By Bob Morrison, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at Family Research Council
I met Michael Schwartz in Milwaukee at a Lutherans for Life convention in 1982. He was then heading the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. We instantly hit it off. I noted that I was a Lutheran working for the Catholic Bishops of Connecticut on pro-life issues. Michael was intrigued that they would hire a non-Catholic, but he welcomed me warmly. It was just like the ad: You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s real Jewish rye. You don’t have to be Catholic to defend the unborn. But the Bishops hoped all Catholics would.
Michael was a witness to the new ecumenism of the pro-life movement. Always a devout Catholic himself, he embraced all of us “separated brethren” and we never felt separated from Michael’s friendship or sincere concern. What President Reagan called “this slaughter of innocents” in hundreds of handwritten letters is surely a mournful topic. For many of us, abortion weighs on our hearts daily. We feel that our town is Newtown.
But that did not mean that Michael was ever less than a happy warrior. He said we would not turn America around until we convinced our fellow citizens that abortion harms women and is a special tragedy for the black community. Michael lived to see new young and inspiring leaders like Lila Rose and Ryan Bomberger come on the scene.
He also taught us to pray for abortionists by name. He was in the room when we heard Dr. Bernard Nathanson confess his sins and recite the Apostles’ Creed. We saw that miracle together.
Michael in one of his last public appearances called upon us to pray for Leroy Carhart, the man who did hundreds of Partial-Birth Abortions. It is fitting that Michael will be buried out of a church just blocks away from Carhart’s abortion clinic in Maryland.
I will remember Michael always as true friend and great wit. He was a learned gentleman and a passionate advocate for life. We were blessed to know him.