(LifeSiteNews) — The final part of Steve Jalsevac’s interview with former Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) president Jim Hughes begins with Jalsevac asking Hughes what it was like being involved in the pro-life movement for so long and on such a large scale.
Hughes prefaced his response noting that his wife told Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) Vicky Russell in an interview that Hughes is shy, much to Russell’s disbelief. Hughes told Jalsevac that he was trying not to “propel” himself “up front,” opting to wait for others to do something.
“Then I remembered when I was an altar server, when I was a young boy, there was a little notice in the church bulletin and it said, ‘I waited patiently for somebody to do something, and then I realized that I was somebody,’” said Hughes. “So when I would hear people speaking up about whatever, whatever, or nobody’s speaking up about something that was wrong, or an injustice, or whatever, I felt obligated to speak up. And I began doing that.”
Hughes told Jalsevac about an incident that perturbed him while at a reunion for his Catholic high school. He was with a friend of his talking with a teacher, when the teacher asked them what they did. The friend was in the “fundraiser business,” which Hughes brought him into “to replace the previous guy who had joined the pro-life movement.” Hughes told the teacher that he was a salesman, to which the friend said that he was not a salesman but one of the leaders of the pro-life movement.
“And she said, ‘Oh, I’m not with you on that,’” recounted Hughes. “And I said, ‘I thought you said you taught at this Catholic high school.’ ‘Yeah, but I’m not in favor of where you are.’ I said, ‘I’m embarrassed that you’re even here,’ and moved on.”
Recalling what he recounted in a previous part of the interview about a woman who said he wasted 40 years in the pro-life movement, Hughes said that he “couldn’t understand how she couldn’t understand that every day was a blessing,” even though the only thing one could more or less expect all day was “grief.” Despite the grief, however, Hughes said that the daily prayer time, as well as being with the other staff in the office and speaking to people on the phone or Zoom, “made a huge difference.”
“This is God’s family here,” said Hughes, maintaining that all were trying to do the best they could in whatever capacity they could, and that what they were doing was God’s work, recalling what Mother Teresa told him in 1988.
Hughes said he doesn’t know what motivated him, recalling that his father died when he was three and that his mother took him to Mass every Sunday, where he would serve at the altar. He also recalled seeing a production of Jesus Christ Superstar before entering the pro-life movement, and that it left him with the impression of God’s love for him.
“Now how I got that, I wouldn’t cross the street for a folk Mass these days, but for people that enjoy that, I’m happy for them, and the people that get spiritual nourishment from them, because like I did, I got spiritual nourishment from that, and it was the love of God again, just like when I was going along this boardwalk with my son Jimmy in the stroller, and realized how much God loved me and how much I loved God,” Hughes reflected.
While Jalsevac noted that the pro-life movement is different now than when Hughes first joined, Hughes noted that “we have the media now,” referring to CLC News, The Interim newspaper, LifeSiteNews, and other outlets.
He also gave advice to young pro-lifers, both those involved in the movement and those who want to get involved, saying, “Trust in God, all others pay cash.” He also told young people that they were not the future of the pro-life movement, but its present. To older pro-lifers, he said that they can write letters and checks and that they can pray.
“One lady that I know organizes a little Rosary walk for the unborn in her local park, and she might get five people to go with her, but she’s doing something!” noted Hughes. “And as I said before, I don’t want God to come looking for me and find me sitting on my tail feathers when all this evil is taking place.”
“Everybody’s gotta speak up,” Hughes asserted forcefully. “This is your issue, everybody’s issue. Not just mine, it’s everybody’s issue as a human being.”
Jalsevac closed the interview asking Hughes what to do in the face of the crises in the Catholic Church.
“What I said years and years ago was ‘adopt the politician,’ and then I said, ‘adopt the clergyman,’” said Hughes. He further suggested that people thank priests for giving good homilies – something he once did with a cardinal in a crowded room, to the room’s applause and the cardinal appreciating the ovation.
“I’ve talked to so many, so many clergymen of all different faith communities and tried to buoy them up and say, ‘You can do this, and here’s how you can do it,’ and they would go and do it,” said Hughes.
He also stated that people don’t realize the constraints put on clergymen, noting that priests are being removed for saying something “normal and positive” in a “loving manner.” “I spoke in a church one time where the people got up and walked out, and I was talking about Mother Teresa loving the children and Cardinal [John] O’Connor saying, ‘Bring the children to me,’” Hughes told Jalsevac.
Hughes further noted that people don’t know the stress the people who would walk out are dealing with, telling Jalsevac that he was first on a parish council about 50 years ago. While other people were elected to the council and he himself moved on, the parish priest asked Hughes about a decade ago if he could help him, prompting him to rejoin the parish council.
“By supporting the priest or the clergymen of whatever faith community, it means one heck of a lot to them when you stand up behind them so they know they’re not alone,” said Hughes. “So when they give the spiritual message, you then and take it to the streets and do what you have to do as a layperson and a citizen.”
Speaking about bad clergymen, Hughes advised people that they should speak to them in a way that doesn’t make it look like they want “to beat them up,” and that they shouldn’t “condemn” bad clergy. Hughes recalled speaking to someone who didn’t attend church anymore because he heard in a sermon the Parable of the Vineyard Workers, wherein men were hired to work in a vineyard late in the day but got paid the same amount of money as those who worked from morning.
Recalling the conversation he had with the person, Hughes said the person thought the payments weren’t “fair,” but he told him that the point was “if you find faith in God in the eleventh hour, you’re still welcome.” Hughes recalled a similar conversation with someone else about the Parable of the Unjust Steward.
“Maintain a sense of humor,” Hughes concluded. “If you take yourself seriously and everybody around you, this is bad. Be joyful. All the time. Despite everything that happens, be joyful, pray hard, and go and do what you can do.”