Dear Friend – I forgot how young you are! 

Everything I told you is well documented. I should have mentioned that the first President of this new prolife corporation – the NCHLA   was a young homosexual Catholic seminarian by the name of Robert N. Lynch, the future Bishop Lynch who is now banned in two dioceses because of his preying on young men. 

If you cannot recall this matter, it may be because you, as bishop, never contributed to the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment. It’s only source of income is from the American bishops. I’m surprised you were not solicited. 

All the details on this nefarious group are in Part II of the series I am doing for the Catholic Inquisitor on “Bishop James T. McHugh -The Forgotten Man in the McCarrick Equation.”  

Hopefully, when Part II is published maybe in Dec 2020, there will be greater impetus for an investigation of the NCHLA. 

In the meantime All Saints Blessings to you. 

You so remind me of my dear friend Bishop Austin Vaughan, Aux. of New York, one of the few bishops I could always count on. 

St. Peter Damian watch over you, Randy 

 The following Article first appeared in 

The Catholic Inquisitor Summer 2020 

Bishop James T. McHugh – 

The Forgotten Man in the McCarrick Equation  

Part I – Bishop James T. McHugh, Cardinal McCarrick, Clerical Sodomy & Their  Impact on the Prolife Movement  

By Randy Engel[i]


As Catholics await the long-overdue Vatican Final Report on the Cardinal Theodore McCarrick scandal from Rome, there is one significant figure who has managed to escape   public scrutiny – that of Bishop James T. McHugh, one of McCarrick’s earliest sexual protégés and the primary architect of AmChurch’s disastrous “prolife” policies and strategies for more than 30 years.  

This omission needs to be rectified now, before the McCarrick Report is released by the Holy See, for a number of reasons.

First, because the blood of hundreds of thousands of unborn children in our nation who have been murdered in their mother’s womb or destroyed in the spic and span hell of IVF clinics or killed by abortifacient devices or chemicals DEMANDS a historical accounting of the role played by homosexual prelates in the furtherance of legalized abortion. 

Second, because most of our early prolife heroes like Notre Dame Professor Charles Rice, Father Paul Marx founder of Human Life International, March for Life founder Nellie Gray, Child and Family editor Dr. Herbert Ratner, U.S. Coalition for Life UN/NGO representative Marge Garvey, and Long Island Coalition for Life grassroot leaders John Mawn and John Short, and countless other great Catholic souls, have long since gone to their  reward. There are not many of us left to tell the story of  how the hidden hand of clerical sodomy in AmChurch operated as a trojan horse for many years in the nascent prolife camp. And how, with the cooperation of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/U.S. Catholic Conference, this homosexual clique continued to grab defeat after defeat from the jaws of almost certain prolife victories in these early years. 

Third, because it is more than likely that when the McCarrick Report is made public, there not will be any reference to the anti-life role that McCarrick and McHugh, and other homosexual members of the American hierarchy played in the blindsiding and undermining of the  early Prolife Movement.  

 Obviously, it would be grossly inaccurate and unfair  to suggest that McHugh, and his primary protector, McCarrick, were the first generation of American Catholic homosexual prelates to be involved in politics and strategies harmful to Catholic morals, politics, and strategies. That dubious honor would most likely go to the late Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York and to Spellman’s successor Terence Cardinal Cooke, former personal secretary to Spellman, and the Chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities for ten years.[ii]   

McCarrick, who had served as homosexual Cardinal Cooke’s private secretary was a third generation homosexual in the Spellman line, which made McHugh a fourth generation homosexual bishop. So, while McHugh alone  could not be blamed for the long litany of losses suffered by the emerging Prolife Movement prior to and immediately after Roe vs Wade on January 22, 1973, his role was nevertheless pivotal, and in the end, definitive.  

McHugh Chronicles[iii] Documents McHugh’s Anti-Life Record

This writer is certain that not every Catholic layman or cleric or bishop will appreciate my public airing of this tragic saga of the hierarchial enemies of Life within AmChurch. 

I say certain because when my book, The McHugh Chronicles was released in 1997, it met with considerable opposition – not from rank and file prolifers, but from paid “prolife” careerists connected to the NCCB/USCC. 

In fact, opposition to the Chronicles continues even until today, 23 years later, the latest critic being none other than the recently retired Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Joseph Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. who called the promotion of the Chronicles “a sin.”[iv] I trust the reader will decide for himself whether the archbishop’s criticism is valid or not.  

The McHugh Chronicles – Who Betrayed the Prolife Movement? charged the USCC’s Family Life Director Msgr. James T. McHugh, with:

  • Promoting sex initiation programs, aka sex education, in parochial schools – programs which are anti-child, anti-education, anti-family, anti-civilized and anti-human, and pro-contraception, pro-abortion and pro-homosexual.
  • Creating a false and controlled anti-abortion movement in the Church while sabotaging legitimate efforts within the grass-roots Prolife Movement to stop the slaughter of innocent preborn children.
  • Undermining the Catholic Church’s magisterial teachings on contraception, divorce, abortion by curette, chemical or device, non-therapeutic prenatal diagnosis, eugenics, and in vitro fertilization and serving as a damage control agent for the Eugenic Establishment (including the National Foundation/March of Dimes) in the United States and as an agent provocateur for the Population Control Establishment on the international scene.[v]

