Father Emery

Thursday, October 9, AD 2008

Destiny attended Emmeran Bliemel at his birth on the feast day of Saint Michael the Archangel, patron saint of soldiers, in 1831 in Bavaria.  From his early boyhood his burning desire was to be a missionary to German Catholics in far off America.  Joining a Benedictine Abbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 1851, he was ordained a priest in 1856.

One Response to Father Emery

The Only Sure Foundation …

Wednesday, October 8, AD 2008

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)

2 Responses to The Only Sure Foundation …

  • AMEN!!!

  • Especially in our highly affluent society, it’s easy to see physical loss as an “end of the world” of sorts. As I’ve taken part in discussions at work the last few days about how the economic situation will affect our sales in the coming months — and thus implicitly whether there will be layoffs at our company — it’s easy to see the recession in apocalyptic terms. And so it’s important to be reminded that what is most precious and most real in our existence is not in a paycheck, a house, a car, or whatever other possessions give us a sense of status and well being. The most real thing that we experience is the mass; the realities of sin, virtue and love; and the “real world” beyond these shadow lands.

    Which, incidentally, is why I find Donald’s series of battlefield chaplains particularly moving. The bravery of priests bringing the sacraments to men in the shadow of immediate death is a reminder of where our real priorities should be.

If I Ran The Zoo

Wednesday, October 8, AD 2008

I’m not sure that anyone, at any point of the political spectrum would consider what our nation witnessed last night under the name of “debate” to be an example of scintillating civic discourse. No one has asked me how to run our national political campaigns, so I thought I’d just present my idea of an interesting debate unasked for. My goals are that it promote real discourse, and that it provide enough entertainment value that people will be likely to watch.

The debate is to be conducted before an audience, with security to escort out anyone who becomes too disruptive. The seating should be in the round, so we can invoke gladiatorial archetypes as we watch the candidates spar.

5 Responses to If I Ran The Zoo

  • The Onion had proposed one 15 second choking session per side.
    Seriously, though, I’d kinda like to see some variation (to allow for multiple questions) of standard collegiate debate format employed for these. It would liven things up!

  • Works for me. I literally fell asleep watching the last one (might have been the wine). So boring, repeating the same crap, pretending to ignore Brokaw so they could keep talking past time. My wife and I both agreed that their microphones should be shut off when they ran out of time.

  • I hear Bob Schieffer is “center-right”. Is he going to be a moderator for any debate?

    Or is Scooter (whom suggested this) just being a goofball.

  • I don’t know about the part of one candidate being able to silence the other. That seems to lend itself to abuse. And I know part of the problem with any debate (especially those I have with my wife) is that if one candidate can interrupt another candidate whenever, then points are never made, and it devolves into petty bickering. I’d suggest having at least a little delay, like ten seconds, for a candidate to finish his point before his mike goes off and his opponent responds.

  • That’s a fair point, Ryan. My theory was that they would have an incentive not to abuse it lest they come off as jerks. Hard to say, though.

The Scary Thing Is: We Really Mean It

Wednesday, October 8, AD 2008

In Peggy Noonan’s weekend Wall Street Journal column she congratulates Gov. Palin on what she judges to have been a strong (though not substantive) debate performance. At the same time, however, she still sports bruised feelings from the reception that she and other “conservative critics” of Palin received in recent weeks:

We saw this week, too, a turn in the McCain campaign’s response to criticisms of Mrs. Palin. I find obnoxious the political game in which if you expressed doubts about the vice presidential nominee, or criticized her, you were treated as if you were knocking the real America—small towns, sound values…. As for the dismissal of conservative critics of Mrs. Palin as “Georgetown cocktail party types” (that was Mr. McCain), well, my goodness. That is the authentic sound of the aggression, and phony populism, of the Bush White House. Good move. That ended well.

Well, I’m sorry that her feelings are bruised, and its true that cultural slights can be rather cutting, but there’s a disagreement of principle at play here as well as simple payback. (And there is payback. Don’t imagine that all those middle-American conservatives haven’t noticed how the “Georgetown cocktail party types” talk about “Rush Limbaugh conservatives” or “talk radio crazies”. Some of this is simply a matter of people enjoying the chance to see the shoe on the other foot.)

30 Responses to The Scary Thing Is: We Really Mean It

  • Palin is a conviction politician and she has superb political skills. Since most politicians have only one true conviction, holding office beats working for a living, and since most of them at best have mediocre political skills, they of course look askance at Palin.

  • Well said.

    I have always liked Peggy, but she has shown her true colors during this election like a lot of other elite conservatives… this has been an interesting political year.

  • I’m grateful Palin has the convictions. In terms of applying those convictions, however, do you believe that Palin would be an effective champion of the social issues either as vice president or president?

  • I do Kyle. The focus on special needs kids alone, especially Down’s Syndrome kids who are being aborted into extinction, would be a powerful pro-life statement. I believe the pro-life cause would be Palin’s special “brief” in a McCain administration.

  • I think Peggy has to get some gratuitous “digs ” at the Conservatives. She seems almost embarrassed when she excoriates Democrats and tries to “even” the score by doing likewise to the GOP.
    I would like to see the elite commentators just express true Conservative sentiments instead of playing to the liberal left.
    It is a complete waste of time and effort to do so. They hate us and always will.

  • I do think Palin will be effective, for the same reason she has been effective in Alaska, and the same reason she is attractive . As the article states ‘she says what she means, and means what she says.’

    Noonan’s ‘feelings’ are irrelevant to the vast majority of conservative voters. They are irrelevant to the success of the next gov’t, and the future of America. Irrelevant, self-centered and unhelpful. Hope that wasn’t too harsh.

  • Do you guys think that Palin is winking personally at you too, as does R. Lowry (sic?) over at NRO?

  • I think some of the backlash or hurt feelings that may have resulted from said backlash were more the result of Noonan’s hot mike comments disparaging Mrs. Palin the same day she wrote a column talking about how people in the media elite don’t get her because they are trapped inside the “media bubble.”

    I always appreciated her as a good writer whose commentary seemed to reflect the way I look at things. My challenge with her since has been whether I’m reading what she thinks or what she wants us to think that she thinks.

  • Yeah Noonan shocked me when she floated Hutchinson. I think she’sevolving leftward”, sort of the way David Brooks has although Brooks was never a social conservative. Go figure.

  • When Sarah says “it’s time to take the gloves off and put the high heels on”, do you guys get all excited, like all the other conservative males I read who haunt the blogosphere and sing her praises?

  • Mark DeFrancisis,

    We just implemented a Comments Policy and you may have not read the warning on your previous comment.

    Any more unconstructive and ingenuous commenting on your part and you will be moderated. If you continue, you will be banned from commenting on this blog.

  • I confess that I, too, have a “He’s so good — too bad he’s not ours” attitude towards Obama.

  • Mark,

    No, she’s just a talented politician we happen to agree with. One of the great vices of partisan discussion, which I’d advise you beware of if you don’t want to find yourselve both becoming tiresome and having your comments edited, is assuming that one’s opponents must necessarily be stupid, evil or base.


