Monthly Archives: April 2012

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.

Bysiewicz said:

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.

Oakes said:

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.

Tong said:

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.
http://www.wfsb.com/category/213663/face-the-state

To read the Connecticut bishops’ statement, click on the following link:
http://www.archdioceseofhartford.org/news/facethestate.pdf

To read The Motley Monk daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

 

A Habit (or lack-thereof) of Disobedience

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.

“Serious doctrinal problems.”  This is either the understatement of the century or … actually, it is the understatement of the century … there is no other way to put it.  The “Doctrinal Assessment” comes to us from the Congregatio Pro Doctrina Fidei at which our dear Holy Father spent much of his pre-papal days.  It is worth reading in its entirety.  Among the highlights are little gems like this:

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.

Or this:

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.

Lest we think the critique void of specifics:

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.

And then there is this:

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.

Then one of my favorites:

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.

And this:

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.

But one of the best paragraphs comes by way of conclusion:

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.

Toward the end of the document are very specific directive given to “the Delegate” (Archbishop Sartain).  The “greatest hits” are:

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.

I don’t wish to tie this directly to the HHS debacle; it is, after all, a much wider issue.  However, one can’t help but wonder if the hierarchy, in light of HHS and events such as the Notre Dame scandal from several years back, is finally getting serious about making sure that those who profess to be “Catholic” are actually acting Catholic in public.  Where better to start than with priests and religious?  For my own part, I greet this effort with a resounding, “Amen.”
Roma locuta est, causa finita est.  There was a time when this phrase was respected and venerated by those within the Church, and I deeply believe that it can and will be once more.
I ran across the Washington Post’s web coverage of the Vatican announcement, aptly titled “Vatican: U.S. Catholic sisters, nuns making serious theological errors.”  It too is worth your time reading, but for vastly different reasons than the Vatican statement itself.  It contains excerpt such as this:

[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.”

Such a claim that the male leaders fail to recognize the witness of women religious is not only irresponsible, it is also ignorant.  Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI have spoken widely about this important witness … but only when it is actually a witness to the faith, and never when it is contrary to the faith.  Yet the phrase that caught my eye was, “the current tension between male and female Catholic clergy.”  The mis-categorization of “female clergy” by the Post is ironically a strong argument in favor of the Vatican’s charge of “serious doctrinal problems.”
Sr. Campell continues,

It’s painfully obvious that the leadership of the church is not used to having educated women form thoughtful opinions and engage in dialogue.

This is a misunderstanding of the the term “educated.”  “Instructed” (albeit improperly) Sr. Campell may be, but certainly not “educated,” at least not in the Catholic faith.  Even a dictionary recognizes that being educated means having been entrusted with intellectual, moral, and social instruction within the field in question.  The problem with the LCWR leadership is that they are distinctly not educated in the Catholic faith, nor are they educated in the authentic and beautiful witness that constitutes Catholic consecrated life, as evidenced by the numerous examples cited in the Vatican document.  They may be educated in something other than Catholicism, but they most certainly are lacking in education, not to mentioned formation, within their own faith tradition.
Sr. Campbell, however, enlightens the Post on the real motivation behind the called-for reform:

“I think we scare them,” Sr. Simone Campbell … said of the church’s male hierarchy.

Actually, for quite some time, I have thought this very same thing, except in reverse.  Why is there so much animosity towards orthodoxy in the last several years?  Orthodoxy is nothing new.  There have been those who have championed for quite some time the very same thoughts contained in the recent Vatican statement.  The reason there is an uproar now is because people are beginning to sense that the tide is turning.  It is the very same reason why people are suddenly outspoken by the extraordinary form of the Mass.  While its presence in the Church has never ceased, even following the Second Vatican Council, people have recently begun to sense that things are changing.  They look at the seminarians coming out of seminary … they listen to the things coming out of the Holy See … they watch the appointments made by the Holy Father … and they know that the tide is turning towards Catholicism (to shamelessly steal from Dave Hartline) … and this terrifies them.
By way of a humorous conclusion, the most amusing part of the Washington Post article was the pictures they chose.  Under the title of “Vatican: U.S. Catholic sisters, nuns making serious theological errors,” we find this picture:

And this one:

Now I don’t want to judge a situation purely by a picture, so feel free to correct me here … but … I hardly think the delightful sisters in the these photos are those being called out by the recent Vatican instruction.  In the first picture we have a group of young, energetic, and full-habited sisters, and at the risk of overgeneralization, the young orders of which I am familiar are orthodox to the very core of their existence!  The second picture depicts a sister receiving communion on the tongue while kneeling … call me crazy, but I don’t think she preparing to deliver a lecture on women’s ordination and homosexuality.  (The tour of examples becomes even more amusing when one flips through the embedded slide show to find images of Mother Theresa, Katherine Drexel, Elizabeth Ann Seton, and a whole array of full-habited sisters.)
So why didn’t the Post choose pictures of Sr. Campbell, or even more familiar names like Sr. Carol Keehan, or Sr. Joan Chittister?  The answer is simple: the reading audience would not recognize them as the “U.S. Catholic sisters” to which the Post title refers.  Forgive the pun, but even those in the secular world are in the habit of recognizing sisters by their … well, you get the idea.

Chuck Colson: Requiescat in Pace

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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

What Conservative Catholics Should Keep Doing

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.

Continue reading

Baby as Parasite

 

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Over at the Huffington Post a diarist blogging under the name Sasharusa helps explain why babies in utero are treated like so much disposable garbage by so many people in our society:

This is Giardia lamblia. It is an intestinal parasite that is very common and is a pain in the ass to rid of.

I know, I know, it doesn’t look like a precious little baby. I know. It looks scary, and gross, and looks like it will bite your head off. But we’re not talking about looks. Who knows, maybe aliens think we’re ugly as f–k but this parasite would be labeled Miss Universe in their culture? Who knows! Anyway, I am sorry for plastering this as the very first thing in my diary. Consider this just like those exploited photos of miscarried late term fetuses that Anti- Choicers parade around.

Anyways, back to the whole fetus= parasite thing. That is how I see them. I don’t see them as cute and cuddly. I see them as terrifying and scary. I see pregnancy the same way. Continue reading

Schadenfreude

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Occasionally I take a glance at the website of the National Catholic Distorter Fishwrap Reporter for the purpose of amusement.  Yesterday I wandered over there to see their reaction to the Vatican’s attempt to reform The Leadership Conference of Women Religious.  The reactions were both hysterical and hysterically funny.  Father Z, who I have designated the Master of the Fisk, had one of his patented devastating takes on one of the reactions:

[Sr. Joan] Chittister said she was deeply distraught at news of Sartain’s appointment and the order for LCWR to revise itself. [What a surprise!]

“When you set out to reform a people, a group, who have done nothing wrong, [You mean, other than purposely embrace heresies and all sorts of strange things, criticize and defy the Holy See and bishops, abandon their habits and the charisms of their communities... ] you have to have an intention, a motivation that is not only not morally based, but actually immoral,” she said.  [Keeping in mind that this new project comes from the CDF and that this is approved by the Holy Father, I rest my case.]

“Because you are attempting to control people [Note the word "attempt".  I look forward to many more statements of defiance from women religious, speeches at conferences, articles in NCR.] for one thing and one thing only — and that is for thinking, for being willing to discuss the issues of the age … If we stop thinking, if we stop demanding the divine right to think, [She pretty much side-steps the problems, no?  This "think" thing is misdirection.] and to see that as a Catholic gift, then we are betraying the church no matter what [NB] the powers of the church see as an inconvenient truth in their own times.”  [Sr. Joan must be for the Magisterium of Nuns what Al Gore is to the climate change crowd.]

In attempting to take such control of people’s thinking, [She must think most of her readers are pretty stupid, since she keeps repeating the point.] she said, “You make a mockery of the search for God, of the whole notion of keeping eyes on the signs of the times and of providing the people with the best possible spiritual guidance and presence you can give.  [More Enneagrams, please!]

“When I was a child in this town, I was taught that it was a sin to go into a Protestant church.

In my lifetime, the church, to its eternal credit, admitted that it was wrong. [!?!  About entering Protestant churches?  - Would that some of them would... but I digress. ] The scandal and the sin is that it took 400 years to do that.” Continue reading

Two Things Conservative Catholics Should Stop Doing

Has the title of this blog post got your attention? Good. Many of this blog’s regular readers and com-boxers could be classified as conservative Catholic, myself included (though I do my best to elude fixed categories). So I hope you will take this to heart, and maybe even take the debate outside the confines of this blog if you feel so moved.

