I did not know him when I was Auxiliary Bishop of Miami and he was a high school teacher at the Archdiocese’s Monsignor Pace High School.
The Principal of the Girls Division of that High School was a wonderful woman, a member of the Theresan Institute, a secular insitute of the the Catholic Church, named Rosemarie Kamke. When I became the Fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Corpus Christi I invited her to come to the Diocese and assume the role of Superintendent of Schools. She came and for ten years served the Church and everyone involved in our schools well until she was elected to the General Council of her Institute and had to move to Rome.

On those occasions when I have had the misfortune to watch the Bill O’Reilly Show I have found myself wondering how many times Rosemarie Kamke clashed with Bill O’Reilly. I am sure that there were many occasions. One of the personality quirks of Bill O’Reilly is that he simply cannot let his guests finish a sentence without interrupting them. He may think that that is good show business, and maybe it is, but for anyone who is looking for intelligent discourse it is pure frustration.

Another of Bill’s traits is his inability to accept correction while he is live on his show. He sometimes does admit his mistakes later and apologizes for them, but if a viewer is not tuned in for the later show the viewer misses the correction and is left with his first impression.

I guess that civility is not a word that one should expect to see demonstrated on the type of show Bill puts on. Sometimes it is not just a lack of civility but a lack of respect. I stopped watching his show years ago when he disparagingly referred to Pope John Paul II, who was suffering the ravages of Parkinson’s Disease for the last ten years of his life, as “that sick old man in the Vatican.” When I heard that I hit the “off” button on my remote control and did not watch his show again for many years. I never thought that I would ever hear a Catholic refer to the Holy Father in that manner.

I have always admired Jane Chastain and, in the open letter to Bill O’Reilly shown below, she shows admirable restraint and civility as she offers Bill O’Reilly some good advice. I hope that he reads her letter and accepts her suggestions.



by Jane Chastain
Posted: June 18, 2009
1:00 am Eastern

I am a fan. I have purchased “factor gear” for my husband. I record your television show and generally see at least half of the program every day. I admire your efforts to stand up for “the folks.” It is little wonder that your show is the No. 1 program out of all the cable news channels.

I thank you for your coverage on George Tiller and how he made his blood money.

However, in your effort to be fair, balanced and factual you often tie yourself up in knots on the issue of abortion, and I beg you to reconsider the language you use in debating this issue in order to be consistent and clear while remaining on solid scientific ground.

I am no stranger to the abortion issue. Many years ago, I helped my best friend through an abortion and began writing and reporting on it reluctantly. Over the years, I have done nine documentaries and countless columns on this subject and now consider myself to be somewhat of an expert.

Open your eyes to the ugliness inside the abortion industry with “Lime 5: Exploited by Choice”

Please drop the use of the word “fetus.” It is a medical term for unborn young of any vertebrate animal, particularly of a mammal, after it has attained the basic form and structure typical of its kind. More specifically, fetus refers to a human being in the womb in the later stages of development. The use of this term is appropriate in a medical school or operating room.

However, in Journalism 101 reporters are taught to use plain, simple, everyday language. We do that in covering every other medical issue. When talking about someone who suffered a myocardial infarction, you would say, “He had a heart attack.” When talking about someone who has a fractured distal radius, you would say, “She has a broken wrist.”

The term “fetus” was popularized and sold to the mainstream media by those who promote abortion because they do not want to talk about what is being aborted. This term makes the child in the womb seem less human. However, “unborn child,” or “preborn baby” or simply “baby” are all accurate terms and, I would argue, more descriptive and appropriate when it comes to reporting the news. Don’t worry about making your friends who are abortion rights activists comfortable. That is not your job (even though, deep down, I know you are a warm and fuzzy kind of guy).

On Monday, in your interview with Kansas City Star reporter Mary Sanchez, who unjustly characterized you in a recent column, you referred to what Tiller was doing as the “ending of a potential life.” When Sanchez corrected you and said, “It’s the ending of life,” you went on a diatribe about not getting involved in semantics. Bill, with all due respect, Ms. Sanchez was right. You owe her an apology and you owe it to your vast audience to make that correction.

(Column continues below)

The child in the womb is a “living, developing human being.” However, that statement can be made about any human being until he or she reaches adulthood. Nothing magical happens at birth except the way a child breathes and receives nourishment.

When forced into a corner, abortion advocates will refer to the child in the womb as a “potential life” or a “potential human being.” These terms simply are not accurate.

Please bear in mind that under Roe v. Wade and its companion case Doe v. Bolton, states can ban abortion of a viable baby unless the mother’s life or heath is affected. Health is further defined as psychological, emotional, physical or familial. Since three of these four categories are subjective, in effect, if a woman can find a physician like Tiller willing to perform an abortion, she has a legal right to obtain one at any time through the full nine months of pregnancy. This has given us the most extreme law on abortion of any country in the world.

Roe should be overturned because it is barbaric and based on world-is-flat technology.

In the run up to the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice, we will be hearing a lot about legal precedent. What about Plessy v. Ferguson, which upheld segregation? Who wants to defend that precedent?

The Supreme Court has reversed itself more than 100 times and, based on the scientific evidence available today, should reverse that decision on abortion.

Bill, you have done a lot to change the culture, but there is much more that needs to be done. Language is very important in this debate. Please don’t acquiesce by adopting the language of the abortion activists. Keep it simple, factual, fair and balanced.

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Jane Chastain is a Southern California-based broadcaster, author and political commentator.

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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