    I guess I both understand and don’t understand that reaction to him: I do wish that we had a conservative star who was both intellectually rigorous and charismatic in bringing his (or her) ideas to the people — both of which I take it to be characteristics that people judge Obama to have.

    The thing is, he doesn’t actually strike me as all that thoughtful or intellectually rigorous, though he does stike me as thinking himself to be so. In many ways, he strikes me as having a very standard set of aquired beliefs of the sort one easily soaks up by osmosis in an environment full of liberal Ivy Leaguers.

    So while I wish that we had someone conservative who possessed the virtues that progressives seem to think Obama has, I’m not all that clear that he has the virtues he’s purported to.

  • TSO,

    When Peggy said that about Hutchinson, I was shocked. I was thinking to myself; Peggy doesn’t get it. I remember that column (the one where she asked why not Hutchinson as VP) describing the inside the beltway mentality, and at the same time – she was expressing the beltway mentality. And I didn’t think Peggy was one of those Rockerfeller Republicans.

    That is why i stated it has been a very interesting election cycle in the sense – Conservatives really never had a candidate in the primaries or one that could get the conservative base excited.

    Palin does this… it is one of the craziest things I have seen.

    Man, I hope she wins the VP.

  • PS – how do I get a picture to represent me…

    Tito, if you can do that… I would like Charles V or Henri de la Rochejaquelein or Reagan


  • Darwin,

    While Obama may or may not be intellectually rigorous or thoughtful in some absolute sense, compared to other politicians I’d say he measures up pretty well.

    In any event, while intellectual rigor is nice, it’s not the most important attribute a politician can have. Given the choice between a candidate who has a high level of intellectual rigor but who is not “charismatic in bringing his (or her) ideas to the people,” and a candidate who lacks intellectual rigor but who is effective in explaining his political ideas to the public in a compelling way, I’d much prefer the latter.

  • Bret,

    You just need to sign up for WordPress. There you can create an identity where you can choose or create (add) your favorite pic.

    Here’s the link: http://wordpress.com/


  • Blackadder,

    That’s where I basically have to say that I don’t have the objectivity to judge. Admittedly, I mostly read Obama’s speeches — I’ve only ever heard his convention speech and debate performances — so maybe I lose something that comes with the delivery, but mostly he strikes me as putting out really inane progressive platitudes. However, I recognize that it could well mainly be that I disagree so stongly with his worldview and policies that what may be an “inspiring” presentation just doesn’t appeal to me.

  • Well, Darwin, you could probably go find some of Obama’s speeches on youtube, and see both his charismatic, eloquent moments and also his moments of stuttering. For the most part, his delivery is excellent yet as you say, his content leaves something to be desired.

    So, I can see where Blackadder is coming from: Obama’s eloquence (for the most part) is appealing and stirs something inside people. Kind of reminds me of a snake oil salesman. Indeed, he is very polished.

    But this polish really tends to rub me the wrong way. Slickness tends to be a red flag in my mind. On the other hand, Mrs. Palin strikes a chord with common people, whether they agree with her policy stances or not. They recognize her authenticity. The folksiness of her delivery is somewhat charming, in my mind. She speaks like we speak, albeit with a different accent. I was particularly taken with her “There you go again, Joe” retort. So what if she is winking at me?!

  • Have you noticed something else about Sarah? She goes completely out of her way to avoid using profanity. She says things like “gosh darnit” as if long accustomed to avoiding its more colorful substitute. A lot of “bible-believing” Christians are this way. Back where I come from, I’ve met those who would even consider “gosh darnit” to be a little over the top, at least around the children. I’m not kidding about this. I’m not saying she is without fault. She got where she is by being a very shrewd woman. Maybe a little too shrewd on occasion. But all told, I suspect Washington could use a breath of fresh Alaskan air.

    I just hope she affects the status quo before it affects her.

    (Are you guys sure that wink isn’t just a nervous tick or something?)

  • (Are you guys sure that wink isn’t just a nervous tick or something?)

    No, nor was she intimating a deeper relationship with any viewer(s). She was challenging her opponent, you know, the one with such depth and character, to attempt the same thing. Sort of mean spirited of her, I admit. Botulism poisoning is nothing to laugh at, even if it’s self-induced.

  • “Botulism poisoning is nothing to laugh at, even if it’s self-induced.”


  • As I ex-Republican, I think David Brooks hit it bulls-eye today:

    “[Sarah Palin] represents a fatal cancer to the Republican party. When I first started in journalism, I worked at the National Review for Bill Buckley. And Buckley famously said he’d rather be ruled by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the Harvard faculty. But he didn’t think those were the only two options. He thought it was important to have people on the conservative side who celebrated ideas, who celebrated learning. And his whole life was based on that, and that was also true for a lot of the other conservatives in the Reagan era. Reagan had an immense faith in the power of ideas. But there has been a counter, more populist tradition, which is not only to scorn liberal ideas but to scorn ideas entirely. And I’m afraid that Sarah Palin has those prejudices. I think President Bush has those prejudices. ‘

  • David,

    Botox is the Botulism bacteria, it essentially paralyzes the areas injected. Poor joke apparently, sorry.

  • I’ll take Ed Koch, former mayor of New York and an Obama supporter, over turncoat David Brooks any day. Here is a link to his opinion of Sarah Palin.


  • I am neutral to slightly positive about Palin. She can communicate well (when she has something to communicate), and that’s one of the most important skills a politician can have. At the same time, she seems woefully unprepared for national office. I know the VP primarily just needs to be able to sit politely through the funerals of foreign dignitaries, but her interview answers on the bail-out and Alaska’s proximity to Russia were atrocious, and, like Obama, she does not have the experience a P/VP should have.

    I think she is smart, but I am not sure she has a coherent political philosophy, or has much knowledge about the issues with which she should be familiar. It has been a strange 6 weeks since she was selected. I was initially happy with the pick because of her record and personal story, then shocked/outraged by the backlash against her, then happy with the convention speech, then horrified by the interviews. Now, I don’t know what to think about her. I am not impressed by her message, but that is probably the McCain campaign’s fault. I don’t understand the folk-hero status she seems to have with conservatives, but I understand even less the contempt and scorn which she attracts from most of the media.

    To bring this back to Noonan, I think (although I coul be wrong) Noonan feels (as I do) that Palin is both talented and unready. She wouldn’t agree with David Brooks that she’s ‘a cancer’, but she can’t say honestly that Palin is an ideal candidate for VP.

  • Well I am not disappointed….

    I think Sarah ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I also wanted to test out my avatar.

  • Kinda disappointed about my avatar though

  • Darwin,

    With any luck, Jindal will be ripe by the next election. He’s wonkish, well-spoken, competant, and a true conservative.

    I really admired his handling of the hurricanes this season – he demanded excellence from his staff, held frequent press conferences fresh from his own briefings, and worked well with federal, local, and private agencies. …If it comes to 3 AM phone calls, I think this nation would be in good hands.

    Anyway…that’s who comes to mind when I hear people say they wish conservatives had ‘an Obama on our side’. And unlike Obama, if Jindal runs in a future election he will actually have executive experience to point to.

