s always good to see my cousin Rebecca O’Keefe. I’m honored to see Joan and Chris Bell, tenacious and gutsy heroes of our time. You are so fortunate to have Rep. Chris Smith! I’m impressed by the work of Christine Flaherty. But still, do I belong here? Before God, I think so. And so I would like to present some ideas – quietly, in writing.
John Cavanaugh-O’Keefe

Unceasing prayer

This story is a little sensitive. If you like it and re-tell it, it would be pleasing and gentle if you would try to re-tell this story orally, and slow down circulation in print.

My father was an astronomer. We had a neighbor several blocks away who didn’t quite understand the difference between astronomers and astrologers. She wanted an astrological chart for her daughter, and came to see my father about it. My father explained some of the differences between alchemists and chemists, and between astrologers and astronomers. He explained that even if astrologers centuries ago had known something significant about the stars’ impact on our lives, they didn’t make any adjustment in the calendar. 365 days per year is about right; but after a millennium, the extra quarter of a day per year adds up. And that means that even if astrological charts showed something real years ago, they are off by a sign or more today. So the two of them set aside the idea of a chart, and chatted.
The daughter in question was born on March 25. The mom was not exactly Catholic, but she had some inklings, and knew that March 25 was the Feast of the Annunciation. So she chose “Maria” as her daughter’s middle name. And in fact, she thought the Annunciation was the first glorious mystery of the Rosary (close! B+), and so she named her “Gloria Maria.”
Gloria had a wild life. She got all tangled up in a world of sex and drugs and 1960s hippie confusion. But she was always an exuberant and delightful child, then an attractive and funny and popular young adult.  When she grew up (or got older, anyway – even hippies get older), she became quite influential, and controversial – and destructive. Still, knowing her name, perhaps you will pray for her, with determination and vibrant hope. Because, from the beginning, Mary has had her hand on scatter-brained Gloria Maria. Right?
When Mary takes the initiative, when should you decide the cause is hopeless? When are you through? When can you set down your weapons, cease prayer? After five years? Twenty years? Fifty? Maybe seventy times seven millennia?
So, please, keep praying for your brothers and sisters on the left. We aren’t dead yet!  Remember to pray for us, including Gloria Maria Steinem.

With his eyes fixed on a new millennium, the Pope who fought Nazism and Communism and then materialism in the West wrote: “To all the members of the Church, the people of life and for life, I make this most urgent appeal, that together we may offer this world of ours new signs of hope, and work to ensure that justice and solidarity will increase and that a new culture of human life will be affirmed, for the building of an authentic civilization of truth and love” (The Gospel of Life, St. John Paul II). In 2015, our world doesn’t look like the beginning of a culture of life and civilization of love.

New culture, new civilization … We are off to rough start! But we are still called to be new signs of hope – praying unceasingly.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.


Hypocrisy makes me puke. Which is a problem.

St. Maximos: “That man is a thief who in order to deceive his hearers pretends to reverence divine principles.  Although he has not come to know the true quality of these principles through his actions, he traffics in glory merely by speaking about it, hoping that in this manner he will be thought righteous by his hearers and so capture their admiration.  To put it simply, he whose way of life does not match his speech, and whose inner disposition is opposed to spiritual knowledge, is a thief whose appropriation of what is not his proves him to be evil.  Scripture fittingly addresses these words to him: ‘But to the wicked God says, Why do you speak of my statutes and appropriate my covenant with your mouth?’” (Psalm 50: 16)
St. Maximos continued: “That man also is a thief who conceals his soul’s unseen evil behind a seemingly virtuous way of life, and disguises his inner disposition with an affected innocence.  Just as one kind of thief filches his audience’s mind by uttering words of wisdom, so this kind pilfers the senses of those who see him by his pretense of virtue.  To him it will be said, ‘Be ashamed of yourselves, all you who are dressed in clothes that do not belong to you’ (Zeph 1:8), and ‘In that day, the Lord will reveal their pretense.’  I seem to hear the Lord saying these things to me daily in the hidden workshop of my heart, and I feel that I am explicitly condemned on both counts.”  (From The Philokalia: Complete Text, Volume Two.  Edited by G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, Kallistos Ware; published in London by Faber and Faber, Ltd, in 1981.)
These words are from St. Maximos the Confessor. I make them my own. The accusations that Maximos heard in the workshop of his heart certainly apply to me even more.

+ + + + +

C.S. Lewis was asked to explain an oddity about Screwtape Letters: he wrote about many different sins, but never about homosexuality or gambling.  Did he consider these sins unimportant? Lewis replied that he wrote only about sins he knew from the inside out.  I find his words comforting.  It’s a joke that I find myself writing about (1) nonviolence and (2) chastity and (3) civility, because I have wrestled all my life with (1) anger and (2) lust, and I am addicted to (3) savage argument. I love virtue, not like a professional who has mastered these things, but more like the amateur who admires from afar.

