Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Feast of the Nativity - 25 December

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, and that preacheth peace: of him that sheweth forth good, that preacheth salvation, that saith to Sion: Thy God shall reign!

The voice of thy watchmen: they have lifted up their voice, they shall praise together: for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall convert Sion.

Rejoice, and give praise together, O ye deserts of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people: he hath redeemed Jerusalem..

The Lord hath prepared his holy arm in the sight of all the Gentiles: and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

~ Isaiah 52:7-10

God, who, at sundry times and in divers manners, spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all,

In these days, hath spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the world.

Who being the brightness of his glory and the figure of his substance and upholding all things by the word of his power, making purgation of sins, sitteth on the right hand of the majesty on high:

Being made so much better than the angels as he hath inherited a more excellent name than they.

For to which of the angels hath he said at any time: Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten thee? And again: I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith: And let all the angels of God adore him.

~ Hebrews 1:1-6

In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God: and the Word was God.

The same was in the beginning with God.

All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made.

In him was life: and the life was the light of men.

And the light shineth in darkness: and the darkness did not comprehend it...

That was the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world.

He was in the world: and the world was made by him: and the world knew him not.

He came unto his own: and his own received him not.

But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name.

Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.

~ Gospel of St. John 1:1-18

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Blessed Christmas from Our Family to Yours

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Friday, December 19, 2008

An InsideCatholic Symposium: "The Future of the Catholic Voter?"

This may be of interest to readers of this blog.

Now back to temporary hiatus. (I'll be posting some Christmas-related stuff next week.)

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Dignitas Personae: The Dignity of the Person

Thomas Peters has some excellent links regarding today's release by the Vatican of Dignitas Personae, the follow-up document on bioethics from the CDF to Donum Vitae (1987) and Evangelium Vitae (1995):
Important links:

  • Read Dignitas Personae here (PDF format)
  • Read the accompanying 2-page Q&A here (PDF format)
  • Read the USCCB news release here (HTML page)

  • ***
    update: William Saunders of the Family Research Council has penned a short explanation and commentary of this new document over at The Catholic Thing. John Allen also helpfully weighs in at length.

    Initial mainstream media reactions:

  • WaPo: "Vatican Condemns Cloning, Embryonic Stem Cell Research"
  • USA Today: "Roman Catholic Church updates code on reproduction"
  • AFP: "Vatican condemns cloning, stem cell research"
  • NYT: "Vatican Issues Instruction on Bioethics"
  • Reuters: "Vatican condemns embryo stem cell research, cloning"
  • AP: "Vatican issues major new bioethics document"
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    Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe - 12 Deciembre

    From the Medieval Saints Yahoo Group:
    Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

    Also known as Holy Mary of Guadalupe; Virgin of Guadalupe; Maria de Guadalupe

    This feast is known to the Aztecs as Tecoataxope or de Guadalupe in Spanish. This translates to "she will crush the serpent of the stone."

    Themes and Motives: Rememberance of the Marian visitation of 1531 to Juan Diego; God's grace reaching out to the marginalized; conversion of the Americas

    Commemorated December 12

    Our Lady of Guadalupe was declared Patron Saint of the Americas by Pope Pius XII.

    Our Lady of Guadalupe - Guadalupe, Mexico (1531)

    The opening of the New World brought with it both fortune-seekers and religous preachers desiring to convert the native populations to the Christian faith. One of the converts was a poor Aztec indian named Juan Diego. On one of his trips to the chapel, Juan was walking through the Tepayac hill country in central Mexico. Near Tepayac Hill he encountered a beautiful woman surrounded by a ball of light as bright as the sun. Speaking in his native tongue, the beautiful lady identified herself:

    "My dear little son, I love you. I desire you to know who I am. I am the ever-virgin Mary, Mother of the true God who gives life and maintains its existence. He created all things. He is in all places. He is Lord of Heaven and Earth. I desire a church in this place where your people may experience my compassion. All those who sincerely ask my help in their work and in their sorrows will know my Mother's Heart in this place. Here I will see their tears; I will console them and they will be at peace. So run now to Tenochtitlan and tell the Bishop all that you have seen and heard."

    Juan, age 57, and who had never been to Tenochtitlan, nonetheless immediately responded to Mary's request. He went to the palace of the Bishop-elect Fray Juan de Zumarraga and requested to meet immediatly with the bishop. The bishop's servants, who were suspicious of the rural peasant, kept him waiting for hours. The bishop-elect told Juan that he would consider the request of the Lady and told him he could visit him again if he so desired. Juan was disappointed by the bishop's response and felt himself unworthy to persuade someone as important as a bishop. He returned to the hill where he had first met Mary and found her there waiting for him. Imploring her to send someone else, she responded:

    "My little son, there are many I could send. But you are the one I have chosen."

    She then told him to return the next day to the bishop and repeat the request. On Sunday, after again waiting for hours, Juan met with the bishop who, on re-hearing his story, asked him to ask the Lady to provide a sign as a proof of who she was. Juan dutifully returned to the hill and told Mary, who was again waiting for him there, of the bishop's request. Mary responded:

    "My little son, am I not your Mother? Do not fear. The Bishop shall have his sign. Come back to this place tomorrow. Only peace, my little son."

    Unfortunately, Juan was not able to return to the hill the next day.

    His uncle had become mortally ill and Juan stayed with him to care for him. After two days, with his uncle near death, Juan left his side to find a priest. Juan had to pass Tepayac Hill to get to the priest. As he was passing, he found Mary waiting for him. She spoke:

    "Do not be distressed, my littlest son. Am I not here with you who am your Mother? Are you not under myshadow and protection? Your uncle will not die at this time. There is no reason for you to engage a priest, for his health is restored at this moment. He is quite well. Go to the top of the hill and cut the flowers that are growing there. Bring them then to me."

    While it was freezing on the hillside, Juan obeyed Mary's instructions and went to the top of the hill where he found a full bloom of Castilian roses. Removing his tilma, a poncho-like cape made of cactus fiber, he cut the roses and carried them back to Mary. She rearranged the roses and told him:

    "My little son, this is the sign I am sending to the Bishop. Tell him that with this sign I request his greatest efforts to complete the church I desire in this place. Show these flowers to no one else but the Bishop. You are my trusted ambassador. This time the Bishop will believe all you tell him."

    At the palace, Juan once again came before the bishop and several of his advisors. He told the bishop his story and opened the tilma letting the flowers fall out. But it wasn't the beautiful roses that caused the bishop and his advisors to fall to their knees; for there, on the tilma, was a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary precisely as Juan had described her. The next day, after showing the Tilma at the Cathedral, Juan took the bishop to the spot where he first met Mary. He then returned to his village where he met his uncle who was completely cured. His uncle told him he had met a young woman, surrounded by a soft light, who told him that she had just sent his nephew to Tenochtitlan with a picture of herself. She told his uncle:

    "Call me and call my image Santa Maria de Guadalupe".

    It's believed that the word Guadalupe was actually a Spanish mis-translation of the local Aztec dialect. The word that Mary probably used was Coatlallope which means "one who treads on snakes"! Within six years of this apparition, six million Aztecs had converted to Catholicism. The tilma shows Mary as the God-bearer - she is pregnant with her Divine Son. Since the time the tilma was first impressed with a picture of the Mother of God, it has been subject to a variety of environmental hazards including smoke from fires and candles, water from floods and torrential downpours and, in 1921, a bomb which was planted by anti-clerical forces on an altar under it. There was also a cast-iron cross next to the tilma and when the bomb exploded, the cross was twisted out of shape, the marble altar rail was heavily damaged and the tilma was...untouched! Indeed, no one was injured in the Church despite the damage that occurred to a large part of the altar structure.

