Saturday, November 29, 2008

This is from "Jesuits Make a Great Political Candidate" - byline: Deal Hudson.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Evil in Mumbai

Please pray for the people and the city of Mumbai, India. Over 100 people are dead, thrice that number are wounded, and the city is beseiged. The terrorist authors of these attacks are members of the Deccan Mujahideen. Ask St. George, patron of men in arms, to intercede in behalf of the police and Indian army forces battling the terrorists, that God might steel their hearts and keep them in charity as they employ force to restore order . Pray that the Blessed Virgin intercede in behalf of the evildoers, that her Son pour His grace into the the evildoers, converting their hearts and bringing them to the pardon and peace His Most Holy Cross has won for all humanity.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Archbishop John C. Nienstedtof Minneapolis-St. Paul is proposing a ground-up re-catechesis regarding the Sacrament of Christian Penance. It began in the Nov. 5 issue of the Archdiocesan Paper, the Catholic Spirit.

Hat tip to Fr. Zuhlsdorf at WDTPRS, where there is good discussion underway.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The FOCA Points

Here are the FOCA talking points I was talking about:

The following points are based on the language of the Senate version of FOCA (S.1173) as it was introduced during the first session of the 110th Congress. Again, they are not likely to be new to fellow pro-lifers, but the way I treat of them below may be useful to everyone involved in the larger national discussion. This, at least is my hope.
  1. FOCA does not respect the moral agency of medical professionals, even as it makes the moral authority of individuals seeking abortions absolute.
  2. FOCA would reduce the states' power to regulate the practice of medicine (one of the most basic police powers); FOCA also tends to erode states' authority to regulate the medical profession.
Before entering upon direct treatment of the two points let me say that I am pleased and reassured to discover, by reading the FOCA's preamble, that the authors and sponsors and co-sponsors are motivated in proposing the legislation by so scrupulous a concern for the protection of what they believe to be citizens' legitimate rights under the US Constitution.

Pro-lifers disagree basically with the sponsors' understanding of the Constitution, and the terms of the basic disagreement are so well known to all interlocutors, that there is no reason to rehearse them here.

Though there is basic disagreement regarding the proper interpretation of the Constitution, we can be pleased to share a desire to see that it be properly applied in every particular. It is in this confidence that I now address the first point.

Section 4b (1) & (2) of FOCA make it virtually impossible for states to restrict abortion in any way, shape or form. In proposing to grant women effectively unlimited access to abortion, the legislators are motivated by a concern that "[I]ndividuals are free to make their most intimate decisions without governmental interference and discrimination. [@2.(1)]" This concern of the bill's proponents is a consequence of their belief that, "The United States was founded on core principles, such as liberty, personal privacy, and equality."It is with this last, equality, that I am presently concerned.

The bill, in short, is designed to protect certain citizens' rights to act according to conscience. In effect, the bill would guarantee this right to one class of citizens, namely women, by denying it to another, namely medical professionals. Pro-life doctors are no less conscientiously motivated in their refusal to perform abortions, than are women who seek abortions. To require a doctor to perform abortions as a condition of his practice of the medical profession at all (and this would be the effect, or a direct consequence, of the current language of the bill), is precisely to deny doctors the right, "to make their most intimate decisions without governmental interference and discrimination." This is precisely the right, the exercise of which by a certain class of citizens the bill is designed to protect. So the FOCA is what Martin Luther King, jr. called in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, "an inequality made legal."

Without clear exemptions for those medical professionals conscientiously opposed to abortion, the FOCA will be unjust, as the plain language of the bill itself amply attests.

The second point deserves more fulsome treatment than I am presently at liberty to give. I would only say that the power to regulate the practice of the medical profession is an important element of states' police power. To curtail it in one or another particular is to create or stregthen a tendency to erode states' power, in favor of the federal power. This tendency, if it is not arrested, will finish in the annihilation of the states. Our system of government is based on the preservation of a dynamic equilibrium between the states and the federal government. The FOCA would not be a momentary shift, something tidal; it would represent a sea change; it would permanently unbalance the powers.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Some FOCA Talking Points

Apologies to all, as thoughts have been percolating for a week, now. I will have a much larger discussion of the FOCA very shortly, but for now, I can offer only the following skeletal remarks.

