The “Human Life Amendment”, Catholic bishops and the GOP

By Stephen D. Mumford, DrPH | 24 August 2012
Church and State

(Credit: openDemocracy / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Excerpt from Chapter 10 of our Chairman Dr. Stephen D. Mumford’s seminal book, The Life and Death of NSSM 200: How the Destruction of Political Will Doomed a U.S. Population Policy (1996). The book is available at Kindle here and to read for free here.

There is a mountain of evidence that the bishops enjoyed great success in killing American political will [to deal with overpopulation] through implementation of their Pastoral Plan. Millions of abortions have been denied poor women because of the Hyde Amendment. The U.S. domestic family planning program has shrunk by two-thirds since implementation of the Plan while the number of women of reproductive age has grown by several million. Population education and sex education have been severely crippled. Our international population program has been straitjacketed. None of the recommendations of the Rockefeller Commission and NSSM 200 has been implemented. However, the bishops have not yet been able to achieve their primary objective—passage of the Human Life Amendment (HLA). The HLA asserts that human life begins at conception and that the conceptus has all the rights afforded human beings.

The HLA is overwhelmingly the most important concern now faced by the Vatican. Nothing threatens the survival of the Papacy more than the continuing challenges to papal authority which are certain to come from our American democracy so long as our Constitution does not contain this amendment.

For this reason, American democracy is the greatest single threat faced by the Papacy. As long as our democracy continues to pass laws like legalizing abortion or supporting family planning, papal authority will be gravely at risk. Governments of other countries witness the U.S. successfully challenging the Papacy as our democracy determines what is moral behavior. These governments may then choose to follow the lead of the U.S. in rejecting papal authority and the pope’s “morality.” But with the passage of the HLA, abortion and most modern methods of contraception will cease to be legal. Papal authority will then be protected. U.S. Government civil authority in these matters will cease to take precedence over papal authority.

These other achievements of the bishops and their Plan are quite remarkable and have had devastating effects on individual, family, national and global security. However, if the HLA is not added to our Constitution, all of these successes will be in jeopardy. The bishops understand this stark reality as they witness the gradual implosion of papal authority around the world. Papal authority is under siege and a siege which will continue until passage of the HLA.

The Drive for HLA Intensifies

Recognizing its failure with the HLA, the Vatican recently decided it must step up its campaign for the passage of the HLA. In September 1991, Catholic activist William Bennett, former Secretary of Education, and other Catholic “conservatives” announced the formation of Catholic Campaign for America.[75] Creation of this organization even 20 years ago would have been unthinkable. For nearly 200 years, Protestants have warned that the Vatican plans to create such organizations in the U.S. and that American democracy was threatened. One need only listen to what these Catholics are saying now to understand that the strategy Stephen Settle described in the National Catholic Register is being implemented—and to recognize that this minority, with its “stamina, smarts and perseverance” intends to impose papal law using any means necessary and to “co-opt” our democratic institutions.

This escalation comes as no great surprise in 1996. The Papacy is in a desperate situation which is widely recognized by the Church leadership, both clerical and lay. The Vatican also recognizes that its behavior is highly risky—and they apparently accept this risk for all American Catholics.

The Catholic Campaign for America (CCA), according to the National Catholic Register, was initiated to “bring a politically powerful and distinctively Catholic voice to the U.S. political scene.” The group will work to “increase Catholic influence on public policy issues.”[76] According to a CCA document, the mission of CCA is to activate Catholics to increase Catholic influence in formulating public policy.[77]

The leadership of the Catholic Campaign includes many of the leading “conservative” Catholic activists. Syndicated columnist and failed Presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan is typical of the leadership group. In an August 28, 1992 Our Sunday Visitor interview, Buchanan was asked, “What kind of Catholic are you?” Buchanan responded, “A believing Catholic, a practicing Catholic and a papist [italics mine]. I think John Paul II is a singular leader of our time. He’s immensely attractive and charismatic, but more than that, he speaks out with a sense of authority and moral courage. I think he’s a genuinely great man, really a gift of God to the Church. And in virtually all the quarrels in which he’s engaged I’m on his side.”[78] In 1996, Newsweek reported: “In 1977 Buchanan, who says that his childhood heroes were Joseph McCarthy and Generalissimo Francisco Franco, wrote that ‘though Hitler was indeed racist and anti-Semitic to the core…he was also an individual of great courage, a soldier’s soldier in the Great War, a political organizer of the first rank…'”[78a] Few Catholic Americans hold these three Roman Catholics in such high esteem. The May 1996 issue of the Conservative Catholic Family News, describes Buchanan and the source of his agenda: “As a faithful son of Holy Mother Church, Pat Buchanan has drawn extensively from these immortal papal encyclicals [the social encyclicals of the past 100 years]. They form the very bedrock for his political agenda.”[78b]

Buchanan leaves absolutely no doubt in the reader’s mind to whom he owes his allegiance. It is clearly not to his country. The security-survival interests of the Papacy are undeniably pitted against the security-survival interests of the United States. Buchanan need say no more. Given the mission of the Catholic Campaign and statements of its leaders offered below, all members must necessarily be equally devoted to the Papacy.

