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00Tuesday, August 4, 2009 4:43 PM

To better appreciate the Pontificate of Benedict XVI, it is helpful to be aware of the social issues of the day, particularly as they impact on the Church and on Catholics in general. I have opened this thread for that purpose. Issues that involve the Pope directly will continue to be posted in the threads BENEDICT XVI and MAGISTERIUM. Commentary on Caritas in veritate has its own thread.

For orthodox Catholics, life issues and Obama go together in a significant way, because a significant number of American Catholics - one must believe they are the cafeteria Catholics, liberals who continue to call themselves Catholic but reject many of the basic tenets of Catholic doctrine - including respect for human life, one of its most basic teachings based not only on a commandment of God but also on natural law - which they find inconvenient or contrary to their political-cultural ideology.

And so they find common cause with the current President of the United States who has absolutely no scruples in telling the Pope that he will work 'to reduce abortions' while pushing legislation on all fronts that promote and encourage abortion and other anti-life practices favored by the liberals.

Six months into his presidency, some people are now realizing that Obama does not walk on water, that he is, in fact, a politician of the Chicago kind who is also dead set on 'transforming' American society through a radical program of barely-concealed socialism.

Here is a six-month review from The Economist, published in London:

The Obama cult
If Barack Obama disappoints his supporters,
they will have only themselves to blame

From The Economist print edition

Jul 23rd 2009

Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, said he was running for president to revive “our national soul”. He was not alone in taking an expansive view of presidential responsibilities. With the exception of Ron Paul, all the serious candidates waxed grandiloquent about their aims.

John McCain said he modelled himself on Teddy Roosevelt, a man who “nourished the soul of a great nation”.

Hillary Clinton lamented that America had no goals, and offered to supply some.

And let us not forget the man they all sought to replace, George Bush, who promised, among other things, to “rid the world of evil”. Appalled by such hubris, a libertarian scholar called Gene Healy wrote The Cult of the Presidency, a book decrying the unrealistic expectations Americans have of their presidents. [NO, it is more the unrealistic hopes and ambitions that their President sells them!]

The book was written while Barack Obama’s career was still on the launch pad, yet it describes with uncanny prescience the atmosphere that allowed him to soar.

Mr Obama has inspired more passionate devotion than any modern American politician. People scream and faint at his rallies. Some wear T-shirts proclaiming him “The One” and noting that “Jesus was a community organiser”. An editor at Newsweek described him as “above the country, above the world; he’s sort of God.”

He sets foreign hearts fluttering, too. A Pew poll published this week finds that 93% of Germans expect him to do the right thing in world affairs. Only 14% thought that about Mr Bush.

Perhaps Mr Obama inwardly cringes at the personality cult that surrounds him. But he has hardly discouraged it.

As a campaigner, he promised to “change the world”, to “transform this country” and even (in front of a church full of evangelicals) to “create a Kingdom right here on earth”.

As president, he keeps adding details to this ambitious wish-list. He vows to create millions of jobs, to cure cancer and to seek a world without nuclear weapons.

On July 20th he promised something big (a complete overhaul of the health-care system), something improbable (to make America’s college-graduation rate the highest in the world by 2020) and something no politician could plausibly accomplish (to make maths and science “cool again”).

The Founding Fathers intended a more modest role for the president: to defend the country when attacked, to enforce the law, to uphold the constitution—and that was about it. But over time, the office has grown.

In 1956 Clinton Rossiter, a political scientist, wrote that Americans wanted their President to make the country rich, to take the lead on domestic policy, to respond to floods, tornadoes and rail strikes, to act as the nation’s moral spokesman and to lead the free world. The occupant of the Oval Office had to be “a combination of scoutmaster, Delphic oracle, hero of the silver screen and father of the multitudes,” he said.

The public mood has grown more cynical since then; Watergate showed that presidents can be villains. But Americans still want their commander-in-chief to take command. It is pointless for a modern president to plead that some things, such as the business cycle, are beyond his control. So several have sought dubious powers to meet the public’s unreasonable expectations.

Sometimes people notice, as when Mr Bush claimed limitless leeway to tap phones and detain suspected terrorists. But sometimes they don’t. For example, Mr Bush was blamed for the debacle of Hurricane Katrina, although responding to natural disasters is largely a local responsibility.

So he pushed Congress to pass a law allowing the president to use the army to restore order after a future natural disaster, an epidemic, or under “other conditi0n(s)”, a startling expansion of federal power.

Mr Obama promised to roll back Mr Bush’s imperial presidency. But has he?

Having slammed his predecessor for issuing “signing statements” dismissing parts of laws he had just signed, he is now doing the same thing.

He vowed to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, but this week put off for another six months any decision as to what to do with the inmates.

Meanwhile, he has embraced Mrs Clinton’s curious notion that the president should be “commander-in-chief of our economy”, by propping up banks, firing executives, backing car warranties and so forth.

Mr Healy reckons that Mr Obama is “as dedicated to enhancing federal power as any president in 50 years.”

Nonsense, say his supporters. Taking over banks and car companies was a temporary measure to tackle a crisis. When the danger recedes, Mr Obama will pull back. The restructuring of General Motors, for example, is comfortably ahead of schedule. And far from lording it over Congress, the president has if anything abdicated too much responsibility to it.

These are all fair points. But Mr Healy’s warnings are still worth heeding.

Mr Obama is clearly not the socialist of Republican demonology, but he is trying to extend federal control over two huge chunks of the economy — energy and health care — so fast that lawmakers do not have time to read the bills before voting on them.

Perhaps he is hurrying to get the job done before his polls weaken any further. In six months, his approval rating has fallen from 63% to 56% while his disapproval rating has nearly doubled, from 20% to 39%. Independent voters are having second thoughts. And his policies are less popular than he is. Support for his health-care reforms has slipped from 57% to 49% since April.

All presidential candidates promise more than they can possibly deliver. This sets them up for failure. But because the Obama cult has stoked expectations among its devotees to such unprecedented heights, he is especially likely to disappoint.

Mr Healy predicts that he will end up as a failed president, and “possibly the least popular of the modern era”. It is up to Mr Obama to prove him wrong.

The following editorial from the coming issue of NCRegister more or less sums up the current state of the national debate in teh United States over Obama's intended healthcare reforms. The title is a stretch since it quotes only what the Holy Father said directly about health care.

Benedict on health care

August 9-22, 2009 Issue

The health-care debate is a perfect example of why Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical on the economy is called Caritas in Veritate — Charity and Truth.

Think of it this way: Psychologists who have attempted to care for people’s mental health without regard to the reality of sin end up leaving people at the mercy of the worst psychological disasters. A medical community that rejects the sacredness of human life ends up killing more people — embryos and the elderly — than they save.

And economists who reduce people to economic entities — ignoring human love and the truth about the human person — find that they just make problems worse.

Health care is a perfect example. Charity and truth are why we have health care in the first place. The modern health-care system started with Christ’s command to “heal the sick.” Dedicated religious invented hospitals. Catholic nuns and brothers staffed them and allowed them to proliferate. Health care was affordable to all who needed it because, at its heart, it was a service of charity that responded to the dignity of the human person.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Catholic organizations provided education and health care that were practically free. At the beginning of the 21st century, the atheistic movements that worked so hard to unshackle society from the chains of the Church are faced with a society searching for, and not finding, lifelines to replace the ones the Church once provided.

Of course, there are plenty of other factors in the health-care situation America faces.

In order to head off labor unions, employers in the early 20th century started to add benefits, among them medical plans. Today, it is an expectation that employers will provide health-care benefits. That, in turn, means that health-care costs have been hidden from consumers for years: The money for the insurance comes out of their paycheck (and their employer’s account) before they see it.

The litigation explosion in the past 50 years in America has also caused a new dynamic in health care: Providers have to pay huge malpractice insurance rates, a cost they pass on to the medical insurers, who pass it on to you and me and our employers — or to prospective employers if we lose our job.

Yet health care remains a right. “The political community has a duty to honor the family, to assist it, and to ensure especially,” says the Catechism (No. 2211), “in keeping with the country’s institutions, the right to medical care, assistance for the aged, and family benefits.”

That doesn’t mean that all health care must be government-provided. After all, the Catechism is careful to use that phrase “in keeping with the country’s institutions” and also stresses the right to private ownership, housing and emigration — none of which are expected to be provided at government expense.

What, then, does it mean? How can we ensure the right to medical care in the face of our gargantuan, overpriced mess of a health-care system?

Pope Benedict’s encyclical gives his fundamental answer. “Love — caritas — is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace. … Development, social well-being, the search for a satisfactory solution to the grave socioeconomic problems besetting humanity, all need this truth.”

In particular, Catholic social thought has translated this love and truth into the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity.

The principle of solidarity means we ought to love our neighbor, feed the poor, clothe the naked, and care for the sick.

On the one hand, the market alone will not achieve solidarity. “In fact, if the market is governed solely by the principle of the equivalence in value of exchanged goods, it cannot produce the social cohesion that it requires in order to function well,” writes the Holy Father (No. 38). He emphasizes: “Without internal forms of solidarity and mutual trust, the market cannot completely fulfill its proper economic function.”

On the other hand, “Solidarity is first and foremost a sense of responsibility on the part of everyone with regard to everyone,” he writes, “and it cannot therefore be merely delegated to the State.”

The principle of subsidiarity, on the other hand, is the Catholic belief that the person closest to a need has the strongest ability — and clearest duty — to provide care.

These two principles are at the heart of the health-care question: We are meant to help each other, and the person closest to the problem is responsible for assistance.

Pope Benedict XVI is careful not to place this responsibility solely on the shoulders of the marketplace or the state.

He nicely distinguishes between an over-reaching state on the one hand, and a laissez-faire approach on the other, when he writes (No. 58), “The principle of subsidiarity must remain closely linked to the principle of solidarity and vice versa, since the former without the latter gives way to social privatism, while the latter without the former gives way to paternalist social assistance that is demeaning to those in need.”

These two principles are helpful when assessing the health-care legislation being proposed in Washington.

Questions to ask: Does the proposal help us expand health care? In other words, does it allow us to cut the true factors that drive health-care costs — or does it kowtow to those who are responsible for those costs, for instance trial lawyers and pharmaceutical companies?

Also: Does the proposal put decisions about assistance in the hands of those closest to the need? Or does it move those decisions to Washington?

Of course, all of those questions are moot if a health-care proposal fails to protect the right to life. Health care that pays for abortion or pressures older patients to forgo necessary treatment isn’t a health-care system at all, but a death machine.

No matter how it is structured or how many benefits it provides to people, Catholics must oppose any legislator who proposes or supports a death machine.

Love and truth demand that.

00Tuesday, August 4, 2009 5:36 PM

Another bid to protect unborn
in health bill fails
in the US House

By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 31, 2009 ( - What was possibly the final bid to halt the Obama administration health care bill's expansion of abortion in the House Energy and Commerce Committee failed early Friday.

Another pro-life amendment offered by Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Joe Pitts (R-PA) to halt the abortion mandate Friday was rejected 27-31. (A tally of the votes can be found here.)

The amendment states that "no funds authorized under this Act (or amendment made by this Act) may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion," although it makes exceptions in the case of danger to the mother's life, or in cases of rape or incest.

"Once again the Democratic Majority has demonstrated it fully intends to fund or subsidize abortion services in their health care plan," commented Family Research Council President Tony Perkins on this latest Committee action.

"With the majority of Americans, we believe that health care legislation should not cover abortion. The actions of the House Committee demonstrate beyond any doubt that it intends for the federal government to fund coverage of abortion on demand."

Perkins applauded Stupak and the other committee Democrats who voted to keep abortion out of the health care bill.

"We will continue to work with members of both parties to remove abortion from the government health care plan when this legislation moves to the House floor," he said.

Stupak and Pitts had made a similar, initially successful bid during committee mark-ups late last night, but met with failure hours later when Committee Chairman Henry Waxman invoked House rules that allowed him to bring the measure up for a second vote. The amendment then failed 30-29.

Earlier Thursday evening, the House passed an amendment by pro-abortion California Democrat Rep. Lois Capps that allows for federal funding of abortion coverage in the government health care plan, permits taxpayer subsidies of private plans covering abortion, and mandates that every U.S. region have at least one health plan covering abortion.

Earlier, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote a letter to the members of Congress enjoining them not to legislate abortion funding in the healthcare bill:

00Tuesday, August 4, 2009 5:50 PM

Obama on the value of human life:
How about some ‘vigorous’ debate?

by Patrick Lee

July 24, 2009

President Obama has called for vigorous debate on the abortion question. For that to happen, though, his own position must be clarified. The picture that emerges is not a flattering one.

In his commencement address at the University of Notre Dame, President Obama suggested that he valued debate about the issue of abortion. He congratulated Notre Dame’s president, Father Jenkins, for his “courageous commitment to honest, thoughtful dialogue,” and spoke approvingly of “citizens of a vibrant and varied democracy” engaging in “vigorous debate.”

Yet, last month Obama gave all the members of the President’s Council on Bioethics their walking papers. He might re-constitute the Council, but no one expects that he will—as President Bush actually did—attempt to ensure that different sides on the fundamental and controversial bioethical issues are fairly represented.

What happened to encouraging vigorous debate? Has Obama done anything to indicate that he has real interest in actually debating the issue of the inherent value of human life? He spoke glowingly of “honest, thoughtful dialogue,” but his actions on this issue reflect sheer power politics.

Obama has chosen to fund abortion overseas, clearly favors funding abortions here, and has reversed the limitations on funding of embryo-destructive stem cell research

Given these facts, it is fair to ask: what is his position on the beginning of human life and when human life has or acquires inherent dignity? What position on the beginning of human life could he possibly hold?

I can think of only six possibilities. Were he open about his position, he would have to say one of the following.

1. “I don’t care when life begins; I do not care at all about individuals that can’t be (directly) seen, that are too small, or look very different from us.”

I think this is probably his real position (as evidenced by his dismissing the question about the beginning of human life by saying that it was “above his pay grade”). But this is a mere emotional reaction and is not morally or legally sound. Just as the inherent value of a human being cannot depend on his or her race or sex, so it cannot depend on his or her size or degree of development. You and I have changed dramatically in size and appearance since we were infants. But what makes us valuable as subjects of rights has continued, and so it cannot depend on our size or degree of development.

2. “The entities killed in abortion and embryo-destructive research aren’t really human beings.”

But this answer flies in the face of science—the science of embryology. Embryology shows us that when the sperm joins with the egg, the sperm and the egg cease to be, and an entirely new and distinct organism is generated, originally the one-celled zygote.

This new organism is distinct from any part of the mother or father since it actively grows in its own direction toward its own maturity. It is a whole human organism — not an isolated tissue or group of cells. It is actually already a he or a she, since sex is determined from the very beginning.

It has all of the internal resources (in his or her genetic and epigenetic composition) and an active disposition, to actively develop himself or herself to the mature stage of a human organism, needing only a suitable environment and nutrition. These points show that what is generated at fertilization is a distinct, whole human organism, only at an immature stage of development.

3. “Human embryos and fetuses are human organisms, but they are not persons, that is, they do not have inherent value as subjects of rights.”

Usually the idea behind this position is that an entity must have self-consciousness or self-conscious desires in order to be a person (or an entity that has basic rights), and that unborn human beings lack self-awareness.

But one problem with this is that infants also lack such self-awareness, and so this argument would justify infanticide as well as abortion. It proves too much, as most people readily see that infanticide is indeed morally wrong.

Another problem is that comatose human beings do not have the immediately exercisable capacity (a capacity that can be actualized in a short time) for self-awareness either, but they are clearly subjects of rights.

This fact suggests that what makes one valuable as a subject of rights is not what one can do right now, but the fundamental kind of being one is. But human embryos and fetuses are the same kind of being as you and I, only at an earlier stage of development.

Like comatose human beings, they possess the basic natural capacity to shape their own lives by reason and free choice, but it will be an extended time before they exercise that natural capacity (with much external assistance in the comatose, and by natural internally directed development in the unborn).

Thus, human embryos and human fetuses are subjects of rights. Each of us once was an embryo and then a fetus (and then an infant, an adolescent, and so on). And just as it would be wrong to kill you or me now, so it would have been wrong to kill us when we were infants, but also when we were fetuses or embryos.

4. “Human embryos and fetuses are human persons, but sometimes it is morally okay (and should be legally endorsed and even promoted) to do evil in order to extricate oneself from terrible burdens.”

This is the position that the end justifies means, and that a political society need not protect its weaker members against its stronger ones. But the end does not justify the means, as Obama has rightly asserted in the context of the torture issue.

It would be morally wrong, for example, to kidnap a homeless person who is without family or friends and dismember him in order to use his body parts for others—using his kidneys, liver, lungs, and heart to save many others.

And yet if the ends did justify the means, this choice would be perfectly acceptable. (Please note that this is basically the kind of choice — with respect to embryonic human beings — that Obama has ensured our tax dollars will now encourage.) But if the ends do not justify the means and if it is a foundational duty of the political community to protect the weak and vulnerable against the stronger, then clearly this position on unborn human life is gravely flawed.

