Friday, April 29, 2005

College Honoring Hillary Clinton Declared "No Longer Catholic"

( - The Catholic college that offered to give U.S. Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York an honorary doctoral degree was formally dropped as a Roman Catholic institution on Thursday.

Two sources have confirmed for Cybercast News Service that Marymount Manhattan College (MMC) in New York City will no longer be listed in "The Official Catholic Directory," which identifies institutions formally recognized as Catholic.

Full Story

My Comments:
Wow. A bishop that actually takes Ex Corde Ecclesiae seriously.

If you get a chance, take the time to read The National Catholic Register's investigative series on Ex Corde Ecclesiae and the Mandatum at Catholic colleges and universities.

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Catholic Bishops Express Opposition to Pro-Abortion Litmus Test for Judges is reporting that:

[Pro-abortion] supporters of judicial filibusters in the Senate against President Bush's pro-life nominees for federal courts scheduled over 100 local rallies Wednesday to support their cause. However, many were poorly attended.

... rallies ... were sponsored by ... Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, People for the American Way, NARAL and the MoveOn PAC.

Each of the groups back legalized abortion and turnout was lower than organizers expected.

Meanwhile, the nation's Catholic bishops have sponsored a postcard campaign telling senators not to make abortion a litmus test for disapproving judges.
(emphasis added)
My Comments:
With all the real issues Americans have to worry about on a daily basis, it's not particularly surprising that the Democrats and their secularist leftist allies are having difficulty getting people worked up into a lather over support for the filibuster.

But I was a little surprised to read in this piece that the U.S. Catholic bishops are getting involved in the nomination fight by sponsoring a postcard mailing to encourage senators not to have a pro-abortion litmus test for judicial nominees.

For more on the mailing, see "Catholics Send Millions of Postcards Urging Senators Not to Use a Pro-Abortion Litmus Test for Judges".

Why can't these bishops stay out of politics and just stick to preaching sacharine touchy-feely platitudes that don't offend peoples' sensibilities? Don't they know they're violating the separation of Church and State by talking about the Church's teaching on abortion and liberal "Catholic" politicians' support thereof? How long before Al Gore calls the bishops "heretics" or Ken Salazar labels them as "Antichrists"?

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Filibusters and Religion

Two related posts appear on this blog today. They are related in 2 ways:

(1) they each pertain in some way to the Democrat filibuster of President Bush's judicial nominees; and

(2) they each involve prominent Democrats making weird religious references that seem like complete nonsequiturs.

Here are the links to each of the posts:
So-Called "Nuclear Option" to Eliminate Filibuster on Judges Is "Heresy," Gore Says

Salazar Backs Off "Antichrist" Comment
As I say in one of the above-referenced posts, when Democrat pollsters tell Democrat politicians to use religious talk in order to appeal to "values voters", I don't think labeling their opponents as "heretics" and "the Antichrist" is quite what they have in mind.

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Salazar Backs Off "Antichrist" Comment

The Associated Press is reporting that:

Colorado Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar, [a pro-abortion "Catholic"] locked in a bitter tussle with a conservative Christian group over President Bush's judicial nominees, referred to the group as "the Antichrist." He backed off Wednesday, saying he regretted using the term.

Salazar attacked Focus on the Family during an interview Tuesday with KKTV in Colorado Springs, saying, "From my point of view, they are the Antichrist of the world."

In a statement Wednesday, Salazar said he has been relentlessly and unfairly attacked by the group and that "I meant to say this approach was un-Christian, meaning self-serving and selfish."

Focus on the Family's political arm has targeted Salazar and other Democratic senators in newspaper and radio ads for opposing a Republican plan to prevent Democrats from filibustering to block votes on Bush's court nominees.

[Salazar, after having campaigned on a promise to bring judicial nominees to the floor for an up-or-down vote] has acknowledged changing his position on allowing votes on judicial nominations because of the proposed changes to filibuster rules. He said he is fighting to uphold long-standing laws and rules and that they should not be changed simply for political gain [although Salazar sees no problem with changing his position simply for political gain, especially when currying favor with the pro-abortion lobby].
(emphasis and editorial commentary added)
My Comments:
"... the Antichrist of the world." Again with the inappropriate use of religious imagery by the Democrats in reference to the filibuster of judicial nominees. First Al Gore labels the so-called "nuclear option" for ending the filibusters as "heresy". And now, Ken Salazar has referred to Focus on the Family and other evangelical groups as "the Antichrist of the world".

Guys, when your pollsters are telling you to lace your appeals to "values voters" with religious talk, I don't think labeling your opponents as heretics and the Antichrist is quite what they have in mind.

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So-Called "Nuclear Option" to Eliminate Filibuster on Judges Is "Heresy," Gore Says

Nathan Burchfiel at reports:

In a speech Wednesday to members of the Political Action Committee, former Vice President Al Gore called possible attempts to change Senate rules on filibusters "a poison pill for America's democracy" and "a dangerous American heresy."

Gore's speech was part of a nationwide series of "emergency rallies" organized by members and the liberal Coalition for a Fair and Independent Judiciary to protest the possibility that Senate Republicans will use the "nuclear option" to bypass the filibuster of President Bush's judicial nominees.

Democrats in the Senate are blocking several of Bush's nominees, and Republicans do not have the 60 votes necessary to end the filibuster. The nuclear option, which Republicans are referring to as the "constitutional option," will be up for a vote this week.

In the prepared version of his speech, Gore said he was "genuinely dismayed and deeply concerned by the recent actions of some Republican leaders to undermine the rule of law by demanding the Senate be stripped of its right to unlimited debate where the confirmation of judges is concerned."
(emphasis added)

My Comments:
Oh my. The lengths to which the Democrats will go in order to make sure judicial nominees with "deeply held religious values" do not make it onto the federal judiciary. Now they've enlisted Pope Albertus to pontificate on the Republicans' "heretical" attempts to end the Democrats' unprecedented filibuster of President Bush's judicial nominees

"... a dangerous ... heresy"? Okay, Pope Albertus, whatever you say. Is that an infallible pronouncement? Or is this an attempt to counter the religious overtones of the pro-Republican "Justice Sunday" with a little old-time religion Regardless, I think labeling Republican attempts to end the filibuster of judicial nominees as "heresy" is taking the Democrats' political strategy of using religious imagery to appeal to so-called "values voters" a bit too far.

"... undermine the rule of law"? Since when did a mere procedural rule of the Senate rise to the level of "the rule of law"? Okay Albertus, try enforcing the filibuster rules against the Republicans in a court of law and see how far that gets you.

But once one realizes the importance of "unlimited debate" to Albertus, it's easy to comprehend why he's so upset. Remember that this is the guy who, according to former Senator Bob Dole, sold his vote on the 1991 Gulf War to the highest bidder - during debate on the war resolution, Albertus said he would cast his vote with whichever party gave him the most time to speak. Now, there's principle for you.

Heresy, indeed.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Wary Democrats Discover a Severe "Parents Gap"

[Hat tip: again to Laura Ingraham]

Donald Lambro in The Washington Times reports:

An analysis by a Democratic think tank argues that Democrats are suffering from a severe "parent gap" among married people with children, who say the entertainment industry is lowering the moral standards of the country.

The study, published last week by the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), the policy arm of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, admonishes Democrats to pay more attention to parental concerns about "morally corrosive forces in the culture," and warns that the party will not fare better with this pivotal voting bloc until they do.

"Democrats will not do better with married parents until they recognize one simple truth: Parents have a beef with popular culture. As they see it, the culture is getting ever more violent, materialistic, and misogynistic, and they are losing their ability to protect their kids from morally corrosive images and messages," said the study's author, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, co-director of the National Marriage Project of Rutgers University and a senior fellow at PPI.

"To be credible, Democrats must acknowledge the legitimacy of parents' beef and make it unmistakably clear that they are on the parents' side," Ms. Whitehead said.

Urging Democrats to change the way they look at cultural issues, the PPI report calls on party leaders to "use the bully pulpit regularly and aggressively to identify with parents' concerns and to attack the irresponsible marketeers of violence and sleaze to young kids."

Some Democrats, chastened by their losses in last year's elections, are beginning to test a variety of social, cultural and religious appeals that have been at the core of the Republican Party's success at the ballot box.

In an attempt to reach out to evangelical Christians in the Republican red states, Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has been talking much more about values and "the culture," and sprinkling his attacks on Republicans with phrases from the Bible.

"We need to kick the money changers out of the temple and restore moral values to America," he said last week in Florida.

But an online survey of 11,568 Dean supporters released earlier this month by the Pew Research Center found that such religious or culturally conservative appeals may not play well with liberal Democrats.

Among the Pew findings, 38 percent of Dean supporters polled said they had no religious affiliation, compared with 11 percent of all Americans; 91 percent supported same-sex "marriage," compared with 38 percent of all Democrats; and 80 percent said they were liberals, compared with 27 percent of all Democrats.

