Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Do Justice. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly.

He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
~ Micah 6:8

"I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristicks of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation."
~ His Excellency, George Washington
Circular to the States | Sunday, 8 June 1783

Some thoughts:

* Black Lives Matter. Period. No buts.

* The response "All Lives Matter" to the Black Lives Matter movement is the equivalent of the "Seamless Garment" response to the Pro-Life Movement. Standing alone, they are nice-sounding and even laudable sentiments. Juxtaposed against the justice movements to which they are a response, they have the effect -- and perhaps even the intention -- of undermining those justice movements.

* Both / And. It is entirely possible to criticize, protest, and call for the reform of shortcomings in society and in our criminal justice system that unduly and negatively impact the lives of African-Americans, while at the same time criticizing and calling for an immediate cessation of ongoing riots resulting in violence and destruction of personal property.

* Order precedes justice, and BOTH precede freedom. In a review of a biography of Founding Father and first Chief Justice John Jay a few years ago, The Imaginative Conservative noted: "a civ­i­lized so­ci­ety must have order, justice, and free­dom. The se­quence is es­sen­tial. With­out order, noth­ing can func­tion. Once order is es­tab­lished, jus­tice can come into being and once order and jus­tice pre­vail, freedom can arise and flour­ish." The rioting and violence needs to stop -- order needs to prevail. Only once order is established can we then move to the very necessary work of seeing that justice toward our African-American brothers and sisters can be achieved. There is much work to be done. Liberty and freedom follows from that. If only some of us are free, then none of us are free.

* Walk a mile in a man's shoes. If you don't fully understand what Black Lives Matter is all about, try to put yourself in the place of those who do. Not the violent rioters who hijacked the legitimate protests in order to push for revolution. No, I'm talking about putting yourself in the shoes of people for whom their skin color makes every traffic stop a "What if ...?" And even if you think that's BS (and it's not), at least have some empathy for the individuals who do feel that way. Ask yourself why they feel that way. And try to imagine that there might be some legitimacy to their concerns.

* Rioters and their apologists are not showing much mercy to anyone who gets in their way. Beatings and even deaths have occurred. Homes, businesses, livelihoods, life savings, neighborhoods have been destroyed. Most often, those hurt by the destruction are those for whom the protests are supposed to help. And the response of the rioters and their apologists? "F*ck 'em, they have insurance." No, not all of them do. And it's not even clear that insurance will cover riot damage. As others have pointed out, this elitist response is the "Let them eat cake" of this particular crisis (and with the previous crisis and the "Let them eat cake" response of the very same elites -- COVID, remember that? -- not even over yet).

* We need to stop seeing people as nothing more than the sum of their skin color and their political beliefs, and start loving them as individuals and fellow human beings. It's okay to disagree. It's not okay to hate. In fact, it's imperative to love.

* Needless to say, EVERYONE could use a good dose of humility right now, including yours truly. No one has all the answers. No one is right all the time. No one is wrong all the time. There is no one-size-fits-all approach that is going to work for everyone. There is no magic wand that can be waved to fix everything. There is no ideological solution that is going to bring about Heaven on earth. Contemplate that you might be wrong about something. Imagine that your ideological opponent might be right about something. Think about ways you can serve others humbly and without regard to whether they might think differently, look differently, smell differently, live differently than you do.

* Seek something higher than yourself. For many, that will be God. Seek HIS will in your life and in this world, not your own. "THY will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." That's not a call for Utopia; that's a call for you to be like Him, to seek Him, to reflect Him in living out your life. For a sadly increasing number, that "something higher" will not be God. For you, seek out what there is to love about humanity. Seek what it is that compels you to do good for all, not just most or some. Seek out what there is to love in EACH individual person, as a person, even when you dislike or disagree with them -- seek that individual's personal well-being, by seeing them as an individual, not as a statistic.

* Pray.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

I May Be Pro Ecclesia, Pro Familia, and Pro Civitate, But I No Longer Call Myself "Pro-Life"

For quite a while now, I have been contemplating briefly -- for just one post -- coming out of blog retirement to explain why I no longer refer to myself as being "pro-life". I had it all written in my head, and had only to actually sit down, revisit my old blogger interface, and start typing.