5. “In abortion and embryo-destructive research the death of the human being is only a side effect —a bortion, for example, is the removal of the unborn human being and his or her death is an unfortunate side effect.”

The problem with this position is that in most cases of abortion and in all cases of embryo-destructive research this is obviously false: the death of the unborn human being, not just his or her removal from the womb — in the vast majority of such cases—is the means chosen to obtain the ends desired in abortion or embryo-destructive research.

The absence of responsibility for a child (the end intended in most abortions) is not attained if a live baby is produced. And one cannot obtain the embryo’s cells that can be cultured into embryonic stem cells (the end intended in embryo-destructive stem cell research) unless one destroys the embryonic human being.

Moreover, in the few cases of abortion where the death of the unborn human being might be a side effect (say, where only avoiding the condition of pregnancy is intended), the killing is clearly unjust.

The injustice is heightened since it is done by parents: both mother and father have a special responsibility to their children. (If the mother’s life is in imminent danger, then it is not the termination of the pregnancy or the baby’s death that saves her but a correction of a pathology.

And so, as is generally recognized by pro-life ethicists, in these cases the abortion is a side effect of what is directly done — such as the removal of a cancerous or toxic uterus. Such acts need not be morally wrong, and do not fall under the definition of abortion where abortion is (or was or will be) illegal.)

6. “I am personally opposed to abortion and embryo-destructive research but I do not think the government should criminalize these practices.”

This position is logically, ethically, and legally bankrupt. The only basis for being “personally” opposed to abortion and embryo-destructive research would be that one recognizes that killing innocent human beings is wrong, and that abortion and embryo-destructive research are instances of such killing.

But it is a basic ethical and political truth, and it is basic to our constitution, that a just political society must provide equal protection of the law to all human persons.

So, which is it? Does Obama just not care whether what is killed in abortion and embryo-destructive research is a human person or not? If he does care, what does he think occurs in abortion or embryo-destructive research? Each of the positions that might justify his actions has insuperable logical and/or philosophical difficulties. It is time to have some of that vigorous debate Obama claims to favor.

Patrick Lee is the John N. and Jamie D. McAleer Chair in Bioethics at Franciscan University of Steubenville and the director of the Witherspoon Institute’s Program on Bioethics and Human Dignity. He is the author, with Robert P. George, of Body-Self Dualism in Contemporary Ethics and Politics and is a contributor to Public Discourse.

While Mr. Lee's call for debate is obviously what fair play calls for, any debate can only be pro forma at best - because it is obvious that Obama's position is all of the above.

And for Catholics, none of it is debatable, even if no one may be able to pin him down now to any explicit statement, post Notre Shame, post-Vatican visit.

Dissembling, if not outright lying, is his stock in trade to distract his detractors, maybe even disarm them, while he continues to work his black magic tricks with the other hand to 'transform American fundamentally' to his vision of what it should be - a socialized country according to the Marxist principle of "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs".

If you have any doubts about that at all, Glenn Beck of Common Sense and FoxNews has quite a collection of these chilling videos in which Obama clearly says what he intends to do and people simply took it for campaign rhetoric.

The good thing about the United States, so far - before Obama has had a chance to transform it under the unseeing eyes of its citizenry - is that there seem to be enough vigilant non-partisan citizens who are standing up now, in various ways, and having their voices heard.

If the polls are to be believed, there are enough of them already to register a majority of Americans against Obama's spending spree and his ill-thought healthcare bill.

But there are still perhasp as many as 40% who are 'change-blind', a term used by psychologists for the condition when someone is too distracted with so many things going on in the big picture that he can actually miss a big change that is taking place at the same time).

The test illustration for this is a picture showing a line of people getting on a big plane; the picture flashes on in succession for maybe 10-12 times, and it looks like it's the same picture all along - the normal person (me included) does not perceive any change. Until it is pointed out that towards the 7th picture or so, the plane engine that is above the line of people approaching the plane stairs has disappeared!

And that, the commonsensical Beck points out, is what is happening to those Americans who for the time being, Obama has mesmerized.

But his disastrous health care reform proposals have led more and more people to realize that their supposed Messiah is actually no better than your unsavory garden-variety unsavory politician, only worse because he actually made them believe for almost three years that he walks on water!

He announced to ACORN supporters (those so-called community organizers - even the term is a giveaway for what they really are - five days before election day last year, telling them that "for that [transforming America] we will need a civilian army like you as strong, as well-organized and as well-financed as the armed forces"! It is horrifically chilling to the very marrow to watch the video clip!

00Friday, August 7, 2009 4:48 PM
Winning the war on
the 'war on terror'

by Daniel E. Ritchie

Aug 7, 2009

Daniel E. Ritchie is professor of English and director of the humanities program at Bethel University.

Does it matter that the Obama administration is now involved in “overseas contingency operations” rather than “fighting terror”?

Is it important that our Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, refers to “man-caused disasters” rather than terrorism?

And how about the news made by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, when she was asked about the elimination of the phrase “war on terror”: "The administration has stopped using the phrase and I think that speaks for itself," Clinton said. “It was controversial here [in Europe].”

The New York Times often used quotation marks around “the war on terror” during the Bush administration. National Public Radio commentators sometimes referred to “the so-called war on terror.”

The rhetorical struggle isn’t just about the war on terror, of course. It’s about the very notion of terrorism. To modify Burleigh Taylor Wilkins’s excellent definition, terrorism is violence against the property or lives of non-combatant civilians, whose purpose is to promote the terrorist’s cause by preventing moderate solutions or provoking extreme countermeasures.

But when someone commits such an act, he usually graduates to “militant” status within a couple of days, if not immediately.

Several months ago Judea Pearl, the father of murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, asked the question this way: “When will our luminaries stop making excuses for terror?”

It appears that those luminaries have won the war on “the war on terror.” Scores of innocents will continue to be killed by terrorists but their lives will no longer be part of a narrative that we understand as the fight against terrorism.

In the secular liberal tradition beginning with Hobbes, the greatest human passion was said to be fear of violent death. With some modifications by Locke, the social contract minimizes that fear when we give up certain natural rights to the civil government in return for the protection of our rights to life, liberty and property. Civil government, Locke continues, is appointed by God “to restrain the partiality and violence of men.”

The terrorist has never accepted these Enlightenment cultural norms. He rejects the modern liberal tradition at its heart because he has overcome the fear of violent death. He recognizes nothing in this tradition that would prevent him from imposing his will — to the point of murder — on whomever he chooses.

Nietzsche illuminates this mode of thought in his devastating critique of the secular, rationalist tradition. In The Genealogy of Morals he calls the social contract a “sentimental effusion.” The origin of the state is really in “some horde or other of blond predatory animals, a race of conquerors and masters which [is] organized for war and [has] the strength to organize others.” Whether these “predatory animals” are blonds or brunettes isn’t the point.

The issue is that Nietzsche identifies the will to power, not fear of violent death, as the deepest human passion. Exercising that will becomes the key to freedom, not restraining it in order to exercise a limited menu of natural rights in a safe, bourgeois society.

Liberating oneself from a commitment to truth — “that Christian belief, which was also Plato’s belief, that God is the truth, that the truth is divine,” as Nietzsche writes — was his next step.

It’s revealing that Nietzsche finds this freedom outside of western culture, in the twelth-century Shi’ite sect known as “the Assassins.” They had discovered the secret formula for liberation centuries earlier.

“Nothing is true, everything is permitted,” he writes of them. This secret made them free spirits, which they expressed by acts of terror against Crusaders and fellow Muslims. No matter that they were violating Surah 4.92-93, which forbids the killing of fellow believers. Their glory was to die after assassinating their victim.

Azar Nafisi’s gives Hizbollah’s endorsement of a similar philosophy in her memoir, Reading Lolita in Tehran. “The Islamic Republic [of Iran] survives through its mourning ceremonies,” she quotes Hizbollah’s leaders as saying in the late 1980s. Its ceremonies had an “orgiastic pleasure,” she says, where people mingled publicly, their bodies touched, and emotions flowed. “The more we die,” the slogan ran, “the stronger we become.”

Islamic statements that embrace death can be gathered all the way back to one of the Muhammad’s closest companions, the first Caliph Abu Bakr. One of his commanders is said to have sent a message to a Persian commander and his army on behalf of the Caliph, warning them to convert to Islam for their own safety: “I have come to you with an army of men that love death, as you love life.”

Abu Bakr was embracing martyrdom in battle, as Muslims understand it, but hardly advocating the killing of innocents, especially the killing of fellow Muslims. For that we need to go to Sayyid Qutb, the modern, ideological father of the Muslim Brotherhood.

For Qutb, Muslims who promote a social order that neglects Shariah are living in a state of ignorance, or jahiliyyah, the term given to the unenlightened mindset of the polytheistic tribes during the birth of Islam. Righteous Muslims must wage armed struggle against such ignorance, he wrote.

A true “Islamic community . . . has a God-given right to step forward and take control of the political authority,” he writes, “so that it may establish the Divine system on earth.”

For the terrorist, this injunction silences all rational and ethical questions that might be raised by philosophy, Islamic tradition, or the Qur’an. Even sympathetic commentators on Islam, such as John Esposito, call such thinking a “theology of hate.”

Pope Benedict’s speech at Regensburg in September 2006 brilliantly grasped the moral and epistemological issues confronting Islam and Christianity, with their strong beliefs in God’s sovereignty:

. . . Ibn Hazm went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practice idolatry. As far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we find ourselves faced with a dilemma which nowadays challenges us directly. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true?

For the Pope, of course, Christian thought and practice must never stop trying to reconcile reason with piety, nor must Christian theology come to worship a capricious God who is not bound to truth and goodness. It’s unfortunate [That's a matter of opinion! Benedict XVI decidedly had a point in using the quotation] that he went on to quote the Byzantine emperor’s criticism of Muhammad, which let loose the controversy that obscured his attempt at interreligious dialogue.

All of this may explain why some Muslim extremists can justify using violence against civilians to call attention to their cause. They don’t consider it terrorism, and they justify it by an extreme reading of Islamic tradition.

But all of that is foreign to most of us who are reading these words. Why have we become tongue-tied in response? Why would the cultural elites at the New York Times, our universities, and our government erase the distinction between terrorism, properly understood, and a “man-caused disaster.”

Erasing distinctions is something scholars in my field — literary studies — enjoy doing. And this brings me to the second reason for the victory of the war on “the War on Terrorism,” a reason internal to our culture.

Secular elites have inherited the Enlightenment rationale for the social contract as explained by Hobbes and Locke. But that rationale is built on a narrative — a “grand narrative,” as Jean-François Lyotard would say — that they no longer believe. “The grand narrative has lost its credibility,” writes Lyotard in The Postmodern Condition, “regardless of what mode of unification it uses.”

I’m not saying that our cultural leaders woke up one day and discovered they no longer believed in Locke and Hobbes. It’s more like an inheritance whose origins are so obscure that they’ve forgotten the source.

Think of C.S. Lewis’s atheist tutor, who persisted in wearing a more respectable suit on Sundays to do his gardening. If they believed in the social contract’s promise to provide a political, economic, or pragmatic “mode of unification” for society, in Lyotard’s phrase, they would not find it difficult to wage war on terrorism. But they don’t.

Our elites cannot respond to the charge that their own authority is illegitimate, whether the charge comes from Nietzsche, a campus blogger, or a terrorist. It doesn’t matter that Al Qaeda had plans for destroying the Sears Tower, Heathrow Airport, and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Even Somali pirates — not conventional terrorists, since they have financial rather than political motives — do not lack for defenders in the West: the alleged violation of Somali fishing rights is the “root cause” of their behavior.

There is never a narrative that can stand up to the delegitimization critique of postmodernism. Never. The postmodern critic can always respond with some variation of “who are you to say?” And sooner or later, the heir of the Enlightenment tradition will crumble.

Long ago, Dostoevsky understood both the instability of the secular basis for social harmony and its likely outcome. “If God does not exist,” he wrote in The Brothers Karamazov, “everything is permitted.”

The illegitimate son Smerdyakov believes he can murder his father. But Smerdyakov is just acting out the consequences of the intellectual theory of his half-brother, Ivan, who penned the phrase.

In Ivan’s “Grand Inquisitor”, the fictional Cardinal of Seville unites spiritual and political power to overcome human need — as Satan had urged in the temptation scenes — at the expense of human freedom and the true worship of Christ.

Parricide, blasphemy, murder, and tyranny. Without God, all are justified. And terrorism? Dostoevsky had already created characters who defended terrorism in The Devils.

In the postmodern condition, writes Lyotard, “knowledge and power are simply two sides of the same question: who decides what knowledge is, and who knows what needs to be decided?”

It’s but a short step from there to erasing the distinctions between knowledge and power, will and reason, terrorism and political action.

The “terrorists” who attacked Mumbai in November 2008 became “militants” before the Thanksgiving weekend was over. Hamas has moved all the way from a terrorist organization to a “resistance” movement.

Lyotard writes mostly in a descriptive rather than a prescriptive tone. His book is subtitled “A Report on Knowledge” and was produced at the request of the Conseil des Universites of the government of Quebec.

Blaming postmodernism is hardly the way to regain our language for good and evil. A better response would begin by answering the fears of the Enlightenment. Pope John Paul II understood these fears perfectly, and he responded by going back to our Lord with a phrase that rang throughout his papacy: “Be not afraid!”

Recovering the narratives behind that courageous phrase — the work of at least a generation — will take us beyond the paralyses of the postmodern moment.

00Sunday, August 9, 2009 4:33 PM
Babies ruin everything!
Americans and British told
the best way to help the ecology
is to have less children

The truth is more brains will likely mean
cleaner energy technologies.


August 3, 2009

Forget about the birthers, and the nutty claims that Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

More and more, we are hearing from people who might best be described as anti-birthers. Their claims have nothing to do with long- versus short-form Hawaiian birth certificates.

Instead, they advance a simple proposition: that the birth of each additional American child is a kind of calamity for the environment.

The most recent example of anti-birth thinking comes from Paul Murtaugh and Michael Schlax of Oregon State University. In a study called “Reproduction and the carbon legacies of individuals,” they suggest that if you truly care about the environment, it’s not enough to trade your SUV for a Prius, use the right lightbulbs, or limit your lawn to organic fertilizers.

To the contrary, you need to start thinking about something way more important: i.e., having one less child.

The “basic premise,” the study reports, is that “a person is responsible for emissions of his descendents.”

When Mr. Murtaugh runs the numbers, he finds some alarming results. Take an American woman who checks all the green boxes: She recycles, installs energy efficient windows, cuts back how much she drives, and so on.

Yet simply by having two children, Prof. Murtaugh reports, she will add nearly 40 times the amount of carbon dioxide emissions she had saved with those lifestyle changes. No wonder the Los Angeles Times Web site reports on this study under the title “Tie Your Tubes and Save the Planet?”

The president’s science adviser, John Holdren, appears to share Mr. Murtaugh’s worries about too many Americans. In a 1973 article, he argued that “210 million [Americans] now is too many and 280 million in 2040 is likely to be too many.” He concluded that we should encourage women to have fewer children.

When questioned about this during his confirmation hearings, Mr. Holdren said he no longer thinks it “productive” to focus on the “optimum population” (possibly because America now has 304 million people). But he gave no indication of abandoning the underlying idea that having more Americans is a big problem.

Little more than a week ago, two British doctors writing in the British Medical Journal made the same point — this time about British babies. Each new birth in the U.K., they note, will end up resulting in 160 times more greenhouse gas emissions than a new birth in Ethiopia.

Their conclusion? British couples need to be told that having one less child “is the simplest and biggest gift anyone can make” to a habitable planet.

Britain, they suggest, needs to promote an “environmental ethics” where having fewer children is “analogous to avoiding patio heaters and high carbon cars.”

In some ways, this focus on American and British births is an improvement over the previous bout of overpopulation worries. Back in the 1970s, when the experts complained about people having too many children, they meant Chinese, Filipinos, Latin Americans, Africans, et al.

Many still believe this is so. At least for the moment, however, the American mom who brings a new life into this world seems to be regarded as more of an environmental menace than the Bangladeshi mother who does the same.

There’s a larger trouble with this point of view, of course, and it has nothing to do with the arithmetic. However new-sounding the language about “carbon footprints” may be, what we have here is the same old Malthusian view of people breeding themselves to destruction.

Mr. Murtaugh may reject this — he stresses in an email that he suggests no policies, offering only “some complicated arithmetic showing the likely effects of an individual’s reproductive activities on future carbon emissions.”

Maybe. But accept his assumptions, and it means that when a friend has a baby, you have to think we’re all the worse for it. It means that instead of celebrating the development that brings things like refrigeration, cars and calories to people who don’t now have them, we fear the day that a child in Manila enjoys enough of the blessings of life to have the same carbon footprint as a kid from Minnesota.

And if we really think the answer is below-replacement level fertility, it should mean taking a closer look at places such as Japan and Europe, where we can see what happens to societies when people stop having children.

The real answer, of course, is to have a little more faith in the creative powers of human beings. Given the freedom to grow and innovate, surely the same people who have licked polio, sent a man to the moon, and given us a revolution in information will sooner or later come up with new technologies that will provide for our energy needs while being friendlier to the environment.

