Al Kresta is a classy guy.

Some of you may have heard the radio conversation I had with Al Kresta and Monica Miller, about whether or not pro-lifers ought to publicly display graphic abortion images.  (I don’t think it’s archived, but it was at around 5:00 on Friday, Feb. 1).

I was not happy with the way that conversation went, but I know that I did my best, so I chalked it up to “Catholics be that way sometimes,” and figured I’d just move along.  But Al is going to do a follow-up on our conversation today at 5 Eastern Time (you can listen live here).  He phoned me privately before the show, hoping to get my participation or response, but I was out picking up some kids who decided it would be a fine day to throw up during math class (kids be that way sometimes).

I’m not sure exactly what Al is going to say on air, but goodness knows I’ve said things I regret — or said things that I believe, but I regret the way I said them!  So I really appreciate that he’s going to the trouble to acknowledge publicly that it was not an ideal conversation.  That there is a good guy.



  1. He is a great guy — he’s one of my favorite interview hosts. Always looks for the interesting “angle” on things, so you don’t feel like you’re just preaching to the choir all the time. I’m glad he’s giving you another opportunity!

  2. He’s a super guy, and thoughtful. He a;so has a gift for asking the challenging question like the one he asked you about holocaust images.

  3. I thought you did great. She was a bit condescending. I would love to know why a 5 yr old needs to see those pictures. Get a better phone line and you’ll be fine!


  4. I agree that he’s usually classy and insightful (though he is ALWAYS getting cut-off mid-sentence by those stations breaks… you’d think by now he’d know to listen for the music), which is what made the way he behaved on Friday all the more puzzling. I don’t know if he was just picking up on some of the MMM brusqueness (exhibit A for why the miliary doesn’t leave soldiers on the battlefield for 30 years straight as after all that time in combat they tend to have trouble telling friend from foe) or what. I can’t wait to hear what he has to say about that…

  5. I’m really happy to hear this. Yes, it is archived. I listened to it again last night and noticed more times when he tried to break in and let you get a word in edgewise. The whole thing was upsetting to me, not just as a big sister but because I think so highly of Al and had such high expectations.

  6. I had a feeling Al would reflect on that segment.

    Simcha, if you were to tune in daily for a time, and get familiar with his show, I think you would find some great, thought provoking stuff.

    I had intended to post on this whole subject, but ran out of time. I will come back to it because I too prefer not to see indiscriminate use of graphic images at big pro-life events. I think they can be used, but with some care and concern especially for young children. There’s nothing like a family with young children in the back seat of a car, sitting at a red light only to have a “truth truck” pull up along side. I would like to hear from some Catholic psychologists on whether we should presume it is as benign as I felt Dr. Miller made it out to be.

    I have other thoughts to explain my position, but its best left to a blog post after I spend some time in prayer.

    Looking forward to hearing the interview at 5.

  7. I left a comment on your NCRegister blog stating how disappointed I was in Monica Miller and Al Kresta, when you were on Kresta in the Afternoon last week. I have tremendous respect for Dr. Miller as a pro-life hero, and for Mr. Kresta as a great Catholic radio host. But it seemed to me that they ganged up on you, and were unnecessarily negative toward you.

    And worse than that, it seemed to me that they tried to portray your position as simply WRONG, and one that good pro-lifers cannot agree with — at least I got that impression, especially from Dr. Miller. But of course, the reality is that the proper use (or non-use) of graphic abortion photos is a matter of prudential judgement, and there are dedicated, passionate, devout pro-life Christians on both sides of this question. I think it is too bad that Dr. Miller and Mr. Kresta did not treat the topic that way.

    I have been listening to some of Mr. Kresta’s show today, and I am hearing him taking calls on this topic of graphic abortion images. What I haven’t heard (though I may have missed it) is an explicit acknowledgement that good pro-lifers can disagree on this issue, without either side being WRONG. Well, I will continue listening. . . .

    • Thank you for leaving that comment, Paul. Today he did make a point of repeating that pro-lifers can disagree in good faith, and that this is one of many prudential judgments. But then he went on to say that he simply didn’t find any of my arguments compelling. Maybe I couldn’t have persuaded him even if I HAD been allowed to finish a sentence; but it was just about impossible for me to present a compelling argument since I was NOT allowed to complete a sentence.

      Oh well. I still think it was good of him to follow up on this, but he continued to speak as if my main objection was that the images are upsetting; when in fact I made several other arguments.

      Oh, well.