One Response to Equal Time

Pope Benedict on America

Wednesday, October 8, AD 2008

“From the dawn of the Republic, America’s quest for freedom has been guided by the conviction that the principles governing political and social life are intimately linked to a moral order based on the dominion of God the Creator. The framers of this nation’s founding documents drew upon this conviction when they proclaimed the “self-evident truth” that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights grounded in the laws of nature and of nature’s God. The course of American history demonstrates the difficulties, the struggles, and the great intellectual and moral resolve which were demanded to shape a society which faithfully embodied these noble principles. In that process, which forged the soul of the nation, religious beliefs were a constant inspiration and driving force, as for example in the struggle against slavery and in the civil rights movement. In our time too, particularly in moments of crisis, Americans continue to find their strength in a commitment to this patrimony of shared ideals and aspirations.

Pope John Paul II On The "American Experiment"

Tuesday, October 7, AD 2008

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. …

2 Responses to Pope John Paul II On The "American Experiment"

  • This gets me thinking about how a proper understanding of the American founding recognizes both the contractual aspect and, more importantly, the natural law aspect.

    Some critics of the American experiment overemphasize the contractual aspect and either totally neglect or ignore the natural law aspect involved in the American Founding, and because of this they have a very hard time appreciating what is significant about America.

    Liberalism, at least of the American variety, is not really value-neutral or totally utilitarian.

  • “But the continuing success of American democracy depends on the degree to which each new generation, native-born and immigrant, makes its own the moral truths on which the Founding Fathers staked the future of your Republic.”

    Great quote from Pope John Paul II.

    I agree with Zach here that we have dropped the ball on the passing down of these “moral truths”. To many of us have taken it for granted of the moral underpinnings embedded in America’s success.

    Hopefully we few Catholics can be the mustard seed to reinvigorate America once again.

One Response to Lepanto

Catholic Rights Talk

Tuesday, October 7, AD 2008

It’s become increasingly common for the Church to talk about “rights” when describing our fundamental duties to our fellow men. Reading through Faithful Citizenship, you’ll find several references to the “fundamental right” to life, echoing statements by the late Pope John Paul II in various encyclicals. However you’ll also find reference to the right to a just wage, housing, accessible health care, the choice of where to educate one’s children, etc. For instance: “Affordable and accessible health care is an essential safeguard of human life and a fundamental human right.” (Faithful Citizenship, 80) “Parents—the first and most important educators—have a fundamental right to choose the education best suited to the needs of their children, including public, private, and religious schools.” (Faithful Citizenship, 72)

I must admit, I really wish the Church had not got into using “rights” terminology at all — in part because I think the Church is using the term “right” in a different way from the standard American usage, thus causing confusion; and in part because it seems to me that it reverses the direction of obligation in human actions.

32 Responses to Catholic Rights Talk

  • Darwin, this is a very helpful post.

    Especially this:

    Rather, this “rights talk” seems to me a sort of backward discussion of our mutual obligations to one another.

    The Church does not seem to be using the term “rights” as it is used in usual discussions of justice, of who owes what to whom. I wish the Church would elaborate on its use of the term right. It’s vague and hard to understand now.

  • http://www.mycatholicvoice.com/group/Voice+Your+Vote

    There is no doubt that the upcoming Presidential election is proving to be one of tremendous consequence on a variety of issues; issues that are core to our Catholic faith, issues that will have significant impact on us, future generations and the future of our country.

    With that in mind, we would like to invite you to join in the Voice Your Vote discussion to share your views, thoughts and ideas.

    Its about whats most important to you.

    Speak up and let your voice be heard!

  • I agree and disagree. I think the Church should not give up using “rights” as a form of terminology. I imagine you wouldn’t either, but were stressing a point (correct me if I’m wrong). We’d have to give up talking about “freedoms” and other terms that aren’t exclusively used in Catholic circles. We need to have an outreach of catechesis (which is failing) or, at best, in Church documents clarify in no uncertain terms what the Church means by ‘rights,’ which as you rightly state refers to something that is due to us by our human dignity. The ‘what’ that is due and what they mean by, say, healthcare needs clarification.

    I personally think “Faithful Citizenship” is a horrid document. It gives Catholics a crash course in natural law morality applied to politics, with as you say, presuppositions that everyone understands ‘rights’ and ‘proportinate reasons’ (in regard to the voting for pro-choice questions) and with little clarification presupposing that most American Catholics understand. Does the document reflect Church teaching? Definitely. As a voting guide and an instruction for confused Catholics in America? Good luck.

  • Unfortunately many documents that the USCCB endorses or issues are off target, Faithful Citizenship being one of them. I still find it difficult to adhere to many things the USCCB says, but there are pronouncements that do hit their target.

    But some of make the mistake of treating the USCCB as an alternative magisterium, using them as tools in the political arena.

  • “Similarly, when we talk about a “right” to a just wage, it seems to me that this cannot be taken to mean that people have some sort of innate right to a specific monetary wage level…’

    Indeed; moreover, jobs serve different purposes to different people. Not everyone is trying to singlehandedly support two kids and pay a mortgage. Convenience, flexibility, and the ability to work from home are some of the factors that may be considered in a job search.

    The notion that every job out there has to provide a certain level of pay and/or benefits limits options not only for the employer but for the employee. The implementation of that notion generally results in job loss for some, not in better jobs for all.

    Perhaps the “right” needs to be seen as an individual right to seek out jobs and negotiate job terms that as much as possible suit one’s own needs. To that end, a diversity of job options is more just than is a standardized wage.

  • “Unfortunately many documents that the USCCB endorses or issues are off target, Faithful Citizenship being one of them. I still find it difficult to adhere to many things the USCCB says, but there are pronouncements that do hit their target.”


    Care to back this up with some argument?

  • Mark DeFrancisis,

    The Seamless Garment, the footnotes to the New American Bible, USCCB’s movie reviews, and Faithful Citizenship.

    Need more?

    Or are you going to continue with ad hominems and other deragatory remarks?

  • All,

    And I guess the Thomist Jacques Maritain was wrong to pen the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, eh? Maybe he did not read enough manuals and got off track..


    You are the one making quite a bold move– as a self-confessed non-intellectual layman– in issuing such blanket judgments on the USCCB, the NAB et al.

    It seems that the onus to justify your continuation of derogatory remarks is on you, don’t you think?

    Fellow AC bloggers,

    Step up to the plate and show the substance (or lack thereof) of this blog.

  • Mark DeFrancisis,

    Straw man arguments and ad hominems will not be tolerated on this blog.

    Your antics may pass for “intellectual commentary” over at Vox Nova, but it won’t fly here.

  • Tito,

    You accuse me of an ad hominem in my first comment, challenging your simple, negative assertion of the USCCB. I made no such thing in my first comment. I merely pointed out that you offered no argument or evidence for you statement about the USCCB, which, by the way, puts you dangerously close to being at odds with the local teaching authorities of the Church

    Or, maybe I am wrong. Can you explain to me what an ad hominem is?

  • (I am not even going to pretend that I am on the same debate level as you guys! My question here is not meant as a springboard to argumentation but as a request for clarification.)