Earlier this week I posted the Open Letter originally posted at vox nova, in which the signatories (and this blogger is one of them) call on president-elect Obama to enter into dialogue and reconsider his support for the so-called Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA).

As a contribution to the hoped-for conversation, I propose two points for consideration.

The points are not likely to be new to pro-life readers, though they might be phrased in a way that is new and interesting to our interlocutors, and here I would like to pause and say something I think bears repeated mention: stopping FOCA requires that we find common ground with those who currently support the legislation. If we do not come down from our moral high horse and start talking political sense in civil tones, no one will take us seriously. We need also to start listening: many people support abortion becuase they think such things as the achievement of womens' equality and independence, and/or the reduction of poverty, suffering, etc., depend upon the availability of legal abortion. We believe they are profoundly wrong in thinking so, but before they will care about the merits of our position regarding abortion, they need to know that we not only recognize the legitimacy of their aspirations, but actively share them.

I am not talking about moral compromise, here. There can be none of that. I am saying that there needs to be a return to empathic civility in the national discourse.

Think about it like this: when Joe and Mary Abortion Supporter call you a benighted, backward, intolerant medieval mysogynist, all before, "hello!" are you tempted to give them the time of day?

Points to come...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

US Catholics' Open Letter to Pres-Elect Obama

This was originally posted at Vox nova

Hat-tip to Fr. Zuhlsdorf of WDTPRS

November 14, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama,

As American Catholics, we, the undersigned, would like to reiterate the congratulations given to you by Pope Benedict XVI. We will be praying for you as you undertake the office of President of the United States.

Wishing you much good will, we hope we will be able to work with you, your administration, and our fellow citizens to move beyond the gridlock which has often harmed our great nation in recent years. Too often, partisan politics has hampered our response to disaster and misfortune. As a result of this, many Americans have become resentful, blaming others for what happens instead of realizing our own responsibilities. We face serious problems as a people, and if we hope to overcome the crises we face in today’s world, we should make a serious effort to set aside the bitterness in our hearts, to listen to one another, and to work with one another

One of the praiseworthy elements of your campaign has been the call to end such partisanship. You have stated a desire to engage others in dialogue. With you, we believe that real achievement comes not through the defamation of one’s opponents, nor by amassing power and using it merely as a tool for one’s own individual will. We also believe dialogue is essential. We too wish to appeal to the better nature of the nation. We want to encourage people to work together for the common good. Such action can and will engender trust. It may change the hearts of many, and it might alter the path of our nation, shifting to a road leading to a better America. We hope this theme of your campaign is realized in the years ahead.

One of the critical issues which currently divides our nation is abortion. As you have said, no one is for abortion, and you would agree to limit late-term abortions as long as any bill which comes your way allows for exceptions to those limits, such as when the health of the mother is in jeopardy. You have also said you would like to work on those social issues which cause women to feel as if they have a need for an abortion, so as to reduce the actual number of abortions being performed in the United States.

Indeed, you said in your third presidential debate, “But there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say, ‘We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby.’”

As men and women who oppose abortion and embrace a pro-life ethic, we want to commend your willingness to engage us in dialogue, and we ask that you live up to your promise, and engage us on this issue.

There is much we can do together. There is much that we can do to help women who find themselves in difficult situations so they will not see abortion as their only option. There is much which we can do to help eliminate those unwanted pregnancies which lead to abortion.

One of your campaign promises is of grave concern to many pro-life citizens. On January 22, 2008, the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, when speaking of the current right of women in America to have abortions, you said, “And I will continue to defend this right by passing the Freedom of Choice Act as president.”

The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) might well undermine your engagement of pro-life Americans on the question of abortion. It might hamper any effort on your part to work with us to limit late-term abortions. We believe FOCA does more than allow for choice. It may force the choice of a woman upon others, and make them morally complicit in such choice. One concern is that it would force doctors and hospitals which would otherwise choose not to perform abortions to do so, even if it went against their sacred beliefs. Such a law would undermine choice, and might begin the process by which abortion is enforced as a preferred option, instead of being one possible choice for a doctor to practice.