#1: The Unity of the Church

There is nothing more important for the protection of unborn children than the unity of the Church. Nothing. Nothing else is close.
When someone starts talking about unity, be suspicious. Oftentimes, “unity” means, “Let’s all do it the same way – my way.” So be suspicious! But please listen, suspiciously.
A long-term strategy for protecting children cannot be a state matter; state plans must be set in a larger context – a national and even global context. Fortunately, we don’t have to invent a global strategy; that’s done. Follow Pope Francis.
I do not mean to be disrespectful to the Lord, speaking of unity as a means to an end. Jesus saw unity (true unity) as an end in itself. On the night before he died, he prayed for his followers, and prayed specifically that we would be unified, made one. To me, that says three things (for starters). First, unity really matters. Second, it’s hard! Third, it’s going to happen. I am committed to the unity of the Church, whether I see advantages in it or not.  But as it happens, I do see advantages in it. In fact, it seems to me that unity is an indispensable pre-condition for effective work – indispensable – for justice, and for protecting children and women from abortion.
Right now, the Catholic Church is split right down the middle, with some bitterness. There are pro-lifers on one side, and peace & justice activists on the other side. Often, they (we) despise each other. Quick and dirty example: in the U.S. Senate today, there are 26 Catholics. The Republican Catholics all stand with the bishops on abortion and against the bishops on immigration – all pro-life, and (with one exception) all pro-low-immigration.* And on the other hand, the Democratic Catholics all stand against the bishops on abortion and with the bishops on immigration – they are all pro-choice, pro-immigration. That’s just a quick example. The point is, the polarization in American society is mirrored within the Church. Some Catholics think the Church can and should teach about justice, like all the prophets; but should relax a little about sex, since celibate priests are ignorant. Other Catholics think the Church can and should teach about morality; but should stay out of political and economic issues, because idealistic priests are na├»ve and ignorant.
But if I say that the Church can’t teach and lead about morality, and you say the Church can’t teach and lead about justice, then outsiders hear a simpler message: the Church can’t teach and lead. And that simpler message is disastrous – for immigrants, and for babies, and everybody.
Let me repeat that, re-focused. When a pro-lifer says that the Church cannot teach about immigration, one effect of that statement is to undercut the authority of the Church on … everything, including the right to life. Pro-lifers who attack the authority of the Church to teach about immigration make trouble for immigrants, and also hurt the Church – thus stripping away the greatest hope for protection of unborn babies.
Let me repeat that again, slightly altered. When you reject the teaching of the Church on immigration, you also lose the ability to speak credibly as a Catholic. This is obvious: you can’t undercut the Church, and then use an appeal to the authority of the Church to strengthen your arguments. If you deny that the Church has the authority to teach about immigration, and then you say that the Church asserts that life begins at the beginning, and even the tiniest brother or sister of the Lord is precious in the eyes of God – the Church says this – you have no credibility. So your pro-life argument is weakened. But also, you have undercut the Church. After you, who are a known dissident (on justice issues), say that the Church says something, when a more credible person tries to say the same thing, they too are undercut by your lack of credibility. When you reject the teaching of the Church (on immigration), you damage your own credibility and that of others.
Pope Francis, by contrast, reaches millions of people that others have not been able to reach for decades – because he listens, but also because he is so obviously balanced – and credible.
“Pontifex” is Latin for “bridge-builder”: building bridges is the Pontiff’s job. But it’s ours too.

Action items:
1. If you listen to the Church regardless of politics, great! If not … well, repent!
2. If you’ve never noticed this before, go notice: the Catechism of the Catholic Church goes crazy wild in its discussion of the Seventh Commandment. Read CCC, 2401-2449. (See also CCC, 1928-1942 on social justice.) Wild!
3. Pray expectantly for the unity of the Church. Expectant prayer means, in part …
4. Make a deliberate, conscious, sustained effort to build (or refresh) friendships with people of the other side of the divide. Don’t let go until you succeed. (7 times 70 times … St Monica … unjust judge …). Hold on! Keep your eyes on the prize!

* No red-blooded American admits to being “anti-immigration.” So I’ll try to use a different label: they are pro-immigration – but low immigration, slow immigration, and especially immigration going somewhere else. “Pro-low-slow-and-outside,” or “pro-low” for short.)

