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ISSUES: CHRISTIANS AND THE WORLD

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CHRISTIANS AND THE WORLD
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For Americans who think so-called 'death panels' aren't anywhere on the horizon, something similar already is:

The Death Book for US veterans:
How to say 'Hurry up and die!'

By JIM TOWEY
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August 22, 2009


Mr. Towey, president of Saint Vincent College, was director of the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives (2002-2006) and founder of the nonprofit Aging with Dignity.


If President Obama wants to better understand why America's discomfort with end-of-life discussions threatens to derail his health-care reform, he might begin with his own Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

He will quickly discover how government bureaucrats are greasing the slippery slope that can start with cost containment but quickly become a systematic denial of care.

Last year, bureaucrats at the VA's National Center for Ethics in Health Care advocated a 52-page end-of-life planning document, "Your Life, Your Choices." It was first published in 1997 [under Pres. Clinton] and later promoted as the VA's preferred living will throughout its vast network of hospitals and nursing homes.

After the Bush White House took a look at how this document was treating complex health and moral issues, the VA suspended its use. Unfortunately, under President Obama, the VA has now resuscitated "Your Life, Your Choices."

Who is the primary author of this workbook? Dr. Robert Pearlman, chief of ethics evaluation for the center, a man who in 1996 advocated for physician-assisted suicide in Vacco v. Quill before the U.S. Supreme Court and is known for his support of health-care rationing.

"Your Life, Your Choices" presents end-of-life choices in a way aimed at steering users toward predetermined conclusions, much like a political "push poll." For example, a worksheet on page 21 lists various scenarios and asks users to then decide whether their own life would be "not worth living."

The circumstances listed include ones common among the elderly and disabled: living in a nursing home, being in a wheelchair and not being able to "shake the blues."

There is a section which provocatively asks, "Have you ever heard anyone say, 'If I'm a vegetable, pull the plug'?"

There also are guilt-inducing scenarios such as "I can no longer contribute to my family's well being," "I am a severe financial burden on my family" and that the vet's situation "causes severe emotional burden for my family."

When the government can steer vulnerable individuals to conclude for themselves that life is not worth living, who needs a death panel?

One can only imagine a soldier surviving the war in Iraq and returning without all of his limbs only to encounter a veteran's health-care system that seems intent on his surrender.

I was not surprised to learn that the VA panel of experts that sought to update "Your Life, Your Choices" between 2007-2008 did not include any representatives of faith groups or disability rights advocates. And as you might guess, only one organization was listed in the new version as a resource on advance directives: the Hemlock Society(now euphemistically known as "Compassion and Choices").

This hurry-up-and-die message is clear and unconscionable. Worse, a July 2009 VA directive instructs its primary care physicians to raise advance care planning with all VA patients and to refer them to "Your Life, Your Choices." Not just those of advanced age and debilitated condition—all patients. America's 24 million veterans deserve better.

Many years ago I created an advance care planning document called "Five Wishes" that is today the most widely used living will in America, with 13 million copies in national circulation.

Unlike the VA's document, this one does not contain the standard bias to withdraw or withhold medical care. It meets the legal requirements of at least 43 states, and it runs exactly 12 pages.

After a decade of observing end-of-life discussions, I can attest to the great fear that many patients have, particularly those with few family members and financial resources. I lived and worked in an AIDS home in the mid-1980s and saw first-hand how the dying wanted more than health care — they wanted someone to care.

If President Obama is sincere in stating that he is not trying to cut costs by pressuring the disabled to forgo critical care, one good way to show that commitment is to walk two blocks from the Oval Office and pull the plug on "Your Life, Your Choices."

He should make sure in the future that VA decisions are guided by values that treat the lives of our veterans as gifts, not burdens.


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Another end-of-life item:


Thai Catholics and Buddhists speak up
on biological will and right to life

by Weena Kowitwanij
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A constitutional revision on laws governing the end of life is being drafted in the country. A Buddhist monk says pain and sickness must be accepted; a Catholic priest stresses the importance of spiritual care.


Bangkok, Aug. 22 (AsiaNews) - "The day before his death, I went to the seaside with my son. On the way home, he laid his head on my shoulder and told me 'Mom, I am so happy today'. The next day he died in my arms".

This is how a mother describes the death of her 10 year old child, who had long suffered with leukaemia to AsiaNews. "I still remember - adds Rangsima Boonyabhum - his last words ... 'Bye ... Mom'."

In Thailand the issues of biological wills and end of life rights are being debated at a conference organized by the National Committee for Healthcare.

During the meetings there was talk of the "right to self determination" and the "right to refuse treatment for the terminally ill”.

The participants also expressed views and impressions on the National Health Act of 1997, paragraph 12, which establishes the right of the patient to set the limits for care in the event of a coma or vegetative state. It also provides for authorized "therapies that put an end to pain".

Chatree Charoensiri, Secretary General of the National Committee for Healthcare, said that several factors should be taken into consideration in the revision of paragraph 12 of the Act, among them "the law, society, culture and religion", so as not to trigger "conflict" but ensure "the patients choices are respected”.

At the conclusion of the conference, the doctor says, the Committee will prepare a draft "to be submitted to the executive for approval."

The World Medical Association guarantees the right of self determination to the patient. But the Thai Constitution and the draft revision of the law make clear reference to human dignity and the right to life.

Phra Phaisan Visalia, a Buddhist monk, emphasizes that "pain, disability and illness should not be regarded as enemies, but with accepted with wisdom”. He states that "people have to die a natural death" without external interventions or instruments that constitute a "passive euthanasia", above all, he adds, there must always be respect for life. [This is all part of basic Buddhist doctrine - that life is suffering, and that age, sickness and death are inevitable, but every life - including that of the tinest flea - is sacred and must not be snuffed out by any person.]

John Baptist Siranon Sanpetch, director of San Camillo in the diocese of Ratchaburi, appreciates the groundwork laid down in Article 12, but clarifies that any eventual biological testament must “facilitate agreement between doctor and patient about the type of treatment to be administered".

The physician must continue to alleviate the symptoms of the disease, but these elements must be united to "spiritual care and support of relatives."



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I have not checked out America magazine in months because from what I read in the Catholic blogs, it has had nothing productive to offer an orthodox Catholic like me. In that time, it has changed its logo, conspicuously dropping the Jesuit IHS that used to be part of it. Are they following Obama's lead who had the IHS symbol at Georgetown boarded up in black when he spoke there?

But Carl Olson at Ignatius Insight has sounded the alert that the ultra-liberal Jesuit magazine has, in fact, opened its pages to South Bend's Bishop John D'Arcy. For which America should be commended.

The bishop does a magnificent job of presenting the issue as it is: a question of Catholic identity and upholding the faith, as all Catholics should, especially universities that call themselves Catholic.

The issue's cover appears to indicate that there is another retrospective article on the Notre Dame issue by a John Quinn - it probably is the contra-D'Arcy position. I will try to look it up if I can. I did not renew my online subscription to America when it lasped last April (I took out the subscription for the Holy Father's visit last year).



The Church and the University:
A pastoral reflection on
the controversy at Notre Dame

by Mons. John M. D'Arcy
Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana
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Issue of August 31, 2009



As summer plays itself out on the beautiful campus by the lake where the young Holy Cross priest, Edward Sorin, C.S.C., pitched his camp 177 years ago and began his great adventure, we must clarify the situation that so sundered the church last spring: What it is all about and what it is not about.

It is not about President Obama. He will do some good things as president and other things with which, as Catholics, we will strongly disagree. It is ever so among presidents, and most political leaders.

It is not about Democrats versus Republicans, nor was it a replay of the recent general election.

It is not about whether it is appropriate for the president of the United States to speak at Notre Dame or any great Catholic university on the pressing issues of the day. This is what universities do. No bishop should try to prevent that.

The response, so intense and widespread, is not about what this journal called “sectarian Catholicism.” Rather, the response of the faithful derives directly from the Gospel. In Matthew’s words, “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good works, and glorify your heavenly Father” (5:13).

Public Witness

Does a Catholic university have the responsibility to give witness to the Catholic faith and to the consequences of that faith by its actions and decisions — especially by a decision to confer its highest honor? If not, what is the meaning of a life of faith?

And how can a Catholic institution expect its students to live by faith in the difficult decisions that will confront them in a culture often opposed to the Gospel?

Pope Benedict XVI, himself a former university professor, made his position clear when he spoke to Catholic educators in Washington, D.C., on April 17, 2008:

Teachers and administrators, whether in universities or schools, have the duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice. This requires that public witness to the way of Christ, as found in the Gospel and upheld by the Church’s magisterium, shapes all aspects of an institution’s life, both inside and outside the classroom.


In its decision to give its highest honor to a president who has repeatedly opposed even the smallest legal protection of the child in the womb, did Notre Dame surrender the responsibility that Pope Benedict believes Catholic universities have to give public witness to the truths revealed by God and taught by the Church?

Another serious question of witness and moral responsibility before the Notre Dame administration concerns its sponsorship over several years of a sad and immoral play, offensive to the dignity of women, which many call pornographic, and which an increasing number of Catholic universities have cancelled, “The Vagina Monologues,” by Eve Ensler.

Although he spoke eloquently about the importance of dialogue with the president of the United States, the president of Notre Dame chose not to dialogue with his bishop on these two matters, both pastoral and both with serious ramifications for the care of souls, which is the core responsibility of the local bishop. Both decisions were shared with me after they were made and, in the case of the honorary degree, after President Obama had accepted.

For the past 24 years, it has been my privilege to serve as the bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. During this time, I have never interfered in the internal governance of Notre Dame or any other institution of higher learning within the diocese.

However, as the teacher and shepherd in this diocese, it is my responsibility to encourage all institutions, including our beloved University of Notre Dame, to give public witness to the fullness of Catholic faith.

The diocesan bishop must ask whether a Catholic institution compromises its obligation to give public witness by placing prestige over truth. The bishop must be concerned that Catholic institutions do not succumb to the secular culture, making decisions that appear to many, including ordinary Catholics, as a surrender to a culture opposed to the truth about life and love.

The Local Bishop

The failure to dialogue with the bishop brings a second series of questions. What is the relationship of the Catholic university to the local bishop? No relationship? Someone who occasionally offers Mass on campus? Someone who sits on the platform at graduation?

Or is the bishop the teacher in the diocese, responsible for souls, including the souls of students — in this case, the students at Notre Dame? Does the responsibility of the bishop to teach, to govern and to sanctify end at the gate of the university?

In the spirit of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, which places the primary responsibility on the institution, I am proposing these questions for the university.

Prof. John Cavadini has addressed the questions about the relationship of the university and the bishop in an especially insightful manner. He is chair of the theology department and an expert on the early church, with a special interest in St. Augustine. His remarks were a response to Father Jenkins’s rationale for presenting the play mentioned above.

The statement of our President [Father Jenkins] barely mentions the Church. It is as though the mere mention of a relationship with the Church has become so alien to our ways of thinking and so offensive to our quest for a disembodied “excellence” that it has become impolite to mention it at all.

There is no Catholic identity apart from the affiliation with the Church. And again, I do not mean an imaginary Church we sometimes might wish existed, but the concrete, visible communion of “hierarchic and charismatic gifts,” “at once holy and always in need of purification,” in which “each bishop represents his own church and all of [the bishops] together with the Pope represent the whole Church...” (Lumen Gentium, Nos. 4, 8, 23).

The ancient Gnostic heresy developed an elitist intellectual tradition which eschewed connection to the “fleshly” church of the bishop and devalued or spiritualized the sacraments.

Are we in danger of developing a gnosticized version of the “Catholic intellectual tradition,” one which floats free of any norming connection and so free of any concrete claim to Catholic identity?


The full letter can be found on the Web site of the Notre Dame student newspaper, The Observer: www.ndsmcobserver.com.

It has been a great privilege and a source of joy to be associated with Notre Dame in the past 24 years as bishop. In so many ways, it is a splendid place. Part of this is because of the exemplary young men and women who come there from throughout the country. It is also because of its great spiritual traditions.

The lines of young people preparing to receive the sacrament of reconciliation at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the Masses in the residence halls, the prayerful liturgy at the basilica and the service of so many young people before and after graduation in Catholic education and catechetics, and in service to the poor in this country and overseas, is a credit to the university and a source of great hope.

The theology department has grown in academic excellence over the years, strengthened by the successful recruiting of professors outstanding in scholarship, in their knowledge of the tradition and in their own living of the Catholic faith. This growth is well known to Pope Benedict XVI. It is notable that a vast majority has been willing to seek and accept the mandatum from the local bishop.

Developments on Campus

Yet the questions about the relationship of the university as a whole to the Church still stand, and what happened on campus leading up to and during the graduation is significant for the present debate about Catholic higher education.

I released a statement on Good Friday, asking the Catholic people and others of good will not to attend demonstrations by those who had come avowedly to “create a circus.” I referred to appropriate and acceptable responses within the Notre Dame community led by students.

Titled “ND Response,” and drawing a significant number of professors, these responses were marked by prayer and church teaching, and they were orderly.

This journal and others in the media, Catholic and secular, reporting from afar, failed to make a distinction between the extremists on the one hand, and students and those who joined them in the last 48 hours before graduation. This latter group responded with prayer and substantive disagreement. They cooperated with university authorities.

In this time of crisis at the university, these students and professors, with the instinct of faith, turned to the bishop for guidance, encouragement and prayer.

This had nothing to do with John Michael D’Arcy. It was related to their understanding of the episcopal office — a place you should be able to count on for the truth, as Irenaeus contended in the second century when he encountered the Gnostics.

I attended the Baccalaureate Mass the day before graduation, for the 25th time, speaking after holy Communion, as I always do. Then I led an evening rosary at the Grotto with students, adults and a number of professors. We then went to a chapel on campus. It was packed for a whole night of prayer and eucharistic adoration.

It was my intention not to be on campus during graduation day. I had so informed Father Jenkins and the student leadership, with whom I was in touch nearly every day. This is the kind of deference and respect I have shown to the Notre Dame administration, to three Notre Dame presidents, over the years. I found it an increasingly sad time, and I was convinced that there were no winners, but I was wrong.

As graduation drew near, I knew I should be with the students. It was only right that the bishop be with them, for they were on the side of truth, and their demonstration was disciplined, rooted in prayer and substantive.

I told the pro-life rally, several thousand people on a lovely May day, that they were the true heroes. Despite the personal costs to themselves and their families, they chose to give public witness to the Catholic faith contrary to the example of a powerful, international university, against which they were respectfully but firmly in disagreement. Among those in attendance were many who work daily at crisis pregnancy centers on behalf of life.

The Silent Board

In the midst of the crisis at Notre Dame, the board of trustees came to campus in April for their long-scheduled spring meeting. They said nothing. When the meeting was completed, they made no statement and gave no advice.

In an age when transparency is urged as a way of life on and off campus, they chose not to enter the conversation going on all around them and shaking the university to its roots. We learned nothing about their discussions.

I firmly believe that the board of trustees must take up its responsibility afresh, with appropriate study and prayer. They also must understand the seriousness of the present moment. This requires spiritual and intellectual formation on the part of the men and women of industry, business and technology who make up the majority of the board.

Financial generosity is no longer sufficient for membership on the boards of great universities, if indeed it ever was. The responsibility of university boards is great, and decisions must not be made by a few. Like bishops, they are asked to leave politics and ambition at the door, and make serious decisions before God.

In the case of Notre Dame, they owe it to the Congregation of Holy Cross, which has turned this magnificent place over to a predominately lay board; they owe it to the students who have not yet come; they owe it to the intrepid missionary priest, Edward Sorin, C.S.C., and the Holy Cross religious who built this magnificent place out of the wilderness.

They owe it to Mary, the Mother of God, who has always been honored here. Let us pray that they will take this responsibility with greater seriousness and in a truly Catholic spirit.

Critical Questions

As bishops, we must be teachers and pastors. In that spirit, I would respectfully put these questions to the Catholic universities in the diocese I serve and to other Catholic universities.

Do you consider it a responsibility in your public statements, in your life as a university and in your actions, including your public awards, to give witness to the Catholic faith in all its fullness?

What is your relationship to the Church and, specifically, to the local bishop and his pastoral authority as defined by the Second Vatican Council?

Finally, a more fundamental question: Where will the great Catholic universities search for a guiding light in the years ahead? Will it be the Land O’Lakes Statement or Ex Corde Ecclesiae?

The first comes from a frantic time, with finances as the driving force. Its understanding of freedom is defensive, absolutist and narrow. It never mentions Christ and barely mentions the truth.

The second text, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, speaks constantly of truth and the pursuit of truth. It speaks of freedom in the broader, Catholic philosophical and theological tradition, as linked to the common good, to the rights of others and always subject to truth.

