Skip to comments.Pro-life Christians arrested for handing out pro-life literature outside Baltimore's Basilica
Posted on 09/19/2008 11:00:29 AM PDT by Mershon
Scandal in Baltimore Pro-Life Catholics Arrested at Baltimore Basilica
Brian Mershon REMNANT COLUMNIST
Basilica of the Assumption Editors Note: After this week's scandal in Baltimore involving Catholic pro-lifers being arrested for passing out pro-life literature at the Basilica of the Assumption, Remnant columnist Brian Mershon questioned the parties involved, including Operation Rescues Randall Terry as well as a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. MJM
Sunday, Sept. 15, 2008, Exaltation of the Holy CrossTwo pro-life Catholics were arrested Sunday following 9 a.m. Mass at the Basilica of the Assumption in Baltimore, MD, after being asked to leave church property by a security guard and Father Jeffery S. Dauses, rector of the Cathedral. Joseph Landry, 27, and Brian Sherwood, 35, were working with two other Catholics leafleting vehicles and passing out pro-life, anti-Obama literature during the 9 a.m. Mass. The men are part of Randall Terrys group, Operation Rescue.
While we were passing out literature and leafleting cars, we were confronted by a security guard who asked us to stop passing out literature, said Landry, who was held for trespassing in Baltimore jail about 1 mile from the basilica for $10,000 bond until being released around 2:30 Tuesday morning. We respectively told her we were faithful Catholics and were passing out material faithful to the Churchs pro-life message.
Landry said she wanted to know if the group had permission, to which he responded that the group didnt know they needed permission. She said she would take our literature and then go check with the rector and get back to us, Landry said.
According to Landry, the priest said he had already called the police and told Landry and Sherwood they were on the way. The priest had asked Landry to remove himself and his group from church property, but Landry said he could not do so in good conscience.
I said respectfully that I understand what you are saying, but as a Catholic, I believe it is my calling to defend the unborn and to pass this out, Landry said. I tried giving them a copy of it because they said it needed to be approved by the Archbishop. So I tried to give them a copy of it, but they wouldnt take it.
I tried to explain we were good Catholics. We were pro-life and that none of this was against Church teaching. I showed them the quote from the Pope on the back, he said. According to Landry, the priests said that the group was forcing them to take action because the group was not passing out approved literature.
In good conscience, I couldnt just leave. I just felt like I was really doing my Catholic duty.
Sherwood echoed the same sentiments. I dont understand why they would arrest us for handing out literature that upholds the teachings and traditions of the Church, he said.
Thats why we refused to move. We werent doing anything wrong. And actually, people were receiving and greeting us and taking our literature graciously, Sherwood said.
John Paul II and The Gospel of Life
The two-page brochure included a quotation from Pope John Paul II from Evangelium Vitae, along with his photo; the quotation, ironically says that Catholics have no obligation to obey unjust laws that murder innocent unborn children:
In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to "take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it". 73... Christians, like all people of good will, are called upon under grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God's law... Such cooperation occurs when an action, either by its very nature or by the form it takes in a concrete situation, can be defined as a direct participation in an act against innocent human life or a sharing in the immoral intention of the person committing it.
We were merely passing out pro-life literature, Landry reiterated. We are not protesting against the Church.
The brochure contained a cover with Sen. Barak Obama entitled, Is it immoral to vote for Obama? (See brochure http://www.ahumbleplea.com/Docs/StopObama.pdf)
Landry has a court date in October.
Landry, along with Terrys wife, Andrea, were both arrested for trespassing in January 2008 at St. Jude Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Florida, while passing out pro-life literature in the parking lot. The St. Petersburg diocese is headed by Bishop Robert Lynch, who forbade his priests from preaching on the eventual starvation of Terry Schiavo, and who has also previously forbidden Eucharistic adoration in his diocese.
Tax-Exempt Status Overriding Issue
Sherwood said he understands that the Church is concerned about keeping its tax exempt status by not endorsing specific candidates. The message is this. If the bishops cannot say that Catholics cannot vote for Obama, then we will, he said. You [bishops and priests] dont have to arrest us for it. You dont have to support or approve our work, but you dont have to have us arrested either, Sherwood said.
It blows my mind that all were trying to do is to pass along the Churchs message.
We werent doing anything wrong, he repeated. If they continue to put a muzzle on us and quiet our voices, this issue of abortion is never going to be resolved in America.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore, however, had a different take on the Sunday arrests. Archdiocesan spokesman Sean Caine said the group of four pro-life Catholics had not followed Archdiocesan policies for distributing literature on church property.