    How is “a right to health care” the same as the right to any specific procedure? The question of what is the right to health care is asked, but in order to answer that you have to answer what health care is. “Caring for the sick” is what “health care” is — that and preventing people from getting sick in the first place. Where in that do specific procedures or levels of care lie? Is anyone who talks about health care rights really saying “free MRIs for everyone!!!”?

  • It would be a mistake, I think, to use only “rights” language when speaking of morality. The ethics of rights is an ethics of obligation, but there’s moral to the moral life than obligation. Virtue, for example.

  • I’ve no problem with speaking of healthcare being a right, but that shouldn’t be reduced to meaning that someone else has an obligation to providing me healthcare. I have rights, and I also have to respect my rights. If my right to healthcare obligates that I receive adequate healthcare, then I too am obligated to act.

  • Either ‘side’ could make a long list of what the modernists have done that is either in line with or against the teachings of the Church. Asking for credentials and challenging authority are devices used by dissenters to bring not only personal convictions but everything else up to Papal pronouncements into question. The idea is that persistent questioning will eventually create a breech in the wall and change will flood into the Church. Dialogue is the last chance to keep the discussion going until those who oppose the progressives capitulate. Gone are the days of ‘Roma locuta est, causa finita est’. Truth cannot be compromised!

    Maybe one simply needs to observe whether a group such as the USCCB has added value to the Catholic Church in America by their very existence or have contributed to the confusion and uncertainty that appears to be prevalent in our Church today. A telling indicator is that much of what they publish is used by both ‘sides’ to prove their stand on issues. That just does not sound like properly forming consciences to me.

    To me and not a few other unenlightened and uneducated(not progressive nor indoctrinated) laity there seems to be an ineffective witness by the USCCB to the truths taught by our Church. I think that there is no worse personal attack(ad hominem) than to abrogate your responsibility as a shepherd by allowing wolves in sheeps clothing to decimate the faithful while catering to the sensitivities of those who publicly and boldly defy Church teachings.

    In te, Domine, speravi; non confundar in aeternum.

  • Tito & Mark,

    National bishops’ conferences are certainly not guaranteed to be free from error (Dutch Catechism, anyone?) but I would certainly not call into question the entire corpus of writing which comes out with the USCCB name on it — both because that seems inappropriate for me to do as one of their flock and because I don’t think it’s an accurate characterization. If Tito meant to do that, I disagree with him.

    However, I would agree that some USCCB documents have been problematic — not so much in teaching anything false, but rather in emphasis and level with respect to their intended audience. Always Our Children springs to mind as a serious example of this. I don’t think that Faithful Citizenship is intended to be misleading at all, but it does read as a very heavily committee-written work, and one of the ways that committees of experts often find consensus is to push out to more general statements couched in more technical terminology. Some of this went on with Faithful Citizenship, with the result that while I’d say it’s a valuable resource and is not untrue or misleading, it is not as straightforward for the average layman to read as I could wish.

    Finally, I think it’s important to distinguish when talking about the USCCB between items put out by their lay employees and side committees (such as their movie reviews) and their documents which are worked on and approved by the bishops and are meant to be serious teaching tools.

  • Rebekka,

    I think the right way to understand the “right to healthcare” would be that we have a right as human beings to have made available to us the means (such as are available in any given time an place) to take care of ourselves and our families. We also have the duty to take care of others around us to the best of our abilities, and the right to expect them to do the same for us.

    So no, I don’t think one could say that there’s a human right to any given procedure, but rather that we have a right/duty pairing to provide for our brothers and sisters with whatever means are available to us.

  • Lance,

    While I can understand frustration with some of the USCCB’s documents, and have shared it on a few occasions, I think you may being a little over hard on them.

    Among other things, I’m not sure there ever was a ‘Roma locuta est, causa finita est’ in the sense that everything was sure, and clear and easily defined. There have always been issues on which the Magisterium either has not yet spoken, on where the local authorities or even some in Rome are hesitant to speak clearly and bravely in regards to the troubles of the day.

    While the times are bad in right now, I think we have reason to think they have got better over the last ten years, and that under the guidance of Benedict XVI (as under John Paul II) the barque of Peter is gradually accustoming itself to the choppy waters of the modern world.

  • “So no, I don’t think one could say that there’s a human right to any given procedure, but rather that we have a right/duty pairing to provide for our brothers and sisters with whatever means are available to us.”

    I agree with you that rights and responsibilities go hand in hand. But is that right/duty at the individual or at the societal level?

    An individual can bring someone some chicken soup. But you can look at a society as a whole bunch of individuals, who all show up with chicken soup because that’s what they each can muster as individuals, or as a group who has the means to provide *equal access to health care according to each person’s needs* — which is more right?

  • DarwinCatholic,

    I agree on your well written response.

    If what I said seemed to be a wide brush of negativity on all of the USCCB’s pronouncements then I want to rescind that perception. It’s certain bulls and statements that eminate from the USCCB that instead of clarifying positions it causes more confusion.

    There is a need for a national bishops conference. Like any human organization the USCCB is not mistake prone. Unfortunately there are too many mistakes to overlook and not respond to appropriately.

  • At the risk of letting my narcissistic side show, I wrote a post on this very subject a little while ago, which I believe goes to the very point Darwin is making here.

  • BA,

    Great post at your Lair. It’s amazing how convaluted and confusing this can be when the word “rights” is thrown around carelessly by both secular and religious authority.

  • Tito and Darwin,

    I certainly agree that things seem to be getting better although there are some regions where there has been little or no acknowledgment that things are changing. Probably one of the reasons(not an excuse) for my rough edges is partly due to location. I live deep in the Bible Belt and must keep my armor on(including a backplate) and sword handy at all times.
    The denizens here respect straightforward truth and conviction and are very suspicious of ambiguous or veiled statements.

    Catholics are 2 – 3 % of the general population here and the missteps, vagueness, and lack of action by our National Conference is not lost on our separated brethren. In fact, they seem to be more aware of what our leadership does than the vast majority of my fellow Catholics. However, they are also very intent on Christianizing Catholics and are in the right place to receive moral and material support to do so.

    In the last eight years we have had parish meetings to ‘explain’ Dominus Iesum and the fairly recent Motu Propio. I dare say there was more negative reactions from Catholics on both of these important documents than from the Protestants. We have a real identity problem and I still stand by the assertion that little has been done in this regard by the national level of leadership to help the ‘workers in the fields’.

    On another point. I do believe that Rome is ignored more so than in the past. Maybe it is because there is no longer a feeling that Rome will actually punish errant clerics and religious?

    Cor Mariae dulcissimum, iter para tutum.

  • Blackadder,

    Good point. Actually, I should confess, though I was set off on this post by a Faithful Citizenship reference, I also re-used some of the text which I originally wrote in responding to your post. Which was very good.

    No offense meant in dropping that bit of context.

  • Interesting post. I was listening to Dr. Roderick’s podcast this morning and he spoke about minimum wage. Seems that the minimum wage in The Netherlands is about twice as high as ours. The result is that, as he explained in an earlier podcast, he’s paying 1,000 Euros a month for a very modest 2-room apartment. (He didn’t tie to two together, that was my conclusion.) Seems that mandatory minimum wage just raises prices.

  • Lance,

    Unfortunately we cannot rely on the clergy or laypeople in positions of authority to teach the catechism properly or with fidelity.