The only charge against McHugh that I withheld at the time was the charge that he was a closeted homosexual cleric. By 1997, when the Chronicles were published, I was already in my tenth year of research on The Rite of Sodomy. I had a long running list of homosexual prelates on file, including Spellman, Cooke, McCarrick and Bernardin. However, as regards McHugh, although I was aware that McCarrick has gotten him his bishopric, I was not prepared to make the charge of homosexuality against McHugh outside of the context of the extensive NCCB/USCC homosexual network – a charge that I did document nine years later in The Rite of Sodomy.[vi]

Nevertheless, in the Preface to the McHugh Chronicles, I did note the following: 

… Throughout his clerical career, McHugh has demonstrated an uncanny ability not only to survive one pro-life debacle after another, but to move quickly up the ecclesiastical ladder from monsignor and papal chamberlain (1972), to Auxiliary Bishop of Newark (1988), to Bishop of Camden (1989).[vii]

In comparison to some of his contemporaries from the USCC Family Life Office years, including the deceased apostate priest, Father Walter Imbiorski, and the late Father George Hagmaier, C.S.P. who committed suicide, McHugh has continued to lead an extraordinarily charmed life. 

It is common knowledge that since his earliest years at the Bishops’ Secretariat in Washington, DC, McHugh has enjoyed the patronage and protection of a number of high-ranking American prelates including the late Terence Cardinal Cooke, Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities; Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick of the Archdiocese of Newark, where McHugh served briefly as an auxiliary bishop; and most importantly, the powerful, and now deceased,  Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, Archdiocese of Chicago, who was a key player on the elitist New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, founded in 1921 to advance the cause of a one-world government (dictatorship).[viii]

Pre-Conciliar Bishops Supported Traditional Catholic Morality

It is difficult, I think, for many faithful Catholics today to understand how far our post-Conciliar bishops (with rare exceptions) had fallen in terms of candor, courage and moral fortitude by the time the NCCB/USCC bureaucracy was formed in 1965-1966 under the dual-leadership of Cardinal John  Dearden of Detroit  and the young  homosexual Bishop Joseph Bernardin. 

One measure would be to compare the statements on Catholic morality made by AmChurch’s predecessors including the National Catholic Welfare Council, with the formal statements and collective positions made by the NCCB/USCC following the Second Vatican Council.   

Here are a selection of formal pastoral letters and statements made in the name of the American hierarchy on key moral issues dating back to 1829: 

Yes! the characteristics of the child, as St. John Chrysostom well observes, are the characteristic of the saint…God has made you the guardians of those children to lead them to His service on earth, that they might become saints in Heaven. “What will it avail them to gain the whole world if they lose their souls?”… Woe to him that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were tied around his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea? 

[Pastoral Letter to the Laity, 17 October 1829] 

We deplore the enormous scandal of some who, having already contracted marriage, enter into new engagements during the lifetime of their lawful consorts. 

[On Divorce, Pastoral Letter, 1843] 

… The selfishness which leads to race suicide with or without the Pretext of bettering

the species, is, in God’s sight, “a detestable  thing.” It is the crime of individuals  for which, eventually, the nation  must suffer. The harm which it does cannot be repaired by social 

service, nor offset by pretending economic or domestic advantage. On the contrary, there is joy in the hope of offspring, for “the inheritance of the Lord are children; and His reward, the fruit of the womb.” The bond of love is strengthened, fresh stimulus is given to thrift and industrious effort, and the very sacrifices which are called for become sources of blessing.

[On Onanism, Birth Control and Eugenics,

Pastoral Letter, 26 September 1919][ix]

The destruction or serious impairment of home life has brought about a selfish, and inhuman propaganda of birth prevention…. May our Catholic families courageously and with firm trust in God reject the modern paganism, and seek the priceless riches of large, happy, and blessed families!  

[Undermining the Home: Pastoral Letter, 25 April 1933] 

We voice a grave warning against the propaganda of so-called planned parenthood, which violates the moral law, robs the family of its nobility and high social purpose, and weakens the physical and moral fiber of the nation.

[Neopagan Views of Marriage, 11 November 1943]

Fathers and mothers have a natural competence to instruct their children with regard to sex. False modesty should not deter them from doing their duty in this regard….We protest in the strongest possible terms against the introduction of sex instruction into the schools to be of benefit. Such instruction must be far broader than the imparting of information, and must be given individually. ….It [sex] can be fully and properly appreciated only within a religious and moral context. If treated otherwise, the child will see it apart from the controlling purpose of his life, which is service to God.  

The Child: Citizen of Two Worlds,  

17 November 1950 

United States Catholics believe that the promotion of artificial birth prevention is a morally, humanly, psychologically, and politically disastrous approach to the population problem. …They will not, however, support any  public assistance, either at home or abroad, to promote artificial birth prevention, abortion, or sterilization whether through direct aid or by means of international organizations. 

[Explosion or Backfire? 19 November 1959] 

The above quotations cover a span of over 130 years. Thy clearly reflect the high degree of concern  that our Catholic bishops collectively expressed for the burning moral issues of the day. This concern was directed not only toward Catholic families, most especially the children entrusted to their care, but also toward the Common Good (the bonun commune).