It is because of such concern we write. We urge you to engage us, and to dialogue with us, and to do so before you consider signing this legislation. Let us reason together and search out the implications of FOCA. Let us carefully review it and search for contradictions of those positions which we hold in common.
If FOCA can be postponed for the present, and serious dialogue begun with us, as well as with those who disagree with us, you will demonstrate that your administration will indeed be one that rises above partisanship, and will be one of change. This might well be the first step toward resolving an issue which tears at the fabric of our churches, our political process, our families, our very society, and that causes so much hardship and heartache in pregnant women.

Likewise, you have also recently stated you might over-ride some of President G.W. Bush’s executive orders. This is also a concern to us. We believe doing so without having a dialogue with the American people would undermine the political environment you would like to establish. Among those issues which concern us are those which would use taxpayer money to support actions we find to be morally questionable, such as embryonic stem cell research, or to fund international organizations that would counsel women to have an abortion (this would make abortion to be more than a mere choice, but an encouraged activity).

Consider, sir, your general promise to the American people and set aside particular promises to a part of your constituency. This would indicate that you plan to reject politics as usual. This would indeed be a change we need.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Some Thoughts on the USCCB Fall Meeting

The following are some thoughts regarding the Fall Meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). They are specifically concerned with Francis CARD. George's statement on the election of Barack Obama, and CARD. George's speech to the plenary assembly, largely concerned with the same issue. My approach is thematic (I shall move between the texts, treating them organically).

The first thing that catches my attention is the care that the Cardinal takes to strike the proper tone, even as he directs the attention of his audience to the substance of their business. He quotes the Holy Father, and more broadly cites Pope Benedict's treatment of Ps. 118, the 89th verse of which reads In aeternum, Domine, verbum tuum constitutum est in caelo / in generationem et generationem / veritas tua firmasti terram, et permanet.

This reminds his listeners that they are about divine things, and need to be guided by God in their doings, for it is He, who has entrusted them with their tasks (indeed, they have tasks, and not hobbies, preceisely because God has given them to perform). It reminds them of the consequence, the pitch and moment, of the transactions they are about to undertake. It tells them that he is seriously about serious business, as are they. At the same time, it is an expression of hope: whatever difficulties, whatever challenges, whatever powers, earthly or preternatural, are or might be arrayed against them, the Word of God is fixed and sustains all things in Heaven and on Earth.

Cardinal George then places the work of the bishops in temporal context. The bishops are gathered in the interim between a presidential election and the inauguration:
Symbolically, this is a moment that touches more than our history when a country that once enshrined race slavery in its very constitutional order should come to elect an African American to the presidency. In this, I truly believe, we must all rejoice. We must also hope that President [sic] Obama succeed in his task, for the good of all. The odds against success are formidable. We are internally divided and, in a global order, we will be less the masters of our economic and political fate. Nevertheless, we can rejoice today with those who, following heroic figures like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., were part of a movement to bring our country’s civil rights, our legal order, into better accord with universal human rights, God’s order. Among so many people of good will, dutiful priests and loving religious women, bishops and lay people of the Catholic Church who took our social doctrine to heart then can feel vindicated now. Their successors remain, especially among those who quietly give their lives to teaching and forming good and joyful children in Catholic schools in African American and other minority communities.
Cardinal George first recognizes the significance of Obama's election, for the United States and for the larger human community. He notes the need for prayer, especially in light of the obstacles facing the nation: internal division; global economic crisis; international political uncertainty in part created by and sustained by 'globalization'.