#2: Follow Pope Francis

Follow Francis: go capture a movement and make it pro-life! There’s an intriguing aspect of the Pope’s work that is usually overlooked. He seems intent on capturing and baptizing movements. We can and should imitate that.
Too much pro-life work has gone into political work on a state and national level. That’s not a total waste, but there’s so much other work to do, with huge untapped potential! The abortion battle unfolded not only in legal maneuvers, but also tough fights within various movements: the feminist movement, anti-war movement, labor movement, environmental movement, etc. We lost movements, and didn’t notice.
The Catholic Church works with leaders and individuals who have been active in a wide variety of movements, including many that have affected by pro-abortion forces. It is a foolish mistake to overlook or – worse – dismiss those movements. They contain millions of activists available for the harvest.
On the night before he died, Jesus prayed for the unity of his disciples. So the unity of the Church is a worthy goal in itself. But also, there is tremendous strength in unity. Reach left, intending unity! Unity does not mean more work, diluted; it means more strength.
There are at least five movements worth exploring at this time.
Immigration. First, by itself unconnected to the issue of abortion, it’s an issue of justice that Scripture and the Tradition of the Church and all the popes since 1915 and every single bishop in the USA have all addressed – the same way. Hello? Second, immigration is connected to abortion, because immigration restrictions here lead directly to increased abortion elsewhere. Third, most of the immigrants that disturb Americans (some Americans) are Latinos. And most Latinos – the children of Guadalupe – are Catholic. So it is reasonable to pray for three things: that the Lord will send us 40 million allies in the pro-life fight (20 million already here, more on the way), and that we will welcome them instead of rejecting them, and that they will be faithful to their roots.
The environmental movement. It was startling when Pope Francis pried this door open, but he did. It’s obviously a bizarre contradiction to work hard to protect global ecology, while ignoring or abusing human ecology. Few people have bothered to explore the links that Pope Francis asserts in his recent encyclical, Laudato Si, links between marriage and life on one hand, and the effort to treat the world as our sister on the other hand. In theory, the links are there. But also, for a while, organizational links are possible. Many environmental activists are open to working with Catholics, because of Pope Francis. This is, I believe, a fragile opportunity.
Civil Rights. The civil rights movement sometimes seems impossible to reach: consider the painful treachery of Jesse Jackson.  But a renewal of the civil rights movement using insights from the pro-life movement is possible. Slowly, more and more people are making connections between issues of justice and issues of family life. Sometimes it’s almost impossible for young African American men to get ahead – to get education, employment, housing, pride – without some assistance. But real help must come through the same channels that Martin Luther King used! That is, we need a revival of prayerful churches, and a renewed respect for matriarchal figures in a strong extended family. And of course, a new respect for fathers and fatherhood would help too. Slowly, civil rights leaders are seeing a need for pro-life attitudes.
Muslim allies. Attitudes toward Muslims are often closely related to attitudes toward immigration.  But these are separate issues. Pope Francis has made a point of praying with Muslims, and we need to do the same – in churches, and in front of abortion clinics.
Feminism. Originally, in the 19th century, feminism was a pro-life movement. How could it be otherwise? It’s a movement of mothers! But the life work of Margaret Sanger was to subvert feminism, and make it subservient to the eugenics movement. This century-old coalition is still, visibly, a coalition – and it can still be broken apart. In the foreseeable future, the feminist movement as a whole will remain pro-choice, not a pro-life ally.  But the potential exists for pro-life / pro-choice cooperation on: opposing forced abortion, opposing pornography, opposing human cloning and human embryonic stem cell research, lemon laws and informed consent, reporting statutory rape, providing body parts for cash, censorship, immigration, the environment, and civility – for starters.
Family. (This is the sixth of five.) This isn’t a new movement for us, but it’s still worthwhile paying attention to lessons from Pope Francis. Specifically, check the tone in pro-family work! Pope Francis has opened doors and hearts, making it possible for us to pry open movements that have seemed closed to us for many years. But he offers another lesson about the work that we are already doing, a lesson we should not overlook. We have good reason to be proud of our work defending family life, but perhaps we can do better with our tone. Pope Francis has said very few things that are new, compared to the list of things that people think are new. His teaching sounds new, because he has changed the tone. We can and should imitate this! Sometimes pro-life activists are proud to be offensive, because “you are known by your enemies.” Sure, sure – but we can love people, and speak (learn to speak, or remember to speak) with love that people can see and hear. We have to stand up for the truth: got it. But sometimes, the truth can stand by itself; it’s a pretty durable thing. Sometimes, we should love and shut up – and wait until we have reason to believe that people want to hear our pearls of wisdom. Tone!

Action items:

1. Prayer
2. Study
3. Build or renew friendships across divides
4. Check your tone!

#3: Study!

The Church, for the past 15 centuries at least, has urged people who intend to make an impact on our world to undertake daily prayer and work: “ora et labora.” But this “work” includes study. People who are serious about “thinking with the mind of the Church” so that they are able to act in unity with the Church should be thoughtful and proactive about finding and reading and studying and incorporating the teaching of the Church.
The teaching of the Church is available online, at the Vatican website ( and the American bishops’ website ( Both websites are a little hard to navigate, but they are worth the time. It’s tremendously destructive and divisive when Catholics get their religious formation from partisan sources, instead of from the Church herself! If you haven’t used these sites, you’re in trouble!
EWTN also has papal and magisterial documents easily available in their library (
But also … I have another great idea! Read my books! Especially the one about re-thinking the pro-life movement, and then the one about re-thinking our opposition.
Re-evaluate the heart of the pro-life movement. St. John Paul II urged a commitment to “solidarity,” a Christian virtue, love in a social context, the opposite of structures of sin. So study solidarity and nonviolence – and then return to action.  The heart of a successful effort to end a massive social evil must be a campaign of nonviolence.  There isn’t a second option in history.  War works, but we will not choose that.  It may be forced on us, by a Third World War sparked by Muslims, in which the pro-life side is the Muslim side; but it would be better if we could avoid that.  One good step: study pro-life nonviolence.  Get Emmanuel, Solidarity: God’s Act, Our Response. (Amazon or Kindle.)
Re-evaluate the engine of the abortion movement. Fight eugenics.  Understand our opposition correctly.  Abortion is rooted in eugenics, not feminism.  Get a correct overall understanding of our opposition.  One good step: Read The Roots of Racism and Abortion: An Exploration of Eugenics. (Amazon or Kindle.)

#4: Study nonviolence (and then return to action)

