Saturday, January 8, 2011

Will the Kerfuffle over Howie Carr be Ann Fox's Waterloo at Mass Citizens for Life?

Catholics involved in pro-life activism in Massachusetts have been challenged by the leadership in the major pro-life political machine, Mass Citizens for Life.   Readers here know all the reasons why, so it isn't necessary to enumerate them except to say they consider support for Roe v. Wade satisfactory enough to be honored with the label 'pro-life', they tweak candidate questionnaires to hide their candidates pro-choice positions and they've been asking grassroots Catholic pro-lifers to work for, support, fund and elect pro-choice candidates now for at least a decade.

Somewhere along the line, it became more important to MCFL to 'win' than to work to elect prolifers and this has created numerous problems on many levels.   Most importantly, it has fractured our troops and castrated our political power at the level of the GOP when they recruit candidates to put their money and power behind.    Prolifers are not part of the discussions because the GOP knows we'll use our political machine to elect prochoice candidates.

There have been many leaders of Mass Citizens for Life in the last decade who have carried this prochoice torch but the tenure of its current president, Anne Fox, has certainly been the most tenuous.  The donnybrooks over the strategies involving deception have laid our political machine to waste.  The pace of the gradual mutiny quickened as the pro-life credentials of their candidates deteriorated and the deceptive practices with their candidate questionnaires became commonplace, starting with Mitt Romney.

The heart and soul of the pro-life political machine here in Massachusetts is Catholic.  Many of us have other shticks.   At every crisis of leadership over the last few years, we've pulled together to brainstorm about what to do with Captain Queeg after reason and right judgment failed to persuade.   Most are now at the point where they believe we should start our own Catholic pro-life political machine here in Massachusetts - Massachusetts Catholics for Life.    Several years ago, a coup de tat of the Board of Directors (who elects officers and votes on policies) was attempted by several well-known, well-respected Massachusetts Catholic prolifers.  All of them have other apostolates, many of them also have full time jobs and the coup fell short.

This latest controversy involving MCFL's invitation to Howie Carr to speak at the Assembly for Life (refresher on the controversy HERE and HERE) has really turned up the heat.    CJ Doyle and Dan Flatley at the Catholic Action League kicked off a campaign that brought a deluge of requests to MCFL to rescind the invitation to Carr because a) Carr supports proabort politicians b) he has no record of being a pro-lifer and c) he has said numerous vulgar anti-Catholic things about Catholic Sacraments, our Saints and our priests.

More importantly, Carr has repeatedly said that poor women should not be allowed to have children because they can't afford them.  This is not the face pro-lifers want as their poster boy.   It should be a no brainer that this doesn't send the right message to pregnant poor women from a pro-life group.

In what I would say is more than a coincidence, the Chairman of MCFL's Board resigned over the past few weeks and many made clear they would be be boycotting and demonstrating outside of the event.

Yet, in yesterday's Pilot was an article with several astounding quotes from Anne Fox.     The article is called "Carr to remain keynote speaker at MCFL Rally".

On Dec. 17, officials of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts wrote an open letter to MCFL president Anne Fox asking her to rescind Carr’s invitation to address the MCFL’s annual Assembly for Life, which will be held Jan. 16 at 2 p.m. at Faneuil Hall.
The letter was signed by Catholic Action League executive director C. J. Doyle and former chairman Daniel Flatley.   
In the letter, Doyle and Flatley cited incidents over the last 12 years in which they contend Carr has demeaned Catholic priests, the Church’s sacramental practices and leadership, children born to unwed mothers, and immigrant groups.
They called the invitation “an affront to the Christian religion and everything the Pro-Life movement professes to uphold,” it also said.
However, in an announcement that will appear in the MCFL January newsletter that Fox provided to The Pilot, she affirmed that Carr’s invitation will not be rescinded.  [<---Hold that thought for a minute...but don't believe everything you read.]
She noted that Carr is being asked to speak as a “respected political observer and commentator.”  He is expected to speak on the power and influence of the pro-life vote in light of Sen. Scott Brown’s election in 2009 and the gains made by pro-life state legislators in 2010.
It is obvious that people do not recognize the power of the pro-life vote, not pro-lifers ourselves and certainly not the press or the politicians,” she wrote.  “It is important that we continue to run and elect pro-life officials.  It is much easier for a pro-life person to run for office with the assurance that the pro-life vote is there.”

A couple of problems.  One, Scott Brown is prochoice.  Two, all of the pro-life candidates were defeated in Massachusetts because, and here comes the irony, MCFL does not put 'the power of the pro-life vote'  behind actual pro-life candidates.     Their modus operandi is figuring out who can win so they can be on a winning team.   If Anne believed in the power of the pro-life vote, she would be putting that power behind pro-lifers.