All in all, from the time of the First Provincial Council of Baltimore in 1829, the American bishops performed exceedingly well in their public defense of Catholic marriage and family life. Immigrant Catholic families, sheltered in their ethnic ghettos, initially were able to resist the worst excesses of American secularism under the protection of their Ordinary and their pastors, together with the support of their ethnic parishes and various Catholic services and charities. 

Cracks in the Dam at the NCWC

By the mid-1960s, however, serious moral cracks were developing in the structure of the American bishops’ bureaucracy at the National Catholic Welfare Conference (NCWC) in Washington, D.C. 

For example, the NCWC’s Family Life Bureau invited Planned Parenthood-World Population, to be in attendance at its official functions.  The  scuttlebutt was that Family Life officials were interested in obtaining federally-financed birth control research grants from the National Institute of Health that would lead to an improvement of the “rhythm” method. 

In anticipation of a reversal of the Roman Catholic Church’s magisterial teaching on the intrinsic evil of contraception,  influential members of the American hierarchy, including Cardinals Francis Spellman of New York, Richard Cushing of Boston, John Cushing of Chicago, John Dearden of Detroit and John Krol of Philadelphia made their own private “arrangements” to accommodate state-sponsored birth control programs. These back-door affairs often followed a well- staged and heavily publicized show of opposition to government population control programs for the “benefit” of Catholics in the pews. 

As a group, these five American bishops were heavily influenced in their views on the issue of birth prevention as public policy by John Courtney Murray, S.J., principle architect of Church-State affairs for the NCWC, Cardinal Spellman’s personal peritus at the Second Vatican Council, and Cardinal Cushing’s chief advisor on contraception and “religious freedom.”   

Father Murray had little stomach for anything resembling the Comstock Law which he viciously attacked. Such laws, Murray insisted, made “a public crime out of a private sin,” confused “morality with legality,” and were “unenforceable without a police invasion of the bedroom.”[x]Tragically, it would be his  mythical “police-state” theory on the alleged dangers of anti-birth control legislation (that kept PP-WP from opening up birth control clinics), that would lead to the equally mythical “constitutional right to privacy”’ in the Supreme Court birth control case Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) and later in Roe v. Wade (1973).[xi]

In favor of the public promotion and sale of contraceptives, Murray also leaned toward legalizing abortion.[xii] “In a June 21, 1967, letter written to answer a question posed by a Mrs. James Moran as to “what a baby is,” Murray wrote the following incredible response: “The question that you ask – what is a baby – is certainly a valid one. But  am not one to judge what the answer should be.”[xiii] This from a priest advising the American bishops on questions of Catholic doctrine and morals.!

“Catholic” Universities Join the Malthusian Parade

Additional pressure on the American hierarchy to accept massive government subsidized  birth prevention programs was applied by several Church-related institutions of higher learning including the University of Notre Dame, Catholic University of America, and Georgetown University. These Catholic universities had received large financial  grants and gifts from the Rockefeller, Ford, and Carnegie Foundations. Entrance into the foundation interlock guaranteed them power, money, and secular status.[xiv]

NCCB Surrenders to Federal Birth Control Programs 

On November 14, 1966, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a corporate statement titled “On the Government and Birth Control,” [xv] in which the drafters  of the document defended certain freedoms of families, and called upon government to foster good social and economic conditions for family life. They then warned against the dangers of government birth control programs  in connection with threats to rights to privacy, to personal and familial freedom, and they called for “a clear and unqualified separation of welfare assistance from birth control considerations.” They noted that, “government activities increasingly seek to persuade and even coerce the underprivileged to practice birth control.” They also reminded government officials that “birth control is not a universal obligation.” In the end they called for vigorous popular action, especially by Catholics, to oppose birth control programs at every level of government. [xvi]

In 1968, Constitutional lawyer William Bentley Ball, a long-time Catholic prolifer,  explained what happened  after the NCCB/USCC issued its statement … which was in fact, NOTHING:

This statement [dangers of government birth control] was an argument, complete in itself, but by virtue of its assertions it plainly opened the door to a national debate. This debate was never forthcoming. The statement was at once taken under fire, with volleys of questions and accusations being directed to the bishops following November 14. The public – and specially the Catholic public – having been called to “oppose vigorously and by every democratic means,” state and federal promotion of birth control  WERE LEFT WITH NOTHING BUT THE DYING ECHO OF THE TRUMPET CALL. Far from being provided with any sort of detailed information on the issues by the statement’s authors who had raised them, or guidelines to the action sought, THE CATHOLIC LAITY OF THE UNITED STATES NEVER HEARD A WORD  ABOUT THE WHOLE SUBJECT (emphasis added). 

This surprising refusal or neglect to make the bishops’ case before the American public was unfortunate in two ways: while default in the defense of the statement went far to permit discrediting of what the bishops  had said on the government birth control issue, it also unnecessarily  created the impression that having “laid down the law” and hurled a threat in the teeth of public administrators who were programming birth control, nothing more need be said. Eloquent though the statement had been, a case of ipse dixit would attach to it unless an effort were carried out in forums of opinion and broadly  in the community to attempt  to persuade the public of the reasonableness of the statement’s assertions. Such an attempt would not have added fuel to the flames: good argument usually reduces anger and dilutes bitterness. It is the fiat – unexplained and unknown in terms of what political threats it may conceal – that triggers the fears which trigger wrath.

