4 Responses to Sorry Doug!

  • Yeah, so sad for Doug’s being snubbed for a regifted Laetare Medal.

    But there’s always a Supreme Court vacancy to which he can hold out some delusional remote hope of being nominated.

  • My guess for SCOTUS is Kagan. I’d be willing to bet Kmiec isn’t even in Obama’s top 50.

  • Kmiec’s not even a remote consideration. Not even on Obama’s radar screen. I’d be shocked if Obama views Kmiec with anything other than the the same disdainful contempt with which the British viewed Benedict Arnold.

    I agree with Feddie that it’s likely to be Diane Wood. Although Kagan is a good guess, as well.

  • It would be interesting to have Mr. Noonan’s analysis of the actual working of the contraceptive methods. Condoms are contraceptive – preventing the union of sperm and egg. Pills, IUDs, and other methods are abortifacient – preventing a created fetus from installing itself in the uterus.

Obama on Abortion

Thursday, April 30, AD 2009

Probably the most interesting part of the press conference last night.  Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has an interesting take on it.  Obama remains an ardent pro-abort, but I think he is beginning to realize that while that position may be popular among a majority of his supporters, it is much less so with the country at large.  I daresay all the upcry over Obama Day at Notre Dame is also having an impact upon him.  The Freedom of Choice Act* has tumbled from the “first thing he would sign” at the White House to “not the highest legislative priority”.   The message to the pro-life movement is clear.  Stay active, stay noisy and expose every pro-abort move that this administration makes to the public at large.  Obama is paying attention and he will back down in the face of determined opposition.

 * FOCA

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25 Responses to Obama on Abortion

  • “Obama is paying attention and he will back down in the face of determined opposition.”

    I agree with this sentiment. But maybe I am just naively hopeful.

  • Wow. One thing I really find striking is how the rhetoric — the run down is so consistent each time he talks about it. 1. Abortion has a moral and ethical component. 2. Women don’t make these decisions casually. 3. They are better positioned to decide the morality of the matter. 4. We should seek “common ground” and reduce the number of abortions — in other words, not the debate the issue itself directly.

    Every video, every speech I have ever seen or read, this is the precise ordering and talking points. And the “ums” almost indicate he’s trying to remember his lines.

    Interesting.

    Well, I’m glad FOCA is not a legislative priority. I wonder how Emily’s List feels about that.

  • I appreciate President Obama’s pragmatism on the subject. It also helps that he has good command of the English language (I cringed each time ‘W’ spoke) as well as a fluid speaking style.

    Though I disagree with his pro-choice/pro-abortion stance, he can easily identify the (and by name) the strong opposition from the pro-life camp.

    Eric,

    Excellent observation. He clearly is trying to remember his talking points, but it sure does help.

  • I hate to rain on this parade, I really do, but some of us were pointing out all along that the whole “first thing he would sign” business was nothing but campaign hype, and that it was a little silly to get so worked up about it.

    It’s better to come late to the party than not at all, and I’m obviously not pointing the finger at anyone here since I wasn’t posting here during the campaign. But the plain fact is that Obama has always been willing to have a reasonable discussion about abortion, even if he will, in the end, not be moved to accept the entire pro-life argument.

    Meanwhile some on our side make it seem as if one of the pre-requisites for being considered authentically pro-life is to hold as an article of faith that all pro-choice Americans are intolerant fanatics who cannot be reasoned with and who have no redeeming qualities.

    We can and must oppose abortion on all fronts, but we must also remember that we live in a world where the majority does not totally agree with us.

  • Couldn’t disagree more Joe. Obama is a total pro-abort. His idea of a reasonable discussion is abortion being legal forever. If he had the power FOCA would be passed tomorrow. That he hesitates is only because of strong pro-life opposition.

  • Donald,

    Well Obama has to be lying to someone here, and from everything I’ve seen and heard from him, I think it is more reasonable to conclude that he was feeding hype to the PP crowd than conclude that he is lying to us today. He’s elected now, he doesn’t need to be the politician on the campaign trail anymore.

    For better or worse, I do think that he has a sincere belief in trying to ‘find common ground’. I’ve never seen him fail to acknowledge at least the bare bones argument of the side he disagrees with, and pay them a minimum amount of respect.

    In today’s political world, where the politics section at the bookstore is filled with titles reflecting anger, cynicism, and hatred, where the pundits have nothing but one-sided takes on important issues, I have to say, I appreciate his approach.

  • I cringe each time I hear 0bama speak. A lie a minute. Um…Err…um…Fluid speaking style? I never understood this assessment of him. He’s looking for the next word like a drunk fumbling for the light switch. All this with a teleprompter. Feh.

  • Such a winning way of approaching the intelocutor/person with which you must deal, as the key political figure pertaining to so many important issues of human life and dignity…

  • Don’t get me wrong Joe. I fully expect Obama to throw the pro-aborts under the bus if it is to his political advantage, in that he will not fight for pro-abortion legislation if he believes that the political backlash will harm him. That is why it is so important for all pro-lifers to assert clearly that there will be a high political price to pay for pro-abortion legislation.

    As for pro-lifers, all we would ever get from Obama would be substanceless bloviating as Dr Frank Page on Obama’s Faith Council has learned:

    http://www.cbn.com/CBNnews/589529.aspx

    Obama is only interest in dialogue with us in hopes of making us toothless in our opposition. He will fail in that hope.

  • Joe is right. What I find weird about Donald and his link is that they clearly have not listened to Obama speak on this before. They seem to think this is something new. Instead, the parrot the old FOCA line ad nauseam, clearly influenced more by the right’s talking points than what Obama himself says. No, his answer last night is the same answer he gave whenever asked about this through the whole campaign (with its 254 debates…).

    I might be biased (!), but I’m rather partial to this take: http://vox-nova.com/2009/04/30/obama-addresses-abortion/

  • Tony, I quote what Obama himself said to Planned Parenthood regarding the Freedom of Choice Act. Horse’s mouth and all that. Since you voted for Obama perhaps it helps get you through the night to assert that he is a moderate on abortion. He is not and to pretend otherwise is to engage in pathetic self-deception. If it is to his political advantage, since he is above all a narcissist, he will betray the pro-abort movement, but only if he is confronted with a strong pro-life movement, and not with “pro-lifers” who will vote for him no matter what he does in regard to abortion.

  • Why do you assume Obama is a narcissist? Really, what is the foundation for that belief?

    I’ve known real narcissists in life, and Obama is nothing like them.

    It is true that political concerns will check his ambitions on abortion. I think Obama understands political reality, and is willing to accept compromise on the issue.

    Essentially Donald I agree with you that our stand must be strong and unwavering, and that this will have an impact on Obama. I just don’t think it will have the kind of impact that archetypal heroes have on archetypal villains, but rather the kind of impact that concerned and active citizens have on politicians who have a modicum of interest in serving their constituency.

    In other words, not only is there no need to make Obama out to be something worse than what he really is, it may actually be counter-productive. Until he proves himself unwilling or unable to listen and respond, I’m going to continue giving him the benefit of the doubt.

  • As to his narcissism Joe, the man wrote two autobiographies, the first when he was thirty-four; he has allowed a bizarre cult of personality to develop among some of his followers; his constant use of the royal “we”; his willingness to throw people he claimed were close personal friends under the bus in order to advance his rise to power; his thin skin to any criticism; his belief that he can charm our enemies through personal diplomacy; his reliance on a teleprompter to get every word of a speech perfect; the Obama “presidential” seal that he used during the campaign. Obama is not the first narcissist we have had for President, Bill Clinton this is your cue, but I think he has the worst case of it.

  • From a tactical standpoint on the abortion issue I think it is good that Obama is a narcissist. If he were a true believer above all in the pro-abort cause that would make him a much more effective opponent of the pro-life cause. Narcissists always prize self-preservation, in the case of Obama political self-preservation, and I think that is key in coming up with strategies to counter-act him on abortion.

  • Does the sign on Mr. McClarey’s business shingle read “attorney of law’ or “clinical psychologist”?

    I always thought he was a lawyer.

  • Mr. DeFrancisis the law has more narcissists than any other profession I can think of off hand so I have had plenty of time to observe them in action! In regard to Obama I do not think one needs any professional credentials to conclude that he is a narcissist, merely eyes to see and ears to hear.

  • Donald,

    I don’t buy the narcissist argument. Obama is a self-promoter, yes, but I actually get the sense that he is more insecure than he lets on. That’s the ‘thin skin’ you’re talking about. Narcissists by contrast are immune to criticism.

    Narcissists are almost incapable of simulating what it is like to hold another position or be in the shoes of another person. That’s just not Obama. Obama is able to look at things from other points of view and at least understand the basic principles of his political opponents. Narcissists can only do that with the most excruciating difficulty. Obama does it effortlessly.

    He’s just not a bad guy, and certainly not a narcissist. And, for the record, I don’t think Bush was a bad guy either. When I was a young leftist I hated him like everyone else did on the left, but the older I got the more tiresome all the jokes about his intelligence and speaking abilities became.

  • Mr. McClarey,

    My statement was more a poor attempt at humor than an argument about professionalization as a necessary condition in the discernment of psychological disorders.

  • Agreed Mr. DeFrancisis, and I took it in a humorous way. I took 20 hours of psych as an undergrad and remember mice in mazes and Freud in Vienna, or perhaps it was Freud in a maze and mice in Vienna.

    Joe, I sincerely hope you are right and I am wrong.

  • As has been pointed out many times, Obama’s genius is his ability to use such thoughtful and moderate-sounding rhetoric even while his actions tell a completely different story.

  • Joe, I agree with you insofar as we’re in agreement — I imagine you are — that dialogue is not at the expense of true progress. One of the immediate tragedies with the horror of abortion is strategy. The gravity and scope of the evil doesn’t lend itself to a timely cultural dialogue, particularly a false one — I’ll clarify this point momentarily. Though, it seems that given the situation, we are obliged to a win-some, lose-some strategy and it requires compromise. But, again, this is hard particularly if the result is generational perpetuation of abortion with the fruit of very slow social and cultural progress on the matter. Again, I’m reiterating so we’re clear, I’m not asserting you’re making this error. I’m just saying it for the sake of clarity.

    It seems to me and this was my reasoning: if the Democratic political machine can win Catholic, even pro-life votes, without any sort of meaningful criticism or opposition, there is no reason for them to change or even rethink their position on legal abortion. Rather, they’ll continue to play “word gymnastics” and say let’s reduce abortions. Now while abortion reduction is a good in the short-term, it cannot be confused as the long-term goal.

    I’m not saying this is your position — you haven’t made it your position — but I’ve encountered too many minds that think we’re going to reach zero abortions through socio-economic means, which is an absurdity. Poland illegalized abortion except in cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother. They went from six figure abortions to a much smaller, but still unfortunate, 300 abortions in a year. That is such a profound difference.

    In some sense, if you look at Catholics United, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and Catholic Democrats, you get the idea that the pro-life position is solely and only “reducing the need for abortion” and not abolitionist. It’s no more intellectual incoherent than trying to solve the issue of slavery by subsidizing slave-owners so they won’t need slaves and giving contraception to slaves in order to reduce the number of slaves in the country. Now, I know and am fully aware you already agree with this. I just think “dialogue” is such a fine line between relativism and civil debate within a pluralistic society. That’s number one.

    Number two and this is for Don:

    “Don’t get me wrong Joe. I fully expect Obama to throw the pro-aborts under the bus if it is to his political advantage, in that he will not fight for pro-abortion legislation if he believes that the political backlash will harm him. That is why it is so important for all pro-lifers to assert clearly that there will be a high political price to pay for pro-abortion legislation.”

    Well, while I don’t deny this at all, here’s my problem. This mentality lends so much energy and focus toward the “enemy” that when we have a pro-life Congress or Administration, we don’t hold them too the fire in regard to their accomplishments, or lack thereof. This is unequivocally my opinion as a Democrat, so you are free to contradict me, but it seems to me that Republicans really in a lot of ways get a license, or a free pass, to get under the radar of scrutiny.

    If George Bush veteos health care for children it isn’t so much of an outrage. In regard to the wars in the Middle East, we need not even presuppose whether or not they’re just, but rather the management — I think from any perspective — has been far from ideal. So wherever the GOP may be lacking, they have a sort of “immunity” because of the pro-life label.

    It’s clearly more a label than an ethos because I just don’t see evidence for the contrary. If you have nine new Justices that weren’t on the court during Roe, with seven of them being appointed by pro-life Republican presidents (the majority of the pro-choicers appointed under Reagan) with only four of them being pro-life, it’s rather telling.