Unlike Land O’Lakes, it is communal, reflective of the developments since Vatican II, and it speaks with a language enlightened by the Holy Spirit.

On these three questions, I respectfully submit, rests the future of Catholic higher education in this country and so much else.




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Turkey and its Christians:
A few promises, zero action


A surprise visit from the Turkish prime minister to Bartholomew I.
But like other conciliatory gestures in the past, this one also risks producing no results.
Benedict XVI's reservations on the entry of Turkey into the European Union,
and the caution of Vatican diplomacy.

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ROME, August 27, 2009 – Samuel Huntington called Turkey "Janus-faced," you never know if it's a friend or enemy of the West.

The same thought must have come to mind for Bartholomew I, ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, when last August 15 he welcomed Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a visit to the orphanage and monastery of Saint George Koudounas on the Princes' Islands in the Marmara Sea.

It was the first time that a Turkish prime minister had gone to the Princes Islands, traditionally inhabited by Christians, and to a building, the orphanage, which after being requisitioned by the Turkish authorities was ruled to belong to the ecumenical patriarchate by the court of Strasbourg in June of 2008.

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Left photo: Erdogan speaks after luncheon; right, the Patriarch and his guests inspect the orphanage complex.

During his visit, Erdogan, accompanied by four of his ministers, had lunch with Bartholomew I and with representatives of the religious minorities in Turkey – Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Jewish, Syriac Orthodox, and Catholic – to whom he made guarantees against all forms of religious and ethnic discrimination.

"My neighbor must be met with love, because he is also a creature of God," Erdogan said, citing a maxim from the Mevlevi Shiite confraternity, which emerged on Konya in the 13th century, with some elements taken from Christianity.

Asked for a comment, Bartholomew I told Asia News: "Erdogan's presence was an honor for us, and it gave us an opportunity to present our problems directly, although he already knows about them. We invited the prime minister to the see of the ecumenical patriarchate and to Halki, and Erdogan thanked us for the invitation."

Halki is another island, the site of the seminary of theological formation for the ecumenical patriarchate, which was closed by the Turkish authorities in 1971.

Last June 10, in Brussels, Olli Rehn, the European Union commissioner for enlargement and therefore also overseeing the possible entry of Turkey, stated that this entry is conditional in part on the reopening of the Halki seminary.

Erdogan has until December of 2009 to present the authorities in Brussels with an account of the progress that Turkey has made in meeting the standards necessary for entry into the EU. For the patriarchate, this is one more reason to hope that the theological seminary of Halki will finally be reopened and resume its functions.

Unfortunately, however, "Janus" has repeatedly frustrated expectations, showing this and other religious minorities in Turkey not its friendly face, but its hostile one.

Regarding the patriarchate, for example, the Turkish state continues to decline to recognize its religious "ecumenicity." It treats it as a local body established for the worship of the Greek Orthodox, headed by a leader who must be born a Turkish citizen, devoid of legal personality and therefore also of the right to property.

The annihilation of the patriarchate – which in Turkey today has been reduced to a few more than 3,000 faithful – has so far shown no serious signs of turning around.

This also applies to the other Christian minorities. The most substantial community, that of the Armenians, was decimated less than a century ago by a genocide that the authorities in Ankara refuse to acknowledge, and today there are just a few tens of thousands of them left, out of a population of more than 70 million inhabitants, almost all of them Muslim.

There are about 25,000 Catholics, with six bishops, 10,000 Syriac Orthodox, and 3,000 Protestants of various denominations.

Like Erdogan, but not for the same reasons, all of these religious minorities have high hopes for Turkey's entry into the European Union. For them, this entry would mean the recognition of room for freedom that they fear will otherwise continue to be significantly limited.

In Europe itself, however, their reasoning receives little consideration. Some governments there, including those of Italy and Germany, are in favor of Turkey's entry into the EU, while others, like that of France, are against it.

Nonetheless, both sides are thinking in terms of national interest. Calculations involving the oil and gas pipelines that originate in Turkish-speaking, Muslim countries in central Asia, and pass through Turkey, take precedence over those concerning religious freedom.

***

Against this background, the position of the Holy See also appears two-faced.

On the one hand, Vatican diplomacy takes into account both the expectations of the Catholics and the other religious minorities in Turkey, and the geopolitical factors seen as favoring its entry into the EU.

The man most candid in expressing this cautiously optimistic view has been Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state, in an interview with La Documentation Catholique at the beginning of 2007.

Having stated that the Catholic Church has no "special power to promote the entry of Turkey into Europe, or to veto this," Bertone said in the interview that "without Turkey, Europe would no longer benefit from that bridge between East and West which this country has always been in the course of history. [...] Leaving Turkey outside of Europe also risks fostering Islamist fundamentalism within the country."

On the other hand, however, Church authorities are also sensitive to the opposing dangers that the entry of Turkey into the European Union could bring: not a beneficial integration of Turkey into Europe, but a "catastrophe" for a continent that has renounced its Christian identity.

The word "catastrophe" is in the title of a book that contains the most incisive overview of these objections. Published in Italy this year, the book was written by historian Roberto de Mattei, vice president of the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche and editor of the magazine Radici Cristiane. It is entitled La Turchia in Europa: beneficio o catastrofe?, and opts decisively for the second of these two hypotheses.

In effect, the historical precedents are not encouraging. Modern-day Turkey was one of the most vital areas of Christianity during its first centuries, and at the beginning of the 20th century, after centuries of Ottoman rule, it still had deep imprints of this Christian identity, and numerous faithful.

Over a few decades, these imprints have also been nearly wiped out by the combined pressure of the exaggerated secularism of Kemal Atatürk and of the Islamist resurgence that ultimately came to power with Erdogan.

Benedict XVI is fully aware of these dangers. When he went to Turkey in November of 2006, it was just a few months after the killing of a Catholic priest, Andrea Santoro, who was shot to death by an Islamist fanatic while he was kneeling in prayer in the little church of Trabzon.

During his trip to Turkey, Benedict XVI did not say a single word about the entry of this country into the European Union. And the international press interpreted this silence as assent, confirmed by a few comments made by Erdogan after his meeting with the Pope.

But there is no reason to think that Joseph Ratzinger has softened, as pope, the strong reservations that he expressed on this matter before being elected successor of Peter.

Ratzinger spoke out in this topic twice, within a short span of time, during the summer of 2004. The first time was in an interview with Sophie de Ravinel, for Le Figaro magazine on August 13:

Europe is a cultural continent, not a geographical one. It is its culture that gives it a common identity. The roots that have formed it, that have permitted the formation of this continent, are those of Christianity. [...]

In this sense, throughout history Turkey has always represented another continent, in permanent contrast with Europe. There were the wars against the Byzantine empire, the fall of Constantinople, the Balkan wars, and the threat against Vienna and Austria.

That is why I think it would be an error to equate the two continents. It would mean a loss of richness, the disappearance of culture for the sake of economic benefits.

Turkey, which is considered a secular country but is founded upon Islam, could instead attempt to bring to life a cultural continent together with some neighboring Arab countries, and thus become the protagonist of a culture that would possess its own identity but would also share the great humanistic values that we should all acknowledge.

This idea is not incompatible with close and friendly forms of association and collaboration with Europe, and would permit the development of unified strength in opposition to any form of fundamentalism.


The second time, he was speaking to the pastoral workers of the diocese of Velletri, on September 18:

Historically and culturally, Turkey has little in common with Europe; for this reason, it would be a great error to incorporate it into the European Union. It would be better for Turkey to become a bridge between Europe and the Arab world, or to form together with that world its own cultural continent. Europe is not a geographical concept, but a cultural one, formed in a sometimes conflictual historical process centered upon the Christian faith, and it is a matter of fact that the Ottoman empire was always in opposition to Europe.

Even though Kemal Atatürk constructed a secular Turkey during the 1920s, the country remains the nucleus of the old Ottoman empire; it has an Islamic foundation, and is thus very different from Europe, which is a collection of secular states with Christian foundations, although today these countries seem to deny this without justification. Thus the entry of Turkey into the EU would be anti-historical.


As Pope, Benedict XVI has always demonstrated that he has at heart, more than the political destiny of Turkey, the fate of the Christians of that country and the efforts at reconciliation between the Church of Rome and the ecumenical patriarchate, relations with which are excellent.

But all the same, the Holy See is also a political player. And concerning the entry of Turkey into the European Union, there is a middle way between those for and those against, which the Vatican seems increasingly inclined to support.

It is the stance that Cardinal Bertone himself hinted at in the cited interview with La Documentation Catholique: not the complete integration of Turkey into Europe, but participation on a strictly economic level.


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Three cheers and all our prayers for Archbishop Wuerl!


DC Archbishop ramps up
Church opposition to gay marriage

By Tim Craig
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Wednesday, September 2, 2009



Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl is plunging the Catholic Church deeper into the battle over legalizing same-sex marriage in the District, a tactic that could complicate the D.C. Council's efforts to quickly take up the matter this fall.

Wuerl sent a letter to 300 local Catholic priests Tuesday reminding them about the Church's opposition to same-sex marriage, and he launched a round of media interviews to bolster the Church's presence in the debate.

In his efforts to mobilize Catholics, Wuerl joins a group of Baptist, predominantly African-American preachers in stepping up the pressure on D.C. officials to allow a public vote on whether same-sex marriage should be legalized.

"We will continue to let the voice of the Church, the teachings of the Church, be heard as clearly as it can be heard," Wuerl said. "That is why we have sent out so much material to our priests to help them explain this to our faithful people."

Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large), who plans to introduce a bill this fall legalizing gay marriage in the District, said he will not be deterred by the Catholic Church's increased involvement.

"We have a long tradition in this city of evolving toward equality and a better, more expansive view of human rights, and in 2009 this includes marriage equality for same-sex couples," said Catania, who is gay. "I respect the bishop for his view . . . but we live in a representative democracy where there is a separation of Church and state. We do not live in a theocracy." [And what does expressing teh Church position on a public issue have to do with separation of Church and State? A typical non-ssequitur Pavlov-dog reflex from a diehard ideologue!]

Wuerl launched the media offensive on the same day that eight opponents of same-sex marriage, including Bishop Harry Jackson, filed a request with the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics to hold a initiative next year defining marriage as being between a man and a woman.

The proposed initiative says, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in the District of Columbia."

But the elections board must first rule on whether the initiative request is valid. In the District, a referendum cannot be held on a matter that violates the city's Human Rights Act. In addition to other minority groups, the act protects gays and lesbians from discrimination.

In June, the board blocked an effort by Jackson to hold an initiative to reverse a council bill allowing the District to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. The two-member board cited the Human Rights Act in its decision.

"It is ironic that at the same time the city is asking for voting representation in the U.S. Congress, its leaders are denying residents the opportunity to participate in the democratic process for an issue with widespread implications for children and families," said Ronald Jackson, executive director of the D.C. Catholic Conference, who noted that 580,000 Catholics live in the District and suburban Maryland, the areas that make up the archdiocese.

Wuerl, who became archbishop in 2006, has largely steered clear of controversial political and cultural battles in the region. But in his letter to the priests, Wuerl writes that "marriage is a path toward holiness . . . so as members of the church we are obliged to be all the more attentive to the challenges that weaken marriage."

Wuerl, former bishop of the diocese of Pittsburgh, added that the Church is "committed to develop opportunities for parishioners to be involved to ensure that the true definition of marriage is upheld in the District of Columbia."

Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), a supporter of same-sex marriage, sought to play down the significance of Wuerl's call for an initiative to decide the matter.

"We already know what the law says about a referendum on civil rights issues," Mendelson said. "The position of the Catholic Church has been known, so I don't think it is anything new."

But Wuerl and Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, could take their case to a broader national audience if the council rushes through a same-sex marriage bill without allowing the public to vote on it.

Under Home Rule, Congress can overrule a bill approved by the council. Although Congress did not intervene in the council's decision to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, some activists worry that it could take a more active role if the city seeks to allow such marriages to be performed in the nation's capital.

"This is not a local issue," said Wuerl, noting that other states are debating the issue. "People always look at the District of Columbia through a magnifying glass, and we need to be aware of that."

Jackson, who recently registered to vote in the District but maintains a house in Maryland, posted a YouTube video Monday in which he says, "We need people to come and talk to their congressmen and tell them that D.C. is the nation's capital . . . [and] what happens in D.C. doesn't stay in D.C."

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The 'banner' is from a blog dedicated to chronicling
the 'self-destruction' of the West; the cartoon is
from a conservative blog called 'Gags'.



Suicide of the West?
America, too, will now approach
its implacable enemies
with concessions and smiles

By Thomas Sowell
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Sept. 1, 2009


Thomas Sowell is a nationally syndicated columnist in the United Sttaes. He is one of the rare Afro-American intellectuals who is culturally and politically conservative.


Britain’s release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi — the Libyan terrorist whose bomb blew up a plane over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, killing 270 people — is galling enough in itself. But it is even more profoundly troubling as a sign of a larger mood that has been growing in Western democracies in our time.

In ways large and small, domestically and internationally, the West is surrendering on the installment plan to Islamic extremists.

The late Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn put his finger on the problem when he said: “The timid civilized world has found nothing with which to oppose the onslaught of a sudden revival of barefaced barbarity, other than concessions and smiles.”

He wrote this long before Barack Obama became president of the United States. But this administration epitomizes the “concessions and smiles” approach to countries that are our implacable enemies.

Western Europe has gone down that path before us, but we now seem to be trying to catch up.

Still, the release of a mass-murdering terrorist, who went home to a hero’s welcome in Libya, shows that President Obama is not the only one who wants to move away from the idea of a “war on terror” — as if that will stop the terrorists’ war on us.

The ostensible reason for releasing al-Megrahi was compassion for a man terminally ill. It is ironic that this was said in Scotland, for exactly 250 years ago another Scotsman — Adam Smith — said, “Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent.”

That lesson seems to have been forgotten in America, as well — where so many people seem far more concerned about whether we have been nice enough to the mass-murdering terrorists in our custody than those critics have ever been about the innocent people beheaded or blown up by the terrorists themselves.

Tragically, those with this strange inversion of values include the attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder. Although President Obama has said that he does not want to revisit the past, this is only the latest example of how his administration’s actions are the direct opposite of his lofty words.

It is not just a question of looking backward. The decision to second-guess CIA agents who extracted information to save American lives is even worse when you look forward.

Years from now, long after Barack Obama is gone, CIA agents dealing with hardened terrorists will have to worry about whether what they do to get information out of terrorists to save American lives will make the agents themselves liable to prosecution that can destroy their careers and ruin their lives.

This is not simply an injustice to those who have tried to keep this country safe, it is a danger recklessly imposed on future Americans whose safety cannot always be guaranteed by sweet and gentle measures against hardened murderers.

Those who are pushing for legal action against CIA agents may talk about “upholding the law,” but they are doing no such thing. Neither the Constitution of the United States nor the Geneva Conventions gives rights to terrorists who operate outside the law.

There was a time when everybody understood this. German soldiers who put on American military uniforms in order to infiltrate American lines during the Battle of the Bulge were simply lined up against a wall and shot — and no one wrung their hands over it. Nor did the U.S. Army try to conceal what they had done. The executions were filmed, and the film has been shown on the History Channel.

So many “rights” have been conjured up out of thin air that many people seem unaware that rights and obligations derive from explicit laws, not from politically correct pieties.

If you don’t meet the terms of the Geneva Conventions, then the Geneva Conventions don’t protect you. If you are not an American citizen, then the rights guaranteed to American citizens do not apply to you.

That should be especially obvious if you are part of an international network bent on killing Americans. But bending over backward to be nice to our enemies is one of the many self-indulgences of those who engage in moral preening.

But getting other people killed so that you can feel puffed up about yourself is profoundly immoral. So is betraying the country you took an oath to protect.



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This is not exactly a comprehensive overview of the Medjugorje phenomenon, but it does provide needed context - historical, geographical, political (secular as well as intra-Church) by a Catholic author who is well-informed on the subject.


What happened at Medjugorje?
by Stephen Schwartz
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Sept. 8, 2009


In 1981, a year after the death of ex-Yugoslavia's communist dictator, Josip Broz Tito, events in Medjugorje, a small town in Bosnia-Hercegovina, began to stir the Christian world. Six Croatian Catholic children-four girls and two boys, then aged from ten to sixteen-claimed to have experienced visions of the Virgin Mary.

Even now, after twenty-eight years, three of the Medjugorje seers still report nightly visitations, usually around 6:40 local time, according to their official website.

One of them, Ivan Dragicevic, who was sixteen years old when the apparitions commenced, holds prayer sessions on Mondays and Fridays, at 10:00, with additional communications from the Virgin. When the visionaries travel, they say, the Virgin increases the number of her messages to accommodate their itineraries.