My Comments (updated):
Democrat efforts to reach so-called "values voters" through "a variety of social, cultural and religious appeals" are unlikely to prove successful because the Democrat Party is just not seen as credible on these issues after over 30 years of being on the wrong side of the Culture Wars. Any attempts to mimic Republican success with traditional "values" issues will rightly be viewed by the voters as the disingenuous gestures they are. However, there is one tried and tested weapon in the Democrat arsenal that could be successfully utilized to breach the "parent gap".

Remember how the Clintons gave the impression that they were sensitive to the needs of parents and families? It seemed that everything the Clinton Administration did - almost every single action that was taken - was couched in terms of being "for the children". Whether or not the policy at issue actually had anything remotely to do with children.

Look for the Democrats to re-adopt the "for the children" strategy in order to try to close the "parent gap" that currently favors the Republicans.

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Most U.S. Catholics Support Choice of Pope

[Hat tip: Laura Ingraham]

Apparently, the mainstream media's "salt the ground" smear campaign against the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI has failed to produce any fruits among American Catholics. The Washington Post is reporting that, according to a recent Washington Post-ABCNews poll, "[a]n overwhelming majority of American Catholics approve of the selection of Pope Benedict XVI and predict that he will defend the traditional policies and beliefs of a church that many members say is out of touch with their views ..."

The survey found that more than eight in 10 Roman Catholics broadly supported the selection of German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to replace Pope John Paul II.

Nearly as many, 73 percent, said they were "enthusiastic" about the new pontiff, though only one in four said they were strongly enthusiastic about the choice.

Those Catholics in favor of modernizing the church were less enthusiastic than traditionalists about the new pontiff, but a majority still gave Benedict their support.

Half say they want the church to adhere to tradition, while almost exactly the same proportion believe the church must change its policies to reflect modern lifestyles and beliefs. The percentage supporting traditionalism rose nine percentage points over the past month in the wake of Benedict's selection as the church's new leader.

Those Catholics who reported the most regular church attendance were significantly more supportive of maintaining church traditions (58 percent favored) than those who attended less frequently (43 percent).

Slightly more than half, 53 percent, said they would want their son to become a priest whereas 41 percent disagreed. This proportion rose to two in three among those who attend Mass weekly.
(emphasis added)


My Comments:
Notice how in that opening quote the Post writers just can't help themselves and have to throw in "that many members say is out of touch with their views" [this use of "many" smacks of Katie Couric's favorite use of "some" - "Some say that Pope Benedict is a Nazi who hates women and supports gay bashing"]. I'm sure the writers of this piece polled the "Catholic" members of the Post's editorial staff, such as E.J. Dionne, in order to come up with that line about the "many" disaffected members of the Church, because their own poll doesn't seem to bear this out.

For my part, I'm intrigued by the poll number suggesting that the number of Catholics supporting "traditionalism" (i.e. "adher[ing] to tradition" vs. "reflect[ing] modern lifestyles and beliefs") rose by 9 points over the last month when the ceremonies and traditions of the Church were on full display for the entire world to see. Based on these numbers, it would seem that the more people are exposed to the Church's traditions, the more they appear to support what the Post refers to as "traditionalism".


Please Pray for Laura Ingraham

Conservative (and Catholic) radio host, Laura Ingraham has announced that she has breast cancer:
PRAYER REQUEST FOR LAURA: You know I hate Drama Kings or Queens, but I am asking for your prayers today and for the forseeable future. On Friday afternoon, I learned that I have joined the ever-growing group of American women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. As so many breast cancer patients will tell you, it all came as a total shock. I am blessed to be surrounded by people who love me--my family, a wonderful fiance (if he thinks he's going to get out of marrying me because of this little blib, he's sadly mistaken!), my friends, and my church. I am absolutely blown away by how helpful and kind everyone has been--including total strangers who have experienced the same rollercoaster of emotions. The sisterhood of breast cancer survivors is inspiring. I am truly blessed. On Tuesday I will have an operation and within a few days will know more about the future. I am hopeful for a bright future and a "normal" life (well, scratch the "normal" part). Anyway, people have gone through much worse, and I know I'll obliterate this. I am thanking you in advance for your prayers. You are my family. And remember, I'll be back sooner than you think.
Please keep Laura in your prayers.

UPDATE (4/27/05):
From Laura's website:
THE POWER OF PRAYER AND LAURA UPDATE: Laura's breast cancer surgery yesterday "couldn't have gone better," in the words of her surgeon Dr. Katherine Alley. Initial sentinel node testing done during surgery showed no signs of cancer involvement in the lymph nodes, and we all hope that this good news is confirmed by more in-depth tissue testing done over the next 48 hours. "The outpouring of love and concern coast-to-coast in prayer, emails, telephone calls has left me feeling more blessed than I can possibly convey," said Laura Thursday morning from home. "I really don't know what I did to deserve such kindness but I will gladly wrap myself in it," she chuckled. "It's weird but getting cancer has made me feel more blessed than I ever felt before, and I will do everything I can to return the generosity 100-fold when I am feeling a bit better." According to Laura and her friends who were there throughout, the entire staff at the Surburban Hospital Outpatient Medical Center in Bethesda, MD was amazing. Absolutely top-notch! According to one of Laura's friends, as she was being taken into surgery, she joked about whether the hospital was running a "two-for-one" surgery special--"a lumpectomy and a lift together--20 percent off!"
We're praying for you, Laura. Get well soon!


Monday, April 25, 2005

Pat Buchanan: "Behind the Rage at Benedict XVI"

Catholic political commentator Pat Buchanan reflects on where all the rage against newly elected Pope Benedict XVI is coming from:
“Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”

Hearing Jesus’ words in the synagogue at Capharnum, many of his disciples said, “'This is a hard saying, who can hear it?' . . . From that time many . . . walked no more with him.”

This episode from the Gospel of St. John is instructive. For today, scores of millions do not believe that John Paul II taught infallibly when he condemned abortion, contraception, homosexuality and the idea of women-priests. They cannot accept church teaching as settled and final, and want it changed to reflect their own beliefs. Yet, all the modern popes and now Benedict XVI refuse to change doctrine to accommodate them.

Thus, the rage, resentment and frustration that the conclave chose Cardinal Ratzinger as pope. They are like children who have been told by a stern but loving father that their tantrums are to no avail and they are not going to get their way, though they have been used to getting their way for most of their pampered lives.

And so the new pope is denounced as “God’s rottweiler,” “der PanzerKardinal,” John Paul II’s enforcer and the chief inquisitor who cruelly silenced the voices of dissent after Vatican II. What the hostility of the liberal media to the selection of Cardinal Ratzinger tells us is that the conclave got it right.

The secular world, too, hoped the church would alter its doctrines to conform to a moral relativism that teaches there is no law above manmade law, and that what is right and wrong is decided by each generation. The notion that there is a higher law—God’s law, permanent law—to which all manmade law and human conduct must conform is anathema.

But, still, why do they fulminate so?

Answer: Deep in their hearts, they fear the church is right. They are unsettled because they fear that when the church says it has been given by Christ custody of the truths about how men must live to reach eternal life, it is right. When liberal Catholics say people have been “hurt” by Catholic teachings, what they are saying is that their consciences are hurting.

What Benedict XVI is telling the world and dissident Catholics is: It is not Christ’s church that must change its teaching, it is you who must change your hearts. Like Christ himself, Benedict XVI will be reviled because he has said no to the world, the flesh and the Devil.

My Comments:
I have thought quite a bit over the last week about Chapter 6 of the Gospel of John, and what it has to say to us today when many find a number of the Church's teachings to be "hard sayings". There has been lots of discussion over at Amy Welborn's blog and other blogs about what then-Cardinal Ratzinger said in an interview regarding a smaller, but more faithful Catholic Church being in our future. And my response is that I'm not sure what to think.

I want to see our Church grow, as we seek to increase Christ's Kingdom. But I also want the Church to teach the Truth. And that should be the Church's top priority: proclaiming Christ's Truth for the world to hear. If the unfortunate result is that many will fall away, just as many disciples fell away after hearing Jesus' "bread of life" discourse, I nevertheless want to hear the Truth proclaimed.

If possible, our challenge as Catholics is to proclaim that Truth in such a way that increases the number of sheep in the fold as opposed to driving them out into the darkness.


Bill O'Reilly on the Election of Pope Benedict XVI

Cafeteria Catholic Bill O'Reilly, writing in Jewish World Review on the election of Pope Benedict XVI, apparently realizes that "the cafeteria is now closed":
Will new pope have an epiphany?
[So, Bill, what is it that is so manifest to you but that our new Holy Father needs to open his eyes to see?]

The elevation of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger to head the Roman Catholic Church is a clear and concise message from the College of Cardinals: "We are royally teed off."
[Really? I somehow missed all that anger over the last few weeks.]

