(LifeSiteNews) — Rosaries, grace, trust, and the acceptance of suffering were key themes in the powerful Monday livestream that provided further details about the intense raid, arrest, indictment, and trial of pro-life sidewalk counselor Mark Houck.
Houck, a Catholic husband and father of seven, was fully acquitted last month after his dramatic arrest at the hands of dozens of heavily armed FBI agents at his home last year, LifeSiteNews has extensively reported.
On Monday, he joined 40 Days for Life founder David Bereit on a livestream hosted by the Thomas More Society and simultaneously livestreamed on LifeSiteNews.
Also contributing to the livestream were Houck’s wife Ryan-Marie, as well as Thomas More Society founder Tom Brejcha and attorneys Peter Breen, Michael McHale, and Andrew Bath. Journalist Linda Stein and Houck family friend Bishop Joe Coffey also joined to provide their perspectives.
In comments to Bereit, Houck expressed his gratitude for The Thomas More Society, whose expert legal defense led to a unanimous “not guilty” verdict just two weeks ago, explaining that the Catholic conservative legal team provided the “wind beneath the wings.”
“It’s not my victory, it’s our victory as the pro-life movement,” Houck said.
The embattled father of seven then recounted his ordeal, beginning with the 2021 altercation with aggressive abortion “escort” Bruce Love, to the FBI raid at his Pennsylvania home in which dozens of FBI agents with “M-16s … ballistic shields … ballistic helmets … a battering ram” arrived to carry out his arrest, and culminating with his total acquittal on January 30.
Through it all, Houck’s retelling made clear that the power of prayer was at work.
Pray, hope, and don’t worry
Houck said that the day of the altercation with Love, which later spiraled into a federal case, he had been praying the rosary in Latin with his then-12-year-old son Mark Jr. outside the downtown Philadelphia abortion facility. He said his son had made the suggestion because he knew that “the devil hates Latin.”
A year later, when Houck was abruptly taken from his home in the early morning by federal agents, he wasn’t allowed to put on his socks or say goodbye to his family, but they did allow him to bring his rosary.
Stein and Bishop Coffey also recounted that prayer, and in particular the rosary, provided spiritual fortification as the Houck family fought its battle. Stein told Bereit that rosaries were ubiquitous among community members who showed up to rally for Houck.
READ: John-Henry Westen prays with pro-life dad Mark Houck following shocking FBI raid
Andrew Bath, Thomas More Society executive vice president and general counsel, noted that there was a clearly obvious “clashing of worldviews” within the courtroom itself.
Amid antagonism from the prosecuting attorney, who asked Houck “with disdain in her voice” whether the pro-life dad thought he was engaged in a battle (Houck replied that it was “a spiritual battle”), Bath noted that there were also “so many rosaries” in the courtroom.
Senior counsel Michael McHale said throughout the trial it was “so obvious that prayer was essential” and that grace was abundant.
Houck’s wife, Ryan-Marie, shared that her husband modeled humility, peace, and strength throughout the ordeal, and helped his family recognize that “God had us, and would not forsake us or abandon us.” She said her primary takeaway was to have “trust” that the Lord would provide.
But while prayer appeared to have taken them across the finish line, Houck, his family, and his legal team also had to put in their blood, sweat, and tears to defeat the Biden administration’s DOJ prosecution.
The acquittal that could have been a mistrial
During the livestream, the Thomas More Society’s legal team took turns detailing their legal strategies and recounting the trial. They spoke about their crucial discovery that the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act was explicitly not meant to pertain to “escorts” like Love.
That reality, combined with the revelation that Mr. Love was on suspension for repeatedly violating Planned Parenthood’s own non-engagement policy, were “key facts” in helping the team get to a “not guilty” verdict, Breen said.
But it could easily have gone sideways.
The Thomas More Society team noted during the livestream that the case was on its way to being declared a mistrial after a single juror refused to deliberate in the jury room.
LifeSiteNews reported at the time that the case was handed to the jury on the afternoon of Friday, January 27. The jury returned in about two hours, however, declaring that they were “deadlocked.” Breen said some of the jurors who seemed to be sympathetic to Houck appeared “crestfallen” and “distressed” after being unable to render a verdict.
When the jury returned on Monday, January 30, it became known that one juror had simply decided that Houck was guilty and refused to engage in debate with the other jurors.
After consultation with the judge and the prosecution, the intransigent juror was excused. Almost immediately after an alternate was selected, the jury came back with its verdict: Not guilty.
Though victorious, Houck and The Thomas More Society say they aren’t done fighting.
Houck and his family have already returned to the Philadelphia Planned Parenthood to continue their sidewalk counseling, and Houck said he was able to speak with sympathetic members of Congress when he attended the State of the Union address last week.
Moving forward, Houck and his team want to ensure that Planned Parenthood and the Biden FBI are “held to account,” and prevent the federal government from being weaponized against any other pro-life advocates.
Houck called his situation an “amazing platform to proclaim Jesus” and invited listeners to recognize that “suffering is a true invitation” to “meet Christ.”
According to Bath, Houck’s crucial victory, while significant, is one of the “minor skirmishes” in the “much larger spiritual battles.”
In a question-and-answer session, he observed the FBI’s recent leaked and retracted memo targeting traditional Catholics was, like the prosecution of Houck, “a terrible abuse of government power.”
Bath said Houck’s acquittal was a “stunning victory” because his prosecution was a “stunning abuse of government power.”
However, he said Houck’s acquittal will set a precedent showing that the federal government cannot railroad pro-lifers, who he advised not to be afraid as they continue to “save babies” and “offer help to desperate women.”
And if those pro-lifers do find they need legal assistance, “The Thomas More Society will be there for you,” he said.
Thanks to a generous donor, the Thomas More Society is currently offering a $50,000 matching challenge for anyone interested in contributing to the legal team’s work. Any donations to the not-for-profit legal group, including monthly contributions up to $50,000, will be doubled.