As a result, Medjugorje is said to have drawn some 30 million pilgrims. But the visions were always controversial, especially within the Catholic Church.

Bishop Pavao Žanic of Mostar - the nearest major city - who officiated in 1981, refused to support the authenticity of the children's revelations. Bishop Žanic died in 2000 and was succeeded by Bishop Ratko Peric in 1993, who also repudiated Medjugorje. Rumor circulated in Bosnia over the past year that Benedict XVI shared their incredulity.

And this summer, at the end of July 2009, Benedict acted on his doubts. He has removed from the clergy one of two local priests most active in supporting the visions, Tomislav Vlašic, and threatened him with excommunication. (The suspension of the other, Jozo Zovko, from pastoral duties was confirmed in 2004.)

Vlašic is also prohibited from residing in Franciscan facilities. The story has received little coverage in the United States, but has excited widespread comment in Ireland, from where millions of people had gone to Medjugorje, and Britain, which also contributed a significant contingent.

Simon Caldwell of the Catholic News Service recently wrote that Vlašic was moved last year to a Franciscan monastery in the Italian city of L'Aquila, "after he refused to cooperate in a Vatican investigation of his activities for suspected heresy and schism. He also was being investigated for 'the diffusion of dubious doctrine, manipulation of consciences, suspected mysticism, disobedience towards legitimately issued orders and charges contra sextum (against the Sixth Commandment not to commit adultery)."

These harsh phrases appeared over the signature of Cardinal Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. But Vlašic had already moved from Bosnia to the Italian city of Parma in the mid-1980s. And Franciscan minister general Fr. José Rodríguez Carballo has said that Vlašic requested his own laicization.

So what happened at Medjugorje? The visionaries, now approaching middle age, claim they were visited by the Virgin on tens of thousands of occasions. [Daily, they claim, since the first one!]

When Bishop Žanic was reluctant to support them, the children's proponents accused him of submitting to Communist government pressure. Still, even after Croatia became independent in 1991, the Catholic hierarchy rejected the supernatural character of the incidents at Medjugorje.

While it is difficult and tragic to cast doubt on a religious occurrence that brings comfort to ordinary people, the Croatian and Bosnian Catholic bishops were aware that Medjugorje had questionable aspects in its local, political, and secular background.

Members of the Franciscan Province of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, located in Hercegovina, took up the children's cause. What had once been an obscure hamlet "between hills" (the meaning of the name Medjugorje) was transformed. New facilities were added to the local church of St. James; guest houses proliferated, along with souvenir shops.

During my first visit to ex-Yugoslavia in 1990, I went to Dubrovnik -where the international airport served flights filled with passengers to and from Medjugorje - but knew nothing about them, aside from observing their fervor.

The location itself is remarkable, in that it sits at the western point of a triangle formed with two of the most important Islamic and Jewish spiritual sites in the Balkans, both of which have also drawn many wayfarers.

Northeast of Medjugorje is the Sufi shrine of Blagaj. In its appearance, Blagaj could not be more different. While Medjugorje sits in a dusty basin, Blagaj stands at the source of a river, under steep limestone cliffs.

Blagaj was built in the sixteenth century and survives as a rather modest complex, including a guesthouse and a tekija or Sufi meditation lodge. The river has been seeded with trout and a fish restaurant accommodates visitors - but in nothing like the numbers who go to Medjugorje.

Directly east of Medjugorje is the old Ottoman town of Stolac, outside of which one finds another hamlet, Krajsina, and the tomb of the "wonder-working rabbi," Moshe Danon of Sarajevo, who died there in 1830 while on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Until the Holocaust, the grave of Rav Danon was visited by large groups of Bosnian Jews, who composed songs and devotional tracts about the virtue of making the journey.

On the road to Stolac sits Radimlja, a large aboveground necropolis of centuries-old stone sarcophagi, decorated with human and natural motifs, as well as crosses and other religious symbols.

Although not considered a spiritual site, Radimlja is nonetheless a significant Bosnian cultural asset. The stone memorials are, more than any other feature in the landscape, the object of cultural rivalries, claimed by Croats, Muslim Bosnians, and Orthodox Christians.

I have visited all these places, some of them repeatedly. Blagaj is admirable for its simplicity. The grave of Rav Danon is saddening, because photographs and pamphlets demonstrate that it was once crowded with Jewish visitors, who were slain in the Holocaust. Radimlja is mysterious, rather than spiritual, but fascinating in revealing the premodern culture of the region.

There are also reports of Serbian Orthodox shrines nearby, but since the Balkan wars of the 1990s they are not easily found.

I have also been to Medjugorje. In 1999 I copublished an article with a then-colleague, Laura Peterson, in a Californian Catholic monthly describing the hubbub at the town. But Peterson and I also heard the voices of discord.

At Medjugorje, we listened to a Canadian woman who had been there twenty-five times. She told us, "It's the peace. . . . There's nothing like this in the West. If I didn't have a family, I'd sell my home and move here. [The West] just doesn't have the strength of faith they have here."

Such a comment was counter-intuitive, to say the least, given that the surrounding area had been devastated during the Croatian and Bosnian wars. Muslims and Serbs had been driven from the district; Serbs in Trebinje, a city further east, had expelled Muslims and Croats, destroying many old mosques; Ottoman monuments in Stolac were demolished by Croats, and the surviving Sarajevo Jews were afraid to visit the grave of Rav Danon.

And that seemed to justify the question put forward by a Franciscan critic of the Medjugorje story, Fr. Ivo Sivric, who was born in the village. With exquisite understatement, he commented, "The lack of reconciliation and division in Herzegovina contraindicate the presence of the Queen of Peace and the apparitions."

[Well, not really! For instance, the situation in the Holy Land since the birth of Islam in the 8th century has been so much at odds with the message of Christ. To impose human logic on why Jesus or Mary choose to appear to human beings at certain times - even if the messages given seem to be topical - is, in a way, second-guessing Divine Providence! Miracles and visions by their very nature are ineffable mysteries that we humans cannot always decipher, if ever.]

Others asked why the messages from the Virgin were apocalyptic and punitive, filled with end-times rhetoric. Some have even alleged that at Medjugorje, Mary had replaced Jesus at the center of worship. [That is the real risk with these cults of popular devotion to any figure other than a person of the Holy Trinity.]

For most Bosnians, the most significant elements in the Medjugorje narrative are precedents from church and local history.

The Franciscans in Bosnia have two provinces: one based in Hercegovina and the other, the Province of Srebrena Bosna, headquartered in Sarajevo.

The Bosnian Franciscans had been granted special privileges to tend to the religious needs of Catholics, after the Muslim conquest of the land in 1463. This was a break from the Ottoman custom of recognizing the Orthodox churches as Christian representatives.

But the Hercegovinians have a reputation as hard-headed nationalists, while the Franciscans in central Bosnia are considered by Muslims as well as Christians as dedicated to inter-religious civility and local patriotism.

At Medjugorje, for almost thirty years, many have seen a demonstration of Hercegovinian militancy, and even of heresy. Once the local bishop rejected the visionaries, priests sent to the area by the regular ecclesiastical authorities were beaten up, prayer was held in local churches without the presence of clergy, and, some allege, the Medjugorje group was on the road to schism from the Roman church.

Serbs have loudly denounced Medjugorje as a Croatian conspiracy, while Bosnian Muslims have tended to remain subdued about it, at least in public. Local Muslims are mostly silent, especially after a war that took so many lives. But many admit they perceived in Medjugorje a Croatian ultranationalist production.

More could be said about the matter, but Benedict XVI appears to have made up his mind about Medjugorje. And many Croats, as well as Muslims and other Bosnians, are likely to quietly welcome his action.

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For a very well-researched article on the Catholic groups who were willingly coopted into the Obama campaign, and now, the Obama administration, read this:

www.catholicworldreport.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=133:the-big-con&catid=36:cwr2009&I...

It is lengthy, but it shows the appalling extent and degree of the intellectual contortions Obama-devoted Catholics must resort to in order to rationalize their defiance of Church doctrine on non-negotiable issues.

The eternal paradox of dissenters within the Church: they do not feel bound by its teachings - and consequent discipline - but they cannot break away cleanly. Obviously, they don't find the laissez-faire Episcopalians or Anglicans a feasible alternative to Catholicism, so for lack on anywhere else to go to, they continue to call themselves Catholic.

Though I suspect they really believe - as many of the 'spirit of Vatican II' progressivists - that they will eventually prevail within the Catholic Church. And soon, even!

Non prevalaebunt!

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Sept. 10, 2009

A compellingly lucid exposition of a much-abused because wrongly understood concept: what is a right. And what does it mean when applied to the basic issues of life and death.


In the act of procreation of a new creature is its indispensable bond with spousal union, by which the husband becomes a father through the conjugal union with his wife, and the wife becomes a mother through the conjugal union with her husband. The Creator's plan is engraved in the physical and spiritual nature of the man and of the woman, and as such has universal value.

The act in which the spouses become parents through the reciprocal and total gift of themselves makes them cooperators with the creator to bringing into the world a new human being called to eternal life.

An act so rich that it transcends even the life of the parents cannot be replaced by a mere technological intervention, depleted of human value and at the mercy of the determinism of technological and instrumental procedures."
- John Paul II, Address to Pontifical Academy for Life, February 21, 2004.



I.

Benedict XVI, in Caritas in Veritate, addressed the troubled meaning of the word "right." Perhaps no word in modern philosophy has caused more trouble than this, at first sight, noble word.

Many a philosopher and pope has tried valiantly to save this word from the meaning that it had when it first appeared in modern thought, generally with Hobbes.

The word, literally, has no meaning. Or perhaps, better, it means whatever we want it to mean. It contains no inner criterion by which it must mean this or that. In the state of nature, people had an absolute freedom to do whatever they wanted. This freedom was called a "right."

The state arose both to protect this empty "right" and to prevent it from justifying people killing each other off by doing whatever they wanted "by right."

The Pope points out that the word "right" does not stand by itself, but is always correlated to "duty." If we maintain that we have a "right" to this or that, it must be someone's "duty" to observe it or allow it or provide it.

The danger of the word "right" is that it evaporates the world of notions like generosity and gift, of things beyond the correlation of right and duty. The highest acts among us are neither right or duties, but sacrifices and graces.

In a world of "rights," no one can do anything for anyone because everything is already owed. In such a world, the words "thank you" have no place. No more anti-Christian thought can be found.

If I think that I have a "right" to something, whatever it is, then someone else, or the state, has a "duty" to provide it for me. I am a "victim" if everyone else is not giving me my "rights." And if someone gives me what I have a "right" to, no room remains for generosity, since what is given is already "owed" to me.

If I do not "have" something, it must be because someone else is denying my "rights." Such a world is filled with complaints, not services. Thus, in a rights world, when I receive a gift of what I want, it is already mine "by right." No room is left for gratitude.


{This is the basic fallacy of welfare statism - rights without duties, rights without responsibilities, rights as inherent and inalienable, free-standing and unconditional - the kind that liberals advocate with demagogic insistence in the United States.

They have entrenched the wrong idea of 'rights' not only among traditionally disadvantaged blacks, Hispanics and the urban poor, but even among the bourgeoisie who fancy themselves to be 'intellectual' because they subscribe to (and therefore share) the wrongheaded mindset of their liberal and ultra-liberal role models whom they perceive to be necessarily 'intellectual'. Look, everyone, see how 'intellectual' and superior we all are!]


Within this context, no more pernicious notion can be found than that of a "right to have a baby," a phrase we must think carefully about since, at first sight, it seems that we do have such a "right".

But a "right" of this sort strikes at the very foundation of civilization. No one has a "right" to have a baby. The origin of any baby is not wholly in one person, or in two, but it includes what transcends them both.

A man and a woman has a "right" to marry if each is free to do so. Each also has a prior "duty" to respect what marriage is.

We have a duty to recognize, even legally, the freedom a man and a woman have relative to each other. It describes something in the nature and diversity of man and woman. Their very being is to be related to something that is not themselves.

But a man or a woman by himself/herself does not have, independently of each other, a "right" to have a child. Two men or two women do not have a "right" to have a child.

Whatever it is a man and a man or a woman and a woman do to each other in what is civilly called "same-sex" marriages, it is not and cannot be a "marriage" as human nature knows it.

A "right" or dignity is involved here, if you will. That is, the child has a right to have a father and a mother who are married to each other and together are responsible for him. This duty stems from what a child is, from his conception.

What is original in each parent is not a "right to have a child" but a duty to provide in the fullest sense what is born of them in their relationship to each other.

That they know and desire children is itself dependent on their recognition of a duty to any child that they beget.

Even married couples do not have a "right" to a child. The marital relation, no doubt, is the only one in which children ought to be begotten, for the good both of child and of parents. It is the duty of men and women to recognize this fact.

No couple "plans" either that they will have a child or what this child will be. The child is not and ought not to be understood as the product of some human plan or plot.

Certainly, it is possible to know when a child is more likely to be begotten at some times rather than others, but the purpose of the act is not the same as the end of the act.

The purpose of the couple is to express their relation to one other, their love, whether a child naturally results or not. If a child is begotten, well, fine; if not, fine also.

The "end" of the act in nature, however, is, in the right biological circumstances, the conception of a child. The openness of the act to children is what makes it a different act from any other existing among human beings.

Any actual, unique child as such, however, is always a gift, never a plan, however much we use the word "natural family planning." The couple promises that they will care for what is begotten of them. No couple knows ahead of time what particular child will be conceived in them. They are as much astonished at seeing their child born as anyone else, even if it looks like either of them or one of the relatives.

There is no condition here, no "we will accept the child if it meets our standards." Most "therapeutic" abortions deal with begotten children that the couple decides, ex post facto, that they do not want.

This latter view makes the relationship of man and wife, relative to their children, conditional. We will only deal with what "we" want, not what we are given. This is our "right."

When children are "engineered" in various ways, the notion is added that we have a "right" to a "perfect" child, not just the child who might show up. The definition of perfect varies. It is mostly a lethal weapon against existing children of mortal beings.

This "right" to perfection means that anything less than "perfect" has no "rights." Whatever is deemed less than perfect can thus be eliminated as a violation of our "rights." We have abundant institutions willing to carry out this "right" to eliminate.


II.

Anyone who has followed these life issues knows that the direction of modern science and modern politics is to separate sex from begetting. They are declared "independent" of each other.

Sex does not relate to children. It only relates to a "private" passing activity of no great significance. The "need" to stay together is no longer visible.

Any legal bond is easily broken. This separation leaves many actual children in the hands of the state or the medical profession or charitable folks who know what a child really is.

State and medicine team up to respond to claimed individual "rights" to have children by providing in civil law means to "guarantee" such "rights."

The "right to a baby" by oneself belongs, it is said, to every woman. It is even theoretically extended to males, depending on technology. This process implies a deficiency in nature in not supplying the means to fulfill the "rights." Technology substitutes for this defect, if it is a defect.

Certainly the law allows single ladies of various persuasions to fertilize themselves with medical aid. That is their "right." Sperm and ova banks are easily available to supply whatever is needed. We begin not from what is due to the baby but from the woman's "right." The baby is a product of "right."

When a woman decides not to have a baby, however begotten, she has a "right" to destroy it. It is, after all, her choice, her "right," that the state must protect and aid in its fulfillment. The baby has no rights because the woman or man has no duty to what is not wanted.

This situation is just the opposite to that of the normal couple. They do not have a "right" to have a child. What they have is freedom to live together in a certain stable relationship wherein children might — but only might — be begotten.

The future of the race depends on this relationship, even when it is abused. The on-going security of the child is ultimately based on the relation of husband and wife, on their bond. The child in turn is a visible sign of the relation of husband and wife, but as a gift, not as a "right."

Into that bond, the particular child, destined to "eternal life," comes unexpectedly, unplanned, yet hoped for. No parent knows ahead of time what he and she beget. It is always a surprise and a gift, even though they know it is to be a "human" child born of them.

What comes forth from their relationship is beyond their personal intentions except in general. They know what this relation is for. The child born is theirs, but not "planned" by them to be this particular child that actually exists.

The parents realize the child is more than simply a product of their own calculations or even their love. He is a new being, like themselves.


III.

So no one has a "right" to a child. Among actual human beings, however, we know that many, many children are begotten outside of this situation where what-it-is-to-be-a-human-child is respected.

If no child should be begotten unless it is a wanted child — in the sense that it is accepted and cared for by its actual parents in a proper family — then the fact is that myriads are born in relationships that deviate from this norm.

This topic was once treated under the topic of "illegitimacy." That word tended to confuse the way a child was begotten — that is, in or out of a proper marriage — with the ontological being of the child.

However it came to be, a duty is owed to the child to place it in the proper human conditions for his growth as far as possible. Much of modern welfare in this sense exists to do in absentia of the family parents are obliged to provide.