Fortunately, Eric Sammons, writing at CatholicVote, has saved me the trouble by writing, essentially, the very apologia I had planned:
... No matter the reason, by calling every issue a “pro-life” issue, we dilute and fracture the brand. We make other, less important issues as important as the abortion issue. We needlessly divide pro-lifers over prudential issues about which we should be able to respectfully disagree.

As for me, I’ve come to realize that I’m no longer pro-life. Just call me anti-abortion. It’s accurate, specific, and tells the whole world that I’m unabashedly opposed to child-killing.
So, no longer refer to me as "pro-life" -- not if being "pro-life" means I also have to accept a hodgepodge of DNC platform positions pushed by lefty Catholics and the USCCB bureaucracy. I want to oppose abortion on MY terms ... not the terms of people who, in the end, don't really give two squirts about ending abortion.

Call me "anti-abortion".

(And with that, I sign off.)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Alternate title for David Mills' piece at Crux today: Crux STILL Telling Converts "Shut Up!"

Alternate title for David Mills' piece at Crux today:  Crux STILL Telling Converts "Shut Up!"

David Mills admonishes that "Newcomers to the Church should speak less, listen more." And here's the thing. On one level I DO agree with what Mills writes about converts needing a period of reflection, adjustment, and additional mystagogy -- of getting our feet wet, so to speak, before pronouncing on any and all things Catholic. In retrospect, I wish I had waited before i began to blog about Catholicism shortly after I converted almost a decade-and-a-half ago (I only had been Catholic for 9 months when I "took up the pen" in the Catholic blogosphere.)

But then Mills completely goes off the rails:
"... He may be full of book-learning. But of the real Catholic mind or imagination - the Catholic paradigm, the way Catholics see the world - he knows little. The new Catholic **must work for many years** to get that, and **never will get it fully**. (emphasis added)

"Most converts, as I wrote in The New Oxford Review, will never think and feel exactly as do cradle Catholics. They do by instinct what we will always do by analysis followed by choice.

"For a long time, and perhaps a very long time, the convert will see the Catholic Thing as you see a garden through a bay window, not as you see it when you’re standing amidst the flowers. He sees its design and beauty, but doesn’t feel the sun or smell the flowers or enjoy walking barefoot on the grass. Nor does he know what it is like to get caught in the rain or stung by a bee, or to spend hours weeding. He has to spend many years outside to know what life in the garden is really like..."

What a crock! This is fetishizing the cradle Catholic experience as being the *REAL* Catholic experience, and holding up any alternative to that as somehow less than. I used to do this exact same thing that Mills is doing when I was a new Catholic. I used to lament that I would never be able to experience the Faith with the instinct and the ethos of a cradle Catholic. That I would somehow always be an "incomplete" or not "REAL" Catholic like all my brethren born into the Faith and that I had somehow been "deprived" of my "birthright" as a "true" Catholic.

Now I recognize that for the utter horseshit that it is. It is nothing more than fetishizing cradle Catholicism ... in the same way many people fetishize the conversion experiences of the new Catholic. Converts are no less or no more "REAL" Catholics than are cradle Catholics. We all have our gifts that we bring to how we live our Faith and we all have our shortcomings. And NONE of those gifts or shortcoming are inherent, innate, ingrained, implicit, instinctive, distinctive, or integral (or whatever other word or clinical diagnosis you choose to plug in) to being either a cradle Catholic or a convert. And they are most definitely NOT fixed or inalienable based upon such status.

St. Paul was no more or no less competent to speak out against St. Peter for his having been a convert than were any of the other Apostles who had been with Peter all along. It is high time we stop criticizing and / or fetishizing the experiences of our fellow Catholics based on whether or not they are cradle, convert, or revert Catholics. How 'bout we all just be CATHOLICS?

Upon further reflection, this piece (and it's "speak less, listen more" headline) is actually far more condescending than "Shut Up!"

It's more like "Shhhhh."

For more background on the anti-convert dustup taking place at Crux (funded by your Knight of Columbus dues) and elsewhere, read Paul Zummo's excellent post at The American Catholic.

Deal Hudson has written an excellent response to Mills' piece ... also published at Crux.


Tuesday, February 07, 2017

The New Catholic Debate: Is It Ever OK to Punch a Heretic?