The heart of a successful effort to end a massive social evil is a campaign of nonviolence.  There isn’t a second option in history.  War works; war can end a massive social evil in a society. But we will not choose that.  That leaves only one serious option, if history is a guide. If you want to end the slaughter of children and the degradation of mothers, build a nonviolent campaign.
Most campaigns of nonviolence fail, destroyed from within. I was privileged to work with Mubarak Awad, who was the pioneer of nonviolence in Palestine. He failed, and probably you have never heard of him. He failed, I believe, because the campaign he built was not grounded firmly in nonviolence; he taught only tactics. No one else could have done better. But the fact is, many of the young men and women working with him slipped easily from nonviolent tactics to violence.
A campaign of nonviolence must oppose evil, but also enforce nonviolent discipline from the outset – or fail like the Palestinians. Everyone has heard of the Palestinians; we think of them every time we take off our shoes to board an airplane. OK? That’s not a success; that’s a failure.
The rescue movement was not defeated by FACE or FOCA. That’s silly ignorant and even racist nonsense. Americans are as tough and as generous as the Indians, the Poles, the Filipinos. Those laws, with their higher penalties, defeated us because rescue leaders didn’t know the difference between success and failure! In a war, stiff opposition can stop you; it’s a problem. In a nonviolent campaign, stiff opposition is a success. You aren’t doing much more than piddling around until the penalties include years in jail or torture or death. Listening to rescue leaders who were worried about FACE and FOCA was baffling! Had they studied anything at all?
Listen. Please don’t try to drop bombs with a submarine. Okay? Please don’t try to rule the waves with tanks. Right? Those are simple. Then why why why WHY is it so hard to get people to notice the differences between violence and nonviolence?
Nonviolence is proactive, confrontational, and likely to lead to serious harm – like war. But the rules, the methods, the measurements, the approaches, the goals – these are not same as in the military.
You gotta understand this. Do you know stories about the colorful World War II general, George Patton? He once remarked, “No dumb bastard ever won a war by going out and dying for his country. He won it by making some other dumb bastard die for his country.” Ho ho ho. They don’t teach that as doctrine at West Point, but it is true for sure that the military wants to be able to inflict more suffering than the other side can bear. By contrast, nonviolence seeks to absorb and forgive more violence than the other side can bear to inflict. That’s a significant difference. You gotta think about that to do it right. Nonviolence is hard enough if you understand it, but impossible if you don’t.
All Americans are somewhat familiar with the work on Rev. Martin Luther King, and have thought a little about his campaign of nonviolence.  But there’s a problem. King launched his campaign to win the hearts and minds of his opponents, but he was also media-savvy. So many (most?) Americans, including pro-lifers, think that the power of nonviolence is really just the power of the press, that sit-ins work because they attract media attention. Often, Americans miss completely the claims that Gandhi and King (and Lech Walesa and Corazon Aquino and Nelson Mandela) made – that nonviolence has tremendous power itself, with or without the press.
The word nonviolence, by itself, is not precise. For example, many prison reformers today are working to reduce sentences for “nonviolent prisoners,” especially men caught possessing small amounts of drugs. This use of the word means, simply, “not violent.” But Gandhi worked hard to find a word – a single word – to name the most powerful force in human affairs. It’s love, it’s solidarity, it’s self-sacrificial love, it’s the subject of the Sermon on the Mount, it’s forgiveness, it’s … well, it’s the Holy Spirit. Who lives among us, who moves our hearts.
What Gandhi showed, and then the Catholic Church asserted at some length at the Second Vatican Council, was that love (or Love) can and should shape not only the lives of individuals – but also of societies. The word that Gandhi used to describe love in a political context – a word adopted by popes and saints in Poland, in the Philippines, in the American South – was “nonviolence.”
BUT: some pro-life leaders told Cardinal O’Connor they were committed to nonviolence. And then they were persuaded by Michael and Jayne Bray and others to foreswear any allegiance to a pagan (Gandhi) or a philanderer (Martin Luther King), and to follow “Biblical” principles instead – which did not mean the Sermon on the Mount and other parts of the Bible that Gandhi and King studied. No, this new commitment, replacing the “pagan” commitment that rescue leaders had made to Cardinal O’Connor, was about King Saul and Joshua and other Old Testament figures who were supposed to wipe out cities. From Gandhian nonviolence to genocide, in one quick improvement! It was unbelievable.
So there was some confusion. Deep, deep confusion. Dear Lord, I wish we could talk about nonviolence without confusing the Holy Spirit with a minor drug offender.
Nonviolence has its own dynamic, its own rules. So study! (Or go fly over Syria with your submarine.) One good step: Get Emmanuel, Solidarity: God’s Act, Our Response. It’s not the best book in the world, but it was written by a pro-life nonviolent activist (me) to teach other pro-life activists. I don’t think it’s an important book because I wrote it; I wrote it because I am deeply convinced that these ideas matters. So get it!  (Amazon or Kindle – or if you’re broke, just write to me and ask for an electronic copy:

#5: Priceless kindness (prerequisite for nonviolence)
“Do you hold his priceless kindness, forbearance, and patience in low esteem, unaware that the kindness of God would lead you to repentance?”
This line from Paul’s Letter to the Romans (2:4) is a shock and a comfort for me.
Pro-life nonviolent action is a once-and-future power, the heart of the heart of the pro-life movement. I remain convinced by the lessons from common sense (how can you save a child unless the mother trusts you?), and history (no deeply entrenched evil in history has ever been ended without war or a campaign of nonviolence), and the teaching of the Church (the route to freedom from social evils is solidarity with the victims of the evil). But if I were asked if I would support a rescue this weekend – that is, pro-life nonviolent action following the example of Gandhi & King & Walesa & Aquino – I wouldn’t oppose it, but wouldn’t support it either, because I’m unaware of anyone anywhere who is making the necessary preparation for nonviolent action. (Possible exception: Mary Wagner in Toronto. Her individual actions are pure and inspiring. But is she teaching and organizing?)
Somehow, pro-lifers have lost track of any serious teaching about nonviolence. Even the simplest preparation, described by Rev. Martin Luther King, is lost on us.  It’s in Romans 2:4 (from the reading at Mass for October 14, 2015). It’s in the Songs of the Suffering Servant. It’s in the Sermon on the Mount. Or perhaps I shouldn’t say it’s in the Sermon on the Mount; it is the Sermon on the Mount. It’s in the Our Father. King said that nonviolence requires: (1) a clear determination that there is an evil [done!], then (2) a time of spiritual cleansing and preparation [done? Are you kidding?], and then (3) action.
No one on earth can make perfect preparation, so being imperfectly prepared is not an excuse for inaction. However, pro-life activists nation-wide have been sucked into the ways and means of the political process.  Politics is not evil, but it has its own set of rules, some of which are (or can be, and usually are) radically different from nonviolent action.
Consider, for example, the recent efforts built on the excellent investigative work from the Center for Medical Progress. Planned Parenthood killed children in the third trimester as well as the second and first, and sold body parts. This isn’t new, but CMP caught them on videotape. Planned Parenthood insists that what they did wasn’t exactly a sale; people who wanted body parts just reimbursed the supplier for incidental expenses. But the facts were in the open, and millions of people sat up and listened. Great! Then what? An effort to defund Planned Parenthood [OK], which spilled over into a threat to shut down the government [what??], which fed into the Ted Cruz campaign [protect us, O Lord]. Cruz is deeply opposed to the teaching of the Church on justice, and his work against immigrants may be as lethal to unborn children overseas as Roe v. Wade is to children within the USA. So in three months, the extraordinary videos about Planned Parenthood were turned into recruiting tools for abortion.  That’s pretty far astray from the initial educational effort.
Politics doesn’t have to coopt pro-life work and make it pro-abortion. But often, politics is based on confrontation, us against them. It often demonizes the enemy. Political fundraising often starts out by identifying the dragon that the hero will kill.
Set Cruz aside; what are other people doing with the Planned Parenthood info? It’s being used in a narrative about those horrible people over there, who are greedy and dishonest and murderous. Activists across the nation are using the info – not to challenge and teach and convert, but to denounce.
So Pope Francis watches tone. Does the kindness of God lead to repentance? That’s a serious question! Many intelligent people say, “NO!”
A campaign of nonviolence is based squarely on a deep conviction that we can find in the Our Father. Jesus taught us to speak to “our” Father, and to ask God to forgive “our” sins. When Jesus said, “our Father,” he meant his Father. By contrast, when he asked the Father to forgive “our sins,” he didn’t mean his own; he meant yours and mine, and “theirs” too, whoever “they” are today – for example, the people who work at Planned Parenthood.
Jesus spoke to “our” Father (meaning his) about “our” sins (meaning mine). If he can do that without holding his nose, why should I hesitate to do the same for others? Who do I think I am?
At this time, I do not know anyone in the country who is studying nonviolence, making serious preparations for a serious campaign of nonviolence. We can’t make perfect preparation, but we have got to make some preparation! Pray, study, practice.  Preparation is not optional. So I would not support someone who wanted “nonviolent action” on the streets today.
Most campaigns of nonviolence in the past century were failures.  And the failure comes from within; nonviolence cannot be defeated from outside. If you don’t know what that means, then please – please, please! – pray and read and study before you launch.
The kindness of God leads to repentance. I believe it. How about you?

#6: Study Eugenics: the Ideology of Arrogance
I see half a dozen compelling reasons to focus on eugenics.
First, the history and power and funding of the abortion movement is in eugenics. We misunderstand our opponents when we get maneuvered into focusing on feminism. To understand our opposition, study eugenics.
Second, we can split the opposition down the middle.  The first direct application of the study of eugenics is to split feminists apart from eugenicists, over issues of population control and cloning and human embryonic stem cell research. They split us successfully, slicing Democratic pro-life activists away from Republican pro-life leadership. We should heal our split, and cause theirs. At any pro-choice event, if you can poll people about coercive abortion in China, you will find them split down the middle – about half opposed to depriving women of the choice to give birth, and about half defending the Chinese government which is making tough decisions and should not have to deal with Western cultural imperialism. So split!
Third, when we understand eugenics – and its pet project, population control – we can denounce the work of Planned Parenthood around the world with more precision and more effect. And that opens doors for us to recruit ethnic support – Chinese, Indian, African, and Latino.
Fourth, when we have a firm grasp on eugenics, we can look at it on university campuses – to publicize the horror, but also to recruit. The study of eugenics gives us a reason (or excuse) to be on campuses, collecting allies.  This is particularly true at Princeton, one of the greatest strongholds of eugenics in the nation.
Fifth, New Jersey is home to a list of pharmaceutical companies. I do not know how much of the non-surgical abortion work for the nation and the world starts in New Jersey. 80%?? Pushing back against those death-dealers matters. And again, resisting them is an attractive angle, a way to recruit. Some pro-abortion feminists may be tempted to join a fight against the pharmaceutical firms, even if pro-lifers are there.
Sixth, there’s immigration. It’s not just that the chief enemy of abortion is also the chief defender of immigrants (the Church). It’s also that the chief pro-abortionists are also the leading anti-immigrationists (the eugenics movement). Understanding this is not a side show. Margaret Sanger’s life work was harnessing the feminist movement to attack motherhood. But in our time, something deeper and far worse is underway: John Tanton and others (FAIR, Numbers USA, Center for Immigration, etc) are harnessing the pro-life movement to promote population control! WOW! That’s some serious perversion!

#7: Reach left!