What follows deserves close attention. The Cardinal's invocation of Martin Luther King and the heritage of the movement he championed correctly identifies the spirit of that movement; it even alludes to Dr. King's own interpretation of his mission in and for America. In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Dr. King writes:
A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an "I it" relationship for an "I thou" relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man's tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.
Jim Crow was not unjust because of some formal or procedural irregularity in the way it was implemented; it was unjust because it was a positive enshrinement in law of an incorrect understanding of the human person and therefore of the constitution of society (N.B. I mean "constitution" here, not in the positive legal sense of "fundamental law" but in the basic sense of the word that is more closely linked to the Latin constituor from which the English is derived). Plessy v. Ferguson was, as a matter of fact, bad Constitutional law. The Supreme Court was able to make bad law in 1897 because of the lingering social disorder that, in its heyday, produced the 1857 Dred Scott decision, about which Cardinal Goerge had the following to say:
If the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision that African Americans were other people’s property and somehow less than persons were still settled constitutional law, Mr. Obama would not be president of the United States. Today, as was the case a hundred and fifty years ago, common ground cannot be found by destroying the common good.
It is important to note here that Chief Justice Roger B. Tawney's decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford was arguably a correct interpretation of the Constitution of the United States as it was in 1857. Dred led many opponents of slavery to realize that there was no way to achieve national conciliation under the Constitution, and it led many proponents of slavery to realize that their way of life depended on the continuous expansion of the institution at its base. It was, in short, a catalyst of civil war.

The implications for the present crisis in our national conscience are palpable: abortion is evil, as slavery is evil, and attempts to force national unity by treating Roe simply as settled law must fail. Roe is not really sustainable on its merits (as Plessy was not), and continued reinforcement of it will lead to a situation practically the same as that, which obtained in 1857. Take another historical parallel: there was a worldwide financial crisis in 1857, the effects of which were still being strongly felt in the 1860 election. Take this with Americans' verifiable historical tendency to conduct rigorous moral introspection and inventory when they are faced with serious economic adversity, and the timeliness of Cardinal George's remarks becomes soberingly, even frighteningly unquestionable.

In sum, the Cardinal President of the USCCB is saying that the President-elect's pro-abortion stance seriously curtails and quite possibly impeaches his standing to claim the magnificent heritage of America's civil rights movement, and threatens to exacerbate the division present today in American society to such a point, that only violent arbitration might make remedy possible.

Cardinal George is also at pains to make it clear that we are not yet arrived at such a point: we have already seen how he has praised the President-elect's historic achievement, and promised to work with the new administration in all areas where common endeavor is possible. This is extremely important: Catholics have a duty to be engaged in the political process, now more than ever - the Church is not merely on the planet, it is in the world; they have a right to be engaged in the political process precisely as Catholics - on their their way to the public square, Catholics need not, indeed they must not hang their faith on the coat rack by their houses' front doors:
On this issue, the legal protection of the unborn, the bishops are of one mind with Catholics and others of good will. They are also pastors who have listened to women whose lives have been diminished because they believed they had no choice but to abort a baby. Abortion is a medical procedure that kills, and the psychological and spiritual consequences are written in the sorrow and depression of many women and men. The bishops are single-minded because they are, first of all, single-hearted.
The recent election was principally decided out of concern for the economy, for the loss of jobs and homes and financial security for families, here and around the world. If the election is misinterpreted ideologically as a referendum on abortion, the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve. Abortion kills not only unborn children; it destroys constitutional order and the common good, which is assured only when the life of every human being is legally protected. Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion.
Cardinal George's statements are erudite, balanced, pastorally sensitive and nuanced, while at the same time clear, powerful and uncompromising on the fundamental issues of morality, which have always been at the heart of the American mind, and have always informed our quest for freedom: a quest that, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, "From the dawn of the republic...has been guided by the conviction that the principles governing political and social life are intimately linked to a moral order based on the dominion of God the Creator."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Diocese of Charleston Responds to Fr Newman

The Catholic Diocese of CHarleston has issued a statement in response to Fr. Jay Scott Newman's Nov 9 letter in the parish bulletin (v. infra). Below the text, with my comments to follow:

Statement of Monsignor Martin T. Laughlin
Administrator of the Diocese of Charleston

CHARLESTON, S.C. (November 14, 2008) - This past week, the Catholic Church’s clear, moral teaching on the evil of abortion has been pulled into the partisan political arena. The recent comments of Father Jay Scott Newman, pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Greenville, S.C., have diverted the focus from the Church’s clear position against abortion. As Administrator of the Diocese of Charleston, let me state with clarity that Father Newman’s statements do not adequately reflect the Catholic Church’s teachings. Any comments or statements to the contrary are repudiated.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions.” The Catechism goes on to state: “In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path; we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord’s Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church.”