It is not an accident that the modern world is filled with "child-care" institutions as well as with abortion providers designed to eliminate "unwanted" children who have no "rights" against the will of the begetters or the state.

We do not see orphanages any more, though we do see wards of the state. We see foster homes and adoptions. But so many children, particularly those who might have "defects," are eliminated so that we do not see those who, had they lived, might need parents or special care from their parents and others.

It is not my intention here to go into the issues of "scientific" interventions, apart from marriage, that result in children. The general principle is we can find some moral ways to assist infertile couples have children in the normal fashion.

The Church, in Donum Vitae and other considerations, has consistently maintained, however, that children should only be begotten if and when they are begotten in a proper marital act.

It considers that means that do not conform to this norm are not proper, even if they successfully produce children. Almost all such methods are products resulting in at least some unwanted conceptions along with wanted ones. The "excess" are eliminated or used for "scientific" purposes.

The Church, in this sense, is much more romantic than science. The Church says produce babies only in love. Science says produce babies in laboratories through calculation. Think of what it means to a child to be begotten in the latter way.

And the Church is much more far-sighted than the claim anyone has a "right" to a child. The Church understands it is the child who comes first, not the "right" independent to a prior duty to something other than oneself.

A "right" to a child claimed apart from the duty to that child to provide a proper grounding for it in being is intrinsically selfish. A child is never to be "used" in this manner.

The child, however, no matter how conceived, is always a gift, never the fulfillment of someone's so-called "right" or the product of some scientific manipulation. And only when it is a gift can we appreciate that all human life is beyond "rights."

What it is to be a human being is not something established by human beings. Something greater is going on in every instant, even in the instant when children are begotten in ways contrary to the child's dignity.

This latter is why we accept and seek, as best we can, the good of those children who are not privileged to be born in proper families. They are deprived, by those who brought them into being, of what in principle belongs to them.

Our culture rejects, for the most part, the best and most exalted way in which children should come among us. Thus, we have a society filled with people who have not known what was naturally due to them.

That is, each child is to be born in a home in which each child has a father and a mother who begot him and accepted him in love and generosity as a gift they did not plan or devise.

The actual child was not even in the thoughts of parents, whose attention was on each other. Yet, they were prepared and happy to accept that their relation naturally led to something beyond themselves, something seen in the faces of their own children.

John Paul II said something that Benedict XVI also referred to in Spe Salvi, namely that what is begotten among human beings, each child, is intended, "for eternal life."

The birth of a child has many consequences: familial, economic, and political. But these are only the context of human life. What it is about is its destiny, which is not finally the city, or even this mortal life itself. It is eternal life.

All begotten human beings have this end as their gift from God. It is this which is put in the hands of parents when each child is born. Knowing this is their duty.

The state, as state, does not know these things, but it often claims to control human life in such a way as to make the attainment of this purpose difficult. The end of human life will be proposed to every human life, even if it is begotten in the worst of modern or human circumstances.

This is why the Church has always been the first to attend to those who do not come to be in safe families that love them. But the Church never wants it this way from the beginning.

The Church remains on this score, as I said, the last romantic institution in the world. It is the one saying all children should be born not of "right," nor even of "duty," but of gift and generosity.

And, as most good parents will tell us, it is precisely their children who most taught them what the words sacrifice, generosity, and gift mean.

No "right" to have a child can be found because there is something much greater, something we deprive ourselves of, when we miss the truth every child is the result of a gift given to us, not of a right we can demand.

Man and woman are free to marry. We have a duty to respect this freedom. But once they marry, they are bound by what they are, by what comes to be between them. This bond is intended to be a bond of love begetting love, gift upon gift. When it is not, we have much of the modern world, with it its science and institutions rushing to substitute for the family.

"The Creator's plan," John Paul II said, "is engraved in the physical and spiritual nature of the man and of the woman, and, as such, has universal value."

This is not "rights talk" that we compose for our liking, but gift talk pointing to the final end of each begotten human life, that is, to eternal life.

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SAY A PRAYER FOR JIM POUILLON
- AND FOR JOURNALISM AS IT OUGHT TO BE



Books can be written by now on the death of classical journalism - fair, balanced and objective - in the American media, one of the disasters evident in the age of Obama. Just like liberal Catholics who practise pick-and-choose Catholicism, the US media have reduced journalism to mean 'only the news we think fit to report' - until that is, something becomes so obvious the media are forced to at least acknowledge something happened.

For now, let us limit ourselves to how they chose to report - or mostly, not to report - the drive-by murder last week of a pro-life activist, compared to the general hullaballoo, with all sorts of imprecations and anathema against any and all pro-lifers, with which they reported and commented on the murder last May of America's most extreme abortion practitioner by an anti-abortion advocate. CNA has a good wrap-up of the situation to date.



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Murder of Michigan pro-lifer
a ‘non-story’ for Obama Catholics
- and for much of US media

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Denver, Colo., Sept 14, 2009 (CNA) - While the pro-life movement was in mourning over the weekend following the murder of pro-life activist Jim Pouillon in Owosso, Mich., pro-Obama Catholics who reacted loudly after the murder of late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller have completely ignored the death of the peaceful pro-life activist.

Catholics United, a small group of pro-Obama Catholics that has been actively involved in the abortion debate, completely ignored the murder of Pouillon on its website, while only few hours after Tiller’s murder on May 31, its executive director Chris Korzen issued a statement expressing his “shock” following the abortionist’s murder.

“Although the motivations behind this crime are uncertain, many believe Dr. Tiller's death is related to his controversial role as an abortion provider. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dr. Tiller's loved ones during this time of grief,” Korzen said at the time.

“We fear,” Korzen added, “that this murder is a byproduct of increasingly hateful and intolerant language on the part of some militant opponents of legal abortion – language that has often sought to demonize people like Dr. Tiller to the point of dehumanization.”

Nevertheless, 72 hours after the murder of Pouillon, Korzen's site still features a post on Catholics United’s support for Obama's health care reform as its top entry.

Moreover, the day after the shooting of the Owosso pro-lifer, Korzen’s only statement was a condemnation of the massive “tea party” held in Washington D.C., which he called a “right-wing rally.”

[One of two other huge stories that the US media have largely ignored, under-reported or misreported, even though it is one of the most amazing displays of participatory democracy in recent memory. The event deserves a post of its own. The other story is the top-to-bottom corruption of Barack Obama's pet community organizers' organization ACORN.]

“We’d like to have an honest debate… I don’t see a lot of substance here,” Korzen told the New York Times.

The Jesuit weekly, America Magazine, also completely ignored the murder of the Michigan pro-life activist. None of the magazine's news or blog postings made a mention of Pouillon's murder. Instead, few hours after his murder, America posted an entry from blogger Austen Ivereigh titled “Lessons in radicalism and civility.”

In his post, Ivereigh quoted former Milwaukee archbishop Rembert Weakland, who in his recent memoirs accused “some parts of the pro-life movement” of lacking civility.

“To an increasing extent, the pro-life movement within the church shows a desire to act in ways which break amicable and civil relations with those both inside and outside our church who favor abortion or who support compromise on this issue,” Ivereigh also wrote, quoting Jesuit professor John P. Langan.

Ivereigh was the same America blogger that, only hours after the murder of the Kansas abortionist wrote: “What Dr. Tiller did was appalling. But he had his humanitarian reasons for doing it. He was a churchgoing family man. The hostility and violence directed at Dr. Tiller made him even more determined to carry on doing what he did. He was showered with pro-choice awards and is now, in death, a pro-choice martyr.”

On June 1, Michael Sean Winters, another blogger for America Magazine, wrote: “Dr. Tiller had a family and friends who have lost their husband, father, brother and neighbor. Because the murder happened in his church, Tiller’s fellow church-goers will doubtlessly be traumatized in a unique way every time they enter the vestibule of their place of worship."

"The killing is a tragedy for the pro-life movement,” Winters also wrote. “Despite the fact that most pro-life activists are peaceful people, committed to prayer not violence, the whole movement will be tarred with this murder. The charge of hypocrisy – murdering in an effort to stop murder – will ring loud and for many it will ring true.”

Winters also pointed out that “the killing is a tragedy for the nation.”

However, 24 hours after Pouillon’s murder, Winters chose to blog about immigrants and health care.

The National Catholic Reporter has followed a similar trend. Three days after Pouillon’s murder, the Reporter did not include any news stories on the killing, and none of its bloggers mentioned the issue.

Conversely, in the wake of Dr. Tiller’s murder, the Reporter included several stories about his death, including one titled, “With abortionist dead, do conservatives share blame?”

The article, signed by Lindsay Perna and Adelle M. Banks, claimed then that “with the murder on May 31 of Dr. George Tiller, one of the nation's few late-term abortion doctors, supporters of abortion rights are questioning whether there is a connection between his death and the rhetoric of the anti-abortion movement.”

“More to the point,” the authors wrote, “would Tiller have been a victim if anti-abortion groups had not made him so prominent?”

Jeffrey Wess, an analyst for Politics Daily, observed on Sunday that President Barack Obama issued his condolences after Tiller's murder before nightfall the same Sunday.

“Let's grant that Dr. Tiller was famous before he was killed and that nobody much outside of Owosso had ever heard of Pouillon a week ago. And let's also grant that nobody has come up with any connections thus far between the suspect in Pouillon's murder and any organization with any stand concerning abortion,” Wess wrote.

“But Pouillon is sure famous now. And two days after his murder, I can find few statements about it, pro forma or otherwise, on any of the websites of any of the prominent organizations that support abortion rights,” Wess wrote in his column titled “Where Are the Condemnations of Abortion Protester James Pouillon's Murder?”

“Not NARAL. Not NOW. Not Planned Parenthood. Not Catholics for Choice,” he added.

Wess observed that, unlike the Obama Catholics, on Sunday evening, more than 48 hours after the killing of Pouillon, President Obama at least released a one sentence statement: “The shooting last week in Michigan was deplorable. Whichever side of a public debate you’re on, violence is never the right answer.”

Meanwhile, on Sunday, several pro-life organizations and hundreds of pro-lifers held a special memorial service for Jim Pouillon during a prayer vigil at the Capitol, which Jim had planned to attend.

The 27-hour prayer vigil, part of a national campaign called “Abortion is Not Health Care,” started on Sunday, September 13 at 7:30 p.m. and will end today at 10:00 p.m.


One must particularly lament the way supposedly Catholic publications like America and NCReporter have taken on all the defects, assumptions and attitudes of ideologically-biased liberal media.



Slain Pro-Life advocate:
A peaceful guy with sidewalk signs

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
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Owosso, MI, Sept. 11 (LifeNews.com) -- Jim Pouillon was known as the sign guy by resident of this otherwise sleepy local community 45 minutes northeast of Lansing, Michigan.

But Pouillon was shot Friday morning as he did what he did best -- hold his pro-life sign outside of a local high school letting students and teaching know some of their peers are missing.

Cal Zastrow, a longtime pro-life advocate in Michigan knew Pouillon well, calling him a "close friend" and said he "got his martyr's crown this morning" after suffering multiple gunshots that claimed his life.

"I talked to him on the phone this week and prayed with him before he went out to Owosso High School to minister," he said.

While Pouillon was active in protesting abortion -- and his death will bring up the issue of abortion and violence again in the wake of the shooting of late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller -- he always condemned violence as a solution to the violence of abortion.

"Jim was completely non-violent and he condemned violence," Zastrow said.

Judy Climer, president of Flint Right to Life, described Pouillon to the Flint Journal newspaper as "just a nice, elderly gentleman who was disabled, used an oxygen tank and wore leg braces."

Climber said he would regularly visit abortion businesses in Flint and Saginaw to pray and hold pro-life signs.

"I knew him very well. He told me one time God put in his heart a passion for the little babies that have the right to be born and they were being denied that right," said Climer. "He even told me once he'd be willing to die for that belief. That's what I hear him saying right now."

Pouillon was involved in a pro-life free speech case several years ago that saw him sue local police after he was arrested for “refusing a lawful police order” to move from city hall steps and for “obstructing passage to a public building."

His attorneys filed a lawsuit on his behalf saying police violated his rights to freedom of speech, religion, and assembly.

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, under presiding Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, denied his motion for summary judgment and, after a jury found against him, his renewed motion for judgment.

Pouillon appealed the decision and an appeals court held that the steps of the city hall were a public place and Pouillon was within his First Amendment rights to protest abortion there.

The court eventually upheld a portion of the decision and overturned parts of it.

Steven H. Aden, the senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, represented Pouillon in the case.

“Jim Pouillon was a courageous friend of both unborn children and the First Amendment right to speak up on their behalf, and he will be sorely missed," Aden told LifeNews.com today.

"I hope his loss, and his example, will inspire many others – particularly young people – to take up the cross he bore and defend the right of all of God’s children to live, and to live in peace," he said.

In the legal documents in the case, his attorneys described Pouillon this way: "James Pouillon is a dedicated anti-abortion protester whose non-working life is largely devoted to activism in that cause."

"He was a familiar figure on the streets of Owosso, where he staged abortion protests for a portion of each day almost every weekday for over ten years," they said.

"On the date he was arrested, he had decided to move his protest from his customary post on the sidewalk to a position on a small plaza separating upper and lower short flights of steps to city hall, or on the steps themselves," they added.

"On the sidewalk, he had often been the target of verbal abuse as well as assorted missiles, and had once been almost run down by a motorist who swerved onto the sidewalk and drove straight at him," they concluded.


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Funeral Rites, like communion, should be denied
to openly pro-abortion Catholics,
says Archbishop Burke

By Kathleen Gilbert
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I am behind on reporting this, and in this connection, Father Z on his blog has an excellent entry about the meaning of 'scandal' as the Catechism uses it.

It refers to the effect on ordinary practising Catholics when Catholic politicians and other prominent Catholics openly defy Catholic teaching - not only as part of their lifestyle but as a principal element of their careers - and yet continue to be administered the Sacraments.

The obvious question is: Why do these people seem to be exempted from the rules that other Catholics seek sincerely to keep? And why should they be? The Church cannot have a double standard for prominent people and for regular folk!

Archbishop Burke is, as usual, far more blunt about the issue than his fellow bishops in the United States.



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WASHINGTON, D.C., September 21, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In an address to InsideCatholic.com's 14th Annual Partnership Dinner Friday evening, Archbishop Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Vatican's Apostolic Signatura, said that funeral rites should not be given to pro-abortion Catholic politicians. He also defended the duty of Catholics to speak in charity against the scandal caused by such figures.

The archbishop said that, while "we must speak the truth in charity," Catholics also "should have the courage to look truth in the eye and call things by their common names."

"It is not possible to be a practicing Catholic and to conduct oneself in this manner," he told the crowd of about 200 guests.

Burke hammered home his message of the need for fidelity to Church teaching on the part of Catholics in politics in his 50-minute speech. The archbishop, known for his unwavering and vocal defense of the Church's teachings on life and family issues, was given a standing ovation at the conclusion of his address.

In what appeared to be a reference to the Kennedy funeral scandal, Burke said that "neither Holy Communion nor funeral rites should be administered" to politicians who support abortion or same-sex 'marriage'.

"To deny these is not a judgment of the soul, but a recognition of the scandal and its effects,"
he said.

Burke said that when a politician is associated "with greatly sinful acts about fundamental questions like abortion and marriage, his repentance must also be public."

"Anyone who grasps the gravity of what he has done will understand the need to make it public," said Burke.

Sen. Ted Kennedy, a staunch abortion and same-sex "marriage" supporter, was laid to rest in a highly publicized and laudatory Catholic funeral ceremony in Boston on August 29. Catholic pro-life leaders had pleaded with Cardinal Sean O'Malley not to allow the public ceremony, but the cardinal ultimately presided over the rites. [Strictly speaking, he did not preside at the rites since he did not take part in the funeral Mass, but he performed the final rite for the dead at the end of the Mass.]

In turn, other leaders in the Catholic community, most notably Fr. Thomas Rosica, the CEO of Canada's Salt & Light television network, lambasted the pro-life response to the funeral as uncharitable.

About the pro-life leaders and activists who expressed concern about Kennedy's funeral, Rosica wrote on his blog, "many so-called lovers of life and activists in the pro-life movement, as well as well-known colleagues in Catholic television broadcasting and media in North America, have revealed themselves to be not agents of life, but of division, destruction, hatred, vitriol, judgment and violence."

Burke, however, defended those who spoke out against such scandal, pointing out that unity within the Church is ultimately based upon the truth.

"The Church's unity is founded on speaking the truth in love," he said. "This does not destroy unity but helps to repair a breach in the life of the Church."


A parallel 'scandal' about Fr. Rosica also deserves to be posted on this Forum for the record - he has written and made incendiary statements hitting out at pro-life advocates like EWTN's Raymond Arroyo and Lifesite News for 'doing the work of Satan' by criticizing the high-profile Kennedy funeral.