The Catholic Campaign leadership also includes the following individuals: New York Cardinal John J. O’Connor (CCA’s “National Ecclesiastical Advisor”); Mary Ellen Bork, a former nun and wife of failed Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork; former Vatican ambassadors William A. Wilson and Frank Shakespeare; former Reagan National Security Advisor Richard V. Allen; former governor of New York Hugh Carey; Congressman Robert K. Dornan; Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum; Russel Shaw of the Knights of Columbus; Domino’s Pizza magnate Thomas Monaghan; Bishop Rene Gracida of Corpus Christi; Wall Street executive Frank Lynch; Philadelphia business executive Rocco L. Martino; former Pat Robertson presidential campaign coordinator Marlene Elwell; Pat Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice head Keith Fournier; secretive Opus Dei staff members Joseph J. Astarita and Patrick M. Hanretty; Steven Schmieder of the Society for Tradition, Family and Property; director of the Institute of Religion and Public Life Richard J. Neuhaus, and Legatus’s Tom Wykes.[79]

The words of these leaders leave little to the imagination regarding the intentions of the organization. Executive Director Wykes recently told the National Catholic Reporter, “It’s not a Catholic campaign to take over America. It’s a Catholic campaign for America. We believe that Catholic values are a generative base for the values that all Americans share.”[80] In their spring 1994 issue of Update Wykes makes clear one of their goals: “Imagine thousands of Catholic political leaders, business leaders, and sports and entertainment personalities bolstered by an emerging Catholic constituency who are no longer afraid to integrate their faith into public life. Leaders who see their faith as the foundational element of everything they do.”

In their 1992 issue of Update, Martino demanded the enactment of tax subsidies for Catholic schools and wrote, “Separation of church and state is a false premise that must finally be cast aside and replaced by the true meaning of our Constitution.”[81]

In a “challenge to Catholic Americans” published by the Campaign in the fall of 1992, board member Hugh Carey said, “We must move from the beginning to the end from a defensive to an activist position; are we not after all seeking to be members of the church militant?…We are a giant religious country. We have the power. We have the people. Let’s organize and win this fight for the benefit of all Americans.”[82] Carey is saying let’s accomplish our goals regardless of the wishes of democratic America. Let’s benefit Americans with the leadership of the pope, whether or not Americans want this “benefit.”

The Catholic Campaign quietly goes about its work. Despite its remarkable activities, it has not been mentioned in the national secular press, no doubt benefiting from the silence achieved by the bishops on activities like these, a result of the mobilization of Catholic journalists.

There are other groups which have been mobilized to take part in the Vatican’s intensification of the effort to achieve passage of the HLA. An event billed as “the Catholic event of the year” by the Catholic press, was a conference held in October 1993 in New Jersey. The keynote speaker at this Christi Fideles sponsored conference was Patrick Buchanan. According to an advance advertisement in The Wanderer, the conference was designed to “rally the Catholic troops in opposition to the hellish agenda of the ‘Clintonistas’. [It] will give you a battle plan for the recapture of America—by Catholics as Catholics. Each speaker will focus on a different aspect of the only possible solution to the crisis now confronting our nation: Catholic action—social, political and moral [italics mine].” The ad further states, “America was discovered by a Catholic, who claimed her for Christ the king. If America is to be rediscovered and reclaimed for our king…it is Catholics who must act and act now.”[83]

A group of traditionalist Catholic university professors recently formed The Society of Catholic Social Scientists. New York’s Cardinal O’Connor is a member. The group will be advised by a board of bishops. According to the National Catholic Register, the society was formed to “analyze political, social and economic issues, focusing Church social teaching and the natural law on the challenges of modern culture.” Notre Dame law professor Charles Rice, addressing the first meeting in March 1993, made the position of the new society clear: “The solution to problems of contemporary society, such as abortion, has to be found in an explicit reliance on the teachings of the Catholic Church.”[84] The Society has formed a “rapid response” team to provide comment to the news media on breaking issues of the day, to further advance the influence of the Vatican on American journalism.

Patrick Buchanan’s organization, American Cause, held its first conference in May of 1993. Its theme, Winning the Culture War, was first described by Buchanan in his speech to the 1992 Republican convention. He is in conflict with all Americans who do not share his traditionalist Catholic beliefs.[85]

It appears that the Vatican recognized by the time of the 1992 Republican convention that their efforts must be intensified if the HLA is to be added to our Constitution. Only Rome could direct the creation of so many Catholic organizations in the span of a few months, each with a similar mission. Nothing has appeared in the secular press regarding the creation of this array of organizations. They diligently go about their work.