    I honestly don’t think Catholics should trust a political machine so blindly, let alone think it’s — or its politicians — are our allies. At least, in any sort of complete sense. Now, surely, I don’t think this is your view, but it’s more my concern about a “tendency.”

    Now surely abortion is an issue with very few, if any equals on the moral plane. The whole issue of “non-negotiable” issues is that Catholics cannot disagree on them, remain Catholics, and receive the Eucharist. Now in regard to all other issues, there is room for disagreement among Catholics. However, this (to me) seems to be indicative that these other issues do not regard activity that in and of themselves are objectively evil, therefore, a position on these other issues do not in themselves constitute grounds to bar Catholics from receiving communion.

    In regard to such matters, we aren’t all right (as much as we’d like to be). There isn’t a sudden moral neutrality. We can intellectually disagree, but arguably some position, some consideration is more fully (objectively) in accord with the Gospel, more reasonable, and more rational — it is truthful and most plausible in the context of a situation.

    I’m not sure why there is this sort of relativism that is prevalent because of the issues that call for “prudential analysis”, e.g. abortion is a paramount evil; Catholics can disagree about the war in Iraq and, say, capital punishment. This sort of talk almost paints the latter two issues as “non-issues.” Just in language, it can come across as saying, “Well, that’s not relevant right now. Abortion first.”

    I don’t think it’s entirely a matter of different degree of issues. I can’t recall any talk in the Catholic blogosophere [perhaps I simply overlooked it] about the massive spending increases and “big government” policies of the last eight years in any substantial way.

    So, admittedly, I think there’s a double standard and a bias. I don’t think it’s fair and I’m not sure if it really helps Catholics, of all political perspectives, to find a solution to our moral and social challenges. Rather it sort of puts us in camps and I think that’s what we’re watching play out.

    Just my two cents. Not sure how coherent it is.

  • Well, now that Justice Souter is retiring… I can’t wait to see who Obama thinks will be wonderful black-robed priest of the Constitution.

    Of course, maybe he’ll make a “mistake” just like Bush I did with Souter!

  • He’ll use a pro-choice litmus test and say he didn’t.

    Are there any pro-life judicial activists? I’d like to strike a deal…

  • On the narrow issue of Obama’s alleged “first thing” promise, I have to side with Joe, that it was somewhat overblown by the pro-life side.

    That statement to Planned Parenthood was made in response to a direct question about what he would do to protect abortion rights. I always took his reply to mean that signing FOCA was the “first thing” he would do in relation to abortion — not necessarily a literal promise that it would be the very first bill he would sign after taking the oath of office. His answer, taken in context, did not rule out the possibility that other issues (e.g. the economy) would take precedence over abortion.

    That being said, I do still believe that Obama is the most pro-abortion president since Roe, and if not for the determined and vocal opposition of pro-lifers, he probably would have gladly signed FOCA by now.

    I also partly agree with Joe with regard to Obama’s level of narcissism. Ex-Gov. Blago was and is a textbook example of hard-core narcissism (he too had ambitions of running for president). Obama is not nearly as far gone as he was. However, just about any successful politician is narcissistic to some extent.

  • Eric,

    Here’s the thing. Ideally, I would love for the US to do what Poland did, and just ban it, no ifs, ands, or buts. On say, 95% of issues, I’m more than willing to follow our Constitutional procedures. When it comes to protecting the right to life, however, my first preference would be an outright ban with or without the approval of individual states. This is a philosophical question, an ontological question, that cannot be decided by a majority vote.

    But that just isn’t going to happen. No president will do it, no Congress will do it. Thanks to the Blackmum court, we are now in a situation where we have no choice, ironic as it may seem, but to be politically pro-choice while being philosophically pro-life.

    What do I mean by that? I mean even the states rights, overturn Roe v Wade approach is ultimately a pro-choice position, no matter how anyone tries to spin it. You can say that you’ll vote pro-life when the time comes to decide whether abortion should be legal or illegal on a state to state basis. And that’s great! It’s certainly what I will do.

    But we’re still forced to accept that the ontological status of a human being can be decided by majority vote, if we’re going to stay within the confines of the political system. That is, in its essence, pro-choice, even if we personally choose pro-life.

    When presented with this undeniable logic a lot of ‘states rights’ pro-lifers admit that their position is a pragmatic one, and they think it is the best one. That’s fine. But the pro-life Obama voters also have a pragmatic approach – to reduce abortion through economic policy. There’s little if any moral difference between these positions, but the illusion is that there is a great difference.

    I think we should do the following: a) continue to work on overturning Roe, b) continue to work on reducing abortion through economic policy, c) continue what I see as the more valuable and effective work of building the culture of life, and d) strive for pro-life unity and recognize that both the anti-Roe and abortion reduction pro-lifers are pragmatists doing their best within the political system and the prevailing culture of death.

    I hope that makes sense.

Capitalism, A Beneficial Exchange

Thursday, April 30, AD 2009

Blogger Sam Rocha wrote a post the other day titled, “A Brief Defense of ‘Capitalism'”. However, Rocha’s attempt is, I think, somewhat hampered by the fact that he by his own description does not think much of capitalism.

For the most part we (by “we” I mean those of us on the left, yes I will own up to being something of a leftist, whatever that means) like to say that all capitalism, and its governing libertarian sentiment, desires is for there to be no limit at how much one can take for one’s self. It is a creed of the indulgent and the rich. Greed, selfishness, isolationism, sterile individualism and other nasty things, are what we enjoy making capitalism out to be.

With such an opener, what might wonder what it is that Rocha then finds to praise in capitalism. What he find is, I think, not at all unique to capitalism narrowly defined, but it is something which those of us in the West are much attached to:

If we can cut-out the name calling, I think we can find a powerful meaning within capitalist sentiment. Namely, the much-abused, taboo, and rejected idea of the individual, the person-singular. I think that if we take notions of private property and negative freedom (“freedom from”) inherent in capitalist sentiment, and ponder what they mean, we will find that we all value such things privately….

Here is my defense: Capitalism, as it is believed in benevolently, reminds us of our radical existence as images of God with a potency to as we wish within the vast sea of possibility. What we need next is the ability to control ourselves with the prudence, grace, and love of our Creator in this stormy sea of freedom. But we should never be too quick to accept external-control over our bodies, minds, and hearts. We need to be free. And perfect freedom is not the raw, brute force of libertarianism, to be sure. At the same time, it also is that imposing force.

I don’t find what Rocha finds to praise unappealing, but at the same time I think that there is something more to be found in capitalism as described by Adam Smith and others which even many of those who frequently condemn capitalism would find it in themselves to admire if they could look past their preconceptions and see Smith-ian capitalism for what it is.

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30 Responses to Capitalism, A Beneficial Exchange

  • Thanks for reading my brief article. I also appreciate your critical remarks, and, for the most part, I agree with them. Aside from a couple glitches (like keeping my quotation in separated text), I think you put too much emphasis into what it is I am arguing for. It is not so much capitalism, socialism, distributism, or what have you. There are much more qualified people doing that. My goal is simply to point out what seem to be intuitive ways in which the words we use measure the belief people have in them. It is not very technical, but, to me, it is important to add to the discourse on these subjects. After all, such things really play out on the ground, I think.

  • Sam,

    My apologies on the formatting. I believe that it’s fixed now. (Some sort of trouble in transferring from Blogger to WordPress, I believe.)

    For what it’s worth, I wasn’t so much trying to impute a specific communitarian system to you as to point out that the distinction between capitalism and the other “isms” is that it’s based on mutually beneficial exchange rather than on the states implicit right to use violence. (Thus, I always have a mental twitch when people walk about “the inherent violence of capitalism”.) I picked a communitarian counter-example simply because it was readily available and frequently used as an alternative to capitalism.

    So I hope like it didn’t seem that I was coming down like a ton of bricks on your post. I just thought it provided a well articulated example of an assumption that I’d been wanting to write a post arguing against for some time.

  • No apologies in order here, plus, you helped me realized that I missed a “do” in there. This is fine to me, I just want to be sure that the purposes we have are a bit crossed. I call my self all these absurdities like “leftist,” “democratic socialist,” and so on. But the truth of the matter is that they do not stick for me, not at the level of conscience. What does stick are things I think can find in common belief that creates the devotion we seem to have for this or that ideology. I guess the most direct point of the essay is the first line: “Language seems to poison our ability to be rational.”

    Thanks again for the engagement, it sure beats the alternative.

  • I think the first part of Sam’s quote reflects what I see among many of my classmates in my social justice class. There are a few hardened capitalists also among us who, through their lives, prove that such a narrow perception is false.

  • At the risk of sounding like an unreconstructed Marxist, I just have to point out that Marxism is simply not utopian.

    Frederic Engels wrote an introduction to Marxist theory called “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific.” The whole point was to distinguish his and Marx’s ‘scientific’ socialism from the ‘utopian’ socialism of the past.

    Meanwhile Marx himself criticizes a whole series of utopian policy proposals that are ironically and mistakenly attributed to him by people who have never read his work in ‘The Critique of the Gotha Program.’ Engels does the same in ‘Anti-Duhring’.

    Please don’t misunderstand – I’m not advocating a Marxist program (I’m a distributist, which Marx would have found reactionary and utopian), but there’s a right way to criticize Marx and a wrong way. The wrong way is to dismiss him as a utopian, since there isn’t a shred of evidence to suggest that he was by any reasonable understanding of that word.

  • A look at how JP II in Centesimus Annus looked at how to understand capitalism:

    “42. Returning now to the initial question: can it perhaps be said that, after the failure of Communism, capitalism is the victorious social system, and that capitalism should be the goal of the countries now making efforts to rebuild their economy and society? Is this the model which ought to be proposed to the countries of the Third World which are searching for the path to true economic and civil progress?

    The answer is obviously complex. If by “capitalism” is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a “business economy”, “market economy” or simply “free economy”. But if by “capitalism” is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative.

    The Marxist solution has failed, but the realities of marginalization and exploitation remain in the world, especially the Third World, as does the reality of human alienation, especially in the more advanced countries. Against these phenomena the Church strongly raises her voice. Vast multitudes are still living in conditions of great material and moral poverty. The collapse of the Communist system in so many countries certainly removes an obstacle to facing these problems in an appropriate and realistic way, but it is not enough to bring about their solution. Indeed, there is a risk that a radical capitalistic ideology could spread which refuses even to consider these problems, in the a priori belief that any attempt to solve them is doomed to failure, and which blindly entrusts their solution to the free development of market forces.

    43. The Church has no models to present; models that are real and truly effective can only arise within the framework of different historical situations, through the efforts of all those who responsibly confront concrete problems in all their social, economic, political and cultural aspects, as these interact with one another.84 For such a task the Church offers her social teaching as an indispensable and ideal orientation, a teaching which, as already mentioned, recognizes the positive value of the market and of enterprise, but which at the same time points out that these need to be oriented towards the common good. This teaching also recognizes the legitimacy of workers’ efforts to obtain full respect for their dignity and to gain broader areas of participation in the life of industrial enterprises so that, while cooperating with others and under the direction of others, they can in a certain sense “work for themselves”85 through the exercise of their intelligence and freedom.”

  • Joe,

    I guess I would tend to find the whole concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the changes that would have on society as a whole somewhat utopian in the sense of a society which if fundamentally differ (in part due to a change in human nature) even if it’s not seen as utopian in the sense of “perfect”. However, you clearly know a lot more about Marx and Engels than I do, since you studied them seriously and I read the Manifesto in a big hurry because we covered it in one class of Steubenville’s great books program. I suppose honestly I should reread Marx too one of these days as well as Smtih — though I have the bias of liking Smith more.

    Philip,

    In response to JP2’s quote which you provide (which I agree with in essentials) I guess I’d say that the original insight of Smith is not actually a “model” in the sense that JP2 is discussing. It’s simply a description of how trade occurs when unimpeded by some other force.

    In this sense, I’d say that the pope is right to say that the Church is still looking for models at present. Socialism does not seem to be the answer to our problems, because it does not take human nature into account. And capitalism (I would argue) was never meant to be a moral answer in the first place. Unlike distributism or socialism, capitalism does not include a moral component. It is simply a basic understanding that in order for exchange to take place it must be mutually beneficial.

    As a Catholic and a capitalist, I would tend to see this as meaning that capitalism as an economic system works well in coordination with a strict moral system such at Catholicism, which tells us as individual agents of action what consists of moral action. But the two are separate systems, and at the moment I remain skeptical as to whether there is an economic system which provides a blueprint for right behavior.