    In 1977, the tilma was examined using infrared photography and digital enhancement techniques. Unlike any painting, the tilma shows no sketching or any sign of outline drawn to permit an artist to produce a painting. Further, the very method used to create the image is still unknown. The image is inexplicable in its longevity and method of production. It can be seen today in a large cathedral built to house up to ten thousand worshipers. It is, by far, the most popular religious pilgrimage site in the Western Hemisphere.


    More on Our Lady of Guadalupe at:

    See also:
    Guadalupe, La Pelicula (Guadalupe, the Film)
    Lady of Guadalupe by Tomie de Paola

    Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe

    Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mystical Rose,
    make intercession for Holy Church,
    protect the Sovereign Pontiff,
    help all those who invoke thee in their necessities,
    and since thou art the ever Virgin Mary
    and Mother of the true God,
    obtain for us from thy most holy Son,
    the grace of keeping our Catholic Faith,
    sweet hope in the midst of the bitterness of life,
    burning charity and the precious gift of final perseverance.

    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebrated at Norwalk Catholic School

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    Thursday, December 11, 2008

    Digest of Today's Posts (11 December 2008)

  • Newsworthy Dads: Another Catholic in the House

  • University of San Francisco Develops Health Plan for Students that Covers Abortion

  • Catholic Politicians Funded by Abortion Lobby

  • (Digest of Yesterday's Posts (10 December 2008))


    Newsworthy Dads: Another Catholic in the House

    From the Fathers for Good website put out by the Knights of Columbus:
    Another Catholic in the House

    As a surprise victor in the congressional district that includes New Orleans, Anh Joseph Cao is the “man of the hour” in the current news cycle. Yet with his strong family values and Catholic faith, which he learned before escaping as a boy from war-torn Vietnam, he could also be a candidate for “father of the year.”

    After all, he knows that his role as father will last long after the media glare fades and he settles with his family in the nation’s capital as a first-term congressman from Louisiana in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    “My family is the center of my life. I could not live without my wife and two daughters,” said the 41-year-old Cao in an exclusive Fathers for Good telephone interview. [The "C" in his last name is pronounced as "G"]

    He was married in 2001 to Hieu “Kate” Hoang, and they have two daughters, Sophia (age 5) and Betsy (age 4).

    The most memorable event of his fatherhood was the birth of his daughters, he said.

    “To watch them grow into beautiful girls has been the joy of my life,” he said. “I enjoy coming home to my wife, and reading to my daughters and teaching them piano.”

    Late Election

    In an election delayed more than a month due to the effects of Hurricane Gustav, Cao defeated incumbent William Jefferson, who was hampered by corruption allegations but still outspent his opponent by a wide margin. Cao, the first Vietnamese-American to be elected to Congress, is also the first Republican to win Louisiana’s 2nd District since 1890.

    A man who has been through much tougher battles than a congressional election, Cao is taking his newfound celebrity in stride, keeping his message simple.

    “My mission in office will be to rebuild the 2nd Congressional District which was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and where many parts still need help,” he said.

    Cao’s own home filled with eight feet of water during the 2005 storm, yet he and his family rebuilt and returned, only to be hit again by Gustav this past September, when more than a foot of water rolled into his house while he was serving as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis.

    These are just two incidents in a personal history marked by struggles against tough odds.

    In 1975, as the Southern capital of Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese, the 8-year-old Cao was separated from his parents and escaped with two siblings and an aunt, who pulled them aboard a U.S. military airplane.

    He landed in Guam and later settled with relatives in the United States. His father, a South Vietnamese army officer, was imprisoned for eight years but was reunited with his family in the United States in 1991.

    From the time he arrived here, Joseph Cao’s life has been a true American success story, written with hard work and intelligence. He learned English, settled in Houston, Texas, graduated from Baylor University and entered the Jesuits in hope of becoming a priest.

    “I wanted to become a missionary and serve the people of God,” he explained.

    He traveled as a Jesuit novice to many poor parts of the world, earned a master’s degree in philosophy at Fordham University in New York City, and in 1995 began teaching at Loyola, the Jesuit University in New Orleans. Soon afterward, he discerned that God was calling him to another mission field, and he left the Jesuit community.

    He earned a law degree in 2000 from Loyola University and has served in New Orleans as an attorney and a community advocate.

    Through all the challenges, his Catholic faith has been a rock of stability.

    “My faith has been the center of my life all these years,” Cao said. “I go to church almost every day to discern what God is calling me to do with my life.”

    Right now, Mr. Cao goes to Washington, as a Republican reformer.

    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    I Didn't Know That ...

    Young Faithful Catholics Jump into Political Ring

    Jesuits Produce a Great Political Candidate

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    University of San Francisco Develops Health Plan for Students that Covers Abortion

    The Cardinal Newman Society just sent out this press release:
    The Cardinal Newman Society
    For Immediate Release

    December 11, 2008

    Catholic University of San Francisco Develops
    Health Plan for Students that Covers Abortion

    Manassas, Va. –
    The University of San Francisco (USF), a Catholic institution, has a new student health insurance policy that provides coverage for abortion. Full-time USF undergraduate students are automatically enrolled in the university’s plan unless they request a waiver and are able to prove that they have other, comparable insurance.

    According to the plan document, which is
    available on the USF website, the student health insurance was “developed especially for eligible University of San Francisco students and their eligible dependents.”

    In other words, it appears that the USF coverage was included in a custom policy developed for the Catholic institution.

    The Catholic Key, the newspaper of the diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph, first reported this story on its Internet
    blog and notes that there is nothing in California law that would require USF to provide coverage for abortion.

    The Cardinal Newman Society, which works to promote the renewal of Catholic higher education, calls on USF president Father Stephen Privett to immediately take action to remove the abortion coverage.

    “Given the importance of life issues for Catholics, it is stunning that USF’s student health program would pay for abortions,” said Patrick Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society. “I pray that this was a mistake and not a willful action of the Catholic university, but regardless of how the abortion coverage ended up in the policy, it clearly cannot remain.”

    # # #

    To schedule an interview with The Cardinal Newman Society, contact Adam Wilson at or 703/367-0333 ext. 102.

    This news release is also available

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    Catholic Politicians Funded by Abortion Lobby

    Deal Hudson writes at Inside Catholic:
    Lisa Correnti is a San Diego mother of seven children. But like many other Catholic mothers, she has engaged in politics in order to defend the basic values of her faith. For several years she has quietly built her Web site,, into a goldmine of up-to-date information on the performance of Catholic politicians.