Catholics can't agree on whether violence is an appropriate response to heresy

Arius, leader of the anti-Homoousian Christology movement and advocate for the Father's divinity over the Son, was punched in the face by Bishop Nicholas of Myra while bragging about the success of Arianism in spreading the heresy denying the consubstantiality of the Father and Son throughout Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and also in various Germanic kingdoms.

Illustrations of the punch were seen more than a million and half times. Arius has said he’s not a heretic — even though his “Arianism” has devolved into supporting heretical tendencies.

The punch has spurred a flurry of parodies and memes on Facebook:

Although the number of views of the memes and the glee with which the memes are being shared suggest many find it fun to watch someone who professed heresy at an Ecumenical Council get clocked, a serious debate over the act is going down over: If you see someone espousing the views of Arius in public, should your knuckles meet their jaw? The Church needs answers, apparently. Even the New York Times jumped into the debate:
There was little substantive debate online about the ethics of punching Bishop Arius. Facebook is not a place where minds are often changed, and the supporters and opponents of the sucker punch were unmoved by one another’s quips.
Opponents of the punch tended to say that violence had no place in theological debate. Supporters tended to say the punch was funny, and more than a few compared Bishop Arius’s attacker to famous punchers from pop culture, like Batman.
A glance at history indicates that violence towards heretics has been something Christians have advocated for a while now.

Thankfully, the Times didn’t bury the most important hidden gem:
Bishop Arius's sore jaw resulted from a sucker punch in what he described as “a safe space.” (It was a Church-sponsored event, after all.) He said he thought the attack happened, in part, because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time — sitting next to Bishop Nicholas.
Maybe the question shouldn’t be, “Is it OK to punch a heretic?” but, “If you don’t want to be punched in the face, maybe you shouldn’t preach heresy to the faithful?”


Thursday, October 13, 2016

WikiLeaks Confirms Democrat Conspiracy to "Plant Seeds of Revolution" in Catholic Church, Vindicates Catholic Blogs That Exposed Front Groups

In case you're wondering, the "middle ages dictatorship" that is the Catholic Church and her Bishops is right there in the middle of Hillary Clinton's so-called "basket of deplorables". And the Clinton team had a plan to rid themselves of these troublesome priests by "plant[ing] the seeds of the revolution" against the Catholic hierarchy and its teachings via infiltration and subversion.

Some of us caught on to this plan a decade ago...

John Podesta.  Image courtesy of the Center for American Progress  via OnePeter5 
(Creative Commons)

Vindication. Yes, an opportunity to gloat. To say "I told you so."

Not a very pretty sentiment, but that's about the only thing that could bring me out of blogging retirement (but only for this one post) in the electoral Annus Horribilis that is 2016.

So it turns out that what we knew ALL ALONG about the Soros-funded DemoCatholic front groups Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and its sister organization Catholics United was, in fact, 100% on the money. We have an admission right out of the horse's mouth (or, rather, out of the horse's leaked emails). I haven't the time nor the inclination to get into a long retrospective detailing the war of words that I and other like-minded bloggers waged over several years -- beginning a decade ago -- against Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United. Instead, I will direct you to the links below, which will more than fill you in and give you a taste of what was being said and what was at stake.

In short, my part in this drama began a decade ago during the 2006 elections, when Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good published a Catholic voter guide that played down the priority given by the Church to traditional life issues in favor of a hodge-podge of issues straight out of the Democrat Party platform. At first, I began by just blogging about and linking to what others were saying about this mysterious group who had suddenly appeared on the scene in the midst of a mid-term election. As the evidence poured in, especially evidence that linked the group to funding provided by none other than George Soros, it soon became clear that Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good was little more than a front group for the Democrat Party and its efforts to blur the lines on life issues with Catholic voters.

