Friday, April 28, 2006

Virginia Governor Lacks Courage of His Convictions: Allows Execution Despite Anti-Death Penalty Beliefs

From The Washington Post:
Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine rejected a plea for clemency yesterday from convicted killer Dexter Lee Vinson, allowing his execution to go forward in the first test of Kaine's stated public resolve to uphold the death penalty despite his personal opposition.

Vinson, 43, was executed by lethal injection last night in Virginia's death chamber for abducting, stabbing and sexually mutilating his ex-girlfriend in Portsmouth in 1997. He was pronounced dead at 9:15 at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, said Larry Traylor, a Department of Corrections spokesman.

"I find no compelling reasons to doubt Mr. Vinson's guilt or to invalidate the sentence recommended by the jury and imposed, and affirmed, by the courts," Kaine said in a brief statement issued 2 1/2 hours before Vinson was put to death. "Accordingly, I decline to intervene."

With those words, Kaine made good on a promise he spoke directly and repeatedly to Virginians last year at campaign rallies and in television ads: that his personal and long-standing opposition to the death penalty, based on his Catholic faith, would not prevent him from allowing the ultimate punishment to be carried out.

(emphasis added)
My Comments:
Unfortunately, Tim Kaine takes the same approach when it comes to his allegedly "personal and long-standing opposition" to abortion.

UPDATE (2 May 2006):
One more thing. Virginia, I believe, has the 2nd highest number of executions annually, behind Texas. It's interesting to note that leftists who mock George W. Bush as the "texecutioner" because of the number of executions that took place during his stint as Governor of Texas don't seem to have any qualms about the executions taking place under the 2 most recent Democrat Governors of Virginia.

This despite the fact that the Governor of Virginia has REAL power to grant clemency, unlike the Governor of Texas who has NO SUCH POWER unless a recommendation of clemency is made by the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole (something they NEVER do).

An Open Letter to the Notre Dame Community Regarding Catholic Identity [UPDATED AGAIN]

NOTE: I am republishing this post, originally published on April 19, 2006, due to recent updates.

ORIGINAL POST (19 April 2006):
(Hat tip: Southern Appeal)

On the basis of his excellent open letter to the University of Notre Dame community (published in The Observer - the independent newspaper serving Notre Dame and Saint Mary's), it looks like I may have to reconsider my initial assessment of Notre Dame Theolology Deparment Chairman, John C. Cavadini. Here is an excerpt from his open letter:
... The President's statement [the recent "closing statement" of Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins regarding The Vagina Monologues and "academic freedom" at a Catholic university] repeatedly refers to "the Catholic intellectual tradition," a phrase that in itself is unobjectionable but which has now become almost a circumlocution used to avoid mentioning what seems unfashionable and almost unthinkable to mention, namely, the Church.

But Ex Corde Ecclesiae, which the President's statement cites, speaks of a relationship not in the first place between the Catholic university and the Catholic intellectual tradition, but between the Catholic university and the Church. And, whether we recognize it or not, this relationship to the Church - to the real, incarnate Body of Christ, the Church as it is with all its blemishes and not the abstract, idealized Church in our minds - is the lifeblood and only guarantee of our identity as a Catholic university. There is no Catholic identity apart from affiliation with the Church. Appeal to "the Catholic intellectual tradition" apart from some explicit relationship to the Church risks reducing the tradition itself to an abstraction.

The local bishop's statements
[Bishop John D'Arcy of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese said he was "deeply saddened" by Jenkins' decision] in the present case are not even mentioned, and bringing them up almost seems like an offense in polite intellectual company. I am not saying that there must be a direct connection between the statements of the bishop and particular policies of the University, but neither has the bishop ever said that, not even in this case, and in any event the main point, again, is that his views and those of the magisterium in general have come to seem unworthy even of mention as possibly and in some small way determinative of our identity.

The President's statement, as a way of going forward, seems to ratify our unspoken declaration of independence from the Church, to permit it as the "default" mode of operation, and to invite the reduction of any model of the university which entails any explicit relationship to the magisterium of the Church as a "seminary" model (pace all intellectually rigorous seminary programs, including our own). This is to invite and to cultivate an intellectual tradition that is not moored to any ecclesial community or authority that could have a claim on defining that intellectual tradition. It is to invite and to cultivate an intellectual tradition in which "Catholic" is not normed by accountability to any incarnate, historical body but only to the disincarnate, a-historical church of the mind.

The ancient Gnostic heresy developed an elitist intellectual tradition which eschewed connection to the "fleshly" church of the bishop and devalued or spiritualized the sacraments. Are we in danger of developing a gnosticized version of the "Catholic intellectual tradition," one which floats free of any norming connection and so free of any concrete claim to Catholic identity?

But everyone who is honestly invested in Catholic identity, in a genuine Catholic intellectual tradition, in the special intellectual witness that is demanded of a Catholic university, should feel some caution, and even some regret, at the absence of any explicit commitment to accountability to the Church reflected in the President's statement, and in the early positive responses it received. Without a sense of the University's close relationship with, and accountability to, the Church, the unique and precious intellectual fabric that we have woven here and which many, including many who are not Catholic, have come to value precisely because of its special character and witness, can never in the long run be sustained.

(emphasis and editorial commentary added)
My Comments:
After reading this letter, I feel a little like Elizabeth Bennett, with Father Jenkins in the role of Mr. Wickham and Professor Cavadini in the role of Mr. Darcy. It seems that my first impression resulted in my prejudicial misreading of which is the hero and which is the villain.

Now, let's see, who can play the role of the bufoonish man-of-the-cloth, Mr. Collins? Since we're talking about Notre Dame, I'd say Father Richard McBrien, MSM, is perfect for the part!

UPDATE (20 April 2006):
Amy Welborn links to yet another letter from a faculty member critical of Father Jenkins, this time from Rev. John J. Coughlin, O.F.M. a Notre Dame professor of law:
Given the less than ideal state of Catholic intellectual life at Notre Dame, how might the president of the University respond? To be sure, he should not retreat from the dialogue as it was intended by Vatican II. Whoever the President of the University is at this perilous yet promising time, he would be well advised to come to terms with reality, drink deeply from the living fountain of faith and act with all in his power to strengthen Catholic intellectual life. Unfortunately, nowhere in his Closing Statement does Jenkins affirm that Catholic belief is necessarily normative within the Catholic intellectual community. The statement creates the impression that Catholicism is just another "good idea" sometimes at issue and to be batted around in the on-going intellectual debate at the University. Without the recognition of the primacy of Catholic truth claims at Notre Dame, the University's own internal dialogue will fail to ensure integration of faith and reason; and in its dialogue with wider culture, Notre Dame will be a weak partner with little of its own to offer. Truth claims based upon faith and safeguarded by proper authorities remain integral aspects of the Catholic approach to reason. Catholic thinkers as diverse as Augustine and Thomas Aquinas have recognized the need for intellectual humility in light of sacred scripture, tradition and the magisterium of the Church.

UPDATE # 2 (28 April 2006):
Not sure how I missed this letter to The Observer from Notre Dame Associate Professor of History (and Jenkins' fellow member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross), Father Bill Miscamble, C.S.C.:
I write to object to your decision to permit the continued regular production of "The Vagina Monologues" on our campus. I write in this public manner to alert our faculty, colleagues and our treasured students that not all members of the Congregation of Holy Cross, to which we belong, endorse your decision. Speaking for myself, I find the decision deeply damaging to Notre Dame and its mission as a Catholic university. It is a decision that I beg you to reconsider and to reverse.

