Read a short obituary of Dick Lloyd, here.
The origins of NCCL trace back to the mid 1970s when concerned Catholics — many of them active in pro-life work — met in New Jersey to form an “Interstate Coalition of Clergy & Laity.”
They had already long observed the growing crisis in the world and had traced its sources to the crisis intensifying at the time in the Church on earth. Dick Lloyd was already pointing the way out, along The Way — ever ancient & ever new.
Parents and pastors had then to deal with many an assault on the family, the Sacraments, schools and other institutions, and among the most pernicious was the wholesale swapping of education in morality for classroom sex-education — which had been condemned by the Roman Magisterium in 1929.
As Dick would repeat over the years, “There can be no restoration without pure children.”
By 1980 the National Coalition of Clergy & Laity had already taken shape, thanks in greatest part to Dick’s tireless efforts. The apostolate was incorporated in 1985, and received tax-exempt status from the IRS.
In those early years Dick traveled far and wide to warn parents & pastors of the counterfeit of Catholic education in morality that sex-ed was. But he also used the telephone & fax to their fullest potential for spreading the word and organizing concerned Catholics.
He used to say, “What good is all the meeting and talking if nothing comes of it?”. And, “There is no cooperation without concentrated, kept-up communication.” He held fast to principles. And he looked for ways to act on them. He had a keen knack for keeping principles and action in close harmony.
He was a man of principle — who refused to compromise his convictions.
That became an hallmark of NCCL’s mission: “No-compromise action.”
Ever the clever student (graduating first in his class from LaSalle College in 1949 only got him started) Dick quickly learned how to exploit the press to alert millions to the evil of classroom sex-ed, holding press conferences in major metropolitan areas all over North America. Their theme was as ironclad as simple: The matter is about sexual scandal perpetrated on youths — even kindergartners — by clergy in classrooms, in violation of the exact-contrary doctrines of the Roman Magisterium.
He never veered from that theme, even to the criticism of his closest collaborators who chided him for ‘lack of imagination’ — until finally they figured out what he was ‘up to’. It was never about him, or NCCL or personalities, or fine rhetoric. He categorically loathed and avoided scrupulously making the issues “about people”, or — worse — “going after a person”.
Even when he publicly denounced the false doctrines or dangerous efforts of clergy like Fr. Charles Curran, the infamous sometime Catholic theologian from Catholic University, or Bishops Gerety or McHugh of Trenton, notorious unrepentant sex-educators, Dick never attacked them personally. Not even in private. Ever. He would pray and have Masses offered in reparation, or for their repentance or conversion.
For Dick, the struggle was always about being a true witness to Christ’s teaching. Of upholding public morality by unswerving fidelity to truth & Catholic faith, by spreading the doctrines of Christ as taught by the Roman Magisterium. Period.
His single-minded approach paid dividends. The press inevitably reported only what the Roman Church taught universally on the subject — because that’s all Dick talked about with them — in contrast to the fateful, ugly decisions of local ordinaries. He used to say “those reporters have a deadline to keep, and will print what I tell them — so I’ll only tell them what the Roman Magisterium teaches, and they’ll print it.”
So, to the press: “Look. This is what the Catholic Church teaches. [Then read verbatim from Pope Pius XI’s classic denunciation of classroom sex-ed.] And this is what bishop so-and-so is giving in place of sexual morality.” And the next day the headline would read: “Local Catholic Bishop at odds with the Pope over education”.
Dick later trained numerous fellow Catholics how to use the media the same way — on a variety of topics (not just sex-ed) — in their home towns, even developing a training manual for them.
In one of his 15+ visits to the Vatican between 1980 and 1995, pilgrimages he paid for from his own pocket, Dick once asked a Roman Cardinal what could be done to hold churchmen accountable for their complicity in the crisis, especially of education. His Eminence, Cardinal Gagnon, replied tersely: “Hold more of the same kind of press conferences.”