Everybody [all of us, huh?] knows that the new pontiff is a tough guy [I heard he was a cat lover - hardly the makings of the Terminator] who will not only throw the moneychangers out of the temple, he'll kick them in the behind as they leave the building [Oh yeah, because there were so many excommunications while he was the so-called "doctrinal enforcer" for John Paul II - in fact, there were a record low number of excommunications]. Pope Benedict believes strongly in good and evil, and he's not shy about pointing fingers [At whom?]. His letter to American bishops about politicians and abortion cost John Kerry dearly in the last election [His letter was ignored by the Bishops and by the vast majority of Catholics; by the time Cardinal McCarrick was finished misrepresenting its contents, it probably helped Kerry].

The cardinals, of course, perfectly understand that Benedict is not exactly a cuddly guy [That's not what they're saying, Bill. His fellow cardinals say Benedict is quite humble and personable, but I guess you can see through all of them for the liars they are and are "watching out for us" by pointing out the "truth"] and will not be "reaching out," as they say in California [Actually, every time he has spoken, including during his homily at his Installation Mass yesterday, Pope Benedict has said that his foremost concern will be "reaching out" to others]. But his hard-line theological approach [Hard-line theological approach? Oh, you must mean his adherence to the 2000-year-old teachings of the Catholic Church] appeals to church elders [Elders? Bill, as a Catholic, do you have any idea what the hell you're talking about? Or, as is most likely, are you just making it up as you go along?] who have had enough [Enough of what?].

In the past three decades, church attendance in the USA and Western Europe has dropped through the floor. Just 25 percent of American Catholics attend mass weekly [25%? I wish that many attended Mass on a weekly basis], and the number is in the single digits in longstanding Catholic countries like France [France hasn't been Catholic since the French Revolution, if not earlier]. Secularism now rules the western world, and there are not enough priests to serve the remaining faithful. How do you say things are not good in Latin [I'll figure that out after I've learned the Latin for "Bite me, Bill"]?

In the face of this spiritual decline, the Catholic Church has decided to make a stand [The Church has always taken a stand - a stand for Christ and the teachings of His Church. This is nothing new]. It will not compromise, and it will not pander. You either toe the line or hit the bricks [Who's made this threat? I'll believe it as soon as Ex Corde Ecclesiae is enforced at "Catholic" colleges and universities]. Up to you.

As a lifelong [cafeteria] Catholic, I don't like this approach, but I understand it [if your understanding is anything like the rest of what you think you know about your own Church, then you don't understand it]. The West is now besieged by forces that want to wipe spirituality completely out of the public square [Wow! I agree with something you said]. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is the point organization in this effort [along with their political wing, commonly known as the Democrat Party]. It supports all abortion on demand, including late-term, no parental consent for minors having abortions, euthanasia with consent, gay marriage and the free speech rights of the North American Man-Boy Love Association, which has posted instructions on how to rape children on its website [Ohhh, now Jay, avoid temptation here to slam predatory priests and lax Bishops who allowed predation upon children to happen].

The ACLU [aka Democrat Party political action committee] opposes public funding for the Boy Scouts because their oath mentions G-d [Heavens, not that!], the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools [Can't have kids exposed to civic responsibility and love of country], public displays of the baby Jesus at Christmas [Why do images of babies tend to piss off so many people?] and any restraint on Internet pornography in public libraries [Denying kids the opportunity to see up close and in detail the results of Pamela Anderson's latest boob job is clearly a violation of the Founders' intent to create a marketplace of ideas].

For the most part, the western media sympathizes with the ACLU and promotes its point of view [Wow, Bill, I agree with you again!]. Thus, the secular message is a constant in our society — the hits just keep on coming.

And where is the opposing point of view? Well, there are a few media outlets that give traditionalists a fair shake, but very few.

So the Catholic cardinals feel isolated and surrounded [Surrounded by whom? Do you really think the cardinals who witnessed the public outpouring of support the Church has received over the last month feel "isolated"?]. They can preach to the choir on Sunday but get battered by the news and entertainment media the rest of the week. A strong papal voice [Uh, Bill, in case you missed his pontificate, we had a "strong papal voice" for the past quarter of a century in the person of John Paul II] countering that situation is soothing. And that's why Cardinal Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict XVI [Bill, I doubt you have any idea why his fellow cardinals elected Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger to be Pope Benedict XVI - the crap you've been spewing on your TV and radio programs about how the Church needs to conform itself to modern sensibilities proves that you have absolutely no clue].

I believe [in one God, ... oh wait, this is Bill O we're talking about] organized religion can be a champion of human rights and provide resistance to secular societies, which, if they progress much further, will never be able to defeat the fanatical Islamic fundamentalists [We agree again]. The more permissive the western world becomes, the more it rejects discipline and avoids confronting evil, the greater the danger to freedom will be [Ditto].

Pope Benedict is facing a rapidly changing world, and perhaps he will be a strong and persuasive shepherd against evil. The danger is that he will be so rigid [Ooooh, "rigid". There's that word again. Bill, I think what you really meant to say is "The danger is that he will be so Catholic ..."] that he will erode the spiritual core even further [HE will erode the spiritual core even further? By doing what? Teaching what the Church teaches? I assume the spiritual core won't erode any further if only Pope Benedict will water down the spiritual teachings of the Church to make them more palatable?] thereby helping the secularists [Yeah, that's why the secularists are squealing so loudly at Benedict's election - because he's going to "help" them].

But the new pope may have an epiphany [Yeah, Bill, I just don't see how he could have missed what is so apparent to you in your infinite wisdom] and realize good people will rally against evil if the case of clear and present danger is made rationally [As opposed to all that irrational religious mumbo-jumbo] and with compassion [As opposed to all the hate-filled bigotry emanating from the Church]. I am praying [The question is to whom, Bill? I get the impression that you consider yourself somewhat god-like] that happens. The other side [And I'm still a little unclear as to which side you're on, Bill] is hoping it will not.
It's frightening how much "lifelong Catholic" Bill O'Reilly thinks he knows about the Church, but how little of his "knowledge" is actually accurate. Don't listen to him.

For more accurate "Catholic commentary", listen to Laura Ingraham's radio program. Laura, a Catholic convert, at least has the humility to know what she doesn't know and will bring on orthodox Catholic experts like George Weigel or Father Robert Sirico [Bill O'Reilly is more likely to give a platform to the likes of dissenter Father Richard McBrien, MSM].

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Sunday, April 24, 2005

"Life on the Rock" - On Location in Rome With "Benedict XVI Priests"

Last Thursday, I watched EWTN's "Life on the Rock" with my 3-year-old son, Jamie. The show was broadcast on location in Rome, as opposed to their usual studio broadcast from Alabama. This special 90-minute episode was, without a doubt, the best episode of "Life on the Rock" that I have ever seen.

"Life on the Rock" is on EWTN every Thursday evening at 8:00 p.m., Eastern time, and consists of host Father Francis Mary and other friars of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word interviewing "a variety of guests on this spirited and LIVE call-in show". The show is definitely geared toward the younger crowd (not sure I qualify, but I enjoy watching it anyway), or as the guys on "Life" refer to them: "Generation JPII".

As I already mentioned, last Thursday's program was on location in Rome, following the election of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI. This particular episode, described as "Generation JPII discusses the new Pope - Benedict XVI", featured interviews with a number of young priests and seminarians from the North American College in Rome, as well as interviews with other young adults (mostly Americans) visiting or living in Rome.

I was struck by the beaming faces and true excitement that these young people exhibited when discussing their love for Christ and His Church, and the newly elected Vicar of Christ and His Church, Pope Benedict XVI. They were positively beside themselves with glee at the election of a new Pope who will continue to lead the Church in the direction that John Paul II did for over a quarter of a century. Benedict is clearly their man.

Inspired by the late John Paul II's call for Catholic youth to be not afraid of taking an active role in renewing their Church, these young people are on fire for their faith - an orthodox faith, and will be the ones who will bring about the "New Springtime" that the late Holy Father often spoke about.

A final word about the young priests and seminarians I saw interviewed: how refreshing to see a future of the priesthood in America that inspires hope for the Church. It was those "beaming faces" I mentioned earlier. It was contagious. I spent the entire hour-and-a-half smiling as I watched these wonderful young men express their love for the Church.

When I looked over at my 3-year-old, who watched the entire 90 minutes along with me, he seemed entranced by what he was watching, although I'm sure he probably didn't quite understand what was going on. I asked him, "Jamie, do you see those priests?" He answered, "I'm going to be a priest."

Out of the mouths of babes.

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Friday, April 22, 2005

Coining a Term: "Ratzenfreude"

John McGuinness at the Man Bites Dog blog coins a new term:
Ratzenfreude -- The expression of joy about others's dismay about the election of Pope Benedict XVI.
For an example of the sort of "dismay about the election of Pope Benedict XVI" to which John is referring, and my "Ratzenfreude" in response thereto, see my post below regarding Andrew Sullivan's histrionics.