The task is not without its challenges. But we’re not likely to get far with a “science” that defines the problem as American babies.

I've been trying to put together a post on Obama's science czar whose ideas on population control (such as placing tasteless anti-fertility substances in drinking water)- even if he claims he wrote them years ago - are the most far-out one can imagine, and therefore, all the more alarming.

They are ideas any individual is free to have (not thereby right), but if that is the mindset of the man who will, in effect, set science policy for the United States, then God help America!

With the 'embarras du richesse' of Nobel Prize-worthy straightforward, non-ideological, pure scientists that the United States has, why would Obama pick a 'scientologist' with a far-left radical record to be his science czar? Why not someone at least in the mainstream of scientific and ethical thinking?

00Sunday, August 9, 2009 6:24 PM

The enemies of generating new human life (by natural means) come in many forms - not just the pro-contraceptives and pro-abortion groups. Some want even more sweeping godlike powers to decide how large populations may be and how to enforce it. That is why it is more than alarming that Barack Obama chose the man he chose to be his science czar. These articles give an idea of the man's mindset.

It must be noted that the United States Senate actually approved Holdren's appointment, one of the few among Obama's 30-plus czars who had to be vetted by the Senate (because his White House position is a formal senior bureaucratic appointment, not an ad hoc creation by the President as most of the other 'czarships' are.

Obama science advisor John Holdren
has also said a newborn baby
is not 'fully human'

by Steven Ertelt

Washington, DC, July 26, 2009 ( -- John Holdren, the Science Czar chosen by pro-abortion President Barack Obama, has already come under criticism for backing population control and forced abortions.

Now, new information is appearing showing Holdren didn't believe that newborn infants are fully human. [He most likely still believes so! What would make him change his mind?]

Holdren co-wrote a 1973 book, Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions, with infamous population control advocate Paul Ehrlich in which his view supporting forced abortion appears.

Holdren's office later denied he held those views.

In another manuscript, Holdren also says a newborn child “will ultimately develop into a human being” if properly fed and socialized.

“The fetus, given the opportunity to develop properly before birth, and given the essential early socializing experiences and sufficient nourishing food during the crucial early years after birth, will ultimately develop into a human being,” Holdren wrote.

Obama chose Holdren to become the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

According to a report in CNS News, the controversial passage is found on page 235 in the 1973 book in chapter 8, titled “Population Limitation.” The news service indicates the book, written before the Roe v. Wade decision, argued in favor of legalized abortion.

"To a biologist the question of when life begins for a human child is almost meaningless," Holdren argues. "To most biologists, an embryo (unborn child during the first two or three months of development) or a fetus is no more a complete human being than a blueprint is a building."

Holdren continues, "The fetus, given the opportunity to develop properly before birth, and given the essential early socializing experiences and sufficient nourishing food during the crucial early years after birth, will ultimately develop into a human being. Where any of these essential elements is lacking, the resultant individual will be deficient in some respect.”

Holdren also notes that legal scholars don't view unborn children as human under the U.S. Constitution until “it is born.”

“From this point of view, a fetus is only a potential human being" with potential italicized in Holdren's book. “Historically, the law has dated most rights and privileges from the moment of birth, and legal scholars generally agree that a fetus is not a ‘person’ within the meaning of the United States Constitution until it is born and living independent of its mother’s body.”

CNS news indicates Holdren argues for abortion, saying it spares “unwanted children” from “undesirable consequences.”

Obama science czar Holdren
called for forced abortions and
a 'comprehensive planetary regime'
to control development and
distribution of natural resources

By Drew Zahn

The man President Obama has chosen to be his science czar once advocated a shocking approach to the "population crisis" feared by scientists at the time: namely, compulsory abortions in the U.S. and a "Planetary Regime" with the power to enforce human reproduction restrictions.

"There exists ample authority under which population growth could be regulated," wrote Obama appointee John Holdren, as reported by FrontPage Magazine. "It has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society."

Holdren's comments, made in 1977, mirror the astonishing admission this week of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who said she was under the impression that legalizing abortion with the 1973 Roe. v. Wade case would eliminate undesirable members of the populace, or as she put it "populations that we don't want to have too many of."

In 1977, when many scientists were alarmed by predictions of harmful environmental effects of human population growth, Holdren teamed with Paul R. Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb, and his wife, Anne, to write the book Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment.

They proposed multiple strategies to curb population growth, and, according to the quotes excerpted by FrontPage Magazine, advocated an international police force to ensure the strategies were carried out.

"Such a comprehensive Planetary Regime could control the development, administration, conservation, and distribution of all natural resources, renewable or nonrenewable," Holdren and the Ehrlichs reportedly wrote.

"The Planetary Regime might be given responsibility for determining the optimum population for the world and for each region and for arbitrating various countries' shares within their regional limits. ... The Regime would have some power to enforce the agreed limits."

The website Zombietime has posted photos of text excerpts from Ecoscience, referencing even further strategies from Holdren and the Ehrlichs, including compulsory adoption of children born to teenage mothers, forced sterilization and other government-mandated population control measures.

A former Teresa and John Heinz professor of environmental policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Holdren was appointed as the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and confirmed on March 20 to assume the position informally known as Obama's "science czar."

Holdren's track record shows a trend of alarmist viewpoints on scientific issues, including a statement made in 1973 that the U.S. population of 210 million at the time was "too many, and 280 million in 2040 is likely to be much too many."

In response, Holdren recommended "a continued decline in fertility to well below replacement should be encouraged, with the aim of achieving [zero population growth] before the year 2000."

The current U.S. population is approximately 304 million.

After the perceived "crisis" of population growth faded, however, Holdren began sounding the alarm over global climate change. In the 1980s Holdren warned of human-caused ecological disasters resulting in the deaths of a billion people before 2020, and as recently as 2006, Holdren warned that sea levels could rise as much as 13 feet by the year 2010.

WND reported Holdren's participation in a panel predicting a dire future caused by global warming and calling for a global tax on greenhouse gas emissions in a report to the U.N.

Holdren's activism for greater government involvement drew a negative reaction from other scientists in the form of an open letter to Congress, WND reported.

"This is the same science adviser who has given us predictions of 'almost certain' thermonuclear war or eco-catastrophe by the year 2000, and many other forecasts of doom that somehow never seem to arrive on time.

"The sky is not falling; the Earth has been cooling for 10 years, without help. The present cooling was NOT predicted by the alarmists' computer models, and has come as an embarrassment to them.

"The finest meteorologists in the world cannot predict the weather two weeks in advance, let alone the climate for the rest of the century. Can Al Gore? Can John Holdren? We are flooded with claims that the evidence is clear, that the debate is closed, that we must act immediately, etc, but in fact THERE IS NO SUCH EVIDENCE; IT DOESN'T EXIST."

During his confirmation, at a hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Holdren was grilled about his history of predicting calamity and advocating radical measures in response.

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., expressed concern at the hearing that Holdren's alarmist positions violated a statement made by President Obama when he nominated the Harvard professor:

"The truth is that promoting science isn't just about providing resources – it's about protecting free and open inquiry," Obama said. "It's about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology."

In response, Holdren sought to differentiate between alarmist "predictions" and simply "descriptions" of where America could wind up if it continues on its current path:

"The motivation for looking at the downside possibilities, the possibilities that can go wrong if things continue in a bad direction, is to motivate people to change direction. That was my intention at the time," Holdren explained.

"I think it is responsible to call attention to the dangers that society faces so we will make the investments and make the changes needed to reduce those dangers."

Regarding his more recent forecasts of environmental doom, Holdren affirmed, "We continue to be on a perilous path with respect to climate change, and I think we need to do more work to get that reversed."

Nonetheless, Vitter persisted in questioning Holdren's potential political ideology behind advocating government-mandated population control:

"I'm scared to death that you think this is a proper function of government," Vitter said. "Do you think that determining optimal population is a proper role of government?"

"No, Senator, I do not," Holdren answered.

Holdren then explained that current policies, including those that promote health care and opportunities for women, as well as education, naturally create families more likely to have fewer children, thus solving the potential problems of population growth.

Here is the first alarm that was sounded about Holdren in the media. Even allowing for the writer's bias, he does cite enough verifiable evidence to make his points:

Obama's biggest radical
By Ben Johnson
Friday, February 27, 2009

When Barack Obama nominated John P. Holdren as his Science Adviser last December 20, the president-elect stated "promoting science isn’t just about providing resources" but "ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology." In nominating John Holdren, his words could scarcely have taken a more Orwellian ring.

Some critics have noted Holdren's penchant for making apocalyptic predictions that never come to pass, and categorizing all criticism of his alarmist views as not only wrong but dangerous.

What none has yet noted is that Holdren is a globalist who has endorsed "surrender of sovereignty" to "a comprehensive Planetary Regime" that would control all the world's resources, direct global redistribution of wealth, oversee the "de-development" of the West, control a World Army and taxation regime, and enforce world population limits.

He has castigated the United States as "the meanest of wealthy countries," written a justification of compulsory abortion for American women, advocated drastically lowering the U.S. standard of living, and left the door open to trying global warming "deniers" for crimes against humanity. Such is Barack Obama's idea of a clear-headed adviser on matters of scientific policy.

First Lab on the Left
All of these positions are consistent with a man who began his career as a "dissident scientist." Peter Collier remembers Holdren working by day at a national laboratory and by night writing for Ramparts, the intellectual journal of the New Left.

Holdren has authored numerous books and journal articles with his mentors Paul and Anne Ehrlich, the infamous doomsayers who predicted overpopulation would force most of the world's population to perish during the 1980s "great die-off."

Holdren has gone on to a distinguished academic career in his own right, including a long stint at the University of California at Berkeley.

Teresa Heinz Kerry then used part of her late first husband's tax-exempt billions to endow a chair at Harvard for Ehrlich's disciple - and Holdren is now the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at the Kennedy School of Government, where his (and her) ideas influence the next generation of policymakers.

Holdren himself has a background in political "philanthropy," serving for 14 years on John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's Board of Trustees, steering its grants to far-Left organizations.

He also pursued the intersection of science and diplomacy by joining the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, an organization founded during the Cold War by former nuclear scientist and fellow traveler Joseph Rotblat.

Pugwash hewed to the Communist Party line and was subsequently feted by Czechslovakian and Polish Communist leaders.

The Neo-Malthusians

Holdren gave a clear indication of his philosophical views in the 1977 book Ecoscience, which he co-authored with Paul and Anne Ehrlich. [1] In its pages, the authors noted, "The neo-Malthusiasn view proposes...population limitation and redistribution of wealth." They concluded, "On these points, we find ourselves firmly in the neo-Malthusian camp" (p. 954).

Economist Thomas Malthus is one of the most literally anti-human theorists in human history. He viewed overpopulation as the fount of all woe, but one which could be staunched with enough blood. I

n "An Essay on the Principle of Population" Malthus wrote, "All the children who are born, beyond what would be required to keep up the population to a desired level, must necessarily perish, unless room be made for them by the death of grown persons...if we dread the too frequent visitation of the horrid form of famine, we should sedulously encourage the other forms of destruction, which we compel nature to use...and court the return of the plague." Like their intellectual forebear, Holdren and the Ehrlichs proposed their own acceptable sacrifice to the environment.

Compulsory Abortion for American Women

Holdren and the Ehrlichs prescribed a rigidly enforced, government-imposed limit of two children per family. They maintained "there exists ample authority under which population growth could be regulated."

Hiding behind the passive voice, they note, "it has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society."

To underscore that they mean business, they conclude, "If some individuals contribute to general social deterioration by overproducing children, and if the need is compelling, they can be required by law to exercise reproductive responsibility" (pp. 837-838).

Moreover, if the United States government refuses to take proper measures, they would authorize the United Nations to use compelling force.

"A Comprehensive Planetary Regime"

Holdren believed a world government might play a moderate role in the future: setting and enforcing appopriate population levels, taxing and redistributing the world's wealth, controlling the world's resources, and operating a standing World Army.

Such a comprehensive Plenetary Regime could control the development, administration, conservation, and distribution of all natural resources, renewable or nonrenewable...not only in the atmosphere and oceans, but in such freshwater bodies as rivers and lakes...The Regime might also be a logical central agency for regulating all international trade...The Planetary Regime might be given responsibility for determining the optimum population for the world and for each region and for arbitrating various countries' shares within their regional limits...the Regime would have some power to enforce the agreed limits. (p. 943.)

Part of the power wielded by this "Regime" would be in the form of a World Army. The trio wrote that the United States must destroy all its nuclear arsenal. But this would not render us defenseless against Communist aggression.

"Security might be provided by an armed international organization, a global analogue of a police force...The first step necessarily involves partial surrender of sovereignty to an international organization" (p. 917).

Far from distancing himself from this wooly-headed notion as he matured, Holdren explicitly reaffirmed it in his 1995 Nobel Prize acceptance speech on behalf of Pugwash*, declaiming, "The post-Cold-War world needs a more powerful United Nations, probably with a standing volunteer force -- owing loyalty directly to the UN rather than to contingents from individual nations."

*[I had to look up Pugwash - it's a leftist organization dating to the Cold War and co-founded by peace-at-any-cost activist Bertrand Russell. It has held annual conferences promoting peace and the destruction of all nuclear arms. Along with its other co-founder James Rotblat, Pugwash was given the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize "for their efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics and, in the longer run, to eliminate such arms". I haven't had time to check out why Holdren was chosen to give the acceptance speech in behalf of the organization. It's name, by the way, comes from the town in Nova Scotia, Canada, where the conferences are held.]

As recently as last January, he told the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) the world needs "a universal prohibition on nuclear weapons, coupled with means to ensure confidence in compliance." [Nothing wrong with that, but meanwhile, there's Iran and North Korea and maybe Syria...]

U.S. Blood and Treasure for the UN

The redistribution of blood and treasure were high priorities for Holdren, et. al. They advised the "de-development of overdeveloped countries...should be given top priority" (p. 926), and such nations -- e.g., the United States and the developed West -- should "divert their excess productivity into helping the poorer people of the world rather than exploiting them" (p. 931).

How much wealth redistribution would be sufficient? The authors favorably cited a proposal that "the rich nations devote 20 percent of their GNPs for ten or fifteen years to the task of population control and development of the poor countries." They comment, "We believe an effort of this magnitude is not only justified but essential." (p. 925).

Reaffirming the goal in his 1995 Nobel speech, he stretched this to a program "sustained over several decades." (Emphasis added.)

He detailed the mechanism for global socialism just two years ago. In a February 2007 report of which he was a coordinating lead author, urges the United Nations to undertake "a global framework" that is "more comprehensive and ambitious" than the Kyoto Protocol.

Holdren states the UN must mandate "A requirement for the early establishment of a substantial price on carbon emissions in all countries, whether by a carbon tax or a tradable permit approach." Although he prefers a global carbon tax presided over by a United Nations-strength IRS, he is open to a stringent global cap-and-trade program.

However, that program must contain: "A means for transferring some of the revenue produced by carbon taxes upon, or permits purchased by, countries and consumers with high incomes and high per capita emissions to countries and consumers with low incomes and low per capita emissions" (pp. 70-72).

Every Man a Duke

His thirst for economic redistribution (read: socialism) is not limited to foreign affairs. In a chapter of Ecoscience entitled "Changing American Institutions," Holdren and the Ehrlichs call for a "considerably more equitable distribution of wealth and income" in the United States, offering in passing, "Possibly this would be achieved by some formal mechanism" (p. 875).

Might that mechanism perchance be government force? The text praises an economist's plan to limit American achievement at a $100,000 maximum annual salary, or just under $350,000 in 2009 dollars, adjusted for inflation (p. 850).

Such would be the most socialistic proposal made in modern times. Even Huey Long allowed men a million dollars a year, in 1934.

"The Meanest of Wealthy Countries"

But the intervening years have not been pleasant ones for such as Holdren. In a 1995 article co-written with Paul Ehrlich, he lists among the factors preventing a "sustainable" world such "Underlying human frailties" as "greed, selfishness, intolerance, and shortsightedness."

These, he expounds, "collectively have been elevated by conservative political doctrine and practice (above all in the United States in 1980 92) to the status of a credo."

Holdren blasted his country last January before the AAAS as "the stingiest among all" wealthy nations in its development of the Third World, making us "the meanest of wealthy countries." He summed up his view of the U.S. budget by favorably quoting Robert Kates: "Too much for warfare, too little for welfare."

Making You Poorer For Your Own Good

The function of such welfare is twofold: to enrich citizens of the Global South and to impoverish Americans for their own good. In a 2006 paper, Holdren noted that reducing "GDP per person" -- that is, cutting your personal wealth -- also reduces Greenhouse Gas emissions.

True, it is "not a lever that most people would want to use to reduce emissions"; "People are not getting rich as fast as they think, however, if GDP growth is being achieved at the expense of the environmental underpinnings of well-being" (pp. 15-16).

Holdren addressed the economic costs of his massive restructuring of the economy some 32 years ago, acknowledging it "will entail considerable retraining and temporary unemployment in the workforce" (p. 853).