It should have been realized that some explanatory follow-through was peculiarly demanded in this situation , since birth control, as a private practice, is most popular, and since the new governmental activities promoting birth control growingly enjoy a presumption of beneficence in the United States. …

It can at any rate  now [1968] be concluded that the default of the Catholic Church (or of Church staff officials whose duty it was to carry forward policy [USCC]) on the subject of government birth control programming may prove to have been of historic moment BECAUSE THE CATHOLC CHURCH ALONE, AMONG ALL THE BODIES IN THE AMERICAN SOCIETY, PROABLY POSSESSED THE MEANS TO BRING GOVERNMENT BIRTH CONTROL INTO PUBLIC QUESTION AND TO CAUSE ITS PROPONENTS TO ATTEMPT TO MAKE THEIR CASE FOR IT (bold added). Without regard to the issue of whether the programs in question are for ill or good, the result of such inquiry and such shifting of the burden of proof, so to speak, might have been a rejection of the program by the public, or a careful circumscription  thereof. As matters stand now, it will be seen that what began as a plea by pro-government-birth control forces simply to “make available” (through government help) birth control services “to those who need them but can’t afford to pay for them” may result in something far different  and little dreamt of social consequences.[xvii]

Among those “little dreamt social consequences” resulting from the inaction of the American bishops (NCCB) and its lobbying arm, the U.S. Catholic Conference, to publicly lead the Catholic battle against federal and state birth control programs were:

  • The promulgation of the U.S. Government’s first multi-billion dollar Five-Year Plan for Population Control and Family Planning and the opening of the Federal Office of Population Affairs under the direction of abortionist Dr. Louis Hellman, friend and confident of Alan Guttmacher of Planned Barrenhood fame. It was Hellman who promoted the “Stop the Stork” campaign out of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare – a program that included mass sterilization of indigent women.
  • The funding of National Institute of Health “contraceptive research” program promoted by R.T. Ravenholt, head of the Population Control Office of the Agency for International Development (USAID). Ravenholt, who celebrated Our Lord’s birth by hanging abortifacient IUDs on his office Christmas tree and celebrated the Fourth of July by ordering the producing of red, white and blue condoms for foreign distribution, was intent on developing a once-a-month pill that would insure the non-pregnant state of a woman at the end of every cycle.  
  • The establishment of teen birth control and  abortion referral services like Teen Scene of Chicago where youngsters as young as twelves could obtain contraceptive devices and pills without their parents’ knowledge or consent. 
  • And finally, by their inaction, the American bishops and their bureaucrats ushered in Roe vs Wade, the Supreme Court decision which opened the door to surgical abortion at all stages pregnancy up until birth, and which under the guise of “contraception” permitted the wide-spread distribution of abortifacient devices and pills whose death toll would be incalculable over the next half-century.  

So it was, that within seven years of their “Statement on the Government and Birth Control,” all formal organized opposition by the American bishops and their bureaucracy  to Federal domestic and foreign birth control/population control programs had collapsed – the Abortion Establishment had come to the fore to make the case for child murder for “faulty or omitted contraception,” – and the Prolife Grassroots Movement was born. 

Early Prolife Movement Suffer From Unknown Obstacles 

There are two important historical footnotes to be added to this aforementioned tragic scenario before zeroing in on the role played by Bishop McHugh in the undermining of the early Prolife Movement. 

First, the Catholic reader needs to understand that the decision of the American hierarchy to abandon its long-held policy in opposition to state and federal “birth control” promotion and services, and instead switch to the fallback position of surgical abortion,  had already been made before that fateful day of  November 14, 1966, when the NCCB/USCC publicly waved the white flag of surrender before the Anti-Life Establishment.  

Archbishop Cody’s Secret Deal With Joe Beasley  

 This story begins in the fall of 1965 with a charismatic birth control crusader named Dr. Joseph D. Beasley of Tulane University, who dreamed of leading a national battle against the proliferation of people. He wanted to begin with a modest population control program for black welfare recipients in the northern counties of Louisiana. He was stymied, however, by state laws prohibiting the distribution of contraceptive information. More importantly, he had to contend with the powerful Catholic Church in Louisiana and the explosive charge of “black genocide” before he could get any population control project off the ground.    

Within a matter of weeks, the ever-charming and resourceful Beasley had engineered a satisfactory agreement with the New Orleans Family Life officials, following the consultation of the New Orleans Archdiocese with Archbishop John Cody of Chicago.

In his fascinating book, The Politics of Population Control, writer Thomas Littlewood describes one of Beasley’s incredible sessions with a Church representative handpicked by Cardinal Cody:   

The place is the Petroleum Club in Shreveport, Louisiana. Over a sumptuous dinner of the finest chateaubriand, Joseph Diehl Beasley … is engaged comfortably in conversation with Msgr. Marvin Bordelon[xviii] representing the bishops of the Catholic dioceses of Louisiana. (They) are discussing the new Politics of Population. To be more precise, they are negotiating the conditions under which the Church would permit Beasley to begin providing tax-financed birth control services to low-income residents of the state.[xix]    

The “Bordelon Accord” bore a striking resemblance to the birth control concordat signed by the Puerto Rican bishops three years earlier.[xx] It is important to realize that Joe Beasley was not after the monsignor’s or the Catholic Church’s blessings, just a promise of “non-interference.”[xxi]

