Thanksgiving in Rome

From Amy Welborn (presently in Rome) tells us How to get a bunch of Americans to start tearing up, immediately?:

Start playing America the Beautiful as your closing song at a Thanksgiving day Mass at an American-centered parish in a foreign country. Even if it’s Italy, and even if it’s a beautiful Roman day outside. Halfway through the first verse, I looked around, and saw six people wiping their eyes….

It was Thanksgiving Day Mass at Santa Susanna, the American parish in Rome, run by the Paulists. I got there about halfway through, so I didn’t hear Cardinal Foley’s homily. But I did meet him as he juggled coffee and a muffin, and also had the great honor of meeting Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, who was there in attendance, and read President Bush’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation after Mass.

Zenit News Service relays Thanksgiving Address of Cardinal Foley, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, at the Santa Susanna Church in Rome: Continue Reading

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Robert Royal on "Getting Thanksgiving Right"

A temptation lurks here, however, that has recurred historically. If you don’t believe – and strongly at that – in a God Who transcends and needs to save the world, you will be strongly tempted to believe in some lesser god substitute. A nation is a perpetually plausible alternative because it participates in divine attributes. Authority over other men and, at times, power over life and death, are not just another set of practical arrangements within a commercial republic. The mysterious ways that a regime and its laws and lands, peoples and history, grow into a living human society, though by no means divine, reflect something at work in history beyond us. For that very reason, if Christianity does not remain faithful to itself, it can quickly be absorbed into a kind of divinized politics. This is true whether you believe in Americanism as a religion or in some anti-American liberation theology.

Among the things it is good for a Catholic to remember today, because they anchor us in a reality outside the quite proper human fellowship we will be celebrating, is the Eucharist, which means, literally in Greek, giving thanks. St. Paul says “give thanks (eucharisteite) always” (1 Thess 5:13) and reports that Jesus Himself even “on the night he was betrayed” gave thanks. (1 Corinthians 11:23). Catholics can bring to the American mix precisely this sense of a gratitude that extends beyond the good things of life as most people understand good, to something much greater, even in the midst of immediate evils, something that exists on an entirely different plane than the greatest regimes, however much we are grateful for them in our human way.

Getting Thanksgiving Right, by Robert Royal.
The Catholic Thing November 27. 2008.

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Catholic Campaign for Human Development – Tainted by ACORN or Still Rotten Itself?

A lone individual with a sign protesting the second collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development sets Vox Nova‘s Morning’s Minion on a tirade against Fr. Neuhaus and evangelicals:

After a moment of confusion, it suddenly dawned on me what this was about. And then I became rather angry. Yes, it was just one “whack-job”, but I was still angry. And then I thought of Fr. Richard John Neuhaus’s partially-successful attempt to align Catholics with the emergent right-wing evangelical movement, and realized that it had come to this. Catholics, including Neuhaus, were lambasting an anti-poverty program because it simply did not fit with the the ideological talking points of the hour.

As Fr. Neuhaus points out, “Ten years ago, CCHD was exposed as using the Catholic Church as a milk cow to fund organizations that frequently were actively working against the Church’s mission, especially in their support of pro-abortion activities and politicians.”

Pointing to the CCHD’s stated principles, including that it “will not consider organizations which promote or support abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, or any other affront to human life and dignity,” Morning’s Minion dismisses Neuhaus’ concerns:

This is important as many of the critics (including Neuhaus) claim it is funding pro-abortion activities. (Yet again, the mis-use of the abortion agenda as a Trojan horse to further a distinctly less noble cause– will this ever end?)

Unfortunately, Neuhaus’ claim is true — CCHD has a disappointing history of, contrary to its stated principles, providing extensive funding for questionable political groups with agendas morally at odds with Catholic teaching.

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Petition the United Nations to respect ALL Human Life

On December 10th — the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by the UN General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948 — pro-abortion groups will present petitions asking the United Nation’s General Assembly to make abortion a universally recognized human right.

The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute created an alternate petition drive that calls for government to interpret the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as protecting human life from the moment of conception to natural death.

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To Pray, To Engage, and Fight Like a Maccabee.

I confess I am disappointed to see one of my colleagues at American Catholic dismiss the “Open Letter to President-Elect Barack Obama” as only so much “fruitless and pointless rhetoric”.

In response, permit me to explain what led to my own signature of the letter in question.

Readers of Catholics in the Public Square are no doubt aware that I have emphatically disagreed with Henry and those contributors at Vox Nova who supported Barack Obama throughout the 2008 election.

At the same time, to say Catholics shouldn’t have cast their vote for Obama is not the same thing as asserting that they were prohibited from doing so. This, at least, seems to be the conclusion drawn from the USCCB document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship”:

There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position [on abortion] may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.

Suffice to say I was among the those who did not believe a “grave moral reason” existed that warranted voting for Obama. And if some members of Vox Nova disagreed, I’ll give them the benefit of a doubt, and trust they thought about it as long and hard as my own decision to vote for Senator McCain.