Yet he continues to support economy-crushing energy taxation. In a 1997 press conference, he surmised that if alternative energy sources were to get a foothold, either they "would have to get a great deal cheaper, which seems unlikely, or natural gas would have to get considerably more expensive. The latter is actually a good idea."

One is hardly encouraged to learn that last December, environmentalist Dr. James Hansen sent a four-page letter via Holdren to "Michelle and Barack." (Hansen wrote it as surgeons in Vienna placed a stent in his wife's chest following an unexpected heart attack.)

His personal note to "John" states, "When gasoline hits $4-5/gallons again, most of that should be tax." Five months earlier, Holdren rated Hansen "one of the most distinguished climate scientists in the world."

Anti-Military, Anti-Christian Statements

Dr. James Hansen may be in Holdren's good graces, but neither the military nor the Apostle Paul are. Holdren and company warn, "Civilians should realize that peace and freedom from tension are not viewed as an ideal situation by many members of the military-industrial-government complex. By and large, professional military officers, especially field grade and higher, hope for an end to international tensions about as fervently as farmers hope for drought" (p. 918).

And in their eyes, what soldiers are to war, Jesus is to the climate. "The Christian concept of life in this world, as voiced by Saint Paul, that 'here we have no abiding city,' for example, conceivably could help explain why some people show rather little concern for the long-term future of the global environment or for the well-being of future generations" (p. 807).

P.S.: He's Frequently Wrong

With a values system like this, it should come as little surprise that Holdren is frequently mistaken about his alleged field of specialization, environmental science -- often tremendously so.

As with Ehrlich, he has been predicting global catastrophes since the 1970s, beginning with the global cooling scare. Modern critics have noted his role in Paul Ehrlich's famous wager with Julian Simon: Holdren chose five metals that he believed would be more expensive in ten years' time due to scarcity, while Simon predicted each would be less expensive.

A decade hence, Ehrlich's group was $1,000 poorer (a chance to reduce their carbon footprint, perhaps). Holdren advised Al Gore on An Inconvenient Truth, a film that by one scholar's count contained 10 pages of falsehoods, exaggerations, distortions, and ignored evidence.

And there is the little matter of his prediction a billion people will die within the next 11 years.

Paul Ehrlich recorded that in 1986 Holdren predicted "carbon dioxide-induced famines could kill as many as a billion people before the year 2020." Holdren reiterated this view in Newsweek just two years ago.

When he faced Senate questioning this February 12, only one man, Sen. David Vitter, R-LA, dared to ask him about his failed predictions.

The Washington Post reported Holdren's response as a brilliant riposte, artfully parrying the query. On the contrary, the transcript shows Holdren actually reaffirmed that he still believes one billion people may die within the next 11 years from a climate-related drought:

Vitter: So you would stick to that statement?
Holdren: I don't think it's likely. I think we should invest effort - considerable effort - to reduce the likelihood further.

Vitter: So you would stick to the statement that it could happen?
Holdren: It could happen, and ...

Vitter: One billion by 2020?
Holdren: It could.

Vitter managed to show Holdren was wrong on yet another front: just two years ago, he wrote that current emissions levels could cause the a 13-foot rise in sea levels. Under cross-examination, Holdren admitted science's most dire estimates are now half as much as Holdren pronounced just two years ago. Yet this "expert" will have the ear of the President in setting scientific policy.

Criticizing Holdren = "Crimes Against Humanity"?

Holdren reacts to correction the way a rattlesnake reacts to sudden movement: with velocity and venom. As long ago as the early 1970s, he and Paul Ehrlich engaged in a campaign to silence fellow radical Barry Commoner, a onetime fringe presidential candidate, because the latter viewed technology as more damaging than overpopulation.

More recently, he co-authored a scathing, 11-page attack against Bjorn Lomborg for having the temerity to question Green-Left orthodoxy. Yet that pales in comparison to his view of some global warming "deniers."

Last July 3, as an advisor to the Obama campaign, Holdren appeared on the radical program "Democracy Now!" hosted by Amy Goodman. Goodman asked him about comments made by his friend Dr. James Hansen (see above).

Specifically, Hansen said, "large energy companies are guilty of crimes against humanity, if they continue to dispute what is understood scientifically and to fund contrarians, and if they push us past tipping points that end up destroying many species on the planet and having a huge impact on humanity itself."

Goodman asked Holdren if he agreed "the CEOs of large energy companies are guilty of, should be tried for crimes against humanity?"

Holdren replied: "I couldn't really say. I'm not qualified to assess what the heads of oil companies, past or present, have done in this domain. My understanding is that Exxon, in particular, did fund a variety of small think tanks to generate what amounts to propaganda against understanding of what climate change was doing, the human role in causing it. Whether that sort of activity really constitutes crimes against humanity is something for people more embedded in the legal system than I to judge."

He went on to say heads of oil companies now were more "enlightened" on carbon emissions, so "I guess I would find the statement that all oil company CEOs, past and present, are guilty of crimes against humanity is maybe a little bit over the top."

In other words, he hedged his bets, pleaded that he was not a legal scholar, but still held out that at least some of the CEOs may well be guilty of crimes against humanity. His reply to whether American citizens should be tried for a capital offense because they exercised their First Amendment rights to disagree with him was a firm maybe.

DDT: A Truly Malthusian Policy

The lack of correction has led to a correlative lack of introspection. This author could find no retraction of his 1977 statement, "In our opinion, no biologist has made a greater contribution to humanity in this century than Rachel Carson" (p. 854).

(Carson's primary contribution, through banning the DDT on erroneous grounds, has been the preventable death of 50-90 million souls in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian subcontinent.)

In a way, Holdren's support for Carson is a microcosm of his entire philosophy: a deadly and ill-conceived policy based on false evidence of potential harm, whose catastrophic impact has been the opposite of that intended -- never retracted, never regretted, never reconsidered.

Such a reflexively self-reverential tone is unhelpful in any public servant. John Holdren's globalist, redistributionist, Malthusian views could prove more damaging for the world than those of his hero.

1. Unless otherwise noted, all page citations are from Paul Ehrlich, Anne Ehrlich, and John Holdren. Ecoscience: Population, Resources, and Environment. (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman and Company, 1977).

Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and co-author, with David Horowitz, of the book Party of Defeat. He is also the author of the books Teresa Heinz Kerry's Radical Gifts (2009) and 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's Charitable Giving (2004).

Just to go on record now - and I would be more than happy to be proved wrong later: I detect in Holdren's shrillness the same hysteria and anti-American 'resentment' ['America is the meanest country in the world'] found in Obama's ex-pastor for 20 years Jeremiah Wright, who went farther than that to say in church, "God bless America? NO! God damn America!].

Although Obama himself has been careful so far not to call America mean in so many words, his wife did during the campaign, saying she never had any hope for America until her husband decided to run for President

00Monday, August 10, 2009 2:50 PM
Muslim Europe:
The demographic time bomb
transforming our continent

By Adrian Michaels

August 8, 2009

Europe's low white birth rate, coupled with faster multiplying migrants, will change fundamentally what we take to mean by European culture and society.

Britain and the rest of the European Union are ignoring a demographic time bomb: a recent rush into the EU by migrants, including millions of Muslims, will change the continent beyond recognition over the next two decades, and almost no policy-makers are talking about it.

The numbers are startling.
- Only 3.2 per cent of Spain's population was foreign-born in 1998. In 2007 it was 13.4 per cent.
- Europe's Muslim population has more than doubled in the past 30 years and will have doubled again by 2015.
- In Brussels, the top seven baby boys' names recently were Mohamed, Adam, Rayan, Ayoub, Mehdi, Amine and Hamza.

Europe's low white birth rate, coupled with faster multiplying migrants, will change fundamentally what we take to mean by European culture and society.

The altered population mix has far-reaching implications for education, housing, welfare, labour, the arts and everything in between.

It could have a critical impact on foreign policy: a study was submitted to the US Air Force on how America's relationship with Europe might evolve. Yet EU officials admit that these issues are not receiving the attention they deserve.

Jerome Vignon, the director for employment and social affairs at the European Commission, said that the focus of those running the EU had been on asylum seekers and the control of migration rather than the integration of those already in the bloc.

"It has certainly been under-estimated - there is a general rhetoric that social integration of migrants should be given as much importance as monitoring the inflow of migrants." But, he said, the rhetoric had rarely led to policy.

The countries of the EU have long histories of welcoming migrants, but in recent years two significant trends have emerged. Migrants have come increasingly from outside developed economies, and they have come in accelerating numbers.

The growing Muslim population is of particular interest. This is not because Muslims are the only immigrants coming into the EU in large numbers; there are plenty of entrants from all points of the compass. But Muslims represent a particular set of issues beyond the fact that atrocities have been committed in the West in the name of Islam.

America's Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, part of the non-partisan Pew Research Center, said in a report: "These [EU] countries possess deep historical, cultural, religious and linguistic traditions. Injecting hundreds of thousands, and in some cases millions, of people who look, speak and act differently into these settings often makes for a difficult social fit."

How dramatic are the population changes? Everyone is aware that certain neighbourhoods of certain cities in Europe are becoming more Muslim, and that the change is gathering pace. But raw details are hard to come by as the data is sensitive: many countries in the EU do not collect population statistics by religion.

EU numbers on general immigration tell a story on their own.
- In the latter years of the 20th century, the 27 countries of the EU attracted half a million more people a year than left.

"Since 2002, however," the latest EU report says, "net migration into the EU has roughly tripled to between 1.6 million and two million people per year."

The increased pace has made a nonsense of previous forecasts.
- In 2004 the EU thought its population would decline by 16 million by 2050. Now it thinks it will increase by 10 million by 2060. - Britain is expected to become the most populous EU country by 2060, with 77 million inhabitants. Right now it has 20 million fewer people than Germany.
- Italy's population was expected to fall precipitously; now it is predicted to stay flat.

The study for the US Air Force by Leon Perkowski in 2006 found that there were at least 15 million Muslims in the EU, and possibly as many as 23 million. They are not uniformly distributed, of course.
[The figure that has been used most often, lately by Barack Obama, is 6-7 million.]

According to the US's Migration Policy Institute, residents of Muslim faith will account for more than 20 per cent of the EU population by 2050 but already do so in a number of cities. Whites will be in a minority in Birmingham by 2026, says Christopher Caldwell, an American journalist, and even sooner in Leicester.

Another forecast holds that Muslims could outnumber non-Muslims in France and perhaps in all of western Europe by mid-century.

Austria was 90 per cent Catholic in the 20th century but Islam could be the majority religion among Austrians aged under 15 by 2050, says Mr Caldwell.

Projected growth rates are a disputed area. Birth rates can be difficult to predict and migrant numbers can ebb and flow. But Karoly Lorant, a Hungarian economist who wrote a paper for the European Parliament, calculates that Muslims already make up 25 per cent of the population in Marseilles and Rotterdam, 20 per cent in Malmo, 15 per cent in Brussels and Birmingham and 10 per cent in London, Paris and Copenhagen.

Recent polls have tended to show that the feared radicalisation of Europe's Muslims has not occurred. That gives hope that the newcomers will integrate successfully.

Nonetheless, second and third generations of Muslims show signs of being harder to integrate than their parents. Policy Exchange, a British study group, found that more than 70 per cent of Muslims over 55 felt that they had as much in common with non-Muslims as Muslims. But this fell to 62 per cent of 16-24 year-olds.

The population changes are stirring unease on the ground. Europeans often tell pollsters that they have had enough immigration, but politicians largely avoid debate.

France banned the wearing of the hijab veil in schools and stopped the wearing of large crosses and the yarmulke too, so making it harder to argue that the law was aimed solely at Muslims. Britain has strengthened its laws on religious hatred. But these are generally isolated pieces of legislation.

Into the void has stepped a resurgent group of extreme-Right political parties, among them the British National Party, which gained two seats at recent elections to the European Parliament. Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician who speaks against Islam and was banned this year from entering Britain, has led opinion polls in Holland.

The Pew Forum identified the mainstream silence in 2005: "The fact that [extreme parties] have risen to prominence at all speaks poorly about the state and quality of the immigration debate. [Scholars] have argued that European elites have yet to fully grapple with the broader issues of race and identity surrounding Muslims and other groups for fear of being seen as politically incorrect."

The starting point should be greater discussion of integration. Does it matter at all? Yes, claims Mr Vignon at the European Commission. Without it, polarisation and ghettoes can result.

"It's bad because it creates antagonism. It antagonises poor people against other poor people: people with low educational attainment feel threatened," he says.

The EU says employment rates for non-EU nationals are lower than for nationals, which holds back economic advancement and integration. One important reason for this is a lack of language skills.

The Migration Policy Institute says that, in 2007, 28 per cent of children born in England and Wales had at least one foreign-born parent. That rose to 54 per cent in London. Overall in 2008, 14.4 per cent of children in primary schools had a language other than English as their first language.

Muslims, who are a hugely diverse group, have so far shown little inclination to organise politically on lines of race or religion. But that does not mean their voices are being ignored.

Germany started to reform its voting laws 10 years ago, granting certain franchise rights to the large Turkish population. It would be odd if that did not alter the country's stance on Turkey's application to join the EU.

Mr Perkowski's study says: "Faced with rapidly growing, disenfranchised and increasingly politically empowered Muslim populations within the borders of some of its oldest and strongest allies, the US could be faced with ever stronger challenges to its Middle East foreign policies."

Demography will force politicians to confront these issues sooner rather than later. Recently, some have started to nudge the debate along.

Angel Gurría, the OECD secretary-general, said in June: "Migration is not a tap that can be turned on and off at will. We need fair and effective migration and integration policies; policies that work and adjust to both good economic times and bad ones."
00Monday, August 10, 2009 3:50 PM
Should we be concerned? Read on.

U.S. signs UN 'Disabilities Treaty'
supporting 'sexual and reproductive health'

By Piero A. Tozzi, J.D.

NEW YORK, August 6 (C-FAM) - Late last week, United States (US) Ambassador to the Untied Nations Susan Rice signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – the first binding UN treaty to mention "sexual and reproductive health" – on behalf of the US.

While this has prompted concern among certain advocates for the unborn, veteran pro-life UN observers counsel that the term should not be construed to include abortion.

At the time of the treaty's adoption in 2006, delegates debated including the phrase amid pro-lifers' concern that certain pro-abortion organizations like the Center for Reproductive Rights might claim that the term was elastic enough to include abortion.

An official report of the proceedings, however, noted that this phrase was "not intended to alter" policies with regard to "family planning or related matters."

The treaty does not affect the pro-life laws of member states that signed or ratified it.

To underscore this point, at least 15 nations made statements in the UN General Assembly at the time interpreting "sexual and reproductive health" as excluding abortion. No nation made a statement contradicting such an interpretation.

Two pro-life European nations that signed the document, Poland and Malta, made formal reservations that the term did not include abortion.

The US, in it closing statement, affirmed that the term "cannot be interpreted to constitute support, endorsement, or promotion of abortion."

Certain pro-life critics worry, however, that the US closing statement was made under the Administration of President George W. Bush, and that there has now been a policy change at the White House.

They point to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's statement before the House Foreign Affairs Committee this past April that she interprets the term "reproductive health" as including abortion.

Although such a statement from the Secretary of State indicates a US policy shift, it has no binding juridical status in international law.

Abortion advocates often favor repetition of such statements, however, calculating that this will shift popular perceptions towards acceptance of a definition that includes abortion.

Jeanne Head, R.N., UN representative for National Right to Life Committee, noted that the term "reproductive health" has never been defined to include a right to abortion in any negotiated UN document, including the Disability Convention.

She told the Friday Fax that abortion advocates "appear to think that if they keep repeating this false interpretation often enough, they can make the world believe it is true."

Following last week's signing, the treaty now moves to the Senate for its "advice and consent," per the role specified in the US Constitution.

If it gains the support of two-thirds of the Senators, it is then presented to the President for ratification. The Bush Administration had refused to sign the treaty, arguing that it could weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In general, the United States has been reluctant to seek ratification of such international treaties, due to concerns that treaties interfere with principles of federalism and infringe upon the rights of individual states.

The Obama Administration has indicated it nevertheless would push for ratification of several treaties, including the Conventions on the Rights of the Child and Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

I distrust the UN bureaucrats in charge of 'implementing' these treaties - they have far greater impact on UN 'legislation' than either the Security Council or the General Assembly. They will find a way - through guidelines or some such ploy - to make 'reproductive health' in this treaty apply to abortion on demand as well. Watch them!

Why could the treaty not have explicitly stated that 'reproductive health' does not include elective abortions? Why leve this to an 'understanding', when all it takes is six words to spell it out?

00Monday, August 10, 2009 6:20 PM
It took me a week to get around to posting this. Fr. Pacwa is familiar to those who watch EWTN and its remarkable stable of great communicators - priests and laymen alike - who convey the message of Christ beautifully and creatively.

Saul Alinsky may be familiar to those who have followed the activities of American radicals since the 1960s, but he became better known during the campaign as Barack Obama's guru in 'community organizing'.

