The Creation of a Catholic Prolife Bureaucracy
In the fourth installment of this series on the influence of Bishop James T. McHugh and other homosexual prelates on the Right-to-Life Movement, the reader will have an opportunity to see how McHugh’s “prolife” and “anti-abortion” compromise policies and strategies became the long-term and permanent policies of the American bishops via the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/U.S. Catholic Conference (NCCB/USCC), later the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and how these instruments of compromise and accommodation to the Antilife Establishment have worked against the interests of the unborn child in the past, and will continue to do so in the future unless the McHugh legacy is buried forever in the prolife consciousness of Catholic laymen and hierarchy alike. This installment will also give our younger readers insights into how the early successes of right-to-lifers were achieved in spite of all the obstacles against it, internal and external.
I’ll begin with some background archival material on how the Prolife Movement successfully operated in its early years using the U.S. Coalition for Life (USCL) as an example, because it is the group that I know best having founded it in 1972. This will be in contrast to the bureaucratic operations and strategies employed by McHugh and implemented by National Conference of Catholic Bishops/U.S. Catholic Conference in Washington, D.C. and carried out by the State Catholic Conferences that ultimately served the interests of the Antilife Movement.
McHugh Originally Favored the U.S. Coalition for Life
First, to clear the air about the McHugh/U.S. Coalition for Life relationship, it should be noted that McHugh initially favored the research and legislative agenda of the USCL.
In the early 1970s, Msgr. James McHugh, head of the Family Life Office of the U.S. Catholic Conference mailed a confidential memo to all American bishops regarding major U.S. prolife organizations. Entitled, “Analysis of Prolife Groups,” the memo provided basic information on funding, leadership, goals, and effectiveness of twelve of the top prolife groups in the nation. The stated purpose of the memo was to aid individual bishops in pursuing a more active role in coordinating or facilitating the work of the several groups within their own dioceses.
According to the special and exclusive report to The Wanderer, an unidentified writer, who was obviously not a McHugh fan, reported:
In addition to Msgr. McHugh’s initial approval of the USCL, the enemies of life also shared a special interest in the rise of the newly established USCL, but for different reasons.
Antilifers Monitor USCL Closely
In January 1974, Family Planning Digest – a bi-monthly publication of the Bureau of Community Health Services, U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Washington, D.C., that was prepared under government contract with the antilife Center for Family Planning Program Development, the Technical Assistance Division of Planned Parenthood-World Population – carried an article on the new and worrisome “roadmap” the Right-To Life Movement was taking thanks to the USCL:
USCL Team Confronts Population Controllers
In the summer of 1974, the USCL raised $22,000 in six weeks to send a 12-member prolife team to the United Nations World Population Conference (WPC) and Tribune in Bucharest, Romania. Leading the Right-to-Life contingent was economist Professor Albert T. Kapusinski (USA), and Rev. Paul Marx (USA), aided by agricultural specialist, George Barmann (USA); Child and Family editor, Dr. Herbert Ratner (USA); Constitutional lawyer, Charles Rice (USA); writer and editor John Harrington (Canada); Rev. Pedro Richards (Uruguay); Dr. John Linklater (England); Rev. Michel Welters (Haiti); Dr. H. Patrick Dunn (New Zealand); demographer Rev. Anthony Zimmerman (Japan), and prolife activist, Frances Frech (USA), the only woman on the USCL team.
Joining up with the Vatican delegation, the USCL team took the NGO Tribune by storm sending shock waves through the Antilife Establishment, which thought it had the World Population Conference all tied up. Conference logistics were handled by Pittsburgh’s People Concerned for the Unborn Child. The editors of national Catholic papers including The Wanderer, the National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor, and prolife newsletters across the country including the National Right to Life News provided free advertising for the effort.
To the amazement and chagrin of the Antilife Movement, the international USCL-team turned the WPC on its head. This was a typical example of the way things got done in the early years of the unified, grassroots Right-to-Life Movement in the United States.
New USCL Roadmap Riles Eugenicists
In 1976, with the creation of the International Foundation for Genetic Research/Michael Fund by the USCL as a prolife alternative to the National Foundation/March of Dimes, the Eugenics Establishment became even more concerned with the expanding USSCL roadmap that the Prolife Movement was following.