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This is really one Muslim's view, though he happens to be the current President of the UN General Assembly. It might be surprising to hear it from anyone in the UN, but then, Muslims theoretically consider homosexuality wrong. Practice is something else.



New UN General Assembly president says
homosexuality "totally unacceptable"

By Hilary White
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NEW YORK, September 28, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In an interview prior to his first address, the UN General Assembly's new president said that homosexuality is "not acceptable."

Ali Abdussalam Treki, a veteran diplomat from Libya, was responding to a journalist's question about his position on the UN's "Declaration for the Universal Decriminalisation of Homosexuality" at a press conference prior to the opening of the 64th session of the General Assembly.

"It is a very thorny argument," he said. "As a Muslim, I do not agree with it. My opinion is not in favor of this matter at all.

"I believe it is not acceptable for most of the world, and it is totally unacceptable for our tradition and religion. And there are some countries that allow that, thinking it is a kind of democracy ... I think it is not," he added.

The response of the international homosexualist movement was swift, with one group saying that Treki's comment was contrary to the principles of the founding Charter of the United Nations.

The International Lesbian & Gay Association (ILGA), one of the leading international homosexualist lobby groups, this week issued a statement demanding an explanation from Treki for his "failure to consider the protection of the life and safety of lesbians, gay men, trans, intersex and bisexual people all over the world."

ILGA continued: "The worrying and serious implications of this attitude, coming from the new head of an institution which is supposed to regard human rights - all human rights - as the most sacred value, cannot be overstated."

The UN declaration was opposed by a group of Arab countries and was signed only by a total of 66 of the UN's 192 member states, including all 27 European Union members as well as Japan, Australia, Mexico and three dozen other countries. Until the election of Barack Obama as President, the US was the only western country that had refused to sign.

Late last year, the Vatican's representative at the UN, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, told a French news agency that those opposed to the declaration were concerned that it would place even more pressure on countries to adopt or expand same-sex "marriage" or civil unions and would generally fuel the movement to normalize homosexuality.

"States which do not recognize same-sex unions as 'matrimony' will be pilloried and made an object of pressure," he said.

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This case illustrates the shameless double standard employed by 'intellectuals', artists and liberals about crime and criminals. Retuers does a good job of summarizing the issue.



Would Polanski get a pass
if he were a pedophile priest?

Posted by Tom Heneghan
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PARIS, Sept. 28 - It’s hard to watch France’s political and cultural elite rush to support filmmaker Roman Polanski against extradition to the United States on a decades-old sex charge and not wonder exactly how they interpret the national motto “liberté, égalité, fraternité.”

It’s tempting to ask whether they’re defending the liberty to break the law and skip town, respecting the equality of all before the law and championing a brotherhood of artists who can do no wrong.

Here in Paris, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner declared the arrest was “a bit sinister … frankly, (arresting) a man of such talent recognised around the world, recognised in the country where he was arrested — that’s not very nice.” He and his Polish counterpart have written to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the issue.

Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand said “just as there is a generous America that we like, there’s also an America that scares us, and that’s the America that has just shown us its face.”

Directors, actors and intellectuals have been signing a petition demanding Polanski’s immediate release.

Almost all the focus is on the argument that Polanski is a brilliant director, the charge of unlawful sex with a 13-year old dates back to 1977 and the victim herself says she wants the whole issue to be forgotten.

Almost completely ignored is the fact that he fled the U.S. to escape sentencing, which added a crime to the original crime.

There is such a widespread assumption that all artists and intellectuals would automatically support Polanski that Paris papers today — both the left-of-centre Libération and the conservative Le Figaro — wrote with an air of surprise that Hollywood was not storming the barricades to back him.

The French Greens leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit made headlines by bucking the trend and saying he was “ill at ease” with the rush to absolve Polanski of raping a minor and the culture minister should have been more cautious in his comments.

Across the Atlantic, by contrast, Hollywood’s hometown paper, the Los Angeles Times, reviewed the objections by Polanski’s supporters and concluded: “Plausible or preposterous, these arguments are eclipsed by a simple fact: Polanski fled the country … the Justice Department and L.A.’s district attorney are right to seek extradition.”

And almost nobody in the media here in France asks the tough questions that Fr. Tom Reese, S.J. did in his Washington Post blog post entitled “Father Polanski would go to jail”:

“Polanski’s defenders … argue that he should not be punished. They say that the girl was willing and sexually experienced and she has forgiven him (after receiving a settlement). They even cite his tragic childhood and life as an excuse. And besides, it is ancient history. Such arguments from paedophile priests would be laughed out of court and lambasted by everyone, and rightly so

“The Catholic Church has rightly been put under a microscope when 4 percent of its priests were involved in abuse, but what about the film industry? The world has truly changed. Entertainment is the new religion with sex, violence and money the new Trinity. The directors and stars are worshipped and quickly forgiven for any infraction as long as the PR agent is as skilled as a saintly confessor. Entertainment, not religion, is the new opiate of the people and we don’t want our supply disturbed.

“Is there a double standard here? You bet.”

There’s a lot to say about the different ways Americans and French approach the law. But let’s go right to Tom Reese’s question. Do you think Polanski’s supporters cut him slack they wouldn’t think of permitting for a paedophile priest? Is the entertainment industry setting our values?

[That Heneghan would even pose those questions the way he does - rather than stating them as outright fact is just as worrisome as the shameless double standard!]

And an unexpected 'God bless...' to Fr. Reese for seeing the utter fallacy and moral perverseness of the double standard.



A related story, which is ultimately more significant for the deliberately unpublicized facts that it brings up to the UN:


Vatican envoy to UN defends
Church's response to sex abuse

By Sarah Delaney
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VATICAN CITY, Sept. 30 (CNS) -- The Vatican has defended its response to the problem of sexual abuse of children by priests, saying that the Church had been "cleaning its own house" and that other religions and institutions were similarly tainted.

The Vatican delegation to the U.N. Human Rights Council said in an oral statement Sept. 22 in Geneva that Church authorities fully understand the gravity of the issue of child sex abuse by clergy and have taken measures to eliminate the problem.

The statement was delivered on behalf of Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's representative to U.N. organizations in Geneva, as a formal reply to criticism of the church by the International Humanist and Ethical Union, a London-based organization.

Keith Porteous Wood, IHEU representative, accused the
church of covering up allegations of the sexual abuse of children, seeking to reduce criminal sanctions and monetary compensation to victims, and avoiding full assumption of responsibility.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said that, as the Vatican's envoy, Archbishop Tomasi exercised his right to reply to "a very hard and unjust attack."

The statement read by Msgr. Hubertus van Megen, a member of the Vatican delegation to the Human Rights Council, said, "The Church is very conscious of the seriousness of the problem" and cited canon law, which calls for punishing priests involved in sexual abuse, including removal from the priesthood.

The statement cited a 2004 study by the U.S. Department of Education that concluded sexual abuse of students in U.S. public schools by school employees "appears to far exceed the clergy abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church." [But of course, we would never see that reported by the ideologically selective liberal media!]

According to the Vatican statement, "we now know that in the last 50 years somewhere between 1.5 percent and 5 percent of the Catholic clergy has been involved in sexual abuse cases."

The Vatican statement quoted a Christian Science Monitor article that reported on a 2002 study by Christian Ministry Resources, which concluded that "most American churches being hit with child sexual abuse allegations are Protestant," and that a similar rate was found within the Jewish community.

"As the Catholic Church has been busy cleaning its own house," the Vatican statement said, "it would be good if other institutions and authorities, where the major part of abuses are reported, could do the same and inform the media."

The statement also said that in an upcoming report by the Vatican to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the U.N. body that monitors countries' implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, "a paragraph will be dedicated to the problem of child abuse by Catholic clergy."

Archbishop Tomasi's statement also distinguished between pedophilia, adult sexual attraction to prepubescent children, and ephebophilia, adult sexual attraction to adolescents.

It said that of all the priests involved in abuse cases, 80-90 percent "belong to this sexual orientation minority which is sexually engaged with adolescent boys between the age of 11 and 17 years old."

The International Humanist and Ethical Union reacted to Archbishop Tomasi's reply on its Web site by saying that the Vatican was "comprehensively missing the point" by arguing that sexual abuse of children occurred in other religions and institutions.

"No doubt there are abusers in all walks of life," the new statement read, "but our point was not the abuse itself but the cover-up in which some of the highest officials of the Church were implicated." [Yada, yada, yada - all based on false reporting by hostile media like the BBC. It's not the Church that's missing the point - it's stridently self-righteous elements like this union!]

The union describes itself as a world umbrella organization embracing "humanist, atheist, rationalist, secularist" positions.


And the following concerns a much broader issue. I am surprised liberals have not jumped up and started firing all their guns for this controversial position. It is the reasonable thing, but the problem is how each nation's law allows defines protected speech that 'does not incite hate' - assuming it accepts the necessity to ban inciteful language.


Vatican says NO to protecting
free expression when it incites hatred

By Carol Glatz
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VATICAN CITY, Oct. 1 (CNS) -- While the freedom of expression is a right, states are not obliged to protect expression that incites hatred and tramples upon other people's rights, a Vatican official said.

The Vatican's representative to U.N. agencies in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, said the freedom of expression should take into account the "principles of social ethics such as truth, solidarity, tolerance and fairness."

These are principles that "form the cornerstone of justice, equity, respect for privacy and subsidiarity," he said Sept. 30 at a U.N. Human Rights Council session focusing on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance.

Freedom of expression "is not only a right but also a duty that needs to be strengthened," said the archbishop, who sent his remarks to Catholic News Service.

"Protecting the freedom of expression, however, is not an absolute obligation," he said, because the aim should be to uphold the good of society and protect everyone's enjoyment of religious freedom and belief.

"Any form of incitement to hatred that affects the human person and his/her rights is unacceptable," and society should not be protecting freedom of expression at all costs if it comes at the expense of the life and dignity of real people, he said.

Archbishop Tomasi said episodes of religious intolerance that undermine the rights of people of any religion or belief are increasing and "practically all religious minorities are discriminated (against) around the world."

A solution that strikes a balance between supporting the freedom of expression and curbing hate speech must be found, he said.

"Laws are not enough. A new outlook is required" to motivate people to use all forms of communication in ways that build up the human community and enrich people's well-being and spirituality, he said.


Interesting point. Back in the mid-1970s, my application for a 6-month Harvard fellowship offered to Third World journalists was turned down because the essay I submitted for the purpose was a consideration of exactly what democratic governments could do to minimize hate-inciting rhetoric, particularly in the media!

It must have read like anathema to the board of judges awarding the fellowship. Obviously, I could have chosen the safe way and written about something that warms the liberal heart, but I chose to be headstrong, so there!






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Great surprise in today's OR. What happened? Cardinal Bertone regained his senses??? And/or probably someone felt: what better opportunity to bring up the screaming unfairness of the Nobel jurors never having recognized John Paul II's peacemaking in any way??? Or that, the way the Nobel ninnies went on about Obama, John Paul II never represented hope for the world????

I think, too, Mr. Vian must have excused himself from writing the commentary himself, if the assignment (whether it came from Bertone or from the Holy Father himself) was, as Ms. Scaraffia sets out to do, to debunk the prize assignment in a civil manner.



Obama's Nobel Prize:
A demanding award

by Lucetta Scaraffia
Translated from
the 10/11/09 issue of

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The awarding of the Nobel peace prize to Barack Obama caught everyone by surprise, including the President of the United States himself.

In the last 90 years, in fact, the prize has never gone to a sitting US President - when Jimmy Carter won it in 2002, it was more than a decade after his term - since it is their fate, after all, to be caught up in world affairs, and therefore, having to make assorted decisions relating to world peace.

Precisely because of that, commentators have been almost unanimous in defining this Nobel assignment as a form of pressure on Obama to make pacifist choices in carrying out his mandate.

Because judging from the decisions he has taken so far, it would be difficult to call him an outright pacifist, since what he has done about the US military commitment in Afghanistan and Iran seems to be a difficult compromise between trying to keep the pacifist promises he made as a candidate and a more realistic policy of government, which some have, in fact, called a continuation of the policies of the supposedly 'warmongering' George W. Bush.

It is an ambivalent oscillating policy similar to that which this US president has towards the great bioethical issues, especially on abortion, which has inspired great controversy in the U.S. Catholic Church.

Obama would do well to remember that one of his predecessors in the Peace Prize was Mother Teresa of Calcutta who, in 1979, had the courage to point out, in her official acceptance of the Prize, that the most terrible war, with the greatest number of fatalities, is the practice of abortion, which is legalized and facilitated by international organizations.

But in the face of the prospect of this award being able to influence the future of Obama's presidential conduct, one must also recall all the perplexity about the 'failure' of certain authoritative candidates for the prize.

For instance, John Paul II, who was first nominated in 1999 (when the prize went to the group Doctors without Borders), and was considered the heads-on favorite in 2003 after his condemnation of the multinational invasion of Iraq.

That year, many initiatives and the overwhelming opposition to the war around the world seemed to indicate the prize was his, that even professional bookies bet on it.

But the awards committee - named from members of the Norwegian Parliament, under the terms of Alfred Nobel's will - preferred instead to choose the Iranian jurist Shirin Ebadi.

Papa Wojtyla was apparently considered by the members of the jury too conservative in all other matters, and they claimed to fear that by giving a prize to the head of the Catholic Church, they would be seen to favor a specific religion at the expense of others. [But they already gave the prize to the Dalai Lama, head of Tibetan Buddhism and symbolic head of Buddhists worldwide, as well as to Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa! Not to mention Mother Teresa herself.]

Concerns which they appear to have overcome in the case of Obama, a choice that is much more controversial than John Paul II could ever have been!

Thus, once again, the Nobel Peace Prize has aroused great perplexity and criticisms, since the criteria for the award appear to be influenced by politically correct thinking.

But at the same time, as the Vatican Press Office director said in a statement, one must rejoice that the Nobel jury is recognizing Obama's desire for nuclear disarmament [As if he were the first world leader ever to express this utopian wish! Back in the 1940s, philosopher Bertrand Russell won the prize for leading demosnstrations against nuclear armaments as early as the start of the Cold War. Not to mention the absurdity of Obama calling for worldwide disarmament while he cannot even stop Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear arms here and now!] and his personal preference for policies intended to appease everyone rather than affirm American strength in the world. [Which is not always necessarily good for those concerned.]

I am surprised Scaraffia does not mention John Paul II's role in the collapse of Communism. The Nobel nincompoops' worst offense in this respect is to completely ignore Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and John Paul II - recognized by most contemporary historians as the individuals who most contributed to the defeat of Communism - while, in an irrational act of perversion, they awarded the Peace Prize in 1990 to Mikhail Gorbachov for, in effect, allowing Communism to be defeated!

The late Pope deserved to share the Peace Prize after the Berlin Wall came down because that was a concrete and genuinely historic, single-opportnity achievement - unlike his objection to the Iraq war which, after all, failed to present it from happening.]


BTW, here is the exact quotation about abortion from Mother Teresa's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech:


But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child - a direct killing of the innocent child - murder by the mother herself.

And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion?

As always, we must persuade her with love, and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even his life to love us. So the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love - that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.

By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion.

Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.


I bet the Nobel panjandrums must have wet their pants in outrage hearing that - proclaimed to the world from their very own ultra-liberal pulpit. Not that it altered their view one iota, of course.

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More, for the Catholics out there who insist on having illusions and delusions about Obama.
What will it take to get your heads out of the sand???

Oh, and let's see Mr. Vian at OR and his bosses at the Secretariat of State try to spin this
to make Obama look good regardless
!



Obama vows unqualified support
for gay-rights agenda -
and against 'Defense of Marriage' act

By STEVEN THOMMA
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 - President Barack Obama vowed his unwavering support for the full gay rights agenda Saturday night, saying that he'll push Congress to repeal the ban on gays serving openly in the military.

He also said that he'll work to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as solely between a man and a woman, to guarantee that gay and lesbian couples get the same benefits as straight couples, and to ban anti-gay discrimination in the workplace.

"There are still laws to change and hearts to open," he told the annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay-rights group. "This fight continues. And ... I'm here with you in that fight," he said to applause and cheers.

It's not an easy fight, he said, because questions of equal rights for gays and lesbians still "raise a great deal of emotion in this country." But he said "these issues go to the heart of who we are as a people."

He acknowledged that he hasn't delivered as fast as gay rights activists want.

"I appreciate your support," he said. "I also appreciate that many of you don't think progress has come fast enough. ... It's not for me to ask you to be patient," he said, any more than it was right for anyone 50 years ago to ask African-Americans to be patient.