Archdiocesan Policies & Procedures Paramount
Caine said that it is the policy of the archdiocese that all election-related materials must come from the Archbishops office or from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
It is unfortunate that the group did not contact us in advance and ask for permission to do this or share the materials with us, Caine said. We could have saved them the trouble and possibly would have been able to put together some materials that would have accomplished their goal and would have avoided the circumstances that followed.
Randall Terry, who converted to Catholicism in 2006, and is founder of one of the most successful pro-life organizations in the United States, takes issue with USCCB-approved materials.
USCCB Has No Doctrinal Teaching Authority
The USCCB has no teaching authority, he said, citing many of their documents as being disasters, especially Faithful Citizenship. Every Catholic who betrays the pro-life movement with their vote references Faithful Citizenship to vindicate their treachery, he said.
The mission is to call the bishops out of the shadowsthose who pay lip service to the Gospel of Life, but betray it with their actions. . .with their silence, Terry said. The USCCB has become the haunt of cowardice and treachery.
Caine said if the protesters had merely stayed on the sidewalk outside the front of the church, they could have theoretically passed out their literature to nearly every single congregant leaving the church after Mass because they all had to pass by that sidewalk.
Stay on the Sidewalk
It simply makes no sense as to why they just wouldnt have stayed outside off of church property to distribute the materials, Caine said.
Operation Rescues Terry anticipated this response in his interview prior to that of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Look, what theyre going to say is this: They could have stayed on the sidewalk, which is right. But that is not the point, Terry said.
Why would you suppress faithful pro-life Catholics for passing out Catholic literature that upholds Catholic teaching unless it is to give cover to Obama? Terry queried.
Baltimore Archdiocese spokesman Caine said that he believed it was misleading to simply call the literature being handed out a rehash of Evangelium Vitae.
There was a small picture of the late pope and quotes from that document, but there was also a bloody handprint on the face of Barak Obama. There were statements that said it was immoral to vote for Barak Obama, Caine said.
Entrenched Cowardice and Malevolence
Were seeing entrenched cowardice and malevolence, Terry rejoined. Every argument they use about why we should not publicly decry the Obama-Biden ticket is rooted in treachery against the Gospel of Life.
Terry said that if people will read The Gospel of Life by Pope John Paul II, they will see that our marching orders are clear. Our duty is clear, he said. There is no equivocation and it rolls like thunder.
Terry continued: And then you read Faithful Citizenship, it is garbled and redundant and it equivocates and talks out of both sides of its mouth.
Caine reiterated that it is a violation of archdiocesan policy and an inconvenience and possible shock for people who dont expect to encounter these things when they come to Mass. He said the archdiocesan policies and procedures were in place to control the type of literature handed out during or after Mass.
From Randall Terry, and other Catholics perspectives who have eyes to see and ears to hear over the past 40 years of USCCB documents, that might be precisely the problem. The infamous Art & the Environment USCCB document as well as Always my Children are examples of exactly the type of misleading and errant teaching faithful Catholics hope to avoid.
Archdiocesan Policies Protect Against Pornographers & Political Pro-Lifers
Caine went on to make the comparison of those arrested this Sunday for trespassing on basilica grounds with those promoting explicit immorality. If it is somebody promoting hate or pornography or any other thing that people generally find offensive, it is our responsibility to have procedures in place which keep that from happening, Caine said.
Archdiocesan spokesman Caine added, Had this group contacted us ahead of time and let us know their intentions and said they understood we had guidelines, policies and procedures in place, and then let us review their literature, and tweak it, and edit to get the pro-life message out, we would have been happy to do that for them. We do that all the time.
Again, it is unfortunate, Caine said. But the word I got from the rector is that he encountered them and politely asked them to take the materials just a few feet away on the public sidewalk and they refused to do that.
I think the organization has to bear some of the responsibility that didnt seek permission, didnt share the information or contact anyone in advance to ask or share the documents to get approval for it, Caine said. And then they decided they were going to knowingly break the law when they could have achieved their goal to get the information into the hands of the people who were there by simply staying on public property. That is how protests are conducted all over the United States and there is a reason for that.
Despite Operation Rescues open letter to bishops in the form of a news release issued during the Republican National Convention pleading for the bishops not to arrest them (found here http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/317067728.html), Terry resignedly concluded, Were going to have a lot of civil disobedience. We dont want the civil disobedience. But when were arrested in the cathedral, it is an indication the cathedral has lost its way.
Were seeing entrenched cowardice and malevolence, Terry said. Thats the only way to put it.