It was during those same visits that Dick obtained powerful letters of support (to resist the forces of naturalism working in the Church & to spread the Gospel) from Roman Curial officials, like Msgr. Carlo Caffarra, now Cardinal-Archbishop of Bologna, as well as the late Miroslav Cardinal Lubachivsky, Silvio Cardinal Oddi, the future Pope Benedict XVI, and others.
The cry for a total “ban on classroom sex-ed” was the watchword, and it spread like wildfire. (Nowadays the kids would say, “It went viral.”) Dick carried the torch.
Those 15+ visits to the Holy See in 15 years, and the trust engendered by Dick’s dependability & discretion, laid the groundwork for not a few projects (many of them still ‘top-secret’) the Coalition has conducted ever since.
Though not a few of the projects are still ‘classified’, many would marvel at the depth & breath of their successes. One of the projects even culminated in a motu proprio of a pope. Another in a controversial document from a dicastery of the Roman Curia. Still others from the desks of bishops loyal to Christ’s doctrines and ready courageously to teach them. For Dick it was never about notoriety, and always about saving souls — whatever it took. He was always willing to stand in the background, unnoticed — almost to a fault.
As well-publicized NCCL’s action was against classroom sex-ed & other abuses of morality, liturgy & doctrine, so also was NCCL’s action discreet when it had to be — when nothing for the common good would come from open opposition, and would only ‘politicize’ the less-publicized troubles caused by neo-modernists … and neo-conservatives, who still just don’t get what the crisis is, and what means are needed to overcome it. Dick knew and taught many that a chief advantage of a small force is the element of surprise.
He was an eminently prudent man.
In the 1980s working with jurists and canonists Dick & the Coalition also developed the greatly successful “conscience clause”, which enabled parents to remove their children from the classes in which sex-ed was taught. It also protected aspiring parents & children from having to participate in ungodly substitutes of the traditional preparations for reception of first Sacraments.
By May 2004, following more widespread publication of other, even more lurid scandals of sexual improprieties among the clergy, the bishops collectively came more or less to their senses … for a moment at least … when for one day they published a ‘cessation’ of sorts on classroom sex-ed. When the announcement disappeared the next day from the USCCB website, veterans in opposition smelled something fishy, and not a few attributed the bishops’ ‘conversion’ less to opposition of the years or to a sudden burst of catholic faith than to more shenanigans & business as usual: this time to satisfy the underwriters of liability insurance.
The hand-writing was on the wall, as it were. And since the bishops had lately developed their reading skills to read spreadsheets & bottom lines instead of God’s Word and his last judgment, it was plain even to the willfully blind that obtaining liability insurance to cover high-risk clerics was soon to get much costlier. It was not going to be available at all when parents could sue dioceses over what was going on to corrupt their minor children in classrooms: forget in rectories or bedrooms.
Nevertheless, all those years of NCCL being a sign of faithful, persistent contradiction in Christ to that pernicious error had to have worn down the proponents of classroom sex-ed. We know for certain that Dick’s courageous, steadfast efforts contributed to sparing scores of thousands of desperate parents & innocent children from the “plague” called sex-ed.
As awareness of the universal crisis spread among Catholics in North America, so did the reputation of and need for the National Coalition. Parents, pastors & parishioners by the thousands: many of them heart-broken & desperate over the abuses against the sacraments & traditions of holy Church: turned to NCCL for help.
It soon became a joke in the NCCL office. Many a caller would ask, somewhat bewildered about half way through a 30-minute conversation,”What does NCCL do, anyway?”. As there was a lot NCCL did — and still does, since there is hardly a limit to troubles in the current crisis — a more or less standard answer became, “Just wait til the end of our conversation, or collaborations. You’ll have a clearer picture then.”
Indeed, Dick was always careful not to overload or burden concerned Catholics with too much ‘bad news’ about the crisis. “There’s only so much a person can take, before tempting to bitterness.”, he used to say.