  • Darwin,

    Regarding Marx,

    Here’s the thing: a lot of liberals in the 19th century too believed in a never-ending progression towards a ‘better’ society and a ‘better’ humanity. Is a naive faith in human progress ‘utopian’? Perhaps. But usually I associate the word with people who want to pre-design blueprints for the perfect society, something Marx consciously avoided.

    Regarding capitalism,

    This is what I have a problem with.

    “Unlike distributism or socialism, capitalism does not include a moral component. It is simply a basic understanding that in order for exchange to take place it must be mutually beneficial.”

    Is this really what capitalism ‘simply’ is? There has to be more to it than that. Unequal bargaining power is a fact of life for billions of people who come into contact with Western countries and their corporations on the labor market.

    Didn’t Adam Smith himself admit that the wealthy, the employers, are always in a more powerful bargaining position than most workers, than the poor?

    If so, does this have moral implications? For the Church it does – it has always defended trade unionism.

    Unbalanced exchanges do take place, even if both parties benefit. The Marxian argument and the socialist argument in general has been that the worker does not merely confront one boss, but an entire system where the vast majority of employers exploit their labor. For them the choice is between different rates of exploitation, not between exploitation or something else.

    That said, nothing prevents workers from forming cooperatives where they are not exploited – nothing but inertia, and perhaps ignorance.

    On a final note, looked at in certain ways, neither capitalism nor socialism have moral components – in other ways, they both do. Surely capitalists prefer voluntarism to coercion, as much as socialists prefer that the workers win the inevitable class war instead of the capitalists.

    But both also have simply descriptive elements – capitalists note that mutually beneficial exchanges produce such and such results, while socialists note that class struggles result in this or that. Both camps base their positions on what they believe to be an objective analysis of reality, and claim that their moral position follows from this analysis.

    Not all, though. Austrians seem to start from moral axioms instead of empirical data. Many non-Marxian types of socialist start from similar axiomatic principles.

  • Joe,

    To say that capitalism does not have a moral component is not to say it is without moral consequences. The difference Darwin is highlighting (not to speak for him) is that capitalism is merely descriptive of the terms of exchange; the normative necessarily follows. Whereas socialism always presupposes the normative (i.e., power relationships) and then goes on to describe the terms of exchange.

    This is a very fundamental difference. It’s not to say that capitalism is morally neutral — how could it be? But one does not have to *begin* by thinking about power to work within the confines of capitalism. Not true with socialism. Socialism makes an idol out of power relationships, I think. John 19:11 and all that.

    As you said, nothing prevents workers in a free economy from forming cooperatives. Or being entrepreneurs. Or ascetics, for that matter. The power that business lords over us can be somewhat illusory in that sense, just as the power of big business can be fleeting (How are those Big 3 American auto manufacturers doing these days?)

    This isn’t capitalism apologetics. I’m not dismissing the reality of exploitation. As you said, bargaining power is often unequal. Bargaining power can become concetrated in different institutions — big business, big government, and even big labor unions. Things other than size skew power as well. However, there are ways of working politically and technically around these problems without resorting to the socialist “it’s all about power” rallying cry.

    Maybe “capitalism” is too loaded a word. There’s no purely capitalist society, anyway. I always refer to the U.S. as a mixed economy. I prefer to start from the first fundamental welfare theorem and, if something’s not right, ask, What’s going wrong here? Where’s the market failure, and what policies might correct it? Economic freedom is somewhat analogous to social freedom; you start from the premise of liberty, but liberty guided by the duty to do what is morally right. This is where it’s helpful to have the Catholic lens.

  • j,

    I just have a problem with the notion that ‘description’ is all capitalism consists of.

    Of course you are right about the distinction between component and consequences.

    Capitalism is a thing people do. Classical liberal economics, on the other hand, is the thing I would call ‘descriptive’.

    So I draw a distinction between those two. Adam Smith’s writings are like Karl Marx’s writings – they’re largely descriptive, and only occasionally normative.

    “Whereas socialism always presupposes the normative (i.e., power relationships) and then goes on to describe the terms of exchange.”

    By my understanding of the word ‘normative’ – and I will concede that it may be totally wrong – power relationships are not necessarily normative. They are and can be objectively analyzed and described without any normative statements. For Marx, a class is generally a group of people who have a specific relationship with the productive forces of society. Like Adam Smith, he is simply describing what people do (and he was an avid reader of Smith, calling him the ‘Luther of political economy’). Why would that necessarily fall under a normative analysis?

    “But one does not have to *begin* by thinking about power to work within the confines of capitalism. Not true with socialism.”

    Who does? If I made it sound as if that is where socialists “begin”, it was a mistake. Marx says nothing about power relations at the beginning of his analysis of capitalism. He begins with the commodity, the ‘cell’ of capitalist society as he calls it.

    Of course, not all socialists are Marxists. But then, not all economic liberals are devotees of Adam Smith.

    “here are ways of working politically and technically around these problems without resorting to the socialist “it’s all about power” rallying cry”

    Of course! I agree, and it’s why I’m not a socialist (anymore). In the end I believe only Christian charity can transform the world.

  • Darwin,

    Thanks. I’ll have to admit I have not thought heavily on the subject of capitalism, socialism or other such things much in my day. I have become more interested since my social justice class started. I have read many of the social encyclicals in the past but never in a rigorous way. The challanges of some of my fellow students has prompted seeking a deeper understanding of capitalism in relation to Catholic social teaching.

    The reason I posted however was more to challange Joe, Sam and others who take a prejudiced (?) view that all capitalism is exploitative. Again, several of my classmates are dedicated, orthodox Catholics who are also small businessmen. Their experience is far from that that Sam describes and thus his impression can be noted as not universally descriptive of capitalism.

    I remember the teacher saying that the course would challenge everyone. One of my small business owner classmates commented that the way the course was taught it was meant to only challange some. I post the quote I do to challange all, but in particular those who hold an extremely biased perspective of capitalism.

  • “One of my small business owner classmates commented that the way the course was taught it was meant to only challange some.”

    Very few professors in academia have ever operated so much as a lemonade stand. Concepts such as “making payroll”, “solvency”, “self-employment tax”, etc., might as well as be written in Sanskrit as far as they are concerned.

  • Philip,

    Agreed. My personal experience of working for a small business and briefly running one (and now working for a very large business) bears very little resemblance to class warfare dynamics and a great deal of resemblance to Smith’s descriptions of mutually beneficial exchange. Experience is not everything, but all the business owners I’ve known have at other times in their lives been workers, while very few economic justice theorists have been business owners, and some have not even been workers.

    Joe,

    Agreed that the 19th century had a massively inflated idea of progress — one I don’t think corresponds well with human reality. I guess I’d taken Marxist dialectic as assuming something even more transformative and inevitable (the idea of reaching a classless society, for instance, strikes me as intensely utopian) but that may merely be my reaction.

    I’d love to dig into the unequal exchange question, but family vacation duties call. Perhaps later.

  • Have a good family vacation Darwin.

  • Joe,

    Socialism theory starts with an analysis of the factors of production, but it seems to me that from there it proceeds rather hastily to the conclusion that these factor relationships are exploitative. Smith and Marx might be descriptive in many ways, but to my knowledge Smith didn’t have a “manifesto” attached to his name.

    And this goes to the point that both Phillip and Darwin make about the advocates of socialism and their personal experience with economic exchange. Except in the case of some radical libertarians (who view all state regulation of economic activity as an immoral imposition on personal autonomy), one generally doesn’t start from the normative side of market exchange. Economic freedom might not be morally neutral in its outcomes, but then again neither is social freedom — and I doubt even orthodox Catholics here want a kind of theocracy to make the laws conform to the Magisterium. Instead, we look for laws that at a minimum do not violate justice and the common good. We don’t try to “root out” immorality, as many left-secularists fear we would do with the law.

  • Yes, well, when was Smith a young radical?

    I think it’s wrong to judge Marx by the Manifesto. Capital is what Marx wanted to be remembered for, but it consists of thick volumes that aren’t easy to read. Some versions of the Manifesto, on the other hand, fit into your pocket.

    Also, while I think capitalism is exploitative, I also think people voluntarily submit to it, at least in the West (the third world is a different story). As long as no capitalist ideologues try to stop me and others from spreading the word about cooperatives and economic democracy, we’re cool!

    “Except in the case of some radical libertarians”

    Well, we just call those anarchists anyway, right?

  • Now wait a minute: My description of capitalism at the front end was to point out the error and ridiculous nature of run-of-the-mill, capitalist-hating critics. I may identify myself as a leftist, only because I seem to have to or people’s heads explode, but I am not capitalism hater. In theory it seem worth keeping around a long time like all the others, the question is whether I like it here and now…

    But if I understand you most recent point on this column correctly, then, you misread my article.

  • Yes I can see that now. I apologize for that. Though I will add many on the “left” do hold the view stated in your first paragraph.

  • Sure they do, but I would much prefer you to quote “them” instead. I clearly am saying nothing of the sort and am getting sold as if I was here. I hope you add an update or something. Apology certainly accepted, but with some reservation until the misreading is corrected for the viewing audience.

    I work pretty hard not to settle into one of the categories and only graze them from time to time because, as I said before, no one likes a non-descript. If you want a glance of my politics, then, read this post I wrote on the matter: http://vox-nova.com/2009/04/21/i-guess-i-should-reveal-my-politics/

  • Wait are you the author? I’m so confused…

  • I guess our definitions of exploitation are different, then. I don’t think people submit voluntarily to severely unjust relationships very often or for very long. If by “exploit” you merely mean take advantage of or use to one’s own ends, well then I’ve seen just as many workers exploit their employers.

    If one believes that merely being a worker and not an owner is exploitation, then I doubt there’s much that can be done to rectify that. The division and specialization of labor is pretty extensive in an industrialized world; we all have to act as “units of labor” in some sense, unless we’re entrepreneurs. I’d love to know more about distributism and economic democracy to understand how it would work. I remember when America West Airlines came on the scene years ago; they made a big deal out of being an “employee owned airline,” but basically it was just an ESOP. If I’m an airline pilot, unless I can afford my own Boeing 737, I’m always going to be a worker (and thus exploited?) by the employer. Owning shares of the airplane/company doesn’t seem to change much. Who’s the residual claimant on those assets? I need more concrete examples of distributism, I suppose.

  • One more thing I’ll add, Joe: I think the analytics of classical economics support more economic democracy than less. Market concentration leads to inefficient outcomes, transparency and information is better than imperfect/asymmetric information, etc. So I think within the framework of economic theory, there’s definitely support for distributist ideas. Hey, that’s good news! 🙂

  • J,

    “I don’t think people submit voluntarily to severely unjust relationships very often or for very long.”

    Well when you throw ‘severely’ and ‘very long’ in there, not quite as much. But when every employer is an exploiter, then there is no escape from exploitation, only from greater degrees of it. That is what many people in poor countries face. They do submit, because the will to live overrides everything.

    “If by “exploit” you merely mean take advantage of or use to one’s own ends…”

    Ah – ‘take advantage of’ is an interesting way of putting it.

    All businesses must be profitable. The difference between economic oligarchy and economic democracy, if you like, is who controls the profits.

    I believe people are exploited when they accept the terms of wage labor; they give up all claim and control to the product of their labor in exchange for a wage. They do so because they do not and cannot practically access the means of production as individuals. In other words, because they can’t or won’t for whatever reasons be a) self-employed or b) in a cooperative. It isn’t entirely their fault, many things stand in the way. But not enough things to make it impossible, or to justify violent revolution.

    We don’t have to agree with everything Marx said to agree with this idea: a conductor doesn’t need to own the instruments that the symphony plays with in order to make great music.

  • As for examples of distributism, I made a post here not long ago, “Will the Real Utopians Please Stand Up?” Try to find it. Worker cooperatives are real. There is no speculation as to ‘how they would work’, there is how they actually do work, and succeed, in real life. To be a distributist is to be for the expansion of these principles, not their implementation from nothing.

  • Joe,

    I did see that post, but I didn’t have time to comment on it or read through the links. I’ll go back and look, because I’m very curious about real world examples.

    “The difference between economic oligarchy and economic democracy…is who controls the profits.”

    Controls as in who gets a share of them, or has a say/vote in how they’re disposed? How is that different from an equity stake in a public company? Is there some enforced leveling of the equity shares? What this seems to imply is a flat organization or a non-hierarchical structure.

  • Sorry Sam. I am not the author of the post. I was merely refering to my comments. I will let Darwin answer for his.