Andrew Sullivan: Benedict XVI to Unleash "Ferocious Culture War"

Andrew Sullivan, still kicking and screaming and pulling hair over the election of Pope Benedict XVI, warns that
... from the theocon point of view, the glorious achievement of the secular West is as nihilistic and as dangerous as the Nazis. That is Benedict XVI's view. I don't think people have a clue how radical this man is. And how ferocious a culture war he is about to unleash.
Andrew, sweety, just go about your life doing your thing without worrying about what that mean old man in Rome might think, and without expecting the Church to look on approvingly.

This is the first and last time I'm going to post anything from Andrew Sullivan because, quite honestly, I find his banal drama-queen hysterics to be both tiresome and predictable.


Earth Day: "In the beginning ..."

Head over to The Curt Jester to see how Earth Day should really be celebrated:

Today being the high secular feast called Earth Day, let's give a standing 0 for God. O LORD AND RULER ...

My Comments:
I've never been a big fan of "Earth Day" because, let's face it, it's a "watermelon" holiday: it may be green on the outside, but it's heart and soul is socialist pink. [It's no coincidence that many former Communist Party members have found a new home in the Green Party.]

But, once you strip away all the politics from the environmentalist movement - strip away the "movement" part - we are still left with an awesome responsibility given to us by the Creator to act as faithful stewards of His Creation.

My advice: avoid the Earth Day celebrations, but do something to show your appreciation to God for the magnificence of His Creation.

Read Rick Lugari's Earth Day greetings over at Unam Sanctum.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Peggy Noonan: "Why They Ran"

In today's Wall Street Journal:

Why They Ran
The new pope speaks to the inner adult in all of us.

by Peggy Noonan

There were many moving and dramatic moments in Rome two days ago, but this is the one I think I'll remember: the sight of them running.

Did you see them running to St. Peter's Square as the bells began to toll?

They came running in from the offices and streets of Rome, running in their business suits, in jeans with backpacks over their shoulders. The networks kept showing it in their wide shots as they filled time between the ringing of the bells and the balcony scene.

So many came running that by the end, by the time Benedict XVI was announced, St. Peter's and the streets leading to it were as full as they'd been two weeks ago, at the funeral of John Paul II.

Why did they run? Why did this ancient news--"We have a pope"--representing such irrelevant-seeming truths and such an archaic institution--send them running?

Why did they gather? Why did they have to hear?

We want a spiritual father. We want someone who stands for what is difficult and right, what is impossible but true. Being human we don't always or necessarily want to live by the truth or be governed by it. But we are grateful when someone stands for it. We want him to be standing up there on the balcony. We want to aspire to it, reach to it, point to it and know that it is there.

Because we can actually tell what's true.

We can just somehow tell.

Because the world watched the funeral, they noticed the man who celebrated the mass and gave the eulogy. John Paul II had picked him for that role. He spoke with love. He said John Paul, the old man who always came to the window to greet the crowds and pray with them, was now, today, right at this moment, at the window of his father's house. It was beautiful and poetic and people--cardinals--who watched and listened to the speaker thought: Yes, that's true. And the man who was speaking, who even 10 years ago was considered too old and controversial for the job, was suddenly seen by his fellow cardinals, one after the other, as the future pope.

It was impossible. But it happened. No one was really considering Cardinal Ratzinger until that mass.

Those who are pursuing John Paul II's canonization, please note: his first miracle is Benedict XVI.

The choosing of Benedict XVI, a man who is serious, deep and brave, is a gift. He has many enemies. They imagine themselves courageous and oppressed. What they are is agitated, aggressive, and well-connected.

They want to make sure his papacy begins with a battle. They want to make sure no one gets a chance to love him. Which is too bad because even his foes admit he is thoughtful, eager for dialogue, sensitive, honest.

They want to make sure that when he speaks and writes, the people of the world won't come running.

What to do to help? See his enemies for what they are, and see him for what he is. Read him--he is a writer, a natural communicator of and thinker upon challenging ideas. Listen to him. Consult your internal compass as you listen, and see if it isn't pointing true north.




Pope Benedict XVI: Enemy of Jihad

[Hat tip: Pope Benedict XVI blog]

Robert Spencer writes on that Islamic attempts to conquer Western Civilization have met a formidable opponent in the person of newly elected Pope Benedict XVI:

In choosing Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger to succeed Pope John Paul II as Pope Benedict XVI, the Catholic Church has cast a vote for the survival of Europe and the West. “Europe will be Islamic by the end of the century,” historian Bernard Lewis predicted not long ago; however, judging from the writings of the new Pope, he is not likely to be sanguine about this transition. For one thing, the new Pope seems to be aware of the grave danger Europeans face: he has called upon Europe to recover its Christian roots “if it truly wants to survive.”

For while his predecessor kissed the Qur’an and pursued a consistent line of conciliation toward the Islamic world, despite numerous provocations and attacks against Catholics in Muslim countries, the new Pope Benedict XVI, while no less charitable, has been a bit more forthcoming about the reality of how Islam challenges the Catholic Church, Christianity, and even the post-Christian West. He has spoken up for the rights of converts from Islam to Christianity, who live under a death sentence in Islamic countries and increasingly live in fear even in the West. He has even spoken approvingly of Christians proselytizing Muslims — a practice that enrages Muslims and is against the law in many Islamic countries.

In line with his call to Europeans to recover their own spiritual heritage, the new Pope opposes Turkey’s proposed entrance into the European Union: “Turkey,” he has declared, “has always represented a different continent, always in contrast with Europe.” But his objection is not simply geographical — in fact, he opposes the geographical oversimplifications that underlie Turkey’s EU bid: “Europe,” he has explained, “was founded not on a geography, but on a common faith. We have to redefine what Europe is, and we cannot stop at positivism.” A Europe newly defined as in some sense a Christian entity may outrage secularists, but a secular and relativist Europe has so far proved powerless against the Islamization of Europe — despite the fact that that Islamization threatens cherished Western notions of the equality of rights and dignity of all people.



Mark Shea: Why Democrats Can't Connect With Religious Voters

Mark Shea posted the following at his blog today:
When somebody calls [Pope] Benedict a "neocon" you may be sure that you are talking to a complete and total ignoramus.

Oh, and a memo to Howard Dean: If you are wondering why the Dems have not been able to connect with "the religious vote", you might contemplate the spectacle of the Daily Kos dubbing the new Pope "Ratf***er". Oddly, even non-Catholics discern in such epithets a worldview that is hard to take seriously when it grins its wolfish grin and assures us that it shares "basic religious values".

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Personal Reflections on the Election of Pope Benedict XVI

I was an 11-year-old Southern Baptist when the last Papal Conclave elected Karol Cardinal Wojtyla to be Pope John Paul II. And I remember it clearly. John Paul II went on to become one of my heroes for 2 decades before I ever considered becoming Catholic. He receives much of the credit for helping to inspire my decision to enter the Church.

So, what does this have to do with yesterday's election, over a quarter of a century later, of John Paul II's successor, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI?

My wife and I are relatively new Catholics. And the leadership and influence of the late Holy Father was so much a part of our decision to convert, that his death created for us a profound sense of loss. In short, we were worried about the different direction the Church might take so soon after we had made it our new home.

Sure, we knew that the teachings of the Church are just that - the unchanging teachings of the Church, and do not belong personally to the person occupying the Seat of Peter to change at his whim. But we were nervous nevertheless.

It's funny, though, how all of that seemed to fall away when the white smoke billowed up from the chimney above the Sistine Chapel. All I felt was profound joy, even without knowing who the next Pope would be, at the eternal nature of our Church - at it's ability to continue to renew itself under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And then ... the announcement that our new Pope was His Eminence, Joseph Ratzinger. Wow! Beyond my wildest dreams.

Shortly after the election yesterday, a writer from a national Catholic weekly (no, not the heterodox one) interviewed me, seeking my reaction to the election of the new Pope. I told him what I wrote above. At first, joy at the election of a new pontiff. And then, upon hearing that it was Cardinal Ratzinger ... "Relief."

Relief? What kind of answer is that?

An honest one. As new Catholics, my wife and I weren't interested in a bait-and-switch. We prayed for a new Pope who would follow in the footsteps of John Paul II by providing contintuity with the direction in which he led the Church for over a quarter of a century. Pope Benedict XVI, having served the late Holy Father for most of that time as Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, provides the continuity we prayed for.

I am more than a little embarassed at the shallowness of my faith. How would I have reacted had the new Pope come from the "progressive" wing of the College of Cardinals? I hope that I would have remained a faithful Catholic and followed the man elected as the successor to Peter. But I also know that my faith would have been challenged. I hope that I would have risen to that challenge. And I pray that my faith will continue to be strengthened in the future.