In order to attract black support for his program and to stave off charges of “genocide,” Joe Beasley used a set of different tactics against community and state black leaders, namely, patronage and payola!  He also siphoned off large sums of federal family planning funds to out-of-state militant civil rights groups.[xxii]

After Archbishop Cody personally assured an incredulous Governor John McKeithen (not a Catholic) that Beasley had his (Cody’s) permission to begin his birth control program, state regulations were “reinterpreted” to permit Beasley to begin his welfare reduction program for poor black families, a program which was almost entirely dependent on abortifacients including IUDs and “The Pill.”[xxiii]

     In less than ten years, Beasley had pyramided his Family Health Foundation (FHF) into a $62 million empire with over one hundred federally funded birth control clinics statewide.[xxiv] Beasley’s FHF received accolades from every imaginable quarter as “the No.1 success story” of the birth control movement, including that of the NCCB/USCC Family Life Director, Fr. James McHugh! 

     “I have read of Dr. Beasley’s work and I am very impressed by it,” Father McHugh said, “(but) there are other people with ideals that fall far short of those of Dr. Beasley’s project.” This statement in support of Beasley’s birth control program, which, as I have already indicated, was primarily based on abortifacient devices and pills, was made by McHugh at the 1970 Congressional hearing on the now infamous Family Planning Services and Population Research Act.[xxv]

      By 1973, however, it was clear that, once again, McHugh had placed his bet on yet another “dark horse,” morally speaking. That year, a General Accounting Office audit, and a lengthy federal government investigation of the FHF confirmed Beasley’s alarming record of political corruption. Soon after, in the spring of 1974, “federal marshals surrounded the FHF headquarters in New Orleans and the foundation was placed in federal receivership.”[xxvi]  

     The Federal Government’s charges against Beasley, the FHF’s founder, included multiple counts of conspiracy to commit fraud, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and mail fraud, together with misappropriation of many thousands of dollars of federal “family planning” funds for illegal payments for liquor bills, private plane junkets, and political campaign contributions. Eugene Wallace, an FHF official who turned state’s evidence, testified during one court hearing that Beasley had threatened to kill him with a shotgun if he (Wallace) took the stand against him![xxvii] Interestingly, while the Anti-Life Establishment deserted Beasley like rats fleeing a sinking ship, volunteer lawyers from “Catholic” Loyola’s New Orleans University Law School handled his appeal!!![xxviii]

      As for the rest of the American bishops, all of whom had now been dragged into the Beasley quagmire by Archbishop Cody and the Louisiana hierarchy, they were in for a double whammy when Beasley joined J. D. Rockefeller III (Chairman of the Commission on Population Growth and the American Future) at a press conference in 1972 calling for universal, tax-subsidized abortion. Beasley later acknowledged that his deal with Church officials was part of his threefold strategy of getting family planning in first, and then following up with sterilization and abortion![xxix]

     Such an admission, one would suppose, should have given the American bishops cause for grave concern since they had permitted the federal government’s multi-billion dollar five year  Family Planning Services and Population Research Act to be signed into law two years earlier without any real opposition on their part. 

It should also have led them to question the judgment of Family Life Director, Father James McHugh,  but it did not. That omission concerning McHugh, one of many made during the early years of the Prolife Movement, would continue to spell out disaster for the movement over the next three decades. 

Obstruction by NCCB/USCC Clerical Homosexuals            

Which brings us to the second major unknown obstacle facing the emerging Prolife Movement in the early 1970s  –  the growing numbers of homosexual clergy and hierarchy at the NCCB/USCC and the role they played in opposing or nullifying prolife federal legislation. Volumes III and IV of The Rite of Sodomy, provides the names of prominent homosexual clerics who dominated AmChurch’s bureaucracy during this critical period for the Prolife Movement with a chapter devoted to the then USCC General Secretary Joseph Bernardin, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll be looking at just one – homosexual Bishop James T. McHugh –  the major architect  of the Church’s policies and programs on prolife issues which continue to haunt  and cripple the Prolife Movement to this very day.  

The Early Career of Jimmy McHugh[xxx]

When the great epic history of the pro-life movement is finally written, the name of Bishop James T. McHugh will undoubtedly appear over and over again at the most important decision points in our movement’s struggle to restore legal protection to the unborn child. His vast knowledge of public policy issues and solid understanding of the political process provided pro-life leaders with invaluable guidance in forming strategies and building organizations capable of confronting the challenge of those who were promoting a culture of death.[xxxi]

                                                                                                                                          Memorial by Ernest L. Ohlhoff                                                                 National Committee for a Human Life Amendment

Father James T. McHugh was ordained as a careerist priest for the Modernist Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey on May 25, 1957,  at the age of twenty-five. A creature of the Second Vatican Council and a devotee of Americanist John Courtney Murray, S.J.,[xxxii] and priest-dissenter , Father Charles Curran of Catholic University,  McHugh joined the staff of the Family Life Bureau (FLB) of NCWC in 1965, and  in 1967 became homosexual Bishop Bernardin’s choice for Director of the new NCCB/USCC’s Family Life Bureau (Office).              