At the Johnson Foundation’s “International Summit on Prevention of Mental Retardation from Biomedical Causes,” held at Wingspread in Racine, WI, December 15-16, 1977, and attended by eugenicists from major U.S. antilife medical centers and universities, as well as mental retardation groups including the National Foundation/March of Dimes and the National Association for Retarded Citizens (NARC), Dr. Richard Koch, Professor of Pediatrics and Medical Genetics at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, spoke in his concluding remarks about the danger his fellow eugenicists faced from the emerging Right-to-Life-Movement:
USCL Part of a National Volunteer Coalition
I mention these little snippets of the Prolife Movement’s early history because many of the readers of this series, including many young people and their parents who attend the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. every year, were not yet born when the grassroots prolife movement spontaneously sprung up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, years before Roe v. Wade.
Please note that the USCL, created in 1972, was just one of the hundreds of independent prolife organizations that made up a nation-wide coalition of predominantly Catholic lay volunteers. Like most of its prolife counterparts, the USCL operated with no formal office, no elaborate bylaws, no dues, and no paid employees, on a budget that rarely exceeded four digits.
In these early years, most Congressional prolife business was conducted from kitchen and dining room tables manned by self-taught wives and mothers who were as politically sophisticated and knowledgeable as any women’s libber thanks to aides like Robert G. Marshall’s classical prolife political action handbook, Bayonets and Roses.
The particular strength of the USCL laid in its large International and National Advisory Board composed of the best prolife minds (and spirit) in the world, and volunteer lobbyists from the Long Island Coalitions for Life who kept the prolife fires burning under the feet of every U.S. congressman and senator in Washington, D.C., to achieve absolute and unconditional protection for unborn children from the immoral and lethal scourge of abortion; and for the elderly and handicapped from the mounting dangers of euthanasia.
This loose coalition strategy employed by almost all local, state, and national right-to-life groups in the early years of the Prolife Movement was successful beyond imagination as we can see by the obvious panic it set off within the Antilife Establishment as described above.
Proabortion Movement Checkmated
As Dr. John Grady noted in his 2015 essay “Abortion – Yes or No,” by the early 1970s, grassroots prolifers were already well organized at the State level. Once they were on the move, proabortion activists at the State level were checkmated at every turn by prolifers:
… By 1971 pro-life organizations were functioning well. No major abortion legislation passed any state in 1971, and liberal abortion laws were defeated in at least 28 states. Some states which had enacted the new abortion laws began to reverse their liberal position.
However, when the proabortion movement was slowed to a stop in the state legislatures the battle shifted to the courts. … It was inevitable that the matter would ultimately be heard by the United States Supreme Court.
Readers should never forget that in 1972, two years after the Governor Nelson Rockefeller-led New York State Legislature passed an abortion-on-demand law, that same pro-abortion legislature reversed itself and voted to restore New York’s pre-1970 anti-abortion law. This had never happened before or since. This remarkable achievement was accomplish under the magnificent leadership of Republican Senator James Donovan backed by a political rag-tag coalition of New York prolifers who relentlessly lobbied assemblymen and state senators within their districts, day and night, for two years, in defense of the unborn child. They won, only to have the frenzied Governor Rockefeller veto the measure.
McHugh Creates A New Bureaucracy
Under the early prolife coalition structure, dedicated Catholic laity, supported by their parish priests and diocesan bishop, provided the fundamental leadership that drove the movement’s successful anti-abortion engines throughout the United States. Gradually, they were joined by hundreds of Protestants from mainline churches and a handful of Jewish Orthodox rabbis.
But not everyone was satisfied with the successful formula being pursued by Catholic grassroots prolife activists.
Msgr. James McHugh, spokesman for the American bishops’ NCCB/USCC bureaucracy on all matters prolife, entertained a different vision for the Right-to-Life Movement following Roe v. Wade – a vision that eventually split the movement into two separate and competing camps.
In “The Intellectual Legacy of James T. McHugh,” Richard M. Doerflinger, a Wormtongue at McHugh’s service and Deputy Director for the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, explains his boss’ vision for the formation of “a new grassroots movement for sustained political change.”
It is, of course, the abortion issue with which Bishop McHugh became most closely associated in the public eye. On this issue there may seem to be little new that anyone could contribute in the late 20th Century, because the Church’s teaching has been so consistent and of such long standing. To assume this, however, would be to underestimate the divergent approaches taken by Catholics as American society began to accept abortion, and especially as the Supreme Court decided to legalize abortion virtually on demand in 1973. Agreeing with and accepting the decision was not a serious option for anyone committed to Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life – though certainly there were dissenting voices that favored just that approach. But the Church in the U.S. could simply have denounced the decision and moved on, urging Catholics to retreat into their own separate culture on this and related matters… . Or Catholics could have organized as a protest movement, like the pacifist movement, that would remain outside established political channels while insisting that abortion is unacceptable.