Furthermore, I pray for our new Pope Benedict XVI. In his own right. Not as the continuance of the papacy of the late John Paul II, but for his own leadership of our Church as it seeks to navigate a sea of relativity and militant secularism. May God bless you and keep you, Holy Father.


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

"Habemus Papam!" - Pope Benedict XVI

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI

From Catholic World News:
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has been elected the 265th Pope, and taken the name Pope Benedict XVI.

The new Pope, who has frequently spoken of the need for a restoration of Christian faith in Europe, apparently chose his name in honor of St. Benedict, the patron of Europe, who founded the religious order that put the Christian stamp on European culture.

"Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple and humble worker in the Lord's vineyards."

Interrupted by applause, the new Pope eventually added: "I am consoled that the Lord can work and act with inadequate instruments, and especially that you will keep me in your prayers."

Again interrupted by cheers, the Pope concluded: "In the joy of the risen Lord, trusting in his permanent help, let us go forward. The Lord will help us, and Mary, his most holy Mother, is at our side."


Monday, April 18, 2005

Federal Law Would Mandate Abortifacients at Pharmacies

Catholic World News reports that:
Senate Democrats have proposed a new bill that would force pharmacies to dispense abortifacient birth-control or "morning-after" pills, notwithstanding an individual pharmacist's moral opposition to the drug.
There have been a spate of such laws recently that would require Catholic hospitals or pharmacists to provide contraceptive or abortion-related services despite objections of conscience. This is obviously a poll-tested issue for Democrats, or they wouldn't be pushing it in so many states and at the Federal level.

The Democrats probably think they have their own political version of "partial-birth abortion" with this issue. I can imagine they think they'll use this type of legislation as a wedge issue to split off some of the voters who normally agree with the GOP on moral issues, but who would draw the line at requiring a woman who has been the victim of rape to carry the rapist's child to term. After all, so the Democrats think, who (besides the Catholic Church) can object to a rape victim receiving "basic contraceptive services"?

However, if Democrats are, as they claim, genuinely concerned about winning over "values voters", this is not the kind of legislation that will do it. And the reason is that it still smacks of elitist arrogance toward those with religious beliefs in its cavalier treatment of the moral objections to providing such services by hospital and pharmacy personnel.

In the end, I think the Democrats will find that this kind of legislation will only further ingrain in the minds of "values voters" the notion of the Democrat Party as the political wing of the culture of death.

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First Ballot: Ratzinger Not Elected Pope

NOTE: The following headlines are fictional (but, sadly, believable):
New York Times headline: "Conclave Divided: Conservative Ratzinger Loses on First Ballot."

The Guardian headline: "Ratzinger Licks Wounds: Votes for Arch-Conservative Favorite Fail to Materialize."
Here's the take on this over at Disputations.

And Amy Welborn's take:



(if you don't mind a little shameless self-promotion) Jay was right..

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Democrats Sensitive to Alleged "Assault on People of Faith"

As a follow-up to Saturday's post, "Frist Accused of Exploiting Religion Issue", here's more on the Democrats squealing like stuck pigs over being taken to task for their support of the "Schumer Doctrine" [hat tip to Laura Ingraham radio program]:


Sen. Bill Frist's participation in a "Justice Sunday" telecast has offended and/or alarmed a number of Democrats and liberal interest groups.

Critics particularly object to the notion that Democrats, by opposing ten of President Bush's conservative judicial nominees, are conducting an assault on "people of faith."

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), appearing on ABC's "This Week," called the event "deeply un-American", and he objected to the notion that the filibuster of judicial nominees is "people of faith versus the Democrats."
[emphasis added]
No, Chuck, what's "deeply un-American" is the doctrine that bears your name, which posits denying people with "deeply held religious beliefs" the opportunity to serve in public office.

From Fox News Sunday:

CHRIS WALLACE: OK. Senator Biden, one last question for you. Majority Leader Frist says he's going to take part in a broadcast next Sunday. A flier for the program — and we have it up here on the screen — shows a young man with a gavel in one hand and a bible in the other, and it says that it will condemn the filibuster as being used against people of faith.

Now Senator Frist has said that he's not going to talk about religion. He's going to talk about the legislative issue. But are you concerned about his appearing in that broadcast?

JOE BIDEN: I'm concerned for him. Look, he's a smart guy. This is simply, simply not fair and is demagoguery.

The fight over these judges ... has nothing to do with the Bible. I'm a practicing Catholic. I got accused of voting against a particular nominee from Alabama because he was a Catholic. Give me a break. I'm voting against someone in Alabama who's a Catholic because I'm a Catholic? I mean this is pure, dangerous demagoguery.
[emphasis added]

No, Joe, you're a "cultural" Catholic. And yes, you did oppose Bill Pryor exactly because he's the sort of Catholic you're not: a devout, observant Catholic with "deeply held religious values" (i.e. he actually believes and lives the teachings of the Church to which you allegedly belong).

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Saturday, April 16, 2005

Frist Accused of Exploiting Religion Issue

The New York Times reports that "Democratic senators criticized the Republican majority leader for taking part in a telecast portraying them as 'against people of faith'."

"Our debate over the rules of the Senate and the use of the filibuster has nothing to do with whether one is religious or not," Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, said at a news conference with Senator Harry Reid, the minority leader from Nevada. "I cannot imagine that God - with everything he has or she has to worry about - is going to take the time to debate the filibuster in heaven."

The Family Research Council, a Christian conservative advocacy group, has organized an April 24 telecast, "Justice Sunday," which includes prominent conservative Christians speaking by simulcast to churches, Web sites and Christian broadcast networks. Under the heading "The filibuster against people of faith," a flier for the telecast reads, "The filibuster was once abused to protect racial bias, and it is now being used against people of faith."

Dr. Frist will join the telecast through a four-minute videotape, his spokesman said yesterday. Its organizers hope to enlist the grass-roots support of conservative Christians for an imminent Senate battle over Republican proposals to change Senate rules that have enabled the Democratic minority to filibuster, blocking Senate votes on 10 of Mr. Bush's appeals court nominees.

Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement that he was "deeply troubled" by Dr. Frist's participation. "Whatever one's views may be on this or any other issue," Mr. Foxman said, "playing the religious card is as unacceptable as playing the race card."

Displaying pictures of Senator Reid and Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, an announcer declares: "They want God out of the Pledge of Allegiance. They say child pornography is protected by the Constitution. Who are these people? Arrogant judges."

Abe Foxman: "... playing the religious card is as unacceptable as playing the race card."

NO YOU DIDN'T! After showing your ass the way you did over The Passion of the Christ, you have the chutzpah to make a statement like that? Mr. Kettle, meet Mr. Abraham Foxman.

Sen. Dick Durbin: "Our debate over the rules of the Senate and the use of the filibuster has nothing to do with whether one is religious or not."

Really? I think we all know that many of the filibustered nominees are victims of the "Schumer Doctrine", which posits that those with "deeply held religious beliefs" are deemed unfit to sit on the federal judiciary.

Furthermore, it is clear that the type of judges that the Democrats in the Senate would prefer to see nominated are exactly the sort who, among other things, would remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, find posting of the 10 Commandments in public buildings to be a violation of the 1st Amendment, favor abortion and euthanasia, and create a constitutional right to homosexual unions.

Sen. Dick Durbin: "I cannot imagine that God - with everything he has or she has to worry about - is going to take the time to debate the filibuster in heaven."

"... or she ..."? That says all you need to know about what sort of "Catholic" Dick Durbin is.

Via FreeRepublic, the New York Times "coincidentally" carried an editorial titled "Bill Frist's Religious War" on the exact same subject matter as the above "news story" in the exact same April 16 issue:
Right-wing Christian groups and the Republican politicians they bankroll have done much since the last election to impose their particular religious views on all Americans. But nothing comes close to the shameful declaration of religious war by Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, over the selection of judges for federal courts.

Senator Frist is to appear on a telecast sponsored by the Family Research Council, which styles itself a religious organization but is really just another Washington lobbying concern. The message is that the Democrats who oppose a tiny handful of President Bush's judicial nominations are conducting an assault "against people of faith." By that, Senator Frist and his allies do not mean people of all faiths, only those of their faith.

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Thoughts from the Right: Dean Plans to Politicize Schiavo

Will Bloomfield blogs about Democrat Party Chairman Howard Dean's plans to "use Terri Schiavo" against the Republicans in the 2006 and 2008 elections.

You remember Howard Dean, don't you? The guy who thinks Southern voters should be less concerned about "God, gays, and guns" and whose favorite New Testament book is Job? And this is the guy who's supposed to help the Democrats win back religious voters?

Well, by coming down on the side of the culture of death in the Terri Schiavo case, the Democrat Party will once again prove itself to be politically tone-deaf where religion and moral values are concerned.

