Monthly Archives: March 2009

"Notre Dame didn't understand what it means to be Catholic"


As President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops,  Francis Cardinal George of Chicago today spoke out on the Notre Dame scandal.  The money quote:  “So whatever else is clear, it is clear that Notre Dame didn’t understand what it means to be Catholic when they issued this invitation, …” Note however that the Cardinal also spoke of corresponding with Jenkins several times on the issue.  That of course will get approximately nowhere.  Jenkins and the powers that be at Notre Dame have made very clear that they will not back down.  They should be compelled to do so.  Here is a fisking of the press report by Father Z.

What does honoring Obama with a law degree communicate about our view of law and morality?

Over at New Catholic, Mark Stricherz expresses his doubts about the ‘dialogue model’ of engagement with culture, as mounted by some in defense of Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame:

But the dialogue model can’t, doesn’t, and shouldn’t entirely govern Catholic universities (and again, all universities). In exceptional cases, it breaks down. Surely these cases are absolute moral issues: torture, slavery, genocide, racial segregation, and yes, violence against pre-natal life (abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and cloning). Universities have little to learn from politicians who support such intrinsic evil. What exactly would Notre Dame have learned from, say, Stephen A. Douglas in the 19th century about domestic policy or Dick Cheney in 2009 about foreign policy? Would Douglas and Cheney have changed their mind about slavery and torture?

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Marci Hamilton's Crusade

Several weeks ago there was a rather unpleasant exchange in First Things, between Marci Hamilton of the Cardozo School of Law, and Martin and Melissa Nussbaum of the Diocese of Colorado. Ms. Hamilton supports lifting the statute of limitations for child sex abuse claims, while the Nussbaums are decidedly against the idea. There are reasonable arguments on both sides, and, in this particular discussion, unreasonable arguments on both sides. But I think removing the statute of limitations, as Ms. Hamilton proposes, is likely to provide little benefit in terms of deterring abuse, and myriad opportunities for malicious or frivolous litigation. Furthermore, Ms. Hamilton’s professed concern for children has been rather morbidly focused on the Catholic Church rather than, for instance, public schools, where abuse problems are far more rampant.

I thought at the time I read the exchange that Ms. Hamilton’s name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it. And then I remembered: Ms. Hamilton was the author of a rather incautiously written book entitled God v. the Gavel, in which she made a case against many traditional religious liberties (noticing a theme in her oeuvre?). I say incautiously because the book contained enough errors and sloppy argumentation to elicit a legendarily harsh book review from Douglas Laycock, one of the field’s most distinguished scholars. The whole review is worth reading if the topic is of interest to you (or if, like me, you enjoy reading rigorous criticism), but here is the conclusion:

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Send Him Some Mail


Hattip to commenter cminor.  Send a letter to our pro-abort President and let him know what you think of abortion.  The color of the envelope?  Why red of course.  This is a purely symbolic gesture, but as we approach the Passiontide let us remind Obama that it is time to end the shedding of innocent blood in abortion clinics throughout the US.

Hot Air Has A Problem


I have often linked to Hot Air, a conservative web-site.  I greatly respect Ed Morrissey who posts there.  He is a solid orthodox Catholic who has a good nose for news.  It disheartens me therefore to have to point out that whenever a story involving the Catholic Church is featured there, vicious anti-Catholic bigots among the commenters always take the opportunity to lambaste the Church in the vilest terms possible.  My friend Sydney Carton has done yeoman work spotlighting this problem at his website Aggressive ConservativeHere is a typical thread at Hot Air where Catholic bashers came out to play.

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Res & Explicatio for A.D. 3-30-2009

Salvete AC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1. Please pray for Father Benedict Groeschel as he suffered a stroke last week.  For the story click here.

2. Jay Anderson is contemplating leaving blogging.  It seems he is being worn down by the grind of writing on politics and religion.  For the story click here.

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"Dads Protecting Daughters" Facebook Cause

I wanted to announce that I just started a Cause on Facebook- “Dads Protecting Daughters”. I include below the extended information about the Cause. I would welcome an expansion of this to go well beyond the Facebook orbit. Please feel free to comment:

I am a dynamic, orthodox Catholic who teaches high school, I’ve run for public office, I have lived in many countries. As a Christian convert I know the world quite well. I understand the challenge of overcoming the dominant Playboy/false feminism group think. I believe in an ecumenical Christian movement potential to stand up for our children before they are thrown to the wolves in our society.

The enemy is not one thing, it is a thousand ideas all of which are contrary to the dignity of human life. Strip clubs, abortion clinics, pornography, degrading music lyrics, divorce, contraception and endless marketing using base sexual instincts- all of these are manifestations of the cultural rot we are leaving for our children to live in.

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The Mass on Mount Suribachi


Iwo Jima probably has the sad distinction of being the most expensive piece of worthless real estate in the history of the globe.  Expensive not in something as minor as money, but costly in something as all important as human lives.  In 1943 the island had a civilian population of 1018 who scratched a precarious living from sulfur mining, some sugar cane farming and fishing.  All rice and consumer goods had to be imported from the Home Islands of Japan.  Economic prospects for the island were dismal.  Eight square miles, almost all flat and sandy, the dominant feature is Mount Suribachi on the southern tip of the island, 546 feet high, the caldera of the dormant volcano that created the island.  Iwo Jima prior to World War II truly was “of the world forgetting, and by the world forgot”.