    In the midst of compiling information on political donations, Correnti noticed large amounts of money being regularly accepted by Catholic politicians from the pro-abortion lobby. She decided to uncover the total amount of campaign donations given to Catholic members of Congress by organizations such as Planned Parenthood, Emily's List, NOW, and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

    In the end, Correnti found that a number of the 162 Catholics in Congress have taken money from pro-abortion groups -- to the tune of more than $9 million.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has accepted nearly a quarter-million dollars -- $244,113, to be exact; Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), $205,768; the "pro-life" Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA), $327,914; Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), $1.04 million; Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who assumed office only in January 2007, has accepted $986,619. (For a complete list of donations to Catholic members of Congress, click

    Correnti was alarmed by her discovery and called me. She knew that I directed a program, called the
    Catholic Advocate, that sought to encourage authentic Catholic involvement in politics. We discussed what could be done and decided to bring the situation to the attention of the bishops by sponsoring a petition drive among concerned laity.

    Thus, Correnti and I have joined forces to gather at least 100,000 signatures on a petition to be sent to the president of the USCCB, Francis Cardinal George, to call upon all Catholic politicians to no longer accept campaign donations from pro-abortion groups. (To read and sign the online petition, click

    My Comments
    Is anyone really surprised to learn that the allegedly "pro-life" Casey Jr. has taken in over $300,000 in donations from the abortion lobby?

    Nah, me either.

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    Wednesday, December 10, 2008

    Digest of Today's Posts (10 December 2008)

  • I Didn't Know That ...

  • Francis Beckwith: "Same-Sex Marriage and the Failure of Justificatory Liberalism"
  • Labels:

    I Didn't Know That ...

    ... I graduated from college with newly elected Louisiana Congressman Anh "Joseph" Cao:
    ... After fleeing Vietnam as a child, Cao bounced around homes in several states with his sister and a brother before settling with an uncle in Houston. One of eight children, he did not see his mother or father, a former Vietnamese army officer who was imprisoned by Ho Chi Minh's government, until 1991. Cao graduated from Baylor University in 1990 and began studying to become a Jesuit priest. He went on several missions before attending law school in New Orleans...
    (emphasis added)

    (Hat tip: Yet another Baylor guy, Terry Mattingly at GetReligion)

    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    Young Faithful Catholics Jump into Political Ring

    Jesuits Produce a Great Political Candidate

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    Francis Beckwith: "Same-Sex Marriage and the Failure of Justificatory Liberalism"

    Prof. Francis J. Beckwith of Baylor University (and currently visiting professor at Notre Dame) has an interesting piece at the First Things blog On the Square:
    In the post-election discussions on Proposition 8 much has been made about the religious make-up of those that supported the amendment. Take, for example, the comments of Professor Geoffrey Stone of the University of Chicago Law School:
    Proposition 8 was enacted by a vote of 52 percent to 48 percent. Those identifying themselves as Evangelicals, however, supported Proposition 8 by a margin of 81 percent to 19 percent, and those who say they attend church services weekly supported Proposition 8 by a vote of 84 percent to 16 percent. Non-Christians, by the way, opposed Proposition 8 by a margin 85 percent to 15 percent and those who do not attend church regularly opposed Proposition 8 by a vote of 83 percent to 17 percent.

    What this tells us, quite strikingly, is that Proposition 8 was a highly successful effort of a particular religious group to conscript the power of the state to impose their religious beliefs on their fellow citizens, whether or not those citizens share those beliefs. This is a serious threat to a free society committed to the principle of separation of church and state.
    Setting aside the question of what Stone could possibly mean by “a particular religious group” (since that “group” would include Mormons, Catholics, and Evangelicals), what he seems to be suggesting is a version of what is called justificatory liberalism. Because there are many different versions of this position, I will focus on what I think Prof. Stone is defending. He seems to be saying something like this: Because religious citizens have an understanding of sources of authority, background beliefs, and reasons not shared by their neighbors, they should restrain from employing those sources as the basis for the reasons why they enact laws that limit the liberty of their fellow citizens who do not share those sources of authority.

    But it’s not clear why religious citizens should accept this rule if they have fulfilled all their epistemic duties and believe that they have good grounds for the coercive laws they support, even if those grounds are supported by premises not held by all. It is the case, after all, that each of us comes to the public conversation with a cluster of beliefs that we hold for a variety of reasons, many of which are based on both arguments we have carefully assessed as well as authorities that we believe are reliable and have no reason to distrust. But in that case, the typical non-religious citizen enters the public square in precisely the same position as the typical religious one. And in both cases, each likely supports laws that he or she thinks are reasonable and necessary but that in some cases have the consequence of limiting the liberties of others, even though each is not likely to see that consequence as a net harm, since each will see it as an advancement of justice and the public good. Consider the following example...

    (Hat tip: Southern Appeal and What's Wrong with the World)

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    Monday, December 08, 2008

    Young Faithful Catholics Jump into Political Ring

    At Inside Catholic, Deal Hudson writes about the latest in a crop of young faithful Catholics getting involved in electoral politics:
    As Republicans regroup in the days and months following the November election, some new faces have begun to emerge in the GOP. Among them is Rob Wasinger, a staffer for Sen. Sam Brownback for more than twelve years, the last four of them spent as Brownback's chief of staff. A Catholic convert since his sophomore year at Harvard, Wasinger became known on Capitol Hill as a highly effective expert on tax issues, human rights, human cloning, and human embryonic stem cells.

    Wasinger, a political veteran at age 36, has already thrown his hat into the ring for the 1st Congressional District seat in Western Kansas, where he was born and raised. He has moved back to Kansas, and his family will be joining him in a few weeks.

    Moving the Wasinger family is no small feat, given nine children, ranging in age from 3-and-a-half months to 14 years. Three girls and six boys have graced the lives of Rob and his wife, Meg, whom he married his senior year in college. Meg, a cradle Catholic, attended St. Thomas More College in Merrimack, New Hampshire.

    Two years before his marriage, Wasinger entered the Catholic Church after "facing on campus a lot of the social problems you see in the world at large." In the midst of the battleground of ideas at Harvard, Wasinger was "tested about what I really believe."

    A reading of Augustine's Confessions, among several other Catholic classics, gave him the spiritual bearings that would soon lead him to become a pro-life advocate as a staffer to Brownback. Wasinger wrote the
    Human Cloning Prohibition Act, cosponsored by Brownback and introduced in March 2007 (the bill is still pending).


    In related news, Catholics in the Public Square reports on newly elected Congressman-elect Joseph Cao of Louisiana, who I previously blogged about here.

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    Friday, December 05, 2008

    Digest of Today's Posts (5 December 2008)

  • A Saint on Trial: Analyzing the Condemnation of Sir Thomas More

  • Bishop Blair: "Fidelity and Constancy in Difficult Times"

  • Video Captures Child-Rape Cover-Up at Planned Parenthood

  • (Digest of Thursday's Posts (4 December 2008))


    A Saint on Trial: Analyzing the Condemnation of Sir Thomas More

    (Hat tip: Dave Hartline at Catholic Report)

    At First Things, Baylor University's Professor Michael P. Foley writes about last month's 2008 Thomas More Conference on “The Trial and Last Letters of Thomas More”:
    St. Thomas More’s star has risen and fallen in unusual ways over the years. Hailed in his lifetime as one of the great humanists of the age, he died with almost all of his friends and family accusing him of pointless pertinacity. Though his books were widely read and his integrity respected by even his enemies, it would take another four centuries before a critical edition of his works would appear and for the Church to add his name to the roster of the canonized. Since then, More’s legacy has grown steadily: He was declared the patron saint of statesmen by John Paul II at the start of the new millennium, and he was even added to the liturgical calendar of the Church of England—the legitimacy of which, of course, More lost his life denying.