    What we can do is educate ourselves, be a witness to others through practicing our faith, and prayer.

    One reason for this blog is to assist those that are looking to learn more about the teachings of the Church. Especially to how it relates to being a Catholic in America and the issues that arise from that.

  • Tito,

    Indeed. I was simply offering some of the experiences that I am sure many of us share out here in the general population and I know there are people who endure much worse.

    There are some good Catholic resources available and I thank God daily for the internet and access to material that I and others would never be aware of if we solely depended on our limited local offerings.

    My home library has become extensive(ran out of shelves years ago) and I consistently crack open the covers of at least a half dozen books at a time. Just recently finished Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth(great book once you get past the preface) and a non-catholic Syrian apologist’s comparative reading of the Gospel of St. John as it relates to the Quran.

    Much of what we laity try to communicate is ineffable and we are not always as erudite and ‘articulate'(everyone loves that word) as we could be.

    Pauper servus et humiluis.

  • “Unfortunately we cannot rely on the clergy . . . to teach the catechism properly or with fidelity.”

    You know, if our Popes, Bishops, and Councils have all embraced the terminology of “rights” (while maintaining that rights must be intertwined with “responsibilities”), who are we to question their fidelity, or their competence and authority as teachers?

    Just because some people can’t understand what the Church teaches doesn’t mean that we should criticize our Popes, Bishops, and Councils. They are the ones invested with teaching authority.

    Moreover, it seems that while many have a clear understanding of “responsibilities”, they don’t really understand “rights”. Rights do exist. A person has the right to life, a God-given right to life that no one may intentionally violate. Moreover, the right to life extends into other areas related to life – freedom of conscience and religion, family life, and health of mind and body.

  • Nate,

    I think you do make a good point about the importance of not becoming jaded about the teaching work of our clergy. Though many American laity feel they have been burned by the neglect or poor catechesis put out by our parishes in the last fifty years, we can’t close ourselves in and cease taking our priests and bishops as shepherds. (An unfortunate thing I often run into in my parish is that some of the families which would be most help with our catechesis program have completely checked out of any idea of working with a parish, because they believe RE programs are always a force of ill.)

    However, I do think it’s appropriate for laity to at least question the usage of “rights” terminology in a Catholic context. So far as I am aware, rights terminology remains very new — used a lot locally, sometimes by bishops, and a very few times by the last two popes. Historically, it’s not the way we’ve talked.

    Perhaps it is a good way to talk to the modern word, but if so I would love to see a clearer explanation of what we mean by it as Catholics. The right to life, clearly, is a basic natural right. We are given our lives by God and neither we nor anyone else can take that life away without just cause.

    My concern with the “right to health care” is that the general usage (which may very well not be what the Church means by it) seems to be, “I have a right to health care, therefore someone had better come give it to me.” And in that formulation, it’s not a natural right. If one is sitting around without a developed civilization to give one things, one’s life remains one’s own regardless. But there is no one to give you health care.

  • In an undeveloped civilization, I am sure that its inhabitants still have the natural right to health assisance from other inhabitants.

  • “Rights, in Catholic Social Teaching, serve as a means of orienting our thinking about questions of social policy. To say, in Catholic Social Thought, that something is a right is to say that it is a constitutive element of the Common Good (which Gaudium et Spes defined as “the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfillment“). So, for example, when the Church declares that there is a right to basic health care, what She is saying is that access to basic health care is one of the conditions of social life which allows access to human flourishing and fulfillment, and that achieving this right should be a central goal of social policy.”

    Very well written BA. I might just add that human fulfillment ultimately is a spiritual and not a temporal end. This is not to say that the common good (and rights) do not have a temporal dimension. Rather the common good must keep in mind the eternal end of all the individuals of society.

  • Pingback: Younger People Are Not More Pro-Choice « The American Catholic: Politics and Culture from a Catholic perspective

Dominus Noster Jesus Christus Vos Absolvat

Tuesday, October 7, AD 2008

If you travel to Gettysburg you will see a statue to a Catholic priest, and here is why this statue was erected.  One of the crack units in the Union Army during the Civil War was the Irish Brigade.  On July 2, 1863, the 530 men of the Irish Brigade, survivors of the 2500 who originally enlisted to fight under the Stars and Stripes and the green shamrock banner of the brigade, were about to be sent into the Wheat Field.  Brigade Chaplain Father William Corby addressed the troops.

5 Responses to Dominus Noster Jesus Christus Vos Absolvat

Dwight and Terrorism

Tuesday, October 7, AD 2008

I live in a small town, Dwight, Illinois, about 35 miles southwest of Joliet.  It is a lovely place, about 4400 people, set in the midst of a sea of corn and soybeans.   My wife and I moved here in 1985 and have been very happy.  Soon after we moved to Dwight I joined the local Rotary Club.  There I met Jim Oughton and his brother Richard Oughton.  Both had served in WW2, Jim as a naval officer, and Dick as a marine fighter pilot.  They were also the two richest men in town, the scions of a family that had been the wealthiest family in town for well over a century.

17 Responses to Dwight and Terrorism

  • The Obama that welcomed this man’s help is unknown to most voters. Hopefully, they will get to know him as more of his involvement with Ayers comes to light.

  • A couple comments:

    1. The relevant actions of Ayers happened in a decade that began almost 50 years ago. To make an issue of this now is sort of like taking issue with the civil-war actions of a confederate soldier…in 1908. It’s (literally) history. Let’s you were alive in 1908 and overheard some confederate veteran speaking in 1908 of killing yankees, it would not be especially remarkable, or relevant to the present moment – “Oh, that’s just old Mr Smith – he talks like that when he’s in his cups…” or whatever.

    2. Obama is not especially close to Ayers – they both served on the board of some organization whose name escapes me, but my understanding is that Obama has denounced the long-ago actions of Ayers, which took place when Obama was 7 or 8 years old.

  • I am more interested in Obama’s ideological closeness to Mr. Ayers. I’ve just heard passing whiffs of the school project they both worked to implement. The thrust was to use the school setting to enlist students as active participants in their “social/political” movement for radical change in the country’s structure. I’ll like to know more about this aspect but am not a skilled internet researcher. God bless your work on this blog.

  • Matt Talbot,

    I wish you would have presented evidence of this.

    But when you announce your aspirations for higher office in Ayers own home and continually to meet with him AFTER distancing himself from him, what can one believe?

  • Matt Talbot, You missed the statement Ayers made on 9/11 when thousands of Americans were killed iwthout cause (very recent history not decades ago)>>>in the New York Times on September 11, 2001. ”I don’t regret setting bombs,” Bill Ayers said. ”I feel we didn’t do enough.”. He isn’t young in the picture above where the very flag and those who risk their lives defending that flag and the freedom that allows a bigoted hypocritical traitor, complicit in his girlfriend’s death, to say and do the things he does NOW as well as then. further, Obama’s first presidential eleciton party was thrown by his “not close” friend Ayers. Wake and smell the coffee Mr Talbot. Ayers and Obama are very good friends indeed!