And then, the week before the November 2006 elections, our own Catholic Chronicle -- the usually fairly orthodox newspaper of the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio -- published a front-page puff piece on the efforts of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good in our own diocese to promote their vision and their voter guide (the story reported the efforts in a straightforward manner, without questioning the problematic aspects of the group and its voter guide).. The proverbial you-know-what must've hit the fan in the Chancery offices once the very orthodox then-Toledo Bishop Leonard Blair (now Archbishop of Hartford, CT) caught wind of it, because the article was gone from the Chronicle's website within a matter of hours after it was published. Alas, it was too late to remove the article from the print editions, which went out the weekend before the elections on the following Tuesday to parishes Diocese-wide. So, in response to the Chronicle's article, I penned a letter to the editor taking the Chronicle and the main protagonist of the article, Prof. Richard Gaillardetz, to task for the misrepresentation and manipulation of Catholic teaching. The Chronicle eventually published my letter, along with a few others disagreeing with the article and its timing, a couple of months later. Following the letter's publication, the response from the Catholics in Alliance crowd was swift and predictably unpleasant. You can read the comments here for a taste. This war of words against Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United (and various offshoots like Catholic Democrats, etc.) went on for several years and took many twists and turns, which you can read about in the links at the bottom of this post.

In the end, it is my belief that, ultimately, those of us leading the charge against these groups lost that war (at least in the short term covering 2006, 2008, and 2012). Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United accomplished their aims of convincing Catholics that voting for a party that views government-funded abortion on demand as a sacrament, and that views the destruction of the traditional family as a prerequisite to achieving its policy goals and destroying the institutions -- such as the Church and other religious people and organizations -- that might stand in that party's way of achieving said policy goals, was not only morally acceptable, but was, in fact, the MOST Catholic way to vote. See, e.g., Doug Kmiec.  "These groups are merely drawing attention to long-ignored issues of importance to Catholics," some said. "These groups are doing the Church a service by focusing on the need for a 'consistent ethic of life'," they said (never mind that these groups NEVER talked about such life issues as abortion, euthanasia, or the sanctity of the family). Entire blogs were established for the purpose of propagandizing the issues that the DemoCath groups argued were being ignored because of Catholic voters' allegedly "obsessive" focus on "a narrow spectrum of issues regarding family and sexuality" (i.e. the sanctity of life and the family). Sometimes, these blogs had well-meaning founders who definitely raised important issues for Catholics to consider when they were deciding how to vote, but these blogs often quickly devolved into DemoCath propaganda organs as certain bloggers and frequent combox commentators used those fora to press forward the agitprop that ultimately undermined the good of the Catholic Church and her teachings in favor of the pursuit of Democrat Party policy goals. Far too many Catholics who should have known better allowed themselves to be swayed by the arguments of those whose only purpose was to weaken the resolve of Catholic voters to stand for the Catholic Church's teachings on the primacy of life and family issues, and instead were duped by these malefactors to trade that birthright for a mess of feel-good leftist policy pottage. And that party repaid them by, among many other things, suing nuns to force them to provide birth control in their medical policies. And, in response, Catholic voters had so weakened their resolve to stand for traditional life issues, that they re-elected the guy who has consistently attacked their Church. Which was the goal of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United all along. Today, there is no identifiable "Catholic Vote" left to speak of thanks to the likes of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United.

So, it turns out to be a rather bittersweet bit of gloating, at best, when I read the latest WikiLeaks email dump, which includes a 2012 email exchange in which HilLIARy Clinton's current campaign chairman, John Podesta, openly brags about being involved in efforts to infiltrate the Catholic Church and foment a "Catholic Spring" (i.e. a bottom-up rebellion against the Church hierarchy and its teaching authority akin to the "Arab Spring" -- albeit without the violence, one hopes -- that led to revolutions in Egypt, Libya, and Syria). The means of fomenting this takeover of the Church? Why, none other than Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United:
Hi, John, 
This whole controversy with the bishops opposing contraceptive coverage even though 98% of Catholic women (and their conjugal partners) have used contraception has me thinking . . . There needs to be a Catholic Spring, in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic church. Is contraceptive coverage an issue around which that could happen. The Bishops will undoubtedly continue the fight. Does the Catholic Hospital Association support of the Administration's new policy, together with "the 98%" create an opportunity? 

Of course, this idea may just reveal my total lack of understanding of the Catholic church, the economic power it can bring to bear against nuns and priests who count on it for their maintenance, etc. Even if the idea isn't crazy, I don't qualify to be involved and I have not thought at all about how one would "plant the seeds of the revolution," or who would plant them.

Just wondering . . .

Hoping you're well, and getting to focus your time in the ways you want. 

Sandy Newman, President 
Voices for Progress 

Date: 2012-02-11 11:45
Subject: Re: opening for a Catholic Spring? just musing . . .