    Thomas More, we now know, was a sage and a saint, but was he guilty of the formal charges that led to his execution on July 6, 1535? Blamelessness before God and before the bench are often two different issues: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, for instance, was a courageous Christian witness, but he was also accused, not incorrectly, of conspiring to assassinate the leader of the Third Reich.

    Questions about the justice or injustice of More’s trial propelled a fascinating conference held last month at the University of Dallas. “Thomas More on Trial,” the fourth annual conference of the Center for Thomas More Studies, drew a rare mix of humanities scholars and legal experts approaching the last days of Thomas More from their respective disciplines. The result was a lively and unpredictable discussion on More’s writings, thought, legal skills, probity, and, of course, trial, which took place on July 1, 1535.

    Every aspect of the trial was scrutinized. What did it mean to take an oath in the sixteenth century? What were More’s legal rights, and were they respected? Was due process observed during the trial? Did Richard Rich perjure himself, or did he merely misremember his conversation with More that became the most damning piece of evidence submitted? How much pressure were the judges and the jury under from Henry VIII? Which, if any, of the four extant accounts of the trial is the most accurate? And how did More ensure that his side of the story would be heard through his writings without incurring further suspicion of treason?

    The conference was filled with surprises. For instance, did you know that we have no copy of the oath which More famously refused to take? That no official transcript of the trial was made? That we are not certain whether there were one, three, or four formal charges? That, contrary to current legal practice, the more grave the case, the fewer the rights of the accused? That More’s civil rights, as defined by English law at the time, may have been more or less respected? In other words, there was nothing procedurally unusual about More spending years imprisoned in the Tower of London, undergoing several interrogations, being suddenly brought to court for trial, and hearing the charges against him (read in Latin) for the first and only time. And there was considered nothing untoward in having judges sitting on the bench with a vested interest (to put it mildly) in seeing More condemned, such as an uncle, a brother, and the father of Anne Boleyn.

    Perhaps the greatest surprise regarding this trial is not its outcome but its relative neglect. In an era that likes to talk about this or that “trial of the century,” it is astonishing that a capital case involving a first-rate legal mind, philosophical thinker, literary humanist, and, oh yes, canonized saint should have been on the backburner of our collective attention for so long. That, at least, is one injustice which the Center for Thomas More Studies has done much to correct.


    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    2008 Thomas More Conference: “The Trial and Last Letters of Thomas More”

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    Bishop Blair: "Fidelity and Constancy in Difficult Times"

    Toledo Bishop Leonard P. Blair writes in the December issue of The Catholic Chronicle:
    Fidelity and constancy in difficult times

    Written by Bishop Leonard P. Blair
    Friday, 05 December 2008

    ... On the one hand, there is the threat to our nation’s material well-being as a result of the current economic crisis and the actual or possible loss of jobs, health care benefits, homes and retirement savings. On the other hand, there is the moral threat of a potential extreme turn to abortion in our country.

    These issues were addressed at our bishops’ meeting, and I would like to say something about both from the perspective of Mother Cabrini’s words on the "fidelity and constancy" that are required of us in difficult times as followers of Jesus Christ.

    First, there is economic hardship.

    For many years now, people of faith have lamented the crass materialism and commercialization of Christmas. It is true that consumer spending at Christmas gives an important boost to the economy. However, this year, more than ever, it is important that each of us also be as generous as possible in support of those who are hurting as a result of economic turmoil.

    I challenge myself and all of you, at the very least, to match what we spend on Christmas presents with a gift to the needy, directly or to food pantries, parish and diocesan charities, and groups like the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

    The second "difficult situation" of grave concern is the potential threat of legislation proposed in Washington by abortion rights groups and their allies in Congress.

    In the words of Cardinal George: "In the last Congress, a Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) was introduced that would, if brought forward in the same form today, outlaw any ‘interference’ in providing abortion at will ... It would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government and others of good will to reduce the number of abortions in our country ... [and] would have lethal consequences for prenatal human life.

    Cardinal George’s statement assures President-elect Obama of the bishops’ prayers for him, and of our desire to work with him and the new Congress for the common good of our nation. However, the national unity that Mr. Obama seeks cannot possibly be achieved by "aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders" that would "permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion."

    Christmas is a season of many profound lessons. God is to be found in the material poverty of a cold stable, in the helplessness of an infant carried lovingly by his mother for nine months in her womb, in the "fidelity and constancy" of those who are not deterred by evil even in difficult situations. So let us work and pray for what is good, with charity in our hearts for all, especially those who are hurting and those who are the most vulnerable...

    [Read the whole thing]

    © Copyright 2002 - 2008 Catholic Chronicle
    The Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Toledo

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    Video Captures Child-Rape Cover-Up at Planned Parenthood

    My friend Victor Morton has written a front-page story in The Washington Times on the latest news regarding another statutory rape cover-up at Planned Parenthood.

    Interesting new ground broken by Victor and one of his co-contributors, Ben Conery, is this laughable tidbit:
    A city spokesman said Thursday that the Bloomington City Police is not investigating the clinic or the nurse for possibly violating the statutory-rape notification law, but is beefing up security around the facility to protect it from a possible backlash.

    'There's no investigation taking place, but they have stepped up patrols around the area,' said Danny Lopez, communications director for the City of Bloomington. Patrols have been stepped up in case anybody has a strong reaction to the situation, but he said there have been no problems.
    (emphasis added)

    Do read the whole thing.

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    Thursday, December 04, 2008

    Digest of Today's Posts (4 December 2008)

  • Advice to President-Elect Obama: Cultivate the Holy See as an Ally

  • Personnel IS Policy

  • Edmund Burke vs. the Catholic Penal Laws

  • (Digest of Yesterday's Posts (3 December 2008))


    Advice to President-Elect Obama: Cultivate the Holy See as an Ally

    Joseph Wood, a former White House official who has worked on foreign policy, including Vatican affairs, writes at The Catholic Thing:
    ... As John Allen of The National Catholic Reporter has observed, a strong relationship between the Holy See and the United States would help both parties. Domestically, it would reassure those who voted for Obama despite questions about where he stands on traditional beliefs and institutions of the West. It would be popular among Americans who see Pope Benedict XVI as a spiritual leader, both in the Church and beyond. It would help continue cooperation on aiding the poorest of the poor, begun with President Bush’s dramatic increases in assistance to Africa, and it would reinforce the relationship between the world’s largest donor nation and the world’s largest dispenser of assistance. It could ease friction on some of the difficult policy choices the next administration may have to make, such as ending Iran’s nuclear program. And a visibly respectful relationship with the Vatican would aid in regaining the moral stature that Obama and others feel America has lost.

    To gain the Vatican as an ally in some cases and a more amiable opponent in others, the president-elect should see Pope Benedict XVI when he is in Italy for the G-8 conference in 2009, or possibly sooner, after the NATO summit in April. He would arrive with several positive bases for a conversation: his own opposition to the war in Iraq tracks with that of the Vatican (although most in the Curia now seem to see the dangers of a precipitous withdrawal), and his emphasis on dialogue with adversaries is aligned with many statements by this pope and his predecessor.