When you were appointed president of Notre Dame there was hope that you might address and reverse the attenuation and drift in our Catholic mission that characterized our recent past. My own hope was that you would address urgently such crucial issues as faculty hiring, the development of a curriculum that truly conveys the richness of the Catholic intellectual tradition to our students and the insidious effects on teaching and learning of the increasing corporate ethos at Notre Dame. For whatever reasons, you chose to place your initial emphasis on the regular production and sponsorship by elements of the university of "The Vagina Monologues" and "The Queer Film Festival." You put forth the position that "an event which has the implicit or explicit sponsorship of the university as a whole, or one of its units, or a university-recognized organization, and which either is or appears to be in name or content clearly and egregiously contrary to or inconsistent with the fundamental values of a Catholic university, should not be allowed at Notre Dame." This was a position of such obvious good sense that I never considered that you would retreat from it. Sadly, you have done precisely that.

In asking why you would reverse a sound position, which you obviously had reached after much thought and prayer, one must conclude that you were influenced by those contributors to the debate who favored the continued production of "The Vagina Monologues." Presumably, you were influenced by the young women who produce this play and somehow see it as a contribution to the prevention of violence against women. Undoubtedly, you were influenced by the convictions of certain senior Arts and Letters faculty that any restriction on this play would damage our academic "reputation" - and especially among those "preferred peer schools" whose regard we crave. Whatever the reasons, I must tell you that your decision is being portrayed as involving your "backing down." Indeed, it is hard to understand it in any other terms.

You must know that in taking this decision you have brought most joy to those who care least about Notre Dame's Catholic mission. You have won for yourself a certain short-term popularity with some students and certain faculty but have done real damage to our beloved school and its distinct place in American higher education. By your decision you move us further along the dangerous path where we ape our secular peers and take all our signals from them. Knowing you and having conversed with you on matters relating to Notre Dame's Catholic mission in the past, I suspect that you recognize this in your own heart. Yet, you seemingly have let the possibility of some protest cause you to back off your own stated position. You were called to be courageous and you settled for being popular. This is not your best self. This is not genuine leadership.

In your recent "Closing Statement" you reveal a level of naiveté about the process of a Catholic university engaging the broad culture that is striking and deeply harmful to our purpose as a Catholic university. We live at a time, as Yale Law School professor Stephen Carter pointed out some years ago, when the elite culture is programmed to trivialize religion. Furthermore, much of popular culture is deeply antithetical to religious conviction and practice. It offers a worldview completely at odds with any Catholic vision. It is a worldview from which none of us can be sequestered and, indeed, many of our students arrive here far more deeply influenced by the reigning culture than by faith convictions.

Amidst this larger context you are ready to permit the continued production and promotion of a play which, as our colleague Paolo Carroza rightly put it, "seems to reduce the meaning and value of women's lives to their sexual experiences and organs, reinforcing a perspective on the human person that is itself fundamentally a form of violence." Dialogue with this point of view is ridiculous. It should be contested and resisted at Notre Dame but never promoted. Notre Dame must hold to a higher view of the dignity of women and men. Might I ask that if this play does not meet your criteria of an "expression that is overt and insistent in its contempt for the values and sensibilities of this University," then what would?

Just damn. What more can you say? Here's how one Notre Dame law student recently put it at her blog:
As one of my friends stated before, if the whole world was for me, but the people who dissented were Fr. Bill Miscamble, Fr. John Coughlin, Prof. Cavadini and a woman who was raped while she was a Notre Dame student, [ED.: and now Bishop D'Arcy] I would seriously question my decision.
(links and editorial comment added)

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Bishop D'Arcy Issues "Pastoral Response" to Father Jenkins' "Closing Statement"

Rape Survivor (ND Graduate) "Shocked" and "Depressed" by Father Jenkins' "Closing Statement"

Bishop D'Arcy Denounces Notre Dame Policy

Some GOOD Things Happening at Notre Dame, Too

The "Scooby Doo" Ending to the Academic Freedom Debate at Notre Dame

An Open Letter to the Notre Dame Community Regarding Catholic Identity [UPDATED]

Father John Jenkins, Moral Coward

More of the Same at Our Lady's University?

Fr. Richard McBrien, MSM, Cleared of Plagiarism

Update on Andrea Clark - Great News!

Via Jean at Catholic Fire comes this great news from ProLifeBlogs regarding Andrea Clark:

Melanie Childers wrote a thoughtful letter to you, all those who fought and prayed for the life of her sister, Andrea Clark:

My family has made the decision to move our sister to the hospital in Chicago. Thank God there is someone willing to take her. And, really, it is best to get her out of Texas, because of the futile care law here.

St. Luke's played hardball with us on this issue. We were told that we could make the decision today and they would pay the entire amount of $14 thousand to move her, but if we made the decision tomorrow, they would only pay half of it, and if it were the day after tomorrow, they would pay nothing.

As you know, I'm a Democrat, but one that is against abortion. I agree with the Republicans on that issue, at least. After this experience, though, I have to tell you: I am in absolute awe of the power that the right to life people generate. I, of course, first posted on Democratic Underground, and I have to give them some credit: they let my post stand against the rules about posting something like this under the wrong topic. They also let it stand, even though it had people's (my sister's and mine) personal numbers in it. And, of course, some people there forwarded it to other blogs. And everyone there was very supportive in their comments, as well.

But the pro-life people stepped forward and just absolutely ground St. Luke's into submission on this issue. You have, without a doubt, saved my sister's life. I want you to know that. Without the pro-life/right to life people stepping in from the very first of this fight for Andrea, we would have lost. I have never in my life seen such a centered, focused and energized group of people.

You used that energy and focus to do some good in this world and you didn't care whether you were fighting for a Democrat's life or a Republican's. Now, that's conviction.


George Weigel on the "Truce of 1968" (Again)

This seems somewhat relevant in light of the current condom controversy in the Church:
In 1968, Cardinal Patrick O'Boyle of Washington, D.C., disciplined 19 priests who had publicly dissented from Pope Paul VI's teaching in the encyclical Humanae Vitae.

Three years later, the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy decreed that Cardinal O'Boyle should lift canonical penalties against those priests who informed the cardinal privately that they agreed that the Church's teaching on "the objective evil of contraception" was "an authentic expression of [the] magisterium."

The Congregation explicitly avoided requiring that the priests, who had dissented publicly, retract their dissent publicly. A new biography of O'Boyle, Steadfast in the Faith (Catholic University of America Press), suggests that the decision not to require a public retraction was made by Paul VI himself.

The Truce of 1968 taught theologians, priests and other Church professionals that dissent from authoritative teaching was, essentially, cost-free.

The Truce of 1968 taught bishops inclined to defend authoritative Catholic teaching vigorously that they should think twice about doing so, if controversy were likely to follow; Rome, fearing schism, was nervous about public action against dissent. The result, as I put it in "Courage," was that "a generation of Catholic bishops came to think of themselves less as authoritative teachers than as moderators of an ongoing dialogue whose primary responsibility was to keep everyone in the conversation and in play."

And Catholic lay people learned, as I wrote, "that virtually everything in the Church was questionable: doctrine, morals, the priesthood, the episcopate, the lot." Thus the impulse toward Cafeteria Catholicism got a decisive boost from the Truce of 1968: if the bishops and the Holy See were not going to defend seriously the Church's teaching on this matter, then picking-and-choosing in a supermarket of doctrinal and moral possibilities seemed, not simply all right, but actually admirable --- an exercise in maturity, as was often suggested at the time.

Did the Truce of 1968 cause a "widespread rejection of Humanae Vitae" among Catholics? No, that happened before the Vatican intervention in the Washington Case, and no serious observer doubts that there was widespread rejection of the classic Catholic teaching on artificial contraception before Humanae Vitae was issued. What the Truce of 1968 did do, however, was make it far harder for those prepared to explain and defend the Church's teaching to do so.

(emphasis added)

Related from American Papist: "UK Tablet article & editorial on the condom debate"

Vocations and Extended Family

From the Diocese of Toledo's vocations blog, Follow Me: Seeking to Find God in Everyday Experience:
Extended Family
April 26th, 2006
by Sr. Marilyn Marie Ellerbrock

Yesterday as I visited the funeral home for the mother of Bishop Leonard Blair I was reminded of one of the great gifts of our lifestyle as priests and sisters. I was privileged to be welcomed into the Blair family and experience this moment in their history in a unique way because of my ministry with Bishop Blair. And I was not alone. I watched as former parishioners and priests of the Archdiocese of Detroit came to pray and support the family. I also knew that a large number of priests and members of the Toledo Diocese had been there before us and more were still to come.