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Open Letter to President-elect Barack Obama

President-elect Barack Obama,

As American Catholics, we, the undersigned, would like to reiterate the congratulations given to you by Pope Benedict XVI. We will be praying for you as you undertake the office of President of the United States.

Wishing you much good will, we hope we will be able to work with you, your administration, and our fellow citizens to move beyond the gridlock which has often harmed our great nation in recent years. Too often, partisan politics has hampered our response to disaster and misfortune. As a result of this, many Americans have become resentful, blaming others for what happens instead of realizing our own responsibilities. We face serious problems as a people, and if we hope to overcome the crises we face in today’s world, we should make a serious effort to set aside the bitterness in our hearts, to listen to one another, and to work with one another

One of the praiseworthy elements of your campaign has been the call to end such partisanship. You have stated a desire to engage others in dialogue. With you, we believe that real achievement comes not through the defamation of one’s opponents, nor by amassing power and using it merely as a tool for one’s own individual will. We also believe dialogue is essential. We too wish to appeal to the better nature of the nation. We want to encourage people to work together for the common good. Such action can and will engender trust. It may change the hearts of many, and it might alter the path of our nation, shifting to a road leading to a better America. We hope this theme of your campaign is realized in the years ahead.

One of the critical issues which currently divides our nation is abortion. As you have said, no one is for abortion, and you would agree to limit late-term abortions as long as any bill which comes your way allows for exceptions to those limits, such as when the health of the mother is in jeopardy. You have also said you would like to work on those social issues which cause women to feel as if they have a need for an abortion, so as to reduce the actual number of abortions being performed in the United States.

Indeed, you said in your third presidential debate, “But there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say, ‘We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby.’”

As men and women who oppose abortion and embrace a pro-life ethic, we want to commend your willingness to engage us in dialogue, and we ask that you live up to your promise, and engage us on this issue.

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Thomas Merton, American Catholic

merton_woodsBy way of Carl Olson comes Can You Trust Thomas Merton? – an evaluation of the Trappist monk and contemplative Thomas Merton which appears in This Rock, by Dr. Anthony E. Clark.

As with most critical evaluations of Merton, Clark mentions some by-now-familiar pieces of controversy in Merton’s life — His fathering a child during his hedonistic and womanizing years in Cambridge, where to quote him directly, he “labored to enslave myself in the bonds of my own intolerable disgust” and his on-again, off-again relationship with his superior, abbot Dom James Fox.

But it is not so much Merton’s “sins of the flesh” which are perceived as a danger (something which even the greatest saints were certainly not immune — is it more than coincidence that Merton’s Hindu friend Brahmachari would recommend Augustine’s Confessions?) as his exploration of the world’s religions, particularly Buddhism, the character of which, according to Dr. Clark, “often appears more like replacement than rapprochement.”

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Veterans Day 2008

veterans_day

Lord Jesus, Mighty Warrior and Prince of Peace, through the intercession of St. Michael and Our Lady of Victory, we pray for the protection of our loved ones called to serve in time of war. By Your grace, o Lord, may they be strong and of good courage. And by your grace also, may we at home renounce all fear and anxiety, place our trust fully in your most Merciful Heart, and await in hope. For though we may walk through the shadow of the Valley of death, we shall fear no evil- You are with us.Grant a decisive and just end to this war, lasting peace for all nations, and the safe return home of all our loved ones. AMEN. (CatholicMil.org)

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Knights of Columbus: "Remember FOCA on November 4th"

The Knights of Columbus remind us that among the most important issues at stake Nov. 4 is FOCA [“Freedom of Choice Act”]:

As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops declared recently:

“Abortion rights groups and their allies in Congress are promoting a radical bill called the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). If this extreme measure is enacted, widely-supported and constitutionally-sound abortion regulations will be knocked down nationwide.”

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Did the U.S. Commit "Terrorism" in Syria?

Michael Iafrate of Vox Nova condemns the United States for a brutal act of “terrorism” in conducting a strike into Syria against an al Qaeda facilitator.

In typical fashion, Michael likewise insinuates that Sarah Palin approves abortion bombings and alleges that, by virtue of the fact that nobody at American Catholic has yet commented on the story, we are quite obviously racist:

Of course the “pro-life” Cathollic barfosphere, so vocal in the “defense of human life,” remains utterly silent in the face of the Bush administration’s ongoing acts of terrorism. Of course, these weren’t cute white babies who were slaughtered, were they? That explains it.

Michael’s penchant for profanity, libel and general elementary school antics does nothing to enamor readers of his position or the Catholic blog he represents. Yet I think he deserves a response (however meager) …

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Give Thanks To Our Priests …

Today — Sunday, October 26, 2008 — is World Priest Day, in which Catholic parishes celebrate and affirm those men who are call to commit themselves to Christ and his Church through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, and an opportunity for parishioners to thank, affirm and convey our love and support for our priests.