The Republican Party retained the HLA in its 1996 platform, in significant part due to the efforts of presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan and his followers, including the Christian Coalition. In a February 1996 fundraising letter, Buchanan’s primary motivation is made evident: “I want to talk to you today simply and directly, from my heart, about what I believe is the most important issue facing America today. That issue is the sacredness of human life, and the moral imperative facing us to fight to protect it from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. A principal reason I’m running for president is to turn back the pro-abortion forces and keep the Republican Party firmly in the pro-life camp. And then I want to use the Presidency as a vital and powerful force to change what Pope John Paul II has so correctly called “the culture of death” that has arisen in America since 1973.

“On November 8, 1994, we made a tremendous start—electing 5 new pro-life Senators and 44 new pro-life Representatives. Now for the first time in 40 years, both houses of Congress are controlled by the Republican Party—a party solemnly sworn, in its platform, to a 100 percent pro-life position. If we elect a pro-life President in 1996, we can finally move forward to ending abortion in the United States.”[86a] The stage will be set to achieve the Vatican’s goal of a HLA in the U.S. Constitution. Buchanan suggests that the Republican Party has become the papal party.

Recall Bishop James McHugh’s 1987 comment to Byrnes: “within twenty-four hours” of the court’s action on Roe v. Wade in 1973, the bishops knew they would need to mount a political campaign in favor of a constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion. The Vatican has already seized control of the Republican Party. More on this later.

[75] Anonymous. Bennett, Bork Launch Catholic Campaign to Promote Church Views. Church & State, October 1991, p. 16.
[76] Conn JL. Unholy Matrimony. Church & State, April 1993.
[77] Bork ME. Fundraising letter addressed to “Fellow Catholic American” from the Catholic Campaign for America, 1994.
[78] Kaufman I. Patrick Buchanan: ‘Right From The Beginning.’ Our Sunday Visitor, August 28, 1988, p. 3.
[75a] Kosova W, Isikoff M, Brant M. The Buchanan Files. Newsweek February 26, 1996. p. 25.
[75b] Ferrara J. Pat Buchanan vs. Liberal Establishment. Catholic Family News May 1996. p. 11.
[79] Conn, 1993.
[80] Ibid.
[81] Ibid.
[82] Ibid.
[83] Anonymous. The Wanderer. September 9, 1993, p. 9.
[84] Anonymous. Buchanan To Address ‘Catholic Action’ Summit In New Jersey. Church & State, June 1993, p. 13.
[85] Ibid.
[86] Paige
[86a] Buchanan PJ. Candidate for President fundraising letter. February 1996. p. 1.

Dr. Stephen Mumford is the founder and President of the North Carolina-based Center for Research on Population and Security. He has his doctorate in Public Health. His principal research interest has been the relationship between world population growth and national and global security. He has been called to provide expert testimony before the U.S. Congress on the implications of world population growth.

Dr. Mumford has decades of international experience in fertility research where he is widely published, and has addressed conferences worldwide on new contraceptive technologies and the stresses to the security of families, societies and nations that are created by continued uncontrolled population growth. Using church policy documents and writings of the Vatican elite, he has introduced research showing the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church as the principal power behind efforts to block the availability of contraceptive services worldwide.

In addition to his books on biomedical and social aspects of family planning, as well as scientific articles in more than a score of journals, Dr. Mumford’s major works include American Democracy and the Vatican: Population Growth and National Security (Amherst, New York: Humanist Press, 1984), The Pope and the New Apocalypse: The Holy War Against Family Planning (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina: Center for Research on Population and Security, 1986), and The Life and Death of NSSM 200: How the Destruction of Political Will Doomed a U.S. Population Policy (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina: Center for Research on Population and Security, 1996).

The Life and Death of NSSM 200: How the Destruction of Political Will Doomed a U.S. Population Policy

By Stephen D. Mumford, DrPH
Paperback Publisher: Center for Research on Population and Security (October 1996)
Kindle Publisher: Church and State Press (February 6, 2015)
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During the formative years of the World Health Organization (WHO), broad consensus existed among United Nations member countries that overpopulation is a grave public health threat and would be a major cause of preventable death not too far in the future. One of the founding fathers of the WHO, the late Milton P. Siegel, speaks to Dr. Mumford in 1992. He explains how the Vatican successfully stymied the incorporation of family planning and birth control into official WHO policy. This video is available for public viewing for the first time. Read the full transcript of the interview here.

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  1. Idolater! How dare you even suggest that anyone's loyalty should be to the State over the Church!

    Furthermore, the Constitution establishes the Amendment process and declares itself the supreme law of the land. Had we the political will, we could pass a Constitutional Amendment imposing Catholicism as the official religion of the United States and require all officeholders to be Catholics in good standing; that is how much authority the people have to change the Constitution.


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