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Friday, April 15, 2005

No Catholics Need Apply - Another Bush Appointee Being Targeted for His "Devout Catholicism"

David Holman, writing for The American Spectator, brings to light that what's really behind the left's campaign to oust a Bush appointee to the Office of Special Counsel is the appointee's "devout Catholicism":

Washington special interest groups -- notorious for their anti-religious hostility toward conservatives -- are conducting a coordinated smear campaign against Scott Bloch, George Bush's appointee to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), which reviews and refers whistleblower disclosures to agency heads. In an interview with TAS, Pete Leon, legislative director for Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who has called for Bloch's resignation, revealed the fundamental anti-religious bigotry at the heart of the campaign. Articulating his objections to Bloch, Leon said, "He is a devout Catholic," then quickly added, after he realized his gaffe, the famously insincere line from Seinfeld, "Not that there's anything wrong with that."

Yes, there is something wrong with having a devout Catholic in this government office, according to the groups attacking Bloch. Look behind the rhetoric against Bloch and it becomes apparent that these groups do not consider a believing Catholic a worthy head of an office that they had used as a battering ram for liberal causes under Bill Clinton. Sworn in as United States Special Counsel in January 2004, Scott Bloch has angered these entrenched interest groups not because he hasn't been doing his job but because he has been doing it too well.

PEER's problem with Bloch is not that he has hired people he knows, but that he has hired Catholics he knows. Last Monday, PEER's press release made sure to mention that Hicks oversaw a Catholic boarding school. Its Nov. 17, 2004 press release smeared Hicks by suggesting he was complicit in the Scranton, Pennsylvania, diocese's sexual abuse scandal. He had nothing to do with it. In that release, Ruch, citing a popular anti-Catholic book, said, "Scott Bloch's personnel practices are taken straight from The DaVinci Code rather than the civil service manual."

The PEER press release also said Bloch "is a religious conservative who had served as deputy director in the Justice Department's Office of Faith-Based Initiatives." PEER cited Bloch's hires of graduates from "ultra-conservative" Ave Maria Law School as Schedule A attorneys, who can be hired non-competitively, ignoring that he has also hired attorneys from George Washington, Georgetown, and the University of Virginia. And what exactly is Ruch's objection to Ave Maria? It is an accredited law school in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and its first class of graduates performed better on the bar exam than any other Michigan school. Are graduates there prohibited from government service in his view?


My Comments:
Once again, we see the "Schumer Doctrine" - espoused by New York Democrat Sen. Charles Schumer - at work: devout observant Catholics, with "deeply held religious beliefs", are deemed unsuitable for public office.

So much for the Constitutional prohibition that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

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Thursday, April 14, 2005

N.Y. Times: Young Catholics Seek to Restore Old Values on Sex

The New York Times has a story about how the legacy of the late Holy Father will continue to shape the future of the Catholic Church because of the appeal of John Paul II's example and his teachings for a generation of young Catholics:

No matter who is chosen as the next pope, John Paul II has left behind a generation of committed young Roman Catholics who are already shaping the church in a more conservative mold than did their parents. Church leaders call them Generation John Paul II.

At Catholic universities, these are the students studying the "theology of the body" - John Paul's theological justification for a conservative sexual ethic that includes opposition to contraception, abortion, premarital sex and some forms of assisted reproduction.

In seminaries, they are the young priests who wear the long black cassocks cast off by an earlier generation of Vatican II priests.

In their parishes, these are the youth group members who are reviving traditional spiritual practices like regular recitations of the rosary or "Eucharistic adorations" - praying for long stretches in front of the consecrated host.

"One of the great shocks to me was how conservative the people younger than me are, and these are Catholics from all over the world, not just the United States," said James Keating, 40, an American theologian who is spending his sabbatical in Rome running the Lay Center at Foyer Unitas Institute, a guesthouse for Catholic students.

"Their Catholicism is quite focused on John Paul II, especially his teachings on contraception and the family," said Mr. Keating, who teaches at Providence College in Rhode Island. "It's fairly significant. They are a force in the church."

A similar development is evident among the new generation of young seminarians, as reported by Newsday: "Disciples of Pope John Paul - A generation of seminarians expects to continue a conservative approach that was the signature of late pope".

Just as Karol Wojtyla came to Rome to study before taking up a post in his first parish in Poland, so thousands of hand-picked young seminary students and priests from all over the world come to Rome to continue their theological educations.

They are the elite. They may not become pope, as Wojtyla did in 1978, but many will likely go on to become bishops and cardinals, as the schools' graduates have in the past.

And if the graduates stick with their current convictions, the future Roman Catholic Church will likely be as conservative as it has become under John Paul II. This generation of young men is part of his legacy. They are his spiritual and philosophical sons and disciples, and with many, even the introduction into conversation of some of the issues raised by reformist members of the church produce unease sometimes bordering on hostility.


My Comments:
Thank you Pope John Paul the Great. You have truly left a legacy and roadmap for us to follow, enabling us to become an effective counter-cultural force for the culture of life in the 21st Century. Santo Subito!


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Peggy Noonan: "The Cardinal - A story about selecting the new Pope"

Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal:

You are a cardinal of the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church, a modern man, and for the past seven days, in private conversations in Rome with cardinals you trust, you've been admitting what you would never say in public.

You were shocked at the outpouring for John Paul II. You were shocked at the four million who came to Rome, at the line that stretched across the Tiber, at the tears.

You had no idea.

You think: The fact is, John Paul was not an expression of his times, he existed in opposition to the times. He defended church doctrine and moral teaching because he thought they were true! He wouldn't abandon the truth. In the Catholic colleges of America they didn't see the truth he spoke as true. They thought it was archaic. Catholics in colleges and newsrooms, on campuses and on TV, are always going on and on about the world needs contraception, we need married priests, we need women priests. Now it's the right to die.

Then you think: But it wasn't them in the streets. It was regular Catholics in the streets! That's who was waiting 20 hours in the line that crossed the Tiber. It was the faithful and college kids and mom and pop from Toledo. It was the universal church.

And then it dawns on you: Maybe--maybe . . . Maybe people, being imperfect and human, live whatever lives they live but deep in their hearts--way down deep and much more than they know--they actually notice when somebody stands for truth. And they actually honor it. Maybe that's why in all the big modern democracies they'd burst into tears when John Paul came by, when he was visiting America and France and Germany. Maybe they knew they were not necessarily living right themselves but they were grateful--they were grateful on behalf of civilization!--that there was a man like him among us. They recognized him and honored him in their hearts. And then word came that he's dead and suddenly their hearts told their heads: Get on the train and go honor him. Because he adorned us. Because he was right. And we can't lose this from civilization, this beacon in the darkness.



Even More Catholicism and Economic Theory

A commenter has alerted me to the website for the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty: "for more information on 'classical liberalism' from a religious (Catholic) perspective. Some very good work on promoting classical liberal ideals."

(Since this is the 3rd day in a row I have posted on the subject matter of Catholic teaching in the area of economic theory, I suppose I should also post links to the 2 most important Papal encyclicals on this topic, Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum and John Paul II's Centesimus Annus.)

Getting back to the Acton Institute, Kevin E. Schmiesing, Ph.D., has a commentary piece on the Acton website concerning a topic that I know is near and dear to the hearts of my wife and me: "Taxes and Tuition: Families Squeezed by Rising Costs of Religious Education".


Culture of Life Foundation: "Democratic Strategists Issue Memo on Loss of Catholics"

From the Culture of Life Foundation:

A memo authored by a prominent Democratic strategy organization calls the decline in support of white Catholics for Democrats "striking" and "a big part of the 2004 election story." One of the analysis' key findings is that Catholic voters are becoming more pro-life which the authors called "a factor in the recent losses and one of the blockages for Democrats, at least in the Midwest." The data also reveals that young Catholics are more pro-life than their parents and that bishops who speak out against pro-abortion politicians help bolster the pro-life vote.

The abortion issue is particularly potent for a group called "Democratic defectors" who either identified themselves as Democrats or voted for Bill Clinton in 1996 but voted for President Bush in the last election. Among this group, "26 percent believe that abortion should be illegal in all cases, nearly three times the number for all Catholic Democrats."

The memo also made it clear that the abortion issue is not going away. "Although the pro-life position is strongest among seniors, Catholics current pro-life position does not appear likely to lessen with time. While middle-age Catholics lean toward keeping abortion legal, voters under 30 are more pro-life: 53 percent believe abortion should be illegal in most cases." The pro-life position could be a winning one for Democrats according to the study. Fifty-nine percent of white Catholics say they are more likely to support a Democratic candidate who is pro-life and 35 percent say they are less likely, giving a pro-life Democrat a 24 point advantage. Even on the East Coast where Catholics are less pro-life, a pro-life Democrat has a 12 point advantage over a pro-abortion candidate.

