Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts Sister Deirdre “Dede” Byrne made national headlines when she delivered a speech at the Republican National Convention that portrayed unborn children as “the largest marginalized group in the world.”
Her speech came a week after the Democratic National Convention, which included prayers delivered by Sister Simone Campbell, a Sister of Social Service and a political activist, and Jesuit Father James Martin.
A retired colonial in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and a missionary surgeon, “Sister Dede” has traveled the globe, treating military personnel and the needy in Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Kenya and Sudan. At present, she serves as a volunteer surgeon at the Spanish Catholic Center in Washington, D.C., and helps with her order’s physical therapy clinic, while caring for several elderly members.
During an Aug. 31 interview with Register senior editor Joan Frawley Desmond, she explained why she decided to speak at the RNC, where she emphatically declared she was “pro-life” and “pro-eternal life” and discussed her part-time ministry helping women reverse chemical abortions. These strong feelings led her to call the Biden-Harris campaign the most “anti-life presidential ticket ever.”
Why did you decide to speak at the Republican National Convention (RNC)?
During the Democratic National Convention the previous week, there was a lot of talk on the news about the Democratic vote, the Catholic vote and how Joe Biden was a good Catholic, despite his support for legal abortion. Also, the convention featured a priest and religious sister speaking, and I feared many Catholics would be confused by this support.
As a Catholic doctor, sister and human being, I believe that legal abortion is the most critical issue for us, and so I was distraught by what I heard.
I also reflected on how other issues go hand in hand with our responsibility to defend unborn life, such as respect for religious freedom and freedom of speech. I thought about what happened to the Little Sisters of the Poor [who filed a legal challenge to the Health and Human Services’ contraceptive mandate] and Nick Sandmann [the Covington Catholic High School student who successfully sued media outlets for defamation of character after their coverage of a video of his encounter with a Native American activist at the 2019 March for Life that damaged his reputation].
I took all of this to prayer, and asked the Lord, “Help me, Lord, to be your voice in any way you would like.” Then I got a call that same day from the White House asking that I speak.
As a sister, I knew we could not endorse a certain politician. But I did some research and discovered that Sister Simone Campbell said she had spoken at the DNC three times and that she supported abortion in some cases. I spoke with our provincial, and she approved my appearance because my talk would defend the unborn.
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