Joe Solmonese, the president of the group, introduced Obama with praise for his commitment to the gay rights agenda.

"We have never had a stronger ally in the White House - never," Salmonese said.

But he added that many gays and lesbians are eager to see quicker results from a president who has long been on their side, and he noted that many will march in the capital on Sunday to demand action.

"This is ... a time of great impatience," he said, "and thousands will take to the streets of Washington tomorrow to express just that."

Obama insisted that some progress has been made on the gay agenda, noting last Thursday's vote in the House of Representatives to expand federal "hate" crimes laws to include additional penalties for crimes based on "sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability." The federal government now calls for tougher penalties in crimes motivated by a victim's race, color, religion or national origin.

"This bill is set to pass, and I will sign it into law," Obama said.

On the question of gays serving openly in the military, he said that he's working to end the "don't ask, don't tell" policy adopted in 1993 that allows gays to serve as long as they keep their sexual orientation secret.

"I will end 'don't ask, don't tell.' That's my commitment to you," Obama said, to loud applause.

Last year, more than 600 people were forced out of the armed services under the policy.

"We are moving ahead on 'don't ask don't tell." Obama said. "We should not be punishing patriotic Americans who've stepped forward to serve America ... especially at a time we're fighting two wars."

He said he's working with the Pentagon and congressional leaders to enact legislation repealing the policy, apparently referring to a bill introduced by Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa., that so far has 176 cosponsors.

Obama also put the White House squarely behind efforts to protect gays and lesbians from workplace discrimination. "Nobody in America should be fired because they're gay ... We're going to put a stop to it," he said.

For gay and lesbian couples, he said he's already ordered the federal government to grant as many of the benefits offered married couples as possible under current law. And he said he's prodding Congress to do more.

"I've called on Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage act and pass the domestic partners benefits bill," he said.

Despite his vows, Obama did not spell out how much political capital he would, or could, use to push the gay rights agenda at a time he's reworking the war strategy in Afghanistan, pushing for a health care overhaul and struggling to save a climate bill in the Senate.

"I understand the president has a crowded agenda, but I have been serving under this law for 16 years," said Air Force Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, before the speech. He's an Iraq war hero who is set to be discharged under the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, and he went into the evening looking for a more solid commitment from the president.

"We have no doubt President Obama intends on correcting the mistake made in 1993 with the passage of DADT," said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the group. "But we've seen no action, and the clock is ticking. A clear timeline from this White House and Congress is urgently needed."



P.S. I went back to review the stories after Obama's meeting with the Pope at the Vatican last July 10, but infortunately, not even the Vatican communique says anything about the defense of marriage , not to mention homosexual rights. Though I do not doubt that the Holy Father, in stating the Catholic position on non-negotiable issues, would have mentioned its defense of marriage between man and woman, and the family based on such a marriage as the fundamental cell of society.

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Global Warming Fakery & Gore
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Monday, October 12, 2009


Lots of people talking about this admission by the BBC that the earth has been cooling, not warming) for over a decade.

Longtime readers know my thoughts on this hooey; I am glad to see this.

There is lots of new information coming out indicating that the whole AGW boondoggle was, always, a boondoggle, (”yeah, that earth shaking data? We lost it! and those hockey sticks? Um, kinda…never mind about that!”)

That makes me glad, all this boondoggle-unveiling.

Glad doesn’t feel like much, however, when one realizes that the Al Gore Travelin’ Earth Salvation Show and the complicit media (and “international community”) have excited ruinous legislation in many countries, and that our own “science czar” is one of Gore’s true believers. And that our president and the congress intend to debilitate our economy - admitting they’re going to do it - for the sake of this freakshow fakery.

Al “no press allowed” and “no debates” Gore, is a cheesy sort (and I say this having once believed he was the stronger half of the Clinton/Gore ticket) who once said (and the article is gone, baby, gone, now) that the press should not report on views that dissented from his Imperial Premise.

Al Gore is a man whose daddy got rich from selling coal. Selling carbon.

Al Gore got even richer selling useless, politically-correct-feel-good-mumbo-jumbo “carbon offsets.”

I’m no psychologist, but that rather sounds like maybe Gore’s Inconvenient Truth is that he hated his daddy.

I’d love to hear from some of the psycho-blogs about that idea.

Meanwhile, as the bloom comes off the road, the hoo-ers are ramping up the pressure to pass their legislation.

She then posts a list of hyperlinks to recent related articles on the 'global warming' debunk - the titles say it, but if you want to follow the articles, go to the blog entry today:
www.firstthings.com/blogs/theanchoress/

Canada Looking at Bush’s Green Bloc
Inconvenient Truth; Bush Greener than Gore
Iraq and Global Warming; A Study in Irony
Turn up the Heat? Yes we Can
Go Ahead, Impeach Bush; Try Him
The Sun Goes Solar Minimal
Dude, Where’s My Sunspots
Do Climate Changes Affect CO2 Levels
Obama lying about Carbon Emissions?
Wouldn’t this Kill the Trees?
17,000 Scientists Dissent; No Consensus on Global Warming
Warnings Against Tyranny
Saddam/Bush and Eden again
Beyond Kyoto: Effective work sans the UN
Yes, Global Warming is Hoo-ha, Part II
Yes, Global Warming is Hoo-ha
The Media’s Full Court Press on Global Warming
Scientists call for Kyoto debate
The Global Warming Gasbags
So, Next Catholics Should Stop Lighting Candles?
Stow the Summer Concerts; Save the World
Is Fascism like Porn; do you know it when you see it?
The Talked-Down Economy, Circa 2005


Since this entire exercise began, I have always inclined to think that global warming advocates have been tendentiously selective in presenting 'facts' to support their stand, because level-headed scientists have been able to present results of unimpeachable studies and research, including tabulations of global temperature readings taken over historical periods as well as in recent decades and years, that not only contradict the selective data, but also point out the fallacious premises used to slant the data towards a 'global warming' trend. Meanwhile, the 'global warming' militants have chosen not to account for these contradictions and fallacies.

At the very least, an objective follower of this debate would have to say the issue is an open question. And whereas this does not mean we should not all do our part, individual and collective, to be energy-conscious and emergy-responsible, it should act as a brake to drastic bleeding-heart measures that are not entirely founded on fact and would represent an unnecessary economic setback foe every affected sector.




Here's the BBC report that the Anchoress refers to - and remember, for the ultra-liberal BBC to report anything like this has to mean something! The report reflects the state of the climate change debate today.


What happened to global warming?
By Paul Hudson
Climate correspondent
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10/9/09


Average temperatures have not increased for over a decade.

This headline may come as a bit of a surprise, so too might that fact that the warmest year recorded globally was not in 2008 or 2007, but in 1998.

But it is true. For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures.

And our climate models did not forecast it, even though man-made carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise.

So what on Earth is going on?

Climate change sceptics, who passionately and consistently argue that man's influence on our climate is overstated, say they saw it coming.

They argue that there are natural cycles, over which we have no control, that dictate how warm the planet is. But what is the evidence for this?

During the last few decades of the 20th Century, our planet did warm quickly.

Recent research has ruled out solar influences on temperature increases.

Sceptics argue that the warming we observed was down to the energy from the Sun increasing. After all 98% of the Earth's warmth comes from the Sun.

But research conducted two years ago, and published by the Royal Society, seemed to rule out solar influences.

The scientists' main approach was simple: to look at solar output and cosmic ray intensity over the last 30-40 years, and compare those trends with the graph for global average surface temperature.

And the results were clear. "Warming in the last 20 to 40 years can't have been caused by solar activity," said Dr Piers Forster from Leeds University, a leading contributor to this year's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

But one solar scientist Piers Corbyn from Weatheraction, a company specialising in long range weather forecasting, disagrees.

He claims that solar charged particles impact us far more than is currently accepted, so much so he says that they are almost entirely responsible for what happens to global temperatures.

He is so excited by what he has discovered that he plans to tell the international scientific community at a conference in London at the end of the month.

If proved correct, this could revolutionise the whole subject.

What is really interesting at the moment is what is happening to our oceans. They are the Earth's great heat stores.

In the last few years [the Pacific Ocean] has been losing its warmth and has recently started to cool down

According to research conducted by Professor Don Easterbrook from Western Washington University last November, the oceans and global temperatures are correlated.

The oceans, he says, have a cycle in which they warm and cool cyclically. The most important one is the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO).

For much of the 1980s and 1990s, it was in a positive cycle, that means warmer than average. And observations have revealed that global temperatures were warm too.

But in the last few years it has been losing its warmth and has recently started to cool down.

These cycles in the past have lasted for nearly 30 years.

So could global temperatures follow? The global cooling from 1945 to 1977 coincided with one of these cold Pacific cycles.

Professor Easterbrook says: "The PDO cool mode has replaced the warm mode in the Pacific Ocean, virtually assuring us of about 30 years of global cooling."

So what does it all mean? Climate change sceptics argue that this is evidence that they have been right all along.

They say there are so many other natural causes for warming and cooling, that even if man is warming the planet, it is a small part compared with nature.

But those scientists who are equally passionate about man's influence on global warming argue that their science is solid.

The UK Met Office's Hadley Centre, responsible for future climate predictions, says it incorporates solar variation and ocean cycles into its climate models, and that they are nothing new.

In fact, the centre says they are just two of the whole host of known factors that influence global temperatures - all of which are accounted for by its models.

In addition, say Met Office scientists, temperatures have never increased in a straight line, and there will always be periods of slower warming, or even temporary cooling.

What is crucial, they say, is the long-term trend in global temperatures. And that, according to the Met office data, is clearly up.

To confuse the issue even further, last month Mojib Latif, a member of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) says that we may indeed be in a period of cooling worldwide temperatures that could last another 10-20 years.

The UK Met Office says that warming is set to resume.

Professor Latif is based at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University in Germany and is one of the world's top climate modellers.

But he makes it clear that he has not become a sceptic; he believes that this cooling will be temporary, before the overwhelming force of man-made global warming reasserts itself.

So what can we expect in the next few years?

Both sides have very different forecasts. The Met Office says that warming is set to resume quickly and strongly.

It predicts that from 2010 to 2015 at least half the years will be hotter than the current hottest year on record (1998).

Sceptics disagree. They insist it is unlikely that temperatures will reach the dizzy heights of 1998 until 2030 at the earliest. It is possible, they say, that because of ocean and solar cycles a period of global cooling is more likely.

One thing is for sure. It seems the debate about what is causing global warming is far from over. Indeed some would say it is hotting up.


A current news round-up on this issue may be found in today's edition (10/12/09) of The Drudge Report:
www.drudgereport.com/

The item headlines are indicative:
BBC: What happened to global warming?
US CHILL MAP...
Montana cold breaks records...
Record Cold temps in Idaho threaten potato crops...
Austria: Earliest snowfall in history set to break records...
Man has microphone cut off after asking about 'errors' in Gore film...
Soros says aims to invest $1 Billion in green tech...
Greenpeace activists clamber on to Houses of Parliament in climate change protest...
Energy crisis postponed, new gas rescues the world...



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Here's the only article I have read so far that places the Nobel Peace Prize in the right historical, cultural and logical perspective. Minus outrage and irony (until the last sentence, that is). Simply facts.


A Perfect Nobel Pick
By BRET STEPHENS
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Oct. 13, 2009


Pop quiz: What do Bertha von Suttner, Henri La Fontaine, Ludwig Quidde, Norman Angell, Arthur Henderson, Eisaku Sato, Alva Myrdal and Joseph Rotblat have in common?

Answer: Barack Obama.

If you're drawing blanks on most of these names, don't be hard on yourself: They're just some of the worthies of yesteryear who were favored with a Nobel Peace Prize before disappearing into the footnotes of history.

On the other hand, if you're among those who think Mr. Obama's Nobel was misjudged and premature, not to say absurd, then you really know nothing about the values and thinking that have informed a century of prize giving. Far from being an aberrant choice, President Obama was the ideal one, Scandinavianally speaking.

The peace Nobel is a much misunderstood prize. With the exception of a few really grotesque picks (Le Duc Tho, Rigoberta Menchú, Yasser Arafat), a few inspired ones (Carl von Ossietzky, Norman Borlaug, Andrei Sakharov, Mother Teresa, Lech Walesa, Aung San Suu Kyi) and some worthy if obvious ones (Martin Luther King, Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk), most of the prize winners draw from the obscure ranks of the sorts of people the late Oriana Fallaci liked to call "the Goodists."

Who are the Goodists? They are the people who believe all conflict stems from avoidable misunderstanding. Who think that the world's evils spring from technologies, systems, complexes (as in "military-industrial") and everything else except from the hearts of men, where love abides. Who mistake wishes for possibilities. Who put a higher premium on their own moral intentions than on the efficacy of their actions. Who champion education as the solution, whatever the problem. Above all, the Goodists are the people who like to be seen to be good.

Columbia University President Nicholas Murray Butler, who won the Peace Prize in 1931, was a Goodist. In 1910 he wrote that "to suppose that men and women into whose intellectual and moral instruction and upbuilding have gone the glories of the world's philosophy and art and poetry and religion . . . are to fly at each others' throats to ravage, to kill, in the hope of somehow establishing thereby truth and right and justice is to suppose the universe to be stood upon its apex."

The First World War, which began four years later, rendered a less charitable judgment on the benefits of moral and intellectual instruction. Yet Butler later became a leading campaigner for the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact outlawing war as "an instrument of national policy."

This monument to hope, which won U.S. Secretary of State Frank Kellogg a Nobel in 1929 (France's Aristide Briand had already won it in 1926 for the equally feckless Locarno Pact), was immediately ratified by dozens of countries, including Japan—which invaded Manchuria in 1931; and Italy—which invaded Abyssinia in 1935; and Germany—which invaded Poland in 1939.

Characteristically, the Nobel Committee awarded no Peace Prizes for most of the Second World War: not to Franklin Roosevelt for turning America into an arsenal for democracy; not to Winston Churchill for rallying Britain against the Nazi onslaught; not to Charles de Gaulle for keeping the flame of a free France alive; not to the U.S. Army Rangers for scaling the heights of Pointe du Hoc on a June morning in 1944; not to Douglas MacArthur for turning Japan into a country at peace with itself and its neighbors.

These were the soldiers and statesmen who did more than anyone else to assure the survival of freedom in the 20th century.

Being Goodists, however, the Nobel Committee chose instead to lavish its honors on people like the wan New England pacifist Emily Greene Balch (in 1946), the tedious British disarmament obsessive Philip Noel-Baker (1959) and the Irish antinuclear campaigner and Lenin Prize Winner Seán MacBride (1974).

These names don't exactly spring to mind as having made a lasting and genuine contribution to world peace. Nor, one suspects, will history lavish its highest honors on Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter, Wangari Maathai, Mohamed ElBaradei, Al Gore or Martti Ahtisaari, to name some of this decade's winners. They are merely the Frank Kelloggs and Seán MacBrides of the future.

Which brings us, at last, to this year's prize winner.

Typical of the laments about Mr. Obama's Nobel is that he's done nothing yet to deserve it. But what, really, did most of the other Goodists do before they won their prizes?

Mr. Obama, at least, got himself elected president, the first man to do so on explicitly Goodist terms: hope, change, diplomacy, disarmament, internationalism. He is, so to speak, the son Alfred Nobel never had (minus the dynamite fortune), the best and most significant spokesman for everything the Peace Prize has stood for these 108 years.

So let there be no doubt that the Nobel Committee did well in choosing Mr. Obama. What this portends for the kind of peace and security that has been bequeathed to us by the exertions of such non-Nobelists as Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan is another question.

{Mr. Stephens, you left out John Paul II! And you also left out Mother Teresa in your examples of 'inspired' choices.]


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Pro-Life:
'The greatest grassroots movement of our times'

by Mary Ann Glendon
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Oct. 13, 2009


Mary Ann Glendon, the Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard University, delivered this address upon receiving the 2009 Proudly Pro-Life Award from the National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund on October 6, 2009 in New York. She is also the President of teh Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, and was the US ambassador to the Vatican in 2008.



When I received a letter from Dr. Wanda Franz telling me about the “Proudly Pro-Life Award,” I was, quite simply, overcome with emotion. There is no honor or award that could mean more to me than one from my fellow members of what my friend the late Richard John Neuhaus always called “the greatest grassroots movement of our times.”

At the same time, I can’t help but be humbled at the thought of the great men and women to whom you have given this honor in the past.

And so I know you will understand when I say that I would like to accept this award not just for whatever I have been able to contribute to our common cause, but in memory of the many persons who have sustained me on what would otherwise have been at times a lonely journey.

Evenings like tonight evoke so many memories — of friends here and departed, of struggles won and lost. Evenings like this remind us that we are blessed to be surrounded by a “cloud of witnesses.”