    To prepare for such a meeting, the new president should do two things. First, he should read Pope Benedict’s address to the United Nations on human rights and the intellectual and spiritual foundations thereof. The advancement of human rights, including religious liberty, as a good based on a universal morality, has the potential to link the United States and the Vatican in an enduring way like no other issue. Second, he should postpone major revisions to American social policy, especially on abortion, until he has had this meeting and heard from this pope. This would demonstrate openness to the Church as an institution on the public question it considers most urgent, and it would demonstrate at home that President Obama in power, as distinct from candidate Obama, is listening beyond the narrow confines of the Democratic Party’s left wing where he turned for his support early on.

    For his part, the pope has reached out with a warm and positive post-election message to the president-elect. But the Vatican must hold firm, in public and in private, on the issues of the greatest moment and where the differences are widest. This assertion of truth is one of the best hopes for those Americans who fear a social agenda in the next four years that would enforce a highly positivist, and relativist, combination of secular social science and leftist shibboleth.


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    Personnel IS Policy

    Regular Guy Paul writes regarding what President-elect Obama's recent political appointments might tell us about his culture-of-death agenda:
    ... But another political axiom I've been told is that "personnel IS policy." That is, you can tell what a politician will do by his choice of people to surround himself. If that's so, then the news for those hoping for a quick withdrawal from Iraq may soon be dashed. And those trying to convince us that the Morning's Minion Freedom of Choice Act is a mere Phantom-FOCA may be foiled even sooner:
    As you read through the list of Barack Obama's Cabinet and agency head picks, recall that Planned Parenthood, NARAL and EMILY's List promised to spend $30 million combined to defeat John McCain.

    It's payback time, and the pro-abort chickens are coming home to roost.

    Wait – bad cliché choice. Liberal feminist chicks make their living by anti-roosting.The pro-abort chickens are coming home to loot. That's better.

    There's Ellen Moran, who will be leaving her job as executive director of EMILY's List to serve as Obama's communications director.

    And there's NARAL's former legal director, Dawn Johnsen, who Obama nabbed for his Department of Justice review team.

    On Monday, Obama named Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as his homeland security secretary. If you visit the Planned Parenthood Action Fund website, you'll see a very nice photo of Napolitano snapped in August when she "stopped by" its Denver headquarters to "show her support" for Planned Parenthood's One Million Strong voter campaign.

    Last week, Obama named Melody Barnes to head his Domestic Policy Council. She previously served on the boards of Planned Parenthood and EMILY's List.

    Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel, passed Planned Parenthood and NARAL muster by earning consistent 100 percent voting records from both as a congressman. He got extra credit for voting against the Partial Birth Abortion Ban three times.

    Speaking of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban, Obama's new secretary of health and human services, Tom Daschle, blocked it from even getting an up-or-down vote during his stint as Senate majority leader. Daschle is a rabid pro-abort who also detests abstinence education and supports nationalized health care, i.e., taxpayer-funded abortions.

    Then there is Alta Charo, Obama's new ethics adviser. Charo has ties to the human embryo experimentation industry so, surprise, supports federally funded embryonic research. She also opposes conscience rights of health care professionals to refuse to participate in abortion. There's ethics for you.

    And I cannot forget Hillary Clinton, Obama's new secretary of state, who famously competed with him for title of most pro-abortion presidential candidate during the primaries, causing a rift between feminists and the abortion industry. No worries. Fight over...
    (emphasis added by Paul)

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    Edmund Burke vs. the Catholic Penal Laws

    Statue of Edmund Burke on Trinity College Green, Dublin

    Please read Donald McClarey's informative post at American Catholic on the electoral price paid by one of the world's greatest political philosophers (and the father of modern-day conservatism) for his exercise of conscience and judgment:
    “For I must do it justice; it was a complete system, full of coherence and consistency, well digested and well composed in all its parts. It was a machine of wise and deliberate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people, and the debasement of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man.”

    So wrote Edmund Burke, brilliant writer and member of Parliament, of the Catholic penal laws in the Eighteenth Century. Son of a Protestant father and a Catholic mother, suspected in his lifetime, probably incorrectly, of being a secret Catholic, Burke was a man who fought during his life for many causes: reform in Parliament, support for Americans in their fight against oppression by the English government, prosecution of Warren Hastings for his misrule in India, his crusade against the French Revolution, all these and more engaged his formidable intellect and his luminous pen. However, one cause he championed from the beginning of his career to the end of it: relief for Catholics in Ireland and England from the Penal Laws.


    Cartoon lampooning Edmund Burke, as an Irish Jesuit, seated at a table
    eating potatoes from a pot labeled "Relick No. 1. used by St. Peter."
    Burke is portrayed as a Jesuit because he supported the 1778 Relief Act
    which relaxed restrictions on the rights of Catholics.
    The poverty of the Irish is parodied by the potatoes. Catholicism is parodied
    by the pictures on the wall, the mutilated crucifix, the pot labeled as a relic of St. Peter,
    and the demons dancing under the table.

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    Wednesday, December 03, 2008

    Digest of Today's Posts (3 December 2008)

  • Obama Administration to Export Culture of Death

  • Deal Hudson: "The Power of a Bold Bishop"

  • Obama Catholics: "Trust Us, We Were Lying!"

  • Tip of the Day: Buy Tydings Trew ... Cheap!

  • Lully, Lu-LIE: National Geographic Claims Herod Not Such a Bad Guy

  • I Dare Him to Call Me a Torture Apologist

  • (Digest of Yesterday's Posts (2 December 2008))


    Ramesh Ponnuru: "Scapegoating the Social Right"

    (Hat tip: Creative Minority Report)

    Writing at National Review, Ramesh Ponnuru ponders the factually devoid scapegoating of social conservatives in which many so-called "conservative" commentators are engaged:
    In 2002 and 2004, Republicans ran hard on social issues and the courts — and scored victories at every level of politics. In 2006 and 2008, they left those issues off the table, and got walloped. It follows, naturally, that the social issues are to blame for the Republican defeats.

    At least, that’s the conclusion that a chorus of commentators has reached. They are attempting to persuade Republicans to soften or downplay their party’s social conservatism and hide its social conservatives in order to resume winning elections. About this campaign to sideline the social Right, three things can be said with a fairly high degree of confidence: It is predictable; it will fail; and it is wrong.

    Republicans’ social conservatism provokes more intense and angry opposition than their positions on other issues do. In some parts of the country — places where political writers tend to congregate, for example — social conservatives are so thin on the ground that it is easy to underestimate how widespread their views are. So it is understandable that many people would leap to the conclusion that Republicans would have more support if they backed off on social issues.

    Yet there is no real likelihood that the party is going to abandon or reduce its opposition to abortion in particular or kick aside the social conservatives in general. Social conservatives are, for one thing, too woven into the structure of the party to be ejected. In 2004, the Republican convention showcased pro-choicers such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rudolph Giuliani, George Pataki, and Colin Powell. So far, the only candidates anyone is mentioning for 2012 are Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, Mark Sanford, and Tim Pawlenty. All are pro-life.

    The Giuliani campaign’s spectacular flameout shows how hard it would be for Republicans to become pro-choice. Unlike previous pro-choice Republican presidential candidates, Giuliani did not run on his pro-choice position, had a record of accomplishment, tried to meet pro-lifers partway, had huge national name recognition, and took orthodox conservative positions on economic issues. He was no Arlen Specter. Yet he still couldn’t make it. The conventional wisdom blames his failure on his “late-state strategy.” But he adopted that strategy for a reason: He could not compete in Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan, largely because of his position on abortion...

