Following is a transcript of an interview conducted on October 14, 2001 by Fr. Frank Pavone with Fr. Norman Weslin, founder of the Lambs of Christ, a peaceful, direct-action effort to save babies from abortion. Fr. Weslin is scheduled for a prison sentence to begin on October 18, but -- as you will see below -- not for doing anything violent or immoral.
Fr. Frank Pavone:
Father, a lot of pro-life people ask me how you're doing; just tell us first of all, generally, personally how you've been these days.
Fr. Norman Weslin:
Well very good, I might be feeling better here in a few days. On Thursday [October 18, 2001] I get sentenced to a Federal prison for praying at a sidewalk in Buffalo and the food is good in Federal prisons.
Fr. Pavone: Is it?
Yes, I usually try to go off my fast and they give you a variety of foods and the standards are high in a Federal prison.
Now for people who don't understand the nature of this case, could you summarize for us why exactly is it that you would be sent to prison?
Well, Judge Arcara, the Federal Judge with his headquarters in Buffalo, NY has an injunction out that requires that we, primarily Catholics and the Protestant hard core there, that we stay away, sixty feet away from the entrances so that we will not be able to tell the ladies going in that what they're about to destroy
is not an appendix, not a blob of tissue but in fact a baby created by Jesus Christ. And as a priest I represent the 61.5 million Catholics in the Country objecting to the arrogance of having a 60 foot stay away zone so that we can't talk to these young ladies who have been duped into thinking that it is indeed a blob of tissue.
So, I broke that injunction twelve times, once in Rochester and eleven times in Buffalo, but only after we had a legal opinion stating that that was my constitutional right to do that. There was nothing arrogant on our part, we're simply testing this and hoping we would get convicted at this level, which I was, I was convicted already and I'll be sentenced on Thursday. We were convicted and now it'll go into the appellate court.
I was praying on my knees with my vestments on so all that passed by would know that this was representative of the Roman Catholic Church praying silently, and then I exorcised the building without talking to any passers-by or resisting or doing anything with police or any of the other things that are associated with this. So, they wouldn't arrest me for the first twelve times but then on the last time, on the twelfth time they sent the Federal Marshalls over and summoned me into court and then the process developed. This strategy obviously now is to keep me under litigation as a leader in the pro-life movement, leader of the Lambs of Christ, so that while under litigation, I wouldn't be able to do any activities there in front of killing centers and get arrested because that would destroy our own attorney's cases.
We have 15 top level attorney's around the country headed up by Larry Washburn and represented in court on the scene by the Federal attorney John Malloy and also Gabe Kralik, now in Los Angeles is the one who wrote up our case and has a very good case. So we are very hopeful in the appellate courts. We think that this will go before the Supreme Court and allow all of us across the country to come right up to the doors as American citizens and talk to the young ladies going in and tell them that yes, indeed that's a baby that you're carrying there and you should rethink and reconsider and not kill your baby.
Father, sometimes people say to me, shouldn’t it be the lay people who are out in the front lines doing these things for the unborn and shouldn't we priests simply be kind of in the background encouraging them but you obviously have been very much on the front lines. What would you say about the specific role of the priest in the pro-life movement?
To do just that, Fr. Frank, to be up front, to lead the people, not to sit behind the people and say "you go ahead and do this and I'll orchestrate it from the back" or "I'll be behind you on a big white horse." The priest is the leader.
Jesus Christ is a contradiction to the world. We priests are slaves to all the people. You wake us up at 2 o'clock in the morning to hear your confession, we have to get up. What the contradiction is, is that Jesus Christ uses his slaves as is leaders. All through history this has been the case. With the first Twelve Apostles, they were the first Bishops, they are the leaders. We Catholics work according to this hierarchical system of the Bishops, we do what the Bishops tell us and we do what the Cardinals tell us and we do what the Pope tells us. The people do what the Priest tells us, we are that type of people, it doesn't work that way in other religions. They're elected by the people so the ministers there have an obligation to please the people in order to get elected again the next time. We don't do that; we follow God's monolithic system of going down through one Pope, one Bishop, one Priest, one Pastor of a parish, a missionary priest like myself.
That's what I am, I'm in the Oblates of Wisdom and my work is to go all around the country and internationally if necessary to try to stop the killing of the babies. And people follow me. People follow me into jail unquestionably because I'm a priest. If I were not a priest I would not have anywhere near the validity and the credibility that I have to lead people into jail but they do, they follow me and we get attacked as a result of it. We priests get attacked ferociously in the monetary area, in the obedience area, they attack us in the sexual area, all over, so that they can discredit the priest because the opposition, Planned Parenthood hates us with a passion and so does Satan, which is so very good. Satan is a loser and the Blessed Mother is a twelve Star General and Satan leaves with his tail between his legs when she comes around.
What do you hope to do after you serve whatever sentence you'll have to serve in the coming weeks? What do you hope to do after that?