After more than three decades of involvement in pro-life activities, I wish I could say that I thought the threats to respect for human life were diminishing. But one lesson we’ve learned is: Do not underestimate the power of the culture of death.

We’ve learned that what was unimaginable one day can become reality the next. Today, pressures for euthanasia are building; developments in biomedicine are occurring with such speed that they have outpaced reflection on their moral implications; experiments on human embryos are fostering a mentality that treats the lives of the weak as means to the ends of the strong; and the freedoms of religion and conscience are coming under increasing threat.

Thirty years ago, who could have imagined such a thing as partial-birth abortion! When I ask myself why so many people have been slow to realize how easily today’s atrocity can become tomorrow’s routine, one answer I come up with is that it was due in part to a failure to realize something very important about choice, namely that choices last.

Each time we make policy on abortion, euthanasia, or embryonic experimentation, we are changing the moral ecology of our country. We are either helping to build the culture of life or cooperating with the culture of death.

It hasn’t helped that the elite media, the powerful foundations, the sex industry, and the vast profit-making abortion industry have done their best to disguise the truth of what was happening.

But what makes the pro-life movement “the greatest grassroots movement of our times” is that it has steadily marched forward without support from the wealthy and powerful. It has moved ahead thanks to dedicated women and men—from all walks of life — who have never ceased to witness to the truth, day in and day out.

The recent Pew Foundation report that support for abortion is declining is one of many signs that our efforts are bearing fruit.

We are winning the battle for hearts and minds — not as quickly as we would have wished — but we are winning. We will never give up, and we will prevail.

One of the main reasons for our slow but steady progress, I believe, is the success of the pro-life movement in demonstrating by word and deed that our position on protection of the unborn is inseparable from our dedication to compassion and assistance for women who are so often the second victims of abortion.

Unlike the movement that calls itself pro-choice, the prolife movement has thought deeply about choice.

We know that choices last: We know that individual choices make us into a certain of person; and we know that collective choices make us into a certain kind of society.

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Left-wing radicalism in the Church -
or the truth about 'community organizing':
How for years the US bishops
funded a rotten ACORN

by Matthew Vadum
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10/26/2009


It must have been a sad day at the offices of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) in Washington, D.C., last year when the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) announced that its temporary suspension of funding for the embattled radical group ACORN was being made permanent. Each November around Thanksgiving, every Roman Catholic parish takes up a collection for the non-profit campaign.

CCHD is the grant-making arm of USCCB, which acts on behalf of the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops, a group widely assumed to be conservative defenders of traditional morality. However, CCHD and ACORN share a left-wing ideology that puts a premium on aggressive community organizing.

It is an error to think of CCHD as an ordinary charity. In fact, it is an extreme left-wing political organization whose ties stretch back to the “father” of community organizing himself, Saul Alinsky, and to Barack Obama in his community-organizing days in Chicago.

And unbeknownst to most Catholics, almost no CCHD grants actually provide direct relief to the poor.

CCHD cut off ACORN after channeling $7.3 million of parishioners’ money to the group over the last decade. Bishops came under intense pressure from conservative Catholics outraged by reports of gross legal and ethical improprieties involving ACORN.

Since its creation in 1969, CCHD has given more than $280 million to fund what it calls over “7,800 low-income-led, community-based projects that strengthen families, create jobs, build affordable housing, fight crime, and improve schools and neighborhoods.”

CCHD says it educates Catholics “about the causes of poverty and seeks to build solidarity between impoverished and affluent persons.”

It aims to support “organized groups of white and minority poor to develop economic strength and political power.”

On Nov. 11, 2008, Bishop Roger Morin, chairman of the Bishops’ subcommittee on CCHD, announced that ACORN was permanently cut off as a grant recipient.

The five month-old suspension of funding was made permanent “because of serious concerns about financial accountability, organizational performance and political partisanship.”

The “major case of embezzlement eight years ago that was covered up by ACORN staff leadership” was the tipping point, and Bishop Morin noted that CCHD and the Bishops Conference had hired forensic accountants “to help determine if any CCHD money was taken or misused.”

It is unclear if that forensic audit has been completed. Ralph McCloud, director of CCHD, said the groups “that will benefit from this year’s collection have yet to be determined.” The decision will be made in June next year, he said. At press time, McCloud had not responded to a request for an update on the status of the audit.

CCHD insists it does not support organizations that engage in partisan politics. It became concerned that ACORN used its money in a way that might jeopardize CCHD’s tax-exempt status.

Morin said that although CCHD had funded only local affiliates of ACORN, the national group’s conduct, including its involvement in alleged election fraud, “raised serious concerns about national ACORN’s financial accountability, transparency, governance and organizational integrity.”

Of course, public concerns about ACORN have only grown since Morin announced the funding cutoff.

The bishop tried to put out fires in an October 2 memo responding to a recent report from Bellarmine Veritas Ministries that identified several CCHD-funded groups that violated Catholic tenets after receiving CCHD money.

Morin said that the Washington, D.C.,-based Rebecca Project for Human Rights was de-funded by CCHD for its “support of abortion rights.” The Chinese Progressive Association and Young Workers United, both based in San Francisco, “produced voter guides that took positions on referenda opposed to Catholic teaching on same-sex marriage and, in one case, parental notification and abortion.”

Morin still defends the radicalism of the groups that CCHD funds. In the memo, he bragged that CCHD grants have helped to empower radical community-organizing groups to “work on job creation, crime prevention, housing, immigration, and other vital issues.” [So the aid was to the community-organizing groups, not to the actual causes]

Only abortion and related issues are deal-breakers for CCHD. Everything else is fair game.

In September, shocking videos emerged showing ACORN workers nationwide counseling a young man and woman who posed as a pimp and a prostitute in the finer points of evading taxes, defrauding the government and importing underage illegal alien girls from El Salvador to work as prostitutes.

In July, congressional investigators released a report concluding that ACORN was a highly partisan organization involved in racketeering and serial violations of tax, campaign finance, and other laws.

Because CCHD and ACORN are cousins in a sense, their common bonds must have made it excruciating for CCHD to disown ACORN. Both groups were inspired by radical agitator Alinsky, the Marxist Machiavelli who dedicated his grassroots activism classic, Rules for Radicals, to Lucifer, whom he called “the first radical.”

Alinsky developed the concept of “community organizing” to mobilize poor neighborhoods to make demands, long and loud, on public officials and the private sector.


While CCHD poses as a mainstream Christian charity trying to help the poor, it uses left-wing euphemisms in its mission statement. It seeks to address “the root causes of poverty in America through promotion and support of community-controlled, self-help organizations and through transformative education.”

“Root causes of poverty” is Marxist-speak meaning “capitalism is bad.”

Not surprisingly, rather than helping the poor, CCHD merely channels funds towards Alinsky-inspired poverty groups.

Almost all of the grants CCHD has distributed over the years have gone to ACORN-like groups for political activities and community organizing -- and many of those groups have been founded or are run by Catholic priests.

Here are some select recipients of CCHD grants:

*Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation, the mother of all community-organizing networks with dozens of affiliates nationwide (and affiliates in Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom), has received plenty of money over the years from CCHD. Alinsky referred to its training institute as a “school for professional radicals.” Ex-seminarian Edward T. Chambers has run it since Alinsky’s death in 1972.

*The Midwest Academy has been funded by CCHD. IAF trained Heather Booth, the founder of several activist-training academies, including the Midwest Academy, Citizen Action and USAction. Her husband is Paul Booth, a founder and former national secretary of the radical revolutionary group Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).

He is now an aide to Gerald McEntee, president of the powerful public-sector union AFSCME. According to the David Horowitz Freedom Center, the Alinsky-inspired Midwest Academy teaches “radical activists tactics of direct action, targeting, confrontation, and intimidation.”

*People Improving Communities Through Organizing (PICO), was founded in 1972 by Father John Baumann, a Jesuit priest trained in Alinsky’s techniques. It claims to have 53 affiliates in 17 states. Also known as the PICO National Network, its stated mission is to “increase access to healthcare, improve public schools, make neighborhoods safer, build affordable housing, redevelop communities, and revitalize democracy.” PICO also says, “We need to insure that new Americans are welcomed and not exploited.”

*Direct Action and Research Training Institute (DART) was created in 1982. It boasts 20 locally affiliated organizations in six states and claims to have trained more than 10,000 community leaders and 150 professional community organizers.

Academic David Walls wrote that it “practices strictly congregation-based community organization [and]… conducts five-day orientation trainings for community leaders and has a four-month training program for organizers.”

*Gamaliel Foundation, founded in 1968 in Chicago, says its mission is “to be a powerful network of grass-roots, interfaith, interracial, multi-issue organizations working together to create a more just and more democratic society.”

Its executive director is Gregory Galluzzo, a former Jesuit priest. It is “refocusing its efforts on wider metropolitan areas and assessing how to impact national policy on immigration reform,” Walls writes. Gamaliel claims 60 affiliates in 21 states, as well as affiliates in the United Kingdom and South Africa. The group claims to represent more than one million people.

Gamaliel brags on its website about its connection to President Obama. Obama worked for the Developing Communities Project, which was a spinoff of the Calumet Community Religious Conference, itself a creation of several Chicago area Catholic churches.

The Obama Connection

It has not been widely reported that CCHD has a longtime friend in the White House. According to The Catholic Case for Obama, published by a group called Catholic Democrats, Barack Obama “received support in his community-organizing work for Chicago from the Archdiocese of Chicago and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops through the Campaign for Human Development.”

Candidate Obama himself acknowledged CCHD’s importance to his early career in community organizing in an interview with Catholic Digest: “I got my start as a community organizer working with mostly Catholic parishes on the Southside of Chicago that were struggling because the steel plants had closed. The Campaign for Human Development helped fund the project and so, very early on, my career was intertwined with the belief in social justice that is so strong in the Church.”

From 1985 to 1988 Obama ran the CCHD-funded Developing Communities Project (DCP) from an office located in Chicago’s Holy Rosary Church.

CCHD has long supported groups such as ACORN that engage in left-wing community organizing. In fact, it was created specifically to do so.

Former Treasury Secretary William E. Simon, a prominent Catholic layman complained in the late 1980s that CCHD was a “funding mechanism for radical left-wing political activism in the United States, rather than for traditional types of charities.”

Catholic writer Paul Likoudis observes that CCHD could be considered “a political mechanism bonding the American Church to the welfare state.”

According to Likoudis CCHD was created in Alinsky’s twilight years specifically to serve as a permanent funding mechanism for his Industrial Areas Foundation.

CCHD’s connection with Alinsky was clarified in a March 2002 article in Social Policy, published by ACORN’s American Institute for Social Justice. While organizing in Chicago, Alinsky gained many Catholic allies. He began working in 1938 with local leaders to combat juvenile delinquency. Alinsky teamed up with Catholic activist Joseph Meegan, who ran a local recreation facility, to create the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council.

“Among friends, he could be openly contemptuous about not only Catholic rituals but religious rituals in general,” wrote Alinsky biographer Sanford Horwitt. But despite his atheism, Alinsky found common cause with religious leaders on political matters.

Alinsky concentrated his efforts on unions, while Meegan focused on churches and community groups. Meegan helped Alinsky ingratiate himself with the Chicago Archdiocese. His brother, Monsignor Peter Meegan, served as Bishop Bernard Sheil’s secretary.

Over time Alinsky’s organizing efforts in the Back of the Yards in the Southwest Side of Chicago, gained the support of Sheil, a liberal who founded the national Catholic Youth Organization. Alinsky also worked with Jack Egan, a student at Chicago’s Mundelein Seminary, who later became a crusading left-wing priest.

Monsignor Egan became an important Alinsky ally and a member of the board of Alinsky’s IAF. Later he played a significant role in the creation of CCHD and the Catholic Committee on Urban Ministry (CCUM).

Churches are fertile ground for organizing angry and alienated people, a point not lost on CCHD and ACORN. \

What Made the Bishops De-Fund ACORN?

1. Embezzlement

The embezzlement that led Morin to announce Catholics would no longer be making Thanksgiving-time contributions to ACORN organizations took place around 2000. The basic facts of the crime are not in dispute.

Dale Rathke, brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke, stole $948,000 from the ACORN network. When it was discovered, ACORN leaders refused to contact law enforcement officials.

Wade Rathke, who had covered up his brother’s action for eight years, called it a “misappropriation,” and his senior colleagues at ACORN allowed the Rathke family to quietly and privately pay restitution. Throughout the eight years of the cover-up, Rathke kept his brother on the payroll as his $38,000 a year “assistant” at ACORN headquarters.

Dale Rathke had previously served as a senior official at Citizens Consulting Inc. (CCI), the shadowy financial nerve center of ACORN. Former ACORN official Charles Turner said earlier this year that CCI, an affiliate of ACORN, “is where the shell game begins.”

Louisiana’s Democratic attorney general, Buddy Caldwell, seems to agree. He issued a subpoena October 2 for CCI’s books.

Former ACORN officials say these activities are controlled by the mysterious CCI which handles the financial affairs of hundreds of affiliates within the ACORN network. ACORN member dues, government money, and foundation grants, are all sucked into the CCI vortex often never to be seen again.

When the cover-up became public last year, Drummond Pike, the founder of the far-left Tides Foundation (2007 assets: $186 million), stepped forward and paid off the debt with his personal funds.

Bishop Morin’s subcommittee could hardly ignore the fact that ACORN is relentlessly, emphatically, exuberantly partisan. However, to protect the tax-exempt status of some of its affiliates, ACORN loudly claims to be community oriented and officially nonpartisan.

2. Partisanship

During last year’s Democratic Party primaries, the Obama campaign paid $833,000 to Citizens Services Inc., another ACORN affiliate, for get-out-the vote activities. Having ACORN do the political work evidently made sense to candidate Obama, who had once led a voter drive for Project Vote, an ACORN affiliate. Obama also represented ACORN in court and lectured at ACORN on organizing techniques.

Last year ACORN and Project Vote proudly announced they had registered 1.3 million new voters. Too bad most of the registrations were tossed out by election officials, lowering the true total closer to 450,000.

In October 2008, ACORN’s CEO and “chief organizer” Bertha Lewis, endorsed Barack Obama for President. She appeared in a YouTube video in front of a banner reading “Working Families Party: Fighting for Jobs and Justice.” (The Working Families Party, a minor New York state political party, is an ACORN affiliate. )

3. Racketeering

Surely other reported instances of ACORN malfeasance must have found their way into the bishops’ deliberations. ACORN is under investigation in at least a dozen states for electoral fraud, and is reportedly being probed by the FBI as calls for a congressional probe grow louder with each passing day.

A group of disgruntled former ACORN members called the “ACORN 8” has asked U.S. attorneys across the nation to pursue civil and criminal litigation under the federal Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

House Republican investigators released a report in July slamming ACORN. There is “a pattern of loose financial accounting and no firewalls” within the community-based group’s byzantine network of hundreds of affiliated groups, said Rep. Darrell Issa (R.-Calif.).

“It is impossible to hand over government money “to ACORN and its affiliates without knowingly delivering it to partisan operatives who in fact engage in campaigning,” Issa said.


What Took CCHD So Long?

ACORN misbehavior is well-documented, and it’s been going on for years. The group choreographs sit-ins to force banks to lend to high-risk borrowers. It buses schoolchildren to the Nation’s Capital to demonstrate against tax cuts. It sends mobs to shout down conservative speakers. It raises the dead and leads them to voting booths.

Parishioners at Queen of Apostles Church in Alexandria, Va., were informed in the church bulletin that in the 1990s the CCHD had given money “to organizations diametrically opposed to the Catholic Church, i.e. the pro-abortion group National Organization for Women and the American Civil Liberties Union.” CCHD reportedly stopped funding those abortion groups after a church revolt years ago.

Anita MonCrief, a Washington, D.C.-area Catholic and former ACORN employee who personally witnessed ACORN abuses from the inside, was delighted that CCHD finally came to its senses.

“I’ve been a Catholic all my life and I’ve been a little disturbed it took them so long to realize what was happening with ACORN,” MonCrief said. “ACORN and its shenanigans have been in the news since 2000 and they should have known.”

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From the blog of the Archbishop of New York, this dismaying news!

Anti-Catholicism
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October 29, 2009


The following article was submitted in a slightly shorter form to the New York Times as an op-ed article. The Times declined to publish it. I thought you might be interested in reading it.


FOUL BALL!
By Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York

October is the month we relish the highpoint of our national pastime, especially when one of our own New York teams is in the World Series!

Sadly, America has another national pastime, this one not pleasant at all: anti-Catholicism.

It is not hyperbole to call prejudice against the Catholic Church a national pastime. Scholars such as Arthur Schlesinger Sr. referred to it as “the deepest bias in the history of the American people,” while John Higham described it as “the most luxuriant, tenacious tradition of paranoiac agitation in American history.”