    The attempts to blame social conservatism for Republican defeats will not reduce its influence in the party. What they will do is distract attention from the changes the party really does need to make.

    [Read the whole thing]
    My Comments:
    "The impulse to blame social conservatives arises nearly every time Republicans fail. They were blamed for the elder Bush’s 1992 defeat, as though he would have won if only Pat Robertson had not spoken at the Republican convention. They were blamed for losses in the House in 1998. And now they are being blamed for McCain’s rout."

    Ramesh left out Dole's loss in 1996, an election in which it was so obvious that the squishy moderate Republican nominee (who was foisted on the rest of us much like McCain was this year) was headed for defeat that all the RINO governors and mayors (e.g. Whitman, Wells, Wilson, Giuliani, etc.) decided to get an early start on scapegoating social conservatives and showed up at the GOP Convention with a plan to strip the pro-life plank from the Republican platform.

    RINOs are so pathetically predictable.

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    Obama Administration to Export Culture of Death

    In addition to Catholic concerns over the new administration's policies here at home regarding FOCA and ESCR, it appears that President-elect Obama's team is set to do the greatest amount of damage to life issues on the international stage:
    ... Obama is also expected to reverse the ban on taxpayer funding for overseas aid promoting or offering abortion (the "Mexico City Policy"). President Reagan instituted this policy in 1984. It was repealed by President Clinton in 1993, but reinstituted in 2001 by President Bush. It will probably be re-repealed by President Obama very quickly.

    President Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is also about to undergo a radical change. Bush launched PEPFAR in 2003 to combat global HIV/AIDS. It was the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease in human history, with up to $48 billion authorized for the effort. Under PEPFAR health workers are trained to emphasize abstinence and marital fidelity as the most effective ways to combat the spread of AIDS. Unfortunately, that is about to change.

    Discussing these issues, Susan F. Wood, the co-chair of Obama's advisory committee for women's health issues, said: "We have been going in the wrong direction and we need to turn it around and be promoting prevention and family-planning services." The Obama team's approach will emphasize condoms, abortion, and the morning-after pill. Referencing Obama's campaign slogan, Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition said, "I don't think many dreamed that this 'change' would mean taking taxpayer dollars to fund abortion around the world." He called the projected policy overhaul of PEPFAR "tragic, a betrayal of social justice and human rights."

    Even at the United Nations, things will change. Time after time, in agreement after agreement, advocates attempt to insert abortion rights language into international treaties. Representatives of the Holy See spend a great deal of time combating these efforts. During the Clinton administration, the Holy See was often at odds with the United States over these issues. Once the Bush administration was in place, the Holy See and the United States were on the same side. Unfortunately, that is about to change again.

    As Time magazine has reported, "the election of a pro-choice, pro-diplomacy Democratic president is changing the Vatican's game plan vis-à-vis Washington on several levels. Bush was viewed in Rome as a rare ally in the West for his opposition to such issues as abortion, gay marriage and stem-cell research." Obama will not be an ally. The United States will now support abortion rights in international treaties, and the Holy See will continue its heroic efforts on behalf of the most vulnerable humans.

    This is a lesson about presidential power for now and the future. We all know that the president gets to nominate Supreme Court justices. Too often, the electorate is told that this is the only real impact that the president can have on life issues. (That was the argument set forth by Republican, abortion-rights candidate Rudolph Giuliani in an effort to attract -- or at least not frighten off -- pro-life voters.) In reality, however, the president sets the agenda and affects life issues in numerous ways that we are only just now coming to see clearly.

    (emphasis added)

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    Deal Hudson: "The Power of a Bold Bishop"

    This is interesting:
    The Scranton Times rightly observes that Bishop Martino has not become a national figure merely because of his prominence during the election. But the article fails to note a very important and pertinent fact: Catholics in Pennsylvania did not vote for Barack Obama as they did nationally: Self-identified Catholics in Pennsylvania voted 52 percent to 48 percent for McCain.

    The Philadelphia Inquirer reported this fact but made no attempt to discover the reasons for the anomaly. Pro-life activist Brian Gail from Philadelphia has no doubts as to the cause; he credits Scranton's bishop for this result: "One man did this, and did it all but singlehandedly. His name is Bishop Joe Martino."

    Other Catholics involved in the campaign agree with Gail and view the numbers in Pennsylvania as something to build upon. Bud Hansen Jr. from Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, was co-chair of Catholics for McCain. "I am happy to say that our efforts were not in vain. The results tell us that we can re-build the Catholic vote in our state, starting from the grass roots. There is no question that there are very major problems that we are facing at this time, including the economy, immigration, healthcare, and especially national security, but all these issues can be dealt with at the same time that we are protecting life."

    That the majority of Pennsylvania Catholics bucked the national trend and voted against Obama is a fact that requires further investigation. Such study will very likely reveal a lesson in leadership -- one that will be of particular interest to all the bishops as we approach consideration of the Freedom of Choice Act.
    My Comments:
    As I blogged here, exit polls show that the same thing happened here in Ohio and by almost the exact same percentages: despite the state going for Obama, and despite the national trend of a majority of the Catholic vote going for Obama, the majority of Catholics in Ohio did not vote for Obama, but rather voted for McCain by a 52-47 margin.

    However, I'm reluctant to attribute the result here in Ohio to the actions of any one Bishop.

    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    Bishop Martino: "I cannot have [the] Vice President-elect coming to Scranton, saying he learned his values there"

    The Catholic Vote in Ohio

    Deacon Fournier: "Bishop Martino is Right, ‘This is Madness People’"

    Bishop Martino of Scranton: "Respect Life"

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    Obama Catholics: "Trust Us, We Were Lying!"

    Darwin writes at American Catholic:
    One of the arguments I’m starting to get very tired of is that when Senator Obama addressed Planned Parenthood and promised that the first thing he would do as President would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (thus cementing a more drastic pro-abortion regime than has ever existed in the US to day) he was obviously just scoring partisan political points, and that Catholics are not only ill advised to worry about FOCA passing and being signed but that if they do so they are actively behaving in bad faith by accusing Obama of supporting something he never really meant to do.

    If the tenor of the excuses for Obama’s FOCA promise was, “Look, I supported Obama, but the fact is that was an idiotic, divisive and dishonest promise that he made. Luckily, congress is better than that and we can hope that his advisers have now explained to him what a stupid thing that was to say.” I might be a little more open to listening. All of us who follow politics, even passionately, are (or at least should be) aware that “our” candidates often do foolish and even wrong things.

    However, the general comment that seems to be coming in from Catholic Obama apologists is that it’s actively dishonest and inflammatory of the bishops and of individual Catholics to focus on Obama’s FOCA promise. I’m sorry but, “Trust me, we were lying,” is not among the more persuasive lines of argument I’ve heard of late. If there is someone acting in bad faith here, it’s not the bishops denouncing FOCA.

    [Read the whole thing]
    My Comments:
    I suppose it's easier to continue to point fingers at the Bishops and at those who are no longer in power and accuse them of being "disingenuous" for focusing on President-elect Obama's self-proclaimed abortion extremism than it is to admit (1) that your party is committed to one non-negotiable issue and that issue is abortion-on-demand as a constitutionally protected "right" and (2) that making your party truly pro-life is unlikely to ever happen or is at the very least going to require some heavy lifting that is likely to distract you and your party from all those other issues that you thought were so important as to justify your vote for the most pro-abortion presidential candidate in history.

