Outstanding Pro-Life U.S. Congressman Henry Hyde Dead at 83

Early Thursday morning, former U.S. Congressman Henry Hyde, described by Colleen Parro, of the Republican National Coalition for Life, as "one of the most dedicated, eloquent and effective pro-life advocates in American government", died at the age of 83.

In addition to chairing the House Judiciary Committee, Hyde was President of the Clinton impeachment trial, a high-level participant in the response to the 9-11 attacks, and a major player in the worldwide response to the HIV/AIDS crisis.  However, more than anything else, Henry Hyde is known for his stalwart defense of the right to life of unborn children.

In a statement to insidecatholic.com today U.S. Rep. Chris Smith stated, "Henry Hyde was one of the rarest, most accomplished, and most distinguished Members of Congress ever to serve. He was a class act in the greatest human rights issue of our time — the right to life."

Some years ago Congressman Hyde made a speech on the abortion issue that struck so deep to the core of the responsibility and rightness of defending the unborn that it has been repeated on numerous websites and in many print publications ever since. The quote is especially appropriate to repeat on this day of Hyde's death.

When the Time Comes by Henry Hyde:

"When the time comes as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment, I've often thought, as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates, you are there alone standing before God and a terror will rip through your soul like nothing you can imagine. But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there will be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement. They will say to God, "Spare him because he loved us," and God will look at you and say not, "Did you succeed?" but "Did you try?"'

On October 31 of this year, in announcing that Henry Hyde would be a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, President George Bush noted his pro-life stance first.  "Henry J. Hyde has served America with distinction. During his career in the House of Representatives, he was a powerful defender of life and a leading advocate for a strong national defense and for freedom around the world," said the announcement.
Hyde was the first person to win a political victory for the pro-life cause since Roe vs. Wade, with his famous Hyde Amendment in 1976 banning public spending on abortions.

While in public office, Hyde was often described as "U.S. Roman Catholicism's most distinguished laymen."

Hyde noted with dismay the disastrous effects of the repeated failure of the Catholic hierarchy to remain strong on the abortion issue when dealing with politicians.  In 1994 while the US Bishops were debating whether or not to give communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians, Hyde told the Chicago Sun Times, "I am greatly disappointed with the failure of much of the church hierarchy to take an unequivocal stand on abortion."

Speaking of the tendency to equate issues such as poverty and healthcare and abortion, Hyde said it provides, "people like Ted Kennedy, Dick Durbin and John Kerry the cover they seek to maintain their Catholic affiliation and at the same time pander to Planned Parenthood."

"If the church doesn't come out strong and condemn those who want to receive Holy Communion while not in the state of sanctifying grace, then the church has lost its moral authority, and that is tragic," he concluded.

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