Well, I'm going to be doing a lot of preaching. I have a commitment now to preach…and I need to write another book. I've written a book on the gathering of the Lambs, while I was in prison last time in McKeon prison in Pennsylvania and I would really like to write another book on the mystical theology of the victim soul, becoming a victim. We don't fight back, the Lambs are non-violent, the Lambs of Christ are not violent. We have never been violent over all the twenty years that we've worked. We get beat up, blood is all over the place sometimes. Many times there are good Catholic family cops and they know why we're out there and they have children of their own but sometimes the police think that they have a duty to cause blood to flow and they beat us up pretty well.
And when you do preach in a Parish, what are you asking the people to do? I think sometimes people are afraid that we're asking them to break the law. Tell us in a summary fashion what is it that you would actually like people in the pews to do in response to your message?
Yes, Fr. Frank, it would be to ask the people to come out into the streets in large crowds. That sends the message and that also prevents the people from going through a normal kill day where they kill about forty of our children. When I go out and preach Masses and retreats and the rallies, I'm not asking people to come out and risk arrest. There are other times when we will because that's civil disobedience and that's very much American peace and apple pie, that's what Martin Luther King used, that's what Mahatma Gandhi used. But normally now we come out in large crowds and that's what I'm asking the people to do, to come out and to send the message and also to even demonstrate in the streets carrying picket signs, saying the Rosary which is so powerful for us. We have Rosary Crusades, we have Our Lady of Guadalupe, Who is so powerful in the streets, She is our patroness.
These things, this is what I ask to do when I go to preach at Masses and rallies but people look with disdain sometimes at going to jail but that's what Jesus Christ did. Jesus Christ went to jail. All of his Apostles went to jail and they were martyred and they did not look at this as a passive way of bringing people into Christianity. It was a very active, dynamic, moving thing where you read in St. Paul where he was lowered out of a window in order to escape the authorities. Peter was hung upside down. He was heading for the catacombs when Jesus turned him around and said Peter, where are you going? and [Peter] told Him he was going to hide out in the catacombs and Jesus said, no I have need for you in the city, in Rome, so he turned around went back -- and this was a very active, dynamic Christianity.
Jesus Christ was no wimp, He was active He walked many miles through the sand, He defied the authorities, He called the authorities hypocrites, broods of vipers, white washed sepulchres, He was no mamby-pamby. He said if you are lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth. This was the active Jesus Christ who was a very gentle, loving man who was unafraid, of course He's God. He never used His divinity as something to be grasped at, He did all this in his humanity so that He could be exactly like us so that forever all mankind would know that Jesus Christ, yes He did, He came down to redeem us, to be one of us authentically not just by name. He came down and suffered what He knew we would suffer but He suffered to a far greater extent then we did and He still suffers. This is something we forget. He's still suffering for us because He's still losing souls to Satan; they're being seduced by short-term pleasures on this earth, killing our children, my gracious.
In the tragedy that just happened on September 11th with the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and Pittsburgh, using our own people as bombs and missiles to destroy these things. That was six thousand people but what we forget was their were also 4,400 babies that died on that day and that makes 10,400 people who died there and Fr. Frank your task being done so beautifully is to remind people that we must not forget. When the pilots rode on the bombs that were going into Afghanistan to the NYPD, we remember. That's what you're telling people is that we have to remember that these children are children of God. They are Jesus Christ's creation, they are His children, the mother and the father cooperated with Jesus Christ in the creation. It was Him that selected the genetic makeup by selecting the one sperm from the 240 million available sperm to unite to that one egg to become a unique creation, different from everyone else.
Father, their are many different groups in the pro-life movement and you have been in the pro-life movement for a long time. What do you think right now at this point in history are some of the most important things for the pro-life movement to do or what have we learned that now we can do better?
To communicate -- and that's what you're doing. Never before have we had anything reaching out with all the communication tentacles to all the parts of the world, internationally even. To let people know that this is a baby that we're talking about and it's not just a blob of tissue. I think we need to become more active --that's the other thing, and that will come as a result of communications because there are people out there who really want to do something and they say I just really don't know what to do.
That's our task, that's the priest form the pulpit, we must tell the people from the pulpit, you need to come out now and you need to come out into the streets and you need to come out and to be active and follow your priests. The priest will go if necessary -- if it comes to that point -- without being violent and without actively resisting arrest, we would lead the people into jail, priests would. I've been in prison with four and five priests at a time, who really know that this is what Jesus Christ did and this is what the Apostles did and this is what I need to do… We need to rescue these babies with an activism that the world won't forget.
President Bush is now responding to the terrorist attack by precisely those means. He is becoming very active to the point of saying we are selectively destroying those things that support terrorism. We need to come in and resist those areas that support Planned Parenthood which is the biggest baby octopus killer in the world today that is destroying our children It's a reality that they are destroying our children. People have a tendency to forget that because they are not being told by us, by the priests.
Now what is it like in jail?
Sometimes good, sometimes not so good, Father. As I mentioned about the Federal prisons, they have high standards, they treat you as humans. But in some other prisons on the other side of the coin there is blood all over the floor and there are horrendous conditions.
