GUIDELINES: PRO-LIFE ACTIVITY AT ABORTION CLINICS
Bishop James McHugh of Camden, New Jersey
[When the late bishop James McHugh was bishop of Camden, and shortly after
the unfortunate acts of violence that killed abortion workers in Massachusetts,
the following guidelines were issued by the bishop for the Diocese of Camden.]
January 4, 1995
I want to thank you for your continued efforts in providing a true and
powerful witness to the sanctity of human life by your peaceful, prayerful
presence at abortion facilities. We have heard story after story of babies' and
young women's lives saved in similar efforts throughout the country. We know you
find it painful to see any type of violence against any person, especially the
destruction of human life such as that in Massachusetts this past week, used to
portray the prolife movement as a violent one. It is our great respect for human
life that motivates us to protest abortion and to do so in a peaceful,
As you undertake this particular pro-life activity of prayerful, non-violent
demonstration, your attention is called to the fact that your involvement must
always reflect Gospel values and be law-abiding. Neither the diocese nor the
parish promotes or condones any conduct which is illegal or unlawful. We wish to
give public witness to our beliefs about the dignity of the human person, the
sanctity of human life and the wrongfulness of abortion. It is our hope that
your prayerful presence might bring about a change in public opinion, individual
conduct and in the law.
I recognize that you gather to protest in peace and in compliance with Gospel
values and the law. None of us in the pro-life movement are willing to associate
ourselves with activity or conduct which is illegal or unlawful, and we do not
condone such activity. We are committed to appropriate public protest and
demonstration, respecting the demands of justice and law.
I address this letter and the attached guidelines to all of you who regularly
gather for peaceful demonstration. I ask you to be attentive to anything that
might disrupt the order or intent of your gathering. If other groups that are
committed to more radical or disruptive activity gather for demonstration, you
should attempt to find a different time for your own activity. If anyone who is
not a regular participant appears on the scene, give him or her a copy of the
guidelines. If you have any cause for concern, please notify the pastor of St.
Peter Celestine Church or call it to the attention of the diocese.
Accordingly, I join you in your prayerful efforts to proclaim the value and
sanctity of human life, and I encourage you to continue your work to bring about
a change of minds and hearts in support of the protection of all human life,
from conception to natural death.
With prayerful best wishes, I remain,
Sincerely in Christ
Most Rev. James T. McHugh
1. Preamble. The intent of these guidelines is to ensure that diocesan and
parish pro-life activities are carried out in accordance with Gospel values and
the law. To that end all participants should understand and accept these goals
when participating in any pro- life activity.
2. Only those who respect the law are permitted to use diocesan or parish
property as a gathering area before going to an abortion facility for a
peaceful, nonviolent demonstration.
3. If local laws or an injunction regarding a particular abortion facility
have been issued, participants in a peaceful demonstration should be informed.
The law or injunction should be obeyed by all.
4. Commitment to the pro-life philosophy must be the basis of all public
demonstration. To this end, all involved must recognize and accept the need for
responsibility and discipline.
5. Those who reject or ignore the policies of the local pro-life
demonstration group should be asked to leave. If they refuse, the diocesan
pro-life office should be notified.
6. All other concerns or questions should be referred to the diocesan
pro-life office immediately.