Although Barbara and I have lectured in 65 countries, we had never gone completely around the world on one trip. This time we did. The impetus was our annual International Right to Life Federation board meeting, which was scheduled for Bangalore, India. Word spread, and soon there were other invitations from India, Singapore, as well as a fascinating opportunity to speak to the parliament at Kathmandu, Nepal. A few letters to friends along the way and our schedule filled up.
We flew through Los Angeles to Taipei to spend a day there then to Singapore. We met with pro-life leaders there and spent a fruitful evening with the pro-life leadership which has its roots down and is well established.
We flew to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to be met at their brand new, ultra modern airport and whisked into town. The Commonwealth games had just concluded, so the city looked great. Our schedule was largely set up by Dr. John Wong from Panang who teamed up with other hosts in Kuala Lumpur. We met with pro-life leaders, including the local bishop, lectured and even had time for a little sightseeing in this bustling city with its forest of new high rise buildings.
Back through Singapore and to Calcutta. This is an absolutely unique city. Words can only poorly describe the heat, noise, and teeming, crowded streets with entire families living on the sidewalk, the constant blare of horns, the sacred cows and more. The high point of our visit was lecturing for a full morning to Mother Teresas student nuns, her “tertiaries,” approximately 100 of whom are training in Calcutta. She has over 5,000 nuns belonging to her “Daughters of Charity” worldwide. Afterwards we went to the Mother House to meet the new Mother, Nirvala, and to view Mother Teresas tomb. Not unexpectedly, it was very simple and modest, located on the second floor of the Mother House, in a large, rectangular room that has an altar on one wall, used for celebrating Mass. Her tomb is white marble, sitting in the middle, unadorned except for a plaque on top with her name and dates on it. As we left the room, we almost stumbled over a small statue on the floor at the door. Looking down, we saw Mother Teresa, sitting as she did at prayer, in her blue and white habit. Bare feet visible, she is hunched over praying the rosary. Mother Nirvala smiled and said, “This is the way she prayed.”
It was the time of a Hindu festival, and there were colorful celebrations throughout the city with paper mache altars and idols. We lectured in a number of places, sharing native meals in several homes. On our final night we stayed at a major Catholic seminary (four years training) which was ordaining 100 Catholic priests a year. Calcutta has perhaps 20 million people, but India is only two percent Christian, half of them Catholic. Using this percentage, there are 200,000 Catholics in Calcutta. A priest shortage? hardly.
We went through Islamabad to our central destination, Bangalore, spending almost a week there. We participated in two major national, two-day seminars and held our annual International Right to Life Federation board meeting. We lectured in a number of places and actually had a little time to shop for gifts for our eighteen grandchildren.
Connecting through Bombay, we landed in Kathmandu, Nepal, for perhaps our most interesting stop. An International Planned Parenthood person had arranged to introduce a bill into their parliament. The current law forbids abortion outright. It even punishes the woman, if she is convicted of complicity in this crime. The proposed law was titled “The Pregnancy Protection Act of 1998.” Talk about semantic gymnastics! Paul Litton, from Americans United for Life, was one of three others who accompanied us. He analyzed the proposed bill and pronounced it the most radical bill in the world next to the US and China. Along with our compatriots, we were privileged to present a full-day seminar to a significant percentage of the members of parliament. Our host was one of the key members of parliament, Mr. Jarit Betwahl.
We did have time for one day of sightseeing in this Hindu nation. Temples, sacred monkeys, prayer wheels, incense, idols and more idols contrasted with the modern, four-star hotel where we held our seminar.
On to Bombay for a one-day scheduled lecture and then to Zurich for a day of rest and direct to our home in Cincinnati. It was a fascinating, exhausting, but very fruitful 3 ½ weeks. But you wouldnt want to try it unless you had good walking shoes, didnt mind jet lag and had a bit of an iron lining to your stomach.
On the Go For Life Issues
Dr. Willke’s speaking schedule has recently included the following locations and events:
- Los Angeles, California: Radio Broadcasting
- Grand Island, Nebraska: Lecture on School Based Sex Clinics
- New York City: International Catholic Medical Association
- St. Paul, Minnesota: CPC Banquet
- Singapore: Consult and Lecture
- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Lecturing
- Calcutta, India: Lecturing
- Bangalore, India: Lectures, an International Right to Life Federation Board Meeting and two seminars
- Kathmandu, Nepal: Address Parliament
- New Delhi, India: Consult, Lecture
- New York City: Al Smith Dinner
- Dayton, Ohio: State Right to Life Convention
- Lodi, California: CPC Banquet
- Indianapolis, Indiana: Luncheon address, Indiana Citizens for Life State Convention
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Catholic Leadership Meeting
- Charlottesville, Virginia: CPC Banquet
- Tulsa, Oklahoma: CPC Banquet
- Island of Malta: Consultation
- The Hague, Netherlands: International Euthanasia Seminar