Monthly Archives: April 2012
The Australian divisions and the New Zealanders had become what they were to remain for the rest of the war – the spearhead of the British Army.
John Terraine, British Military Historian
Today is Anzac Day, a date which has huge meaning for the people of New Zealand and Australia. At the beginning of World War I both nations raised great volunteer armies, making up a large percentage of their adult male populations, and sent them off to fight. In the bitter Gallipoli Campaign, the attempt by the Allies to take the Dardanelles from the Turks, conquer Constantinople and open up a supply line to Russia via the Black Sea, the Anzac troops distinguished themselves by their stubborn courage and resourcefulness. Although the Gallipoli campaign ultimately ended in failure, the Australian and New Zealand troops came out it with a reputation as hard fighters, shock troops, a reputation they earned time and again on battlefields throughout World Wars I and II. American veterans I have talked to who fought with Australian and New Zealand troops have repeatedly told me that they could ask for no finer fighters to have at their side in a battle.
The video at the beginning of this post is entitled Heroes of Gallipoli and is made up of the only film footage taken during the campaign. It was restored a few years ago by Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame. It is a fitting tribute to very brave men, and the nations who gave them birth. Continue reading
So, you think you’re a calm and balanced guy, and you read all these news stories about how the nuns are just “stunned” that Rome would investigate them. I mean, “stunned“. How could the mean old Vatican investigate nuns?
Well, Thomas L. McDonald of God and the Machine gives us a little bit of an idea. He takes a look at the upcoming LCWR Assembly 2012 (to be held in August), and notes the keynote topic: “Mystery Unfolding: Leading in the Evolutionary Now” which will be delivered by Barbara Marx Hubbard. He takes a look at Barbara Marx Hubbard’s site and finds the following:
It has become obvious that a creative minority of humanity is undergoing a profound inner mutation or transformation. Evolutionary ideas are not only serving to make sense of this change, but also acting to catalyze the potential within us to transform. (Thought creates; specific thought creates specifically.)
It is the planetary crisis into which we were born that is awakening our sleeping potential for transformation. Planet Earth has given birth to a species capable of choosing whether to consciously evolve ourselves and our social forms, or to continue the course we have set toward our own extinction. And the choice is clear.
All great spiritual paths lead us to this threshold of our own consciousness, but none can guide us across the great divide — from the creature human to the cocreative human. None can guide us in managing the vast new powers given us by science and technology. None of us have been there yet.
What we can envision
The enriched noosphere, the thinking layer of Earth, is now replete with evolutionary technologies that can transform the material world. Within the next 30 to 50 years, we could transform our physical bodies, our minds, our social structures, and set in motion the emergence of a new civilization.
To a father growing old nothing is dearer than a daughter.
What a sweet celebration of a young life! Continue reading
The Hill is reporting some potentially disastrous news for President Obama concerning his bid for re-election: His support among Catholic voters is slipping and, perhaps, is bleeding badly.
For example, a Pew Research Center in March 2012 found a “noticeable shift in opinions” among White Catholics with 31% now describing the administration as “unfriendly” to religion. In August 2009, only 17% described the administration that way.
Then, too, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is organizing for two weeks of public protest in June and July against what the USCCB believes is growing government encroachment on religious liberty. A confrontation with Catholic activists could cause major headaches for David Axelrod and his crew in Chicago.
Of course, that would require the USCCB to prove itself capable of whipping up fervor among U.S. Catholics. It’s a possibility, The Motley Monk would note, but there are many obstacles, not the least of which the majority of U.S. Catholics who are reported to support the President’s healthcare policies, especially as they concern “women’s freedom of choice.”
To wit, James Salt, the Executive Director of Catholics United—a politically left Catholic social justice group—told The Hill that the USCCB’s public relations campaign is misguided:
It reflects a great misplaced priority of the bishops. In no way is it apparent to me how Catholics in America are oppressed. Their positioning in society is greater than their numbers. There are six Catholic members of the Supreme Court.
This is part of a very orchestrated campaign by the bishops to make contraception the focus of the 2012 election.
Salt believes the USCCB’s broader goal is to get Mitt Romney elected so he can nominate a fifth conservative justice for the Supreme Court. That would make it possible for the Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade.
If the USCCB is successful in its efforts—irrespective of whether they are motivated by concerns about religious liberty or to elect Mitt Romney—organized civil disobedience could feature Catholics in cities across the nation being hauled off to jail.