Certainly, our call to celibacy means that we don’t marry and have a biological family of our own. When I look at the lives impacted by Bishop Blair during his priestly ministry and the people he brings into relationship with his family, I thank God for the “extended family” that our lifestyle makes possible.

While I will not give physical birth to children, I’ve introduced my mother and other family members to so many people who are part of my life. Perhaps this is something of the “hundredfold” that Jesus promised: “Everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life” (Matt. 19: 29).
My Comments:
I was unaware of the passing of Bishop Blair's mother. My prayers and condolences go out to our Bishop. May his departed mother rest in peace.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Bishop D'Arcy Issues "Pastoral Response" to Father Jenkins' "Closing Statement"

(Hat tip: Emily at The Shrine of the Holy Whapping)

Taking his teaching role as a Bishop seriously, Bishop John D'Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend has issued a "Pastoral Response" to Father Jenkins' "Closing Statement" regarding The Vagina Monologues, academic freedom, and Notre Dame's Catholic character:
Pastoral response to 'A Closing Statement on
Academic Freedom and Catholic Character'
by Father John Jenkins, CSC

By Bishop John M. D'Arcy
Today's Catholic
April 30, 2006

Father John Jenkins, CSC, shared with me his decision and the rationale that supported it at the same time he shared it with the press, the afternoon before it was released to the public. Holy Week and the beautiful pastoral responsibilities it brings followed immediately, but now, with these responsibilities completed, I am able to respond to the decision and the material that accompanied it in a way that is more adequate, and thus try to fulfill my pastoral obligation.

A bishop is bound to preach the Gospel. In fact, if St. Paul is taken at his word, it seems that this obligation relates directly to his eternal salvation. “If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it.” — 1 Cor. 9, 16. Surely, this sacred responsibility does not relate only to the preaching of the Gospel on Sunday at the holy liturgy, though that is always central. It also requires the bishop to apply the Gospel and the teachings of the church to the questions of the time, and, indeed, to his own pastoral decisions. If we do not accept that, there is the danger that the Gospel would become irrelevant and the ministry of the bishop greatly weakened.

Academic freedom
In the discussion which Father Jenkins initiated with his talk in January to the university faculty and later to the students, and also in his closing statement, he spoke about academic freedom and the Catholic character of Notre Dame.

In “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” Pope John Paul II, himself a longtime professor in a Catholic university, wrote with clarity about academic freedom at a Catholic university. Among other things, he said that a Catholic university:

“… possesses that institutional autonomy necessary to perform its functions effectively and guarantees its members academic freedom, so long as the rights of the individual person and of the community are preserved within the confines of the truth and the common good.” — “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” 12.

Although Father Jenkins cited “Ex Corde Ecclesiae” in his closing statement, he did not cite its teaching on academic freedom or related matters, and this would have seemed especially relevant in a closing statement on academic freedom in relation to Catholic character. This teaching simply carries forward teaching on the freedom of inquiry stated earlier by the Second Vatican Council (“Guadium et Spes,” 59) and the 1966 Declaration on Catholic Education, where freedom of inquiry is founded on the same principles. These principles, the rights of individuals, the truth and the common good, also constitute central parts of Catholic social teaching and Catholic ethics. Indeed, if properly understood, they do not restrict academic freedom, but enlarge it and give it a color that is truly Catholic.

Nowhere in his comments does Father Jenkins speak of these principles or the tradition of freedom of inquiry that is based on them. I found this difficult to understand and trust that this teaching was not considered irrelevant.

This is all the more surprising because the University of Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees and the officers of the university traveled to the Holy See for their February meeting, immediately after Father Jenkins’ January presentation to the Notre Dame community. They visited some close collaborators of Pope Benedict XVI, cardinals and bishops, and even, briefly, the Holy Father himself. Presumably this indicated at least an openness to considering the teachings of the Holy See on matters relevant to a Catholic university community. Yet, upon returning to Notre Dame and listening to varied viewpoints, they made no mention of the principles of Pope John Paul II, and the Second Vatican Council before him, relative to freedom of inquiry in general and to academic freedom in a Catholic university in particular. It seems appropriate to raise the question as to why were such principles not considered worthy to be part of the campus-wide debate.

Father Jenkins noted that he even took time to visit with the young women who had acted in this unfortunate play at the heart of the present controversy. Knowing Father Jenkins, I am sure that this was a pastoral visit and showed his desire to assist them spiritually. But, it seems appropriate to ask, if Father Jenkins gave access to these young women and allowed himself to be influenced by them, as he claims, is it too much to expect that he also would have given access to the understanding of academic freedom in a Catholic university put forward by Pope John Paul II? The papacy, after all, is a teaching office. Would it have been too much to expect that, after his gracious visit to the Holy See, (memorialized in the pictures sent out to alumni and to all U.S. bishops in the recent edition of Notre Dame Magazine) the teaching of Pope John Paul II on academic freedom might have at least been part of the conversation, which went on at Notre Dame for 10 weeks? It might even have had some influence. If, as Father Jenkins says, it was his determination that “we should not suppress speech on this campus,” then the speech of Pope John Paul II might have become an influential part of the dialogue. But, if it was the intention that it not be admitted and discussed, what would be the purpose of going to Rome?

Also, it should be noted that, as local bishop, I wrote extensively on this matter three years in a row, as the office I am privileged to hold is also about teaching, and teaching in communion with the successor of St. Peter, as I promised on the day I was ordained a bishop. I, too, presented each year this understanding of academic freedom; but, alas, my words were also absent from Father Jenkins’ statement and from the 10-week dialogue at Notre Dame.

Further, Pope Benedict XVI wrote a striking passage in the first encyclical of his pontificate, “God Is Love,” that is relevant to the play in question. He addresses the “contemporary way of exalting the body,” and judges it deceptive. This insight of the new pope also did not find its way into the continuing dialogue conducted at Notre Dame although I cited it at some length in my statement of Feb. 12, 2006 in our diocesan newspaper. Would it not seem that this would have been very respectful and, indeed, a matter of ecclesial faith to complete the dialogue begun in Rome, and to help Pope Benedict in his teaching to reach the hearts of the young people at Notre Dame? Not only because he is the pope, but because his insight on the true nature of love and the place of the body in love is a result of genuine scholarship, scholarship which is not only biblical but also philosophically and historically informed and rooted in faith?

The truth
The term truth is mentioned twice in Father Jenkins’ rationale, and, both times as something for which we search. The search for truth is central to the work of a Catholic university. Also central is that we hold some truths as revealed by God and taught by the church; for example, the dignity of the human person. Truth is something we search for, but it is also something we receive. Surely at Notre Dame we do not find any serious objection to the fact that it is possible for men and women, through study, prayer and faith, to know the truth and base their lives on this truth.

Pope John Paul II, himself a longtime professor in a Catholic university, as already mentioned, puts it clearly:

“A Catholic university’s privileged task is to ‘to unite existentially by intellectual effort two orders of reality that too frequently tend to be placed in opposition as though they were antithetical: the search for truth, and the certainty of already knowing the fount of truth’.” — “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” 1, Discourse to the “Institut Catholique de Paris” June 1980,

What I found to be missing in the decision at Notre Dame and in the rationale of Father Jenkins that accompanied it is any sense that critical decisions for a Catholic university must be based on truth as revealed by Christ and held by the church. Also, I could not find there any mention of the essential link between freedom and truth.