It would be silly and offensive to visit New Jersey and talk about civility and bipartisanship and reaching left and such – without saying a word about Rep. Chris Smith. He was elected to Congress in the 1980 sweep, but he never got involved in the divisive rancor of that time, or of later years. He has always been respectful of his opponents. I admire him deeply. He is a model for what I am trying to do here.
 Reach left!
It’s destructive beyond imagination that the Church is divided, left against right, justice activists against pro-lifers. The Church has been divided since the time of Jesus, but this particular division is quite new (since the 1960s), and has no precedent or justification anywhere in Scripture, nor in the history of the Church, nor in the teaching of the Church, nor in the leadership of the Popes and bishops of the past century. Justice and morality are flip sides of a single coin. Every bird that flies has a left wing and a right wing – that operate together! It’s healthy when some people emphasize justice and others emphasize morality; but when they denounce each other, this is lunacy, an epidemic of paranoid schizophrenia.
Let’s do the numbers first. If you want to close all the abortion clinics in North Dakota, a simple majority in the state legislature might be able to do that. And then parents seeking to escape the burden of parenthood will … go to Minnesota. A state ban will save some lives, but not many. The law must be national – and, in fact, global. But nationally (skip globally for the moment), we can’t end the slaughter without an amendment to the Constitution. We can (and will!) tinker, and save lives. But ending the slaughter requires 68 Senators, 290 Representatives, and 38 states. That’s not possible without some Democrats. So if you have written off the Democrats totally, and are accustomed to asking what you can do with 50.1% of the vote, you have already given up. You are planning to tinker but not end abortion.
Changing the law will come after a campaign of nonviolence, not before, not instead of. But that’s a different issue. My point here is, it’s harder and harder each year to imagine leftwing pro-lifers. (I promise you, it’s harder and harder each year to be a leftwing pro-lifer.) But: if you won’t reach left, you have already given up.
Pro-abortion strategists examine states, and develop state by state plans. But they also develop detailed strategies for building alliances with movements. The key takeover, of course, was a century ago: the eugenics movement swallowed up the feminist movement. Then the environmental movement. Later, the civil rights movement. The peace movement. Labor. Human rights. They didn’t begin by swallowing the Democratic Party whole; they gnawed at the edges, then bones and limbs, then they went for the heart.
Democrats for Life exists. It’s a great group: please support them (us). But I think there are many different ways to reach left outside the party, and Pope Francis has pushed two very forcefully.
Yeah, I know I mentioned these above, but let’s shift left explicitly, review them, and expand them a little.
There’s the immigration debate. The teaching of Moses, the Prophets, the wisdom and history books of the Old Testament, the Gospels, the Fathers, the lives of the saints, the Second Vatican Council, papal encyclicals, every pope since 1915, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, every American bishop – it’s unanimous. Welcoming immigrants is not optional. But even if you set aside Scripture and Tradition, immigration is a pro-life issue in two huge ways. First, immigration restrictions here support population control programs including forced abortion overseas. Second, immigrants are pro-life allies, unless we work hard to alienate them! “O Lord,” we pray, “send us help!” He offers: “How about 40 million Catholic and Muslim immigrants?” “NO!” pro-lifers respond at the top of their lungs, then a lot of blah-blah.  KISS: 40 million allies: do you want them, or not? Reach left.
There’s the environment. Look, global warming is not the issue; that’s a detail, a sideshow, a catchy little plastic arrow off on the side pointing out some challenges. Forget your hot air a moment! We have rivers that catch fire. We have 500 mountains in West Virginia (the Flat-Top Mountain State) that got castrated for a pocketful of black dollars. We have ocean industries shutting down: Maryland crabs, Maine lobsters, Oregon salmon. We got large mammals going extinct (white rhino, North Atlantic whales). We got pollution in Beijing as bad as the pollution that killed thousands of Londoners a century ago, and Beijing is much bigger – and these Chinese polluters are buying up development rights all over Africa and Latin America. The third largest freshwater on earth has disappeared, shrunk to a stinking puddle of poison if you can find it (start in Kazakhstan). We’re trying out mining techniques that might or might not stir up some Balrogs and get us some new earthquakes. Have you seen the Palm Island of Dubai? When you flush a toilet there, where does it go?  Light pollution: are there a billion people on earth who have never seen a night sky full of stars? Two billion? How many Psalms lose their punch if you’ve never seen a night sky?  Heat, schmeat: that’s a detail! The thing about climate change is that it provides a neat shorthand for insisting that crazy people are damaging rivers & lakes & oceans & mountains & wildlife & air (& women’s bodies) & the sky – and when damage estimates climb that high, the problem is global! Global: that means, no one nation, not even America, can stop the Chinese from raping the Amazon and the Congo, the Soviets and their successors from killing off a lake, Dubai from polluting a whole Gulf, poachers and trawlers from raping jungles and savannahs and oceans – without – horror of horrors! – without some global authority. You can help locally: limit your use of AC. But the attack on our Sister, the Earth, is global! And so is the solution! There are a lot of activists who care about this stuff. Pope Francis has captured their attention and their respect, and his encyclical talks about abortion and marriage in a way, in a context, that reaches people – on the LEFT. The door is open. You want a conversation? You want allies? You want to take over a movement, or a piece of one? Go get it! Reach left!
Those are doors that Pope Francis has opened. So you can expand the movement to protect babies, or you can nail those doors shut again. Choose. But there are others as well.  Once you see what Pope Francis is doing, do some more!
Islam. Muslims have their hands full today, trying to work their way through the challenges of modernity. Look at the Catholic Church’s effort: the Second Vatican Council wrote a fascinating challenge called The Church in the Modern World, and we are still struggling to make that work. Muslims are facing similar challenges, without the guidance of the Second Vatican Council or anything like it. Still, like Latinos, they are pro-life, they are allies – unless we alienate them. Go get their help!
The civil rights movement is in turmoil. But there’s an idea worth exploring that could revive this once-great movement. Archbishop Cordileone is onto it (and so was Cardinal O’Boyle, at the time of the March on Washington). Rev. Martin Luther King built on Baptist churches and strong matriarchal families. But today, both family life and church life are gasping for air in African American communities – and leaders are finally starting to notice it. It won’t be possible to do anything solid and lasting about jobs and housing and employment unless we also rebuild families and churches. So help! The civil rights movement needs strong pro-life leaders! Do it because it’s right. But also, by the way, maybe you can pick up 20 million allies.
Other issues where it is plausible that pro-lifers can look for and find some allies include: pornography, forced abortion in China, lemon laws and informed consent, reporting statutory rape, providing body parts for cash, censorship, and civility.
There are so many potential allies, if the pro-life movement would just go get them, instead of denouncing them! Reach left!