The memo advises Democrat candidates to get around the issue by presenting themselves as one who "[b]elieves in a woman's right to choose but believes all sides should come together around the common goal of preventing and reducing the number of abortions, with more sex ed, including abstinence, access to contraception and more adoption." This common ground approach is reminiscent of a recent speech given by New York Senator and likely presidential candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton, in which she softened her approach to abortion by calling it a "tragic choice." In the speech she said faith-based abstinence should be embraced but also called on increased funding for "family planning services," a euphemism for contraception, abortifacients and abortions.


Copyright 2005---Culture of Life Foundation. Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit required.

My Comments:
The pro-life position on abortion is clearly NOT a political liability for Republicans, and Democrats are beginning to recognize that their abortion-on-demand position IS a liability for them. And despite all the media hoopla about how the Terri Schiavo incident supposedly will be the downfall of the Republican Party and the pro-life movement, I doubt very seriously that it will hurt the Republicans or pro-lifers in the least, and in fact will probably help them.

Oh. I forgot that we're not supposed to talk about how the moral and cultural issues we feel so strongly about may, in fact, also work to our advantage politically.

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More Catholicism and Economic Theory

Continuing on the theme of Catholicism and economic theory that was addressed yesterday in "Your Holiness, Meet Adam Smith", I have linked below to a couple of posts over at Mirror of Justice:

A Catholic Critique of Law and Economics

Online Symposium: Cochran on the Economics of Freedom

My Comments (tongue planted firmly in cheek):
If Law and Economics violates Catholic teaching, does that make my law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law (one of the top Law and Economics programs in the country) null and void?

Specifically, since, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, "an unjust law ... is no law at all", does it follow that because my law degree is based on an "unjust" legal theory (Law and Economics), it is therefore "no law degree at all"?


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Your Holiness, Meet Adam Smith

The Times (UK) Online has an opinion piece by William Rees-Mogg containing the following advice for the next Pope: "Before you take the new job, your holiness, read a little Adam Smith":

IN THE next couple of weeks, the cardinals will elect a new pope. He will be a holy man because the cardinals understand the nature of prayer; he will have been a capable bishop, because the cardinals understand the nature of Church administration; he will have a powerful personality, if not as charismatic as that of Pope John Paul II. It is unlikely that the same lightning will strike the papacy twice running.

What more can one say about his likely views? The next pope will be a socialist; no doubt a democratic socialist, but a socialist all the same. Almost every cardinal and bishop in the Roman Catholic Church, and probably every bishop in the Anglican Church, is a socialist. They are socialists in the same sense as Tony Blair, or Gerhard Schröder, or Jacques Chirac, or Bill Clinton. They are all socialists because they have never studied the liberal argument. That is a pity; liberalism may not be enough, but it is the basis of our culture.

I have been thinking how to put this right, a small task of conversion of a largely socialist world. I thought first of the next pope. I’ve often noticed that bishops, of all Christian denominations, have never read Adam Smith, but know intuitively that they disagree with him. My first thought, therefore, was that I might send a copy of The Wealth of Nations as an inaugural present to the next pope, whoever he might be.


My Comments:
For those unfamiliar with the terminology, when Rees-Mogg refers to "liberalism" in this piece, he's not talking about American-style big government liberalism; he's talking about "classical liberalism", or what we in the States would refer to as "free-market" economic conservatism.

And he certainly may be right that the Church hierarchy is sorely lacking in understanding the benefits of free economies. But Rees-Mogg should also be willing to acknowledge the shortcomings of the free market - and the effect of these shortcomings on vulnerable populations - with which the Church rightly concerns itself.

So, while I agree that the Vatican could use a healthy dose of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, I also think that the vast majority of classical liberal free marketers could benefit from a healthy dose of the late Holy Father's 1991 encyclical, Centesimus Annus, which cautions against the excesses of capitalism deprived of moral guidance, and governed solely by consumerism.

See the discussion on this topic over at Amy Welborn's blog.

For a real-world example, see The Conservative Case Against Wal-Mart at the Mirror of Justice blog.

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Michael Novak on National Review Online: "Farewell To A Great"

Michael Novak, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission and George F. Jewett Chair in Religion and Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute, writes of the late Pope John Paul II on National Review Online, “There was a man!”:

Well, it seems to be sticking. Signs in the crowds at the funeral read: JOHN PAUL THE GREAT, even JOHANNIS PAULUS MAGNUS, which has about it the air of the ages. Indeed, it has been 1,400 years since the last pope was by popular acclaim called "the Great" — that was Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) — and before him there was only Leo the Great (440-461). I do not recall so much emotion at one event in my lifetime — so many arduous hardships endured by so many just to arrive here, so many truly devout and heartfelt prayers, so many declarations of loyalty and love, so embracing a sense of friendship. The crowds were immensely respectful of one another, across nationalities and races. They wanted these moments in Rome to be worthy of him, and of Him whom he served.

I wonder whether there has ever been so great a crowd at the death of any single human being in history. I wonder whether any single human being has been loved by people of so many different religions and races and regions — so loved, so honored, so esteemed, and already so sorely missed.

How great he was, we shall only know decades, maybe centuries, hence. But those who follow us in the distant future need to know that the wave of feeling here in Rome at his death — and, apparently, on television worldwide — is deeper than emotion. It springs from a very deep and ineffable part of the soul. And it is not, exactly, a sorrow that he is gone. We know that he is with us still, interceding for us before the Lord. We know very well that now he is interior to us, not just exterior, as he perforce was in the flesh. Yet in him we had such a privilege. His kind is so utterly rare. He may be the one man most like Christ in the whole history of the papacy — well, if I am wrong about that, there cannot have been many in whom nature had vested so many human gifts, to show forth the manifold sides of Christ the Lord, "in Whom and by Whom and with Whom were made all the things that were made." So many gifts endowed in Karol Wojtyla that all nature might stand back and say: "There was a man!"

It will be nigh impossible for the cardinals, even if some would, to turn now in another direction. I think they must keep faith with the millions in the streets and weeping before their television sets worldwide. At all times, the Catholic Church (now 1.1 billion strong, and the fastest growing religious body in the world) turns like a great aircraft carrier — very slowly. It now owes it to its greatest leader ever to sail straight ahead, directly into prevailing winds. The very winds into which our admiral joyfully sailed: "Be Not Afraid!"


See also Novak's tribute at titled "John Paul the Great - Reminiscences and Reflections."


Monday, April 11, 2005

National Review Online: No “Mixed” Legacy for John Paul II

Colleen Carroll Campbell writes on National Review Online that, despite former (and, might I add, impeached) President Bill Clinton's assessment of the pontificate of the late Holy Father as "mixed", Pope John Paul II led his Church into a springtime:

While on his way to largest funeral in history, former U.S. President Bill Clinton ruminated aloud about Pope John Paul II's legacy.

"He centralized authority in the papacy again and enforced a very conservative theological doctrine," Pastor Bill explained to reporters aboard Air Force One. "There will be debates about that. The number of Catholics increased by 250 million on his watch. But the numbers of priests didn't."

Bill's conclusion? "He's like all of us. He may have had a mixed legacy."

true picture is much rosier than the one generally painted by American journalists. Though the number of priests in North America dropped from about 72,000 in 1961 to about 58,000 in 2001, and the number in Europe fell from about 251,000 to about 207,000 priests during that time, other parts of the world have seen a simultaneous explosion of priestly vocations. Between 1961 and 2001, the number of priests in Latin America rose from about 43,000 to about 63,000, the number in Africa climbed from about 17,000 to about 28,000, and in Asia, their ranks shot up from about 26,000 to about 45,000. Last year, the Vatican counted about 405,000 priests worldwide, up from 404,000 in 1961.

The net worldwide increase of priests is offset by the rapid growth of Catholicism and the world's population. There are now more than one billion Catholics in the world, and nearly 15 percent of Catholic parishes today were created in the last 30 years. In many places, more priests are desperately needed to administer to the sacraments to the faithful. But the higher demand for those sacraments is hardly an indictment of Pope John Paul's leadership. If anything, it is a testament to his great gift as an evangelist who traveled to the ends of the earth to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

That springtime of vocations is only one part of a larger springtime of faith that is blossoming in the Catholic Church, something for which John Paul prayed and struggled throughout his 26-year pontificate. His is not a mixed legacy but one pregnant with possibility, a legacy still unfolding in the lives of young Catholics around the globe.


Also, see Rich Leonardi's comments on this NRO piece.

Labels: More Liberal Pope Unlikely

Ya think?
The majority of America's Roman Catholics tell pollsters they want a greater voice for the laity in the church, that priests should be allowed to marry and that there should even be women in the clergy.

As the world's focus turns to the secretive election of the pope beginning April 18, those U.S. Catholics might want to prepare themselves for some disappointment.