What Fr. Pacwa does here is tie up two major topics which are nonetheless closely related - another Kennedy's presumptuous pontification on Catholicism which has greatly exercised the Catholic blogosphere lately, and Alinksy'a radical agenda which Barack Obama imbibed almost with his mother's milk.

Fr. Mitch Pacwa on
the latest Kennedy apostasy
and Saul Alinsky's rules
for 'community organizing'

Sunday, August 02, 2009

This most recent newsletter from Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J., received this morning, has some interesting historical information, some frank talk, and some strong opinions:

I recently became upset when Newsweek's "Without A Doubt" feature published an article by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend entitled, "Why Barack Obama represents American Catholics better than the Pope does."

She commends President Obama's "pragmatic approach to divisive policy" and his "social justice agenda." Meanwhile, she claims that the positions of the Pope, the bishops and the pro-life activists do not.

In fact, Townsend asserts that the Chicago community organizer president could teach the Pope a lot about a Catholic approach to politics and the ability to listen to other people's points of view with empathy.

Townsend continues her rant against the Church's teachings on various issues regarding human sexuality - contraception, abortion, homosexual unions and women priests, decrying the Church's unwillingness to listen to other points of view while ignoring the various documents on these issues which were written with an intent compassion for the people to whom they were addressed.

Townsend shows no indication that she has listened to the Church's teachings on these topics, though the documents are easily acquired in print or on the Internet.

I recognize the community organizer approach that Townsend commends in this piece. I learned Sol Alinsky style of community organizing as a novice in Chicago when President Obama was a little boy living in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Mr. Tom Gaudette, an associate of Sol Alinsky, trained a number of us Jesuits. I was the youngest man in the group, and I was certainly not well developed in the practice of organizing, but I tried my best in COUP - the acronym for Community of United People - on Chicago's near West Side.

Most of the folks were African Americans trying to get their public housing projects brought up to city codes; I especially made contact with the Mexican community near Racine and Taylor streets, a line of housing between Italian residents and the public housing projects.

I was particularly drawn to work with a street gang, which saw a lot of gang fights in the year I worked there. In fact, I eventually had to leave the area after having seen a friend of mine killed: they made him kneel down and shot him through the head; they merely beat me up.

Despite the trauma, I never forgot the lessons I learned about Alinsky's community organizing.:

- The key to starting an organization was to find an issue that united the people. The issue should be small enough to win a victory, but large enough to matter to the folks.

- Second, after choosing the issue we had to identify an enemy the community could recognize as the personification of the issue. Usually this was some politician or businessman.

- Third, an action had to be designed by which the people could attack the enemy and force his or her hand on the issue, thereby giving the folks a victory.

That would motivate them to take on bigger and more important issues, while the leaders among the people could emerge. This was a means of bringing power to the people.

Townsend certainly understands these tactics, as does President Obama. Notice how she has focused on issues of human sexuality, since these concern the most intimate areas of any person's life. People feel these issues quite strongly, so it would be popular to take them on.

Second, she identifies the enemies who personify the problem: the Pope, the bishops and the pro-life activists. She develops the strategy of making popular popes - John Paul II, who motivated Paul VI to promulgate Humanae Vitae, which continued the age-old Christian rejection of artificial birth control and abortion, and Benedict XVI, whom she portrays as a man sheltered within the Roman Curia who is more concerned with papal power than with love of the people.

Her approach reminds me of the battle cries after Humanae Vitae: "I don't want the Pope in my bedroom."

My response is: "You flatter yourself; he does not want to be in there, either. But the Pope will insist that God is Lord of the sexual realm, including everyone's bedroom."

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, President Barack Hussein Obama, and a number of others will arise to make the Pope and bishops into our enemies. This will be especially important as the politicians begin pushing the end of life and the prevention of life as money saving programs in the health care proposals.

Already Speaker Nancy Pelosi has proposed $300 million for condoms as a part of this Congress's first stimulus bill - a rather odd idea for a bill focused on stimulating the economy. However, her reason was to prevent births as a money saver for the states. That is one of the ways she sees the birth of children.

There will be many more proposals for taxpayer funding of abortions and euthanasia, since early infancy and end of life are the most expensive periods in regard to health care.

The proposed health care bill in the House of Representatives will require the elderly to consult with their doctors every five years about alternatives to long term care. The doctors may be required to inform the elderly about assisted suicide, or at least the need to refrain from long term, expensive procedures.

"Grandma may just need to take a pain pill," President Obama told us in a town meeting recently.

Of course, Kennedy Townsend and Obama want to make the Pope and bishops into our enemies. I, however, ask why?

Do the politicians fear the Magisterium's authority to teach us the holiness of human sexuality, the sacredness of Matrimony, or the sanctity of the right to life which comes from God our Creator and never from the state?

Do they fear the goodness of our popes or the deep joy in Jesus Christ which radiates from their eyes, attracting many people to the Catholic Church?

Do they fear a solid Catholic critique of their proposals to use death of the unborn and elderly or the prevention of new life as a solution to their inability to pay for all of the medical care they have promised but cannot deliver without eliminating the most vulnerable people who might need care?

Let us not fall for the Alinsky tricks of letting community organizers set up our enemies. These organizers try to stay in the background, manipulating the folks to go after an enemy.

We Catholics will do well to stand shoulder to shoulder with our pope and bishops as we move forward in history to promote life and love, all the way to heaven. Those who sow division between us and our leaders will march to their own chosen destinations.

In Christ Jesus,

Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J

Because their arguments were clearly so ideological, I had ignored Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's Newsweek article, as I did her younger sister Kerry's book last year, in which both preach their ultraliberal brand of cafeteria Catholicism - which is their right, of course. What I mind and protest to high heavens is how they can so contemptuously dismiss the Popes as though they were congenital cretins.

(And by the way, have the Kennedy girls ever asked Ethel Kennedy what she and Robert personally thought about contraception and abortion? Would they have been born at all if their parents had practiced contraception and abortion? They had 11 children, Kathleen being the eldest and Kerry #7. Their youngest sister was born after their father's assassination.)

On the other hand, I have been reluctant to post anything about Saul Alinsky (although I have mentioned him in some posts when commenting about Obama) because I am trying hard not tu use these pages as a soapbox against Obama unless it becomes absolutely inescapable. [For this reason, I welcome the daily 'fix' provided me by the bloggers at FIRST THINGS, particularly David Goldman and Elizabeth Scalia (The Anchoress), whose thinking on Obama mirror mine a hundred percent.]

"Alinsky's teachings influenced Barack Obama in his early career as a community organizer on the far South Side of Chicago. Working for Gerald Kellman's Developing Communities Project, Obama learned and taught Alinsky's methods for community organizing", says the Wikipedia entry on Alinksy, a statement citing 3 verifiable sources for what it says.

Now go back and read Alinsky's rules as Fr. Pacwa cited them above - and see if that does not apply to everything Obama has said and done from the day he set his sights on the US Presidency. And if you somehow belied in his 'ope and promise', see if you can ever look at him with the same trusting, unskeptical eyes after this.

Alinsky says in his RULES FOR RADICALS:

"What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away....

He argued that the most effective means are whatever will achieve the desired ends, and that an intermediate end for radicals should be democracy because of its relative ease to work within.

"There's another reason for working inside the system. Dostoevski said that taking a new step is what people fear most. Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people.

"They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and change the future. This acceptance is the reformation essential to any revolution.

"To bring on this reformation requires that the organizer work inside the system, among not only the middle class but the 40 per cent of American families – more than seventy million people – whose income range from $5,000 to $10,000 a year [in 1971].

00Tuesday, August 11, 2009 12:34 AM
Fr. Albacete: Obamacare
ignores subsidiarity

Posted by Tom McFeely

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, who directs the Church movement Communion and Liberation in the United States, argues that President Barack Obama’s health-care reform plan fails to respect the principle of subsidiarity.

Subsidiarity, a principle that lies at the heart of Catholic social teaching, holds that decisions about social issues should be made at the most local level of society possible.

So how does Obama’s plan conflict with this? By seeking to intrude the federal government into intensely personal health-care decisions regarding matters like abortion and euthanasia, according to Msgr. Albacete.

Writing at, Msgr. Albacete insists this concern is what’s behind the resistance of many Americans to Obama’s plan, not a lack of understanding, as the president suggested in a recent interview with Time magazine.

Comments Msgr. Albacete:

I think the problem is that the American people almost instinctively feel a threat to one of the most important, defining values of American nationhood, namely the value of subsidiarity.

I think it is the President whose background lack of experience of the value of subsidiarity makes it difficult for him to understand the dangers almost instinctively experienced by the majority of the people.

The fact is that the American people pay more to get less health care security than any other industrialized nation in the world. I think most Americans understand this. Most Americans understand that there is need for reform of their present system. The question the ask is: at what cost?

The problem is that the question about cost is being described purely in economic terms by Obama and his advisors. And indeed, the question about economic cost is an important one.

The people are afraid that the way of dealing with this concern proposed by the President is simply too risky and it may even worsen the economic health of the country. I think though that the economic risk is however not the one that most concern the majority of Americans.

Perhaps one example will clarify the issue. Part of the proposed cost-cutting measures in the proposals that the President will accept proposes that the Federal government will pay for a doctor-patient discussion about the possibility of what is, frankly, assisted suicide.

The Administration insists that the final choice about refusing treatment will always be that of the patient and that the Federal government will respect the patient’s choice.

Still, consideration of the possibility of choosing assisted suicide will be paid for by the government as a cost-cutting possibility, and this simply scares those for whom the pro-life issue is crucial. Others see it as opening the door to the Federal government’s intrusion in to what should remain a private, intensively personal issue.

Msgr. Albacete suggests this situation could provide an opportunity for the Catholics who have Obama’s ear to educate the president, to the benefit of all Americans:

A member of the new generation of conservatives recently told us that this is a moment of opportunity for Obama’s Catholic advisers. He himself had been converted from agnosticism to Catholicism by discovering the correspondence of the social doctrine of the Church with his conservative views, particularly the Church’s teaching about subsidiarity.

But will the President’s many Catholic members of his Administration and his advisors recognize this moment of opportunity to witness to how the Catholic social doctrine can show the way for a reform of the health care system that will avoid this governmental intrusion into such a personally defining issue?
[No, they won't. They're all too busy pandering inexplicably - as in licking ass, pardon the crude term - to the most powerful man in the world, to think about Catholic principles, many of which, particularly the respect for life at every stage, they have already discarded anyway.]

In order to do this, these Catholics should witness to the consistence in the Church’s effort to demonstrate that the pro-life position is in fact the very basis for the recognition of health-care assistance as a natural human right. This is the key issue in this discussion, but so far it has not been raised.

Add to those for whom we must light candles and pray to the Holy Spirit - Obama Catholics, bigoted Jews and of course, Obama himself and his army of swooning robots!

00Saturday, August 15, 2009 8:57 PM

I wish more bishops - and priests - would have the good Christian sense of someone like Archbishop Chaput to pry open the self-blinded eyes of 'Obama Catholics' to the barely disguised pro-abortion anda pro-euthanasia provisions in the various of health care reform bills now being consdiered by both houses of the US Congress. (Actually, though, 'Obama Catholics' probably support abortion and euthanasia measures wholeheartedly - and will still swear that Obama walks on water and can do no wrong.)

Act now to ensure
that health care reform
respects the sanctity of life

August 12, 2009

For months now, Congress and the White House have talked about the need for Americans to seek “common ground” on the issues that face us. This is a very welcome theme.

The “common good” and “common ground” are central messages in Catholic social teaching. This is why the Church always seeks to work cooperatively with people of other faiths and no faith to secure the basic elements of human dignity for all our citizens — decent housing, a living wage, justice under the law and adequate food and health care.

It’s why America’s Catholic bishops have pushed for national health care reform for the past several decades. It’s also why the Church, in principle, supports current efforts to craft legislation that would ensure basic health care coverage for all Americans.

But God, or the devil, is always in the details. As Scripture says, “You will know them by their fruits” (Mt 7:20). The test of White House and congressional honesty about seeking “common ground” will be the details of the health care plan being worked on this summer and fall.

The whole meaning of “health care” would be subverted by any plan that involves mandated abortion access or abortion funding. The reason is obvious.

Killing or funding the killing of unborn children has nothing to do with promoting human health, and including these things in any “health care” proposal, no matter how shrewdly hidden, would simply be a form of lying.

In speaking for the American Catholic community, both Bishop William Murphy and Cardinal Justin Rigali of the USCCB have already voiced strong concerns about a possible stealth mandate for abortion carried out through national health care.

A so-called “compromise” solution currently offered by Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) would seemingly ban abortion coverage as part of a federally mandated minimum benefits package. But it would require at least one insurance plan in each “premium rating area” to cover abortion.

In its effect, the Capps approach would lead to elective abortion being covered under a government-operated public plan by allowing federal subsidies to flow to private insurance plans that cover elective abortion. This isn’t a compromise. It’s a shell game.

As the summer draws to a close, it’s very important for Colorado Catholics to contact their federal lawmakers immediately and demand that abortion and abortion funding be completely excluded from any national health care plan.

A few key principles should guide the development of any health care reform legislation, especially in light of the mixed and sobering track record of national health plans in other countries:

• It should provide access to basic, quality health services for all persons, from conception to natural death, with a special concern for the poor, elderly and disabled, and the inclusion of legal immigrants;

• It should protect the conscience rights of individuals and religious institutions;

• It should exclude all so-called “services” that involve violence against the dignity of the human person, such as abortion, physician-assisted suicide and their funding;

• It should be economically realistic and sustainable, with costs spread equitably across all taxpayers.

In the coming days and weeks, Colorado federal lawmakers will be holding listening sessions with their constituents on this vital health care issue. Catholics can’t afford to be absent or silent. Please get involved and make your convictions and concerns known now. We’ll have only ourselves to blame if we don’t.

And speaking of alerts, consider this presentation:

All the President's
science advisers

August 12, 2009

This is a transcript of a video segment from Beck's TV show on this date:

Obama: Let me tell you who I associate with.... Those are the people, Democrats and Republicans, who have shaped my ideas and who will be surrounding me in the White House. [Clip from a 2008 campaign speech]

Beck: We will do exactly what Obama himself has told us to do: We have to find out about his advisers. Who is shaping his opinion? Who is surrounding him? We know it's not based in eugenics, but what is it based in?...You see, your voice isn't going to be represented in the "war room" in a crisis situation. Whose voice will the president hear?

Well, there's Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel. He is a health adviser. He said this in January of this year: "When implemented, the complete lives system produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get chances that are attenuated."

The science "czar," John Holdren, says: "The fetus, given the opportunity to develop properly before birth, and given the essential early socializing experiences and sufficient nourishing food during the crucial early years after birth will ultimately develop into a human being." He also wrote about putting sterilants in drinking water for population control.

One of the leaders in this type of thought, and a friend of the regulatory "czar" Cass Sunstein, is prominent Princeton professor Peter Singer. In July 2009, in a New York Times article titled "Why We Must Ration Health Care," Singer wrote that saving the life of one teenager is equivalent to saving the lives of 14 85-year-olds.

You also have Rahm Emanuel's brother Ezekiel saying in November 1996: "Conversely, services provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens are not basic and should not be guaranteed."

This is the stuff that they're now saying out loud. What are they saying to thePpresident behind closed doors when we aren't there to watch it?

00Saturday, August 15, 2009 10:22 PM
The closing of the Christian womb
By Spengler

August 11, 2009

A century ago, Christians dominated the intellectual and commercial life of the Levant, comprising more than one-fifth of the 13 million people of Turkey, the region's ruling power, and most of the population of Lebanon. Ancient communities flourished in what is now Iraq and Syria.

But starting with the Armenian genocide in 1914 and continuing through the massacre and expulsion of Anatolian Greeks in 1922-1923, the Turks killed three to four million Christians in Turkey and the Ottoman provinces. Thus began a century of Muslim violence that nearly has eradicated Christian communities in the cradle of their religion.

It may seem odd to blame the Jews for the misery of Middle East Christians, but many Christian Arabs do so - less because they are Christians than because they are Arabs.

The Christian religion is flourishing inside the Jewish side. Only 50,000 Christian Arabs remain in the West Bank territories, and their numbers continue to erode.

Hebrew-speaking Christians, mainly immigrants from Eastern Europe or the Philippines, make up a prospective Christian congregation of perhaps 300,000 in the State of Israel, double the number of a decade ago.

The brief flourishing and slow decline of Christian Arab life is one of the last century's stranger stories. Until the Turks killed the Armenians and expelled the Greeks, Orthodoxy dominated the Levant.

The victorious allies carved out Lebanon in 1926 with a Christian majority, mostly Maronites in communion with Rome. Under the Ottomans, Levantine commerce had been Greek or Jewish, but with the ruin of the Ottomans and the founding of Lebanon, Arab Christians had their moment in the sun. Beirut became the banking center and playground for Arab oil states.

The French designed Lebanon's constitution on the strength of a 1932 census showing a Christian majority, guaranteeing a slight Christian advantage in political representation. With the Christian population at barely 30% of the total and 23% of the population under 20 - Lebanon's government refuses to take a census - Lebanon long since has lost its viability. The closing of the Christian womb has ensured eventual Muslim dominance.