  • J,

    The best example is the Mondragon in Spain. Of course like any company they face difficulties. There’s nothing utopian about distributism, but I don’t see why there should be. Alternatives don’t have to be perfect, only better in some way.

    “What this seems to imply is a flat organization or a non-hierarchical structure.”

    Not quite. In some cases, however, the worker/owners hire the managers and, ironically, ‘exploit’ them. The problem with exploitation, though, has never really been the exploitation itself, but its results – people working harder for less than they would otherwise obtain if they weren’t exploited.

    There are differences between cooperatives and public companies. But the main difference, I think, is the social aspect more so than the economic. It’s like the difference between a bunch of us talking on the Internet, and a bunch of us actually getting together to make something positive happen. The former isn’t a bad thing, but the latter, I think, acts as a realistic material foundation for the kind of social change I want to see in the world.

    The Compendium says that businesses ought to strive to be ‘communities of solidarity’, for instance. When we meet with one another as true partners, we have more of an incentive to solve common problems.

  • Sam,

    No, I’m the author of the post. I’m just a bit reclusive at the moment since I’m traveling. 🙂

    I’m sorry if it seemed I was attempting to paint you as a non-thinking leftist. I haven’t read much of your stuff yet, but I would certainly take it from what I’ve read so far that you are determinedly unclassifiable.

    My purpose in jumping off from your article was basically that I thought you’d written a pretty clear presentation of, “As left-leaners, we are often tempted to describe capitalism as negatively thus, however capitalism actually has a redeeming quality which we all accept as follows.” Good so far as it went, but my contention is that the former (which I took you to find at least somewhat attractive, in the sense that I might, in an unrigorous moment, comment that the government is much like the mafia in that it possesses sufficient potential for violence that it can extract protection money from all of us whether we like it or not) is a mischaracterization of what capitalism is which obscures an element (the necessity of providing someone else with something they recognize as beneficial in order to get anything from them) which actually does tend towards relationship in a way that many of a communitarian leaning should find attractive.

    So no, I hope I did not come off as characterizing your views on capitalism as being limitted to the first (it sounds like we both agree rather foolish) summary, but I did think that in underlining the good elements of capitalism you’d missed something which I think you actually ought to like _more_ than the individualism implicit to capitalism: that one may not expect to get things from someone without building a mutually beneficial relationship.

  • Joe,

    I guess I don’t see the ownership divider as being such a hard and clear line. For instance, I’ve used credit unions and banks over the course of the last decade, depending on availability, but to be honest I’ve felt no more community feeling being a part owner of a credit union than simply putting my money in the bank.

    If my ownership in a worker’s cooperative was little more immediate than my ownership in the credit unions I’ve belonged to, I don’t think I’d feel nearly the sense of responsibility I felt when I was running my small web design business. The sense of ownership there can be very, very strong. For instance, my business partner and I would routinely change our ownership distributions (pay) in order to match how profitable we were at the time, and there were points when we met significant costs out of our own personal money in order to keep the business moving along. At various times we had several programmings working for us for wages (part time, in this case) and we would never that even thought of asking them to take a pay hit when a client was late paying us or chip in to cover expenses. They hadn’t asked for that kind of responsibility for the business, and if we’d asked them to come in as partners and take the same risks, they probably would have walked away instead. They were much happier knowing they’d make the same number of dollars per hour no matter how the company was doing. (I know I’m not making this sentiment up, because the people we employed were and are still personal friends, and said as much.)

    At a business model level, I like the idea of getting workers into an ownership mentality via employee stock programs (the company I now work for both grants stock to people it sees as having particular potential, and has a subsidized stock buying program where the company will help subsidize your purchases of stock if you set aside money for it via your paycheck) and through bonuses based on company profits. However, I’d tend to see a lot of the question of whether a company makes a lot of money being reliant on the decisions made by a comparatively small number of people near the top (and I’m not sure one can successfully change that much via democratic processes) and so I’d see it as appropriate for those people to get hit with most of the risk while most workers have the comparative assurance of “wage slavery”.

  • Darwin,

    There is nothing assuring about ‘wage slavery’, especially during a recession.

    Per your personal experience, not everyone is going to run their own service business. I’m thinking in broad, general terms – we’re always going to need many types of labor and many of those types, I think, are best organized cooperatively. Notice that I did include self-employment along with cooperatives most of the time when discussing this with J.

    I’m not inflexible but most agriculture, manufacturing, and many services must be done in by many people functioning collectively. There is a division of labor over which no one has any control, determined by our level of technological development.

    And so it is not a question of why kind of work is to be done, or at what level, but rather, who will own and control the surplus, the profit. Cooperatives mean that everyone who plays a role in creating profits earns some of them, and everyone has a say in the decisions that affect their lives.

    Some people may indeed prefer the ‘freedom’ of wage labor – less responsibility, less risk, less incentive and less reward – and that’s fine by me. But I think a mature society would see that sort of work carried out by children, with the majority of adults moving into the responsible role of owner and partner.

    “I’d tend to see a lot of the question of whether a company makes a lot of money being reliant on the decisions made by a comparatively small number of people near the top”

    Is it not true at this point that much of business management is a science? Why is it that a democratic assembly could not have the same access to the same objective information that forms the basis of executives decisions today? Economic oligarchy only seems to have one function – to ensure that the profits flow as narrowly upward as possible.

Time to Panic

Thursday, April 30, AD 2009

biden

Hatip to Drudge Report.  Biden, that never failing source of unintentional humor in dark times, in addition to being Veep is apparently de facto Surgeon General based on this rather alarmist advice that he gave in regard to swine flu.  Perhaps he believes the swine flu is the crisis he warned about last year?

Update:  Dale Price at Dyspeptic Mutterings has more health tips from the Veep.

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6 Responses to Time to Panic

WE ARE AT WAR

Thursday, April 30, AD 2009

bishop-robert-finn

Hattip to Catholic Key BlogBishop Robert W. Finn gave an address at the 2009 Gospel of Life Convention on April 18, 2009 that deserves to be read by every Catholic in this country.  He is blunt, forceful and truthful, qualities that have too often been in short supply among bishops in this country over the last four decades.  Here is the text of his address:

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Catholic Democrats Attack Glendon And Run Into Father Z

Wednesday, April 29, AD 2009

catholic-democrats1

Father Z plays whack-a-mole here with the attack on Mary Ann Glendon by Catholic Democrats, a group which has experienced a ferocious fisk from him before.   Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia has some perceptive thoughts in his post “… Dollars to Doughnuts …” regarding the attacks on Mary Ann Glendon now coming from some elements of the Catholic Left.

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7 Responses to Catholic Democrats Attack Glendon And Run Into Father Z

Obama Report Card

Wednesday, April 29, AD 2009

obama-report-card

The first 100 days for a president is a rather silly bench mark.  For some presidents it is an important period:  Lincoln and FDR come to mind.  For other presidents the first 100 days are relatively unimportant:  both Bushes, Coolidge, Carter, etc.  However it is traditional to grade a President now, and the graphic above indicates my assessment.  Except for Iraq and Afghanistan, I believe the policy choices made by the President up to this point have been disastrous, particularly in regard to abortion, stem cell research and the economy, where I would be hardpressed to think up worse policies short of this.  However, that is merely my opinion and I am interested in reading yours in the comment thread.

Michael Denton, at his always well worth reading blog, For The Greater Glory, has a list, partially humorous, of what he perceives to be the 100 top failures during the first 100 days of the Obama administration.

For our readers who wish to participate, MSNBC is running an online poll on grading the Obama administration here.

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Res & Explicatio for A.D. 4-29-2009

Wednesday, April 29, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

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

1. Since the passing of Father Richard John Neuhaus, the FIRST THINGS journal has gone through some changes that have enhanced their image.  The mysterious Spengler joined FIRST THINGS as Associate Editor and outed himself in his Asia Times column as David P. Goldman.  Then Elizabeth Scalia, who was once as mysterious as Spengler, with her popular political-Catholic blog The Anchoress joined FIRST THINGS as well.  Not to mention that prior to these two fine additions FIRST THINGS also initiated their very own blog a few months back.

2. David P. Goldman, a.k.a. Spengler, writes an intriguing article on how Israel can reconcile it’s Jewishness with a liberal democracy and how this correlates with the West and its march towards secularism.  Mr. Goldman has this prescient conclusion to this article:

Defenders of the West democracies should take a deep interest in the outcome of what might seem to be arcane legal matters in Israel. Pushed to its extreme conclusion, the secular liberal model will exclude the sacred and the traditional from public life. Of all the things sacred in the thousands of years of pre-history and history that inform Western Civilization, surely Judaism and the Jewish people are the oldest and arguably the most pertinent to the character of the West. Eroding the Jewish character of Israel is an obsession of the secular project, precisely because the Jewish people in their Third Commonwealth in the Land of Israel have such profound importance for the Christian West.

For the article click here.

3. A very disturbing story coming from the Diocese of Savannah where Bishop John Kevin Boland is preventing an orthodox Catholic, Robert Kumpel of the very well written St. John’s Valdosta Blog, from attending any Mass in his diocese.  Bishop John Kevin Boland is doing so in conjunction with a lawsuit leveled against by another layperson to Mr. Kumpel so as to prevent him from investigating allegations of multiple abuses by diocesan officials.  In other words it seems that Bishop Boland is frantically covering something up, but we don’t know what that is because of a restraining order on Mr. Kumpel who was attempting to investigate this.

Bishop John Kevin Boland is the ecclesiastical equivalent of a Catholic politician who is personally opposed to abortion but publicly for it.  For example, Bishop John Kevin Boland is personally orthodox, but ecclesiastically heterodox in his application of Church teaching.  Such as Archbishop Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington where he is known for his personal orthodoxy but is lacking in applying it in his pastoral and management style.

For the article click here.

For more background information click herehere,  here, and here.

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26 Responses to Res & Explicatio for A.D. 4-29-2009

  • Does anyone know if Elizabeth Scalia is related to THE Scalia?

  • S.B.,

    I’ve been wondering that myself. I can only “assume” she isn’t since I haven’t casually come across any mention of this, but there could still be a connection.

  • Does anyone know if Elizabeth Scalia is related to THE Scalia?

    None of Scalia’s kids are named Elizabeth, so while’s it’s possible, the relation would have to be more distant.

  • It seems inappropriate to report the Savannah story without hearing the bishop’s side. Your source is the disgruntled party.

  • Zak,

    I understand your concern, but if the bishop is forbidding a layperson from attending Mass anywhere in his diocese, that is news to me. Especially knowing the upstanding character of Mr. Kumpel.

  • Mr. DeFrancisis,

    Discussions that deviate from the topic will not be tolerated. Please address the post or don’t comment at all.

  • Mr. Henry Karlson,

    Discussions that deviate from the topic will not be tolerated. Please address the post or don’t comment at all.

  • Zak,

    the letter from the bishop’s lawyer states explicitly the reason he is violating his office by denying the sacraments to a Catholic. It is because of pending litigation. This is completely contrary to canon law:

    Can. 843 §1. Sacred ministers cannot deny the sacraments to those who seek them at appropriate times, are properly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them.

  • B.A.,

    Thanks for clearing that on Elizabeth Scalia. It would have been a neat story if she were a sister of the Supreme Court Justice though.

  • VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican newspaper said President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office have not confirmed the Catholic Church’s worst fears about radical policy changes in ethical areas.

    The comments came in a front-page article April 29 in L’Osservatore Romano, under the headline, “The 100 days that did not shake the world.” It said the new president has operated with more caution than predicted in most areas, including economics and international relations.

    “On ethical questions, too — which from the time of the electoral campaign have been the subject of strong worries by the Catholic bishops — Obama does not seem to have confirmed the radical innovations that he had discussed,” it said.

    http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0901955.htm

    So much for “the most extreme” — the Vatican doesn’t think so.

  • Number 3 is very upsetting, and I encourage those who are also upset to contact both the Bishop, and his attorney.

  • Well, the CNS article quotes a whole 120 words from the original article, so it’s difficult to say what kind of judgment is involved. If it were me, I’d prefer to see the actual article before making ultramontanist declarations about what “the Vatican” thinks, but de gustibus.

    Just 2 notes: First, the moderate ESCR guidelines are simply draft regulations subject to comment and modification. I’d reserve judgment on that point until they become finalized, and after the intensive lobbying by ESCR proponents is finished. Moreover, even in draft form, they authorize solicitation of embryos for research from those who avail themselves of IVF. That’s a non-negligible moral problem, and potentially large loophole for mischief.

    Second, the excellent pregnancy support legislation is the laudable creation of pro-life Democrats, not the President.

