"And this is exactly the way the hierarchy would have it. The Roman Catholic Church created the right-to-life movement."

From ................... THE RIGHT TO LIFERS

By- Connie Paige

Page 30-31 .............The Politicization of Abortion

..........The politicization of abortion outraged traditionalists-principally Roman Catholics-who could not or would not sit by idly and witness this profound overturning of their most cherished religious values.

Because of the country's democratic traditions and a history of populist revolt, it was only a short step from the church's initial creations to the development of a full-fledged, partially independent movement with a life of its own. If the church was responsible for the right-to-life movement, it was also, ironically, its greatest barrier to success.

Many outside the faith bitterly resented what they perceived as religious interference in secular affairs. The right-to-life movement would not obtain credibility until it could discard this baggage. Eventually the right-to- lifers appeared to shed their clerical garbs and adapt to the demands of the times.

Their next task was to convince a majority of the American people to agree with them and vote-in a Congress that would vote-out abortion rights. Alternatively, the right-to-lifers had to figure out a way to engage in the political process themselves.

The architects of their eventual strategy would turn out to be the ultraconservative heirs to the Goldwater legacy, principally Richard Viguerie. Where there was confusion, Viguerie brought efficiency; where doubt, expediency; where a meager allowance, big bucks. Of equal importance, this prince of public relations delivered the media.

Viguerie and his New Right colleagues would consciously and carefully shape what they called a "winning coalition" out of the right-to-lifers and fundamentalist Protestants for whom abortion had formerly been of little concern. The alliance would grant the movement the kind of cash it had never seen.

Before, right-to-lifers' finances, such as they were, had been the function of the depth of feeling of the local parish priest. Now the movement would have indirect support from the various sources to which the New Right and the fundamentalists had some access: the Republican Party, the independent conservative political-action committees and the fabulously wealthy eccentrics who were interested mostly in creating a Christian Republic on earth.

The "social issues," abortion chief among them, would become part of everyday discourse and take their place on the nightly news. In time, it would be difficult for the casual outsider to discern much if any difference between the original right-to-lifers and the New Right, although the former did try to maintain their autonomy.

Page 51 .............. Our Father

Phyllis Deroian and the young people she has drawn in are eminently representative right-to-lifers, the majority of whom are [Roman] Catholic.

While their opinions may differ on many other subjects, those on abortion uniformly reflect their background in the [Roman Catholic] church. As Roy White, then executive director of the National Right to Life Committee, asserted in 1975, "The only reason we have a pro-life movement in this country is because of the [Roman] Catholic people and the [Roman] Catholic Church."2

And this is exactly the way the hierarchy would have it. The Roman Catholic Church created the right-to-life movement. Without the church, the movement would not exist as such today. The church provided from the start the organizational infrastructure, the communications network, the logistical support, the resources, the ideology and the people, as well as a ready-made nationwide political machine otherwise impossible to duplicate. Always, the church contributed money, a great deal of it, either through its own organizations or through direct grants to independent but related groups.

The church's presence has had so profound an impact on the movement that almost all the events, even if organized by lay people, are imbued with Catholic ritual and symbolism. Conferences have mass scheduled into them, sometimes twice and three times a day. One National Right to Life convention was timed for the same weekend in the same city practically across the street from an annual convocation of priests.

The yearly march on Washington on the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision always has a noticeable checkering of clerical collars, banners draped with rosary beads and earnest young men carrying crosses. The [Roman Catholic] church started the movement as part of an effort to deal with a world rapidly becoming more secular.

For the hierarchy, such a movement served a number of purposes.

One of the primary goals - although outsiders did not always see it this way - was to establish the church as a leader in the movement for social justice.

It was also an attempt to reinvolve a straying flock. Along the way, it gave some individual [Roman] Catholics a sense of solidarity that helped allay their feeling of nonacceptance into modern society.

What made the church's right-to-life effort significant was that this was the first time in American history that [Roman] Catholics had made that kind of all-out bid to influence national policy.

page 52 ............. Our Father

In force in almost every state, and everywhere well organized, the [Roman Catholic] church made it possible for this compelling single issue to dominate for a time the democratic process.

The movement accomplished some of what the hierarchy set out to do, but it had a serious problem. Paradoxically, the very issue that was supposed to unite [Roman] Catholics ended up driving them apart.

Some church leaders, finally recognizing the implications of an anti abortion policy, began tentatively to voice their concerns. But it was too late. The Roman Catholic Church had irrevocably committed itself to the right-to-life campaign. In doing so, it had also unloosed, albeit unwittingly, a generation of evangelical [Roman] Catholic fanatics.

The Roman Catholic Church is one of the oldest institutions in the Western world. It has miraculously survived the rise and fall of cultures, nations, potentates, princes and presidents, economic orders, ideologies, scientific discoveries, religious reformations, revivals and fads, internal disputation, schism, purge, evangelical excess and savage war. These have left the church stronger and all the more certain of its rightful mission. The church does not question itself, and, as for others who do, it can responsibly claim its place in history: for all its conservatism, the church has been a humanizing force through the ages; for all its repression, it has stabilized whole societies and provided one strand in the web holding civilization together. It has a majestic, if not always proud, past, but one that is slowly being undone.

The Roman Catholic Church is in trouble, rift by forces inside and out.

In the latter half of the twentieth century, the church has under gone a vast transformation in order to respond to the changes taking place in the modern world. The democratization of society promoted by liberation movements in underdeveloped countries and the civil rights movements in the more developed countries have called into question some of the most basic tenets of [Roman] Catholicism.

[Roman] Catholics inside and outside the hierarchy have been reexamining the place and purpose of the church, many of them scoffing at the theological and moral basis for what theologian Mary Daly called "patriarchal authoritarianism" and the rituals that upheld it.3

On their own, individual [Roman] Catholics have been defying church dogma by pursuing their own lifestyles without regard to the classic teachings.


Pub by........... Summit Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster

ISBN- 0-671-43180-3

Available through Tom Davis Books Box 1107, Aptos, CA 95001

or ............ Powell's Books 1-800-878-7323

Another pertinent book-

By Dr. [Phd.] Stephen Mumford

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 84-72500

Pub.by- Humanist Press PO Box 146 Amherst, NY

Available [about $10] from-

Center for Research on Population and Security PO Box 13067 Research Triangle Park, NC 27709