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    Tip of the Day: Buy Tydings Trew ... Cheap!

    Tydings Trew is a recording of medieval Christmas music by the group Lionheart. I've blogged about this recording before, and have encouraged my readers to go out and buy it. It is, without a doubt, the best Christmas CD I own.

    So, today I learn that is currently selling Tydings Trew for $6.98, and some of Amazon's affiliates are listing the recording brand new for as low as $3.12 and "used - like new" for as low as $2.98.

    Take my word for it: take advantage of these low prices and buy Tydings Trew. I think I may have paid nearly $18.00 for it when I purchased my CD a few years ago, and it has been well worth the money spent. To be able to buy it now for as low as $6.00 after shipping is a steal.

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    Lully, Lu-LIE: National Geographic Claims Herod Not Such a Bad Guy

    The Curt Jester has the details:
    ... Now who could the National Geographic be talking about? Why of course it is King Herod the Great!
    Herod guided his kingdom to new prosperity and power.
    He was all about hope and change.
    Yet today he is best known as the sly and murderous monarch of Matthew's Gospel, who slaughtered every male infant in Bethlehem in an unsuccessful attempt to kill the newborn Jesus, the prophesied King of the Jews. During the Middle Ages he became an image of the Antichrist: Illuminated manuscripts and Gothic gargoyles show him tearing his beard in mad fury and brandishing his sword at the luckless infants, with Satan whispering in his ear. Herod is almost certainly innocent of this crime, of which there is no report apart from Matthew's account.
    Wow I guess I can forget about the Holy Innocents. Thanks National Geographic!
    But children he certainly slew, including three of his own sons, along with his wife, his mother-in-law, and numerous other members of his court. Throughout his life, he blended creativity and cruelty, harmony and chaos, in ways that challenge the modern imagination. [article]
    Now I am confused. We know about how Herod murdered his relatives based on only one account by Josephus written around 93 or 94. Yet the account by Matthew written earlier and passed on by people living within living memory of King Herod is not credible. National Geographic also calls Josephus a "hostile biographer " So I guess the one source rule can be used selectively depending on the outcome you want. Besides somebody who murdered many family members out of a paranoid feat of being usurped could not possibly react like the Herod in Matthew's account - oh wait...


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    I Dare Him to Call Me a Torture Apologist

    There has been much written in the Catholic blogosphere over the last couple of days about Mark Shea's latest foray into calumnious rumor-mongering.

    Christopher Blosser, Patrick Archbold, and the Cranky Conservative (as well as others) have all made fine contributions. But it's Red Cardigan's post that I believe distills the issue down to its most basic elements:
    ... Mark is saying that it doesn't matter if the story is true or not, but that because we know this administration has condoned torture, murder, and the cover-up of murder we can't dismiss this out of hand.

    Patrick, and others, are saying, in effect: hold on. We do know the administration has done some bad things ... But knowing that the administration tried to use all sorts of legalistic wiggle-room about how waterboarding really wasn't torture, not really, and cold cells aren't really torture, not really, etc. seems to me to be a far cry from saying that we know for certain that our non-military intelligence officers are routinely shoving forty-plus prisoners out of cargo planes (despite the enormous difficulty in doing any such thing while the plane is in flight--these aren't skydiving planes, after all) as the sort of thing which is All in a Day's Work, so to speak; or at the very least, that we can't say that the story is impossible.

    Now, Mark appears to be saying (and I'll be glad to be wrong) that the only way you could object to this story is because you're bound and determined to give the Bush administration a pass when it comes to torture and murder, and you're so blindly partisan that you can't even accept for a moment that things have deteriorated so much that we now must face the possibility that it might be true that we have members of the CIA hiring civilian contractors to fly cargo planes out of which they plan to push three or four dozen prisoners en route. In other words, he appears to be saying that raising objections on the grounds that this story seems highly implausible, could not be kept a secret if it really were occurring, and might not even be physically possible are all a smoke screen for one's determination to bow down to Moloch and ignore torture and murder so long as it's Our Guy doing it.

    But that's a bit unkind. I, for one, don't condone torture, and would be outraged at any proof that our government has been committing wholesale murders of people just as I suspect most of us would be. But I don't read this story and think, sadly, "How terrible it is that we can't categorically deny this!" Instead, I read it and think "Sounds like somebody along the line had Way Too Much to drink, and was determined to tell an impressively horrific tale!" And I don't think I'm covering up for Bush in reaching that conclusion; if anything, I'm employing God's gift of reason, and failing to fall for the latest fashion in conspiracy theory.

    [Read the whole thing]
    My Comments:
    Yeah, what Red said! This story is such obvious B.S. that it is not even debatable that Mark had no business posting it and claiming it to be an "entirely believable anecdote."

    Yet, Mark persists in calling his post legit and tarring those who object to it either as partisan torture apologists for the Bush Administration or as fixated upon "trivial" matters of secondary importance to the overall objective of his post.

    Let's start with the second allegation. I no more view as "trivial" that one might calumniate an entire group of people in order to denounce the intrinsic evil of torture than I view it as "trivial" that one might torture a captive in order to prevent the intrinsic evil of a terror attack. Mark rightly rages against the consequentialism of the latter, but appears oblivious to the consequentialism inherent in the former. But last I checked, calumny was intrinsically evil, too.

    And to address the first allegation: I dare Mark Shea to accuse me of being a torture apologist, especially when he has plenty of evidence to the contrary.

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    Tuesday, December 02, 2008

    Digest of Today's Posts (2 December 2008)

  • Mary Full of Life

  • A Conservative Manifesto

  • Italian Bishop Admonishes Parents Regarding "Ridiculous" Baby Names

  • Prof. Bainbridge on Doug Kmiec and U.S. Diplomatic Relations with the Holy See
  • Labels:

    Mary Full of Life

    (Hat tip: Fr. Finigan at The Hermeneutic of Continuity)

    An image of a very pregnant Mary, the mother of Jesus, looks down on Old Town from a billboard on West Burnside Street and Northwest Third Avenue. In the weeks before Christmas, she is a reminder of the approaching celebration of her son's birth.

    She's also a testament to a Milwaukie woman's deeply held beliefs.

    "I'm not political," says Valerie Aschbacher, who commissioned the sculpture that was photographed for the billboard. "Mary's not political. She's an image of the gospel of life."

    Many people would not agree. They see life -- when it begins and how it ends -- as a political issue. Abortion and physician-assisted suicide continue to be campaign issues for many voters.

    So it's not surprising that Aschbacher's billboard has sparked a dispute in a time divided by life issues.

    The Catholic Sentinel, the official newspaper of the Catholic Church in Oregon, reported recently that developers of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Northeast Portland had crews remove a billboard structure on their property before Aschbacher's ad, which the Sentinel characterized as an anti-abortion ad, was scheduled to appear on it.

    James Adamson, a spokesman for Beech Street Partners, the developer, said the decision had nothing to do with ad content.

    Aschbacher, a Roman Catholic, says she is frustrated because the culture around her doesn't reflect her belief that all life is sacred. In 2004, she began looking for a piece of art, a visual reminder that God is the "giver of life." She looked for an image of a noticeably pregnant Mary.