A personal and concluding word
... My pastoral concern is not only because of the decision not to ban the play, but because of the rationale that accompanied the decision. It fails to give room to the great truths of the faith. The teaching of the church on sexuality, on academic freedom, on the relationship between a man and a woman and on the human body is hardly mentioned, except to admit that the play stands apart from, and is even opposed to, Catholic teaching. The truths of faith seem not to have been brought to bear on this decision. Is this an omission that will mark the future of such decisions for this school so blessed by Our Lady and by countless scholars and students over the years? I pray that it not be so; for that would, indeed, mark it as a mistake of historic proportions. As a shepherd with responsibility to Notre Dame, I must point out to her leaders that this judgment and the way it has been explained calls for further, more informed consideration.
Please read the whole thing.

Given the past week's barrage of thoughtful and cogent arguments against his policy coming from some fairly heavy hitters (including, now, the Bishop), I think it's safe to say that if Father Jenkins thought his "Closing Statement" was going to be the last word on this matter, he seriously miscalculated.

UPDATE (28 April 2006):
Once again, be sure to read the interesting comments that always ensue over at Amy Welborn's blog.

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Rape Survivor (ND Graduate) "Shocked" and "Depressed" by Father Jenkins' "Closing Statement"

Bishop D'Arcy Denounces Notre Dame Policy

Some GOOD Things Happening at Notre Dame, Too

The "Scooby Doo" Ending to the Academic Freedom Debate at Notre Dame

An Open Letter to the Notre Dame Community Regarding Catholic Identity [UPDATED]

Father John Jenkins, Moral Coward

More of the Same at Our Lady's University?

Andrea Clark Case - Breaking News

(Hat tip: Jean at Catholic Fire)

ProLifeBlogs has important breaking news on the Andrea Clark case down in Houston, Texas.

You may recall that Andrea Clark is the woman that St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital is trying to have removed from a respirator against her and her family's wishes, deeming any future treatment as "futile".

Amy Welborn Reviews The Party of Death

Amy Welborn has up her review of Ramesh Ponnuru's new book, The Party of Death:
Ponnuru says that part of the reason he wrote the book is because there had not been a book on life issues published for the general reading public in twenty years, and with the advent of new issues, one was needed. It's a useful book, especially for people who may not be familiar with the issues, or who could use some education. Those who follow life issues closely won't find a great deal that's brand new here, but that's not the point. The value of the book is the way in which Ponnuru connects dots, rips the lid off lies and ambiguities, and asks simple, quite logical questions, as in, "Do pro-choice advocates really disagree with Peter Singer about infanticide?"

I think the most important aspect of this book for all of its readers is the way in which Ponnuru rather relentlessly hangs on to logic and refuses to accept the assumptions of conventional wisdom. The arguments of prolifers are frequently denigrated for having a religious dimension, but really, which argument is based on spiritual voodoo and which on reason? The view that there's some point, based on something that we can't quite commonly define, at which this growing human being somehow enters the human community and before which can be killed? Or the view that says, "Conception. Individual human life begins then. Protect that life from that point on."

[Read more]

Bishop Lynch FINALLY Speaks Out ...

... refers to prudential matters like immigration, capital punishment, and the Iraq War as "litmus tests" [pdf]:
Let me offer three examples from the current moment as a litmus test as to whether or not we truly, ecclesially and individually reflect the caritas Christi. In this local Church, there are approximately 115,000 illegals. For the most part they are working, for below subsistence wages and because of their illegal status they are not accessing social services. They are in baptism overwhelmingly our brothers and sisters in the faith. Where are our voices against the proposed draconian legislation passed by the House of Representatives which in its present form could make this diocese and me a felon for our mobile health car van moving among the camps providing minimal primary medical care? Where is our vocal support for Father Demetrio Lorden and Our Lady of Guadalupe parish, whose whole parish can be deported if this legislation passes. All of our priests and religious are at risk if they choose to offer the love of Christ to an illegal and so are our dedicated generous lay women and men.

The legislation which has passed one chamber and is under current consideration in the Senate could bring about the destruction of families among the illegals and in its present form it will criminalize many of our historical works of mercy among our brothers and sisters. There is no one word of acknowledgment of the contribution to our lives and to our society of these brothers and sisters, hermanas y hermanos. This legislation in its present form makes a mockery of all America stands for and suggests that perhaps we should chisel new words into Emma Lazarus’ famous greeting on the statue of liberty: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free, unless they come from Mexico or some other Central American country. Where my brothers are our voices? Are we afraid? Do we fear risking the ire of those whose minds are settled by a few afternoon radio talk shows?
[ED.: That last sentence tells you all you need to know about Bishop Lynch.] Where is the spirit of the Lord? I beg you to stand with the Church of immigrants to seek a more realistic, far less draconian solution that upholds the dignity of every human person and the unity of every family.

Another area where it might sometimes be more comfortable to remain silent than to address an important justice issue is in the area of capital punishment. This whole week we focus until Easter Sunday on the death of an innocent man.
We know that innocent men and perhaps women have already been executed in this country. [ED.: Well, I know of one innocent woman who was executed in her hospital bed while you played Saul and looked on, holding the cloaks of those who did the killin'.] The Sanhedrin and the Romans probably got away with executing Jesus precisely because he was a poor man who could not afford an attorney to call witnesses in his behalf and make the case for his innocence. [ED.: Huh? Is that what they teach about Christ's Self-sacrificial crucifixion in Catholic seminaries?] Sometimes on this issue I think the Church acts more like the apostles in retreat and in hiding than like the great prophets of old. Have we lost our soul for this part of our ministry? Are we afraid to speak as Pope John Paul did, against the war in Iraq which costs us the lives of too many of our young women and men? Have we lost our soul’s thirst for justice in these times?

(emphasis and editorial comments added)
My Comments:
You have some gall, after giving aid and comfort to those who euthanized Terri Schiavo, to make such a statement!

In case you haven't noticed - I realize you were probably too ... uh ... busy with some of your sideline pursuits to bother studying up on what the Church REALLY teaches - NONE of the 3 issues you mention as "litmus tests" qualify as intrinsic evils, but rather involve prudential judgments. Unlike, say, euthanasia, which IS intrinsically evil, but which you couldn't be bothered to denounce in the case of Terri Schiavo.

Where was YOUR support for Terri Schiavo and the Schindler family when they needed YOU? YOU failed in the ultimate test of speaking out on behalf of the voiceless, defenseless "least of these" in Terri's hour of need. So spare us your indignation over your pathetic litmus tests! Successor to the apostles or no, you make me sick!

(Hat tip: Catholic World News)

Anthony of Jumping Without a Chute also notes the strong stench of hypocricy emanating from Bishop Lynch.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Rape Survivor (ND Graduate) "Shocked" and "Depressed" by Father Jenkins' "Closing Statement"

(Hat tip: Amy Welborn)

From The Observer (Notre Dame's independent newspaper):
Dear Father Jenkins,

I graduated from Notre Dame in 2004. At that time "The Vagina Monologues" was just beginning to reach its zenith on our campus. I particularly remember a day in LaFortune when I was studying for an exam. I was on my way out and as I was walking toward the back entrance, I was accosted by a young woman wearing only some flimsy crime tape around her in the shape of a bikini, telling me that as a woman I should be one of the first in line to attend this year's rendition of "The Vagina Monologues." I looked down at her "bikini" - the words wrapping around her said "Date Rape Free Zone." I looked up again into her eyes and asked, "Have you ever been raped?" Almost puzzled by the directness of my question, she cocked her head to the side before answering "no." I asked all the girls there - not one of them had actually been raped. I turned and walked away, feeling rather violated all over again because two years prior to graduation, I had been the victim of rape.

I am shocked and very sad to hear that you, a Catholic priest and philosopher, choose to keep a spotlight on "The Vagina Monologues" and claim that "The Vagina Monologues" is not, "overt and insistent in its contempt for the values and sensibilities of this University, or of any of the diverse groups that form part of our community." I refrained from writing earlier because I believed given your initial statement on academic freedom that I would really have nothing to worry about. Your recent statement on "The Vagina Monologues" shocked and, quite frankly, depressed me. To say that "The Vagina Monologues" does not violate our Christian identity or show contempt for part of our community is to cross over onto very thin ice. As Catholics we are not allowed to do even a small amount of evil so that good may be obtained. I believe that "The Vagina Monologues" does more than a little evil by further confusing the dignity of women and obtains only an infinitesimal amount of good through its efforts to raise awareness of violence against women. There are much better ways to accomplish this goal while still preserving an open, academic environment.