 Another significant quote from EV about Catholics and their duties toward the State when it fails to protect the rights of its citizens and the unborn: For to safeguard the inviolable rights of the human person, and to facilitate the performance of his duties, is the principal duty of every public authority'. Thus any government which refused to recognize human rights or acted in violation of them, would not only fail in its duty; its decrees would be wholly lacking in binding force.
 In particular, he [Cardinal Ratzinger] questioned the teaching authority of bishops' conferences, declaring in 1985 that they had "no theological basis." In 1998, a papal document that Cardinal Ratzinger helped prepare underlined the limits of the authority of bishops' conferences, saying that doctrinal questions can never be decided by a majority vote. http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0505788.htm
Randall Terry isn’t even Catholic. Our churches are not generally available for public use for peoples causes, even good ones. I’ve always thought he is a misguided fool and this cements that view.
Randall Terry isn’t even Catholic. Our churches are not generally available for public use for peoples causes, even good ones. I’ve always thought he is a misguided fool and this cements that view.
Randall Terry is Catholic. Comment without reading?
Thanks for your opinion. Voting for pro-life candidates is a natural law and moral issue. It is not political.
Thanks for your opinion.
I took the voting guide from Catholic Answers called "Voting Guide for Serious Catholics" and paired it to the party platforms here. My greatest critique of the Church right now is their refusal to name names. What good does it do to hold a rally for life and then have half of the congregation vote for the very people promoting abortion?!
It's a bit like the war on terror... you don't make war on an ideology, you make war on the people who implement the ideology. Just so, you don't fight abortion, you fight the people who are entrenching abortion in our society.
Many are called but few are chosen.
I live in MD. The Catholic Church here is extremely liberal. IMHO. they favor Dems because the Church wants
social justice. They do not seem to realize the soccial
justice includes in demand abortion.
We also walked up to houses and tucked the literature into doors, being careful not to put it in the mailbox because I did know that was against the law.
I didn't consider that I might be breaking the law but pictured an irate priest coming out and a confrontation. Nothing happened, but it was very similar to this article.
If I ever do it again, I would rather say on the public sidewalk. The man I worked with gave me a complimentary subscription to the Wanderer for 6 months.
I've not been active in the pro life movement other than vocal but not judgemental with people who cross my path when the subject comes up.
The only other thing I ever did was ask a priest to bless a Miraculous Medal, then took it to a large, vacant lot in a rather affuent area and buried it in the snow and grass as best I could because I knew a PP clinic was in the works to be built there. I just did that on my own. That clinic was built there and has been operational for several years now. Most local abortions are performed there. I often wonder why the medal didn't seem to work nor were our countless prayers answered to thwart that building.
Miraculous medals aren't magical talismans and God always answers our prayers. He simply does so in His own time and in His own way. If we are truly praying that His Will be done... then don't be surprised when the finite can't fathom what the infinite is up to.
May God bless you.
Misleading headline. As I scan the article, they were arrested for trespassing, not for passing out literature.
I know, like I said, I was naive then. I'd read stories about people doing things like this and claiming it worked. Maybe someday our prayers will be answered anyway in a loving way. Your point is well taken that the finite can't fathom what the infinite is up to.
Thank you for asking for the blessing. I think my heart was in the right place. I had my granddaughter in the car with me but didn't make her walk into the field with me. If my own thinking hadn't changed and I'd listened to a couple of people whose opinions I valued greatly, I could have very well twisted my daughter's arm or bribed her into getting an abortion. I think about it a lot. She turned out to be such a blessing in my life.
I knew we were looking ahead at a bumpy ride, but never once was I even tempted even though it wasn't my call as she was 17 and could have gone behind my back and gotten one. I had to live so much of my life by faith when the going got rough. It was such a trying time, like most of my life, but after another family crisis involving the baby's father, I took a break at work and laid down on a lounge in the ladies' room for a few minutes. I called out in prayer, why after we have tried to do the right thing, has all this happened to us? I had a vision and was shown my daughter's hand and my hand over our bathtub where the shower is with blood on them and was given the words, "Neither you nor your daughter have blood on their hands." When I went back into the office, I confided to a Christian who was the secretary of the big boss, just telling her about the vision (I was a little shaken), but didn't tell her about the words (they were impressed in my mind, not audible). Her immediate response were almost those exact words. Just thought I'd share it. Sometimes we do get a little boost when the going gets rough and the strength to go on.
It is against subsidiarity and it is imprudent for the Catholic Church (or any congregation which is not predominantly black)to endorse a party or a candidate.