According to The Hill, Republican strategists are enthusiastic about the possibility. One Republican strategist is quoted as saying:
These would be devastating images for the Obama administration. You have a very important religious demographic coming out in protest of Obama’s policies and being arrested for their expression. These images would be politically damaging for the president’s campaign.
That’s a hope, one supported by the President of Catholic Advocate, Deal Hudson, who told The Hill:
This is the most dynamic situation I’ve ever seen since I’ve been involved in Catholics and politics. I think civil disobedience is almost inevitable. I think that kind of protest is on the way.
Of course, all of this is all about the so-called “war on religious liberty” initiated by the Obama administration, which The Motley Monk thinks is best understood in terms of the Obamacare mandates announced by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Those mandates—and the ham-handed “compromise” announced subsequently by the President—could end up having been a terrible political miscalculation.
But, don’t expect President Obama to attempt to mollify the USCCB before November. The Motley Monk believes the President and David Axelrod are confident that the 90% of Catholic women who use artificial forms of birth control are firmly in his camp. (The reality is that it’s 60%.) Furthermore, they are confident that Catholics who are aligned with political left are likely to view any protesters who get arrested for demonstrating for religious liberty as “right-wing, conservative nut jobs.” Catholics aligned with the political left are not going to march in lock-step with the USCCB.
Time will tell.
But, just like the spring weather, the political season is heating up. Religious liberty may end up being an important factor in deciding who will be the next President of the United States.
The all-important question is: Will the “Church militant” align itself with conservative Christians across the nation to teach a lesson to the President and David Axelrod come November?
To read the report in The Hill, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk daily blog, click on the following link:
Hattip to Patrick Archbold at Creative Minority Report. A fiery speech delivered by Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of the Saint Louis Archdiocese at the Missouri State Capitol on March 27, 2012, calling for defiance of the HHS Mandate, and a superb ringing defense of religious liberty:
So Jesus said to them: “Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” (Mt 22:21/Mk 12:17/Lk 20:25)
My brothers and sisters, we stand here today because of an alarming and serious matter that strikes at our fundamental right to religious freedom. The federal government – which was formed to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people” – has decided to tell some of those people that we are free to hold our faith, but we will be required to deny it in practice. We are here to let the government know that we will render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, but we will NOT render unto Caesar what belongs to God!
In late January, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that almost all employers — including Catholic employers – would be forced to offer their employees health coverage that includes contraception, sterilization and potentially abortion-inducing drugs. This is in direct contradiction to the teachings of the Catholic faith.
Recognizing this as a grave threat to religious liberty, many people spoke out against the Mandate.
In response to this reaction, President Obama’s Administration announced a so-called “compromise” in early February. Now, instead of the Catholic Church being required to pay for contraception, sterilization and potentially abortion-inducing drugs, the insurance companies will be required to provide those services free of charge.
We need to say loud and clear: Mr. President, there’s no such thing as a free lunch! Contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs aren’t free. Someone has to pay for them. If the insurance company has to provide them, the cost will be passed on to the consumer one way or another –that’s how the economy works! Continue reading
We knew it would come to this, but we weren’t sure until when until the Obama administration announced the contraception mandate; even then, we weren’t sure when exactly it would be explicitly spelled out by the leadership of the Church. I am referring to the U.S. bishop’s recent statement declaring, among other things, the following:
It is a sobering thing to contemplate our government enacting an unjust law. An unjust law cannot be obeyed. In the face of an unjust law, an accommodation is not to be sought, especially by resorting to equivocal words and deceptive practices. If we face today the prospect of unjust laws, then Catholics in America, in solidarity with our fellow citizens, must have the courage not to obey them. No American desires this. No Catholic welcomes it. But if it should fall upon us, we must discharge it as a duty of citizenship and an obligation of faith.
It is essential to understand the distinction between conscientious objection and an unjust law. Conscientious objection permits some relief to those who object to a just law for reasons of conscience—conscription being the most well-known example. An unjust law is “no law at all.” It cannot be obeyed, and therefore one does not seek relief from it, but rather its repeal. (Emphasis added)
In making this statement, the bishops have echoed Pope Leo XIII’s statement in his encyclical Libertas: “But where the power to command is wanting, or where a law is enacted contrary to reason, or to the eternal law, or to some ordinance of God, obedience is unlawful, lest, while obeying man, we become disobedient to God.”