      • Hi Simcha,

        I am very glad to hear that Mr. Kresta made a point of saying that pro-lifers can disagree in good faith, and that this is a prudential judgement. I missed part of today’s show, so I must have missed that part. He may have also said the same thing when you were on last week. But if he did, it must have been in the few minutes I missed right at the beginning. (And the remaining part of the interview didn’t provide much evidence for that attitude, in my opinion.)

        I would agree with you that Al Kresta is a classy guy. He truly is my favorite Catholic radio host. He has a knack for finding compelling stories and interesting guests, without always repeating what everyone else is talking about (whether in Catholic media or secular media). And while he always makes it clear that his viewpoint is that of a faithful Catholic, he is almost always very polite and respectful to his guests, even when he disagrees with them on certain points. So I guess that I have very high expectations for him, and that is part of the reason I was so disappointed with that interview last week.

  8. That was me, the first caller. It didn’t work out as I had hoped. He was too close to a commercial break and I got stopped before I could get to the heart of my point. But, I don’t hold it against Al. It’s radio and I almost didn’t call in because the format just does not allow for deeper discussion. Radio shows want to get in as many callers as possible in very little time, which pretty much leaves you to a vote and a soundbite.

    I’ll be writing a post. I just don’t know if I will get it off tonight or not. I think it’s the only way to have my own say on the matter, and be heard.

    Stay tuned…

  9. I listened to the spot, and I think you’re being too hard on yourself. I thought you handled yourself well (I liked your deflection of that cheapshot about the Eucharist.). And there’s really only so much you can say in such short soundbites. Miller sounded defensive, no doubt because she has used those graphic photos so often. She’s obviously too close to the issue to think about it objectively.

    Count me in the no-need-for-blowup-photos-of-dead-babies camp. I think there are better ways to change hearts and minds. Better to show blow-up picture of babies in utero, 3D ultrasounds, or newborns. I don’t doubt that some people need to see the graphic images, but putting them on the side of a bus or waving them in front of people without warning is excessive. Young kids don’t need to see those images (and, to answer Kresta’s point at the end, they don’t need to see graphic pictures of the Holocaust, either.).

  10. Bob – you can listen to lots of Catholic radio live, and much of it is quite good. Try some of the shows at and click the “listen live” at the top. Teresa Tomeo’s 9:00 ET hour and Kresta’s 5 PM ET hour are syndicated by EWTN. They also have all of their shows archived (link provided in my last comment for Kresta’s archives).

  11. I just finished listening to it (the 2/1 original interview) and have to say it made me incredibly angry. Dr. Miller (and Mr. Kresta for that matter) were both condescending and did not give you enough time to communicate your message. Of course you understand the signs can save lives. You’re not stupid! You recognize they turn people away, harden hearts, and give the pro-life movement a terrible reputation – all of which are terrible things. They tried to justify showing them using the few people the signs have converted. If they could calm down for a second, they might actually see your point.

    Interestingly, I just finished reading Dr. Miller’s book Abandoned. It gave me insight into the history of the pro-life movement I had never known before. I respect her for what she did, but have to stress that times change. We can’t use the same tactics people used 40 years ago.

    On Saturday I was praying outside a clinic and a group of older men with huge graphic signs were there. They yelled at the abortionist as he walked in. I was so angry at them. THAT is why this battle over life is still going on. It’s still going on because not all pro-lifers recognize that we are a movement of love and life.

    The day when we can all show others the truth with love and joy, THAT is the day abortion will end. Thank you so much, Simcha for doing what you can to help spread that message.

  12. I really like Al Kresta, but yesterday he made me really angry. He basically said that because we show our kids the crucified Christ we can’t really object to these images. WHAT?! An artistic rendering is not the same as a photograph of a bloody and dimembered corpse. He also applauded the “shock and awe” of the pictures and then claimed that because in a march they pass by quickly it won’t be very impact full on kids. He is not very impartial about the topic and seemed to make little room for dissent. It was disheartening to hear him yesterday.

    • Based on the part of his show that I heard yesterday, I felt the same way — particularly about how the pictures supposedly aren’t a problem for little kids because they pass by quickly. I hope very much to be able to take my kids to the March for Life at least once over the next few years, but I won’t take them if I know that there are going to be graphic abortion images, whether the images pass by quickly or not.

    • Barbara, I totally agree and in fact that argument might make me angriest of all of them. Yes, I admit they make me angry even though I agree it is a matter of prudential judgement, I am infuriated by people who basically imply that a “good” prolifer ought to be happy to subject their children and everyone else’s to destroyed bodies of babies. That it is hiding if we do not; that it is a scandal and an offense to Jesus because it is a cover up.

