Ms. Bonacci Goes to Washington

Ask me what I did last week. Go ahead, ask me.

Okay, if you insist. I went to the White House. I was, in fact, invited to the White House. No, I didn’t have tea with George and Laura. But I did receive a message from the President. And I think I got one from God, as well.

Background: several weeks ago, my office received a call from someone asking me to attend a “Catholic Leadership Conference” in Washington DC, which I turned it down. The next week, a friend told me he was going to the White House for the Catholic Leadership Conference. He asked if I’d been invited. “No. Maybe.” The White House? I turned down an invitation from the White House? 

So I picked up the phone. “Oh, yes, we’ve been waiting for your RSVP. And were you aware that a local couple have offered their private jet to anyone attending the conference from Denver?”

And so I went to Washington – in the loveliest private jet you’ve ever seen.

“Now tell me one more time -- why am I going to the White House?” No one seemed to know exactly, except that we’d be attending some kind of high-level briefing on Iraq. “It’s about time,” I thought. “We girls who talk to teenagers about chastity need to be kept in the loop about these things.” The President probably wouldn’t be there. Maybe Condi Rice would be there. Maybe not. Nobody really seemed to know.

Whatever. I just wanted to see the Lincoln Bedroom.

We stayed at the loveliest of hotels. The Hay-Adams. It’s in this month’s Architectural Digest. Page 202, I believe. Check it out. I didn’t want to go to sleep. I just wanted to sit up and stare at my beautiful room.

Walking through the metal detectors, any concerns I may have had about White House security vanished. The woman manning the line did her job very well. I was actually afraid of her. I did my very best “Soup Nazi” side step, and made it through without causing any commotion.

We were ushered into a very small auditorium-style room. It had a little stage, a small podium with the presidential seal, and about 100 or so seats. After a brief introduction, Condoleezza Rice’s chief of staff addressed us. He spoke for a half hour or so, on the administration’s national security policy. Then we took a break.
At the end of the break, a lady’s voice said, “Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States!”

And there he was.

Right there --three rows away from me. This might be an everyday occurrence for some inside-the-beltway types, but for me, it was amazing.

And he didn’t just “pop his head in.” He spoke to us for over a half hour. No speech, no notes – he just talked to us. The gist of his message was this – the he desperately wants a peaceful solution in Iraq, that he’s working very hard for a peaceful solution in Iraq, that he’s praying for a peaceful solution in Iraq. But he also believes that time is running out, and that Iraq must be dealt with soon, before Saddam Hussein has the opportunity to do harm to the United States.
Honestly, I was very impressed.

After the President left, some poor administration guy had to follow him and give another talk – the details of which of course I don’t remember. And then we had a nice lunch and we were back on the jet.

Which is where the message from God came in. Landing in Denver, I changed into my sweats, climbed into my car, and drove to Denver International Airport. I parked in the remote lot, flung my suitcase onto the shuttle bus, endured a security “wanding”, boarded my flight and took my center seat in the back of the economy section. After transferring to a puddle-jumper in Minneapolis, I landed in Grand Forks, South Dakota at midnight. I rented a car, drove an hour in the dark cold, and claimed my room at a motel in Crookston, Minnesota.

I had to laugh. I really did. I thought about the previous Sunday’s reading. “I know how to live in humble circumstances; I also know how to live with abundance.” (Phil 2:12) It’s as if God was telling me “It was a nice treat, but don’t get used to it. This is your real life.”

But it was more than that. He wanted me in Crookston, Minnesota. He wanted to use me to reach teens and youth ministers at an absolutely fabulous youth rally there. He also, for reasons I still don’t fully comprehend, wanted me at the White House. And so He made both happen.

It’s not up to me to finagle important invitations. It’s not up to me to seek luxurious accommodations. My job is to ascertain where He wants me to be, and to be there.

Sometimes it’s elegant. Sometimes it’s simple. But it’s always good.

