A recent article by the Human Life Review brought our attention to the resurgence of the seamless garment approach to the pro-life movement, mingling the work against abortion, contraception and euthanasia with anti-poverty, anti-death penalty, and environmentalist activism. At the center of this article is an individual whose work history is cause for deep concern for pro-lifers everywhere. As will be seen, despite his insistence to the contrary, he has consistently betrayed the pro-life movement, which is why his involvement with it now is so deeply troubling.
Those who have been actively battling the encroaching modernism, socialism, and syncretism infecting nearly every corner of the Catholic Church these days are well familiar with the name, John Carr. Carr worked for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) from 1987-2012, spending most of that time as its executive director of Justice, Peace and Human Development. In the last few years of his work at the USCCB, Carr was the center of deep concern for a lot of the liberal corruption and bias at the USCCB. As pro-life organizations and Catholic investigative journalists focused their attention on the plethora of issues at the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, John Carr’s connections with agencies working against the Catholic Church on matters pertaining to abortion, contraception and homosexuality came to light. For instance:
- While John Carr served the USCCB, he was also on the Board of Directors (including the executive committee) for a pro-abortion, pro-homosexual organization called the Center for Community Change (CCC). During this time, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development funneled $150,000 to the CCC.
- John Carr was responsible for helping to arrange the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, which brought in a host of radical dissenters, including the same-sex “marriage” and women’s ordination promoting Deana Hayes, the dissident priest Fr. Thomas Reese, and the pro-abortion community activist Paul Booth.
- John Carr was responsible for overseeing the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and despite personal delivery of conclusive evidence against a quarter of the CCHD’s grantees being in violation of CCHD grant guidelines and Catholic moral teaching, the grantees continued to receive CCHD funding anyway.
- Carr was instrumental for the formation of the USCCB’s “Faithful Citizenship” document, which Carr bluntly stated “does not shut the door on any candidate, not even one who supports abortion rights.” In other words, he helped craft the document that ostensibly gave Catholics permission to vote for John Kerry, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton.
None of this should come as a surprise since Carr had always maintained deep ties with the political and theological Left. In 1976, Carr was a participant in the notorious “Call to Action” conference held in Detroit, Michigan. In 1986, Carr reminisced about the conference saying, “I remember only two things about the American Bicentennial celebration in 1976. One was the tall ships in New York’s harbor. The other was A Call to Action, the bishops’ bicentennial program.”
In 1999, Carr spoke on a panel for a Call to Action event with an organizer from the Indistrial Areas Foundation, which was created by Saul Alinsky. The title of the panel discussion was “The Parish and Small Christian Communities: Organizing for Social Change.”
Announcing his resignation from the USCCB, Carr stated:
“I want to focus my remaining energies on efforts to help form, support and encourage Catholic lay men and women to be more effective leaders in bringing Catholic principles to public life and all of society.”
In order to accomplish this end, Carr became the director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University. In this capacity, Carr has focused his energies on the refugee crisis, ending the death penalty, and so-called man-made climate change.
Carr’s influence in the application of an extremely flawed understanding of Catholic Social Teaching spans decades, and even though he is no longer working for bishops, he continues to spread his brand of social justice through conferences, keynote speeches and as a regular columnist for the dissident America Magazine.
In early August, John Carr gave the keynote address at the Consistent Life Ethic Conference, which used to be called the Seamless Garment Network. Since there’s no transcript of his talk at the moment, it’s not possible to analyze what he said beyond the summary report. However, given that he called “Black Lives Matter” a “consistent life issue,” we can surmise what direction he was taking the conversation.
But because Carr has recently begun to insert himself into the pro-life movement, the Lepanto Institute has decided that it is time to address an egregious matter regarding his work at the White House Conference on Families. As will be seen, Carr dismissed the concerns of pro-lifers as he was seeking a purely democratic outcome. In the final recommendations that he submitted to congress … a report that bears his name … the final outcomes included conference recommendations for expanded access to contraception and abortion. While these recommendations were arrived at through popular vote at two of the three regional conferences, no Catholic could in good conscience submit a report bearing these recommendations.
John Carr’s current bio at Georgetown University states that he served as the executive director for the White House Conference on Families.
In 1978, President Jimmy Carter announced the formation of the White House Conference on Families. In his announcement, Carter said that “the main purpose of this White House Conference will be to examine the strengths of American families, the difficulties they face, and the ways in which family life is affected by public policies.” The purpose of the conference was to collect recommendations from delegates at three regional conferences; one in Baltimore, one in Minneapolis, and one in Los Angeles.
From the very first conference, it was clear that it was being manipulated in order to exclude policy recommendations that would promote the right to life, deny the spread of contraception, and deny the redefining of the family to include homosexual couples. In an AP news story dated 8 June 1980, John Carr was identified as the executive director for the White House Conference on Families. The article indicated that members of the National Pro-Family Coalition staged a walk-out of the conference, charging it had been rigged against them. The article states that the Coalition was seeking “support for a limited definition of ‘family’ and for an anti-abortion amendment to the Constitution and had opposed the gay rights movement.” Jim Guy Tucker, the Conference’s Chairman and John Carr’s boss, admitted that he suggested to delegates that they vote in support of homosexual “rights” and abortion.