“The anti-semitism of the left,” is how Paul Viereck reads it, and Professor Philip Jenkins sub-titles his book on the topic “the last acceptable prejudice.”

If you want recent evidence of this unfairness against the Catholic Church, look no further than a few of these following examples of occurrences over the last couple weeks:


•On October 14, in the pages of the New York Times, reporter Paul Vitello exposed the sad extent of child sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community. According to the article, there were forty cases of such abuse in this tiny community last year alone.

Yet the Times did not demand what it has called for incessantly when addressing the same kind of abuse by a tiny minority of priests: release of names of abusers, rollback of statute of limitations, external investigations, release of all records, and total transparency.

Instead, an attorney is quoted urging law enforcement officials to recognize “religious sensitivities,” and no criticism was offered of the DA’s office for allowing Orthodox rabbis to settle these cases “internally.”

Given the Catholic Church’s own recent horrible experience, I am hardly in any position to criticize our Orthodox Jewish neighbors, and have no wish to do so . . . but I can criticize this kind of “selective outrage.”

Of course, this selective outrage probably should not surprise us at all, as we have seen many other examples of the phenomenon in recent years when it comes to the issue of sexual abuse.

To cite but two: In 2004, Professor Carol Shakeshaft documented the wide-spread problem of sexual abuse of minors in our nation’s public schools (the study can be found here).

In 2007, the Associated Press issued a series of investigative reports that also showed the numerous examples of sexual abuse by educators against public school students.

Both the Shakeshaft study and the AP reports were essentially ignored, as papers such as the New York Times only seem to have priests in their crosshairs.

•On October 16, Laurie Goodstein of the Times offered a front page, above-the-fold story on the sad episode of a Franciscan priest who had fathered a child.

Even taking into account that the relationship with the mother was consensual and between two adults, and that the Franciscans have attempted to deal justly with the errant priest’s responsibilities to his son, this action is still sinful, scandalous, and indefensible.

However, one still has to wonder why a quarter-century old story of a sin by a priest is now suddenly more pressing and newsworthy than the war in Afghanistan, health care, and starvation–genocide in Sudan. No other cleric from religions other than Catholic ever seems to merit such attention.

•Five days later, October 21, the Times gave its major headline to the decision by the Vatican to welcome Anglicans who had requested union with Rome. Fair enough. Unfair, though, was the article’s observation that the Holy See lured and bid for the Anglicans.

Of course, the reality is simply that for years thousands of Anglicans have been asking Rome to be accepted into the Catholic Church with a special sensitivity for their own tradition. As Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican’s chief ecumenist, observed, “We are not fishing in the Anglican pond.”

Not enough for the Times; for them, this was another case of the conniving Vatican luring and bidding unsuspecting, good people, greedily capitalizing on the current internal tensions in Anglicanism.

•Finally, the most combustible example of all came Sunday with an intemperate and scurrilous piece by Maureen Dowd on the opinion pages of the Times.

In a diatribe that rightly never would have passed muster with the editors had it so criticized an Islamic, Jewish, or African-American religious issue, she digs deep into the nativist handbook to use every anti-Catholic caricature possible, from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, condoms, obsession with sex, pedophile priests, and oppression of women, all the while slashing Pope Benedict XVI for his shoes, his forced conscription -- along with every other German teenage boy -- into the German army, his outreach to former Catholics, and his recent welcome to Anglicans.

True enough, the matter that triggered her spasm -- the current visitation of women religious by Vatican representatives -- is well-worth discussing, and hardly exempt from legitimate questioning. But her prejudice, while maybe appropriate for the Know-Nothing newspaper of the 1850’s, the Menace, has no place in a major publication today.

I do not mean to suggest that anti-Catholicism is confined to the pages of the New York Times. Unfortunately, abundant examples can be found in many different venues.

I will not even begin to try and list the many cases of anti-Catholicism in the so-called entertainment media, as they are so prevalent they sometimes seem almost routine and obligatory.

Elsewhere, last week, Representative Patrick Kennedy made some incredibly inaccurate and uncalled-for remarks concerning the Catholic bishops, as mentioned in this blog on Monday.

Also, the New York State Legislature has levied a special payroll tax to help the Metropolitan Transportation Authority fund its deficit. This legislation calls for the public schools to be reimbursed the cost of the tax; Catholic schools, and other private schools, will not receive the reimbursement, costing each of the schools thousands – in some cases tens of thousands – of dollars, money that the parents and schools can hardly afford. (Nor can the archdiocese, which already underwrites the schools by $30 million annually.)

Is it not an issue of basic fairness for ALL school-children and their parents to be treated equally?

The Catholic Church is not above criticism. We Catholics do a fair amount of it ourselves. We welcome and expect it. All we ask is that such critique be fair, rational, and accurate, what we would expect for anybody. The suspicion and bias against the Church is a national pastime that should be “rained out” for good.

I guess my own background in American history should caution me not to hold my breath.

Then again, yesterday was the Feast of Saint Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes.


It is beyond outrage that the New York Times should refuse to publish any submission by the Archbishop of New York, no less.But at this point, does one really expect any basic fairness and decency in the mainstream media any more?

In defiance of all fundamental standards of journalism, the Times and its ilk have stopped publishing objective news stories in favor of anyhing-goes tendentious, editorializing and typically one-sided vanity pieces by their journalists.

They should at least accommodate legitimate replies to the obvious errors of commission and omission in these reports that need to be refuted, or at least, balanced with the target side's perspective.

If the Times will not even do that for the Archbishop of New York, how much less will it accommodate any Tom, Dick and Harriet who would need to present his/her side of any story that ignores or distorts it?

Perhaps Archbishop Dolan, and all persons of good will who still uphold elementary decency and fairness, can take some comfort from the fact that the so-called mainstream media (at least the major newspapers and TV network news) are fast losing their credibility with the American public and are well on their way to becoming the fringe media, rather than MSM.

Meanwhile, there's Fox News and the Catholic blogosphere. More than ever, let us invoke the Holy Spirit on those who have so lost every trace of ethical consciousness in their blind commitment to the intolerant ideology of secularism at all costs.




More examples:

Catholic League president cites
more anti-Catholic media bias

by Bill Donohue
President
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Oct. 29, 2009



Last Friday on the Washington Post blog, “On Faith,” English atheist Richard Dawkins said the Catholic Church was “surely up there among the leaders” as “the greatest force for evil in the world.”

He labeled the Eucharist a “cannibal feast,” adding that “possession of testicles is an essential qualification to perform the rite.” He also blamed the Church for sending missionaries “out to tell deliberate lies to AIDS-weakened Africans” regarding condoms.

The Church’s outreach to Anglicans, he said, makes it “a common pimp,” noting that those who convert “will be joining an institution where buggering altar boys pervades the culture.”

On Saturday, a Los Angeles Times editorial said that “Church leaders, including Popes, have changed their thinking over the years about everything from usury to the culpability of Jews for the Crucifixion….”

It concluded, “You don’t have to be Catholic (or Anglican) to realize that society as a whole would be better off if the Church’s views of women and gays underwent a similar evolution.”

On Sunday, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd recalled that when she was in grade school, “Nuns were second-class citizens then and – 40 years after feminism utterly changed America — they still are.”

She called Pope Benedict XVI the “uber-conservative Pope,” a.k.a. “God’s Rottweiler,” who was once “a conscripted member of the Hitler Youth.” She also accused the Church of enabling “rampant pedophilia.”

On Monday, James Carroll in the Boston Globe called the outreach to Anglicans “a cruel assault,” “an insult to loyal Catholic liberals” and “a slap at women and homosexuals.” He characterized the outreach as a “preemptive exploitation of Anglican distress.”

These deranged comments — all voiced in America’s premier newspapers —demonstrate that anti-Catholicism is the most virulent expression of bigotry in the U.S.

It also shows why these newspapers, quite unlike the Catholic Church, are dying. As for the writers, they need to go to church. Either that or check into an asylum.


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I almost could not believe it when this news came out last Friday, but it certainly represents the high point so far in the conspicuous 'reclamation' of Catholic identity by the US bishops that has been evident since Cardinal George was elected president last year. After decades of passive and active liberalism, at long last, a promise of orthodoxy! I cannot imagine a more pro-active action taken by another local church in the post-Conciliar years, for which we can only say Deo gratias and Laudetur Jesus Christus!



'ABORTION IS NOT HEALTH CARE!'
US Bishops' Conference blankets parishes
with inserts against expanding abortion
through health care reform




WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 — In an extraordinary call to Catholics to prevent health care reform from being derailed by the abortion lobby, the United Sates Conference of Catholic Bishops has sent bulletin inserts to almost 19,000 parishes across the country.

"Health care reform should be about saving lives, not destroying them," the insert states. It urges readers to contact Senate leaders so they support efforts to "incorporate longstanding policies against abortion funding and in favor of conscience rights" in health reform legislation.

"If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill should be opposed," it adds.

The insert highlights the Stupak Amendment from Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) that, it states, "addresses essential pro-life concerns on abortion funding and conscience rights."

"Help ensure that the Rule for the bill allows a vote on the amendment," the insert states. "If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill should be opposed."

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A dramatic ad of a pregnant woman notes that the Hyde Amendment, which passed in 1976, has prevented federal funds from paying for elective abortions, yet healthcare reform bills that are advancing violate this policy. The ad message: "Tell Congress: Remove Abortion Funding and Mandates from Needed Health Care Reform."

The insert also directs readers to www.usccb.org/healthcare.

Bulletin inserts were distributed to dioceses October 29, the day Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) unveiled the House health care reform bill and in expectation that they will show up in parishes in early November.

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the USCCB; Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chair of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-life Activities; Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, chair of the Committee on Migration; and Bishop William Murphy of Rockville, Centre, New York, chair of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development urged fellow bishops to promote this campaign in their dioceses.

"The bishops want health care reform, but they recoil at any expansion of abortion," said Helen Osman, USCCB Secretary for Communications, who helped organize the campaign. "Most Americans don’t want to pay for other people’s abortions via health care either. This impasse on the road to reform of health care can be broken if Congress writes in language that assures that the Hyde Amendment law* continues to guide U.S. federal spending policy."

The Catholic bishops have a long history of support for health care reform based on its teaching that health care is essential for human life and dignity and on its experience providing health care and assisting those without coverage.


*About the Hyde amendment:

Medicaid funded abortion until Congress expressly stopped such funding in 1977 by passing the Hyde appropriations ban, which bars most taxpayer funding of abortions.

But a federal Circuit Court of Appeals, while defending the legitimacy of Hyde, did, however, make clear that “abortion fits within many of the mandatory care categories, including ‘family
planning,’ ‘outpatient services,’ ‘inpatient services,’ and ‘physicians’ services.’”


However, the Hyde amendment is an appropriation limitation that mut be renewed every year. As a candidate President Obama stated he “does not support the Hyde Amendment” and believes that reproductive health care (abortion) is basic health care".

Further, the current House health care reform bill, H.R. 3200, has self-appropriating features that would not be covered by the Hyde Amendment.

To ensure that U.S. policy against funding or mandating abortion coverage is maintained in any new health care law, abortion
must be permanently and explicitly excluded. [Under the law, any action not expressly prohibited in any piece of legislation is allowed.]



So, until and unless any health care reform bill that passes Congress includes a provision that says no federally-funded health insurance can cover abortion services, 'public-option' or government-run health insurance will - which means American taxpayers will be subsidizing abortions.


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Here, however, is a view of this all-parish initiative of the US bishops which sees it as a way of encouraging the faithful to support any healthcare form bill that will contain the desired proviso against federal funding for abortion, without caring much for the other anti-Catholic features that will be legislated.

I would hasten to add that from following the twists and turns of the health bill closely on cable news, the various versions of the bill under consideration by the Democrats is also deliberately deceptive about its eventual cost, and worse, that any actual changes in the insurance set-up will not take place until 2013. whereas the revenue-raising measures (e.g., new taxes and the mad scheme of cutting back Medicare by $500 billion to pay the bill for the new legislation!) start right away!

What the Democrats contemplate is bristling with egregious defects like these, not to mention a possible violation of the constitutional provision that does not allow the government to compel any citizen to buy anything - as this bill would compel every American citizen to buy health insurance or be fined for not doing so!

Health care for all is desirable, but it doesn't necessarily mean health insurance for all, whether they want it or not.




The Catholic Bishops’ parish outreach
could have a boomerang effect

By Frank Walker
Pewsitter.com


October 31, 2009 - The USCCB is not the best source to counter a liberal political agenda. But this weekend, they are it. By asking parishes to discuss the Federal healthcare bills at Sunday Masses and reject the current plans, they put additional pressure to stall the progress of an already unpopular project.

Moderates and conservatives have been unable to get amendments attached to the bill that would eliminate abortion funding, prevent rationing and euthanasia and protect conscience rights.

This is a very dangerous move done at a time when the healthcare bill is already facing strong resistance. Aside from these moral policy issues of abortion and euthanasia - abortion already being well established into society by the courts and euthanasia covertly practiced to an unknown degree - on every other item the Bishops’ Conference sides with the Left.

The Bishops have a very long and fruitful history of delivering Catholic votes for Democrats. These are the same Catholic leaders who enabled the huge Ted Kennedy funeral event and whose President was so happy Barack Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize. [That is a sweeping statement which is not true in the generalized way it is made, and Cardinal George's 'happiness' at Obama's Peace Prize was obviously a gesture of courtesy and some kind of olive branch, not because George expects a quid pro quo, but so no one can fault him for lack of graciousness.]

The partnership stretches deep into the last century and beyond.

In their fantastic thinking, the bishops believe that Congress can move the entire country to a national health bureaucracy, and it will expand the medical services to people instead of uniformly reducing them. This utopian pie-in-the-sky error is standard reasoning from their quarter.

There are endless ways that Congress can seemingly capitulate to the Bishops’ demands, thus giving them a green light to do what they would very much love to do, support the bill wholeheartedly.

Regardless of the U.S. Bishops’ healthcare formulations, there is no real way to produce this government takeover and not have more abortions, rationing, euthanasia, and coercion. It is intrinsic to the machine being set into motion. The details are incidental. Any possible protections would be temporary at best, and the bishops, poised and hoping for success of the plan, are vulnerable to a Democrat feint.

Even if the Bishops were able to force the adoption of pro-life amendments that have been introduced by Republicans and blue dog Democrats, the courts would still be free to change these provisions and unleash the pro-death lobby against the elderly, sick and unborn. The court majorities exist and most of the insidious amoral laws we suffer with today have relied upon key court interventions around the country. [True, but at least, there is a first line of defense in explicit prohibition of the funding, which stays until it is successfully challenged in court.]

We are in great danger that the bishops will turn around and bolt in the wrong direction based on some weak or deceptive accommodation, and that much of the best part of the Catholic population - mass-going, sensible, elderly, impressed by their bishop’s pastoral attention and Washington’s new listening ears, will shift their opinions from where they are today and seal their own fates.

It’s amazing to me that a group of leaders who give so much time on behalf of the unborn, the sick, and the poor would ever support a national health scheme in the first place. Has the Conference solicited the advice of one medical professional, perhaps even the Catholic Medical Association?

I would not be so cynical to guess that this boomerang scenario might be a co-coordinated effort between the congressional leaders and the USCCB, but I would not be astonished if it were. Too often, these people play for the same team.


I find the last two paragraphs extremely unfair to the bishops even if I find their automatic support for any national health plan that purports to give health insurance to every citizen rather naive and unthinking.

There is simply no common-sense justification for throwing the entire healthcare system into disarray - one-sixth of the national economy - at unconscionable cost, and when 250 million Americans are happy with the health plans they now have, in order to insure an additional 30 million, mostly made up of illegal aliens and employed persons who choose not to buy health insurance (especially among young people just starting to work).

It would have been so much simpler to just propose a bill that would provide health insurance for those US citizens - probably 10-12 million - who cannot afford it, and pass other separate and much simpler bills to better regulate the private insurances as well as to discourage unwarranted litigation against doctors and set a reasonable limit to malpractice awards. Simpler focused-objective bills would not require the mind-boggling new bureaucracy that the Democratic bills (or their final version of it) are poised to create!

Where in the world is it reasonable for an obstetrician to pay $150,000 yearly in malpractice insurance as they do in New York state now? Many gynecologists have stopped practising obstetrics because they would have to pay just half in malpractice insurance if they did not deliver babies.

Doctors are forced to pay high insurance premiums, because insurance companies are made to pay out millions when a jury finds a physician guilty of malpractice. But unless a doctor has malpractice insurance, he will not be allowed to be a provider for any health plan and he cannot get privileges to admit patients to any hospital. But few doctors can support a practice without belonging to the health plans - simply because few Americans are left who would even think of paying out of pocket for health care.


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