Where did you grow up?
Wartime Chicago. I was born in 1940, the very first grandchild on both sides. I’ve explained what a morning in that household looked like: A 2-year-old wanders into the kitchen early in the morning. The kitchen is filled with grown-ups getting ready to go to work. The child says, “Good morning” and receives a standing ovation. I grew up with a sense that the world was filled with catchers in the rye — everyone wanting to look after you and take care of you.
Later, the question arose, How was it that a working family, where no one went to college, was able to impart that sense of security to a youngster? And I think the answer is that the grown-ups were competent to their ends. They could be counted on to be there when you needed them. They were always there.
My father was a foreman in a factory, had a launderette, and later ran a shipping room for his brothers in a business they had. He died about 15 years ago. My mother died about five years ago....
What first led you to consider the claims of the Catholic Church?
It came through my involvement over many years in the pro-life movement. I’ve been moving in this direction for a long while, perhaps more than 20 years. The process is often the reverse of what is told in the media. The media suggest that we’re pro-life because we’re religious, when in fact, many of us are won over by the force of the moral argument and the evidence of embryology. Then we’re drawn to the Church that defends that argument.
Over the years, I picked up many friends in the pro-life movement and people I collaborated with in writing. At every turn, I found I had a Catholic constituency of people who were supporting me. My friends genuinely came to represent, to me, the body of the Church. Each one had different things to teach me about the Catholic life, and they all showed in different ways what people come to look like when they’ve led a Catholic life. I was drawn to the body of the Church — the Church made visible — the people around me who absorbed the life of the Church and lived the life of the Church.
I often wonder if people appreciate the importance of the “congregation” for Jews as well as Catholics. It does make the most profound difference if one becomes aware that one is enveloped, in the services, by people who share a communion, people who genuinely share your concerns about the so-called “life issues” and marriage — what John Paul II called that central question of “the human person.”You may read the whole thing here.
Next week, coincidentally, I will be in Washington, D.C. chairing a session at the 106th annual meeting of the American Political Science Association