A playful video about our dog eating President. In the meantime the humans behind Dogs Against Mitt believe that Romney is disqualified from being President for having his dog ride in a cage on top of the family car in a 12 hour trip to Canada.
I have misused the king’s press damnably. I have got, in exchange of a hundred and fifty soldiers, three hundred and odd pounds. I press me none but good house-holders, yeoman’s sons; inquire me out contracted bachelors, such as had been asked twice on the banns; such a commodity of warm slaves, as had as lieve hear the devil as a drum; such as fear the report of a caliver worse than a struck fowl or a hurt wild-duck.
Falstaff, Henry IV, Part I
Former Washington Post Reporter Thomas Ricks, who now works for the liberal Center for a New American Security, a think tank focusing on defense issues and which has provided several top personnel in Defense slots for the Obama administration, thinks that it is now time to bring back the Draft. He proposes it not because he believes that the Draft would improve the military, but because he believes that it would make the nation less likely to go to war.
The drawbacks of the all-volunteer force are not military, but political and ethical. One percent of the nation has carried almost all the burden of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while the rest of us essentially went shopping. When the wars turned sour, we could turn our backs.
A nation that disregards the consequences of its gravest decisions is operating in morally hazardous territory. We invaded Iraq recklessly. If we had a draft, a retired general said to me recently, we probably would not have invaded at all.
If there had been a draft in 2001, I think we still would have gone to war in Afghanistan, which was the right thing to do. But I don’t think we would have stayed there much past the middle of 2002 or handled the war so negligently for years after that.
We had a draft in the 1960s, of course, and it did not stop President Lyndon Johnson from getting into a ground war in Vietnam. But the draft sure did encourage people to pay attention to the war and decide whether they were willing to support it.
I believe that Mr. Ricks is completely wrong-headed, and to understand why it is necessary to review the Draft and American history. Continue reading
If I wanted America to fail I would have the people forget God. I would then have them forget this great truth set forth by James Madison in Federalist 51 as to why the Constitution was designed as it was: Continue reading
Hat tip to Mark Scott Abeln at Rome of the West for bringing the story which follows to our attention. Although the U.S. Constitution enshrines free exercise of religion as the first freedom in the First Amendment, attempts by government to assert authority over who can and cannot carry out the ministry of the Church happened long before the recent unpleasantness of the HHS mandate.
One such instance occurred almost 150 years ago in Missouri, in the aftermath of the Civil War. In the closing months of the war, Radical Republicans, determined to prevent resurgence of proslavery or pro-secessionist power, drafted a new state constitution which imposed a “Test Oath” as a condition of being allowed to vote, hold public office, or practice certain professions. Those required to take the Test Oath included teachers, physicians, attorneys, corporation officials, and clergy of all denominations. Those who continued to practice their profession or ministry after a specified deadline without having taken the oath were subject to arrest, fines and imprisonment.
The oath required one to affirm various provisions of the new constitution, including one that excluded persons who had ever “given aid, comfort, countenance or support to any person engaged in hostility” against the United States from the professions and activities covered by the law. As the oath was written, persons who had any kind of regular contact or relationship with a Confederate or Southern sympathizer before or during the war were or could be excluded. Moreover, demanding assent to the oath as a condition of exercising religious ministry was a blatant infringement upon religious freedom. Archbishop Peter Kenrick of St. Louis had ordered his priests to remain neutral during the war, and when the Test Oath was enacted, counseled his priests against taking it.
Father John Joseph Hogan, a native of Ireland who had served scattered missions in rural Missouri since 1857, was one of those who refused to take the oath. A grand jury refused to indict him for violating the Test Oath law, but Radical officials replaced those jurors with others who returned an indictment. Father Hogan was then arrested but freed after posting bail. He wrote the following in a letter to parishioners and other supporters who had protested his arrest (emphasis added):
“You term Religious Liberty a God-given right. So it is. Let me add. You need not thank anyone but God for it. God is the source of Right and Power. He has said to those sent by Him to teach His religion: “All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore teach ye all nations. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” In virtue of this power, He sends us to teach and promises to be with us. His authority is ours. Were it man’s authority, man would not now oppose, nor from the beginning have opposed, its exercise. The Civil Authority has been ever, from the days of Herod, the enemy of Christ. Christ therefore could not have entrusted to it, the care of His heavenly teaching … Continue reading
A hilarious spoof documentary on the viewing of Ken Burns’ The Civil War. The portrayal of the Shelby Foote stand in is priceless.
The Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut may reveal the soul of the Democratic Party…
The race for the open U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut—the seat currently held by Joseph Lieberman—is now providing some pretty clear evidence about exactly what the five Democratic candidates for national political office think about the issue of religious liberty.
When asked during the “Face the State” debate whether Catholic hospitals should be required to provide contraceptive services and abortions, all five Democratic candidates said in various ways and to various degrees that they would support federal legislation compelling Catholic hospitals—since they receive federal funds—to perform abortions.
Candidates Susan Bysiewicz, Matthew Oakes, and William Tong were direct in their responses: the federal government has the right to require Catholic hospitals to perform abortions.
The federal government has the right to regulate what services are provided, because Catholic institutions, colleges and universities get funding from the federal government, and I believe that those institutions should provide access to reproductive health care.
If they’re gonna take our money—I’m Roman Catholic—then they need to perform the health care issues that women need performed for them.
Access to an abortion should be open and available. Access to contraception, the same thing. These are basic liberties enshrined in our Constitution, in our jurisprudence. That’s a fact. […] I think we need a cooperative approach. We had a bill in the state Legislature to provide emergency contraception. It was called Plan B. […] Now Plan B is a reality. Emergency contraception is made available to patients at Catholic hospitals. We just need to find a way to make it work.
Candidate Chris Murphy was not as direct. He said: “[Catholic hospitals] certainly have the ability to decide what services they perform.”
That’s masterful politicalspeaque, The Motley Monk would note. Saying Catholic hospitals “certainly have the ability to decide” is quite different from saying “the government should not require Catholic hospitals to perform abortions.”
Candidate Lee Whitnum didn’t answer the question directly. Instead, she said that providing contraceptive services is a “good thing.” But, Whitnum didn’t go so far as to say whether Catholic institutions should be forced to provide contraceptive services.
The Catholic bishops of Connecticut were quick to issue a statement, noting:
If it is [the candidates’] position that our hospitals should be forced by law or regulations to provide abortions in spite of our teaching, it is unfortunate to note their readiness to violate religious liberty.
Their position would be the logical extension of the federal Health and Human Services regulations with regard to so called “preventative services.”
Yes, the statements of these five candidates for the U.S. Senate indicate their readiness to trample upon the exercise of religious liberty. Perhaps the statements also reveal the state of the soul of the Democratic Party.
To view the video of the “Face the State” debate, click on the following link. The relevant comments begin at 5:30 into the debate.
To read the Connecticut bishops’ statement, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk daily blog, click on the following link:
By now, most of the Catholic blogging world has heard of Archbishop Peter Sartain’s appointment by the Vatican. Whispers succinctly delivers the news:
Citing “serious doctrinal problems” found over the course of a four-year study of the umbrella-group representing the majority of the US’ communities of nuns, the Holy See has announced a thoroughgoing shake-up of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), naming Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle as its delegate to conduct an overhaul of the group.
On the doctrinal level, this crisis is characterized by a diminution of the fundamental Christological center and focus of religious consecration which leads, in turn, to a loss of a ‘constant and lively sense of the Church’ among some Religious.
The current doctrinal and pastoral situation of the LCWR is grave and a matter of serious concern, also given the influence the LCWR exercises on religious Congregations in other parts of the world.
Addresses given during LCWR annual Assemblies manifest problematic statements and serious theological, even doctrinal errors. The Cardinal offered as an example specific passages of Sr. Laurie Brink’s address about some Religious “moving beyond the Church” or even beyond Jesus. This is a challenge not only to core Catholic beliefs; such a rejection of faith is also a serious source of scandal and is incompatible with religious life. Such unacceptable positions routinely go unchallenged by the LCWR, which should provide resources for member Congregations to foster an ecclesial vision of religious life, thus helping to correct an erroneous vision of the Catholic faith as an important exercise of charity. Some might see in Sr. Brink’s analysis a phenomenological snapshot of religious life today. But Pastors of the Church should also see in it a cry for help.
The Cardinal spoke of this issue in reference to letters the CDF received from “Leadership Teams” of various Congregations, among them LCWR Officers, protesting the Holy See’s actions regarding the question of women’s ordination and of a correct pastoral approach to ministry to homosexual persons, e.g. letters about New Ways Ministry’s conferences. The terms of the letters suggest that these sisters collectively take a position not in agreement with the Church’s teaching on human sexuality. It is a serious matter when these Leadership Teams are not providing effective leadership and example to their communities, but place themselves outside the Church’s teaching.