  • “None of Scalia’s kids are named Elizabeth.”

    Scalia is Elizabeth Scalia’s married name – she’s of Irish descent. If she is related to the Supreme Court justice (I’ve read her blog for quite a while now, and she’s never mentioned a connection), it would be by marriage, not blood.

  • Well, if she had indeed married into the Scalia family, I can well imagine that she might not be bragging about the connection . . . Justice Scalia no doubt wouldn’t want the usual nasty leftists digging around her blog for something with which to discredit him by association.

  • So actually, now that I think about it, never mind.

  • Ah yes, the Anchoress, the noble defender of Rudy Gulianni and apologist for his pro-abortion and pro-gay stands, at least when he was heir apparent to the Republican nomination.

    http://www.firstthings.com/theanchoress/2008/04/29/rudy-novak-etc-cont/

    Another we must put our Republicanism above our Catholicism Catholic.

  • Another wonderful pro-Rudy article by the Anchoress:

    http://www.firstthings.com/theanchoress/2008/01/28/rudy-giuliani-not-endorsed/

    A wonderful addition to First Things.

  • Another we must put our Republicanism above our Catholicism Catholic.

    Exactly.

  • Michael I.,

    On this point I completely agree.

    Elizabeth Scalia defending the pro-abort Rudy Giuliani is inexcusable. I don’t have any time to waste reading her Repulicanist propaganda.

  • Michael — someone who uses the word “heterosexism” to describe the Church’s position on marriage is living in a glass house . . . .

    Ah yes, the Anchoress, the noble defender of Rudy Gulianni and apologist for his pro-abortion and pro-gay stands, at least when he was heir apparent to the Republican nomination.

    Learn to look at dates. That blog posting was from April 29, 2008. Giuliani was not the “heir apparent,” he had dropped out 3 months earlier. And she defended Giuliani only in the sense that she thought he could still take communion.

  • Anyway, it’s funny seeing guys who voted for Obama pretending to be upset that “the Anchoress” might have endorsed a personally pro-choice candidate.

  • Inexcusable.

    Voting for Obama is simply inexcusable and reveals the depth of his Catholicism which is shallow.

  • SB:

    Who I voted for or whether I voted at all is my business. . .suffice it to say I did not vote for Obama.

    Secondly, please do not embarrass yourself by stating the Achoress was not a rabid supporter of Rudy Gulianni just on the Rudy G. link on the left side of her website. The woman salavates over him so much its embarassing.

  • OK, I was just talking about Michael Iafrate, who did vote for Obama.

  • In the 13th century, the Pope placed an interdict on England forbidding any sacraments (except, I believe, baptism and annointing of the sick) there. Bishops may apply an interdict to individual persons as well, which is like an excommunication in terms of access to sacraments but without expulsion from the Catholic community. The bishop’s actions may have been justified under Canon 1373.

  • Pingback: Res & Explicatio for A.D. 5-8-2009 « The American Catholic

"—a Moral Issue on Which There Can Be No Compromise."

Wednesday, April 29, AD 2009

archbishop-myers

Before he was elevated to be Archbishop of Newark, John J. Myers was Bishop of Peoria, my diocese.   I always liked him.  He was vibrant and orthodox and attracted many men to the priesthood during his tenure.  Earlier this month he released this statement in regard to Obama Day at Notre Dame on May 17, 2009:

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10 Responses to "—a Moral Issue on Which There Can Be No Compromise."

  • Has Bishop Jenky said anything? And have you read Archbishop Myers’s book, Space Vulture? It’s a fun sci-fi work.

  • In regard to Bishop Jenky, he has not yet Zak and I hope he does soon. My guess is that he has been working behind the scenes to attempt to get the invitation rescinded, obviously without success up to this time.

    I am aware of Space Vulture.

    http://www.scificatholic.com/2008/06/book-review-space-vulture.html

    To say the least, an Archbishop who also writes science fiction is an unusal combination! I love science fiction, but I have not read this book yet.

  • I do hope Bishop Jenky will say something publicly soon.

  • I’ve also been surprised not to have seen any statements from Chaput yet.

  • In other developments, a case of swine flu has been reported at Notre Dame…. with all the hysteria about an imminent pandemic, I wonder if this won’t give Obama and/or Jenkins just the “out” they need to cancel the speech.

    Blog posts portraying swine flu as divine punishment for the ND scandal or for the election of Obama will commence in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1….

  • I mean blog posts on Catholic blogs in general, not just here.

  • In regard to recurrent flu hysteria, anyone else remember the swine flu “crisis” during the Ford administration?, this article has a good common sense take.

    http://www.forbes.com/2009/04/27/swine-flu-mexico-sars-business-healthcare-flu-hysteria.html

  • Yes, Don, I do, though I was only 12 years old at the time. I don’t recall anyone in my family getting swine flu shots, because they thought the whole thing was a boondoggle.

    My exhaustive Web-based research (translation: a quick glance at a couple of Wikipedia and other articles) finds that U.S. deaths attributed to swine flu vaccine (25) far outnumbered confirmed U.S. deaths from swine flu itself (1). Still, public health researchers do regard the 1976 swine flu scare as a valuable lesson in what to do, and what NOT to do, in the event of a genuine pandemic.

  • Back in 93, Jenky protested, preached, publically condemned a tavern owner who was going to name a sports bar the Hail Mary. Jenky was so outraged that Our Lady’s name would be made a mascot. Yet the most powerful pro abortion politician on the planet wears Our Lady’s name and is honored at Our Lady’s University where Jenky is on the Board, yet he is silent as can be. Hey Jenky, why no public witness, outcry? Why no resignation from Our Lady’s University that causes such a scandal, that hosts the Vagina Monologues and an annual Queer Festival? Frankly Bishop J., you are a hypocrite.

  • Matt, the incident you referred to was in 2003. Otherwise, although it pains me greatly to say it, you are correct as to Bishop Jenky. He has always been very active in the pro-life cause, but when it mattered most, when his speaking out might have derailed yesterday’s profanation of Notre Dame, Bishop Jenky was nowhere to be found.

One Response to Becoming a Father: A Political Manifesto

Good Riddance

Tuesday, April 28, AD 2009

specter

Pro-abort Republican Senator from Pennsylvania Arlen Specter is now pro-abort Democrat Senator Arlen Specter.  He does this of course because he realized that Pat Toomey would have creamed him in the Republican primary in 2010.  Instead, assuming that the Democrats are deluded enough to nominate him, Toomey will cream him in the general election.  This should be a prime race for all pro-lifers around the nation next year.

Update I: Hattip to Hot Air.  Here is Specter last month on the prospect of his switching parties:

I am staying a Republican because I think I have an important role, a more important role, to play there. The United States very desperately needs a two-party system. That’s the basis of politics in America. I’m afraid we are becoming a one-party system, with Republicans becoming just a regional party with so little representation of the northeast or in the middle atlantic. I think as a governmental matter, it is very important to have a check and balance. That’s a very important principle in the operation of our government. In the constitution on Separation of powers.”

Normally, I’d berate someone like this as a self-serving turncoat.  However my reaction is simple joy to have this political hack finally out of the GOP.

Update II:  The ever perceptive reptilians at Big Lizards Blog have an intriguing look at the upcoming Toomey-Specter match up in their post A Specter Is Haunting the Democratic Party.

UpdateIII: The Cranky Conservative has some thoughts here on Specter, including the observation that after 30 years in Washington Specter is the poster child for term limits.

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30 Responses to Good Riddance

  • We’re going to need to work blue-dog Dems or Obama will have a fillibuster proof Senate

  • Lets be honest here, he simply jumped from one tyranical party to another. At least now his label is more accurate. American politics is about winning, not about anything having the least to do with truth.

  • Why do you think Toomey will kill Specter (or another Dem) in the PA general election? Everything I’ve read suggests that PA has become more Dem over the recent past.

  • No doubt I wil be in the minority among many Republicans but I am not cheering this. Spectre no dounbt will be compelled to go along with Dems on certain procedural votes in order to maintain a potential Chairmanship. I suspect some deal was made here.

    It should be recalled that ASpectre had a ACU rating of 44. Casey has a ACU rating of 8. I am anxious about how far that might drop

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  • JH,

    You should cheer this (although I know you dislike Toomey, who is now most assuredly going to win the nomination).

    THIS is the REAL Arlen Specter: the one who will do or say whatever is necessary to get elected, but, at the end of the day, you can always expect to act more like a liberal than a conservative.

  • Jay,

    Well as to the GOP primary another republican might challenge Toomey in the primary since the field is clear

    I have no doubts that Spectre wasa liberal Republican. But for the most part he was good on the procedural votes. Now we are facing a Filibuster prrof Senate which is frightening.

    If Toomey or another Republican cannot defeat Spectre (which I think is likely in the general) then what have gained in real practical terms

    I honestly think our only hope is somehow Spectre is defeated in the Democrat primary

    I think Spectre will do quite well in the general

  • Also, now Huck (who we all should know is not on good terms with Toomey) is free to back the other pro-life Republican in the GOP primary without fearing any pro-life recriminations for throwing the nomination to Specter.

    That’s a good thing, too, from your perspective. Because, as I noted at your blog, a pro-life split in the primary that could have thrown the nomination to Specter would have been the cause of Santorumesque retribution toward those who didn’t back Toomey as the strongest pro-life horse in the race.

  • As for “what have we gained”, I’m not a Republican, so I don’t much care. Specter is a leftist pro-abort regardless of whether he has an “R” or a “D” next to his name. At least now, with his new-found home, there is some truth in advertising.

  • Jay well I suspect this affect non Republicans as well.

    I know many Conservatives have a love/hate relationship with the Republican party. However for all the talk I hear of “they are all the same” it appears having a Dem Super majority is in fact important and affects all sort of things.

    I agree with this from Contentions

    “. Pennsylvania Republicans played their part in this. Much as Connecticut Democrats’ decision to reject Joseph Lieberman in the 2006 Senate primaries in favor of Ned Lamont ultimately came back to bite the party – Lieberman, after all, won the state-wide race as an independent – Republicans do not help their prospects by rejecting a figure from their own party who has long represented state-wide political consensus. Granted, a left-wing Republican might not serve many Republicans’ policy priorities effectively – but neither will representation by two Senate Democrats.

    3. With a filibuster-proof majority, the Democrats have reached a major political peak. How long they stand on this peak is an open question. But Republicans have physics on their side: what goes up must come down.”

    No doubt there were many Demcratss and indeed liberals (who have no love for the Dem party) thought good riddance as to the Senaotr from Conn.

    As they found out that had consequences. Now of course Liberiman is a different animal from Spectre. I respect Libierman more. Still I am getting a sense we have seen this before on the other side.

    If somehow we regain the White House in 2004 and we get a Judicial retirement from the Bench I just hope it is not SPectre’s vote that holds it up now

    Still a lot of water must go under the bridge. THe good news it appears more and more that my GOP Senator from Louisiana is going to be safe. Now the GOP needs to find 5 or 6 more seats in able to slow this stuff down

  • You assume Pat Toomey would have defeated him in the primary. Like 6 years ago Republican leadership would have put aside their lipservice to the pro-life cause and would have been out in force to support Spector because holding a seat is more important than principle
    .
    They are all self-serving turn coats.

  • Awakeman I had no problem with Republican leadership protecting a Senate Incumbenet and I don’t think that mean there is just lip service.

    The problem is this. This is a Coalition party. If people want to say to all conservatives that are pro-choice and to voters please leave then they should that. When that happens we can have the Republican convention in a telephone booth and I don’t think that helps the pro-life cause at all.

    That being said if have to support Toomey I will though I don’t like him

    I am surious about Rick Santorum. Is he not offically damaged goods. What are the changes he could get into thsi Republican primary

  • JH:

    I most certainly hope that David Vitter’s seat is NOT safe. I prefer the GOP, but I am very much hoping the Democrats give me a reasonable option to boot Vitter out of office. Vitter has consistently lied to the people of the Louisiana, about his past transgressions and his commitment to the pro-life agenda (see: support of Rudy).

    awakeman:

    That’s true; the GOP leadership protected Specter; they reap their rewards today.

    Jay:

    If this brought the total to 59 instead of 60, I’d be right with you. However, I am a little worried that this increases the chances that the Dems can ram through FOCA or the anti-conscience clause despite anything a pro-lifer might try to do to stop it. I worry about this particularly because I think Obama will probably be concerned about losing seats in 2010, and so faces a “do now or forever hold your peace” mentality.