Precise data are unobtainable, for demographics is politics in Lebanon, but Lebanon's Christians became as infertile as their European counterparts. Muslims, particularly the impoverished and marginalized Shi'ites, had more babies.

In 1971, the Shi'ite fertility rate was 3.8 babies per female, against only 2 for Maronite Christians, or just below replacement. Precise data are not available, but Christian fertility is well below replacement today.

Even before the 1975 Lebanese Civil War, infertility undermined the position of Lebanon's Christians . The civil war itself arose from the demographic shift towards Muslims, who saw the Christian-leaning constitution as unfair.

Christianity in the Levant ultimately failed for the same reason that it failed in Europe: populations that are nominally Christian did not trouble to reproduce.

Lebanon was a Catholic project from the outset, and the Vatican's thinking about the region is colored nostalgia for a dying Christian community and a searing sense of regret for what might have been.

If only the State of Israel hadn't spoiled everything, many Arab Christians think, the Christian minority would have wielded enormous influence in the Arab world. It is true that in many Arab countries, Christians comprised a disproportionate share of merchants and intellectuals. But the same was true of the 130,000 Jews of Iraq before 1947, who owned half the businesses in Baghdad.

Contrary to the Arab narrative, the peak of Arab Christian influence occurred a generation after the founding of the State of Israel, when Boutros Boutros-Ghali became Egypt's foreign minister in 1977, and Tariq Aziz became Foreign Minister of Iraq in 1983.

In fact, the founding of the State of Israel propelled Christian Arabs into leadership positions in Arab governments. The Arab monarchies installed by the British in Egypt, Jordan and Iraq failed miserably in their efforts to crush the new Jewish State in the 1947-1948 War of Independence. Young military officers replaced the old colonial regimes with nationalist governments, starting with Gamal Abdel Nasser's 1952 coup in Egypt.

Nationalism opened the door of political leadership to Arab Christians. The Syrian Christian Michel Aflaq founded the Ba'ath party which later took power in Syria and Iraq. The rise of secular Arab movements with strong Christian influence was a response to the Arab failure to prevent the founding of the State of Israel.

After the Turkish destruction of Orthodox Christian populations in the Levant, the Arab Christian elite - for centuries graced by not a single name the world remembers - saw its chance to shine. Lebanon, previously a backwater, and the pugnacious Maronite population, a marginal group except for their ties to France, improbably emerged as the focal point of Levantine Christianity.

But Arab nationalism failed just as miserably as did the monarchies invented by the British after the Turks were thrown out. Having rolled the dice with Arab nationalism, Arab Christians were left with diminished leverage and declining numbers on the ground in the advent of political Islam.

Both in politics and demographics, the Arab Christians largely had themselves to blame. Understandably, they find it more palatable to blame the Jews.

A case in point is Father Samir Khalid Samir, a Jesuit of Egyptian Arab origin who prominently advises Pope Benedict XVI on Islam. I reviewed his fine book 111 Questions on Islam last March.

Samir is circulating what he calls a "Decalogue for Peace", leaked August 9 on the website of veteran Vatican analyst Sandro Magister.

According to Samir:

The problem goes back to the creation of the state of Israel and the partition of Palestine in 1948 decided by the superpowers without taking into account the population already present in the (Holy) Land. There resides the real root of all the wars that followed.

To repair a serious injustice committed in Europe against a third of the world Jewish population, Europe (supported by the superpowers) decided to commit a new injustice against the Palestinian population, who are innocent of the martyrdom of the Jews.

The original decision-making was shaped largely as reparation by the superpowers for doing little or nothing to end a systematically organized persecution against the European Jews as a 'race'

[NB: As someone who has tried to follow the major news developments in the Middle East since my days as a journalist starting in the late 1960s, I have expressed myself previously in the PRF against this theory of Fr. Samir which sees the creation of Israel as primarily the West's sop to itself to 'make up' for the Holocaust, for which I don't think anyone else outside Germany takes responsibility!

What clearly the West was trying to redress - through a United Nations that in 1948 was still composed of less than 50 long-established nation-states - was the shortsightedness of their post World-War-I colonial policies in the Middle East, after France and the United Kingdom basically divided up what remained of the defeated Ottoman Empire among themselves.

But it must be pointed out that even before the Nov. 11 armistice that ended the Second World War (and obviously without any presentiment that two decades later, the Nazi Holocaust would decimate Europe's Jewry), the United Kingdom on Nov. 2, issued the famous Balfour Declaration of 1917 that said "His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object".

The Holocaust may have made the creation of Israel all the more 'urgent', but it was actively set into motion back in 19th-century Europe with Theodor Herzl and the Zionist movement.]

Samir's plan includes international troops on Israel's borders, recognition of the Palestinian right of return [Dear God! you might as well declare a de facto takeover of Israel by the Palestinians!], an international commission to decide the future of Jerusalem - in short, what the Israelis would consider the end of their sovereignty and the liquidation of the Jewish State.

[Fr. Samir is an excellent source of information and informed opinion about Islam and the implications of Islamic culture for civilization as we know it, but clearly, he should stay off political role playing!]

That a prominent Vatican Islam expert would take such a stance speaks volumes about the power of nostalgia. [In fairness to Benedict XVI, Fr. Samir is by no means his only 'adviser' on Islam, and someone as intelligent as the Holy Father would recognize that even his advisers - as indeed the people who work in the Secretariat of State - have their personal political preferences and agendas, and as such, he would take those biases into account when listening to them.]

There is not a single fact in place in Samir's presentation.

Leave aside the fact that the League of Nations in 1922 confirmed the object of the British mandate to establish a homeland for Jewish people in Palestine, and that preparations for the Jewish State were complete before World War II.

Leave aside also the Pope's Biblical belief that the Jews are in the Land of Israel because God has commanded them to be there. The fact is that most Israelis, contrary to Samir, descend not from the Jews driven out of Europe by the Holocaust, but rather from Jews driven out of Arab countries after 1947.

There were 600,000 Jews in Israel on the day of its founding; an additional 700,000 were expelled from Arab lands, including Iraq, where the Jews had lived for 1,000 years prior to the arrival of the Arabs.

By expelling the Jews, the Arab countries created a population concentration in Israel that made possible the country's emergence as a regional superpower.

The results were an exchange of populations of roughly equal numbers, Palestinians leaving the new State of Israel and Jewish refugees arriving from Arab countries.

Contrary to Samir, the whole point of partition in 1948 was "taking into account the population already present" by creating an Arab Palestinian state alongside a Jewish State.

Had the Arabs agreed to partition, Arabs might have surrounded and eventually absorbed a tiny refugee state. It was not the superpowers, but rather the surrounding Arab states who did not take into account the interests of the local population, but gambled on crushing the Jewish State in its cradle.

All of this is outrageously wrong, but it is hard to have a rational argument with someone who has an existential problem. It is hard to offer solace to Arab Christians. Their elite misplayed its hand seeking influence through Arab nationalism, and now stands to lose everything to political Islam.

As a culture, the Arabs are in profound crisis - their most celebrated poet, the Syrian "Adonis", calls them "extinct" - and their decline weighs doubly upon the dwindling Christina minority. It is worth contrasting Adonis's gloomy assessment of Arab culture with Samir's eccentric cheerfulness:

I summarized the Syrian writer's views in a 2007 essay Are the Arabs already extinct? Nonetheless, Samir still speaks of a grand revival of Arab Christianity. As he told an Italian newspaper on the eve of the Pope's departure for Israel last May:

Previously, the Nahdah, the Arab renaissance that took place between the 19th century and the first part of the 20th century was essentially produced by the Christians.

Now once again, a century later, the same thing is happening, although the Christians are in the minority in Arab countries. Today the "new" elements in Arab thinking are coming from Lebanon, where the interaction between Christians and Muslims is the most lively. Here there are five Catholic universities, in addition to the Islamic and state institutions. ...

Today, the cultural impact of the Christians in the Middle East takes place through the means of communication ... Many Muslims, including authoritative leaders, in both Lebanon and Jordan, but also in Saudi Arabia, have stated this publicly: we do not want the Christians to leave our countries, because they are an essential part of our societies

It sounds a bit like Mortimer Duke in the 1983 comedy Trading Places, shouting, "Now, you listen to me! I want trading reopened right now. Get those brokers back in here! Turn those machines back on!"

Samir hopes that Arab Christians will provide the leaven to lift up Arab society in general; on the contrary, as Arab society sags, it squeezes the Arab Christians out. Sadly, it is may be too late for Lebanon's Christians.

"The process began at the turn of the century and it has intensified in recent years ... There are 12 million Christians in the Middle East. If the current trend continues, there will be fewer than 6 million by 2025," Hilal Khashan, political science chair at the American University of Beirut told the Beirut Star on June 10, 2007.

By way of tacit acknowledgement, the Vatican treads lightly with Tehran because the Lebanese Christians are hostages to Hezbollah, the Iranian-controlled Shi'ite militia. The Christian leader Michael Aoun has attempted to form a political bloc between Hezbollah and the Maronite parties. The Christians simply are outgunned, and the Maronites would lose in a military confrontation with Hezbollah.

The propitiatory stance towards Iran on the part of some Vatican diplomats is symptomatic of a different problem. As the center of gravity of the Church shifts towards the Global South, the Church inevitably will absorb some of the political sentiments that prevail in the Global South, including hostility towards the "colonialist" industrial world. The anti-Israeli sentiments that prevail among Third World diplomats already reverberate in the Vatican's diplomatic corps.

The Pope feels a deep pastoral responsibility to Middle Eastern Christians. On March 25, the Holy See expressed "profound concern" about Middle Eastern Christians in the Middle East in the wake of the Israeli incursion into Gaza.

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri and Archbishop Antonio Maria emphasized the pastoral function of the Pope's visit, noting that he "constantly comforts Christians, and all the inhabitants of the Holy Land, with special words and gestures, coupled with his desire to make a pilgrimage in the historical footsteps of Jesus ... The wounds opened by violence make the problem of emigration more acute, inexorably depriving the Christian minority of its best resources for the future ... The land that was the cradle of Christianity risks ending up without Christians."

There is little risk, however, that the Holy Land will end up without Christians. Although Arab Christians are indeed leaving areas controlled by Muslims, Christians are immigrating to Israel itself, where the Christian community has doubled in size in the past 15 years.

Some estimates put the number of Christians in Israel at nearly 300,000, twice the official count. To Israel's 120,000 Arab Christians and 30,000 others must be added Christian immigrants from Eastern European, as well as many Filipinos and others who came as guest workers and have settled in Israel.

Hebrew-speaking Catholic services are held in Israel's largest cities, and Eastern European immigrants have formed new Orthodox congregations. The new Hebrew-speaking Christian communities still are small but they promise a new kind of root for Christianity in the region.

The retirement in 2008 of Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, a vocal critic of the Jewish State, was symbolic of the generational change that shifted the balance of Christian life to Hebrew-speaking Israelis. Patriarch Sabbah belonged to an older generation that blamed Israel for the disruption of Christian life in the Holy Land.

In some respects Israel's Christian Arab population is well integrated into Israeli society; its children have a higher rate of university matriculation than Israeli Jews.

Nonetheless, Christian Arabs tend to share the concerns of Arabs generally. More recent Christian immigrants, though, learn Hebrew and see the world through Israeli eyes.

A vibrant Christian presence in the birthplace of Christianity benefits the world community. In its own interest, the State of Israel should foster a Christian presence, as a living link between the Jewish state and Christians around the world.

In their short-sightedness, successive Israeli governments have not given enough attention to Christian concerns, particularly regarding the holy places. Residual antagonism towards Christians among Israel's ultra-orthodox community represents another obstacle.

Prime Minister Netanyahu made the wise gesture of meeting the Pope in Nazareth during his May visit to the Holy Land.

Nonetheless, the diversity of Israel's Christian population is a positive sign for the long-term viability of Christian congregations in the Middle East. Increasingly, they will speak Hebrew more than Arabic. In the long term, the State of Israel will be viable if its inhabitants bear children and stand their ground, unlike the unfortunate Christians of Lebanon.

00Monday, August 17, 2009 12:54 AM

For weeks, I deliberately shunted aside the items I saw about the autobiography recently published by an emeritus bishop about whom I had only read scandalous stories in the past four years that I have had to follow Catholic news.

Today being a 'light' Sunday in terms of the 'lack' of Benedict news and commentary[but not light at all in terms of his Angelus message today which was yet another remarkable gem of reflection from him], I do feel it is obligatory to post the story as a cautionary tale of all that Benedict XVI meant by the 'filth' in the Church and for which he decreed a Year for Priests.

The disgraceful autobiography
of Rembert Weakland

By George Neumayr

July 2009 issue

It sounds like an over-the-top Tom Wolfe novel: a successor to the apostles conducts an affair with a male graduate student, is accused of “date rape” and emotional harm by said student, and raids the collection basket of the faithful to hush the student up.

Then, as the bishop settles into a cushy retirement, he pens a “coming out” memoir in praise of homosexual behavior, all the while retaining the canonical rights and privileges of a retired archbishop and receiving pats on the back from fellow clergy.

Alas, this is no racy and risible fiction; it is the real story of Archbishop Rembert Weakland. The retired archbishop of Milwaukee released June 15 his autobiography, A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church: Memoirs of a Catholic Archbishop.

In it he admits to several affairs with men, crowns himself the first voluntarily “out” bishop, and argues that the Church should endorse the “physical, genital expression” of homosexuality, as he put it to the New York Times in May.

“If we say our God is an all-loving god,” he said to the Times, “how do you explain that at any given time probably 400 million living on the planet at one time would be gay? Are the religions of the world, as does Catholicism, saying to those hundreds of millions of people, you have to pass your whole life without any physical, genital expression of that love?”

Weakland gave this interview to the Times, by the way, from the “Archbishop Weakland Center, which houses the archdiocesan cathedral offices in downtown Milwaukee.” This small snapshot of episcopal decadence — an openly “gay” bishop spouting heresy while sitting in a diocesan office still named in his honor—would be amusing if it weren’t so sad and scandalous.

If Church officials worried about the corruption and perdition of souls as much as they fret about “tolerance” and “collegiality,” they would end this disgusting farce and suspend Weakland’s faculties. Instead, they sit on their hands as Weakland, outfitted in his priestly collar, grants interviews to news outlets about the glories of mortal sin.

The chutzpah of Weakland is breathtaking. But then, this is a Benedictine monk (he once was head abbot of the order, a footnote that is not likely to be lost on future Edward Gibbons) who could with a straight face spearhead a pastoral letter accusing Ronald Reagan of greed and fiscal irresponsibility while dipping himself into the faithful’s pockets for a $450,000 “loan” to pay off his disgruntled paramour, Paul Marcoux.

In other eras, a disgraced Benedictine monk would disappear into obscure days of prayer and penitential labor; these days he publishes a tribute to homosexuality and anxiously awaits a booking to appear on Charlie Rose and Oprah.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, when Weakland was riding high in his episcopal saddle, he regarded himself as a sort of modern-day Cardinal Richelieu, a viciously savvy player of progressive Church politics. He knew the rules and how to bend them. But now he presents himself as an innocent waif and victim.

He had no idea that those abusive priests he shuffled from parish to parish were committing a “crime” when they raped children. Also, he “naively” assumed these children would “grow out of” and “forget” the molestation.

Weakland also has the gall to blame Pope John Paul II’s Vatican in part for his payout to the grad student. You see, if only Weakland could have been open about his homosexuality (and the Vatican hadn’t been so secretive), the payout wouldn’t have been necessary, he suggested to the Times:

Archbishop Weakland said he probably should have gone to Rome and explained that he had had a relationship with Mr. Marcoux, that he had ended it by writing an emotional letter that Mr. Marcoux still had and that the archbishop’s lawyers regarded Mr. Marcoux’s threats as blackmail.

But, the archbishop said, a highly placed friend in Rome advised him that church officials preferred that such things be hushed up, which is “the Roman way.”

“I suppose, also, being frank, I wouldn’t have wanted to be labeled in Rome at that point as gay,” Archbishop Weakland said. “Rome is a little village.”

The Roman way? Try the Weakland way. Notice he doesn’t mention the most obvious consequence of coming clean to Rome: he would have had to resign.

Weakland’s dishonesty is sickening. Here is a bishop who violated his vows grossly, then plundered the hard-earned dollars of Catholic families to conceal his fraud, all so that he could avoid resignation and preserve his power, which he then used to liberalize and corrupt the Church in America for over a generation.

It's not easy to read such a story without throwing up! Let us pray for all priests.

Meanwhile, can the Church simply allow an emeritus bishop to boast of his filth the way Weakland does? Surely, there must be some disciplinary action in canon law for his offense(s)!
00Monday, August 17, 2009 3:25 PM
Re: Weakland
This man is more arrogant than I thought. But I'm now begining to wonder if he is at all mentally balanced in publishing such a book?