  • This place is liable to turn dangerously close into a lynching site, as are Ms. Palin’s rallies…

    Guilt by association?!!! You better look into Todd Palin’s ties to the AIP, whose founder advocated some “sweet stuff” in regards to the USA.

  • Todd Palin is running for which office again?

  • It’s her husband…and she went to 2 conventions and addressed the group just this year…

    But the point is that this guilt by association should be beneath Catholics of good will…

  • Mark,

    First off, I think you have to be pretty hyperbolic, in a fashion which is neither helpful not wise, to assert that discussing Senator Obama’s ties to left wing radicals is “dangerously close into a lynching”. Lynching is a serious and deeply evil thing, and discussing the fact that Senator Obama chooses to work with some very unsavory people bears no resemblance to lynching at all. It would be the same as saying of a liberal site, “The discussion on this site is dangerously close to the crushing of the skulls of still living newborn children.” It’s just not a reasonable place to go.

    Secondly, there is a real issue here. In addition to his old terrorist ties, Bill Ayers has become a serious force in the left wing educational establishment, and Obama and those in his campaign have generally been supportive of this educational agenda.

    Unfortunately, we don’t get enough into substantive issues in elections such as this, and so there has been very little discussion of the educational philosophy which Ayers is behind, and which the NEA and major organizations have given far too much legitimacy. As someone who cares a lot about education, I find it doubly troubling that Ayers (clearly a seriously misguided individual) is considered “not a big deal” in all this, and that Obama has historically funnelled a lot of money and support to his educational initiatives.

  • You did not get my reference, I guess.

    Peope are yeling “kill him” at Plin rallies, whenever she resorts to such guilt by association,and calling African American reporters “uppity Negroes” and telling them to “sit down, boy.”

  • I had not heard this until you brought it up now — but googling on what you say I find a Huffington Post report that the Secret Service is investigating after this was reported _once_ at _a_ rally by Dana Milbank in one of his columns. The Secret Service had not done so earlier because none of their agents in the crowd had heard the shouting which Milbank claims occurred.

    You make it sound like this is a regular event, which is not what even the Huffington Post suggests.

    Clearly, suggesting that someone kill a presidential candidate is terribly, terribly wrong. (So is suggesting the killing of the current president — though that hasn’t stopped a few people I’ve seen on the roads from sporting “Kill Bush” bumper stickers.)

    I’m sure that you and I agree that suggesting killing a politician is wrong, as is hurling racial epithets.

    Of course, also very wrong (I’m sure you would agree with me) is the open and repeated suggestion of an Obama-supporting commedian that Governor Palin be gang-raped. From which, I think we can conclude, that idiots tend to come out at election time.

  • -the point is that this guilt by association should be beneath Catholics of good will-

    Good grief! What about the guilt by association incurred by supporting a candidate who condones child murder?

  • Mark DeFrancisis,

    Anymore defamatory, ad hominem, or degenerative comments that you post then you will be under moderation and ultimately banned if your behavior persists.

    This is your first and only warning on your unchristian behavior.

  • On Wednesday morning, John McCain’s campaign released a list of 100 former ambassadors endorsing the GOP presidential nominee.

    Second on the list, though her name is misspelled, is Leonore Annenberg, currently the president and chairman of the Annenberg Foundation and widow of ambassador and philanthropist Walter Annenberg. Ms. Annenberg was herself the “chief of protocol” at the State Department under President Reagan.

    If the last name sounds familiar, it’s because it also graces the name of the Chicago education board where Barack Obama and William Ayers sat in the room six times together.

    In recent days, the McCain-Palin ticket (and particularly Palin) has faulted Obama for having served on that board with Ayers, who was a founding member of the radical 60’s Weather Underground group when Obama was in grade school.

  • Has McCain returned this money? By your standards, he’s colluding with terrorists…..

  • Uh, no, Mark. Because Leonore Annenberg did not actively plant bombs the way Ayers did. That’s the thing that some people seem a bit unable to understand: Ayers not only did attempt to murder people via terrorism (and get his girlfriend killed in the process) but still says it was a good idea to have done so.

    And Obama didn’t just sit on the same board as him, he launched his political career at an event in Ayers’ house, worked with him on multiple projects, and funneled money to his groups.

    If tu toque (and a false one at that) is the best argument you can make in favor of your guy, it’s because your guy has a problem.

  • Darwin,

    I am not making tu toque argment. I am just revealing the desperation and vileness of the McCain-Palin campaign.

    I love seeing you contribute to the culture of life. So attractive.

Life and Liberty

Monday, October 6, AD 2008
A State owned church in France

A State owned church in France

Liberte, Egalite, Fraternitie. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Often when we look upon these mottos of two of the three great revolutions, the French and the American (the third of course being the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia), we often feel they are comparable and born of the same mother, the so-called Enlightenment. We certainly have been taught this in school, and it is true to an extent. The desire for man to be free is inherent in us. But how and by what means we attain that freedom is often the deciding factor in whether we really become free, or exchange one slave master for another. That is where the mottos of these revolutions show us why one failed, and descended into unspeakable horror and bloodshed, and the other, with all its imperfections, succeeded and became the greatest democracy in world history.

8 Responses to Life and Liberty

  • Walter,

    Once you allow the state to issue rights, they can easily take those rights away. Witness the Soviet Union with their gulags, Nazi Germany with their concentration camps, and Revolutionary France with their Committee of Public Safety (Comité de salut public).

    All of them systematically and without jurisprudence took people from their homes and executed them without due process.

    Excellent posting.

    In Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,


  • When I was teaching Social Studies to middle schoolers, my co-teacher (and technical superior) interrupted my lesson on the French Revolution to tell my class that “it was like two other revolutions, the American and the Russian, because they were all about the have-nots versus the haves”.

    I humored her until she left, and then explained that my boss had perhaps mispoken and that the French and Russian revolutions were nothing like the American Revolution.

  • Tito! Hey brother, great website and good article! I’m proud of you and will pray for your websites future success.

    God Bless,

  • Without religion and morality government is a mere struggle for power, and all means, including mass executions, are licit. As Burke brilliantly put it in his Reflections on the Revolution in France: “In the groves of their academy, at the end of every vista, you see nothing but the gallows.”

  • Thoughtful post.

    You make a good distinction between freedom and license. The Founders never understood freedom to mean license, hence their insistence on a moral people.

    They did, however, think freedom from government interference was important. This is why they constructed a government that had limited and defined powers.

    But that government I’m describing is long gone. We gave up on a government of limited and defined powers a long ago – turns out it’s not very popular when things get rough.

  • The reason that we have a radical notion of freedom running rampant is that have made idols of sexual pleasure, material wealth, vanity, excess, addictions, and a host of other vices. We live in a world where God is a dubious assertion and the most fundamental, central reality is denied. Therefore, we’ve reached a point where we can deny anything — even the right-to-life itself. The American “god” as Stanley Hauerwas once claimed is fundamentally our way of life and a notion of limitless freedom. We are relentlessly self-determinate beings, or thats how we’d like it to be. We craft our idea of God, of “rights”, of freedom, of morality in an arbitrary manner with the end goal to protect this notion of freedom.