 McHugh Forms Anti-Life Axis at FLB[xxxiii]

Among the earliest projects set in motion at McHugh’s Family Life Office at the NCCB/USCC office in Washington, D.C. was the introduction of “sexual catechetics”[xxxiv] (which replaced sound doctrinal catechetics) into parochial  elementary and secondary schools and Confraternity of Christian Doctrine classes for public school children across the United States.[xxxv]

The American bishops’ 1950 statement opposing classroom sex initiation programs  which was in line with Pope Pius XI’s encyclical on Christian Education of Youth[xxxvi], and the Holy Office’s subsequent affirmation of the papal ban of so-called “sex initiation” programs  was ignored. On November 15, 1968, all opposition from Catholic parents was swept aside, as the American bishops issued their Pastoral Letter Human Life in Our Day, which made “systematic” classroom sex instruction “a gave obligation.”[xxxvii]

This was the first prolife battle that was lost to the post-Conciliar and pro-homosexual forces that dominated the bishops’ episcopal conference. 

It would not be the last.

Prolifers Lose the Human Embryo Battle

An obvious case of the USCC tail wagging the NCCB dog occurred on July 10, 1969, when McHugh defended certain experimental human reproductive procedures including in vitro fertilization that are prohibited by the Catholic Church in his nationally syndicated diocesan column, The Ties That Bind.

In a brilliant piece of “newspeak,” McHugh comments favorably on a June 13,1969, Life magazine article, “Challenge to the Miracle of Life,” by Life science editor Albert Rosenfeld:

According to the Life article, scientists are now seriously experimenting with new ways to initiate the reproductive process that would not require the act of conjugal love between husband and wife. There is the possibility of implanting the male sperm within the woman medically, and there is the possibility of removing an already fertilized ovum[xxxviii]from one woman and implanting it in another, a process that has so far only been tested in animals (bold added). … Many scientists are convinced that we will also discover how to join sperm and ovum outside the woman’s body, thereby initiating the life process in a test tube. Then there is the possibility wherein the female egg, without fertilization by the male sperm, doubles its supply of chromosomes, thereby fertilizing itself. Since this is not uncommon in lower forms of life, scientists conjecture that we will discover the key to initiating the chromosome duplication, perhaps by use of electric shock, some special X-ray process, or the laser beam.[xxxix]

It’s still a matter of guesswork as to how successful scientists will be, but if only a few of their theories work out, we will have more control of the life process than we are presently prepared to accept.[xl]


The important point to grasp at the onset is that such speculations are not an  insult to God nor a denial of His creative plan. There is no reason why God’s power to summon man into existence must be limited to the reproductive process as we know it now. Indeed, there is no reason to presume that the Divine plan does not go far beyond our present scientific speculation and encompass evolutionary breakthroughs that are even beyond our imagination.[xli]

Needless to say, the Prolife Movement did not win the battle against in vitro fertilization. Nor did it win the accompanying battle against human embryo experimentation. “Qui tacet consentit”  “Silence gives consent.” And the American bishops remained silent, and let McHugh do the talking for them.

McHugh – The Trojan Horse in the Prolife Camp

By the time McHugh and his boss, the young Joe Bernardin, took office, the” Abortion Reform Movement” was already well underway. This Anti-life Establishment was part and parcel of the broader “Sexual Reform Movement”[xlii] of the 1920s and 30s,  that promoted masturbation, fornication, adultery, divorce, birth prevention, abortion, sterilization, homosexuality, “sex education,” artificial insemination, pornography, eugenics and euthanasia. 

The nationwide efforts to legalize the murder of unborn children was backed by the powerful Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, which in turn, financed numerous abortion lobbies and organizations including Planned Parenthood-World Population.

Abortion was deemed as a necessary adjunct to failed or omitted contraception as PP-WP spokesman Dr. George Langmyhr admitted in 1971:   

It goes without saying that Planned Parenthood Affiliates have long been involved in programs of abortion information, counseling, and referral. Before the recent changes in abortion laws, these activities were, necessarily unpublicized… Abortion must be “an integral part of any complete or total family planning program,” because “the dilemma of a woman who has a legitimate method failure, or any type of unwanted pregnancy, cannot be avoided by Planned Parenthood clinic personnel.”[xliii]

Too bad the American bishops weren’t listening to Langmyhr when they decided to acquiesce on federal “family planning” programs, while moving the prolife defense line backwards to surgical abortion. 

McHugh Establishes National Right to Life Office

The American bishops responded to the Anti-Life Establishment by creating an anti-abortion organization within the  existing FLB. The new NCCB/USCC was known as the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), with McHugh serving as Executive Director. He was assisted by two young paid personnel, attorney Martin McKernan and Michael Taylor. In 1979, McKernan became an attorney for the Diocese of Camden. Michael Taylor went on to a paid position on the USCCB’s National Committee for a Human Life Amendment. We’ll meet up with McKernan and Taylor later on in this series. 

Known to be silent on contraception and early abortifacients, and wildly in favor of classroom sex programs, McHugh’s NRLC proved to be a liability to the exploding no-compromise grassroots Prolife Movement and its early legislative and political initiatives at the state and federal levels.

A case in point was the efforts in the fall of 1970 of the Society for the Christian Commonwealth (SCC), a magisterial-minded, no-compromise Catholic lay group, to  organize a national meeting of prolife leaders and organizations in Washington, D.C. to forge a united effort against abortion. All the members of the SCC Steering Committee were  distinguished national prolife figures. They included Law Professor Charles Rice, Family Life advocate, Dr. Herbert Ratner, and Yale Professor James Chu, a vocal critic of classroom sex programs. 