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Bishop Joseph Martino: "No Social Issue Has Caused The Death Of 50 million People"

Last week InsideCatholic.com editor Deal Hudson complained about the use of the Bishops’ document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” to justify a vote for Senator Barack Obama — who as Robert P. George persuasively argued, is “not merely a pro-choice politician, but rather as the most extreme pro-abortion candidate to have ever run on a major party ticket”.

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Final Debate: Obama Lied (Once Again) On BAIPA

As Weekly Standard notes, Obama lied regarding his motivation for voting against the Illinois born alive infant protection act:

Questioned about his vote against the born-alive infants protection act, Obama said: “There was already a law on the books that required lifesaving treatment, which is why … I voted against it.” Obama and his colleagues never cited this law as a reason for opposing the bill in the Illinois Senate. More importantly, that 1975 law only protected “viable” infants–and left the determination of viability up to the abortionist who had just failed to kill the baby in utero.

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Deliberately Omitted? What's Missing From The Debates

Judging by the questions that have been asked during the two presidential and one vice-presidential debates, one might have the impression that all Americans care about are the economy and Iraq. Granting the legitimacy of concerns about both, John J. Pitney Jr. runs through a list of topics thus far absent from discussion.

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Kmiec on Korzen, Kelly and Chaput – A Matter of Priorities

“Catholic Answers: Two books for voters who take their faith seriously”– Doug Kmiec, who has lately become something of a poster-boy and spokesman for ‘Catholics for Obama’, reviews Archbishop Chaput’s Render unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life (Doubleday, 2008) and A Nation for All How the Catholic Vision of the Common Good Can Save America from the Politics of Division , by Chris Korzen and Alexia Kelley.

As to be expected, Kmiec finds a sympathetic ear in Korzen & Kelley, given their assertion that Catholics have become ‘preoccupied’ with abortion to the subordination of peace, the environment and welfare:

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Obama: Reason To Be Afraid.

The [“Born Alive controversy”] does show him to be a down-the-line pro-choice legislator. In fact, the charge that Obama is the most pro-choice candidate in years may well be true (though the other Democrats were pretty pro-choice too). When I read through the legislative history, I came to believe that Obama’s general impulse was: when it doubt, side with NARAL. If you’re ardently pro-life, you are absolutely justified in being scared of Obama for that reason alone, without having cast him as a serial killer.

Beliefnet’s Stephen Waldman
by way of Marc Stricherz: “Obama’s Moral Fortitude is Questionable “
by way of Matthew Fish: “disingenuous”

Good posts, worth reading.

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Obama, ACORN and the US Bishops' Conference*

Deal Hudson (InsideCatholic.com) reports that the U.S. Bishop’s Conference Gave ACORN Over $1,000,000 in 2007:

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development gave $1.1 million to ACORN in 2007. You can find this fact on the CCHD website. If you add up all the groups called ACORN or Association Of Community Organization For Reform Now, you get a total of $1,111,000 in 2007.

Now, this wouldn’t be the same ACORN repeatedly making the news for its bullying “direct action” tactics and subject of repeated investigations for voter fraud, would it?

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The Only Sure Foundation …

Even more, the Word of God is the foundation of everything, it is the true reality. And to be realistic, we must rely upon this reality. We must change our notion that matter, solid things, things we can touch, is the most solid, the most certain reality. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord speaks to us about the two possible foundations for building the house of one’s life: sand and rock. He who builds on sand only builds on visible and tangible things, on success, on career, on money. Apparently these are the true realities. But all this one day will vanish. We can see this now with the fall of two large banks: this money disappears, it is nothing. And thus all things, which seem to be the true realities we can count on, are only realities of a secondary order. Who builds his life on these realities, on matter, on success, on appearances, builds upon sand. Only the Word of God is the foundation of all reality, it is as stable as the heavens and more than the heavens, it is reality. Therefore, we must change our concept of realism. The realist is he who recognizes the Word of God, in this apparently weak reality, as the foundation of all things. Realist is he who builds his life on this foundation, which is permanent. Thus the first verses of the Psalm invites us to discover what reality is and how to find the foundation of our life, how to build life.

Pope Benedict XVI

First general congregation of the world Synod of Bishops
on “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.”
Rome – October 7, 2008.
(Via Wheat & Weeds)

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Pope John Paul II On The "American Experiment"

As Zach indicates, the title of this blog itself is something of a quandary: what does it mean to be a Catholic in America? To participate in this great “American experiment” in ordered liberty? — these are questions which I’ll admit preoccupied me for some time now.

On December 16, 1997, Pope John Paul II welcomed the Honorable Lindy Boggs as Ambassador to the Holy See with the following words to her and the American people:

You represent a nation that plays a crucial role in world events today. The United States carries a weighty and far-reaching responsibility, not only for the well-being of its own people, but for the development and destiny of peoples throughout the world. With a deep sense of participation in the joys and hopes, the sorrows, anxieties, and aspirations of the entire human family, the Holy See is a willing partner in every effort to build a world of genuine peace and justice for all. …

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