1989 Dec 30 – Feast of Holy Innocents report
Feast of Holy Innocents Retreat & Witness Report
“IN RAMAH IS HEARD THE SOUND OF MOANING OF BITTER WEEPING! RACHEL MOURNS HER CHILDREN. SHE REFUSES TO BE CONSOLED BECAUSE HER CHILDREN ARE NO MORE.” Jer. 31/15:
My insides are all turned upside down. I’m a long way from sorting out all that happened this week in Omaha. The three-day retreat at St. Leo ‘s commemorating the Feast of the Holy Innocents was very challenging. We had hoped to have people from the Peace, Pro-Life and Sanctuary movements attend the retreat. Most of the people who attended were peace movement people and most of our time and energy was spent dealing with the Abortion issue. Like no other issue, I have worked with before, the Abortion issue seems to divide people and invoke the deepest passion and emotions. It is no small measure, a difficult issue to discuss and pray about with people of differing views. This division was evident at our witness at SAC and at the Abortion clinic in Omaha on Thurs. December 28th.
The line crossing at SAC went just as planned. After the Eucharist at St. Leo’s about 55 people car caravanned to Offutt Air Force base. We arrived at the gate at ll: l5 a.m. We sang Christmas carols at our gathering point on the side of the highway a few yards from the main gate. Following the singing we proceeded to the gate. The line crossers lined up blocking the road leading into the base just outside the white property line. Our supporters gathered behind us in a semi-circle. Each person said a few words. We all joined in praying the Our Father and then crossed the 1ine. I crossed arm-in-arm with my Mother. Fr. David Polich and Mary Moore were among the line crossers. We were all taken into custody by the base security and led off to a waiting bus. People were beginning to disperse from the main gate when Kathleen Granger arrived with her infant son, Desmond. She walked up to the line and crossed on her own with Desmond in her arms. She simply told the security people that she & Desmond belonged on the bus with the rest of us. She and Desmond were a welcome addition. In all there were 13 adults and Desmond who crossed the line. We were all taken to the main security building on the base to be processed, photographed, finger printed and given ‘Ban and Bar’ letters.
As soon as we were released a group of us proceeded to the Women’s Medical Center of Nebraska at 49th and L Street in Omaha. This clinic performs abortions. Approximately 35 people were gathered outside the clinic equally divided between Pro-Life and Pro-Choice people, most of whom were all at the gate at SAC. The clinic is surrounded with an eight-foot chain-link fence with barbed wire on top. The main gate was closed and two security guards were out front keeping people off the drive between the closed gates and the road. The Pro-Life group gathered to say an Our Father together. Then the three of us who intended to risk arrest: Fr. Jack McCaslin, Lana Jacobs and myself moved towards the drive. We were met by our Pro Choice friends who did what they could to stop us from moving onto the drive. They bodily got in our way, harassed us in our face and one Pro-Choice friend even threw a body block on me. We managed to get across the white line onto the drive. We knelt down and said an ‘Our Father’, ‘Hail Mary’, and ‘Glory Be’. There was much confusion around us, lots of mean spirited heckling and screaming. In short, it was not a good scene. The security guards informed us to move or risk arrest. The Omaha police were immediately on the scene and arrested all three of us. We were each placed in a police car and taken to a nearby parking lot. Fr. Jack and I were given citations for trespassing and ordered to appear in court. Lana was taken to the police station and placed a $25 bond and was given the same trespassing citation. She was given the bond because she was from out of town. The witness at the Abortion clinic was a gut wrenching experience. It showed the division that exists within the peace movement over this issue. The saddest aspect about the whole effort is that we were all friends and supporters at the gate at SAC but were bitterly divided at the Abortion clinic. A peace community should and could do better.