What they can do is lay out the teaching on abortion clearly, emphasizing the culpability of aiding in the procuring of abortions, they can admit that it is at least intellectually possible that an anti-abortion candidate might otherwise be so far off base that it just might conceivably be possible that it was better to vote for the pro-abort politician. And then they could talk about proportionality - asking parishioners to consider how evil the anti-abortion politician must be before it offsets the millions of lives lost (and millions more damaged) by abortion.
But I think this is dishonest and a set up. Terry could have said, "I am trespassing, I know it. I am putting the parish in an awkward position, and I know it. View this as something like a prophetic sign done by somebody who is prepared to bear the penalties."
But when we get the "I was only ..." talk, I think he was going for a confrontation and doesn't have the integrity to say so. Even clergy don't like being forced to play a part in somebody else's psycho-drama.
That is par for the course.
It is immoral to vote for Barack Obama, considering the fact that there is a more pro-life candidate, so what's the problem again?
As much as I sympathize with the guy passing out the leaflets, you do need to ask permission. It’s rather rude not too.
This was an attention-getting stunt, with a partisan political spin. The Archdiocese has every right not to be linked to the McCain campaign (or anyone else’s). People who invade church property to stage political theatre are out of line and may well be guilty of grave sin.
I am so tired of whining consequentialists — of every stripe.
Good answer in #9 and also consider that the medal may be doing its work in the afterlife -- the souls of the departed babies may be going directly into the outstretched arms of our Blessed Virgin Mary on the way to their Savior. I'm sure you will be greeted with special graces as well.
Regarding the fact that the prayers failed to halt the PP operation -- same thing happened here, although I wasn't surprised. God at no time has told us that sin on earth would be halted (at least at this time) as a result of our prayers. I still pray that abortions will be halted but also pray for the favorable disposition of the souls of the tiny lost babies.
Indeed it was (the other person's answer, not mine to anyone who may be confused here), I'm a little short-sighted when it comes to prayer sometimes, you want to know that somehow it has turned out for the best but can't always see it ever in your lifetime.
doing its work in the afterlife
One can hope, didn't think of it that way.
I'm sure you will be greeted with special graces as well.
Thank you. My best hope now is that I make it someplace better . I just want to be like I am now, one of the least of the least, even there because it's what life has made of me now, and it may sound paradoxical, but it gives me a freedom I'd never have otherwise. It's not my call.
same thing happened here, although I wasn't surprised
No, I'm not surprised now. We can only do so much. Many, many people have put a lot more on the line than I have, saw a video of a couple priests and laypeople, small group, in Denver, praying the rosary in the street, civil disobedience, then they went to jail. Court costs and all, it's a huge sacrifice.
I still pray that abortions will be halted but also pray for the favorable disposition of the souls of the tiny lost babies.
We can never give up, but I don't see it happening in my lifetime. I'm resigned to that. In my life, I'm kind of burned out on little kids, if you knew my whole story which I can't tell, you might understand why, but I can never get those little ones far from my mind, even knowing some would be mistreated, etc. I cannot justify it. It seems like the ultimate injustice, but I just try to think it is being allowed for a reason.
I always knew from reading the bible that things would get very bad, so bad we can hardly imagine, so I guess this is part of it, part of the "mystery of iniquity".
I felt bad that I told about my what I thought was a vision because, frankly to many it would sound crazy, hadn't thought about that for a long time. But it really happened. And several others. Finally I asked God to take all that away and haven't had any for a long time. It's just as well. I only talk about some of it to help the faith of my family members, I'm talking about my adult children and their children, many now grown I just live each day as it comes now, walking by what faith I have left.
Describes me as well.
Best wishes to you.
We have people who do that here, too. We call them Trolls and after a few incidents they are banned. The Catholic Church is a lot more tolerant, so I'm sure they will let him stay.
I remember Mass being disrupted by anti-Vietnam-War-types in the early 1970s. I was appalled then, too.
Thanks for YOUR opinion !!
It could have been written by the new messiah B. Hussein Obama. The extra collections each month for the USCCB is not seeing any or very little of my money! What a bunch of spineless Judases!
It also said not to try and influence or sway our children to believe what we believe as far as voting goes. Does this apply to our faith, also?
Almost every week (especially the second and fourth Sundays of the week - baptisms)Fr. implores us to remember we are a people of life.
After scripture study a group of us hang out and chat. During the winter of last year the group was made up of mostly democrats, now to a person they all say they are voting for McCain/Palin.
Thanks to The Holy Spirit that we have priests such as your Parish Priest!
And you know this... how??