Last week, at the annual fall assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, [St. Louis'] archdiocesan administrator Bishop Robert J. Hermann stated that for any bishop, it would be a "privilege to die tomorrow to bring about an end to abortion." His comments were picked up by media outlets across the country and have been touted in the blogosphere as a courageous statement in the defense of unborn human life.
St. Louis Review staff writer Jennifer Brinker recently met with Bishop Hermann for an interivew, in which he reflected on his statement and also answered several other questions relating to the issue of abortion, the bishops' meeting and the recent presidential election.
Q: Let's delve right into the issue at hand. At the recent bishops' meeting in Baltimore, you said this:
"We have lost 50 times as many children in the last 35 years as we have lost soldiers in all the wars since the Revolution. I think any bishop here would consider it a privilege to die tomorrow to bring about an end to abortion. If we are willing to die tomorrow, then we should be willing to, until the end of our lives, to take all kinds of criticism for opposing this horrible infanticide."
Could you explain a little bit more about the point you were trying to get across?
A: I think that the way abortion has been presented over the past 35 years so often is that this is something that's horrible, and we need to stop it. But it seems to me that people do not realize that it is 50 million children that we have killed. We have campaigned to save the baby whales, and yet we vote in pro-abortion politicians - which doesn't make any sense whatsoever.
I feel we need to be in an awareness-raising campaign to open our eyes to really see the destruction that we've brought about. There should be 50 more million Americans in our midst, and anyone under 35 can look around and say, 'Where are they?' And, 'I'm very lucky to be alive.'
We are grateful for all the soldiers who have died to defend our freedom. But at the same time, we aren't making similar efforts to protect the unborn. And so that's my concern - to raise the consciousness of all people to the atrocities that we're committing.
Q: What was the reaction of your fellow bishops after you said this?
A: The reaction was one or two bishops started clapping, but then we moved on immediately (to other business). I received numerous comments from other bishops, thanking me for making this courageous statement. I said any bishop there could have and probably would have made the same statement.
After I had finished, Bishop (Robert) Finn and Archbishop (Joseph) Naumann and Bishop (Michael) Sheridan commented. Archbishop (Charles) Chaput sought me out and commented. So numerous bishops had come up to me and thanked me for the comment. I said we're only doing what we're supposed to be doing, that's all.
Q: What was the thought process going through your mind in which you said, 'Yes, I would do this. I would lay my life on the line.'
A: Very simply: If American youth are willing to go to war and lay their life down to defend our freedoms, then every bishop should be willing to give up his life, if it meant putting an end to abortion. And if we're willing to do that, then we should be totally fearless of promoting this cause without being concerned about political correctness, without trying to build coalitions with pro-choice people. . . .
Q: During his campaign in Pennsylvania, President-elect Barack Obama said he has taught his daughters with proper morals, on the other hand, "if they make a mistake, I won't want them punished with a baby."
What do you think about that statement?
A: I am very horrified that he would make such a statement, which in effect is saying that he would be willing to see his grandchild killed for the convenience of his daughter.
When he promotes abortion, he is, whether he knows it or not, targeting blacks, because they have been targeted by Planned Parenthood with abortion information and facilities in their neighborhoods. So he and Planned Parenthood together are helping to reduce the African- American population in this country. . . . St Louis Review