Anne is mixing up the words 'pro-life' and 'conservative'.

MCFL has sent out a press release in the last few hours with Howie Carr's name mysteriously replaced with Ray Flynn as the featured speaker.

Most everyone agrees that Howie Carr serves a purpose in the conservative movement and is sorry to see he got sucked into Anne Fox's, God love her, poor judgment.  He is joining a long list.

Pro-lifers are not going to continue operating with a political machine that elects prochoice politicians.  It is a dereliction of duty to the unborn.

We want one in place for the 2012 elections which means the Board of Directors has to persuade Anne Fox, God love her, to be moseying on down the road - or it means Catholic pro-lifers are going to put something together that will publish authentic and honest questionnaires revealing support of Roe v. Wade of candidates MCFL continues to call 'pro-life'.

The Board of Directors is responsible and needs to take responsibility of the poor judgment and strategy,  and do what needs to be done.  There are many, many good people in MCFL but the officers who carry out the day to day decisions have been a disaster.  We're going to spend the next few months lobbying board members and if they can't make a commitment  to fixing the problem - we will have a new Catholic pro-life machine here in Boston before the end of 2011.  This is certainly not something we have wanted to do but we need a pro-life political machine to take advantage of the stampede away from Obamaculture.  We need to be savvy and cast the net... and the timing is now.

Here's CJ Doyle's excellent Press Release:

(781) 251-9739

Less than three weeks after the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts began a campaign to disinvite him, WRKO talk show host Howie Carr has withdrawn as the keynote speaker at the Annual Assembly for Life.  Massachusetts Citizens for Life, which sponsors the event — to be held January 16th at Faneuil Hall — told callers to their office yesterday that Carr had withdrawn “for personal reasons.”  Former U. S. Ambassador to the Holy See Ray Flynn has been scheduled to replace Carr.

The Catholic Action League mobilized hundreds of Catholics to contact MCFL and the Archdiocese of Boston (which regularly participates in the event) and demand Carr’s removal.  Carr has a long history of vulgar and malicious attacks on the Catholic religion.  He has mocked the Eucharist, engaged in vile sexual innuendo regarding the Holy Family, and cast relentless aspersions on the Catholic priesthood.  Promoting invidious stereotypes about Hispanics as criminals and illegal aliens, Carr plays Mexican music while reading the names of criminal suspects with Hispanic surnames.  Where the pro-life movement tries to demonstrate compassion for poor women in difficult circumstances, Carr derisively refers to the children born out of wedlock to mothers on public assistance as “little bastards”, and has reportedly argued that women on welfare not be allowed to have children.
The Catholic Action League called Carr’s withdrawal “a victory for outraged and long suffering Catholics sick and tired of Carr’s boorish bigotry.”
Catholic Action League Director C. J. Doyle made the following comment: “In a market economy in a secular society, Catholics may not be able to drive bigots like Carr off the airwaves, but we should at least be able to prevent him from being treated as respectable within our own community.  In this case, we succeeded in doing so.  Having Howie Carr as the keynote speaker at the Assembly for Life would have been an insult to Catholics, an affront to Hispanics and immigrants, and an expression of contempt for unwed mothers and their children.”
“MCFL President Anne Fox ought to apologize for the disgraceful decision to invite Carr in the first place.  That decision betrayed an appalling disregard to Carr’s record of blasphemy, sacrilege, nativism and anti-Catholicism.  It was also an act of ingratitude to courageous elected officials who have defended the right to life, who have come to the aid of MCFL in perilous times, and who have been unjustly maligned by Howie Carr.  The leadership of MCFL ought to be ashamed of itself for this unconscionable and embarrassing choice for keynote speaker.”


Jerry said...

Good news. I don't know if Ray Flynn is good news. Anne's departure will be good news, too.

This affair has been unfair to Howie. He didn't ask to be speaker at the MCFL event. Yes, Howie is crass and has been sacrilegious. (I've yet to hear if Howie apologized for that 1998 sin, but nobody seems to worry about the 8th Commandment until after the lynching.) But Joe Doyle and Dan Flatley aren't content that Howie's been uninvited. They keep taking swipes at him in this last letter.

I'm surprised at Joe. He frames Howie's attack on illegal immigration as "nativism". They (Joe and Dan) frame Howie's beating on felon Finneran and Bulger as deplorable. Those guys are public figures who abuse(d) the public trust, and hence, are fair game. But Joe keeps kicking Howie after the problem is solved, a problem Howie had nothing to do with in the first place. That's beyond necessary, and not a way to help bring Howie back into the Church.

Carol McKinley said...