Christ gives us freedom to explore our own conscience and to make our own decisions while adhering to the law of God and the teachings of the faith. Therefore, if a person has formed his or her conscience well, he or she should not be denied Communion, nor be told to go to confession before receiving Communion.

The pulpit is reserved for the Word of God. Sometimes God’s truth, as is the Church’s teaching on abortion, is unpopular. All Catholics must be aware of and follow the teachings of the Church.
We should all come together to support the President-elect and all elected officials with a view to influencing policy in favor of the protection of the unborn child. Let us pray for them and ask God to guide them as they take the mantle of leadership on January 20, 2009.

I ask also for your continued prayers for me and for the Diocese of Charleston.


Fr. Newman's statement was a sincere and pastorally zealous, albeit theologically incorrect misapplication of the Church's authority to teach and discipline.

This statement is... oh, Lord, help us. More to follow.

Doings at St. Mary's, Greenville

It seems the pastor there, Fr. Newman, who made some controversial and, in the opinion of this blogger, imprecise statements regarding behavior at the polling station and worthiness to receive communion, has revised and expanded his comments. I cannot open the full text of his revision. Does anyone have a copy of the full text?

Friday, November 14, 2008

SC Priest: no communion for Obama supporters

I originally posted this at Fr. Zuhlsdorf's place, where he has a gloss of the piece in question.

Fr. Newman’s preamble is perhaps the best statement of the status questionis that I have seen anywhere (this fellow has also read his A. MacIntyre, it seems). In part II, Fr. Newman shows that pastoral sensitivity needs “anatomy” in order to be really effective, and that filial piety is perfectly compatible, indeed a prerequisite of the true and responsible exercise of human freedom.

The formulation of (I), however, is theologically imprecise and misrepresents the standing doctrine on the matter, as articulated in then Card. Ratzinger’s 2004 response. I do not question Fr.’s good faith, and I am in broad agreement with his statements. Nevertheless, as a strict, technical matter, (I) is incorrect, as the following shall demonstrate:

1. (I) begins with the words, “Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exits constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil”. This formulation presents two difficulties, to wit: a) voting for a pro-choice candidate is always co-operation with evil, regardless of whether there is a “plausible” pro-life candidate. Thus, the formulation gives the false impression that the moral status of the act is not only possibly conditioned, but entirely established by circumstance, and this is false. b) while voting for a pro-choice candidate is always to co-operate with evil, there are different kinds of co-operation. There is formal co-operation, direct material co-operation, and remote material co-operation. In the voting booth, the kind of co-operation in which one engages by pulling the lever for a pro-choice candidate is determined by the reason, and the moral reasoning process that has brought one to the judgment that informs the act. E.G. if one votes for pro-choice candidate N because of N’s pro-choice stance, then one formally co-operates in evil and should not present oneself for Holy Communion. If one votes for N despite N’s pro-choice stance, then one engages in remote material co-operation, and remote material co-operation is morally permissible in the presence of proportionate reasons. Further, and most importantly, the judgment regarding the presence of proportionate reasons is one of prudence, a judgment that each individual must make, by exercising his practical reason; while conscience informs practical reason, it does not substitute it.

There are certainly grounds for disagreeing with the prudential judgment of people who voted for president-elect Obama; no such grounds, however well established, can provide a window into the conscience.

From the preceding, it follows that Fr. Newman’s conclusion is unwarranted. It does not follow that, “Catholics who [vote for pro-choice candidates, etc.] place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law.”

That, “Persons in this condition [outside the full communion, etc.] should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation,” is certainly true. Church teaching does not warrant Fr. Newman’s sweeping judgment, however, as a correct application of the pertinent principles of moral reasoning informed by Catholic faith shows.

