Retired Bishop Rene Henry Gracida of the Catholic Diocese of Corpus Christi may be the most interesting bishop in the country.
He is also one of the most courageous defenders of Life in the entire College of Bishops.
Born June 9, 1923, Bishop Gracida turns 98 today. He has worn many hats throughout his life, including airman, monk, bishop, and even rancher!
Even now Gracida remains an active advocate for the lives of the innocent and vulnerable as well as a proactive blogger.
Bishop Gracida rose to the national stage in the eighties and nineties, when, as bishop of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, he took public action to confront the murderous exploits of Planned Parenthood and certain politicians.
In 1994 Bishop Gracida earned the ire of the media and many of his fellow bishops when he imposed interdict on a Catholic Texas politician for his public support of abortion. In the Catholic Church a person under interdict is prohibited from participating in the sacraments, including the reception of communion.
Bishop Gracida stood firm in his decision despite widespread backlash from secular and religious authorities.
Gracida is no stranger to hardship and adversity. He was raised during the Great Depression and was a young soldier in the second world war.
During World War II, Gracida served as a U.S. airman, flying 32 missions over Nazi-occupied Europe.
He has had many close-calls with death. Gracida has related jettisoning his rear door and preparing to bail out after his plane had lost two engines and caught fire during one of his missions.
On another mission a shard of German shrapnel ripped through his plane, missing his head by inches. “If it had hit me, it would have taken my head off,” says Gracida. Incredibly he has held onto that piece of shrapnel and keeps the artifact as a memento to this day.
Bishop Gracida is not afraid to fight for the truth and the defense of the weak.
This month the Catholic bishops across the country are discussing how they should handle Joe Biden, who professes to be a devout Catholic but also simultaneously unequivocally supports abortion-on-demand as U.S. president.
The bishops will be voting on whether to clarify their language that Catholic politicians who stand in direct contradiction to the Catholic teaching against abortion should not receive communion.
Unsurprisingly, Bishop Gracida has taken a strong stance against Biden’s abortion agenda.
“The most important issue facing the world today is the assault on the sanctity of human life,” Bishop Gracida has written.
Responding to criticism for his interdiction back in 1994, Gracida wrote that “interdiction in the internal forum was important not only for the spiritual well-being of the person being interdicted, but also for the spiritual good of the community.”
Gracida went on to explain, “it has become crystal clear that the politician who actively engages his political skills to maintain abortion-on-demand and who protects the ongoing genocide by voting for legislation in favor of abortion formally cooperates in the evil of abortion itself.”
Bishop Gracida has never let go of his courageous airman attitude.
In fact, as a newly appointed bishop in Florida in the seventies Gracida obtained a private pilot’s license so that he could fly all over the state to perform his duties as shepherd of his diocese.
When he retired in 1997 he took up cattle-raising in southeast Texas but he has never shirked his duties as a shepherd of the Catholic Church nor his responsibility to defend the most vulnerable lives of preborn children.
Texas Right to Life is very thankful to God for Bishop Gracida’s faithful witness and defense of Life. Happy 98th birthday Bishop Gracida!