    Having spent a decade of my life as an atheist and having a wide circle of atheist and agnostic friends, many of them don’t believe that there is such a thing as ‘natural rights.’ They claim that such a reality doesn’t bother them, but I know they’re lying to themselves. No one can truly be a moral relativist. It’s just inconsistent. But this all fundamentally comes back to the question of God. If all we really are animals that ponder, there is no reason for us to believe that our thinking will reveal to us anything ‘true’ about reality — whatever that is, no reason as to why there should be logic, or that we can really know anything outside of ourselves. More importantly, if all we are fundamentally is a collection of atoms, no different in substance than say a table or a chair, then we’re nothing but a complex biochemical phenomenon with no meaning and no purpose with a finite life-span on a tiny dot called earth in a sun-beam in a cold and infinite cosmos. What is the dignity and worth of some mere collection of atoms, if its no different in substance than some inanimate object? The idea of ‘rights’ collapses on itself.

    The problem with “rights” and a sense of moral objectivity cannot exist in a world without God. That’s our fundamental problem.
    How do we solve this? Your guess is as good as mine.

  • Eric Brown: “The reason that we have a radical confused notion of freedom running rampant…”

    I corrected your spelling. You may wish to correct your reasoning that followed from that error early in your comments. Zach’s remarks about the fathers of our country recognizing that at the root of freedom is a distinction between liberty and license can guide you. This distinction is at the base of the teaching of the Church that exercising our free will to choose righteousness is the greatest freedom of all (i.e., it’s the rejection of license).

  • Thanks Craig.

    We hope to expand our audience exponentially.

    Good postings help get the word out and Walter has posted a fine one.

    Please if you’ve enjoyed this, forward this to your friends and favorite blogs.

Pithy Thoughts on Prudence

Monday, October 6, AD 2008

I used to dream about the great things I would set up someday when I had the money. I had ambitions of expanding Casper College into Wyoming’s second university. I had aspirations of setting up a scholarship fund that would help worthy students attending college. I built businesses in my mind, crafted scenarios where, once I had the money, I could start doing things that would make a difference.

To an extent, those dreams remain, even though reality is slowly draining my hopes that I’ll ever have millions of dollars lying around to fund these projects. Still, in my spare time, I think of smaller ways to make a mark on the world. I think of soup kitchens or adopt a family or something that would help some poor family get back on their feet, or at least endure another day.

It doesn’t take a Catholic conscience to want to help those less fortunate, and it doesn’t take supernatural charity to want to give a hand up to those coming after us. That much decency, I believe, exists in most, if not all of us.

One Response to Pithy Thoughts on Prudence

Catholics and the Intentional State

Monday, October 6, AD 2008

It is election season in the United States, and so there is even more than the usual amount of fuss in Catholic intellectual circles in this country about the place of Catholics within our republic.

Can a Catholic vote for a politician who is “pro-choice”? Can a Catholic vote for a politician who supports the Iraq War? Can a Catholic support capital punishment? What is a “Catholic response” to the economy? What is a “preferential option for the poor”? Is it true that “universal health care” is a “life issue”?

Some, who claim to be more in touch with that illusive entity “the rest of the world”, inform me that it is uniquely American for people to engage in these sort of knock-down, drag-out fights about how it is that our faith tells us we must vote. This may be, though I must admit that I find it a little hard to accept, since it seems nonsensical to me to claim that people in other countries vote on the basis of something other than what they believe to be right — and that they determine what is right by some means other than consulting their moral and theological/philosophical understanding of the world.

8 Responses to Catholics and the Intentional State

  • I personally sympathize with honest-to-goodness, practicing, conscientious Catholics who may vote for a “pro-choice” candidate for other reasons. I know their reasoning and I trust that they are doing what they believe to be best. Yes, there are other Catholics who hide behind “pro-choice” rhetoric deceiving themselves and others. They’re playing with fire and they will receive just retribution for their actions in this life or in the next.

    I think U.S. foreign policy has been reckless and belligerent in the last 8 years. The two wars we’re fighting have not been carried out in the most responsible way, particularly Iraq. I find it displeasing that the Republican Party after the Hillary Clinton vs. the healthcare system match-up, spent millions and millions of tax payer dollars going after Bill Clinton turning American politics into a circus instead of finding some sort more conservative free-market solution to the healthcare system while they had a majority in Congress from 1994 to 2006. In the same way, the cost of education is skyrocketing, while public funding to education is consistently being cut every fiscal year. Why is this not a higher priority? All these things in some way get put on the back-burner for four years and they spiral into very complex problems. Is there a link between poverty, healthcare, education, and abortion? I think there is. I’m African American. I’ve seen it happen with a number of women in my life.


    As a Catholic Democrat, I personally cannot overlook the collection of hyper-liberal special interest groups that have taken over my party. They advocate abortion on demand without any restrictions, the re-definition of marriage, and are on the move to entirely secularize everything. Their philosophical view of the world—of the human person, of marriage, of family, and of society—is deeply shaped by Enlightenment thinking. They see society as something artificial and arbitrary. Combine this view with moral relativism and you have a recipe for disaster. I support universal healthcare. But the current presidential candidate, Barack Obama—clearly in the hyper-liberal, continuation of the sexual revolution movement—would infest such direly needed reform with public funding of abortion, euthanasia, and wanton distribution of abortifacents and contraceptives.

    Abortion, in particular, is no small matter. I once looked up some interesting statistics. Consider capital punishment and let’s assume that it is in fact intrinsically evil. Is it as pressing as abortion? Hardly. The number of capital punishments executed in this country since our founding days are at best, 4 days of abortion. The war in Iraq? 15 days of abortion. Are there morally grave “proportionate” reasons that may qualify a vote for a “pro-choice” candidate? Perhaps. But it requires more than word gymnastics and rhetoric (cf. the Democratic Platform on abortion). In the Lincoln v. Douglas election, no one cared about taxes or the economy. Lincoln wanted to abolish slavery and Douglas wanted to keep it and on that single issue, everyone voted. People who were abolitionists did not settle for reducing the number of slaves or simply better the quality of life for slaves. They realized the very existence of slavery contradicted fundamental moral principles and they could not get around it.

    Do I have a solution to all our political problems? No. We need to change the political landscape, somehow. And I think it is evident that we need to remember that our civic duties extend beyond voting—creating a “Culture of Life” cannot be something we talk about every 4 years.

    There are 30 days to Election. Mary Immaculate, pray for us.

  • Eric, you give me hope that the Democratic Party may have a future after all.

  • I agree with Paul. Let’s pray for a day when the Democratic Party wakes up from its nightmare association with the culture of death and its flawed and highly secularized view of human nature. Because if it comes down to mere differences in health care plans and tax policies, Catholics will have less angst when it comes to election time.

  • There are many Democrats who feel the same way. I too have hope, slim, but enough hope that someday that pro-abortion platform will be abandoned eventually.

  • Darwin,

    The connection you make between the US being an intentional country and US voters bringing a religious mindset to political questions is very intriguing. I hope to see you develop the idea in future posts.

  • It will happen. I don’t know how or when, but it will. I would love to run for office. God and I are still working out that plan. If He wills it, I’ll do it. It would be a glorious day in America to see a Democrat say “refuse to choose because women deserve better than abortion.”