Good Folks at OSV

OSV editor John Norton has sent me the link to Msgr. Francis Mannion's column, with which I took issue below. Mr. Norton has also opened the column to non-subscribers. I am very grateful to him.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Apologies to Msgrs. Owen Campion and Francis Mannion

In my last post, I mis-identified Msgr. Francis Mannion as Msgr. Owen Campion. Msgr. Owen Campion is the associate publisher of OSV. Msgr Francis Mannion is the author of the column with which I took issue. My profuse apologies to both Monsignor Campion and Monsignor Mannion.

Blogging delayed...

by the realities of a day job and the exigencies of marriage, fatherhood, authorship, PhD candidacy, etc. I will have something up by the weekend regarding the USCCB Fall mtg.

At present, there is only one brief thing: in the Nov. 9 edition of Our Sunday Visitor, the intelligent, pastorally sensitive and usually well-informed Msgr. Francis Mannion misrepresents both the SSPX and Summorum pontificum. He calls the SSPX a "schismatic society", which is contrary to the painstaking Sept. statement of the PCED, something Fr. Zuhlsdorf has addressed on several occasions over the years.

Secondly, and most importantly, Msgr. Mannion says that, in SP, Pope Benedict, "[E]xpresses hope that, in each diocese, there will be one parish," dedicated to the use of the old books. While strictly not incorrect (per art. 10 of SP), the statement is a clear misrepresentation of the intention of SP, as explained in the text of the document (esp. artt. 4&5), the pope's letter explanatory, and the repeated interventions of PCED head, Card. Hoyos (just a few treatments, for taste).

OSV circulates widely among important Catholic demographics. This blogger will write to Msgr. Mannion, asking that he correct the imprecise language of his column, which, once again, is usually unexcptionable, and not rarely helpful to its target audience.

Monday, November 10, 2008

An Historical Note...and more...

From Cardinal George's Address (the exordium):

In working for the common good of our society, racial justice is one pillar of our social doctrine. Economic justice, especially for the poor both here and abroad, is another. But the Church comes also and always and everywhere with the memory, the conviction, that the Eternal Word of God became man, took flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, nine months before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. This truth is celebrated in our liturgy because it is branded into our spirit. The common good can never be adequately incarnated in any society when those waiting to be born can be legally killed at choice. If the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision that African Americans were other people’s property and somehow less than persons were still settled constitutional law, Mr. Obama would not be president of the United States. Today, as was the case a hundred and fifty years ago, common ground cannot be found by destroying the common good.

It was not academic discussion, nor was it legal erudition, that changed the state of constitutional law. It was civil war.
Lots of work, and no time to post on the 1000 things I'd like to discuss. Sincere thanks to the USMC, and especial gratitude to the families of Marines. HooRah!

Congrats to Clayton on 5 years of blogging.

Now it's back to the mines...

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Bloggers' solidarity

From Fr. Zuhlsdorf:

Everyone… please consider giving American Papist a lift today.

He is trying to win a college scholarship for bloggers, to pay his loans.

I think WDTPRSers could give him a boost.

This will cost you nothing but a few seconds of your time.

Go HERE and vote for Thomas Peters, who runs the American Papist site.

He is a good kid trying to do good work.

We Catholic bloggers have to stick together and not just play in our own little sandboxes.

Working together, linking and helping each other, makes us a more effective force in shaping the conversation.
The following is from Mark Shea, midweek last week:

David Bereit, the Director of 40 Days for Life, writes:
I have a VERY important announcement at the end of this message, but first some GREAT news!

On a day when many are stressed about elections, I just heard from one of our 40 Days for Life local campaign leaders who is bouncing off the walls with the exciting news that the abortion facility that was the focus of their campaign over these last 40 days is CLOSING!!

The "Space Available" real estate sign was put in front of the building on Thursday -- day 37 of the campaign. Yesterday, the local leader confirmed with the real estate company that the abortionist is shutting the business down for good.

We will have more details, including the location, as soon as the facility is closed -- which should happen very soon. But I knew you'd want to know that your prayers have produced an amazing result!

And another INCREDIBLE victory: as reports continue to roll in from around the country about the impact of the 40 Days for Life campaign that just ended, the number of confirmed lives saved during the 40 days is...