One time in Houston, John Broderick, our attorney, came up and asked the guards if he could speak to me and the guards said no. Their were three big huskies there and then John came up with his hand as a greeting and I came up with a five hand and I felt the Eucharist -- he was a Eucharistic Minister. So I quickly took the Eucharist and I put it in my mouth and the guard saw me and said "get him", so they jumped me and broke my glasses and put me to the floor and handcuffed me behind my back and started ripping my lips apart trying to get the Eucharist out of my mouth. But you know once you close your mouth it is almost impossible to open your mouth so they weren't able to do that. So they stripped me naked and threw me out into the main corridor as an example to show the people what they do to priests.
In Connecticut they beat us so that there was blood all over the place. People with all the skin ripped off their chest from dragging them over, a nylon type floor. This type of thing. But the Blessed Mother is always there with us in prison. That's what makes it so nice, you always see Her divine set up. She is always so close to people who are being put in prison for trying to stop the killing of Her babies. And if you look at it with this perspective it's cause to be happy always while you're sitting on a drunk tank bench.
One short anecdote was in Chicago. Normally, when you come into prison they take away our Rosaries and our Scapulars. Well then we make toilet paper rosaries and we would thread toilet paper into a cord and one not is for the Hail Mary and two knots if for the Our Father and I had one decade made and a guard came in and came over and he grabbed my rosary and I said, "Hey, that's my Rosary, I pray on that", he says, "Well not here" and I said, "We're Catholics and we pray everywhere" and he said, "Well I'm an atheist and you are not going to pray here." I said, "Well that's not gonna do you any good because as soon as you leave we're just going to make another toilet paper rosary". So he went all around the drunk tank and he picked up all the toilet paper rolls, took them all out of the drunk tank. And as he was leaving the door I was showing my hand to him. The Hail Mary on this fingers and on this thumb I was saying the Our Father, you can't stop us Catholics were going to be here forever.
So then he went and got a psychiatrist and the psychiatrist came over to me and asked, "Are you having any suicidal tendencies lately". I said "No, not lately". So he said, "Anyone commit suicide in your family" and I said "no". I said, "Are you a Catholic?" and he said "yes". "What is it that you have against a Catholic Priest saying the rosary?" He didn't have an answer; he looked at me for about a full minute. I guess he never thought about that, then he turned away. The atheist kept following me around and he locked me up in a cellblock upstairs. An abandoned cell block with nobody up there in 16 cells. I guess he was trying to intimidate the Catholic Priest, the leader, trying to make us plead for mercy or something like that. But we've been through that too many times we weren't intimidated by that.
And the other thing that happened, this is the Blessed Lady working again, he brought me up at a quarter to twelve midnight and he left and at one minute after midnight he had to come back and get me and he said pack your stuff. I didn't have any stuff but that's always what they tell you when you have to leave then it became aware to me that the judge sentenced us to two days. One was the day we were in the drunk tank and the other was one minute after midnight. He had to release me sixteen minutes after being in that. That was the Blessed Lady, She's so beautiful. She releases us and the District Attorney's, they just can't understand what's going on but when She opens that door it's open and we go home.
What can individual pro-lifers do to help you personally if they want to assist you or support you?
They can actively come and join me in the preaching assignments. This helps out considerably. If they come with me and organize teams we can formulate large crowds. If we had a team that was able to work with individuals on what we do and dispel the myth that the opposition tries to set up about us, Planned Parenthood. That is an effective thing.
There are others then who are in a position where they don't have to support a family or they don't have large assets so they can't be sued so they can follow me in the Lambs of Christ and we move from place to place and the people of each town always take care of us. They take care of the food, they take care of the place to stay, they take care of the transportation, they take care of everything -- all the people in town take care of the Lambs. We've always been taken care of and those are the people who are devoted to Jesus Christ, many of them are consecrated souls. They can help in that way.
The other thing is to be able to in the numbers category, is to come out in large crowds on a given day as set up by the Lambs of Christ or by whatever capacity I'm working. We would have key lay leaders, who would then organize small groups, who would all come together on a given day and come with 4,5,10, people outside of the killing center to send the message by a crowd, we don't have to block the door then, we don't have to super glue the locks, we don't have to drive an old wreck of a car up against the door to keep it locked to keep the killer out. We could by the virtue of the crowd being there itself and saying the rosaries and invoking God's power and love and by exercising the building and the demons that are there.
There are demons too and some don't believe there are demons there and their are good reliable saints who said if [demons] had form, the sky would be black amongst us with all the demons that are around the place. Anyway, we look through the theological end and we see these things where others don’t. That's how the people can respond to what we're saying, they can come out in large crowds and that sends a message. We did this for Bishop Moynihan, we pulled out a lot of people in Syracuse and other states, Bishop Sullivan, Cardinal O'connor just loved what we do, Bishop Vaughan, he was one of us, he was out there, he said that was the only show in town that he had to do that. He died now. It looks like the lord is taking our leaders. He's taken Mother Teresa, He's taken Cardinal O'Connor, He's taken Bishop Vaughan, He's taken Fr. Hardon, so it's all up to you now Frank.
Well thanks very much Father for sharing your thoughts and we'll share these thoughts with others who can certainly learn from it and draw inspiration from what you've done.