You remain in my prayers.
Please read the entire letter, and keep this young woman in your prayers. Also, be sure to read the comments at Amy's blog, which are sure to be interesting.

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Bishop D'Arcy Denounces Notre Dame Policy

Some GOOD Things Happening at Notre Dame, Too

The "Scooby Doo" Ending to the Academic Freedom Debate at Notre Dame

An Open Letter to the Notre Dame Community Regarding Catholic Identity [UPDATED]

Father John Jenkins, Moral Coward

More of the Same at Our Lady's University?

Greenpeace to Target Ted Kennedy

The infamous environmental group Greenpeace is targeting Sen. Ted Kennedy for opposing a wind farm in the Nantucket Sound because it would interfere with the view from his Hyannis Port mansion.

Greenpeace is launching a nationwide TV ad campaign against Kennedy, with spots that portray the Massachusetts Democrat as Godzilla.

The Cape Cod Times reports:

"In the 30-second spot, a cartoon Kennedy looms over the water like a Japanese movie monster, pounding wind turbines as they sprout from the water, and barks, 'I might see them from my mansion on the Cape.'"

Kennedy's nephew, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is a leading environmentalist who urges Americans to cut back on energy consumption and who blamed Bush environmental policies for Hurricane Katrina.

But he, too, opposes the wind farm in Nantucket Sound - going so far as to argue that it would cause pollution.
My Comments:
You mean the Kennedys are hypocrites? Shocker!

Clark W. Griswold Middle School Visits Wally World

Life imitates art:
RENO, Nev. - Four bus loads of students from O'Brien Middle School made the four-hour trip to Six Flags Marine World in Vallejo, Calif., only to find the amusement park's gates locked Monday. The school-sponsored trip was supposed to reward top students.

"It was pretty much a fiasco," said Washoe County School District spokesman Steve Mulvenon. "They ended up wasting a day that those kids could have better spent in class or doing what they were going to do at the park."

School officials said the $50 fee will be refunded, and the tour company that arranged the trip has agreed to pay for the next one. "The tour company neglected to check the schedule," Mulvenon said.

"It is just a bummer for the kids," said parent Jeff Wood. "Now, they will have to wait another month to go and a lot of the kids might not be able to go then."

Principal Scott Grange said the school was even given printed tickets with Monday's date on them.

"But shame on us for not checking," he said.
My Comments:
As you can see, the school's principal was pretty upset by the mix-up:

Just to Let You Know Where Amnesty International is Coming From

From LifeSiteNews:
Amnesty International Considers Pushing Enforcement of Abortion as Human Right
Ominously proposes punishing "abuses of sexual and reproductive rights by private persons, organizations"

By John-Henry Westen

NEW YORK, April 25, 2006 ( - Amnesty International (AI) has proposed actively fighting against the right to life for unborn children by using its resources to promote a so-called 'right to abortion'. In proposed changes to its Sexual and Reproductive Rights Policy, the organization has asked members to comment on proposals around AI's abortion position by May 20, 2006.

In its Sexual and Reproductive Rights (SRR) Consultation Kit, AI includes a "Draft Policy statement on Sexual and Reproductive Rights." The policy includes the demand that "Governments must refrain from denying or limiting equal access to sexual and reproductive health services." Adding ominously, "they must act with due diligence to punish abuses of sexual and reproductive rights by private persons, organizations and other non-state actors."

The draft policy also seeks to hamper the right of health care workers to disassociate from abortion services. "The right of individual health care professionals to object on grounds of conscience to providing certain information and services does not absolve them or the health care system for which they work from taking immediate steps to ensure that the necessary treatment is given without delay," says the draft.

In another document reviewing "key" issues regarding sexual and reproductive rights, AI quotes a UN representative who suggests denying abortion constitutes "violence against women". The review states, "Former UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Radhika Coomaraswamy, has stated that 'acts deliberately restraining women from using contraception or from having an abortion constitute violence against women by subjecting women to excessive pregnancies and childbearing against their will, resulting in increased and preventable risks of maternal mortality and morbidity.'"

The AI International Council is already decidedly in favour of promoting abortion as can be deduced from the language they use.

My Comments:
Remember this the next time you read a report of Amnesty International criticizing the United States' human rights record.

For Kennedys, Poor Driving Runs in the Family

This is funny (but only because - unlike other accidents involving the Kennedy clan - no one got killed).

Check out Pat Kennedy's hen scratch in the accident report [pdf]. What the ...?

OHIO: Blackwell, Petro Spar in Social Issues Arena - Abortion, Same-Sex "Marriage" Frame GOP Contest

From the Toledo Blade:

COLUMBUS - On the night of June 10, 1998, six candidates for statewide office gathered at a suburban Columbus home to mingle and give brief speeches to about 100 donors to the National Abortion Rights Action League of Ohio.

They included Lee Fisher, the Democratic candidate for governor, and Jim Petro, the Republican candidate for auditor.

"Clearly, the message of the evening is that choice is not a party issue,'' said Susannah Sagan, former executive director of the National Abortion Rights Action League of Ohio.

Two years later, Mr. Petro changed his position on abortion rights, moving from an advocate to an opponent after soul-searching and conversations with family members.

Critics, however, said Mr. Petro's new stance was aimed at winning a Republican primary for governor in 2006.

Ohio Right to Life's political action committee has endorsed both Mr. Petro and his opponent, Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell.

"Ultimately, the prize is in the general election,'' said Mark Lally, the group's legislative counsel.

With less than a week before the May 2 primary, Mr. Blackwell and Mr. Petro are battling over social issues - from abortion to same-sex marriage. And the rhetoric is growing harsher as they vie for the conservative voters who may be the dominant bloc at the polls.

The contest, some political observers say, is nothing less than a struggle for the soul of the Republican Party in Ohio.

My Comments:

Ken Blackwell is the real deal.

I'm not buying establishment candidate Jim Petro's electorally convenient "conversion" on the issues of abortion and same-sex "marriage".

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Debate About Baylor's Future: Can Baptist Baylor Learn Anything from Catholic Notre Dame?

Drew at the Shrine of the Holy Whapping has a post about what my undergraduate alma mater, Baylor University, can learn from Notre Dame in its efforts to receive recognition as a top-tier school while maintaining its distinctively Southern Baptist character. Will Baylor become the Baptist Notre Dame? Does it even want to?

Drew links to an interesting article in the Associated Baptist Press titled "Debate about Baylor's future asks: Should Baptists learn from Catholics?"

Given the constant infighting that has plagued Baylor for at least the last 20-25 years, I have my doubts that the university will ever be successful in achieving anything other than mid-tier status. And even at that, Baylor's long-term future as a "confessionally Christian" school I think is somewhat in doubt.

The shabby treatment received by renown philosopher, author, and scholar Dr. Francis J. Beckwith, who was recently denied tenure (allegedly for "collegiality" reasons) at Baylor, only confirms my suspicions.

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
First Things on Baylor and Beckwith

Tenure Denial as Revenge

Ashamed of My Alma Mater - Baylor Denies Tenure to Dr. Francis J. Beckwith

Another Bloggiversary to Acknowledge

Congratulations to Publius at Res Publica et Cetera on his 2nd bloggiversary! Keep up the good work, Publius.

Recalling Cokie's "The Pope Against the People"

(Hat tip: Rich Leonardi at Ten Reasons)

In all the coverage of Pope Benedict's 1-year anniversary last week, I had forgotten about this little diatribe from 1 year ago by the nominally "Catholic" Cokie Roberts:
The new pope, Benedict XVI, faces a problem common to many secular leaders. Can he impose a rigid worldview on unwilling followers?