      Whew… anyway, yes. as Paul says the way an image is transmitted **absolutely** makes a difference in the way we process it. And the abstracted image of Jesus on the Cross is a whole series of worlds-away categories –both in the sense of morality/aesthetics, and in the theological sense of what is represented.

      I feel that people who have never actually been harmed by abusive imagery, or suffered through serious violence, cannot possibly understand the problem and those who don’t take the time to consider the perspective of those who have are themselves hiding from the truth.

  13. So I tuned in to listen to see how the situation would be handled….and I turned it off after about 10 minutes. When someone basically claims that the showing the crucified Christ is the same as showing torn up babies…I take objection. And, when someone makes it VERY clear that they see no value in hearing the other side or trying to LEARN something (I believe he even said he doesn’t find a single argument the other way compelling) there is no point in listening. I know a lot of people have commented that they spend time listening to Al and Catholic radio. I do not. And I do not because of things like this. In the meantime, as I stated in an earlier post, I am totally convinced that Simcha is correct in pointing out the dangers of these images. In an ever-violent society, they They are NOT effective. Violence and shock-culture are now an everyday thing, we need to learn how to argue more effectively. Children continue to be legally killed in this country because we, as pro-lifers are not intentional about making sure our message is heard. Thank you once again for challenging us to use the most effective way possible to point out the horrors of abortion.

  14. So in this debate, it seems to me like we have one side holding an image of a dead baby saying “don’t do this: it is evil and it is bad for you and your baby” and the other side holding a sign of a live baby saying “life is good, keep your baby”. It reminds me of the Fr. Barron and Ralph Martin discussion on hell. Some people need to hear about hell to avoid it, others need to hear of God’s love and mercy to be attracted to it. There should be room for both approaches but I think Al mistakenly heard that the use of graphic images was a bad idea everywhere and always (which I don’t think was ever your point).

  15. Hi Simcha,
    met you Saturday at St. Bernadette. I listened, and I agree with you. I have photos of my stillborn son. They are cherished and honored, but very few people have seen them. My husband can’t bring himself to look at them. Most people don’t need to see my poor son to honor and understand my grief or know that he was really here. You did a great job.

  16. I love you, Simcha, but I also love Al and MMM and you too, Diane K. I live in the Detroit area. I really think it was the format that was at fault in the discussion. I heard the first broadcast, but not the second. I can normally only listen on line or to the achived shows. I hope the discussion continues. I think the graphic photos do not bring about postive results.

  17. I think one thing to bear in mind is that MMM *took* many of those photos as a way of honoring the babies forgotten and thrown away on garbage loading docks, and she has weeks of her life that I’d bet are still pretty fresh in her mind where she shared an apartment with the babies awaiting burial. So I think her take on it will be different (and probably rawer) than anyone who hasn’t been there. Perhaps she feels she knew these babies as well as anyone could in this life, and wants us to know them and care about them as she does, and how will others get to care about them without being shown? It almost seems as if she were saying, “I’d like you to meet people who are important to me,” and we respond with, “Ew, I didn’t need to see that.” I imagine that would be very frustrating.

    It seems to me that one argument against their effectiveness (going along with the “ever-more-violent society” angle above) is contained in an anecdote in the “Abandoned” book, where a young man was shown a graphic photo and asked, “What do you think about that?” His response: “It makes me hungry.” His name? Jeffrey Dahmer, arrested a few weeks later.

    I think a more sweeping argument against their effectiveness is made by those coming out of the abortion industry, who found the more prayerful protesters and 40Days people to be someone they could approach to ask for help. And I think that we wouldn’t be having this conversation if they could be published where images like those of the Holocaust or the Afghan girl with the mutilated face were published – you only take them to the streets when they are barred from more sober places.

    I tend to manage my kids’ viewing of images. I worry more about the stupid stuff at kid level in the checkout line than signs at marches and life chains–at least the signs are true, if heartbreaking. They know when I tell them to look elsewhere, that I have their interests at heart, and they do it. They follow my lead when we focus instead on the beautiful pictures of live babies over THERE, and exclaim over their preciousness. And a concern about potential images won’t keep us from attending a march. Now, if the maniacs who dress as the Grim Reaper and the bloody Death Doctor at the DC March for Life are still there… that might make me think twice, but I think we’d still just… “Hey, look at those people over there!”

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