On day 42 of the now famous Wichita, Kansas, Operation Rescue, Wichita R.C. Bishop Eugene Gerber was one of the several speakers at a rally in support of the event.
The Wichita “Rescue” lasted six weeks, led to the arrest of over 2,000 pro-lifers and was seen almost nightly on American TV.
Speaking of the last 18 years Bishop Gerber said, “So people day after day and week after week courageously and fearlessly gather at the abortuaries across this land.”
Then, continuing, he stated:
“The consciences of some people won’t let them stand still. In their frustration with business as usual they decide to speak with their bodies. And so they peacefully, prayerfully, respectfully take a step, say a word, take a posture to rescue the innocent life about to be crucified.
“In doing so, they disturb family life, social life, business life. They upset the way things are done. They shake the delicate web of relationships. They are arrested, jailed and fined, not for rescuing babies from death and mothers from tragic memories – they would come too close to the truth and tear the veil of denial in two from top to bottom – but for breaking civil laws. And as a result, public attention is kept on the people in the streets rather than on the babies being killed in the abortuaries.
“Civil disobedience is not an integral part of the Catholic Church’s plan to restore the right to life for unborn children. This is not meant to suggest that civil disobedience doesn’t have its place. Turing points of history are marked by heroic persons who have struggled with their consciences, thoroughly tested their motives and agonized over the consequences of civil disobedience.
“When entered into seriously and undertaken with dignity and without violence, civil disobedience is in the finest tradition of American response in times of great stress and turmoil form the days of slavery to the present.” (Origins, September 12, 1991)
Cardinal John O’Connor of New York also praised those whom he called “the heroes and heroines of Kansas.” Operation Rescue (OR), he said, is a “vital and valid part of America’s pro-life movement.” OR consists of pa peaceful but determined blocking of abortuaries by means of a chain of human bodies.
Speaking in Philadelphia at a convention of pro-life leaders on August 12, Cardinal O’Connor lauded the happening in Kansas as “bordering on the incredible.” He repeated his well-known declaration of support for Operation Rescue.
“I disagree with those people in the pro-life movement who condemn Operation Rescue. They are free to do so but I disagree with them.”
“Whatever your feelings,” he said to prolonged applause, “you need not applaud a movement, but we certainly, all of us, applaud the heroes and heroines of Kansas.
The Cardinal recognized that the pro-live movement has obstacles to surmount, some “from inside the family of the Church.” In particular, he said, some priests are “tongue-tied” on the abortion issue.
He also cited as an obstacle those Religious and educators who “hold at arm’s length” pro-life leaders when they seek to initiate programs in the schools. But he said, “…don’t write them off. Don’t think that because they have not been as vociferous as we might like, that they are really hostile to you. Pray for them…Do your best gently to convince, to influence. But don’t condemn.” (Wanderer, August 29, 1991)