The Director leads activists protesting Hynes [Photo by Danita Covington]
On September 23 the League was alerted to a political fundraiser for democrat Dan Hynes, who wants to be the next U.S. Senator from Illinois. According to the invitation, the Sept. 30 event was hosted and sponsored by faculty and alumni of St. Ignatius College Prep, the preeminent Jesuit high school in Chicago. All seven of the Scheidler children graduated from St. Ignatius, so this fundraiser caught our attention.
Dan Hynes is a Catholic from a prominent Chicago political family—and he is pro-abortion. In his bid for Cook County Comptroller in 2002 he won the endorsement of the National Organization for Women. In January 2003, Hynes was a featured speaker at the pro-abortion celebration of Roe v. Wade held in the Federal Plaza in Chicago.
The fundraiser invitation was printed in maroon on gold paper, the St. Ignatius school colors. Listed at the top of the page as co-chairs were twenty-four members of the faculty and administration, including the principal. Below the co-chairs was a list of over a hundred co-host alumni of St. Ignatius, with their graduation year indicated after their names. A second page listed the commitment levels for sponsors of Hynes’ campaign: the co-chairs pledged $2500 and co-hosts $1000.
Catholic School Disappoints
We were saddened to see the names of many of our sons’ and daughters’ former teachers on this invitation. In 1991 when our daughter Catherine graduated, the commencement speaker was pro-abortion former Governor, Jim Thompson. After making several fruitless phone calls to the principal and president of the school protesting Thompson’s appearance, we picketed the graduation and distributed a flyer contrasting the Catholic Church’s position on abortion with Gov. Thompson’s anti-life vetoes. Some faculty thanked us for “lending credibility to the occasion.”
Vote Life America’s Jim Finnegan exposes Hynes’abortion support with Mike O’Donnell [Photo by Danita Covington]
Now we were faced with another disappointing association between a pro-abort politician and this Jesuit school. A letter from Fr. Brian Paulson, president of St. Ignatius, agreed that people who care about life were justified in their indignation at Hynes’ position on abortion and the apparent support of St. Ignatius. But Fr. Paulson excused himself from any blame, saying there is much work to be done in converting hearts and minds. No one disputes that, but certainly Catholic educational institutions should be a major part of the conversion equation.
Members of the League joined Jim Finnegan and Vote Life America in picketing the September 30 fundraising event. Curiously we did not recognize a single member of the faculty or administration of St. Ignatius among the guests attending the reception at the School of the Art Institute on Michigan Avenue. Nearly every guest pretended that we were just not there with our large aborted baby signs. Few took our literature.
Art Students Counter-Protest
The protesters drew more interest from the students of the School of the Art Institute, some of whom counter-demonstrated with hastily-made, sloppy pro-abortion signs and stood in front of the entrance or marched among the pro-life demonstrators. One student stepped in front of the pro-life marchers, trying to stop them. A police officer told her to move, and when she did not, he threatened to lock her up. She moved.
Annie Scheidler talks to counter-protester [Photo by Ann Scheidler]
Another student held a sign, reading, “Old Privileged White Men Who Hate Women.” Annie Scheidler, neither rich, old nor a man, although admittedly white, struck up a conservation with this girl, who had to concede that Annie raised very good questions that she would have to think about.
Another student’s hand-made sign read, “Kill More Babies.” I asked if she was admitting that the baby in the womb is in fact a baby. She said that she wasn’t trying to change anybody’s mind, adding, “You hate me and I hate you.” I assured her that I did not hate her, but she insisted that she hated us. She said she had had two abortions, and was sure we hated her for that. I could not penetrate her resolve. Finally she pulled her sign up in front of her face, ending the conversation.
Hynes Campaign Deception?
The next morning I had an email from the principal of St. Ignatius. She said that she had never accepted the invitation to co-chair the Hynes reception and that she had not pledged to support the Hynes campaign and had no intention of supporting him. She said she suspected that the same was true of the rest of the faculty listed on the invitation.
If the Hynes for Senate campaign committee took it upon themselves to list faculty members whether or not they had responded to the invitation, they are deceptive, unethical, and fraudulent. Even if Hynes were not an abortion supporter, we would be wary of his willingness to deceive those invited to his reception.
According to Mary-Louise Kurey, Respect Life Coordinator for the Archdiocese of Chicago, Francis Cardinal George phoned Fr. Paulson when he learned of the event. We do not know the details of that conversation, but the morning after the fundraiser St. Ignatius posted a notice on its website: “It is the policy of St. Ignatius College Prep not to endorse, support or sponsor any political candidate or party.”