Under Monsignor McHugh’s guidance, the Church in the U.S. chose neither option. The abortion decisions were not only anti-Catholic but antihuman, for they violated a fundamental natural right and disregarded the founding ideals of the American republic. Catholics could not simply retreat into their own families, because the radical individualism of the abortion liberty would erode the very idea of the family. And while there was a valid role for prophetic protest, organizing to reverse a Supreme Court decision would take more – it meant the formation of a new grassroots movement for sustained political and cultural change. Thus was born the Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities of 1975, an unprecedented national blueprint for activating Church structures to help Catholics organize as a social and political force (Bold added). …
Monsignor McHugh helped the bishops to chart a middle course – not a course of compromise, but one of discernment that carefully distinguished the essentials of Catholic teaching from the contingent details of particular strategies or legislative proposals. He charted and set forth a theological basis for the Church’s approach to incremental change on abortion policy – an approach ultimately endorsed by Pope John Paul II in his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) (Bold added).
Bishops Champion McHugh’s New Blueprint
In truth, the Prolife Movement did not “need” McHugh’s “help,” given his miserable, anti-life track record documented in Part I of this series.
But, unfortunately, it got it anyway.
On November 20, 1975, almost three years after Roe v. Wade, the American bishops voted to implement and finance McHugh’s “Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities,” designed to oppose “permissive abortion.” The almost immediate result was a disastrous paradigm shift at every operational level of the Prolife Movement.
McHugh’s blueprint for “a new grassroots movement” called for the creation of a vast “systematic” bureaucracy headquartered in Washington, D.C. under the leadership and direction of the Bishop’s Pro-Life Office, and the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment (NCHLA), an entity of the NCCB/USCC, created in 1974. I’ll be returning to the NCHLA at the end of this series.
State leadership was centered on State Catholic Conferences, each having a State Coordinating Committee composed of a Director and a battery of diocesan prolife coordinators (bishops’ representatives), and assisted by various “respect life coordinators,” Conference liaisons, public affair and information advisors, legal advisors, parish prolife committee representatives and Congressional district representatives, etc., etc., etc. I’m sure the reader quickly gets the picture.
Not surprisingly, the financing of the NCCB/USCC’s Pastoral Plan which included the salaries of an endless number of paid “prolife” bureaucrats at the national, state, diocesan and parish level, siphoned off millions of dollars that could have been used to underwrite the expenses of thousands of volunteer grassroots prolife Catholic activists and organizations who were the real workhorses of the Prolife Movement.
Logistically speaking, the overall support and cooperation local bishops and priests once gave to prolife grassroots organizations working in dioceses with local parishes was now transferred to “official” diocesan prolife employees and organizations. If there was a conflict of interest or difference of opinion on pending abortion legislation or the legitimacy of antilife organizations such as the March of Dimes, the hierarchy and clergy almost always backed the NCCB/USCC and the later, the NCHLA over prolife grassroots organizations.
McHugh and the “Consistent Life Ethic”
The emerging split in the Prolife Movement was exasperated by the American bishops’ adaptation of the “Seamless Garment,” later renamed the “Consistent Life Ethic” – the precursor of “Consensus,” a policy of surrender currently being promoted and financed by the Knights of Columbus and the March for Life leadership.
Although Cardinal Joseph Bernardin is most often credited with originating the “Consistent Life Ethic,” McHugh claimed that the basic concept originated with his 1972 Respect Life Program. McHugh sought to broaden the prolife tent by expanding the Prolife Movement’s primary opposition to abortion and euthanasia to include other so-called “social justice” issues favored by the NCCB/USCC including welfare reform, opposition to capital punishment (however, abortion is not viewed as the most common form of capital punishment), and civil liberties (particularly those of homosexuals). McHugh’s strategy now permitted pro-abort State and Congressional legislators to claim they were “pro-life” as they supported the NCCB/USCC’s “social justice” agenda except for baby killing in the womb and in the laboratory.
The 1975 Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities incorporated McHugh’s “consistent life ethic,” stating:
The split between Catholic lay prolife leaders and the NCCB/USCC Prolife offices did not escape the attention of anti-life leaders who welcomed and exploited legislative differences and conflicts between “official” Church representatives and Catholic prolife grassroots groups.
The Battle Over S. 158 – A Human Life Bill
In early 1981, the split reached its apex in the on-going fratricidal war that erupted over a S. 158, a Human Life Bill (HLB). The HLB was introduced by Congressman Henry Hyde of Illinois and Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina. The measure was not intended to replace the need for a Constitutional Human Life Amendment (CHLA), but to jump start and invigorate Congressional backing for such an amendment.