We created Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good to organize for a moment like this. But I think it lacks the leadership to do so now. Likewise Catholics United. Like most Spring movements, I think this one will have to be bottom up. I'll discuss with Tara. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is the other person to consult. (emphasis added)

That there is what we call a "smoking gun". Again, we knew ALL ALONG what these groups were up to, but they always had some plausible deniability along with their apologists making the case that they were honest-to-goodness "Faithful Catholics"™️ just arguing for a "consistent ethic of life" (again, albeit one that never ever quite mentioned abortion). But this Podesta email is a validation and vindication of the efforts of myself and like-minded bloggers such as, for example, Rich Leonardi, to expose this infiltration of the Catholic Church by political subversives bent on "plant[ing] the seeds of ... revolution".

If you have the time, I encourage you to read as many of the links below as you can to get some indication of what these subversive groups were up to and the efforts to which bloggers were going to expose them. You might find of particular interest the links detailing how former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (a Democrat who is now challenging U.S. Sen. Rob Portman for his Senate seat) had a man at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good whom he also appointed to head up the Ohio Faith-Based Initiatives office and who was, at the same time, running a prostitution ring. Yep.

Others commenting on this story:

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Prominent Catholic Professor Claims IRS Audited Her After Speaking Out Against Obama and Demanded to Know Who Was Paying Her

Soros-Funded Pro-Obama Catholics to Launch News Service?
Catholic Key Blog Asks "Is Catholics in Alliance Kaput?"

Soros-Funded "Catholic" Groups Still Running Cover for Pro-Aborts (Of Course, That's the Sole Reason They Exist)

"Nonpartisan" Catholics United to “Set the Record Straight” by Trying to Convince Catholics That New Healthcare Law is "Pro-Life"

Archbishop Chaput: A Bad Bill and How We Got It

Archbishop Chaput: Those Confusing the Catholic Stance on Health Care Will Bear the Blame for Anti-Life Effects of Heath Care Bill

CatholicVote Takes on Soros-Funded Catholics in Alliance and Catholics United

Sebelius and Kmiec Catholicism - the Catholic Left Declares War on Pro-Lifers

Apologists for Abortion-Loving Catholics Attack Archbishop ... Again

Catholic News Agency: Catholics in Alliance "Abortion Reduction" Study Found to be Faulty - Social Welfare Policies Have Little Effect on Abortion

What Did Gov. Strickland Know, and When Did He Know It (re: Eric McFadden)? [UPDATED]

Breaking: Catholic Democrat Who Once Headed Up Ohio's Faith-Based Initiatives Arrested for Running Prostitution Ring [UPDATED]

"Seamless Garment Has Lost a Thread"

Catholics in Alliance Voter Survey of "Little Value," Archdiocese of Denver Says

"Nonpartisan" Catholics United Attacks the Knights of Columbus

"Nonpartisan" Catholics United Hits McCain with Ad Questioning His Pro-Life Credentials

"Non-Partisan" Group of Catholic Obama Supporters Calling Itself "Catholics United" Gets Divisive

The Catholic Left Meets in Philadelphia

Convention for the "Common Good"

Bill Donohue: "How the Catholic Left Is Boxed in by Abortion"

"Catholic Democrats" Attack "Registered Republican Archbishop of Kansas City" for "Using Communion" to "Take Down" Sebelius

I Missed the Seminar [UPDATED]

Deal Hudson: "Catholics Organize to Elect Barack Obama"

Democrat Front Group Posing as Catholic Org Calls for End to "Christmas Culture War"

Fidelis Dismisses Religious Left Media "Report"

Democrats Set Their Sights on Winning Back Catholics

Mark Shea in National Catholic Register: "Richard Rich Lives"

Edwards Blogger Flap Discomforts Religious Left

Mark Shea: "Whores for Edwards Swings into Action"

Catholics in Alliance Respond With Letter to Editor

Continue to Raise Our Voices on Issue of Voting

In January's Catholic Chronicle - "Vote Your Values" Revisited

Vote Your Values

"NOT An Approved Catholic Voter Guide"

What's Missing?

Toledo Blade: "Catholic Voting Guide Gives Church Perspective"

Catholics Find Voting Guides a Test of Allegiance

Weigel: "An Electoral Battle of the Booklets?