The “National Right to Life Congress,” (with the same acronym, NRLC, of McHugh’s prolife office) was scheduled to convene on April 6-8, 1971 in Washington D.C. at the Sheraton Park Hotel.

But the Congress never happened. 

This critical effort, which could have and would have set up the Prolife Movement to act decisively and effectively on multiple political and legislative fronts in the face of any proabortion action by the Supreme Court, was systematically sabotaged and eventually killed by McHugh with the able and willing connivance of Joe Bernardin at the USCC.[xliv]

McHugh managed to convince the American bishops that the Church could “not get into politics.” Nor could it oppose abortion “from the pulpit” or by passing the collection plate.[xlv]  This argument was asinine as the USCC had been established as a civic corporate arm of the NCCB for the express purpose of influencing national legislation and federal public policies. 

McHugh Advises Against S.C. Challenge

McHugh’s undermining of grassroots prolife efforts continued even after January 22, 1973 when the Supreme Court issued Roe v Wade  (and its twin decision, Roe v. Bolton). 

On January 27, 1973, just five days the Court decision, McHugh convened a closed door meeting of leading  prolife lawyers including Charlie Rice of Notre Dame and a national Advisor to the USCL AT THIS CRITICAL JUNCTURE, MCHUGH ADVISED THE LAWYERS AGAINST CHALLENGING THE SUPREME COURT’S RULINGS.[xlvi] Yes, you read that right.

McHugh, who was representing the USCC Family Life Office and the NCCB Diocesan anti-abortion agencies across the nation, told the prolife lawyers that a “States Rights” approach was the most promising avenue to “restrict” the (unrestictable) Court’s  decision which legalized the killing of unborn children up to the time of birth in every State. 

McHugh’s position came as no surprise. In 1972, McHugh’s NRLC sent letters to all State Right to Life groups urging them NOT TO SUPPORTH.J.R.1186, sponsored by Congressman John Schmitz of California, which called for a Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing the right to life of the unborn child.

McHugh’s States’ rights proposal was rejected by the lawyers’ group who noted that the January 22nd ruling DID NOT LEAVE A SHRED OF ENFORCEABLE LAW ON WHICH TO ERECT NEW STATE LEGISLATION TO PROTECT EVEN A HANDFUL OF UNBORN CHILDREN.

Instead, the prolife lawyers put together a committee to draft a Constitutional Amendment that would establish the personhood of the unborn child. 

But the damage was  done – the Prolife Movement was fatally divided with grassroots Catholics favoring a Constitutional Human Life Amendment that acknowledged the personhood of the unborn child at every stage of human development, and the  NCCB/USCC favoring a States Rights approach to “regulate” and/or “restrict” the killing of the unborn.

McHugh Advances Up the Clerical Ladder.

When the bishops reorganized and expanded their prolife offices at the NCCB/USCC in the late fall of 1972, McHugh became the Secretary and Executive  of the Ad Hoc Committee for Pro-Life Affairs, that later became a formal Standing Committee of the NCCB called the Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities. While the  new Pro-Life Secretariat was theoretically under the control of a chair and seven other bishops, in  practice, the routine work and  development of new prolife programs and strategies were handled almost exclusively by McHugh. His power and influence as the bishops’ point man for prolife affairs continued to increase.

In addition, in 1974, the bishops created and financed a new anti-abortion lobbying arm of the called the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment (NCHLA). 

Unfortunately, McHugh’s vision of what constituted a pro-life agenda and plan of action was radically different from that of grassroots prolifers as well as some members of the Catholic Hierarchy. 

Cardinals Oppose States’ Rights Amendment

The nature of this ongoing conflict became abundantly clear at the historic first Congressional hearing for a Constitutional Human Life held in March 1974 before the Constitutional Amendments Subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary, chaired by Senator Birch Bayh.  

One of four cardinals giving testimony in favor of a Constitutional Human Life  Amendment to protect all unborn children, was Cardinal Humberto Cardinal Medeiros of Boston who forthrightly replied to the  question of “exceptions,”  that the Catholic Conference was opposed in principle to any and all “exceptions,” as “the prohibition against the direct and intentional taking of innocent human life should be universal and without exception.”[xlvii]

Cardinal Medeiros also rejected the principle of a States’ Rights amendment, explaining: “A ‘States’ Rights’ amendment which would simply return jurisdiction over the abortion law to the States, does not seem to be a satisfactory solution to the existing situation. Protection of human life should not depend upon geographical boundaries.”[xlviii]   

However, one year late, on July 8, 1975, at the last session of the Bayh Human Life Amendment hearings, Medeiros’s opposition to “exceptions,” and a “States’ Rights strategy was undermined by testimony given by  Professor David W. Louisell, a law professor at the University of California, who introduced the Noonan States’ Rights Amendment. Louisell’s appearance had been arranged by the NCHLA, in cooperation with McHugh and his Bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Affairs.   