The winner seems certain to continue John Paul II's progressive policies on social issues such as war and peace, human rights and concern for the poor. But on hot-button concerns that so captivate U.S. Catholics, and often the media, expect no changes. That includes the late pope's firm policies against women priests, divorce and remarriage, birth control, gay sex, same-sex marriage, abortion, mercy-killing and stem cell research using human embryos.

A moderate pope might speak less about birth control than John Paul did, for instance, or tolerate theologians' discussion about topics like women priests. A pope might stop using such issues as litmus tests in picking bishops. Or he could subtly allow local dioceses to decide whether to allow Communion for some remarried Catholics, even if they lack annulments.

However, it's also conceivable the next pope will be more conservative than John Paul, which in some ways would please Catholics in developing countries, where the faith is growing.

Also includes poll results from a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup telephone survey of 254 U.S. Catholic adults conducted April 1-2. Clearly agenda driven, notice what the poll doesn't ask.

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Greeley: Third World Pope Need Not Apply

For whatever his opinion is worth, Andrew Greeley reports the following "news" from Rome:

"No Third World cardinal need apply for the job, so says the buzz here in these grim, rainy days after the burial of the pope. It is not yet the time for a South American or African pope -- kind of like the days when it was said it was not yet the time for a black baseball player or a black quarterback or a black head coach in the NFL. The buzz comes from certain Italian and especially curial cardinals (not all of either) and their allies in the "new" movements like the Legionnaires of Christ. It is designed to counter the media buzz of a few days ago about the possibility of such a choice -- an idea not totally lacking in intelligence."


If you keep reading, it is not altogether clear that there really is any impediment to the election of a Pope from the Third World, and Greeley offers no real proof - only "buzz". In addition, it becomes clear that when Greeley says "Third World", he's actually saying "Brazil": Greeley spends the entire piece talking about Catholicism in Brazil, not Catholicism in the "Third World".

So, one is left with the impression that Greeley favors electing a Pope from Brazil, which, to my mind, indicates his partiality towards Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, O.F.M., Archbishop of São Paulo.

Now, I know very little about Cardinal Hummes, so wouldn't presume to pass judgment on his papability. Furthermore, Greeley does have a point about Brazil being the "most Catholic" country in the world. But I also know that if Andrew Greeley favors a particular candidate to lead the Catholic Church, something deep inside of me hopes the Conclave will look elsewhere for the next Pope.

Here is what someone on said about Greeley's opinion piece:
(1) Greeley is a known scumbag.
(2) He was something of a Vatican insider in the early 70s, but following John Paul II's election he lost his juice.
(3) He was always a critic of John Paul II from the get-go, because of above-listed fact (1).
(4) He wants a Brazilian candidate because the only Brazilian candidate with enough prestige is liberal enough that Greeley can deal with him.
(5) Greeley wants to avoid the election of Cardinal Arinze at all costs and will talk down the chances of a Third World cardinal in general while advancing the Brazilian cause in particular.
(6) Greeley is a known scumbag.

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Santo Subito! - John Paul II on fast track for canonization?

From "The cause for beatification and canonization of Pope John Paul II could move forward very quickly, according to the secretary of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints."

From "The Italian daily Corriere della Sera writes that Pope John Paul II may be beatified already in October in the first stage towards becoming a Roman Catholic saint."

From Zenit News Agency: "[Cardinal Marchisano] who worked closely with John Paul II says that he was once cured of a serious throat condition after the Pope prayed for him and touched the affected area."

From Khaleej Times Online: "The private secretary of the late Pope John Paul II saw the pontiff perform what could be claimed as a miracle, one of the key stages to becoming a saint, Italy’s La Stampa newspaper reported Sunday. It quoted Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz as relating how an American who was seriously ill received communion from the pope, and was cured."

Update: From ABC News Online: "Alleged Miracles Attributed to John Paul - Reports Flooding in of Alleged Miracles Attributed to John Paul; None Fits Rules So Far."


Saturday, April 09, 2005

Be Not Afraid ...

Check out Mark Windsor's new blog: Be Not Afraid ... A journal of Catholicism in the modern world.

"Be not afraid" -- now, where have I heard that before?


Friday, April 08, 2005

Catholic League: Pope's Burial Ends the Lull—Storm Coming

Today, Catholic League president William Donohue remarked as follows:

“The storm is about to hit. For the most part, anti-Catholic bigots and the disaffected dissidents within the Church have been quiet. What they have been waiting for is about to happen: the week between the end of the mourning and the beginning of the conclave is upon us. And that means the Left is ready to explode.

“Consider what we’ve heard already. Amidst the mostly favorable coverage by the media of Pope John Paul II, he has been branded as follows: an authoritarian who seeks to silence dissent; the enemy of homosexuals; a misogynist; a polarizing figure; a man who is out of touch with the modern world; a contributor to death due to AIDS in Africa; responsible for the sexual abuse scandal; and so on.”


My Comments:

Brace yourselves. The attacks started last Friday before John Paul II was even dead, although the attacks were tempered by grudging praise for the Pope's accomplishments. Now that the time has passed for the mainstream media to give him credit for those of his accomplishments that it deems worthy of notice, the attacks will just get worse.

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Presidents and the Pope

From Newsweek online:

George W. Bush is the first sitting president to attend a papal funeral. His attendance speaks volumes about U.S. relations with the Vatican and the role of Roman Catholics in American politics.

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Thursday, April 07, 2005


You've got to see this AP story that quotes a number of "[Democrat Campaign] Consultants on [the] Papal Election." Here's just one example of the tripe that passes for conclave punditry among the liberal chattering classes of American politics:

"If ever there were a smoke-filled room, this is it."

-Democratic consultant Donna Brazile, who remembered the Latin masses from growing up Catholic in the South and her childhood wish to become a priest until learning women cannot be ordained.


No wonder the Democrats have problems winning over religious voters -- their remarks in this AP story confirm them to be religion-illiterate buffoons who view every decision of faith from a completely political perspective. Absolutely clueless!

Notice that no GOP consultant was stupid enough to get himself/herself quoted in this spiritually tone-deaf (even by MSM standards) piece.

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Pope John Paul II Caused Party Switch Among American Catholics

James Taranto says that, contrary to mainstream media commentary suggesting that American Catholics largely ignored the "conservative" teachings of Pope John Paul II, "millions of Catholics have changed their party affiliation from Democrat to Republican, largely influenced by the Pope's teaching on the 'Culture of Life'."
"So, as some liberals saw Pope John Paul II as a dividing force on moral issues, there is no question that his influence helped align a significant amount of practicing Catholics with the pro-life party. This was particularly true in 2004, when President Bush outpolled Senator Kerry (a Catholic) among Catholics by a margin of 52 - 47, as several bishops objected to John Kerry's liberal views on social issues."
[Read More]

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Livid Lawmaker - Corzine Angry over Papal Funeral "Snub" of Carter

From Fox News' Political Grapevine:

"New Jersey Democrat Jon Corzine's office put out a statement today saying the Senator was 'livid' that President Bush 'refused to allow' Jimmy Carter to join the official U.S. delegation to the Vatican. Corzine accused the President of 'injecting petty partisan politics' into the Pope's death, and called the 'snub,' 'sad, disappointing, and extremely disturbing.'

"But Carter says he was invited to join the delegation and declined, saying that because of the limited number of invitations, he would defer to others who wanted to attend. What's more, Corzine now admits to FOX News that he hasn't spoken with President Carter on the issue and has no evidence to suggest that Carter was snubbed by the White House."

My Comments:
Imagine that. Without any evidence whatsoever, and without bothering to verify the truth of the matter, a Democrat U.S. Senator accuses President Bush of playing "petty partisan politics" with respect to putting together the official U.S. delegation to the funeral of Pope John Paul II -- just because Jimmy Carter isn't among the dignitaries attending, even though he was, if Corzine had bothered to check, invited.

Contrary to Corzine's assertion that the White House injected "petty partisan politics" into the decision, if anyone is using the death of the Holy Father to try to score cheap political points, it's Democrats like Corzine who make unsubstantiated accusations in an effort to embarrass the President on the world stage. Oh yeah, and let's not forget their willing accomplices in the media like Today Show hosts Matt Lauer and Katie Couric and their guest Andrea Mitchell who engaged in such factually unsupported speculation yesterday.

As for Corzine's knee-jerk assumptions and his willingness to cheapen the solemnity of the Papal Funeral for the purpose of political grandstanding, it seems that money may be able to buy you a seat in the United States Senate, but it sure can't buy you class.

Sources say that Jimmy Carter's real motivation behind his desire to be in Rome is so that the Carter Center can monitor the upcoming Papal election for fairness. Apparently, Carter is responding to concerns raised by advocates for "social justice" and "liberation theology" about efforts within the College of Cardinals to impose a right-wing autocratic theocracy upon the Catholic Church.

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