The Roman Catholic Church has never pretended to be a democracy. But it is not immune from the laws of human nature, either, so the question is still valid. Will the faithful accept a pope who stands in stern opposition to the most powerful forces sweeping the world today?

From the purple fingers of Baghdad to the orange scarves of Kiev, people are demanding a greater say in how they live their lives. Yet the cardinals in Rome turned in exactly the opposite direction, picking a pontiff who favors centralized authority and doctrinal obedience while condemning even the smallest whisper of dissent.

As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict was Pope John Paul's enforcer of discipline. Now he will have total control over church offices, appointments and pronouncements. But he won't be able to control the laity, the people who fill the pews and collection plates every Sunday.

Start with the priests. The numbers are plummeting, particularly in the developed world. Even major Catholic institutions like Georgetown University, where many of our relatives studied, are now headed by laypeople.

To many progressive Catholics, one obvious answer to this problem is ordaining women and married men. The elevation of Ratzinger not only closes off those options, it closes off even the discussion of them. But the reality of the problem won't go away. The seminaries and pulpits could get even emptier.

The new pope's disdainful attitude toward women hardly ends with the issue of vocations. He has been a fierce foe of feminism in all its forms, saying that women were becoming "adversaries" of men, and blaming them for the rising divorce rate while letting men who abandon or abuse their wives completely off the hook.

Ratzinger has taken particular aim at feminist nuns, some of whom voiced true distress at his elevation to pontiff. Cokie attended Sacred Heart schools for 12 years and dedicated her latest book to that order because of the powerful impact those nuns had on her life. But there are hardly any American nuns left--women in this country won't give their lives to an institution that treats them as second-class citizens.

So while many Catholics of our generation benefited greatly from the nuns who taught them, churchmen like the new pope make it increasingly likely that the next generation of Catholic school children--and the many non-Catholics who attend church schools--will never know a nun.

As a cardinal, Benedict had a particularly dismal record on the issue of relations with other religions. And as a mixed religious couple--Cokie is Catholic, Steve is Jewish--who respect and embrace each other's traditions, we find this element of his theology particularly disturbing.

The new pope was behind documents that attacked the religious pluralism celebrated in this country, and banned German Catholics from sharing communion with Lutherans. He has described Europe as a Christian continent and condemned attempts by Turkey, a Muslim nation, to join the European community.

His words won't stop Muslims from living and working in Europe, but they could exacerbate tensions at a time when many churchmen want to reach out to the Islamic world, not push it away.

Behind these doctrinal issues is the matter of church governance. Benedict stands for total loyalty to Vatican authority. One example: he instructed U.S. bishops to deny communion to Catholic politicians, like Sen. John Kerry, who do not share the church's condemnation of abortion and homosexuality. Another: as a cardinal, the pope purged the Rev. Charles Curran from the faculty at Catholic University because Curran refused to retract his dissenting views on sexuality.

But the new pope doesn't just oppose dissent, which he equates with "infidelity." He condemns the basic concept of individuality, the defining core of modern philosophy and social thought. In a remarkable homily on the eve of the conclave that made him pope, Cardinal Ratzinger declared: "A dictatorship of relativism is being built that recognizes nothing as definite, and which leaves as the ultimate measure one's ego and desires."

We agree strongly that the value and virtue of religion is to advance basic principles of right and wrong. But it is profoundly misguided to condemn the free expression of individual thought and action as serving only "ego and desires."

Free expression is central to the highest aspirations of the human spirit. Can a pope who does not understand that effectively guide the world's largest religion?
My Comments:
I wonder if Cokie has changed her assessment of the Holy Father 1 year into his pontificate. For that matter, I wonder why she even bothers to call herself Catholic.

NOTE: Cokie's mother, Lindy Boggs, was President Clinton's Ambassador to the Vatican from 1997 to 2001.


Watch what you say about people - you never know who might overhear:
Gym Instructor Mocks Bush In Front Of First Daughters
Tue Apr 25 2006 10:32:05 ET

A spinning instructor at Washington, DC's Sports Club/LA mocked President Bush without realizing (believe it or not) that the first daughters were in his class!

ROLL CALL reports: The instructor, Glenn Makl, is said to be horrified to learn after class that the president's daughters were there to hear his making fun of President Bush and handing out of a video clip compilation of some of the president's more memorable gaffes and malapropisms.


(emphasis added)
My Comments:
Reminds me of my momma's old adage about never saying anything about someone that you wouldn't say to that person's face.

Or in front of his kids.

Bishop D'Arcy Denounces Notre Dame Policy

From The Observer (the independent newspaper serving Notre Dame and Saint Mary's):

In a visit scheduled months before campus controversy about academic freedom would prompt him to issue a statement of disappointment with the University, Bishop John D'Arcy of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese spoke Friday to students and faculty at Notre Dame Law School about a particularly timely topic - the pastoral role of the bishop and his relationship to the Catholic university.

When asked by a student about his relationship with the University administration, D'Arcy connected his pastoral role to the recent debates on academic freedom that have for months embroiled Notre Dame's campus.

"It is important to recognize the independence of the University and its academic freedom," D'Arcy said. "But I have pastoral freedom. I cannot refrain from preaching the Gospel."

In his response to University President Father John Jenkins' April 5 announcement that the "Monologues" would not be prohibited on campus, D'Arcy said he was "deeply saddened" by the decision.

He told audience members Friday that this difference of opinion has affected his connection with the current administration.

"I've always had a very good relationship with three [University] presidents," he said. "It's under stress now. I don't enjoy that."

D'Arcy never referred to "The Vagina Monologues" by its name Friday, calling it instead "the play."

"This is Notre Dame," he said. "We dare to say it is the school of Our Lady. … This place has a special obligation."

The students present questioned the Bishop about how they should express their dissatisfaction with Jenkins' decision to allow the continued performance of the "Monologues" and their concern that dorm Masses are celebrated improperly.

D'Arcy rejected a student's suggestion that Notre Dame was no longer a strictly Catholic university.

"I think among the major universities it is by far the most Catholic," he said. "I have great affection for it, and so does [Pope] Benedict [XVI]."

[Read More]
(emphasis added)

My Comments:
Bishop D'Arcy seems to be taking his teaching role as bishop very seriously. I congratulate him for being front-and-center in his criticism of Father Jenkins' policies.

Still, a part of me would like to see the Bishop move beyond his teaching role on this matter, and exercise the authority of his office to enforce Ex Corde Ecclesiae. Nevertheless, I will trust his judgment if he believes such measures would be counter-productive.

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Some GOOD Things Happening at Notre Dame, Too

The "Scooby Doo" Ending to the Academic Freedom Debate at Notre Dame

An Open Letter to the Notre Dame Community Regarding Catholic Identity [UPDATED]

Father John Jenkins, Moral Coward

More of the Same at Our Lady's University?

The "Culture Wars" - Time to Move On?

Joseph Bottum, writing for the First Things blog On the Square has apparently tired of the culture wars:
Maybe I’ve just gotten too old to stoke the fires of outrage anymore. The cost of aging, Matthew Arnold once wrote, is not that we no longer feel, but that our emotions are things so much less intense than they used to be. We are condemned to “feel but half, and feebly, what we feel.”

But repetition is also a cause of feeling’s decline. Who cares anymore about all that stuff? The culture wars are over, ended by terminal boringness. Oh, there are American campuses, here and there, about which it’s still worth having a fight. And there are degradations of the culture, here and there, that can’t be ignored. But for the most part, the complaint about how bad things are has no purchase left—and ought, I think, to have no purchase left. No one is left to persuade, one way or the other, and the way things are now is pretty much what we’re going to be stuck with for a long time to come.

Of course, the insistence that things be done better isn’t, in itself, a solution. When we’re done moaning about how bad novels are these days, for example, we might go on to say that good literature is the corrective for bad literature. But it ain’t much help to demand that somebody write a good novel. Still, the great conservative complaint of the last fifty years has, I think, finally run its course. Time to move on.