The stated purpose of the HLB was to recognize that the life of each human being begins at fertilization and to enforce the 14th amendment to the Constitution by extending its protection to the life of every human being. It also affirmed that every human being has intrinsic worth and equal value regardless of its (sic) stage, or condition.
The first legal effect of the passage of S. 158 would have required the Supreme Court to reconsider its holding in Roe v. Wade that unborn children are not persons entitled to protection of their lives under the 14th amendment. The second legal effect was that it would require the Supreme Court to reconsider its 1973 holding that found the right to privacy to include abortion, and that permitted abortion on demand throughout the term of pregnancy. The third legal effect of S. 158 was that no state would be able to deprive an unborn child of life without due process of the law.
Unlike a Constitutional Human Life Amendment, the Senate measure needed only a majority vote in the House and Senate – and prolifers had close to those necessary votes. The HLB was backed by all grassroots prolife organizations because, as Constitutional lawyer Charles Rice said, “It was a win-win situation.”
Then, while the Human Life Bill was still in committee, Wilfred Caron, the USCC general counsel, publicly declared the measure to be unconstitutional, and therefore the USCC would oppose the measure.
In its place, the NCCB/USCC legal apparatus with the assistance of the Bishops’ Pro-Life Office and the NCHLA, proposed still another of its “States’ Rights amendment” to the Constitution that was introduced by McHugh’s Man of the Hour, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah on September 21, 1981.
It was an act of sabotage and every right-to-lifer knew it. The Hatch Amendment was not formally a Human Life Amendment at all as it offered no mandatory protection for the pre-born child for whom death would still be a matter of geography.
Once the Hatch Amendment was introduced, the NCCB/NCHLA used its bureaucratic minions to whip the American bishops into shape.
By the time of the annual NCCB meeting in Washington, D.C. on November 14-16, 1981, President Archbishop John R. Roach and Cardinal Terence Cooke, Chairman of the Bishops’ Pro-Life Committee – both homosexuals as noted previously in this series – had already publicly expressed support for Hatch. After a formal NCCB vote to approve Hatch, lobbyists for the bishops and the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment began to pressure pro-life Congressmen to support the Hatch Amendment or face the threat or being labeled “pro-abort!”
Next on the NCCB/NCHLA hit list came National Right to Life which originally opposed the Hatch States Rights Amendment, but on December 12, 1981, after an all-day battle, voted to endorse Hatch.
While the grassroots Prolife Movement held its ground and continued to support S. 158, it could not repair the damage inflicted on S. 158 by the NCCB/USCC, the Committee for Pro-Life Activities, its Secretariat, and the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment.
The U.S. Senate ultimately rejected the Helms Human Life Bill (modified) by a 47 to 46 motion to table – a difference of only one vote! The Senate also rejected the Hatch Amendment. But the NCCB/NCHLA could not care less, since the real aim of introducing the Hatch Amendment was to defeat the Helms-Hogan Human Life Bill.
Words cannot adequately express the harm done to the grassroots Prolife Movement that year by the Bishops’ Washington D.C. bureaucracy’s engineering and promotion of the Hatch Amendment, but USCL Advisor Professor Charles Rice of Notre Dame came pretty close when he spoke to The Wanderer’s reporter Paul Fisher in a March 1982 interview:
Initially, the bishops were betrayed by McHugh and Company. Then they partook in the betrayal by confirming the Hatch Amendment. They made their separate peace with the enemy.
Professor Rice concluded that support for the dangerous Hatch Amendment (as worded) was akin to “racing out to mid-ocean in a helicopter to board the Titanic.”
Seven years later, on December 17, 1989, Auxiliary Bishop Edward O’Donnell of the St. Louis Archdiocese, a member of the USCCB Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Affairs explained in plain wrapper and unmistakable language what the American bishops’ corporate position on induced abortion was.
O’Donnell told Pittsburgh Press reporter, Ann Rogers-Melnick that, while in terms of theology, the bishops reject any willfully procured abortion, “… [in] terms of public policy, the bishops support legislation allowing a far broader range of abortions to save the life of a mother.” And that for the sake of political expediency, they were willing to accept anti-abortion legislation with rape and incest exclusions, O’Donnell said. “We recognize that we live in a pluralistic society,” he continued. “We teach our people and attempt to hold them to that. It’s not that every iota of Catholic teaching needs to be enacted into law,” he concluded (bold added).
The reader may well want to reread Bishop O’Donnell’s statement until his words really sink in.