The Cardinal noted a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith in some of the programs and presentations sponsored by the LCWR, including theological interpretations that risk distorting faith in Jesus and his loving Father who sent his Son for the salvation of the world. Moreover, some commentaries on “patriarchy” distort the way in which Jesus has structured sacramental life in the Church; others even undermine the revealed doctrines of the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and the inspiration of Sacred Scripture.
The documentation reveals that, while there has been a great deal of work on the part of LCWR promoting issues of social justice in harmony with the Church’s social doctrine, it is silent on the right to life from conception to natural death, a question that is part of the lively public debate about abortion and euthanasia in the United States. Further, issues of crucial importance to the life of Church and society, such as the Church’s Biblical view of family life and human sexuality, are not part of the LCWR agenda in a way that promotes Church teaching. Moreover, occasional public statements by the LCWR that disagree with or challenge positions taken by the Bishops, who are the Church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals, are not compatible with its purpose.
This action by the Holy Father should be understood in virtue of the mandate given by the Lord to Simon Peter as the rock on which He founded his Church (cf. Luke 22:32): “I have prayed for you, Peter, that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned to me, you must strengthen the faith of your brothers and sisters.” This Scripture passage has long been applied to the role of the Successors of Peter as Head of the Apostolic College of Bishops; it also applies to the role of the Pope as Chief Shepherd and Pastor of the Universal Church. Not least among the flock to whom the Pope’s pastoral concern is directed are women Religious of apostolic life, who through the past several centuries have been so instrumental in building up the faith and life of the Holy Church of God, and witnessing to God’s love for humanity in so many charitable and apostolic works.
The mandate of the Delegate is to include the following … 2) To review LCWR plans and programs, including General Assemblies and publications, to ensure that the scope of the LCWR’s mission is fulfilled in accord with Church teachings and discipline. In particular: Systems Thinking Handbook will be withdrawn from circulation pending revision, LCWR programs for (future) Superiors and Formators will be reformed, Speakers/presenters at major programs will be subject to approval by Delegate. … 4) To review and offer guidance in the application of liturgical norms and texts. For example: The Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours will have a place of priority in LCWR events and programs.
[Sr. Simone] Campbell sees the current tension between male and female Catholic clergy as a part of a post-Vatican II democratic evolution within the church, but worries that the male leaders fail to recognize the “witness of women religious.”
It’s painfully obvious that the leadership of the church is not used to having educated women form thoughtful opinions and engage in dialogue.
“I think we scare them,” Sr. Simone Campbell … said of the church’s male hierarchy.
Chuck Colson died today at age 80. A former self described Nixon hatchet man, he went to prison for his involvement in Watergate. He underwent a religious conversion and turned his life around. After his release from prison he founded Prison Fellowship, an organization that has won accolades for its work in bringing the gospel to men and women incarcerated. He was ever a tireless voice for the unborn and the handicapped, as the video above indicates. In a time of easy cynicism and fashionable atheism, Colson’s conversion was a reminder of the power of the grace of God for those who humbly repent and accept it. The world is poorer by his passing. May God grant him mercy and the Beatific Vision. Continue reading
My last post got a lot of traffic, along with generous heapings of love and hate. The love is always appreciated. As for the hate, when it doesn’t amuse me with its enraged ignorance, it makes me sad with its malicious presumption.
How anyone could come away from my post thinking that I believe conservative Catholics should “shut up” about public affronts to Christ is beyond me. Maybe I didn’t make clear that I think we should have a public prayer campaign for the conversion of people like Jon Stewart. Maybe some of you don’t understand how much such a gesture would rial up the left, far more so than some hysterical campaign for a public apology. But tunnel-vision is funny that way.
So, in order to avoid any confusion…
By all means, please keep pointing out and denouncing public attacks on the faith.
That is what I intend to do here on this blog, and what we are all called to do.
Something for the weekend. Mars, the Bringer of War, from Gustav Holst’ s The Planets. Throughout history Mars has been associated with the god of war, no doubt due to its frequent red coloration when viewed from Earth. However, I have it on the highest authority that we have nothing to fear from Mars. Continue reading