I think the bottom line is that many are not looking at the things Howie says about the Church as influential in keeping his listeners away from the Church. He's got a pulpit and he uses it to ridicule the Church. Tarring and feathering the Catholic Church affects their ability to see the attraction and ultimately, it affects the salvation of souls - and, could well be in a big way. I don't think you are looking deep enough at the spiritual consequences of Howie's shtick.

I admit that he serves a purpose in the conservative movement but as a Catholic pro-lifer, I can't overlook this to find common ground or defend him or find him appealing. Too high a price.

I don't see Howie as a boogie man. He's a guy getting closer to his day of judgment and needs a good wake up call about what he's doing to himself and his listeners and to Christ, the Holy Family..etc.

He doesn't belong in our sand box. And, for as many flaws as Billy Bulger and Tom Finneran may have, they are both Catholic and, let the record shows they did many things that potentially saved many lives of unborn children at risk of being aborted. I think that's where Joe and Dan are coming from...and I join them.

Jerry said...


I think you are misreading me, as you seemed to do on the earlier thread where I backed up Sully.

I agree that Howie is fair game for criticism, and Joe had every right to lay out his record when Fox invited him. Now it's over. Joe won. But that's not enough for Joe (or Dan). He has to take his final licks, and adds his opinions with them. It's gratuitous. Or is it OK for good Catholics to behave like a Howie when the victim is a Howie? Again, Howie is a third party here; he didn't ask for this bashing.

As for my observations, I've never heard Howie say something sacrilegious, not that I doubt Joe. I don't hear him bashing the Church.

As for supposed pro-lifers who betray the public trust, they are under severe judgment. Their pro-life facade is betrayed by their taking advantage of their positions. Their sins are as great as Cardinal O'Malley's, another supposed pro-lifer. We don't cut Cdl. Sean any slack, nor should we cut pols any slack.

Carol McKinley said...


Thanks for clarifying. I think I understand now your emphasis on Howie being sucked into a situation. I was just trying to explain why I can't gin up as much empathy for him and you and Sull.

I'm wondering if you are misunderstanding a bit too. The story is slated to go into the mainstream media tomorrow - Globe, Herald - etc and so there'll be some internet searches looking for the info. Thinking like a strategist and activist, you've got to get out there and put the info up for digestion so that readers who are not as educated about what is going on can understand the story. The reason being, we are only half way done with the objective of cleaning up the problem at MCFL. Otherwise, we are going to be frustrating our mission in the next election -- which is an important one.

It isn't so much Howie, but we're trying to reveal how poor the judgment is of the person who invited him.

Wouldn't it be lovely to recruit candidates, set strategies to get GOP or DNC (a miracle could happen) to endorse and support them and then carry out those strategies without the infighting about the prochoice pols invited into our sandbox? :O)

Jerry said...

"The reason being, we are only half way done with the objective of cleaning up the problem at MCFL."

Exactly. The story for the Globe is Anne Fox who, as head of a pro-life group, makes pro-life a secondary issue, e.g., Brown, Cahill, Carr, and more. It's about the potential pro-life "tea party" brewing in Mass, and our "take no prisoners" attitude. The spotlight must be on Anne.

Carol McKinley said...

I've given some prayerful thought to this - and I'm still not there with ya.

1. I don't think Carr's anti-Catholic bigotry is something we should permit.

2. Carr himself is desperately in need of what he is doing to himself, to Christ and to readers being sucked into his distaste for the Sacraments of the Catholic Church.

CJ is following the Holy Spirit and doing his part in the big mess -- and it is a big mess.

Anonymous said...

Will the kerfuffle over Howie Carr be MCFL's Waterloo?

Fra Chris said...

It is so refreshing to finally see people no longer cowering in the pews and taking back the Kingdom!

Katia said...

MCFL has become more and more irrelevant recently. I have been a member for many years, but I am becoming increasingly concerned with the course the organization has been following.

I cannot agree with MCFL's definition of "pro-life". During the election last year I got multiple emails from them telling me that such and such a candidate was "100 percent pro-life". These candidates tended to favor the death penalty and they were overwhelmingly opposed to any rights for immigrants. Several of them espoused views that I interpreted to be racist. They were against providing health insurance coverage to the children of poor unmarried women. When I challenged one of their endorsements, I was told that the candidate was "pro-life on all the important issues". Meanwhile, Anne Fox's emails have become increasingly anti-Obama more than pro-life. Some of the emails tell you that you we have to overturn everything proposed by Obama. However, Obama takes positions that are favored in "The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church". Obama is completely wrong on abortion, but he is not wrong on all the social issues that are important to the Church.

I am not going to renew my MCFL membership. I will get my pro-life information from the bishops.

