«We will make America Catholic as the conquistadores made half the world Catholic.»

—Frederick D. Wilhelmsen

On the morning of June 6, 1970, approximately three hundred people gathered for a pro-life demonstration across the street from George Washington University Clinic in Washington, D.C. Many of them carried either processional crucifixes or self-made wooden crosses, while others held banners and placards —one read: “If killing babies is legal, what isn’t?” The most striking visual was a contingent of young men dressed in khaki pants and shirts. They wore red berets, rosaries around their necks, and patches of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on their breast pockets. Many of them clutched the yellow and white papal flag, adorned with crossed keys and the ornate papal crown.

The crowd had congregated around an equestrian statue of George Washington. At its base stood a middle-aged man with thick, curly dark hair; his face personified fury. He spoke to the crowd:

«There is a judgment passed on the nations by the Lord of time. . . And when America faces its God on that awesome day and when He asks America ‘What did you do for these the least of My little ones?’ America will answer ‘Lord, we killed them while they were indeed the least of Thy little ones so that they could not be a nuisance to us.’ And then the Lord God, our Incarnate King, Christ, will answer: ‘Go you, America, into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. I and all my angels vomit you out because you have done this to Me and to My Mother, your Queen.’ America, you have become a nuisance to God.»

At the conclusion of his speech he held out a silver cross and exclaimed:

«And therefore we take upon ourselves this morning, and we swear not to lay it down in our lifetime, the Holy Cross of crusade against the enemies of life and its Creator . . . Dear God —give us the grace to embrace this Cross. Christus vivit. Christus regnat. Christus imperat. Long live Christ the King! Viva Cristo Rey!»

The uniformed men answered, “Viva Cristo Rey,” which the crowd then repeated.

Next, a tall, lanky redhead stood at the base of the Washington statue and addressed the crowd as he pointed to the clinic across the street:

«Christians will go to that building this morning in the name of their King . . . A delegation of them will go inside the walls to receive from the executioners a promise that the King’s reign will be honored in that place. They will seek enforcement of His command, Thou shalt not murder; they will seek to baptize and to bury in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. . . . They will not leave willingly until the King’s rule has returned.»

He pulled on a red beret, grabbed a large wooden cross, and led the crowd across the street toward the clinic. Five of the demonstrators, including the lanky redhead, entered the clinic and scuffled with police officers. Outside, the uniformed men prayed the rosary on their knees. The five men who had infiltrated the clinic were arrested; they shouted “Viva Cristo Rey” as they were led outside to a police wagon —the crowd roared “Viva Cristo Rey” in response.

This pro-life demonstration was an extraordinary event for a number of reasons. First, it was exotic; the contingent of uniformed demonstrators were Los Hijos de Tormenta (the Sons of Thunder), a group modeled after the Carlists —a Catholic traditionalist movement indigenous to Spain. Bystanders were likely bewildered by the Hispanic flair. Second, the demonstration was an unabashed display of militant Roman Catholicism. These men and women were unapologetically Catholic; indeed, they had emerged boldly from the so-called Catholic ghetto. Third, and most important, if the demonstration was a sign of Catholic bravado, it was different from that discussed in most histories of American Catholicism. These Catholics were not interested in assimilation. They were not interested in pluralism. They were rejecting both.

While the demonstration represented a shedding of a ghetto mentality, it also signified a desire to fashion a new one in which Catholics righteously set themselves apart fromAmerican society, but who were outward-looking, expansionist, and imperialist —eager to conquer American society for the Roman Catholic Church. They were interested in making the public order conform to the moral law, or as the tall, lanky redhead phrased it, they were intent on making sure that the “King’s reign will be honored” in America —the purpose of Triumph’s editors.