More From Amy Welborn on the "Dueling Catholic Voter Guides"

Columnist: "Christian Right Driving Wedge Into U.S."

More on Catholic Voter Guides

Dueling Catholic Voter Guides

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Friday, April 17, 2015

"The Wrong Side of History" -- Francis Cardinal George, RIP

“... God sustains the world, in good times and in bad. Catholics, along with many others, believe that only one person has overcome and rescued history: Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of the Virgin Mary, savior of the world and head of his body, the church. Those who gather at his cross and by his empty tomb, no matter their nationality, are on the right side of history. Those who lie about him and persecute or harass his followers in any age might imagine they are bringing something new to history, but they inevitably end up ringing the changes on the old human story of sin and oppression. There is nothing 'progressive' about sin, even when it is promoted as 'enlightened.'

“The world divorced from the God who created and redeemed it inevitably comes to a bad end. It’s on the wrong side of the only history that finally matters...”

~ Francis Cardinal George 

My Comments: 
The ONLY "side of history" that I'm particularly concerned about:  Revelation 20:11-15

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Everything Old is New Again -- The Return of Catholic Advocacy for Judicial Activism to End the Death Penalty

Okay. This time will DEFINITELY be my last post here. But just had to acknowledge one last thing on my almost blogiversary.

Two days from today, Saturday, 7 March, will be the 10th anniversary of this blog. The very first substantive post on this blog was about capital punishment. To be precise, it was about the then recent Supreme Court ruling in Roper v. Simmons, which held that it was cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to execute those who have been convicted of committing murder prior to their 18th birthday. The effect of the Roper decision was to abolish the juvenile death penalty in at least 19 states.

In that post, I acknowledged my opposition to the juvenile death penalty (which has now become an opposition to all forms of capital punishment). However, I also noted the troubling aspect of many anti-death-penalty Catholics hailing the Roper decision as a positive thing. While I agreed with the desired outcome of abolishing capital punishment for those who had committed murder before reaching the age of majority, I warned against the impulse of looking to the judicial branch to implement our agendas:
Catholics who are opposed to capital punishment in general, or who, like me, are opposed to the juvenile death penalty in particular, may be tempted to hail the Court’s Roper decision as a favorable development. Indeed, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on March 2 stated that it was “very encouraged that the United States Supreme Court has recognized that executing juvenile offenders is indeed cruel and unusual.” However, notwithstanding the desirable result, I would like to warn Catholics against viewing the Court’s decision in too positive a light, as the Court’s majority, in reaching its holding, relied on reasoning that could lead to outcomes that are problematic for Catholics.

First, it must be noted that what the Court did in Roper was, in my view, an abusive exercise of judicial fiat by unelected and life-tenured judges, who usurped what should be the function of the duly elected and politically accountable legislative branch of government. The majority on the Court ignored the views of the electorate on this issue and read its own policy preferences into the Constitution in order to create a constitutional right that was never there before. In doing so, the Court’s ruling flies in the face of over 200 years of 8th Amendment jurisprudence, and is at odds with the Court’s own previous ruling 15 years earlier in Stanford v. Kentucky, which held that the death penalty for minors was NOT unconstitutional. Amazingly, the Court essentially concluded, as pointed out by Justice Antonin Scalia in his dissenting opinion, “that the meaning of our Constitution has changed over the past 15 years – not, mind you, that this Court's decision 15 years ago was wrong, but that the Constitution has changed.”

This type of activist judicial lawmaking is essentially the same thing the Court did in creating (out of whole cloth) a constitutional right to abortion in Roe v. Wade, as well as in recently striking down laws banning the practice of partial birth abortion. Those Catholics who think the Court acted properly in abolishing the juvenile death penalty in the Roper decision, should not be surprised when the Court uses that same judicial fiat to rule in a manner opposed by Catholics, such as it did in Roe and subsequent abortion-related cases.
I also noted the troubling trend of the Court's increasing reliance upon foreign precedence and the potential ill effects that might have in the arena of creating additional "rights" -- some of which would undermine Catholic views of the family -- out of whole cloth.