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Right To Thrive

The issue of Abortion was not the compelling concern for a majority of Americans in the last elections, but it is still a powerfully divisive legal/moral contest that pits Pro-Life versus Pro-Choice, in a heated competition for hearts and minds. It is tough to find common ground or fresh areas for public debate, but as a pro-life Democrat I am accustomed to thinking outside the pack.

Most Pro-Choice political leaders are quick to say that they are not pro-Abortion, they are interested in abortion reduction without outlawing the procedures. Many pro-life leaders similarly claim that they are also committed to reducing the numbers of abortion even as they seek a final legal solution of defining the right to life. There are a couple of bills coming back for consideration in Congress that will test the truthfulness of these politicians’ claims.

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What's a Modernist?

A biretta tip to Fr. John Zuhlsdorf for this wonderful piece of humor that he came across on Catholic Church Conservation.  When they stop believing in God, they call themselves modernists.  They being the Church of England but would also apply to many Catholic prelates and laymen here in the United States and around the world.

(Biretta Tip: Catholic Church Conservation via Fr. John Zuhlsforf)

Clinton and Our Lady


Our Secretary of State, pictured above in her school days when she must have been busily not paying attention in at least some of her classes, visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe On Thursday March 27.  After observing the image of Our Lady, Clinton inquired who painted it?  She then told a group of Mexicans outside that they had a “marvelous virgin”.  I must say that I am proud to have such a sophisticated, intelligent  and well read person as Mrs. Clinton representing the U.S. abroad.  I trust that she will not forget the “Montezuma’s Revenge” reference on a future trip to Mexico.  Paying “homage” to Our Lady was squeezed in on her way to accepting the Margarent Sanger award Thursday night in Houston from Murder Inc., aka, Planned Parenthood.

Update I:  “Reproductive rights and the umbrella issue of women’s rights and empowerment will be a key to the foreign policy of this administration,” Clinton said in Houston, where she received the Margaret Sanger Award from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “

Update II:  Ed Morrissey notes at Hot Air that Clinton said that she had been at the Basilica 30 years before.  Hopefully she was paying more attention this time.

We All Have Little Lists

Something for the weekend.  I have always been a sucker for Gilbert and Sullivan.  One of my favorite plays is The Mikado, and one of my favorite songs is that paean to lethal removal of annoying people,  “I’ve Got a Little List”, with its endless variants.

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Save the Honors for Scholars

On the general outlines of the Obama-honored-by-Notre-Dame fraucus, there can be little question. It’s fairly obvious that this was a bad move on the part of the Notre Dame University leadership, especially when they already had a precedent to follow in that they had not had Clinton — another pro-abortion non-Catholic president who had been a law school hot-shot — as a commencement speaker. It’s fairly obvious this will be seen, not as an opportunity for dialogue, but as the Catholic intellectual establishment endorsing Obama. It’s fairly obvious that Notre Dame will not back down at this point, and to be honest this is very much in keeping with the general tenor of Notre Dame over the last 30 years or so, so that’s hardly a surprise either. It’s generally agreed that Notre Dame is the most elite Catholic college in the US, and also generally understood that the question of whether it is its Catholicism or its elite status that is its controlling characteristic is undecided.

However, there’s a wider question at play here which is, I think, worth considering as regards what academia is and ought to be. It’s become quite common for colleges and universities to bring in commencement speakers who have been successful in the wider world: politicans, CEOs, actors, people well known for their work at non-profits, etc.

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Cardinal DiNardo Critiques Notre Dame Invite


Daniel Cardinal DiNardo has become the latest in a series of bishops questioning the appropriateness of the University of Notre Dame’s invitation to invite President Barack Obama to address the commencement ceremony as well as to receive an Honorary Law degree.  One distinguishes Cardinal DiNardo from the previous three bishops is that he is the highest ranking prelate in the United States to voice his “disappointment” to the invitation.  The following is an excerpt from the Texas Catholic Herald, the mouthpiece of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston (separation of paragraphs and emphasis mine):

“I find the invitation very disappointing. Though I can understand the desire by a university to have the prestige of a commencement address by the President of the United States, the fundamental moral issue of the inestimable worth of the human person from conception to natural death is a principle that soaks all our lives as Catholics, and all our efforts at formation, especially education at Catholic places of higher learning. The President has made clear by word and deed that he will promote abortion and will remove even those limited sanctions that control this act of violence against the human person.”

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Third Bishop Reproach's Notre Dame Decision

Bishop Gregory Aymond of the Diocese of Austin has reproached the decision rendered by the University of Notre Dame to allow President Obama to do the 2009 commencement address and receive an honorary law degree.  In an E-Pistle issued earlier today, Bishop Aymond had this to say:

“I, along with many other Catholics, express great disappointment and sadness that a Catholic university would honor someone who is pro-choice and who holds many values contrary to our Catholic belief.”

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