Catholic Bishops Sign Petition To Block Same-Sex Marriages

From The New York Times via The Tech (MIT):
About 50 prominent religious leaders, including seven Roman Catholic cardinals and about a half-dozen archbishops, have signed a petition in support of a constitutional amendment blocking same-sex marriage.

Organizers of the petition said it was in part an effort to revive the groundswell of opposition to same-sex marriage that helped bring many conservative voters to the polls in some pivotal states in 2004. The signers include many influential evangelical Protestants, a few rabbis and an official of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

But both the organizers and gay rights groups said what was striking about the petition was the direct involvement by high-ranking Roman Catholic officials, including 16 bishops. Although the church has long opposed same-sex unions, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had previously endorsed the idea of a constitutional amendment banning such unions, it was evangelical Protestants who generally led the charge when the amendment was debated in 2004.

“The personal involvement of bishops and cardinals is significantly greater this time than in 2004,” said Patrick Korten, a spokesman for the Knights of Columbus, a lay Catholic group.


AP: Catholics and GOP at Odds on Immigrants

From Associated Press via The Boston Globe:
NEW YORK -- The national immigration debate is muddying Republican relations with Roman Catholics, swing voters who make up about one-quarter of the American electorate.

While Catholic bishops and many Republican politicians share opposition to abortion, they are often split over the specifics of immigration changes. Church leaders are challenging, and in some cases even vowing to defy, the tougher enforcement proposals by Republican lawmakers.

The issue highlights roadblocks that the Catholic view creates for Republicans and Democrats. Catholics are generally conservative on personal issues such as marriage, but tend to be liberal on social justice matters. This limits the appeal of both major parties, and leaves Catholics "politically homeless," said the Rev. James L. Heft, president of the Institute of Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California.

"I'd like to see more prolife Democrats," Heft said, ''and social justice Republicans."

Immigration is not the first issue to split Republican and Catholic leaders.

Pope John Paul II opposed the US war on Iraq and the death penalty, for example.

But the latest differences have emerged only months before much of the Congress, which is now controlled by the Republicans is up for reelection.

The rifts also have arisen as the Republicans and Catholics had seemed closer than ever.

"Right now, a higher proportion of Catholic voters would identify with the Republican Party, or some of the themes that the Republican candidates have been using," said David Leege, a professor emeritus at the University of Notre Dame and a specialist on Catholics and politics.

But the impact of the immigration debate is unclear.

"The jury is out on the Catholic vote in long run," Leege said.

Catholics, who had once been perceived as solidly Democratic, have been moving toward the Republican Party for the past 25 years or so.

My Comments:
I think the jury is still out on whether there will be a rift between Catholics and Republicans on the issue. I mean, what is the GOP position on illegal immigration? There doesn't appear to be a coherent one.

President Bush's position is probably fairly close to that of the Catholic Bishops (my own views more closely mirror those of the President than they do the views of the Repbulicans in Congress). The Senate Republicans are still looking for some sort of consensus on the issue. And the House Republicans have passed a bill (with the help of Democrats looking to make political hay out of the issue) that seems quite draconian in some ways. So then, how can Catholics be "at odds" with the GOP over an issue about which the party doesn't appear to have a clear vision.

And let's not forget that the other day, I posted a story that said most Catholics have more "conservative" views on illegal immigration than do the Bishops. So, again, it is not altogether clear to me that this issue will be the wedge that drives Catholic voters away from the GOP.

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this issue:
Catholic Bishops to Left of Flock on Immigration

Illegals Aren't Criminals, Cardinal McCarrick Says

Chairmen Sensenbrenner, King, Hyde Release Open Letter to U.S. Catholic Bishops on Immigration

Hillary Clinton Makes a Pitch For Catholic Voters

Charleston, SC Diocese Takes No Position on Immigration Reform: "A Prudential Issue"

President Bush Meets with Archbishop Chaput to Discuss Immigration Reform

Rep. Peter King: Hillary Should "Go to Confession"

Bishops Take Position Against Immigration Reform

Monday, April 24, 2006

Don't Look Now, but the Pro-Life Movement is Winning

From The Weekly Standard:
The Times They Are a-Changin'
Don't look now, but the pro-life movement is winning.

by Marjorie Dannenfelser
05/01/2006, Volume 011, Issue 31

THE PRO-LIFE MOVEMENT has witnessed a stunning turnaround over the past 10 years. A decade ago, on the heels of a 1992 election season dubbed "the year of the woman," the movement was deeply engaged in the fight on Capitol Hill to stop passage of the Freedom of Choice Act, legislation that would have enshrined in law the "right" to abortion on demand at any stage of pregnancy for any reason or no reason. With the pro-abortion Clintons in the White House appointing radical abortion-rights advocates to the Supreme Court and rolling back Reagan-Bush era executive orders limiting abortion, the pro-life movement clearly was on the defensive.

Today, the landscape looks very different indeed. Two new conservative jurists sit on the Supreme Court, including Chief Justice John Roberts. Sandra Day O'Connor has been replaced by Samuel Alito. This is a potentially important development considering that O'Connor cast the deciding vote in the Stenberg v. Carhart partial-birth abortion decision and was the author of the "undue burden" test--an absurdly subjective standard that precludes almost any reasonable limit on the so-called "woman's right to choose."

The new Roberts court recently ruled in an 8-0 decision that statutes meant to fight organized crime racketeering could not be used against pro-life protesters convicted of violating trespass laws at abortion clinics. The court also declined to strike down a New Hampshire law requiring that parents be notified before their minor daughters obtain abortions, sending the case back to the circuit court for further review and chastising the lower court for overreaching on its decision overruling the Granite State statute. And another partial-birth abortion case is in the judicial pipeline and headed for the Supreme Court. Unlike Stenberg, which involved a state law in Nebraska, this case is a challenge to the federal law banning the grotesque procedure. Thus the new Roberts court will have the opportunity to revisit the previous ruling and subject O'Connor's "undue burden" test to rigorous constitutional scrutiny.

Moreover, legislatures in state after state have passed laws that enjoy overwhelming public support mandating parental notification for minors seeking abortions and requiring women seeking abortions to be fully informed about the medical facts and health implications of the procedure. In Michigan, for example, Governor Jennifer Granholm, a pro-choice Democrat, recently signed a bill requiring abortion clinics to offer women the opportunity to view ultrasound images of their unborn babies. Pro-abortion groups predictably opposed the measure, whose purpose is to fully inform women of the facts about fetal development before they make the potentially life-changing decision to terminate a pregnancy.

The most direct assault on abortion rights, of course, has come from South Dakota, where the legislature passed and the governor signed a bill outlawing all abortions in that state except for those to save the life of the mother. This puts South Dakota on a collision course with Roe v. Wade.

Clearly, the national tide is running strongly in favor of the pro-life movement. How are we to account for this reversal of fortune?


Pope Benedict Praised Cardinal Martini Weeks Before Abortion-IVF Betrayal

From LifeSiteNews:
VATICAN, April 24, 2006 ( - Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini's stunning interview-dialogue, in an Italian weekly last week, which contradicted Church teaching on abortion, in vitro fertilization and condoms, came two weeks after Pope Benedict praised the dissident Cardinal. Speaking to youth of Rome on April 6, in preparation for the diocesan-level World Youth Day, the Pope recommended they read the writings of Cardinal Martini on the Scriptures. reported Friday that the retired Archbishop of Milan, a favourite of liberal dissidents within the Catholic Church, contradicted Church teaching on abortion, calling the current situation of legal abortion "good" or "positive" in that it has "contributed to reducing and eliminating illegal abortions". He also made statements approving limited in vitro fertilization and embryo research, both of which are condemned by the Church (see coverage: )

Speaking to the youth two weeks prior, the Pope pointed out that "one should not read sacred Scripture on one's own . . . it is important to read it in the company of people with whom one can advance, letting oneself be helped by the great masters of 'lectio divina.' For example, we have many beautiful books by Cardinal Martini, a true master of 'lectio divina,' who helps us to enter into the life of sacred Scripture." (see the text of the remarks:

Vatican expert Sandro Magister, who works for L'Espresso, the magazine which published the dialogue Friday, pointed out the Pope's praise for Martini in his opening to the English translation of the complete dialogue. (see the English translation here:

The president of the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life, Bishop Elio Sgreccia, has responded to the issues raised by Cardinal Martini without formally correcting the Cardinal. In an interview with Catholic News Agency (CNA -, Bishop Sgreccia, would not confront the former Archbishop of Milan directly saying: "at the Vatican, we do not consider it necessary make a controversy out of something that does not merit it."
(emphasis added)

My Comments:
Martini's scandalous comments need to be repudiated head on, not pussy-footed around.