Next, I noted the troubling acceptance of the Court's ruling by people who ought to know better:
Again, I realize that many Catholics, despite the concerns I have raised, will nevertheless be tempted to rejoice at the result of the Roper ruling, as evidenced by the positive statement coming from the Bishops’ Conference. I have corresponded with other Catholics who, although troubled by the Court’s reasoning, believe that the “legal technicalities” of the Roper decision should be ignored because the result was just. I would caution Catholics, however, to keep in mind that such good ends cannot justify improper means. And, in my view, running roughshod over the rule of law, as the Roper Court has done, in order to reach a particular desired result simply cannot be justified.
Finally, I concluded with a quote from A Man for All Seasons, and applied it as a warning for what was likely to come from an acceptance of raw judicial activism:

Roper: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! 

More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? 

Roper: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! 

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you - where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast - man's laws, not God's - and if you cut them down - and you're just the man to do it - d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. 

Sir Thomas More’s admonition to Roper should serve as a warning and a reminder to Catholics that the activist Court that sides with us in this particular instance is the same activist Court that is likely in the future (as it has in the past) to “turn round on us” and use its increasingly strident activism to decide cases contrary to our Catholic values.
Now, fast forward 10 years, and along comes this joint editorial from "the national Catholic journals":

National Catholic Journals Unite: ‘Capital Punishment Must End’ 

Joint Editorial of America, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, and Our Sunday Visitor

Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in Glossip v. Gross, a case out of Oklahoma that challenges the most widely used lethal injection protocol as being cruel and unusual punishment.

The court took up the case in January after a year of three high-profile, problematic executions in three states. The court will likely issue a ruling by June. Our hope is that it will hasten the end of the death penalty in the United States.


We, the editors of four Catholic journals — America, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter and Our Sunday Visitor — urge the readers of our diverse publications and the whole U.S. Catholic community and all people of faith to stand with us and say, “Capital punishment must end.”
The Supreme Court has agreed with Archbishop Coakley and will consider the issue. We join our bishops in hoping the Court will reach the conclusion that it is time for our nation to embody its commitment to the right-to-life by abolishing the death penalty once and for all.
So, here we go again. I can understand America's and National Catholic Reporter's affinity for judicial activism, since those publications have never been averse to the Court's using its raw power to push agenda items to which those editorials staffs are friendly. But National Catholic Register and Our Sunday Visitor should know better. They have seen the pro-life and pro-family causes burned time and time again by unelected, life-tenured, activist judges.

The editors at National Catholic Register did feel the need to at least provide an explanation, although they avoided discussing the problematic stance of urging the Court to engage in raw judicial tyranny. My response in the comments to the Register's statement was as follows:
I oppose capital punishment. I want it to be abolished.
BUT the remedy for which the national Catholic journals are advocating is a recipe for judicial tyranny. You are asking for unelected life-tenured judges to usurp a power unto themselves that they do not have—to find something in the Constitution that simply is not there (although they are certainly not shy about doing so when it comes to declaring a constitutional right to abortion on demand and same-sex “marriage”).
In fact, you are asking the Supreme Court to find “unconstitutional” something that is explicitly provided for in the Constitution. The Constitution itself, by its terms, validates the “constitutionality” of capital punishment by making it the penalty for treason. How can something be “unconstitutional” when it is called for by the Constitution? What this editorial proposes is for the Supreme Court to ignore the clear language of the Constitution and substitute the judges’ own personal policy preferences.
Yes, capital punishment should be abolished, but not by judges who, by doing so, would be making up the law, not following it. Instead, we should be advocating the abolition of the death penalty to those in the elected branches in the state and federal governments who are empowered to act in this regard. It is in the lawmaking branches across the nation—in the legislatures and executive branches—that we should be looking to for action. Movement in the right direction is already happening in several states throughout the nation, as this editorial acknowledges.
Well, that's all I have to say on the matter. Just thought it interesting to see this "joint editorial" encouraging the Supreme Court to abolish capital punishment almost 10 years to the day after I published my first blog post on exactly the same topic.

Thanks for a great 10 years. Goodbye.

UPDATE (6 March 2015)
Pat Archbold, writing at National Catholic Register, takes issue with the publication's advocacy of judicial tyranny, citing the same concerns I have cited here and that I cited 10 years ago in response to the Roper decision. (Hat tip: Paul Z at The American Catholic)

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