  • Michael

    David’s endorsement was not long term deal breaker to me. But I understand how some people feel. He has beena consistent good vote for pro-life causes. His past sins of the flesh never got me to rufffled and in fact I think most people knew that had gone on when he was voted in. It certaintly was the talk of the state

    That being said I was never a big Vitter fan but he has grown on me slightly because I can tell he has been humbled a tad. Vitter with his ego was badly in need of a humbling experience and I think he got it.

  • I think to oppose Vitter in favor of a “pro-life democrat” one would have to be completely sure this “pro-life democrat” is not a cowardly equivocator like Casey Jr. or most of the other so called pro-life democrats. Otherwise, it’s simply a vote for the pro-abortion agenda of Obama, Pelosi and Reid.

    While I’m not a fan of the use of “pro-choice” over “pro-abortion”, Rudy’s position was infinitely closer to “pro-choice” than Obama et. al.

    For me the only trustworthy choice was Huckabee when it came to the paramount issue of abortion, far too many questions about the other significant candidates.

  • On a side note there is now just one Jewish Republican left in the entire COngress!!!

    I never understood this.

  • Michael,

    If hoping for Specter’s reliability is what our hopes for blocking the Dems’ anti-life agenda were based on, then that battle was lost already. Isn’t his very willingness to switch parties (not to mention his pro-abort record) indicative of his unreliability?

  • JH:

    I think most people knew that had gone on when he was voted in. It certainly was the talk of the state

    Yes, but it was talk he denied. He was asked about it point blank, and he lied. He has to date not apologized for that lie. I could deal with the other stuff if he had been honest about it.

    Jay:

    I see what you’re saying. My point was that this will embolden Obama, as there is absolutely no chance Specter will hold (as he might have before to appease the party, a small chance mind you).

    As I said in my blog, we don’t know if this will hurt us all that much. It could do nothing. But I don’t see how it helps anything other than cleaning the party out a little bit.

  • Michael

    to be more specific what Vitter was asked about was the Wendy Cortez alleged incident in New Orelans. Not about his activities in DC

    Before Vitter ran for Seante it was common knowledge that he and his wife had recieved Couseling for certain issues. WHich everyone knew what that met

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  • JH:

    My point is exactly on one hand the Republicans tell social conservatives that they are against abortion, same sex marriage, etc.. They pound their chest and state “We are the pro-life and pro-family party”. Yet, when they are in power they do nothing except just say if you want us to do anything you have to elect more of us, and at other times they tell us all that we should be voting for someone like Spector because we should trust them because it will all work out and because we have to build a big collition party. To hell with both parties there is not a dimes worth of difference between them.

  • awakaman,

    while pro-lifers are and should be dissappointed about progress made under Republican administrations, it’s absurd to suggest that the massive reversals under Obama are the same.

    when they are in power they do nothing except just say if you want us to do anything you have to elect more of us

    this is just false, while they often don’t do enough, they do more than nothing. Look at Senator Jesse Helms’ (God rest his soul), record of successful action on pro-life issues.

  • Well, no surprise there. The Governor of Pennsylvania had mentioned that he, Biden, and Casey had attempted to get Specter to switch parties with no luck. I suppose this prompted Specter to think about it and to make a decision.

    If anything, I’m more sympathetic in that his reasoning about political parties is not all too different from my own, particularly in regard of the “Big Tent” and feeling out of place. So, I’m sympathetic. Though, I’m not excited that once Franken is in, the Democrats have 60 votes.

    In other news, Sebelius was confirmed as the HHS Secretary (the vote was 65-31). Tito, you’d be interested to know this: Sen. Brownback voted ‘yes.’

  • Et al.,

    This is still sad news now that the extremists have a filibuster proof senate.

    Eric,

    I was aware of his initial backing. It’s pure politics since I hear that Mr. Brownback wants to run for governor and needed Sebelius’ backers to pull that trick.

    And I am not happy that he did vote ‘yes’. Very disappointing.

    Et Al.,

    How about Senator Casey Jr. switching over to the GOP?

  • I’m glad that Specter quit the GOP. Good riddance to him I say as well. But he should also quit the US Senate. He’s old, he’s got cancer, he’s been in office for over 25 years. Clinging to power, and doing so by switching parties, is a very bad sign of moral degeneration (which was evident from his support for abortion). Specter needs not just to be gone from the GOP, but defeated entirely.

  • Vail,

    Troll alert!

    Tito,

    How about Senator Casey Jr. switching over to the GOP?

    why would you want him? He’s not his father, and is only pro-life when it suits him.

  • I deleted your comment Vail, as I will delete any comment in any of my threads that attempts to use the predator priest scandal and the bishops who protected them to stop discussion on a topic.

  • I pray for Senator Casey. However, since his last voting scandal, he has been consistent in his pro-life votes.

    If anything, his father is my hero and even if Casey were like his father, I’d be very sad to see him cross over to the GOP.

  • Eric,

    For Senator Casey Jr. Even if he didn’t cross over, I’d vote for him for president if he continues with his pro-life voting record.

    I’m not a registered Republican, I just vote for the candidate that carries my Catholic values best.

Mary Ann Glendon

Tuesday, April 28, AD 2009

mary-ann-glendon

Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard, is in the limelight now for her decision to deprive Jenkins of his fig-leaf over his invitation to honor Obama on May 17, 2009.  I am not surprised by this development.  She has long been an eloquent defender of the unborn in a completely hostile environment.  She has written many articles on the subject.

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16 Responses to Mary Ann Glendon

  • I was glad to see her remind Jenkins that his first reponsibility was to honor the graduates and not turn their special day into some three-ring travesty of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Glendon made good use of her teaching moment, whether or not the lesson was received.

  • A great woman with integrity, wit and eloquence.

    I hear the position’s still open for an ambassador to the Vatican? 😉

  • Glendon is awesome. BTW, looks like Notre Dame is having a REALLY tough time finding a replacement:

    http://southbend.craigslist.org/evg/1143896969.html

  • A beautiful woman – inside and out.

  • South Bender,

    That’s hilarious.

  • I am not a catholic, am very pro life and I wanted to let her know I am so excited to see someone with their beliefs and principles stand up against notre dame for honoring Prez Obama/ it is so wrong for the school to honor a man who has none of the same views of life.. breaking Gods heart im sure!

    thank you for your courage Ms Glendon!

  • An observation:
    Ever notice that the bravest people speaking out against the excesses of Islam are women? Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Nonie Darwish, Brigitte Gabriel are a few. The same can be said about the pro-life cause. It’s a beautiful thing.

  • Mary Ann Glendon for Vatican ambassador? Been there, done that 🙂

  • Bishop D’Arcy has suspended Fr. Jenkins faculties a divinis. He is forbidden to say mass, hear confession, preach or in any way address the Catholics residing in his diocese. This is nuclear option.

  • Matt, according to American Papist this suspension rumor is merely an e-mail hoax:

    http://www.americanpapist.com/2009/04/dispelled-email-rumor-claims-fr-jenkins.html

  • That’s crazy, the Director of Pro-life at the diocese sent it to me. It’s a shame if it turns out as a hoax.

  • First rule of the internet Matt: just because we wish something to be true does not make it true.

  • Thanks Donald, I’m sure a wise man like you never makes this kind of error.

  • Not often, but when I do I own up to it and resolve not to make that stupid blunder again.

  • I have the highest regards for Mrs. Glendon and applaud her decision. The rewards that this woman will have someday will make the Lataere Medal look like a peanut. God bless her.

  • Kudos to Mary Ann Glendon! It’s wonderful to see that there are still at least a few people who are willing to stand up for their morals and God’s Law and refuse to follow the lemmings over the cliff. While Fr. Jenkins has not rescinded his decision to “honor” President Obama at ND’s commencement, he will hopefully get that “knot in his stomach” when it actually happens and he realizes what he has done in spite of the best advice in the world to recant. How can an educated and practicing Catholic, a teacher at an iconic Catholic University, simply ignore the counsel of the entire Council of Catholic Bishops and others, such as Mrs. Glendon and hundreds of thousands of Catholics, who have tried to pint out the error of his decision? Hopefully, for Fr. Jenkins’ sake, God will not look on this as “scandalizing his little ones”!

"Spengler" Comes to First Things

Tuesday, April 28, AD 2009

spengler

For a number of years I have read the opinion pieces of a writer known only as “Spengler” in the Asia Times Online.  I enjoy his wit and his tight reasoning on many topics.  “Spengler” has now revealed that he is David P. Goldman, the new associate editor of First Things.  I am glad to see Mr. Goldman coming to First Things, but I confess to sadness that “Spengler” is no longer a mystery.   As bloggers know, a nom de plume can take on a life, and a character, separate from the keyboarder who creates it.  The substance of the writing of course remains, and that is most important, but a certain element of fun dies when the writer behind the assumed name is revealed.

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3 Responses to "Spengler" Comes to First Things

Colleges for Catholics (and Catholic Colleges)

Monday, April 27, AD 2009

Graduations are just around the corner, and I would assume that most high school seniors heading on to college next year have already picked their schools and are now navigating the treacherous waters of financial aid forms. However, ’tis the season, and with Catholic colleges somewhat in the news at the moment (and the realization that despite my thinking of myself as recently down from college I am in fact eight years out — with my eldest daughter likely heading off to college herself in eleven years) I thought it might be an appropriate time to assess the practicalities of Catholic higher education — or more properly, of higher education for Catholics.

In our social circle, I know a number of parents who proclaim that no child of theirs shall ever go to any but one of 3-5 approved, orthodox Catholic colleges. (The contents of these lists vary slightly depending on the speaker, but Thomas Aquinas, Steubenville, Ave Maria, Christendom, University of Dallas and Benedictine are names one hears often.) I find myself less of one mind on the question, in part because my wife and I both actually went to Steubenville (class of ’01). My goal here is not to advocate one specific course as the only wise one for serious Catholics, but to lay out the advantages and disadvantages of all. I think there are basically two sets of concerns that parents have in these discussions, moral and academic. I shall begin with the moral.

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24 Responses to Colleges for Catholics (and Catholic Colleges)

  • A good post, but you might want to make it clear that the “orthodox” college list refers to Benedictine College in Atchison, Kans. and not Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill.

    If a specifically “orthodox” Catholic college or university is out of the question due to cost, lack of appropriate course offerings or other factors, the next best alternative might be to choose a secular school with a top-notch Newman Center like that of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (Don can vouch for this.) I believe a secular school with a really good Newman Center is preferable to a “Catholic in name only” school when it comes to faith formation and support.

    If keeping your child away from temptation is a concern, you might try sending them to a local junior college for a year or two (keeping them at home) and then allowing them to transfer to the state university for the last two years. If they enroll as juniors, they will usually not be obligated to live on campus, and may be able to live in an off-campus apartment with like-minded roommates (which, perhaps, the Newman Center might be able to help them find).

  • I second the U of I at Urbana-Champaign! Its where my husband converted from atheist to Catholic. He was always impressed by the “island of Faith” in the middle of the college culture which he never considered until grad school.

  • Elaine and Karen are right! A bright spot in my seven year sojourn at the U Of I was the Newman Center. From the packed Saurday midnight masses to the activities for undergrads and grads, the Newman Center was a beacon for Catholic students in Chambana! One of my sons is planning on attending there, and I think he has made an excellent choice!

  • And so, for instance, we had a class on the French Revolution by one professor which was so shoddy in its scholarship that I’d been specifically warned not to take it by my advisor, and yet it was defended by many who claimed for it the virtue of being a specifically Catholic take on the topic.

    My wife and I also took that class, although without forewarning. Certain quotes from the professor are still running jokes in our house, and it was one of the worst classes I’ve ever taken. Attending a ‘secular’ grad school now with graduates from a wide range of schools, I am leaning more towards “you are only allowed to attend these schools!” parental authoritarianism, although I think it depends on the child. I certainly have concerns about academic excellence, and Steubenville was very hit and miss. But I think there is value in living in a distinctively Catholic community for a period of several years, and conversations with siblings, classmates, and co-workers suggest the undergrad campus experience at many colleges is hostile intellectually and socially to practicing Catholicism. I don’t think most seventeen and eighteen year-olds are well-equipped to deal well with those types of tensions, although some are.

    Catholic communities also have their downsides; Steubenville could be fairly insular. In the end, though, I think I left a better person and a better Catholic than I would have at another college. That, more than any other reason, is why I would at least recommend my child attend a Catholic college.

  • And if they want to major in something outside the liberal arts?