He was at heart a very gentle man.
Whether it was a matter of the sacred Liturgy, of theology or education, or morality & piety, Dick was there, ready to speak with all who called for help, one at a time: first to listen and to learn from them, then to teach them what the Church has always believed & taught, and — when asked (which was almost as inevitable as it was incessant) — to give careful counsel about what concretely could be done to counter the error, resist the scandal, and keep the faith.
It was never cheap advice he gave, given from some textbook. “There are no textbook answers because there is no textbook to understand the crisis. There is only the school of the Cross and penance”, he used to say. It was rather always serious, studied counsel that came from patient listening & deliberate discernment of each step with his interlocutor and collaborator.
Honing that talent for quick, decisive, effective action, Dick & NCCL helped bring the traditional Latin Mass back to parish after parish — one at a time — in the 1980s, 1990s, and into the new century. Sometimes only working with one person — not always a parishioner at the prospective parish — he would write letters for them to sign to this bishop or that priest, or another helpful layman.
The pews of those parishes are literally filled with young, often home-schooling families whom Dick helped, and taught to pray.
He devoted himself almost ceaselessly to the mission, in thousands upon thousands of one-on-one conversations with like-minded Catholics. There were long days on the phone, and longer days writing to those who would collaborate, or needed something on hand to read & use in the spiritual warfare. He used to say, “Bickering will get us nowhere fast, except probably to hell.” To his chief collaborators he always, always counseled & demanded patience and what might be called ‘polite, if somewhat pragmatic peace’.
It would always sound something like this: “There is no time for in-fighting. There is too much to do, too much to accomplish, too many souls are at stake — yours first! If you want to fight anything besides error & immorality, there are plenty of people to accommodate you. They’re easy to find. But NCCL’s modus operandi is to cooperate with people who agree on the principles and are serious about genuine restoration. NCCL doesn’t fight battles against flesh & blood. Ours is a struggle against principalities & powers in the higher [hellish] realms, against the world, the flesh & the devil: the good fight to keep the faith — and hope & charity — and to spread them.”
For being such a peace-loving man whom some mistook even for timid, Dick was tenacious.
He sensed and studied the depth of the crisis, and realized earlier than most its causes and its cures. And he realized there were no easy answers, no magic potions, no silver bullets to relieve us of our woes in this vale of tears. Doing penance & believing in Christ were the chief remedies.
And foremost, loving The Christ. He used to quote, from memory … and so incessantly that others soon could memorize all of “page 87” in the biography of Blessed Anna Maria Tiagi, Wife, Mother, Mystic; namely, the words attributed to Christ:
“My daughter, spiritual profit consists neither in penance nor in the frequentation of the Sacraments, nay, not even in abiding sorrow for sin, but in the union of your will with Mine. Those who wish to follow My way must renounce their own will everywhere and in all things. Do what you do not wish to do; leave undone what you wish to do; one act of violence to oneself of this kind is much more pleasing to Me than an entire year of penances. You must not for the future use such language as: ‘I want this; that is pleasant, that other thing unpleasant, and I would much rather not do it’ –- such is the language of the world”.
Dick realized already in the early 1970s that not just one or another Catholic thing or practice was under assault, but that the whole Faith was the target of the innovators, revolutionaries and the whole neo-modernist rabble trying to re-make the Church according to their mistaken, wishful-image.
It was not surprising that Dick & friends actively sought the rehabilitation of the old Roman sacramental & liturgical rites, and defended the Blessed Sacrament against sacrilege and other abuses in the new rites; that they encouraged all Catholics they could to strive for holiness, inspired them to practice true devotion to Mary, led them to parishes & pastors with whom they could practice the Faith without undue risk from the ‘experimentation’ that was rampant, introduced them to the Eastern Catholic Churches where faith was then still practiced publicly & better preserved. (Dick canonically transferred to the Kievan-Rus’ [Ukrainian] Catholic Church in 1982.)