I like Bill Donohue. I sympathize with him and his organization, The Catholic League. I share many of their sentiments, including outrage and disgust, whenever the media decides to take another whack at Christianity. So I certainly don’t critique Donohue or the CL from the left. Nor is my critique limited to Donohue and CL, but could extend to any number of Catholic and Protestant organizations as well.

With that said, here are two things that I wish they would all stop doing, and they are closely related.

Continue reading

Harry Reid: Seniors Love Them Some Junk Mail

Like Jim Geraghty, every time Harry Reid opens his mouth I’m left wondering how we didn’t defeat him last time out.

In his opening speech on Wednesday, Reid called on theSenate to quickly move forward on the passage of S. 1789, the 21st Century Postal Service Act, which restructures pensionplans for Postal Service employees as well as allows the USPS to access overpayments in the Federal Employee Retirement System.

“Madam President,” Reid said to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), the presiding officer of the Senate, “I’ll come home tonight here to my home in Washington and there’ll be some mail there. A lot of it is what some people refer to as junk mail, but for the people who are sending that mail, it’s very important. “And when talking about seniors, seniors love getting junk mail. It’s sometimes their only way of communicating or feeling like they’re part of the real world,” Reid continued. “Elderly Americans, more than anyone in America, rely on the United States Postal Service, but unless we act quickly, thousands of post offices … will close. I’ve said this earlier today; I repeat it.”

I think this comment requires me to break out the big guns.  Yes, it’s time to up the ante and respond the only way that seems appropriate.  It’s time for:

Continue reading

Doggone Campaign

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I’ve seen a look in dogs’ eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that dogs think humans are nuts.

                                                                        John Steinbeck

Well, the burning issue of the day is that Obama admits in one of his autobiographies that as a child he ate dog.  Considering that he was living in a place where dog is often what is for supper, that is not surprising.  I bear him no ill will for this, although my dog Baby, our terrific terrapoo, may not be so forgiving, or Internet Hitler for that matter.

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The Romney campaign launched this gem due to the fact that back in 1983 on a family trip, Romney had the family dog Seamus in a dog house secured to the top of his car for 12 hours.  All was well until Seamus decided to relieve himself on the front windshield to the vast amusement of the Romney boys.  This strikes me as a typical Dadism:  an attempt by a family man to solve a problem in logistics that sounded like a good idea at the time.  Of course, my dog Baby might well take a harsher view.

Scott Crider, who has founded an organization called Dogs Against Romney, has no problems with Obama’s dog chow: Continue reading

Of Aging Leftists and Brides of Christ

 

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One of the saddest features of Catholic life in America since Vatican II has been the transformation of so many nuns and sisters from being Brides of Christs into promoters of every Leftist and New Age fad imaginable.  Finally, the Vatican has taken notice:

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has launched a 5-year reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the association of the leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States representing more than 80 percent of the 57,000 women religious (nuns) in the country. 

Based on a 2008 investigation into the nuns, the Vatican evaluation was candid, noting, “The current doctrinal and pastoral situation of the LCWR is grave and a matter of serious concern.”

The CDF doctrinal assessment, released today, criticized positions espoused at LCWR annual assemblies and in its literature as well as the absence of support from LCWR for Church teaching on pro-life issues, women’s ordination and homosexuality.

The CDF said that 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.” Continue reading

From Shangri-La to Tokyo

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Seventy years ago 80 very brave Americans, led by Army Air Corps Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle, brought the nation a badly needed morale boost.  The War in the Pacific was going badly as defeat followed defeat.  Navy Captain Francis Low hit upon a plan to send a message, not only to the American public, but also to Japan, that the United States was not beaten and that it would strike back and prevail.

16 Mitchell B-25B bombers were placed on the carrier USS Hornet.  In great secrecy the Hornet and its escorts steamed to within 650 nautical miles of Japan when the force was discovered by a Japanese picket boat which was sunk by gunfire from the USS Nashville.  Fearing discovery the Doolittle force launched immediately, some 10 hours earlier than planned, and 170 nautical miles further from Japan. Continue reading

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