It is one thing being homosexual - I know some wonderful human beings who are homosexual but not perverse and exploiting - but it's something different when one grabs the money of the faithful to cover up one's escapades and then tries to redeem oneself by pointing a finger to "Rome". This is pure hypocrisy and shows clearly his refusal to acknowledge something in himself that is much worse than his particular sexual identity.

Some will say he was "brave" in coming out in this public manner (it is becoming a new vogue among clergy in other Christian denominations as well). But to try and make the Church accountable for his dishonesty is not brave at all, IMO. It is shirking his own personal responsibilities for his life.

I have to admit that the stream of priestly sexual revelations and scandals is damaging the image of the Catholic Church in the non-Catholic world to a much larger extent than most Catholics - and perhaps "Rome" itself - would care to admit. Even though we are living in sexually permissive era most "sexually liberated" people find it disgusting and incomprehensible when their own standards are
being taken up by priests in a dishonest manner.

Will there be any reaction to this biography and the displacement of funds by Weakland from "The Vatican" or the Holy See? The Maciel scandal is also continuing......

Glad I'm not Pope.

Dear Crotchet -

It would be so much easier to take if Weakland were simply mentally unbalanced! But I think he is manifesting the totally self-absorbed egocentrism of the truly selfish man: it's always and only about him. Essentially, not Christian at all!

As for the Maciel case, it's truly very stomach-churning... All those higher-ups of the LC who must have known something of the moral and financial 'anomalies" within the movement must own up. They need to start over and purge themselves of a ridiculous personality cult that 'binds' their members never to say anything against the founder or the movement itself.

The Pope is going by the book because he needs to, but at least he took the one great necessary but unpleasant step of opening the can of worms left fesering too long.


00Monday, August 17, 2009 6:41 PM
For alerting me to this excellent article, thanks to Lella and her blog followers at

JESUS is a monthly magazine of Edizioni San Paolo, which also publishes FAMIGLIA CRISTIANA. The illustrations came with the article.

Atheism and Christianity
by Mons. Gianfranco Ravasi
President of the Pontifical Council for Culture
Translated from

August 2009 issue

From the Biblical point of view, there are different kinds of atheism: there is disbelief, which is similar to religious indifference; there is idolatry; and finally, there is the consciousness of God's absence, the spiritual void suffered by those who are really in search of a religious horizon and desirous of the truth.

"Fall to your knees! The bell is ringing - they are bringing the Sacraments to a dying God!" This was the 19th-century German poet Heinrich Heine's paradoxical way to express the imminent 'death of God', which was subsequently described far more dramatically by his fellow German and contemporary Friedrich Nietzsche, in his famous scene of Gaia-science, in which a man runs through the streets crying out in wild tones: "God is dead! We have killed him and our hands are dripping with his blood!"

Well, this type of hyperdramatic atheism - which gave rise to a 'theology of the death of God' - has almost disappeared completely. What survives of atheism today are the sarcastic mockeries by the atheists du jour, the Odifreddis, Onfrays and Hitchenses, to name them by their linguistic areas of influence.

[Piergiorgio Odifreddi is an Italian mathematician who has written best-selling anti-God, anti-religion books; Michel Onfray is a French philosopher who wrote a 2005 book against the major religions translated into English as The Atheist Manifesto; and Hitchens is an iconoclastic journalist who wrote God is not great

To confront the problem of atheism from the Biblical point of view may paradoxically be of great relevance, even if at first glance, the theme would seem to be absent in Sacred Scripture, since in the ancient cultures, the absolute denial of God was almost unthinkable.

In fact, the profound spirit of atheism, in all its forms, appears within the Bible in serious, well-articulated ways, and treated according to the aforementioned categories.

First, disbelief, simply not believing - denying the presence of God in history and therefore, a refusal to accept any transcendent ethical norms, much less the idea of God's will.

Such is the well-known cry by the 'fool' in Psalm 14,53: "There is no God". The sense of the statement is not a theoretical, programmatic denial but rather the disconcerted discovery that there is no divine presence to respect and to fear, here and now, in human history.

This attitude is also expressed in the Bible with the verb 'to murmur', which is on the mouth of the people of Israel during the exodus across the desert, and on the mouth of the Jews as they listen to Jesus making his 'bread of life' discourse in Chapter 6 of the Gospel of John.

Giovanni Toscani, The Disbelief of Thomas, Accademia, Florence.

Disbelief touched the disciples who were 'scandalized' by and therefore rejected the way of the Cross, while considering the resurrection as something 'impossible'. ("Stop disbelieving", the Risen Lord tells Thomas.)

We can classify therewith the more consistent typology of present-day pseudo-atheism, what has been called religious indifference.

It is based on a superficial reading of history, a history from which God is absent - in which he is totally irrelevant, he generates no drama, he is not the guiding principle for moral choices, he is consigned to the limbo of ethereal fantasies. He is not fought against, but ignored because he is a disturbing 'fact' and therefore not relevant.

As the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor observed ironically, in an essay on the contemporary Secular Age, if God had to enter into contemporary society, at the very least, he would be asked to show his identification papers.

The second Biblical model is that of idolatry - this is much closer to the true 'dramatic' idea of atheism. It is not necessary to describe its characteristics because it comes up so often in Scriptures - on the one hand, the temptation to replace God with an object or with man himself; and on the other hand, the anti-idolatry criticisms and condemnations of the prophets, teh sages, and the witnesses to God.

In practice, it has meant a substitution of transcendence with some immanent historical data. St. Paul vehemently denounces this contradiction in Chapter 1 of the Letter to the Romans when he accuses the pagans of having replaced divine truth with a convenient system which ultimately generates libertinism and moral degradation.

In its 'noble' form, modern idolatry is the identification of constitutive and dynamic principles inherent in being, with history itself as their only explicative reasons.

We can cite the dialectical materialism of the Marxist kind, but also the so-called 'spirit' immanent in being itself, the motor of history, according to the Hegelian concept; or atheistic humanism, in which man is the measure and meaning of all being.

Adoration of the Dragon, Gothic tapestry, Angers Castle, France.

Therefore, idolatry is not simp0ly limited to the self-adoration of the self-sufficient man or the banal veneration of symbolic objects as in folk idolatry or in secular consumerism.

Idolatry also includes so many other sophisticated concepts that have been elaborated to exclude the possibility of divine transcendence.

The Bible offers a third example which is surprising because it may even be considered 'religious'. It is the provocative absence of God, his silence that leads to the capital question, "Where is God?", as many of the Psalms do: "My tears have been my food day and night, as they ask daily,'Where is your God?'" (42,4); "Why should the nations say, "Where is their God?" (79,10).

This seemingly 'atheistic' question can only arise from someonea person who has a crisis of faith, the authentic believer who is disconcerted by a 'mute and absent' God, especially in the face of the apparent triumph of evil.

The Bible is, in this regard, very illustrative. There is, in fact, a figure like Qohelet who incarnates the crisis of a man in the midst of an undecipherable world - one deprived of any perceptible meaning, defined by emptiness (habel = vanity, smoke, emptiness), in which questions addressed towards a mute heaven simply fall back on he who questions.

William Blake, Job reproached by his friends, J. Puierpont Morgan Library.

But there is also the pure believer like Job, who insists on his desire to get an answer from the true God, seemingly taciturn and indifferent - not an apologetics formula prefabricated by theologians, tired defenders of official religion.

Rather, he exclaims: "I cry out to you and you do not answer!" And in the end, this absence of God proves to be fecund, it is transformed into a presence and an encounter: "I had heard of you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you" (42,5).

It is paradoxical, but even Jesus Christ, Son of God, having been truly human, went through this same experience of the Father's silence, on Gethsemane as well as on the Cross, thus revealing the mysterious positiveness of such absence.

Thus it is necessary, when considering the subject of atheism, to make a series of distinctions: between disbelief and agnostic indiffrence, between idolatry and systematic atheism, between the absence of God and the mystery of the divine 'incomprehensible'.

Through such distinctions one can see how complex are the pastoral problems to which they give rise. It is one thing, in fact, to engage in a locked confrontation of ideas with a consistent and conscious atheism, which is even capable of having its own ethics, as in the 19th century with Marxism and the idealistic rationalism of the Enlightenment.

From that encounter-confrontation, neither of the contenders came out unbloodied, but the results were invaluable for both sides. Just to give an example, during the 19th and 20th centuries, through its duel with Marxism, the Church matured its consciousness of the importance of the social question (thus, Rerum novarum and the other social encyclicals that followed).

On the other hand, Marxism led to a post-Marxism in a philosopehr like Ernst Bloch, who affirted the extraordinary importance of Exodus as a founding text for freedom and liberation, and of Christianity as a transformative seed in history (one of his works had the emblematic title Atheism in Christianity) which carries within the radical tension of the hope principle.

Quite another matter is indifference-disbelief which questions both authentic and working faith as well as extreme committed atheism. It is like a fog that is difficult to dispel; it neither has anxiety nor any 'questions'; it feeds on stereotypes and banality, content to live superficially, simply skimming fundamental problems, as the well-known image from the Diary of the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard: "The ship is in the hands of the cook on board, and what the commandant's megaphone annnounces is no longer the route to follow, but what we shall eat tomorrow".

The modern means of mass communications teach us everything about fashions and lifestyles but ignore the meaning of existence, the anxiety of interior searching, questions about the beyond and about the Other with respect to ourselves and to the human horizon.

School of Raphael, Adoration of the Golden Calf, Vatican Loggias.

Finally, it is yet another matter to deal with the dark night of the soul when God is absent. One must feel the absence: the philosopher Martin Heidegger observed that "the true poverty of the world is when it no longer feels the absence of God as an absence".

He who is conscious of, and suffers from, interior emptiness, who yearns for the truth, for beauty and for love, not having them; he who obeys the injunctions of his own conscience although he perceives seemingly empty heavens (or at the most, crowded with the satellites of technology) - is one whom we might consider to have accepted the absolute Being of God despite affirming his own agnosticism ('I do not know if there is a God"). Remember the theologian Karl Rahner's famous thesis of the 'anonymous Christian'.

This experience of the absence of God is not just an experience of faith - which is often simultaneously light and shadows, certainty and doubt - but even of mysticism, as we see from the unforgettable pages of St. John of the Cross [to whom we owe the expression 'dark night of the soul'] or the ardent reflections of Meister Eckhart or the incandescent verses of Angelo Silesio.

00Monday, August 17, 2009 7:40 PM
British Catholic magazine
tells US bishops to back Obama
and stop fussing about abortion

August 15, 2009

The Tablet’s teenage crush on Barack Obama is no longer just embarrassing: it’s downright offensive. The editorial in the current issue says that “US bishops must [yes, must] back Obama” and ignore the opponents of his healthcare package, who are being manipulated by “robber barons”.

This is patronising even by the standards of the Bitter Pill, which often adopts a colonial sneeer when talking about red-state America. But this is the passage that made my jaw drop:

It is unfortunate that the one body that could turn out to be a decisive strategic force in his favour, the US Catholic bishops, have so far concentrated on a specifically Catholic issue – making sure state-funded health care does not include abortion – rather than the more general principle of the common good.

Are you serious? Abortion is “a specifically Catholic issue”, is it, to be distinguished from the all-embracing principle of the common good?

That is the sort of misrepresentation of the Church’s position that I might expect from a teenage student union activist, not a venerable Catholic magazine.

It suggests that the author of the editorial (a) is pig-ignorant of the Magisterium and (b) actually believes that the rights of the unborn child should be subordinate to, rather than an indispensible component of, “the common good”.

The politics of the Tablet haven’t shifted much over the past decade: they’re still as predictably Left-liberal as ever. But one thing has changed significantly. Ma Pepinster’s [Catherine Pepinster, editor since 2004] editorials routinely display a degree of theological illiteracy and ignorance of basic Catholic teaching that would have been unthinkable under the previous editor, John Wilkins. No wonder Archbishop Vincent Nichols is keeping his distance.

'Theological illiteracy and ignorance of basic Catholic teaching' - I doubt that it is ignorance of basic Catholic teaching as much as it is a deliberate ignoring, if not downright defiance, of any part of Catholic orthodoxy that liberals cannot accept.

However, as a general statement, I would say that the Tablet's writers are simply being consistent with the overall level of cultural illiteracy in much of the liberal media - for all that they pride themselves in being supposedly far more well-informed than obscurantist conservatives who are mired in the Middle Ages.

Liberal illiteracy is precisely in choosing to ignore any facts that do not fit into their world view - and if you do this, which you have the duty not to do as a journalist, then of course, you will get facts wrong about the other side.

Thankfully, as with the 45,000 Italian Jews, the Tablet has a circulation of only 65,000 - and one has to believe these 65,000 are necessarily the choir they preach to!

So, apart from holding up to appropriate ridicule for their intellectuakl dishonesty and increasingly hysterical and ludicrous propositions, should we really worry about what the Tablet says?

00Tuesday, August 18, 2009 1:37 PM
Now hear this from Barack Obama Zapatero in his determined campaign to secularize American society by law:

Obama makes explicit his objection
to the Defense of Marriage Act(DOMA)

By Scott Wilson

August 17. 2009

President Obama made clear Monday that he favors the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, and intends to ask Congress to repeal the 13-year-old law that denies benefits to domestic partners of federal employees and allows states to reject same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Obama has long opposed the law, which he has called discriminatory. But his Justice Department has angered the gay community, which favored Obama by a wide margin in last year's election, by defending the law in court. The administration has said it is standard practice for the Justice Department to do so, even for laws that it does not agree with.

The Justice Department did so again Monday in its response in Smelt v. United States, a case before a U.S. District Court in California. But, for the first time, the filing itself made clear that the administration "does not support DOMA as a matter of policy, believes that it is discriminatory, and supports its repeal."

Obama and his senior advisers have made that statement before, but never in a court brief. In addition, Obama issued a statement noting that, although his administration is again defending DOMA in court, "this brief makes clear...that my administration believes the act is discriminatory and should be repealed by Congress."

"While we work with Congress to repeal DOMA, my administration will continue to examine and implement measures that will help extend rights and benefits to LGBT couples under existing law," Obama said in the statement.

00Tuesday, August 18, 2009 6:13 PM

In my brief summary on August 14 of the stories highlighted online by L'Osservatore Romano from its daily edition, I noted this: "A major story in the inside pages is a revelation of how both the US and UK governments ignored repeated warnings from the Jewish representative in Switzerland starting in August 1942 of Germany's extermination plan for the Jews - even as between 1943 and the liberation of Italy in 1944, Pius XII was the only leader on the world scene who actually did anything to help the Jews."

Unfortunately, I did not have the time to translate that story. (Because of less available time for Forum 'work', I have prioritzied - and thus limited - my translations to papal texts first, and items directly having to do with Benedict XVI.] Several days later, the Anglophone news services came around to it, and the line was what the UK's Daily Telegraph took.

I have not altered the headline given by the Telegraph, but once again, it commits the usual journalistic offense of labelling a bylined news report on objective fact - in this case, quotations from the contemporaneous diaries of a ranking US official - to be 'claims' or 'accusations' made by 'the Vatican' or by 'the Vatican paper'. That is crassly assuming that anything reported in a newspaper is necessarily the view of that newspaper and its editors and publishers.

At the same time, it would be naive to think that the OR would fail to publish such an article (or even solicit it, for that matter) since there is objective evidence to back up the writer's story.

Until I can do a full translation, here is the Telegraph article, and later, the CNS item on the same

Britain knew about extermination
of Jews, Vatican claims

By Simon Caldwell and Nick Squires in Rome

17 Aug 2009

The Vatican's official newspaper has accused Britain and the United States of having detailed knowledge of Hitler's plans to exterminate the Jews but of failing to do anything to halt the Final Solution.

L'Osservatore Romano said the British and American governments ignored, downplayed or even suppressed intelligence reports about the Nazis' extermination plans.

They could have bombed Nazi concentration camps and the railways that supplied them but instead chose not to, the newspaper claimed.

It quoted from the diary of Henry Morgenthau Jr., the wartime US secretary of the treasury, who described London's alleged indifference to the plight of the Jews as "a Satanic combination of British chill and diplomatic double talk, cold and correct and adding up to a sentence of death".

British and American inaction was in contrast to the efforts made by the wartime Pope, Pius XII, who tried to save as many Jews as he could through clandestine means, L'Osservatore claimed in a lengthy article titled "Silence and omissions at the time of the Shoah (Holocaust)".

[The statements about Pius XII's activities are likewise objective fact, amply documented, not a 'claim' taken out of thin air. And it is perfectly legitimate to cite such activities in contrast to the lack of activity on the part of the US and UK governments - and I don't think any historian is going to dispute that there was a lack of official activity by the Allied governments in 1942-1945 to rein in the Nazi genocide.

Indeed, the standard and accepted line to explain such inactivity has been that "the main strategic objective of the Allies was to defeat Hitler militarily" and that therefore, in view of limited resources, any 'side issues' had to take the back seat.]

The editorial* is the Vatican's latest effort to rehabilitate the reputation of Pope Pius, whose reluctance to denounce the Nazis publicly prompted accusations of anti-Semitism and earned him the title "Hitler's Pope".