Action items:

1. Pray, again and again. And study, read, think.
2. Read “Strangers No Longer,” a pastoral letter issued jointly by the American and Mexican bishops, January 22 [ahem], 2003.
3. Get the Houston Catholic Worker, from Casa Juan Diego (
4. Escape your echo chamber! Seek out and listen to people whose thinking challenges you.
5. Do you have Latino friends? Muslim friends? Why not? Stop mumbling, and fix it!
6. Can you combine World Day for Migrants and Refugees (sponsored by the Vatican every January since 1915) and March for Life? (The right answer is yes.) How can they overlap?
7. Practice listening. It’s an art, a creative and life-giving art.
8. Watch Pope Francis in dialogue, and imitate him.

Action item #1: Campus Outreach

Pro-life education on campuses should encourage a re-evaluation of the entire pro-life movement (and a return to nonviolence), and a re-evaluation of the entire pro-abortion movement (and a renewed focus on eugenics). But also …
Campuses are the place to focus on splitting the opposition down the middle, pushing feminism away from eugenics. Feminists with an open mind can and should split away from eugenicists on issues of population control and cloning and human embryonic stem cell research.
The fight against population control is urgent on campuses, because our opposition is recruiting students globally, and training them in American universities. On campuses, we need multi-cultural voices speaking out, denouncing population control. We need international and multi-ethnic support – Chinese, Indian, African, Latino.  Pro-life students can locate and publicize eugenics programs on every campus, especially Princeton, and launch eugenics resistance campaigns.
Engineering and computer majors! And consumers! Embrace miniaturization! We need insight and art and poetry and articles about the incredible power of tiny things! Are mosquitoes evil? How big are their evil (and morally relevant) brains? Why do we care? Because zygotes rock! An embryo is NOT a tiny adult; he/she has his/her own issues, age-appropriate. If you know anything about miniaturization, or miniatures, the pro-life movement needs you!
We really need to reclaim science. Astronomy is easy: remember Pere George LeMaitre. But biology is tough! Still, remember Dom Gregor Mendel!
We need cemeteries of the innocents that are global, inclusive, kinetic, and diverse!
Fight population control! Get off the road! Most people see the world along a road! Roads go where people go! Duh! One simple tool to increase awareness of population issues is creating and publicizing “living lines.”  The whole world is pretty depopulated, even in New Jersey. A “living line” is an antidote to a lethal disease called population explosion phobia. (1) Get a local or state map, and toss a dart at it, to pick a starting spot. (2) Spin a wheel to get a direction. (3) Then start at that spot, and walk in that direction for a mile (or two, or ten), and (4) describe in detail who you see, and what evidence of human habitation you see. I have never been to Shanghai or Mumbia, but I did something like this in Mexico City: I went 10 miles out from city center – and I was alone in the desert.

Action item #2: Cemetery of the Innocents –
kinetic and global and inclusive

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Across the country, pro-lifers have erected “cemeteries of the innocents” as tools to illustrate the unimaginable devastation. Usually, pro-lifers put up a display of about 3,500 (+/-) crosses, representing the number of children killed (and mothers degraded): (1) daily (2) in the USA (3) by surgical abortion (4) on average. Once a display is up, people usually leave it there for some days.
Daily, on average: that smudges some significant facts. Each Sundays, by God’s grace, there is some diminution of the slaughter. By contrast, in a six-hour period on Saturday mornings, about 10,000 babies are killed (and mothers damaged).  But quibbles aside, the displays are effective.
In 2000, Human Life International prepared a cemetery of the innocents, version 2. (For complicated reasons, they did not use it – then, or as far as I know, ever. It went up on the lawn at HLI, but was not used at the March for Life, for which it was prepared.) The display showed babies killed globally, in a minute, by surgical and non-surgical abortion. And it was a kinetic display, not static: that is, the display of crosses for children killed in a minute is erected in a minute. You watch the shockingly rapid spread of the cemetery.
The numbers: roughly 50 million children killed (and mothers devastated) globally annually, by surgical abortion. 60 min/hour, 24 hours/day, 365 days/year = 525,600 minutes per year. That’s about 100 children (and mothers) per minute – just surgical abortion.
The display. First, prepare a grid, 10 by 10, with chalk or spray paint spots two to three feet apart. Then line up ten people along an edge, each holding a bundle of ten crosses, each on a base that will hold it erect, probably with a three inch nail sticking down. On signal, each person places one cross on a spot, and steps on the base of the cross to push the nail into the ground, then steps forward to the next spot. Each six seconds, repeat the process. Then again and again, across the grid.  100 crosses in one minute. Drums would help the presentation. “Taps” takes 45-50 seconds to play.
What a viewer sees is a visual presentation of the scourge of abortion spreading in real time.
Presenting abortion including non-surgical abortion is a little complicated. But it’s especially appropriate in New Jersey, where there are so many pharmaceutical companies, to remind people that non-surgical abortion is still abortion. The problem is, if you think it’s tough to get honest statistics about surgical abortion, which produces bodies one or two at a time that one could (theoretically) count if the body merchants permitted it, imagine the difficulties with Implanon or Depo-Provera (implants and injectables). You only have estimates, and those estimates are fiercely contested.  Still, you can try. A ridiculously low estimate of the surgical and non-surgical abortion rate is triple the surgical-only estimate. For that, you need a grid 10x30, or 15x20. And you need more people to erect the crosses.
For a global presentation, the team might consider preparing and using several different kinds of grave markers, including crosses, crescents, stars, and plain tombstones (rectangle with a shallow arch on top). But cultural problems abound; e.g., Muslims don’t mark graves. HLI used all crosses, following the KISS principle.
Since the presentation is kinetic, the people who erect the crosses are an integral part of the display. So it’s worthwhile considering how to dress. International dress can be extraordinarily eye-catching.
The injectable abortifacient (falsely called a contraceptive) distributed by Planned Parenthood, Depo-Provera, is made by Pfizer; their corporate offices are now in New York City (no longer in NJ, but still close by). The implants distributed by Planned Parenthood, Implanon and Nexplanon, are made by Merck; their corporate offices are in Kenilworth, NJ. The reason that Planned Parenthood has fought so hard to get Federal funding for “contraceptives” is not because condoms are rare and expensive; it’s because the long-term methods that are appropriate and effective for population control – that is, the injectables and implants (and also IUDs) – are expensive.