In short, there was not an aspect of the Christian life that Dick & his friends in Coalition did not seek to defend or to induce fellow Catholics to rediscover and to live. He encouraged everyone in every conversation — even with non-Catholics — to practice, return to or to convert to Catholic faith in its entirety.
And he was as relentless as he was polite about it. His non-Catholic friends used to quip, saying they were probably better prepared about what to say to Christ at their particular judgment than most Catholics. And they weren’t kidding. Dick so loved them that he used to say, “If you won’t convert now for whatever reason, don’t lose your last chance when you see Christ in the face — if you can keep your nerve when the time comes. Tell him …”, and would follow some short, easy-to-memorize line perfectly tailored in defense of that particular non-Catholic friend.
Not that he never grew weary, but that he always returned to God for the strength that enabled him to do all God expected, given what he knew. He was a daily communicant for years; confessed weekly; he wore the brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel from his youth, and faithfully recited the Rosary daily til his death. He practiced mental prayer daily and even compiled the writings (under a few self-published titles) of saints on the necessity of habitual prayer for salvation.
He used to say in his direct kind of way, that we may not all be mystics like St. Teresa of Avila or John of the Cross, but each of the Baptized is called to intimate relationship with the mystical Body of Christ — the fruit of which is holiness; that is, likeness to God restored to the soul by grace.
As the years progressed he realized that the crisis was almost as old as it was deep: long pre-dating the outbreak of its more virulent symptoms after the Second Vatican Council, and at its root the separation of the three-fold thread of Catholic life: that is, the separation of doctrine, liturgy, and morality.
By the early 1990s the Coalition’s all-volunteer effort began to strain under popular demand. At the same time, Dick began to plan for the apostolate to continue its work into the future. In June 1991 and at his recommendation, the Board hired an executive director — his son, Greg, the youngest co-founder of the national apostolate in 1980. By the spring of 1992 a small full-time staff of dedicated employees & zealous volunteers was working six days a week under Dick’s competent direction & management.
At around the same time, parents were by then approaching NCCL in droves, seeking to learn to home-school. Many were still not sure about the crisis. “Crisis? What crisis?”, used to be the joke in the office. Dick & co. were there to help — again, one at a time — showing them how to get home-schooling right from the beginning. (The attrition rate for home-schoolers was, understandably, pretty steep in those early, just post-pioneer years, and Dick keenly observed the need to help counter that.)
Before the advent of the internet, Dick & Coalition — an almost all-volunteer force — were mailing three to five thousand letters per month to collaborators & supporters. Like NCCL in general, which was an unique apostolate of action, the letters were less “newsy”, and practically all “action”. As he would repeat to his dying day, “The Christian’s purpose in life is to strive for holiness. To be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect.” For him it was a ‘given’ that the Baptized must seek to do according to who they have become: a new creation in Christ at baptism, fortified by the other Sacraments.
For decades, the watchword under Dick’s direction was “Action for a genuine — and complete — Catholic restoration”. By the late 1990s Dick began to see more clearly the need for ecclesial reform at every level — of the sort that had never materialized despite the promising intentions spoken at the Second Vatican Council.
It was at that time that Dick began to collaborate with small bands of clergy & laity all over the globe to piece together what to this day seems to be the only comprehensive plan to overcome the crisis by addressing & healing its root causes: a small, single cell of reform. Though ever filled with Christian hope, Dick remained pretty sure he and his children would not live to taste the final fruits of the seeds of that reform he had helped to plant. But as in all his days at NCCL, in that too he worked for his grandchildren & great grandchildren, and friends, trusting that the long-awaited restoration in the rest of the Church on earth will come in God’s time — no doubt after due penance & reparation.
That mature Christian hope of his he bequeathed to all who knew & worked with him.
We are all the better, undeservedly, for it.
Please join Dick’s life-work by supporting the Coalition with as generous a gift as you can.
Please also request Masses for the repose of Dick’s valiant soul.