    When Aschbacher couldn't find one, she worked with an artist, who wants to remain anonymous. They decided on a sculpture because it would be three-dimensional; the figure would look full of life from every angle.

    Aschbacher picked up the piece nine months later, on Sept.8, the date when Catholics observe the birth of Mary. Aschbacher wanted the world to see the sculpture, but she wasn't sure how to do it. She put it in her bedroom, on a bedside table.

    "It's the first thing I see in the morning when I put on my glasses," she says. "And the last thing I see at night." She wrote a brief prayer to Mary, copyrighted it and the name, "Mary Full of Life," and then she waited.

    "You'll know when the time is right," her parish priest at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church told her. And this fall, during a presidential election, she thought the time was right. She said she felt called to register with the state of Oregon as a religious nonprofit corporation.

    She got help creating a Web site,, that displays several photographs of the sculpture and Aschbacher's prayer. At each stage, she says, she signed confidentiality agreements with the sculptor, photographer and Web designer. She won't say how much money she's invested in the project, except that she had $1,000 to spend to put Mary Full of Life on a billboard.

    Much to her surprise, however, Clear Channel wanted just $90 for graphics and installation. Because she represented a religious nonprofit, Parsons said, her ad was a public service announcement.

    When he heard that Aschbacher had lost her first billboard site and had trouble finding another, Parsons felt bad and offered to cover the $90 fee. He said she could have the billboard at Burnside and Third -- after the beer ad's contract was done -- through the end of the year at no cost.

    "It was just a case of customer service," he said.

    Early Nov.13, Mary Full of Life took her place on the billboard, overlooking a steady stream of morning commuters.


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    A Conservative Manifesto

    (Hat tip: Regular Guy Paul)

    Yet another post from Matthew Patrick Archbold - a must-read from this past weekend:
    ... How could a "conservative" vote for Obama? Simply, he replaced one god with another.

    Let me explain this rather cryptic statement. In order to explain it, I will use Christopher Buckley as an example, but he is by no means an isolated example. While others of the same ilk may not have gone so far as to vote for Obama, the problem is pervasive. Chris Buckley, after the election, gave an interview to a fawning New York Times.
    As an only child, did you find one of your parents easier to talk to than the other? My mother. She got it. He often didn’t get it.

    What didn’t he get? Religion.

    He was a practicing Catholic. What are you? I am post-Catholic.

    As opposed to a lapsed Catholic? I am probably more of a collapsed Catholic.

    Do you believe in the afterlife? Alas, no...
    That is what it comes down to I think. Men like William F. Buckley, like me, had a fundamental distrust of government. They also thought that free market capitalism as the best of the available -isms for generating prosperity for all. But, and this is a big but, they understood that these philosophies and viewpoints always needed to be tempered and informed by Christianity. Free market capitalism, untethered from Christian restraint, can be the source of as much evil as any other of the well known and pernicious -isms. Take your pick.

    Christianity infused the political-economic outlook of these conservatives as much as the social issues are today obviously influenced by it. But somewhere along the line conservatives like Christopher Buckley lost faith in Christ. In the absence of the almighty, these post-Christian conservatives deified free-market capitalism. They traded one God for another.

    Thus, conservatives split into two camps. The fiscal conservative, who worshiped capitalism, and the social conservative, who in their faith in God, found the most critical issues of the day the slaughter of the innocent. These two entities, joined under the banner of conservative, have had an uneasy and forced marriage. Cognizant that neither can survive electorally on its own, they have been wedded to each other for a generation.

    But something happened this electoral cycle that may have forever altered and perhaps doomed this metaphorical marriage. The fiscal conservatives (and everyone else for that matter) found out their god of choice, untethered free-market capitalism, has feet made of clay. The fiscal conservatives can make the legitimate claim that government interference in the free market helped bring on this disaster, but that explanation only goes so far. What everyone sees now is the greed and excess of capitalism without Christianity. What the Christian ethic rightly decried as gluttony, was viewed by many conservatives as the ultimate virtue and attractively named competition. What we now through natural law was ignored as well, the hangover always follows the party. Unfortunately, this hangover occurred right in the middle of the election season giving us no time to sleep it off.

    So now that their god has been revealed as a fraud, with their faith shaken, these fiscal conservatives are now free to apostatize. There were a few high profile defections such as Buckley which wounded, but it was the anonymous fiscal conservative who ultimately pulled the plug. They found no issue with voting for someone who believes that government is the answer to everything and higher taxes and wealth redistribution as goods in and of themselves. Apostasy complete.

    Ironically, it was these very same "conservatives" who forced John McCain on the rest of a reluctant party in part because he did not wear his religion on his sleeve in the same way that Romney or Huckabee did . They wanted to distance themselves from the "religious right" in the party. Now, still stung with defeat, they want to pin the blame on, as one analyst called them, the God fearin' oogedy boogedy right. I can't take this point on at any length in this already lengthy post, but suffice it to say the religious right didn't have a dog in this fight.

    So if the demise of a cohesive conservative movement was the result of the divorce between Christianity and conservative thought, what is the remedy? Marriage counseling? Yes, but with our pastor.

    This is all a very long way of saying that the resurrection of the conservative movement, in my view, all depends on whether our Christianity can once again inform and guide our entire political outlook. If we continue in our unhappy marriage, where believers do social issues and non-believers the economic issues, we will continue to fail to persuade. A house divided against itself cannot stand.

    [Read the whole thing]

    Sorry I initially got the attribution wrong, Patrick. I've now corrected it.

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    Italian Bishop Admonishes Parents Regarding "Ridiculous" Baby Names

    At Creative Minority Report, Matthew Archbold has a post about an Italian bishop calling on parents to stop giving their kids "ridiculous" names and to instead revert to the traditional practice of naming their kids after saints such as the Blessed Virgin:
    Monsignor Bassano Staffieri, retired bishop of La Spezia in Liguria, said that of the 500 girls born in the city this year, "not one was registered or baptised with the name Maria". He added."A name is not just a sound, it has a profound meaning."

    Mothers and fathers "should return to using a name like Maria, which is inspired by the Virgin Mary", instead of opting for "exotic or strange names of which their children will later be ashamed", the bishop said. There were signs that parents were reverting to traditional names for boys, "but this is still not the case with baby girls, alas".
    All of our children have fairly traditional Christian names, but for the girls, we chose Marian themes: Mary Virginia and Grace Assumpta. (NOTE: Most of our family members - at least those who are not Catholic - think "Assumpta" is a ridiculous name, but that just shows you what they know.)

    While we're on the subject, the parish in Columbia, Virginia that we attended right after we entered the Church had a very orthodox and holy priest, Fr. Gerald Przywara. Fr. Przywara baptized both of our boys, James Thomas and Aidan David. He approved of those names, which is very important. You see, Fr. Przywara has a rule about baptizing babies: if the child hasn't been given at least one saint name as either their first or middle name, he automatically appends the name "Mary" or "Maria" to the child at baptism ... regardless of the sex of the child.

    I witnessed him do that on at least one occasion where the child had been given an "interesting" first and middle name by the parents.

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    Prof. Bainbridge on Doug Kmiec and U.S. Diplomatic Relations with the Holy See

    Here and here.

    And here.

    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    Vatican Official Says Kmiec Will Not Become New Vatican Ambassador

    Kmiec's Payoff? [UPDATED]

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