The NCHLA then approached Senator Quentin N. Burdick of North Dakota, known to be in favor of numerous “exceptions,” and persuaded him to introduce the Noonan Amendment at the upcoming closed session of Bayh’s Subcommittee meeting on September 17, 1975. A vote on each of the pending amendments including the Hogan-Helms Human Life Amendment supported by prolife grassroots activists,  was expected at that time. A letter endorsing the Noonan Amendment was released by the Bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Affairs and the NCHLA, claiming the States’ Rights amendment was a “carefully drawn compromise proposal.” 

In reality, the Noonan Amendment was not a Human Life Amendment at all. It merely gave a State the right,  not the obligation, to protect “life” (and not specifically human life). Further, it failed to:

  • Declare the unborn child a person under the Constitution with specific reference to the 5th and 14th Amendments.

·       It failed to state at what point in time the “right to protect life” would be affected.     

·       And it failed to empower Congress to pass legislation to cut off pro-abortion domestic or foreign funding since the term “federal jurisdictions” used in this amendment applied to geographical locations such as the District of Columbia or U.S. military bases only.[xlix]

On the final balloting, all the Constitutional Amendments failed to be voted out of Bayh’s subcommittee. Even the “compromise” Noonan Amendment was defeated by a 4-4 tie vote. For the record, McHugh’s “man of the hour,” Senator Burdick, did not cast a vote for any Human Life Amendment!      

The real kicker, however, was that no dyed-in-the-wool Catholic grassroots prolife group would support such a deadly “compromise,” but diocesan-funded anti-abortion leaders   acting under orders from McHugh, would probably acquiesce – thus fracturing the Prolife Movement even more.  

And the bloody war against baby killing dragged on into the 21st century.

Time Lost Can Never Be Regained

There’s a saying that, “History repeats itself,” which is true enough from a macro-point of view. But history never repeat itself exactly the same at the micro-level.  The characters and the timing, circumstances, etc. are always different. 

The early Prolife Movement, composed primarily of Catholic lay men and women (unpaid) with the support of local pastors, had its best and perhaps only shot at stopping legalized abortion (including abortifacient drugs and devices) BEFORE Griswold vs Conn. and Roe vs Wade. Tragically, it’s a shot that likely will not pass our way again, barring Divine intervention, thanks to the American bishops who placed their trust in men like McHugh and Bernardin.   

Long after the SCC debacle was just a fading heartbreaking memory, the betrayals of the Prolife Movement by McHugh continued unabated.  With rare exceptions like Cardinal Patrick O’Boyle of Washington, D.C.,  and New York Auxiliary Bishop Austin Vaughn, no American bishop sought to dethrone McHugh as their official spokesman on  family and prolife issues.  

Prolifers Lose Battle Against March of Dimes 

Man is not an animal by nature;

                                       the table not a feeding trough,       

and the home not a biological experimental station. 

                  Fr. Thomas J. Gerard, 1912[l]

Fr. Gerrard dubbed radical eugenics doctrine as “a complete return to the life of the beast,” which described the beliefs of Catholic bishops and clergy on the creed of eugenics at the turn of the 20th century in America.   

A half a century later, McHugh was able to turn that opinion on its head. 

The most intense battle against eugenics, specifically eugenic abortion, – the cold, calculated slaughter of unborn children suspected of carrying a genetic disorder or physical or mental handicap – took place within the context of an epic-making 30- year long prolife battle against the National Foundation/March of Dimes (MOD).  

Using his usual modus operandi of stealth, deception, duplicity and secret memos to the American bishops, McHugh, an Advisory Board member and willing and enthusiastic champion of the MOD, defended the well-documented anti-life activities of the eugenic-based organization which included the promotion, research  and funding of non-therapeutic amniocentesis and fetoscopy, lethal live human fetal experimentation, the development of abortifacient devices, classroom sex instruction, lobbying for expanded, federally-funded eugenics research and services, etc., etc., etc.[li]

Not even when the U.S. Coalition for Life headed by this writer exposed a MOD research grant of $9,240 grant to Peter A. J. Adam of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland to study fetal brain fuel metabolism at the University of Helsinki, Finland – research that involved the severing and perfusion of heads of live aborted babies, ages 3 to 5 months gestation delivered by hysterotomy – did a single American bishop repudiate McHugh’s backing of the MOD.[lii]

In the fall of 1973, when the MOD was on the ropes, and a national prolife boycott loomed on the horizon, the MOD called upon its secret weapon – James McHugh, now raised to the rank of Monsignor and a Papal Chamberlain by Paul VI   – to bail the MOD out of its self-inflicted anti-life quagmire.

On November 7, 1973, Msgr. McHugh released the first of several reports in defense of the MOD titled. “National Foundation-March of Dimes and Abortion.” McHugh stated that he had met with MOD officials their future grant proposals would not directly encourage abortion.[liii] The report along with a pro-MOD information packet was distributed by the Family Life Office to the American bishops and parochial school and Catholic organization around the nation. For its part, the MOD’s National Office in White Plains, NY, used it as a battering ram against prolife groups especially the USCL that had  which led the decades old fight against the MOD. 

Two years later, on March 11, 1975, McHugh using the new NCCB Committee for Population and Pro-Life Activities issued his second major pro-MOD memorandum marked CONFIDENTIAL to the American bishops in which he reiterated his earlier contention that some prolife groups had “misunderstood” the MOD’s (eugenic) philosophy and activity. [liv]

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About abyssum

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