In truth, the HATCH strategy that killed S. 158, along with the McHugh-Bernardin-based NCCB/USCC’s systemic disastrous policies of “incrementalism,” and “the seamless garment” and “dialogue,” and “accommodation” with the Antilife Establishment, was akin to eviscerating the Prolife Movement – a near deadly act from which the Prolife Movement never fully recovered.
Almost half a century after Roe v. Wade, prolife forces have been to hell and back politically speaking. The Constitutional Human Life Amendment has been all but forgotten. More than 330 Human Life Amendments have been introduced in the House and Senate, most dying in committee. Only one, the one sentence NCCB/USCC-Hatch-Eagleton States Rights Amendment, “A right to abortion is not secured by this Constitution,” ever made it to the full Senate for a vote in July 1983. It failed, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise as few prolife organizations would have worked for a Constitutional amendment that failed all the requirements of a valid Human Life Amendment and would not have given mandatory protection and due process to the unborn child.
(To be continued)
Endnotes for Part IV
 Father Thomas J. Gerard, The Church and Eugenics, 1912 as quoted by Daniel J. Kevles, “Annals of Eugenics,” The New Yorker, Part III, p. 97.
 Engel, “Msgr. McHugh and the March of Dimes,” The McHugh Chronicles, pp. 41-80.See also, Randy Engel, A March of Dimes Primer – The A to Z od Eugenic Killing, USCL ,Box 315, Export, PA 1991.
 U.S. Coalition for Life, “Who Will Defend Michael?’’ Part II, pp. 15-16.
 McHugh memo dated November 7, 1973, “The National Foundation-March of Dimes and Abortion.”
 Confidential McHugh memo dated March 11, 1973.
 McHugh memo dated May 25, 1976 issued by the Bishops’ Committee for Prolife Activities.
 Dr. Henry Foster, Transcript of the Public Hearing of the Ethics Advisory Board of the NIH, Meeting V, Seattle, Washington, November 9, 1978, p. 197.
 Engel, McHugh Chronicles, p.33
 Randy Engel, “Odyssey of Death,” Prepared testimony for the Jan. 12, 1976 Oversight Hearings on the Indochina Refugee Program of the House Committee on Immigration, Citizenry and International Law, Jan. 12, 1976.
 USCC Department of Education, Education in Human Sexuality for Christians, Washington, D.C., 1981.
 Ibid., pp. 84-87.
 Letter from Bishop William C. Newman, Chairman of the Task Force for the Revision of the Guidelines on Human Sexuality, to author, dated April 17, 1989. Bishop William revealed the names of the bishops serving on the Task Force after one year of calls into his Baltimore Catholic Center Office. However, he refused to give a complete list of all members of the Task Force stating: “Since this document on the human sexuality guidelines will be approved by the bishops and be their document, we do not think it appropriate to publish the names of the laity, religious and clergy who were a resource to the Task Force.” The author later obtained a complete list of members of the Task Force from a private source.
 While in Rome, McHugh became a special assistant at the World Synod of Bishops on The Christian Family in the Contemporary World (1980).
 The DDP/NFP program was funded by an annual grant from he Knights of Columbus under S.K. Virgil Dechant.
 One week before Pope Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae, Father McHugh openly stated his belief that “responsible parenthood, in its ultimate understanding,” requires the use of contraceptives in any pre-marital intercourse to ensure that the act be absolutely non-productive. McHugh made the statements at a Rockefeller Foundation-funded Conference on “Sex Education, Family Planning, and Family Life Counseling in the Medical School Curriculum” held at Creighton University School of Medicine from July 17-18, 1968.
 Carl Djerassi, The Pill, Pygmy Chimps, and Degas’ Horse, Basic Books, NY, 1992, pp. 262-263.
 Ibid., p. 263.
 Paul C. Grzella, “McCarrick allegations of sexual conduct with men,” Bridgewater Courier News, September 14, 2018.
 For a comprehensive view of the Camden Diocese under Bishop Guilfoyle, see The Rite of Sodomy, pp. 672-676.
 Ibid. p. 675.
 Bob Keeler, “The New Shepherd: A Firm Hand for the LI Flock,” Newsday, February 21, 1999.
 Brian Caulfield, “Bishop McHugh – Leader of Long Island Catholics was strong pro-life voice in nation,” Catholic New York , December 14, 2000.
 The Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations is the representative of the Holy See at the United Nations. It was established on April 6, 1964. This diplomatic mission does not have the status of Permanent Representative because the Holy See is not a member of the U.N. The Path to Peace was established much later in 1991.
 Judy Baehr, “Priest Gets New Job With Vatican, Inquirer, April 1, 1994.
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