Even though Tucker claimed that the delegation could have defeated the proposal had they stayed, other reports show that the Pro-Family Coalition was overwhelmingly defeated on several measures while they were still involved.
At the opening of the second conference, held in Minneapolis, Carr dismissed concerns that the Baltimore Conference had adopted resolutions promoting abortion and homosexuality as “way down on the list” of issues.
However, in an interesting turn of events at the conclusion of the Minneapolis Conference (and supreme irony, considering where Carr spent the majority of his career), both the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops and the National Conference of Catholic Charities withdrew from the Coalition for the White House Conference on Families over the issue of abortion. Coalition members were issued instructions to vote against a constitutional amendment against abortion and vote against measures for parental consent before a minor obtains an abortion or sterilization.
As with Baltimore, pro-family and pro-life delegates walked out of the conference after resolutions promoting abortion and homosexuality were adopted. Displaying an obscene lack of concern for authentic Catholic teaching on human life and sexuality, John Carr called the walk-out a “publicity stunt.” The 150 delegates who left said that they walked out because once again, the Conference was rigged.
The same thing happened in Los Angeles. Resolutions promoting abortion and homosexuality were adopted by the Conference in Los Angeles, and in response, pro-life and pro-family delegates held a press-conference, once again renewing the charge that the whole thing was rigged.
The final report for the White House Conference on Families lists John Carr as the executive director on page 248.
Beginning on page 24 is a ranking of all of the recommendations, categorized in three parts:
- Recommendations adopted at all three conferences,
- Recommendations adopted at two conferences, and
- Recommendations adopted at one conference.
The immoral recommendations listed on page 25 include, “Increased Efforts to Prevent and Deal with Adolescent Pregnancy,” “Increased Family Life Education,” “Support for Family Planning and choice on Abortion,” and “Support for Choice on Abortion ERA and Non-Discrimination Efforts.”
The first on this list is the recommendation to increase efforts to prevent and deal with adolescent pregnancy. While the section on page 55 doesn’t spell it out, this recommendation left the door wide open for contraception, sex education and abortion. The report to the president and Congress says:
All three Conferences made recommendations relating to the crisis of adolescent pregnancies and for prevention to receive high priority. Baltimore and Minneapolis recommended that male and female adolescents and their families should have access to comprehensive health, education (including family life education), and social services … The delegates at the Baltimore and Minneapolis Conferences recommended that pregnant adolescents, adolescent parents and their families should have access to comprehensive services that will help them overcome the problems associated with early pregnancy and teenage parenthood.
As all pro-lifers know, “comprehensive services that will help them overcome the problems associated with early pregnancy and teenage parenthood” is code for abortion and contraception.
While the “family life education” aspect may seem to be innocuous, what it really means is sex education. Page 49 of the final report makes perfectly clear that sex education was an intended component of this:
On page 74, the final report to the president and Congress makes the support for abortion and contraception abundantly clear. The issue being related was “Health,” and so the report establishes that both the Baltimore and Los Angeles Conferences “called for the full range of family planning services, including pre- and postnatal care and safe, legal abortions.”
Page 75 makes this recommendation even more explicit by breaking down specific aspects of it. The Baltimore Conference declared that “the full range of family planning services including pre- and post-natal care and safe, legal abortion must be available to all who freely make this decision.” And the Los Angeles Conference passed the resolution stating that
“WHCF recommends that the government should make available to all persons, regardless of income, geographic location, or age, the full range of family planning services, including: pre- and postnatal core: pregnancy testing and counseling, confidential birth control and safe, legal abortion.”
Page 76 follows-up with this additional statement from the Baltimore Conference:
Right to decide whether or not to bear a child including access to the full range of family planning services, abortion, and maternal and Infant care. [Remaining portions of this recommendation can be found in: Gov /ERA; Gov/Community Participation and Resources; and Fam Vlo/Govemment Action]
When one examines the history of John Carr’s career, it’s pretty clear that he has an extremely high comfort level with those who promote abortion, birth control and homosexuality. His participation with the near (if not outright) heretical group Call to Action, his work at the White House Conference on Families, and his failure to disaffiliate the USCCB from pro-abortion, pro-homosexual organizations makes it clear that his intention to defend the most vulnerable among us … the pre-born … is, to use one of his own phrases, “way down on the list.” Had he contained the last few remaining energies of his work to preaching to social justice warriors, he wouldn’t be worth looking into. But now that he is pushing his nose in the pro-life arena, and watering down the message of the movement, his work history bears noting. And if his present course is consistent with his past, his cause to link the pro-life movement with social justice poses a clear and present danger.