L'Osservatore (i.e., the article] dismissed such claims as a "radically false" characterisation of the pontiff's wartime record.

It quoted Morgenthau as saying that as early as Aug 1942, the US government "knew that the Nazis were planning to exterminate all the Jews of Europe".

In his diary, Morgenthau cited a telegram dated Aug 24, 1942, and passed on to the US State Department, that relayed a report of Hitler's plan to kill between 3.5 million and four million Jews, possibly using cyanide poison.

L'Osservatore, which is regarded as the semi-official mouthpiece of the Holy See, reproduced a copy of the telegram.

American officials had "dodged their grim responsibility, procrastinated when concrete rescue schemes were placed before them, and even suppressed information about atrocities," Morgenthau wrote.

When the US government was finally convinced to try to rescue European Jews who had not already been sent to concentration camps, the British baulked, the editorial said.

It cited a British Foreign Office cable that warned of "the difficulties of disposing of any considerable number of Jews should they be rescued from enemy occupied territory" and advised against allocating money for the project.

While the British and Americans prevaricated, Pius was engaged in "the only plausible and practical form of defence of the Jews and other persecuted people" by arranging for them to be hidden in monasteries, convents and other Catholic Church institutions, the newspaper claimed.

L'Osservatore said that although the Nazis rounded up and deported from Rome more than 2,000 Jews, another 10,000 were saved.

Marking the 50th anniversary of Pius's death last year, Pope Benedict XVI described him as a great pontiff who worked "secretly and silently" during the war to "save the greatest number of Jews possible".

Sir Martin Gilbert, the British historian and biographer of Winston Churchill, described in his 2001 book Auschwitz and the Allies how an underground network of European Jews had begged the RAF to bomb Auschwitz.

Churchill, who had told Anthony Eden in 1944 that the Holocaust was probably the greatest crime ever committed in human history, had given his permission for raids to go ahead.

"Yet even then a few individuals scotched the Prime Minister's directive because, as one of them put it at the time, to send British pilots to carry it out would have then risked 'valuable lives'," wrote Sir Martin.

"At that very moment, however, Allied lives were being risked to drop supplies on Warsaw during the Polish uprising and during these missions these very same pilots had actually flown over the Auschwitz region on their way to Warsaw."

*It was not an editorial - it was a bylined news report with commentary, therefore completely attributable to the person who wrote it.

In fact, in its running archive of OR articles, the OR itself classifies the article under the heading "Culture', where one can find the newspaper's daily bylined reports/commentary on art, religion, history, literature and pop culture. The other categories in the archive are The Magisterium of Benedict XVI, which includes all his textst as Pope; speeches by Cardinal Bertone; 'Editorials' by either Giovanni Maria Vian or his deputy, Carlo Di Cicco; Interviews; and 'Commentaries' which include the major Page 1 topical commentaries that the OR has published.

The archive may be consulted by clicking on the 'EDIZIONE QUOTIDIANA' line under Osservatore Romano. The links are found right below the facsimile of the day's front page.

Here is the CNS report. I find the headline faulty in that it is historical fact that the Allied governments did little to stop the Holocaust - this is not a claim made out of the blue by the Vatican more than 60 years after the fact.

It's so distrtessing that all-around journalistic sloppiness evidently afflcist even the editorial desks who it seems have been reduced to merely thinking up headlines and deciding which items to play up and how, forsaking their primary duty of enforcing objectivity, honesty, and correct information:

Vatican newspaper says Allied governments
did little to stop Holocaust

By John Thavis

VATICAN CITY, August 14 (CNS) -- In a lengthy article, the Vatican newspaper said [the correct statement is "An article by so-and-so in the Vatican newspaper said...". If you can't be punctilious abut the little things, you will also tend to be sloppy with bigger ones!], the U.S. and British governments had detailed information about the Nazi plan to exterminate European Jews during World War II, but failed to act for many months and even suppressed reports about the extent of the Holocaust.

The [article in the] newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, contrasted Allied inaction with the quiet efforts undertaken by Pope Pius XII to save as many Jews as possible through clandestine assistance.

The article, published Aug. 13 [No, August 14], reviewed historical information in support of an argument frequently made by Vatican experts: While critics have focused on Pope Pius' supposed "silence" on the Holocaust, little attention has been given to documented evidence that the U.S. and British governments ignored or minimized reports of extermination plans.

The article quotes heavily from the diary of Henry Morgenthau Jr., U.S. secretary of the treasury during the war, who said that as early as August 1942 administration officials "knew that the Nazis were planning to exterminate all the Jews of Europe."

Morgenthau cited a telegram dated Aug. 24, 1942, and passed on to the State Department, that relayed a report of Hitler's plan to kill between 3.5 million and 4 million Jews, possibly using cyanide poison. The Vatican newspaper reproduced a copy of the telegram.

Eventually, in early 1944, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt set up the War Refugee Board that was credited with saving tens of thousands of Jewish lives.

But for 18 months before then, despite increasingly alarming reports, U.S. officials "dodged their grim responsibility, procrastinated when concrete rescue schemes were placed before them, and even suppressed information about atrocities," Morgenthau wrote.

The Vatican newspaper article also cited a series of State Department orders apparently aimed at preventing reports on Nazi atrocities from reaching the public, which would have increased pressure on the administration for action.

When the U.S. government was finally convinced to begin some efforts to rescue and relocate European Jews, the British government stalled, the article said.

It cited a British Foreign Office cable that warned of "the difficulties of disposing of any considerable number of Jews should they be rescued from enemy occupied territory" and advised against allocating any funds for the project.

Morgenthau described this message as "a satanic combination of British chill and diplomatic double talk, cold and correct and adding up to a sentence of death."

The [article in the] Vatican newspaper said that, while all this was going on, in Nazi-occupied Rome Pope Pius was carrying out "the only plausible and practical form of defense of the Jews and other persecuted people" -- hiding them in various church-run institutions. In the end, although more than 2,000 Jews were deported from Rome and killed, about 10,000 Jews of Rome were saved, it said.

00Saturday, August 22, 2009 7:46 PM

When Obama quotes Scriptures:
'A contest between hope and fear'?

by Victor Davis Hanson

August 21, 2009

There is something creepy about the sudden invocation of Christian morality by the President to galvanize support for his state-run health care plan, as if his opponents are suddenly to be seen as somehow selfish or even un-Christian. This is an unfortunate, counter-productive tactic for at least four reasons:

1) The moral argument comes at the eleventh hour, rather than the first, of public debate, as if it is a desperate fall-back position intended to shame opponents who happen to think that massive state intervention will make health care worse rather than better;

2) Ironically, the religious trope would argue against the entrance of the state that would relieve citizens of their own moral responsibilities to help out family and friends in times of illness.

It is no accident that secularism, agnosticism, and atheism are strongest in socialist Europe, where the government has relieved citizens of traditional moral responsibilities emphasized by religion;

3) This contrived use of religiosity (e.g., “There are some folks out there who are frankly bearing false witness”) has a Reverend Wright flavor of mixing politics and religion in cynical fashion to bolster Obama's fides as an authentic moral figure.

But isn't the use of religion as a political tool precisely what Obama and others have objected to in the Christian Right?;

4) Rather than demonize opponents as callous and disingenuous, all the President has to do to refute their supposed scare tactics is to explicitly assure the public that abortion receives no state funds in his program, that illegal aliens are not included in his proposed new blanket coverage, and that autonomous government panels will not withhold federal health-care coverage, in the case of the elderly, on the basis of perceived cost-benefit considerations.

I think we are seeing a sort of presidential meltdown. As Obama's polls free-fall, and threaten wider political damage, it causes him a certain novel exasperation that for the first time in his life soaring hope-and-change rhetoric* for some strange reason no longer substitutes for a detailed, logical, and honest agenda.

*[I could never understand how many people I otherwise hold in high respect for their intelligence, common sense and good judgment, continue to maintain that they find Obama's rhetoric 'soaring' or 'inspiring' - never mind his obvious 'collapse' when his teleprompter fails, or there is no teleprompter because he has to answer off the cuff! It never sounded other than phony and opportunistic to me, like words said because the speaker enjoys more than anything else the ringing sound of his baritone 'oratory', which reminds me more of the declamation contests we had when I was at school, trying to outdo each other in emoting "O Captain, my Captain!" or "The Wreck of the Hesperus".]

The problem right now is not with un-Christian opponents, but dozens of congressional Democrats who simply do not wish to run on state-run medical care (as well as higher taxes, larger deficits, cap-and-trade, etc.), and no longer sense the president's popularity trumps the unpopularity of his agenda and gives them cover with the voters.

Obama plays the God card
by Andrea Tantaros

August 21, 2009

With support for his mission rapidly fleeting, President Obama is now the one with open arms asserting that if you believe in God you should believe in his policies.

It's been said that when people are experiencing trials and tribulations, they often seek a higher power. Apparently, the President is one of them.

Yesterday, in perhaps the most overtly religious move of his tenure thus far, the selectively faithful Obama preached his health care message to more than 1,000 leaders of different faiths in two conference calls, hoping they will see the light with regard to his overhaul. -- No word if Reverend Wright was on the line.

According to The LA Times:

"The effort, known as '40 Days for Health Reform,' features a national television ad, prayer rallies, meetings in congressional districts where lawmakers are waffling and a nationwide 'sermon weekend' at the end of August. The push also aims to influence leaders in the Jewish faith before the fall religious holidays."

I suppose grassroots organizing isn't so bad when you have the guy upstairs on your side. Take that, town hall evildoers!

"We are God's partners in matters of life and death," Obama said during the call with Jewish leaders, according to Washington Rabbi Jack Moline via Twitter.

Translation: Seeee, America?? It's just you and the man upstairs. No death panels!

Further, Pastor Obama said that many were "bearing false witness" and took a shot at his opposition calling the pushback to date: "fabrications that have been put out there in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation: that is that we look out for one another, that I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper. In the wealthiest nation on earth right now, we are neglecting to live up to that call.

If Obama wants to be his brother's keeper, shouldn't he start with his own family?

So much has been made over Obama's religion it's an interesting turn of events that he has strategically decided to channel biblical references in hopes of turning believers into believing in his plan.

But will this theme of holy health care stick? When it comes to messages on universal health reform, Obama has been all over the map.

He initially argued it was a moral imperative, then quickly shifted to an economic imperative that reform would save costs.

When the Congressional Budget Office debunked that theory saying the plan would actually raise costs, the White House pivoted yet again to a political imperative: demonizing the big insurance companies.

Now with his plan and poll numbers in peril, he's back to embracing the moral dimension to this discussion in the hopes of a political miracle.

But what exactly are Obama's morals? Defend the weakest or reward the dumbest? Obama paints a picture of an indigenous mass of nomads, but the Congressional Budget Office projects that among the uninsured in 2009, 17 percent have family income above 300 percent of the poverty level (about $65,000 for a family of four); 18 percent are eligible for (but not enrolled) in Medicaid; and 30 percent are offered (but decline) coverage from an employer.

Isn't it their moral duty to get coverage, rather than have others foot the bill for those who make bad decisions? And isn't our moral duty to try and cover them first before strapping future generations into massive debt? Can I get an amen for personal responsibility?

Not long ago Obama criticized those who "cling" to their religion as dthey do to their guns.

With support for his mission rapidly fleeting, he's now the one with open arms asserting that if you believe in God you should believe in his policies. I guess in times of adversity, it's acceptable to use a Hail Mary to get us to cling to him.

I must admit I had shivers down the spine when I saw a newscrawl - I still mute the TV automatically whenever it shows Obama actually speaking - saying Obama had denounced opponents of his over-reaching but still nebulous and amorphous (deliberately so, I think, to facilitate 'deniability' and a broad range of possible itnerpretations, much as some language in Vatican-II decrees) healthcare form proposal as 'bearing false witness'!

(One commentator even pointed out that the statement came on the heels of Cardinal Rigali's latest letter to Congress re-stating the Church's opposition to any attempt that would legislate abortion and euthanasia directly or indirectly!)

For calling attention to actual provisions found in various versions of the bill considered by the US House of representatives that provide, among other things, for federal funding of abortion programs and for government panels that will meet with people over 65 every five years to explain less costly alternatives to health care than keeping them alive, to put it in blunt terms.

For one, a House committee recently voted down an amendment that would have specifically prohibited mandated government funding of abortion on demand - the reason for the specific ban being that under the law, anything that is not specifically banned is considered to be allowed. In this case, Democrats and liberals understand the term 'health care' it to include 'reproductive health', which in their lexicon means contraception, abortion and all kinds of assisted reproduction.

As to the second item - what Sarah Palin has bluntly called 'death panels' - it appears to be a reasonable inference from the estreme rhetoric on record of Obama's principla health care advisers.

They have made no secret of their belief that in order to control health care costs, government should make decisions about how much to spend and on which patients, on the basis of what they call QARY for 'quality-adjusted remaining years' which, in effect, determine a person's 'functionality' or 'usefulness' in society based on his age and state of health.

This basically means that the older, disease- or disability-encumbered person is considered expendable in favor of younger, healthy citizens. It's but a step from that to the Nazi program of purging German society of all physical and mental incompetents along with the non-Aryans (Jews).

So who, Mr. Obama, is bearing false witness here?

The sad part is that although a few mainstream commentators are now less uninhibited in public by citing the many and obvious instances of Obama contradicting himself repeatedly and stating patent falsehoods with a straight face, people have yet to come out and say openly, "You, Mr. President, for all your high-flown rhetorical tricks, are nothing but a liar" - a case which his over-documented campaign and presidency makes it very easy to prove.

This emperor has no new clothes! He's dressed in the same tawdry robes of generations of politicians before him ,who have only known to say what is politiclaly expedient for the moment, and would not recognize the truth even if they stumbled against it all the time!

Fortunately, many Americans are realizing that now. Better late than never.

Obamacare: Are we really
God’s partners in life and death?

by Wesley Smith

Thursday, August 20, 2009

President Obama said something yesterday that, given the brouhaha over death panels and health care rationing, might not have been prudent.

A reader points out that President Obama’s call with the rabbis today — as recorded in Rabbi Jack Moline’s and other clerics‘ Twitter feeds — freights health care reform with a great deal of religious meaning, and veers into the blend of policy and faith that outraged liberals in the last administration.

“We are God’s partners in matters of life and death,” Obama said, according to Moline (paging Sarah Palin…), quoting from the Rosh Hashanah prayer that says that in the holiday period, it is decided “who shall live and who shall die.”

That comes off as a bit hubristic to me and will bring back the jokes about our president’s messiah complex.

I’m not Jewish, but my understanding of that quote is that the Being doing the deciding is God, not us in partnership with the Almighty.

In any event, the worry is that Obama wants government to decide who lives and who dies through rationing boards. I am sure he didn’t intend to, but I think he just added a small log onto that particular fire.

00Saturday, August 22, 2009 11:11 PM

Days for Life prepares
fall campaign in 209 cities

Washington D.C., Aug 21, 2009 (CNA) - The 40 Days for Life campaign is preparing for the launch of its fall campaign in 209 cities in 45 U.S. states, five Canadian provinces and Denmark.

The campaign is to take place from September 23 to November 1. The community-based campaign involves 40 days of prayer and fasting for an end to abortion, 24/7 peaceful vigils outside abortion facilities, and grassroots educational outreach.

David Bereit, national director of 40 Days for Life, said the organization was “incredibly encouraged to see record numbers of people in cities across America willing to take a stand.”

He added that participants will “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves and seek God's protection for innocent children in the womb -- and mothers -- at risk of abortion.”

Bereit said the campaign takes place at a time when abortion advocates are trying to “exploit” the current health care reform debate to mandate taxpayer funding for abortion.

Bereit is also working with the Stop the Abortion Mandate coalition, which successfully urged more than 36,000 Americans to voice their opposition to what the coalition characterized as an abortion mandate in health care reform proposals.

The 40 Days for Life website is at
00Sunday, August 23, 2009 7:59 PM


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!'


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.

Another end-of-life item:

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

by Weena Kowitwanij

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."

00Wednesday, August 26, 2009 1:25 AM

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

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:

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.

00Friday, August 28, 2009 5:42 PM
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.

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.

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.

00Wednesday, September 2, 2009 2:37 AM

Three cheers and all our prayers for Archbishop Wuerl!

DC Archbishop ramps up
Church opposition to gay marriage

By Tim Craig

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."

00Wednesday, September 2, 2009 3:23 AM

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

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.

00Wednesday, September 9, 2009 6:06 PM

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

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.

00Wednesday, September 9, 2009 10:57 PM

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:

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!

00Friday, September 11, 2009 10:02 PM

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.


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.


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.


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.

00Tuesday, September 15, 2009 7:01 PM


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.

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

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 Editor

Owosso, MI, Sept. 11 ( -- 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 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.

00Wednesday, September 23, 2009 1:22 PM
Funeral Rites, like communion, should be denied
to openly pro-abortion Catholics,
says Archbishop Burke

By Kathleen Gilbert

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.

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 21, 2009 ( - In an address to'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.

Questa è la versione 'lo-fi' del Forum Per visualizzare la versione completa click here
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