Jerry said...

Katia brings up interesting points about the so-called "Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church." It sounds like Fr. Bryan Hehir's "seamless garment" socialism that unfortunately passes for Church doctrine.

For example, take the death penalty. Catholics can support the death penalty. It was only the recent aberration of Pope John Paul II that undermined the consistent teaching of the Church on this matter. But he didn't, and couldn't, actually change the traditional teaching.

Almost all Catholics are out of line on the issue of government "welfare" transfer payments. Any use of government to take money from one person and grant it to another, as cash or as a so-called "benefit," is absolutely opposed to the 7th Commandment and is clearly condemned by many popes, most notably Pope Leo XIII in his condemnation of socialism. That the modern hierarchy has gotten soft on socialism is deplorable. It gives rise to the thinking espoused by Katia, namely, that Obama's socialist platform, except for abortion, is in line with Catholic teaching. Must I agree that stealing from Peter to give to Paul is a good thing? No. In fact, it's a sin.

My concern with MCFL is not that they lean toward conservative candidates, but that they endorse pro-death candidates. Catholics can disagree about the death penalty and immigration policy, but not about legalized murder.

Anonymous said...

Hi Carol,

A woman in my church started a Haverhill MCFL chapter, there was a meeting last week and Anne Fox was there, she seemed like a decent and sincere person who cares about the unborn. I got the feeling that they're just trying to get people involved in the pro-life cause, for instance, Scott Brown is pro-choice but voted for alot of pro-life bills in the mass legislature.. also, if we only have only 2 pro-choice candidates, isn't it correct to endorse the one the is less pro-death?

what do you think?


Jerry said...

Jasper, when a pro-life group endorses a pro-abortion, pro-homo porn star for senate, it's time to form a new pro-life group.

My wife just turned on Howie to hear his childish "Biff Buffington, reporter on the spot" routine that he does during every snow storm. She said that Joe Doyle forgot that one. Belittling reporters and weathercasters and the governor's emergency management team, not to mention his denigration of "non-essential employees" that got off today because of the snow, is a disservice to mankind. It's guys like Howie that give rise to shootings in Arizona and whatnot :)

(And Carol may be sitting in the dark right now...)

Carol McKinley said...

It's true - I was in the dark. What a storm.


Anne Fox is a good person whose heart is in the right place in wanting to protect the unborn. I can understand the temptation to walk away wanting to ignore the poor judgment and misfeasance.

It's nice that Anne knows the power of the pro-life vote but sadly, for the last ten years, MCFL has been using that power to help get out the vote to get proabortion candidates elected. They've done it by tweaking their questionnaire to hide the fact that their candidates support Roe v. Wade. In the last election, every prolifer I know of, was on their own - and every one of them lost.

Anyone pointing out their working to elect proabortion candidates has been maligned and tossed out on their backsides.

She's got to go.

Anonymous said...

"It's guys like Howie that give rise to shootings in Arizona and whatnot"

I agree with you Jerry about Carr up until this comment above. The mental case that shot the people in Arizona didn't listen to talk radio or follow politics..


Jerry said...

Hi Jasper,

That was a joke on my part -- all of it. That's why I added that :) after it. Sorry for the confusion. I actually find Howie entertaining as long as he keeps the content clean.

I just heard Howie identify himself as a Catholic. He's the first anti-Catholic bigot I've heard say that Catholic is "my religion."

Carol McKinley said...

Jerry, You're funny!

I don't see how a Catholic would launch a protest of selling a bag o Eucharist at 3 dollars a bag at Fenway.

It's incomprehensible.

The guy has got to realize what he's doing to himself and to his listeners when it comes to the salvation of the Sacraments. I'm surprised that you give him a free pass on this because he's funny.

Anonymous said...

"That was a joke on my part -- all of it. That's why I added that :)"

Yes, I didn't realize that Jerry until after I replied... :)


Jerry said...

Free pass? Hmmm. If I listen to Rush, am I giving him a free pass on his denigration of the sacrament of marriage?

I'd expect Howie would say he did a bad thing, and he didn't intend to be attacking the sacrament, but rather, the Red Sox. That doesn't mitigate the offense, but it means he wasn't acting out of malice. I'd suspect this was settled long ago, but we didn't get the details.

Glenn Beck is a fallen-away Catholic. He does a better job than our bishops in warning us about the conspiracy to destroy our society. In saying that, am I giving him a free pass on apostasy?

I need to see a pattern of anti-Catholic bigotry from Howie to call him such, but my wife and I haven't personally witnessed it once in our several years of listening. I know a Catholic in the media who knows Howie and who agrees with me. It's not a free pass. It's an attempt to reconcile what I read with what I observe.