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Life Doesn't Start at Conception, But After Says Cardinal Martini

Bishop Wuerl's Name Surfaces for D.C.

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Pittsburgh Bishop Donald W. Wuerl is again being mentioned as a candidate for advancement in the Roman Catholic Church.

Wuerl, 63, could be among those being considered to replace Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, who recently told The Washington Post that he expects to retire soon as archbishop of Washington, D.C.

"I would think that he would be considered. Given his position in the American church, the familiarity that Rome has with him and the time he spent in Rome, I would not be surprised if he was named the archbishop of Washington," Francesco Cesareo, dean of the McAnulty College of Liberal Arts at Duquesne University, said Sunday.

McCarrick submitted his resignation when he turned 75 in July, as required by church law. Cesareo said it would be traditional for Pope Benedict XVI to announce acceptance of McCarrick's retirement and name his successor at the same time.
My Comments:
This is nothing but pure speculation. Nevertheless, if true, I would find it somewhat troubling. You may recall that it was Bishop Wuerl who said that an individual bishop should consult with the other bishops before speaking out on "controversial" issues [like abortion, perhaps?]. His proposal was described as an "attempt to muffle loose cannons".

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Bishop Wuerl: Bishops Should Consult One Another Before Speaking On National Issues Like Kerry And Communion

Congratulations to Fumare!

Congratulations to the bloggers at Fumare on their 1-year bloggiversary! Keep up the good work.

Whatever Happened to ... Bishop Walter F. Sullivan?

(Hat tip: Catholic World News)

From The Virginia Pilot:
He retired in 2003 as the spiritual head of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, but Bishop Walter F. Sullivan hasn't put his clerical crook and miter in permanent storage. Sullivan, the diocese's leader for 29 years, still celebrates Mass at parishes on weekends, and at convents and Catholic retirement homes around the diocese, which includes South Hampton Roads.

"I'm not the boss anymore, I'm not the one in charge, but I haven't lost the ordination as a bishop," Sullivan said. "That is lifelong, and that empowers me to sacramental ministry.

"I haven't folded up my tent and disappeared."

Sullivan left office in September 2003 after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75 . He was succeeded by Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo , who was appointed by Pope John Paul II .

Sullivan's views have not always been shared by DiLorenzo who, for example, rejected Sullivan's proposal to split the diocese in two. The plan would have created a diocese in eastern Virginia with Hampton Roads at its core.

Sullivan declined to assess his successor.

"He's the leader now, and I stay above the fray, you might say," Sullivan said. "I'm supportive of the bishop. He's the one who makes decisions, and I certainly don't want anyone to have the impression I'm around to undermine him."
My Comments:
As for "assessments", I'll just say that, although I disagreed with much of Bishop Sullivan's leadership of the Richmond Diocese, he is a very nice man who was kind to me personally and professionally when I was Mayor of Columbia, Virginia. I'll leave it at that.

"God or the Girl" Finale

I missed the final episode of A&E's "God or the Girl" last night because it came on during one of my wife's favorite shows, "Midsomer Murders", which comes on A&E's sister channel, The Biography Channel. I'll try to catch the finale when A&E replays it sometime this week.

In the meantime, Gashwin Gomes at Maior Autem His Est Caritas has a review of the final episode.

Also, Amy Welborn gives her impressions of the entire series.

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
God or the Girl Reminder

"God or the Girl" - My Impressions

Speaking of Vocations

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Supermodel Arrested for Allegedly Hitting Flight Attendant

(Hat tip: Drudge Report)

From the Miami Herald:
Danish supermodel May Andersen has been arrested for hitting a flight attendant on a flight from Amsterdam to Miami, police said.

The 23-year-old bombshell was aboard Martinair Flight 643 on Thursday. She was ''loud and disruptive all throughout the flight,'' according to a Miami-Dade police spokeswoman.

Airport police arrested the woman when the flight landed. She continued her unruly behavior with officers, police said.

Andersen was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital to check for signs of alcohol or drug abuse, then booked into Miami-Dade County Jail.

The leggy model has worked in advertising for J. Crew and Victoria's Secret, and has posed in Sports Illustrated's famed swimsuit edition.
My Comments:
For those who are critical of the lovely and talented Adriana Lima, at least she hasn't beaten up a flight attendant.

QB Jimmy Clausen Commits to Fighting Irish

(Hat tip: Steve Dillard at Southern Appeal)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Jimmy Clausen, the most acclaimed California prep quarterback since John Elway, will verbally commit to Notre Dame on Saturday.

Clausen's decision was first reported by ESPN college football analyst Lou Holtz. Clausen, a high school senior-to-be, will make his announcement at 8:30 a.m. local time at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend.

According to sources, Clausen chose the Irish over USC so he could be mentored by coach Charlie Weis; he is now the front-runner to replace the graduating Brady Quinn as Notre Dame's starter in 2007.

Clausen, 6-foot-3 and 207 pounds, has thrown 88 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions in his past two seasons at Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village, Calif., his team averaging 53 points a game. He is 27-0 as a starter, has completed 68 percent of his passes over the last two years, has thrown for 7,234 career yards and will have one of his high school games televised live next September on ESPN2.

He is the younger brother of recent Tennessee quarterbacks Casey and Rick Clausen, although both brothers say Jimmy is more accurate, more unflappable and more polished a player.

"He's better than both of us right now," Rick Clausen has said.

My Comments:
Go Irish!

See. Not everything happening these days at Our Lady's University is bad.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Fidelis on Howard Dean's Statement Against Religion

I just received the following in an email from Joseph Cella of Fidelis:

April 21, 2006

Howard Dean Issues Ultimatum to Churches:
Give up Religion or Stay out of Politics

Fidelis called on Howard Dean, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee to explain himself after telling the Christian Science Monitor Wednesday that “The religious community has to decide whether they want to be tax exempt or involved in politics.”

Fidelis President Joseph Cella responded: “Howard Dean's statement makes it clear that he wants to muzzle America's churches and religious groups from professing what they believe on important issues facing our society. When it comes to debates over public policy and issues, Dean should be welcoming the voice of America’s churches, not attempting to silence them. Instead Dean has shown utter disregard for people of faith by threatening the historical and treasured role of religious groups and churches in American public life.”

“Under Howard Dean's rules, pastors, priests, and rabbis wouldn't have been able to mobilize people of faith to join the civil rights marches in Selma and Montgomery,” said Cella.

Dean’s statement is the latest in a series of comments directed toward conservative Christians. Just last year, Dean told the San Francisco Chronicle, “they are not very friendly….they all behave the same, and they all look the same.”

Cella continued: “Dean’s blatant hostility toward any church or religious group calls into serious question his supposed outreach to values voters following the 2004 elections. In essence, Dean is saying that if religious groups want to continue to speak out, then the hand of government is going to exact a penalty. Comments such as these continue to place Howard Dean and the Democratic Party in jeopardy of further alienating religious voters.”

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Catholic League Responds to Dean Threat

Howard Dean Threatens Religious Voters

Left-Leaning Preacher to Howard Dean: You Can't Fake It, So Shut Up About Religion

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