Pro-Life Candidates Win Big

The big surprise? They weren’t all Republicans.

So the big news is that the 2002 elections were a huge Republican victory. But the bigger news, as far as I’m concerned, is that those elections were a huge pro-life victory.

The stakes were high. We have, for the first time in a long time, a committed pro-life president. We have an elderly Supreme Court, with many pro-abortion justices hovering around retirement age. We’ve never had a better opportunity to reverse Roe v. Wade. But there was one ingredient missing: control of the Senate. 

Powerful pro-abortion senators (including Catholic “friends” like Ted Kennedy) have always been committed to blocking any judicial nominee who respects the right to life for the unborn. As long as the overwhelmingly pro-abortion Democratic Party controlled the Senate, the president didn’t have a prayer of appointing a pro-life justice to the Supreme Court.

But apparently that’s not the case anymore, is it?

It’s funny, because it was the “other side” that made abortion an issue in this campaign. I travel a lot, which means I watch TV in hotels a lot, which means I had the opportunity to see campaign commercials in a lot of different states. And –because the same pro-abortion groups funded them –those ads all looked exactly the same. “Candidate Bad is an extremist who wants to take away a woman’s right to choose. But Candidate Good is a reasonable person who trusts the women of our state to make their own decisions.” (Question: Does Candidate Good also trust the women of that state to make their own decisions about how fast they should drive? Maybe, if women are so inherently trustworthy, we should just be exempted from all laws.) When asked if he would challenge those ads, one pro-life candidate said he saw no reason to. He believed that position would gain him votes.

And apparently he was right. The pro-abortion movement dumped huge amounts of money into these elections, and saw yet staggering losses. Emily’s List, a pro-abortion political group, lost 17 of the races they considered their “top 22,” while 8 of the top 10 most important Senate races in the country were won by pro-life candidates. And two thirds of the newly elected House members are pro-life. 

Interestingly, the evidence shows that many of these new pro-life Senators and congresspersons were elected because of their pro-life views. Fox News exit polls consistently showed that huge numbers of voters considered abortion a significant factor in their decisions. And those who considered abortion a significant factor voted overwhelmingly pro-life.

Were these people one-issue voters? Many probably were. But, when the issue is something as serious as abortion, how could we be anything else? No issue we face today is more important than the fact that we condone the cold-blooded murder of over a million of our own every year. Voting for a candidate who condones because we like some other policy he favors would be like voting for Mussolini because he made the trains run on time.

Yes, most of the victories were Republican. And yet, November 5th turned out to be a pretty good night for pro-life Democrats as well. These people make up a very small percentage of Democratic candidates, and it is widely recognized that a pro-life Democrat has no chance of ascending the ranks in his party. And yet, two pro-life Democrats won Tuesday night, with a third candidate going into a December run-off election.

The moral of the story? First of all, that NARAL and their ilk are badly out of step with the sensibilities of the nation. These people are very powerful, very well-funded and very loud. They really did give the impression that a pro-life position would be the kiss of death to any politician. But they were obviously very, very wrong. Thanks to them, no voter was unaware of their candidates’ position on abortion. And yet pro-lifers won overwhelming victories.

And second, we have seen the power we Christians still hold in this country, if we choose to exercise it. I saw churches mobilize in ways I’ve never seen before, urging their congregations to vote their Christian consciences. Here in the Archdiocese of Denver, a letter from the Archbishop and auxiliary bishop was read at every Mass the Sunday before the election, urging Catholics to vote pro-life. It made a difference.

Third and finally, we have seen the power of prayer. So much of the information I saw in the weeks before the election included urgent pleas to Christians to pray for the elections. I believe those prayers were heard. 

God cares about the future of this country. As Benjamin Franklin once said, "...God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?" We absolutely need to keep invoking His aid -- regularly and fervently.

God is not a Republican. He is not a Democrat.

But He is definitely pro-life.