This number surpasses the previous total for all earlier 40 Days for Life campaigns COMBINED!

The total number of lives saved through 40 Days for Life, from 2004 in College Station, Texas, through today, has now topped 1,000. Amazing, isn't it?

Let's praise the Lord for what He has done!

Amen and amen!
Does anybody have more about this group? Photos, maybe, or a Mission Statement?
My friend, Clayton, at the Weight of Glory strikes the right tone in saying the right things:

After a long and difficult election season, I think it's only just to take a moment to congratulate our president-elect. I didn't vote for him, and I disagree with him fundamentally on many issues, but I do respect him, will pray for him, and am ready to lend my support to any initiatives that are truly worthy of the human person.

I think Mark Shea's post gets it right.

The ascendancy of an African-American to the presidency is an historic achievement. So is the ability to mobilize so much energy and vision in a cynical age.

Congratulations, Barack Obama. And God bless America.

I really think more of this can only help the cause of life, even if it means individual pro-lifers going without the momentary rush that accompanies an expression of moral outrage.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Unbounded scientific genius

I saw this wire story on the Yahoo! news service. Get the lede:
Brain scans of teens with a history of aggressive bullying behavior suggest that they may actually get pleasure out of seeing someone else in pain, U.S. researchers said on Friday.

Thanks, O wise and powerful people of science.

Friday, November 07, 2008

FOCA and the Conscience of the King

Fr. Zuhlsdorf has posted another excellent homily by Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City, Mo. Click here for Fr. Zuhlsdorf's gloss.

I am in substantial agreement with both men regarding the gravity of the present situation. I take issue, however, with Bishop Finn's use of the biblical "Woe to those," construction. He says:

Woe to those, particularly Catholics, who dare to try to convince us that their “choice” of a radically pro-abortion leader is within the parameters of conscience
I simply do not know that a vote for a pro-choice candidate, even for a "radically pro-abortion" candidate, is evil on its face. I certainly do not accept that no one may ever conscientiously vote for a pro-choice candidate, however careful the justification must be (cf. Ratzinger, 2004).

What we can always say to anyone thinking of voting for a pro-choice candidate is:

Abortion is the single greatest issue facing our country. It is not simply one issue among many. It is the moral challenge of this generation, upon the outcome of which the survival and success of our civilization depends. A vote for N will make it easier and cheaper to get an abortion. A vote for N means a vote for a candidate who would use public funds to accommodate women bent on ripping the living flesh of their very own children from their wombs. Think on this carefully, before you vote.

Beyond this, there is nothing we can surely always say, for the circumstances and combinations of circumstances to be encountered in life are of such infinite variety that we cannot say for certain that x,y,z will always, or never obtain, and we certainly cannot know enough about the moral, spiritual and intellectual circumstances of every individual; it follows that we cannot make sweeping generalizations about conscience.

Please understand that I am not denying the objectivity of the moral order. Right is right and wrong is wrong and it is always wrong deliberately to take innocent life.

I do not disagree with the principle; I am concerned with the application of it.

There is to be no formal cooperation with evil. There may be remote material cooperation with evil, as the man who became Pope Benedict XVI explained in 2004:

A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.

One may argue that there are no proportionate reasons that could justify a vote for N in a given election, but that is an argument that must be made. Statement is not argument.

There is, further, an important difference, the distinction of which Bishop Finn's and, I think, Fr. Zuhlsdorf's application of the principle tends at least to blur and possibly to destroy: the difference between the character of an act and the moral/spiritual condition of the actor. If I shoot at an intruder in the dark of night, only to discover my son lying dead at my feet when I turn on the light, there has been a tragic accident, and not a murder. Similarly, I can believe there are proportionate reasons to justify voting for N, and be wrong, and still act in good conscience.

There is a further, dangerous consequence to the application of the principle, namely, the loss of the ability to be engaged in the political process and in social life generally. If the distinctions among formal, direct and remote material cooperation are lost, then we lose the ability to distinguish among, e.g. giving money to Catholics for a Free Choice, on the one hand, and using Microsoft products on the other; between giving money to Planned Parenthood, on the one hand, and watching Turner Classic Movies, on the other.