    Or if they want to spend (or borrow) an amount of money that is rational and commensurate with their likely earning power, given their choice of major, and their future ability to pay back borrowed funds? (I read this past week that only about 30% of college bound young adults and/or their parents consider future earning power when weighing how much to pay for college, something that blows me away in its irresponsibility)

    There’s a real moral cost to incurring a huge debt at a young age. There’s a real moral cost to expecting your PARENTS to pay an enormous amount of money for college.

  • I’d suggest Belmont Abbey College in NC (which also has many scholarship and financial aid options.) But an orthodox Catholic college is no guarantor that the individual student won’t find plenty of occasions of sin or will still be a practicing Catholic by graduation. I went to public college and U myself and can vouch for the success of good campus ministry programs.

    For a student who is a bit immature or unreliable, I’d recommend any public college or university within easy commuting distance while living at home, at least for the first two years.

  • For some reason, I’m just not sold on the “orthodox” Catholic colleges. I think Brendan does a good job of laying out some of the things I’m concerned about.

    I’ve got no problem encouraging my kids to go somewhere like the University of Virginia, where I know they will have access to the Dominicans at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish. I’ve also heard that Texas A&M has a very solid Newman Center.

  • At one college I looked at, the majority of the history courses (History was my original intended major, though I eventually switched to Classics at Steubenville) were cross-listed offerings from the Womens’ Studies, Afrocentric or GLTB studies departments.

    I know your type, you didn’t go to that school because you’re a sexist racist heterosexist! Shame on you!

  • Excellent post. All good things to consider when Bubba and his sisters are of age for college. Bearing raises a good point on cost vs. potential earning power. Another thought that comes to mind is whether or not the pursued degree is vocational training or not.

    My wife and I are a mixed bag. She attended Steubenville with both Mr. & Mrs. Darwin. I would say she benefited both from a vocational standpoint as well as from the Catholic culture. In fact, she thrived there. I, on the other hand, probably wouldn’t have thrived. I, too, would have been rather irritated by some of the nanny-state aspects of the school. Secondly, I don’t know if any of these orthodox Catholic colleges and universities would have had course studies that fit my interests and career goals (electrical engineer). Many, if not all, of these schools are liberal arts colleges where engineering is an after thought, if it even exists.

    Lastly, I will personally vouch for Texas A&M’s Newman Center. Bishop Aymond (as well as his predecessor Bishop McCarthy) make it a point to assign some of the best priests to this parish. Mass on weekends is packed. Daily Mass had close to 200 attendees (10 years ago), not sure about it now. It’s a vibrant ministry that takes advantage of the rather conservative climate at Texas A&M as well as the university’s roots and emphasis on tradition.

    There are many state-run colleges and universities out there with excellent Newman programs. Visit them during your college visits. Talk to the pastoral team. Feel them out to see if the Catholic faith is authentically taught to the students.

    Big Tex
    Fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of ’99 Whoop!

  • I may send my kids to leave with their grandparents in Virginia or their grandparents in Texas for a year after they graduate from high school so they can get in-state tuition at UVa or Texas A&M.

    I see very little downside to their attending UVa. But there are definite trade-offs to their attending A&M. On the one hand, the solid Newman Center at the school is an attractive attribute. But, on the other hand, THEY’LL BE AGGIES! Yuck!

    😉

    Jay
    Baylor University ’90
    University of Virginia School of Law ’93

  • Obviously, “leave” should be “live”. Even people with real degrees from real schools make mistakes, I suppose (it’s not just Aggies).

  • It’s my understanding that A&M has the record for vocations of any college in the US. All of the A&M grads I know are good Catholics.

    Having said that, it’s a local school, Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula or Christendom College at this point for little Abigail.

  • Jay

    As an Aggie class of 02 and of 09, I can assure you that your children will have a great time and be able to plug into a good Catholic community!!

    Have them email or you email me at any time – I am very familiar with many aspects.

  • Jonathan,

    Thanks, but we still have several years before my kids will be taking that next step. My oldest just turned 7, so we’re a good decade away.

    And for all my good-natured poking of the Ags, my grandfather, my uncle, my aunt, and my cousin all attended A&M. So I do have a little Aggie blood in me. The rest of the family (immediate as well as extended), however, are all pretty much Baylor grads.

  • Fulton Sheen told parents: “Send your children to a secular university, where they will have to defend their faith. Do not send them to a Catholic college, where they will lose it”.

  • Baylor… no comment. 😉

  • Gabriel Austin: I went to Marquette and while it is true I lost my faith there, I wasn’t trying very hard to keep it. My theology classes weren’t terribly inspiring and basketball seemed to be the school’s true faith. But then, I wasn’t seeking out the believing Catholics were were undoubtably present.

    I have a doctor friend who graduated from MU the year after me. He was serious about his faith and his experience of MU was much different than mine was. In college, I would have thought him a “dork” and passed him up for the hip “bad boys” drinking beer and shooting pool in the campus pubs.

    There’s a reason I never married – I had very poor judgement as a young woman and made many bad choices. (And considering the men I dated, I am thankful that I never tied the knot, because my life would have been miserable.) I can’t really blame the environment, because other people in the same environment had better experiences and more sense. Ah, live and learn,….,

  • I attended a big state university (the one that makes it now impossible to countenance sending the Offspringen to A&M), with a campus parish that, at the time, was pretty far from orthodox and had a pastor who was very far off the reservation, and was actually the first person ever in my life to offer me marijuana. So it does sound like every Catholic parent’s nightmare, true.

    But … I was young, newly converted to Catholicism, and quite naive. I didn’t know about the highly questionable activities of our priest until I was nearly ready to graduate, and in fact he helped me greatly with my biggest spiritual problem of anger (anger was a problem with him too, and he was very familiar with the temptations and self-justifications). In the department I was majoring in, several of the most respected professors were committed Catholics, one of whom gave me very direct and solid advice on maintaining intellectual integrity in the context of faith. While the memory of the things done during Masses make me cringe now, years later, at the time I was too new a Catholic to know better, and I made some good and very orthodox friends at the parish–one of whom I still see frequently at my current parish–who nudged me gently towards orthodoxy in doctrine and practice. In the end, I came out of college with my faith in as good a shape as, I think, a parent could reasonably want.

    This isn’t meant to be argument by anecdote, but to suggest that the kind of company a child gravitates toward will most likely determine what kind of faith she leaves college with, particularly at a big enough campus that she can choose her company easily. There are good and bad Catholics, studiers, and partiers on every campus.

  • Darwin, this is such and important conversation and I thank you for writing. It hits home for us as our two oldest are at Notre Dame and a third one prepares to enter senior year (read agonizing-about-colleges-year) at home. Helping them make a decision–and yet letting them make it–seems to be the thing to do. Easy to say, very difficult thing to do. It takes prayer.

  • I agree with Big Tex and can confirm Jay’s perception of Texas A&M. They are SOLID. I have even adopted the Texas A&M football team as my own (Arizona and Hawaii being the other two) to replace Notre Dame.

    I have visited the campus and yes Big Tex, they still have about 100-200 attend daily Mass. Matt McDonald is correct about the vocations, they are by far above the rest when it comes to answering God’s call.

    Marcel, of Aggie Catholics blog, is the director at the Newman Center and he has a full staff of 24, yes, 24 people on the payroll to work that wonderful apostolate.

    I even met Bishop Aymond and he is orthodox and deeply committed to Texas A&M’s mission towards their thriving Catholic community. In fact, Bishop Aymond is applying the very same template at very liberal University of Texas in Austin and is reaping excellent rewards.

    As far as for me, I nearly lost my faith at the University of Arizona. They’re a mix bag. They have an excellent social program, but as far as orthodoxy is concerned, the priests wear tie-dye shirts and they like to be called by their first name without the ‘father’ in front of their name.

  • Interesting post. Obviously I see the positive social aspect of a protective Catholic environment. I had not really considered the potential negatives of a “too Catholic” education.

    I have a few years to deliberate for my kids, but today, I am leaning towards a very good high school education (likely home schooling) followed by the first two years at community college while living at home. The last two years at a relatively close-to-home public university with a good Newman Center. And probably working part time to assist with tuition and rent and groceries (whether that be an apartment of their own, or still at home).

    Then, of course, on to seminary! 😉

    Seriously though, that “full contact climate of dorm life” is, in my opinion, dangerous and totally unnecessary. The idea that kids should be sent halfway across the country to be independent doesn’t jive with me. It’s fun, but it’s not real life. If college is training for adulthood, they should be studying hard, working, and learning lots of practical life skills from their parents, and receiving guidance and counsel when dating a potential spouse. Their solid high school education combined with discussion around the dinner table and with fellow Catholic students will help them to withstand the inevitable challenges to our faith and world view.

    That will allow me to help my sons make the transition into manhood, and save tens (hundreds?) of thousands of dollars in the process. If there was a perfect Catholic university within an hour of home and it cost about the same, I’d consider it. But, in my opinion, the “college experience” is overrated, and a good student can learn what he needs to know anywhere, if he’s been taught to do the research and think independently. Besides, most of us need graduate degrees or professional designations to really get ahead. At that level, the quality of the program matters a lot more. For undergad, a BS is a BS is a BS.

    By the way, I would also be fully supportive of trade school or military service after high school. As homeschoolers often say, we’re trying to get them into heaven, not Harvard.

  • I somewhat a agree with Fulton Sheen. I lived a fairly insular Catholic life until I went to college…in the Bible belt. It was an amazing learning experience to have to suddenly defend my faith.

    That being said, I think it really comes down to the child. If they go into any college a strong Catholic and with a strong sense of self, it will be very hard to shake them no matter what they are exposed to. If they are luke-warm in their faith or strongly dependent on the approval of others for their sense of self they will have more problems.

    I partied some at my secular college, but at the same time I was very sure about my personal moral limits and stuck to them. At the same time, my B.A. in religious studies gave me a better understanding of my Catholic faith than 12 years of Catholic school, and there were very few practicing much less orthodox Catholics around and the Newman Center consisted of only about 15 students.

  • My husband went to an Orthodox Catholic U. I went to a formerly protestant secular U. He had protective parents. I had relatively liberal ones. He’s a rule breaker, I’m a rule abider–but the bottom line is that we both got in trouble in college.

    Is it temperament? Is it environment? Is it education? Lack of support? Or just sin? No one is impervious to sin and it can happen anywhere, especially when there is a lot of idle time.

    More and more I’m thinking along the lines of State school, live at home, work to pay for it. Gain responsibility while you get your education. Who’s to say kids get to have this uninterrupted four years of complete self orientation? It’s not preparation for real life, and maybe it sets us up for an attitude of entitlement later in life.

  • The family is on vacation at the moment, so although I’ve enjoyed following the comments I havent’ been able to participate as much as I might have liked. However, one toss out thought:

    I think I’m probably more in favor of the “going away to college” experience than most posting here. But then, I’m thinking of it in the context in which I experienced it: I went through Steubenville on a pretty lean budget, paying via scholarships, work, and a bank account that my grandparents had left me for college expenses. If I’d lost my merit scholarships, I would have had to fill in with debt instead.

    So while I enjoyed (and to be honest had been very restive for) the chance to get some independence, it was a pretty sober independence — not the kind of “here’s some more cash from Mom and Dad, make sure you have a good time on spring break in Cancun” kind of existence that some of my coworkers seem to be financing.

Jenkins to Glendon: "OK, We'll Find Someone Else."

Monday, April 27, AD 2009

jenkins2obama-and-valentine4

Hattip to Hot Air.  Notre Dame’s reaction to the stunning Glendon withdrawal:

“We are, of course, disappointed that Professor Glendon has made this decision. It is our intention to award the Laetare Medal to another deserving recipient, and we will make that announcement as soon as possible.”

Now who could Jenkins get at the last moment?  Hmmm, someone on board with Obama, doesn’t mind ticking off the bishops, nominally Catholic, nominally pro-life.  I have it!  The perfect candidate for Jenkins is here.

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17 Responses to Jenkins to Glendon: "OK, We'll Find Someone Else."

  • Now that would really close the loop!

  • Kmiec is on my short list of possible suspects.

    I wonder though, if even Kmiec is willing to go that far.

    In spite of all the denials, my Vatican contacts have told me that Mr. Kmiec’s was nominated for the position of Ambassador to the Holy See and was rebuffed, and in no uncertain terms, by the Vatican. At this point, he is a tarbaby even to Obama.

    Do you think with 8.2 million already being held hostage in donations Jenkins is willing to pour fuel on the fire by replacing Glendon with Kmiec, Pelosi or Sebelius?

    Do you think Kmiec is foolish enough to burn every bridge?

    All very interesting!