Brag sheet You can skip this. Every sentence or fragment begins with “I.”

Since I offer ideas based on experience, perhaps I should try to explain a smidgin about who I am, without barfing.
First pro-life initiative: a pilgrimage to Guadalupe, December 1972, praying for unborn children and their mothers.
Seeded: 40 days near Christ in the Desert Monastery in Abiquiu, NM. No plan, no project, just living with the invitation to call God “Father. But I wrote one letter, revised ~100X, responding to a friend who had had an abortion.
Studies: three years reading Thomas Merton, ML King, Mahatma Gandhi
1976: Ellen McCormack (Dem, MA) presidential campaign.
Conclusion from pilgrimage, desert, and studies: the heart of pro-life movement must be a campaign of disciplined nonviolent action.
1977, started pro-life nonviolent action in CT. In the first group of activists jailed for a sit-in at an abortion clinic. Co-founder, Prolife Nonviolent Action Project (PNAP), which sparked sit-ins at abortion clinics in 50 states.
1981: PNAP resurgent. Second wave included the “We Will Stand Up” campaign, the most successful campaign of the rescue movement.
First decade of pro-life nonviolence: extensive cooperation with activists from other movements. Worked with Prolifers for Survival (PS), pro-life / pro-peace initiative of Juli Loesch, later taken up the American bishops. Careful to challenge both sides to be consistent.
Sit-ins require alternatives. Co-founder, Shady Grove Pregnancy Center (MD).
Helped start Rescue Outreach: Joan Andrews and my sister Kathie O’Keefe and others, overseas – teaching, leading, and rescuing in Latin America and Europe.
Nonviolence cannot succeed if we demonize our opponents. Worked with the common ground movement in Washington, encouraging respectful pro-life / pro-choice dialogue. Wrote (one article) for the Women’s Studies Encyclopedia.
Worked at National Right to Life Committee during the 1980 election sweep followed by the 1981 legislative debacle.
Worked with Fr. Paul Marx at Human Life International for seven years, as director of publications and as executive director. Promoted nonviolent action in over 80 nations. I helped to plan and launch a new research body, the Population Research Institute.  Worked with Elizabeth Sobo, disseminating information about global population control through the Information Project for Africa (IPFA).
I worked with American Life League for three years. First executive director of the American Bioethics Advisory Commission (ABAC), a grassroots response to President Clinton’s bioethics commission. Edited Ban Human Cloning.
Key writing: My thinking about nonviolence is found in Emmanuel, Solidarity: God’s Act, Our Response. Following the thinking of my sister Kathie O’Keefe, I started writing about eugenics in 1986. See especially The Roots of Abortion and Racism: An Introduction to Eugenics. Watched eugenics movement launch successful effort to coopt pro-life movement. See The Sign of the Crossing. (These books are available on Amazon or Kindle.)
Currently: writing a pair of books about the unity of the Catholic Church, from left to right. One book on marriage (completed), with a companion book on immigration (in progress). To be published together.
My wife and I have six kids, and nine grandchildren.  After 450 words, finally something worth bragging about.

[back cover]
Reach Left
What’s this booklet about?

The pro-life movement has four overlapping parts; only two are in here. This booklet is principally about education, with a couple of sections about activism. Some of the ideas here will change the way you understand pro-life legislative work.

+++   truth in advertising +++
this booklet deals with …

short term long term
pregnancy aid nope nope
activism nope YES
education YES YES
change law nope sort of

Mary, Virgin of Guadalupe, St. John’s mother and ours, pray for us. And with us.

St. Lawrence, we take ourselves seriously. Teach us to laugh at foolishness, especially our own, and teach all of us in this wealthy land about real and lasting wealth.

St. Joan of Arc, you’re impossible. So please stand with us in this drive for the impossible – unity of the Church.

John Cavanaugh-O’Keefe