It may be that the time has come for total disengagement from all things that are supportive in any way of the agenda of the culture of death. If that time has come, then I am sinning now in writing this and you are in reading it.

I rather think it is time for fuller engagement in the political process. FOCA can be defeated, if we write to our Congressmen and women, if we educate the public about the nuts and bolts of abortion, if we help people think critically about the positions they hold.

This last is of paramount importance. Many of the pro-life movement's most ardent supporters came to be so by or after shedding a lukewarm, uncritical pro-choice stance that is the default position of so many people, especially young people. In short, they did not realize how little they really knew about abortion, and had not thought all the way through the implications of their stance. It was only after beginning to question their position that they came to recognize it as untenable, and in almost every story I have ever heard from a convert of this kind to the cause, the conversion began when a pro-lifer gently and insistently and patiently challenged the merits of the lukewarm pro-choicer's position.

In fine, we can explain to people how mistaken, how wrong, and even how morally awful their positions are, without demonizing the people who hold such positions. If we begin with demonization, we cannto hope to have people listen to us. We need to make ourselves heard and understood. To hear and understand the pro-life position in its fullness is to know its truth and rightness. Only when people have come to such understanding and knowledge, can they, can we, make real moral choices.

THe Nanny State is Getting Closer

This story about "bullying" in the workplace is a little upsetting. It is so because we are talking about grown-ups, who ought to know differently, and better.

The men and women of America's founding generation knew that the kind of government they erected for themselves and their posterity is one that only "fits" with a certain kind of person. It is government for free men, that is, government for men capable of freedom.

I really wonder whether grown men and women who are concerned about "bullying" are the kinds of men and women for whom the founders designed their government.

Something Truly Appalling

The news from Fr. Zuhlsdorf is that the screen grab he posted Wednesday pictures DC university students "celebrating" outside the White House in the presence, it seems, of a Soviet flag.

This is the sort of cognitive dissonance that one sees in Europe all the time. I remember the shock I felt when I saw my first May Day concert up close: the Stars and Stripes mutilated so that it was the Swastikas and Stripes, or Old Glory sullied by the European symbol for the toilet (WC) in the field; young men and women clad in army fatigues, Che t-shirts and Khefias, waving the rainbow flag of peace; sometimes, this last would be flying next to a red flag with the hammer and sickle blazon.

I promise it is so jarring as to make one nauseated. I knew then, however, that most European secular "education" is really no education at all, but indoctrination, preparation for slavery. I already knew that students here are systematically rendered incapable of critical and creative thought. As regards the moral sense, the class struggle blunts it to the point of uselessness. I knew all this about European students.

The idea that someone, anyone, could so much as think of carrying such a flag to a street march in the United States, is frankly outrageous. To think that these were university students is chilling. I hope president-elect Obama makes it clear he can do without such 'support'.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

leitourgia kosmika

The formidable Sandro Magister has written the preface to a collection of homilies delivered by Pope Beneidct XVI. The English version of his preface is on his website. Hat tip to Amy Welborn.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Lazy Disciple on Barack Obama's Election

President-elect Barack Obama has achieved something truly historic. He is the first black president of the United States; he is the son of an immigrant. There is much that is American in his story.

I congratulate President-elect Obama, and offer prayerful best wishes to him and his family.

He is my president, and the president of all Americans.

This is the world's greatest honor and the world's greatest responsibility.

The President of the United States needs the prayers of all men and women of good will, and he shall have mine.

He shall also have my critical attention: free citizens do their country a disservice when they fail to scrutinize their leaders, as when they fail to voice their criticism of and opposition to measures that, in their estimation, are not the right ones.

He shall certainly have my opposition to every measure he proposes and/or supports that is inimical to life and violent of the dignity that inheres in every human being by and through and from conception.

Such is my understanding of the duty owed by the good and conscientious citizen to this and every president, and to the country.

The President-elect asks for a renewed spirit of patriotism, and I join him in this call: let us do our duty.