It has been nearly two years since the now infamous “ND 88” was arrested and had trespassing charges pending over our heads for that duration. Since this was an ongoing case, we had been advised by our attorney Thomas Dixon, to refrain from making direct statements or comments that may have jeopardized our case. Because this particular event and circumstances took on a life of its own and grew larger than any of us ever expected, others picked up the mantle and ran with it, and in the process, discovered more information that was very embarrassing for ND. It is in this way that many in the pro-life movement has shown support for our cause and without pressure from the various groups and influential individuals, we may have been looking at a very different outcome. As far as I am concerned, this is a very large victory for our side and it exposed the weaknesses of the Church and confronted them on their weaknesses and hypocrisy. This is my story of the events that transpired over the two months leading up to the Obama speech and honorary doctorate at Notre Dame.
It’s not my issue.
Nine of us from the Insurrecta Nex team had just returned from a very successful trip to Rome, in which we were able to meet with nine prelates and four representatives to present them with compiled information Oves Sine Pastore (sheep without a shepherd). It became apparent after this trip that we could not depend upon the American Church or most of the Bishops within the body of the USCCB to be overtly supportive of the pro-life movement (although many individual Bishops have been bold in their statements and support). Randall Terry had made suggestions while in Rome, that we ‘need a fallback position’ and it seemed at the time the soon to commence Sotomayor hearings and nomination to the Supreme Court would be this position.
Upon returning to the states, we learned that Notre Dame announced it had invited Obama to speak at it's 2009 commencements, and he had accepted. Notre Dame was also going to honor Obama with an honorary degree, and the school spun this as ‘opening dialogue’ concerning many of his ‘social issues’. Despite the fact it disgusted us, no one other than my wife Kathy thought much about doing anything other than writing letters of protest, and allowing for the local pro-life groups in the Midwest to do something about it. After all, we were focused on Sotomayor and getting the word out about her pro death positions to the country. It was not something we thought we should invest in, and it was seen as a ‘distraction’ from the stated purpose of moving forward in the soon to be supreme court hearings.
It was a couple of days later that Randall Terry had an ‘epiphany’ that it was Obama’s position, coupled with the Catholic Churches complicity in allowing this atrocity to occur that needed more urgent attention than even the Sotomayor hearings. So we gathered as a team, and it was decided that Randall and his family would re locate to South Bend for the next two months and begin a ‘boots on the ground’ campaign to have Obama cancelled from Notre Dame.
At that time, there was little commentary written about this atrocity, and no other groups were present at South Bend, and no other groups demonstrated any interest in pursuing this as an issue equiring their persence there. With a donated office, and two homes rented, the Terry’s and several members of the Insurrecta Nex made South Bend their home. And for the next two months, these vigilant warriors made noise that began to attract a great deal of media, both positive as well as negative. Many groups in the pro-life movement were negative about this effort, and were highly critical of tactics used and were convinced this was the wrong move to make. (Many of these groups ultimately showed up on the weekend of the 17th, and have been taking credit for the publicity and exposure to the media of these efforts).
As the efforts at South Bend began to bear fruits, it began to attract the attention of a much wider swath of the pro-life movement, and people of stature began to commit to this effort. Joan Andrews Bell, a well-known warrior from days gone by committed to the cause. Norma McCorvey, of Jane Doe fame, Fr. Norman Weslin, founder of the Lambs of Christ, Dr. Monica Miller of the Citizens for a Pro Life Society, Jack Ames of Defend Life, Missy Smith of WAKEUP, and eventually Alan Keyes joined in on the efforts.
The arrests start
Randall Terry, along with other protestors, entered the Notre Dame campus on Friday, May 1st with baby carriages filled with bloody plastic fetuses. While Randall was arrested fairly quickly, Diane Roccogrande nearly made it to the administrative building that houses Fr. Jenkins’s office. These arrests lead to a step up in tactics and ultimately set the stage for confrontation with Notre Dame. Had Fr. Jenkins let this effort play itself out instead of ordering the arrests, it may have been likely that little attention would have been paid, and this occasion very well may have generated little interest in the media. Since Fr. Jenkins decided to use the tactic of arrests, it ultimately brought about the ‘media circus’ he was hoping to avoid, and drew attention to his very un Catholic stance by inviting the most pro-death president in the history of the United States to speak at this prestigious university.
Once it was apparent that the tactic to be used by Notre Dame would take in the future for protests would be arrests, the nature of the tactics used by the Insurrecta NEX team also changed. It became apparent that in order to make the point we were attempting to make would require significant sacrifice on the part of all those who planned on going onto the campus. The team also decided to abandon the bloody babies, and simply challenge the school by coming onto campus and praying the rosary. The team thought that Fr. Jenkins would not be so bold as to arrest peaceful prayer warriors praying the rosary on a so called Catholic Campus. But to our chagrin, we were wrong in this assertion and it thus changed the whole strategy of what we wanted to do.
To be continued.