Updated: Catholic Officials Offer Platform to Antiabortion Extremist Randall Terry; Archbishop's Office Refuses Comment

UPDATE: I called Susan Gibb, the communications director for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., whose archbishop, Donald Wuerl, sits on the executive committee of the John Paul II Cultural Center, for comment on whether he is comfortable with the fact that Randall Terry plans to speak at the institution Wuerl helps to lead.

The conversation was contentious. Gibb said the executive committee is not involved in the day-to-day booking of the center, and she became testy when I asked if the archbishop was comfortable with the idea of Terry speaking at the center. She told me I should call the Cultural Center, which I have, but a Brother Joseph simply referred me back to Missy Smith, the Randall Terry associate who booked the Cultural Center's facilities -- not to anyone on the Center staff who made the space available to Smith's group, Wake Up.

At one point during my conversation with Gibb, when I pressed to get a comment on whether Wuerl judged Terry to be an appropriate guest for the center, Gibb simply repeated her claim that the executive committee is not involved in the Cultural Center's bookings. "I'm sorry if you don't understand that," she said.

Randall Terry, the antiabortion extremist who founded Operation Rescue (and then was ousted from the group) has been a busy man since he moved to Washington, D.C. last year. Most of his activities have focused on President Barack Obama: heckling the president and his nominees in various venues, and performing street theater that features a white man wearing an Obama mask while turning a bullwhip on his confederates.

Terry's "activism" appears to have won the approval of the four Catholic bishops who preside over the John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C., where Terry, who now leads Insurrecta Nex, a group also founded by him, will make a presentation in an anti-abortion training program later this month, according to a press release sent by Terry himself. (A headline on the release reads Insurrecta Nex Conference at JPII Cultural Center!) T

he training program will be hosted, according to the release, by Missy Smith, one of Terry's stalwart followers, on the weekend following the annual March for Life, which marks the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion. (The release was sent at 4:49 PM, too late for me to get confirmation from Cultural Center officials. I'll be following up tomorrow.) The four bishops comprising the Cultural Center's executive committee include Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C.; John Myers, archbishop of Newark, N.J.; Bernard Harrington, bishop of Winona, Minn., and Cardinal Adam Maida, the retired archbishop of Detroit.

This is all rather curious, considering it was Terry who organized the heckling of the president during his address at Notre Dame, a Catholic university, and Terry's dogging of Catholic bishops he deems insufficiently pro-life with protests outside their chanceries. This is the same Randall Terry who told me (and anybody who would listen) that Dr. George Tiller, the abortion provider who was gunned down while attending church, had "reaped what he sowed." This is the same Randall Terry who sent his minions into the Senate to disrupt the nomination hearings of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a practicing Catholic.

One wonders whether the bishops knew who was behind Insurrecta Nex -- of which Missy Smith is an integral part -- when Smith booked the JPII Cultural Center's conference facilities for her training session. Terry is a talented strategist, and if he sneaked in under the wire, he's got a win whether the bishops allow him Smith to hold the training or not. If they kick him her out, they bolster Terry's argument that the bishops aren't really committed to "protecting the unborn"; if they permit his group Smith to use the facilities and keep Terry on her program, Insurrecta Nex receives a de facto seal of approval from the church.

[UPDATE: The paragraph above was corrected to reflect the assertion by Brother John of the John Paul II Cultural Center to that the facilities were booked not by Randall Terry on behalf of Insurrecta Nex, but by Missy Smith on behalf of her group, Wake Up. Smith has apparently put Terry on the program; she could not be reached for comment.]


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