  • Now if only the headline had read “Jenkins to Obama: ‘OK, We’ll Find Someone Else.'” 🙂

    Like Carol, I don’t see Kmiec being chosen as the Laetare Medal replacement, although I wouldn’t entirely rule it out.

    If Jenkins were to nominate Pelosi or Sebelius, however, I’d have to seriously wonder if he’d gone off his nut… that would be a bridge-burning moment of Blago-esque proportions.

  • Yeah. With Biden and Pelosi both having flares shot across their bows by the Catholic Church, I can’t imagine either one of them are stupid enough to get involved in this fugatz.

    Hmmm. With the electric atmosphere, what repudiator of Catholic tenets will be willing to back into the corner with Jenkins?

    Hmm. I just can’t think of a soul.

    Me thinks this year will be post humorous award?

  • I think you meant to say “posthumous”, as in “after death”. Although this whole affair has also gone past the point of being humorous, too, if it ever was humorous :~)

  • haha!

    Sister Denis Marie would clobber me after four years of Latin.

    I beg your indulgence!

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy): Elaine & Carol, a “post-humorous” award this time would be at least as appropriate as a posthumous award, IMHO. (“Post-humorous” may have been unintentional, but I like it!)

  • Man, Notre Dame must be getting REALLY desperate:

    http://southbend.craigslist.org/evg/1143896969.html

  • Ha!

  • It appears that the WH is already paying ND back for the invitation and honorary degree. (That was fast!)

    http://newsinfo.nd.edu/news/11640-doe-to-establish-energy-frontier-research-center-at-notre-dame

  • I don’t understand the antagonism in this web space towards a caring, just, and intelligent president such as Barack Obama. He wants to reduce abortions by supporting adoption and all his other issues are in complete concensus with Catholic Social doctrine and the Gospels. (help the poor). Abortion is the law of America and most other countries and this law has prevented numerous abortions in unsanitary, illegal locations or abortions performed by scared young girls with hangers or other devices. Lets decrease the number of abortions and support the living who are poor and vulnerable. Abortions, I’m afraid will never be eliminated.

  • “Abortions, I’m afraid will never be eliminated.”

    With politicians like Obama in charge you are absolutely correct. To pro-lifers Mr. Sanchez every abortion kills a human being with just as much a right to life as you possess or I possess. A politician like Obama who celebrates abortion as a right is dedicated to perpetuating this evil. We are dedictated to stopping it.

  • Dennis,

    You don’t reduce something by increasing funding and promotion.

    Further, we didn’t combat slavery by concerted efforts to reduce it. And we certainly wouldn’t tolerate an administration that hired all pro-slavery people because we would know the direction such a president would be turning the ship.

    Killing people and enslaving them are to be eradicated in a civilized society. There is no other social program that can distract us from it.

    God Bless.

  • Another point Mr. Sanchez, if you are a Catholic, the Church requires that you be in favor of making abortion illegal. Here is the portion of the Catechism on that point:

    “2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

    “The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.”80

    “The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.”81”

  • Well done Donald.

    “Abortions, I’m afraid will never be eliminated.”

    Neither will rapes, but we outlaw them.

Mary Ann Glendon Declines Notre Dame's Invitation

Monday, April 27, AD 2009

As Brendan noted a while back, the Notre Dame controversy, “has all the staying power of an inebriated relative after a dinner party.” I’m loathe to post on it again, but there has been a fairly significant development: Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon has decided not to attend the graduation or accept the Laetare Medal. Here, via First Things is the text of her letter to Father Jenkins:

April 27, 2009
The Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
President
University of Notre Dame

Dear Father Jenkins,

When you informed me in December 2008 that I had been selected to receive Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, I was profoundly moved. I treasure the memory of receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame in 1996, and I have always felt honored that the commencement speech I gave that year was included in the anthology of Notre Dame’s most memorable commencement speeches. So I immediately began working on an acceptance speech that I hoped would be worthy of the occasion, of the honor of the medal, and of your students and faculty.

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32 Responses to Mary Ann Glendon Declines Notre Dame's Invitation

  • And in other news, Jesus accepts the invitation of a tax collector to visit him at his home! News at 11.

  • Wow. An impressive stand on principle, and good reason for it, too, citing the “ticket balancing” references, which I had not seen. That rhetoric is analogous to Bilbo’s “gross” invitees, suggesting she was selected as cover for the laurels to be rained upon the President.

  • Henry,

    It might be more productive to specify why you disagree with Prof. Glendon’s decision (if you do disagree with it), rather than (facetiously?) making an analogy of dubious relevance.

  • I’m pretty sure that Jesus wasn’t sucking up to the tax collector and giving him honors; in fact, I seem to recall something about calling the tax collector to repentance. Quaint old notion, repentance.

  • And in other news, Jesus accepts the invitation of a tax collector to visit him at his home!

    And we all know that when the tax collector and Jesus chatted, Jesus didn’t call the tax collector to repentance and conversion. Instead, Jesus spoke about the weather and how well seasoned the fish was.

    Look, if you’re going to snarkily make a biblical reference, it would probably help if the situations were analogous. But that would require a depth of reasoning beyond your pay grade.

  • Henry, that analogy only works if you are contending that Jenkins and the university sinned and repented. But using her as cover suggests that the administration is far from repenting of anything.

    As opposed to making an award to Glendon out of mixed motives. Which your analogy also fails to account for.

    Also, it would be nice of you to admit that the University put Glendon in a Hell of a spot: to offer even the mildest criticism of the President in front of the “honored” (read: star-struck) Domers would have risked that greatest of sins of progressive Catholicism: divisiveness.

  • Isn’t Henry Karlson calling Notre Dame a sinful tax collector? Maybe Prof. Glendon should go and reproach them?

  • Glendon shows great character here. Commencements are not the place for fighting; the focus should be on the graduates. Giving Glendon a medal while expecting her to be the hired gun to try to salvage the university’s moral authority isn’t an honorable move nor is it one truly oriented to the graduates. Glendon did the right thing.

    Now, the university is in a bind. They just got slapped in the face hard b/c of Obama. One still hopes they switch course (though that is highly unlikely at this point) because now they just had the prestige of their highest honor lessened and may deem the Laetere Award (a symbol of their own prestige) more valuable than Obama.

  • Didn’t Jesus go to sinners to tell them to stop sinning?

  • Rush L. used the same “argument” to rationalize writing a column in Playboy: you’ve got to go where the sinners are. Henry K., weak, very weak.

  • Didn’t Jesus go to sinners to tell them to stop sinning?

    Walk me through this, please.

    Mary Ann Glendon plays the role of Jesus, right? So you’re saying she should go to Notre Dame and, while accepting the Laetare Medal, tell someone to stop sinning?

    Who is it she should tell and what should she tell them?

    And if you’re going to criticize her for being insufficiently Christ-like, can you explain why it’s her responsibility to tell whoever she should tell whatever she should tell them?

  • Actually Tom you missed my point. I was pointing out that Jesus went to sinners to tell them to stop sinning. I think Notre Dame giving an honorary degree is not telling the sinner to stop sinning, it is rewarding. The comment related to Henry’s post and not to Glendon’s refusal to go. I think this sort of refusal is appropriate in that she has made her objections known.

  • Actually Tom you missed my point.

    I sure did!

    Based on the comments he made at dotCommonweal, though, I think Henry was criticizing Glendon, not defending Notre Dame.

  • Glendon to Jenkins: Find yourself another figleaf!

  • Yes, my comment was not completely clear. But my point was to criticize N.D.

    Thanks for the link.

  • Henry K., I read your comment in Commonweal. I think what she was doing is not being cynically used by Jenkins to give “cover” to ND — “see how balanced we are.” It blew up in his face. As she points out, her speech would be short and not really that appropriate time to do a point by point or pro-life philospy talk to an honored President. She was as wise as a serpent. As the following article points out, Jenkins got schooled by a ‘Ahvard law prof.

    http://www.ncregister.com/daily/glendon_declines_nd_honor/

  • While it’s disappointing not to have Glendon there to provide a Catholic voice at the event (as I seem to recall the local ordinary had said he hoped to see happen, when he originally said that he was choosing not to attend for principled reasons) it seems to me that the university was putting Glendon in a deeply untenable situation. On the one hand, all of Obama’s explicit or tacit supporters would expect her to say all sorts of positive things about his presence there (or at least ignore it) while those (including the local ordinary) who have decried the Obama invite would expect her to deliver a Jeremiad of some sort.

    Either way, it seems clear that Glendon was being set up to the the fall guy (fall lady?) of the event by both sides, and I think it shows wisdom on her part to simply back out. There was no gracious way to deal with the situation she was being thrust into.

    If Henry requires a biblical allusion, perhaps he should turn to where Jesus asks the Pharisees whether John the Baptist was a true prophet as a condition to his answering their questions.

  • This will provide an even greater Catholic voice than if she went and did some speech. Her action speakly loudly — Catholic teaching matters; character and integrity matter. This is a bombshell and watershed moment in Catholic public life. I don’t care what else she has done, I will never forget her sacrifice and integrity.

  • de Med,

    I agree this is a watershed moment of some type; I’m not sure which way it will go though. It could lead to a more explicit and permanent break in the already uneven relationship between the bishops and Notre Dame (not to mention colleges even less interested in preserving a Catholic identity). On the other hand, the sharp backlash from the bishops could provide motivation for presidents of Catholic universities to take the bishop’s statements and, by extension, their Catholic identity more seriously. It’s hard to tell, but I’ve been very surprised by the forcefulness of the bishop’s criticism; as, I’m sure, has Fr. Jenkins.

  • John Henry,

    I agree. I think the bishops will be emboldened by her actions. It’s hard not to respect her integrity and courage. They will naturally want to emulate it. I think more will register disapproval. At some point, Jenkins looks foolish. How many US bishops have to be against you to make that happen? This event is a dividing line. Univ., are you Catholic or not? Make up your mind. I just think there are enough ND faithful who will side with Bishops as against ND. ND runs the risk of being marginalized. ND is special, precisely b/c they are Catholic. If they lose that identity, they’ve lost a pearl of great price. Jenkins has ND and himself in a box. I think we didn’t think through possibilities. He got caught up in the moment — something which I’m guilty of myself.

  • Using Jesus this way makes it harder for us to invoke him the right way.

    I would invite Obama into my house for dinner on the condition that he listen to what I have to say about abortion.

    I wouldn’t honor him with any sort of degree, which only legitimizes his position. While I agree with him on some things, probably more things than I did Pres. Bush, the dividing line in our culture is between the culture of life and death. Those on the death side can be engaged respectfully, but they must not be honored.

  • Dualism fails to ignore the dignity of the human person, and also the dignity of offices. Sad.

  • “A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families.”

    So simple, yet so elusive to Fr. Jenkins.

  • Joe,

    I would invite Obama into my house for dinner on the condition that he listen to what I have to say about abortion.

    good post! Sadly that is not what Fr. Jenkins has arranged.

  • Henry Karlson,

    I’m sorry — I’m missing something. What are you saying?

  • de Med.
    Henry is saying that Catholicism does not allow for the belief that people fall into one of two buckets — good and bad. This means, therefore, that the conferral of an honorary law degree upon a lawyer whose most famous legislative contribution was to ensure that infants may be legally deprived of ordinary care if born as a consequence of a failed abortion is perfectly ok. Or more precisely, to think it is a bad idea is to be less than Catholic. All clear now? You will know if you are laughing.

  • Mike, what view of Catholicism is he espousing that doesn’t recognize people who do evil? Give me more info — I’m still a little unclear. This is a new concept to me. Is he saying ND was right to give this honorary law degree to Obama?

  • Mike, I was going to comment, but you have said it all. Bravo!

  • de Med:

    “Is he saying ND was right to give this honorary law degree to Obama?”

    Not quite in so many words, but for all intents and purposes, yes.

    What he has said explicitly is that objecting to the conferral of the honorary degree is un-Christian and fails to follow the example of Christ’s parables in some way known only to Mr. Karlson.

  • Dale,

    Thanks, for the clarity. I sincerely didn’t know where he was going – it was vague. I asked a ND student about this. I asked her “is there anyone who you think would be disqualified from getting such an honor? Where do you stop? And if it’s somebody really really bad, then what does that say about how you view abortion? I would like to know Henry’s criteria and who he thinks wouldn’t pass muster.

  • You’re assuming that Henry has any criteria here, besides reflexively opposing whatever real pro-lifers do or say.

  • In my opinion everyone loses: President Obama, Notre Dame, its students, Fr Jenkins, its Board of Trustees, Mary Glendon, the Bishops. This is a mess
    that breeds ill feelings and broken hearts,

14 Responses to POW Servant of God