  • I have been a registered Independent for around 30 years. “Conservatives” used to be environmentalists and in favor of preserving communities, including their economic base, like small farms. Liberals used to wan to be generous with their own money. Feminists, believe it or not, were originally one of the biggest opponents of abortion.

    Aristotle pointed out that people in democracies had a bad habit of voting for what they wanted rather than what was good for democracy. This was over 2,500 years ago.

    Some things never change.

    I don’t want to be discouraging. But if we want the situation to really change, we have to be realistic. We have to look candidly about how far we have wandered off on the wrong track and what it will cost to drag ourselves back on the right one.

    In this context, I am especially grateful for Eric Brown’s comments; being willing to recognize fully the faults his beloved Democratic party has fallen into without being disloyal.

    Loyalty does not mean pretending the object of your loyalty has not gone wrong, nor defending its ongoing wrong conduct.

    Jay Maupin

  • Jay Maupin,

    The founders of the feminist movement were ardently against abortion and were adamently pro-life.

    Conservatives used to be for small government.

    Archbishop Chaput stated in his book, Render Unto Caesar, there is no poloitical party that satisfies all the teachings of Catholic Social Doctrine.

    What we can do is observe the hierarchy of values and go from there.

Reagan in a Skirt

Monday, October 6, AD 2008


Michael Reagan has written how strongly Sarah Palin reminds him of his adoptive father Ronald Reagan.  I fully concur.  Palin is a political talent of the first order.  Here is my take on her performance in her debate with the hapless Joe Biden:

1. Palin brought home the fact that she and her family lead lives much closer to the lives of middle class Americans than any of the other candidates running on the national tickets, and in a year when Congress and the President have shrinkingly small approval ratings that is important.

2. She ignored some of the questions from the moderator and talked about what she wanted to talk about. Great!!! Political debates aren’t academic exercises, they are part of a political struggle and Palin, as opposed to Biden, understood that.

14 Responses to Reagan in a Skirt

Uncle Ralph and the Rosary

Monday, October 6, AD 2008

I love praying the rosary.  It always has given me peace whenever I have recited it, and my family prays the Sorrowful Mysteries together each Lent.  However, the person who has the greatest devotion to the Rosary in my family is my Protestant Uncle Ralph.

When I was growing up my family lived next door to Uncle Ralph and his family.  Uncle Ralph was my favorite uncle.  He always had a sense of fun, loved to shoot the breeze with kids and did a hilarious Donald Duck imitation.  My Dad’s family were all Protestant;   my brother and I were Catholic because my Dad had married my Catholic Mom, so I was surprised one day during my teen years when Uncle Ralph pulled out his rosary and told me how he came to always carry it.

5 Responses to Uncle Ralph and the Rosary

25 Responses to Welcome to American Catholic

  • I’m looking forward to reading your posts.

    You might want to correct the spelling of the ‘Gaudium’ in ‘Gaudium et Spes’. I don’t think gaudiem is at all construable, ha.

  • I’m looking forward to reading your posts.


  • God Bless and God Speed! Get the message out! I’m trying as best as I can, but we need more Catholics devout to the Magisterium to teach out Obama-bot Catholics.

    Glad you are here!

  • I wish you all the best with this new endeavor.

    God bless,

  • The blog looks interesting, and courage and success on your blogging endeavours. I am curious as to why your symbol includes the Anglican Saint George Cross. It is the basis of the Flag of England and the Anglican Church, why use it on an American Roman Catholic Website?

    Scroll down to see Saint George’s shield.

    This shows the flag of the Church of England.

  • Puff the Magic Dragon,

    Excellent question (or query).

    Richard the Lionheart used that crest (red cross on a white background) as he defended Christendom from the ravages of the Saracen attacks. It had become the symbol of (then) Catholic England because of the heroic exploits of King Richard.

    Thus today in defending the Church that Jesus established on earth, we Catholics in America look to protect our civic and religious rights as Catholics and use this important symbol in Catholicism as representative of our struggle here in America.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,


  • So you are using it in reference to the rosicrucians and/or crusaders of Richard? Gotcha.

    But – the shield of the crusaders under Richard Lionheart had a different styled cross. Might I suggest Richard’s crusader shield?


  • Puff,

    Now you got me thinking.

    Yes, absolutely. I might just change it to the Keys of Peter.

    Any and all suggestions will be charitably considered. Especially when it comes to the Cross.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,


  • Tito,
    I really like this new blog so far. You know me, I’m always looking for a good intellectual outlet. I hope you and the team keep the posts comin’!

    God bless.

  • Sarah,

    Thank you so much for those kind comments. You and Peter helped me in my knowledge of Catholicism with your RCP Study Groups. I wasn’t able to contribute much I sure learned a lot. We hope to do the same here for those interested in politics from a Christian perspective.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,


  • Greetings from the frontlines in So. Cal.,

    I’m not far from Joe Potillor’s stomping grounds of Cal State Fullerton. My daughter just grad’ed from there.

    I’ll pass the word of the new blog.

    Best of luck… I’ll be visiting frequently.

    WCC +<

  • WCC,

    Thank you for those kind words and support.

    We need all the help we can get (prayers included).

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,


  • Welp, here we go.

    Think you could have made the cross any smaller in your blog’s logo?

    Looking forward to whatever becomes of this.

  • Michael,

    We’re still working on the header. I want to implement St. Michael the Archangel, but I’m having difficulty finding a nice pic to complement Sam the eagle.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,


  • Thanks Michael

    Where’s the Cross on Vox Nova’s website?

  • Tito – Well, as long as you have your central symbol, the eagle, front and center, you should be able to just place some more peripheral Catholic symbols around it as you see fit, as they present themselves.

    Zach – Symbols matter. I’m afraid your banner seems to speak loud and clear about the blog’s priorities and the kind of voice you hope to be. I hope you prove me wrong and that the actual posts reflect your group’s Catholicism more than its (obvious) Americanism.

  • Personally, I like the cross of St.George as it was originally the flag of Genoa(Italian) and was only adopted by the English for protection of their ships when entering the Mediterranean which the powerful Genoese fleet ruled. Later it was used by English crusaders(Catholic) for three centuries. It was also used for the flags of Milan, Frieburg, Bologna, and Barcelona(all Catholic).

    In America it was recognized as ‘God’s Flag’ and was the only flag that could fly above the national flag. Your representation does not particularly evoke the Anglican use of the flag as it was to have the coat of arms of the diocese in the canton when used by the Church of England. Pray that we do not have to wait long before Anglican truly becomes ‘Catholic’ in the true sense.

    In the meantime I think the historical significance of the flag warrants its usage particularly on an American website. Papal Keys would be nice but there really is more ‘English’ influence on the American experience than that of Rome(unfortunately).

    Ago tibi gratias pro universis beneficiis tuis, etiam ignotis

  • I want to implement St. Michael the Archangel, but I’m having difficulty finding a nice pic to complement Sam the eagle.

    Do remember that St. Michael is the leader of the heavenly armies, not the U.S. military.

  • Michael,

    Thank you for your comments.


    I appreciate your insight. The header is just a work in progress still, but the cross will stay, but probably into a different manifestation.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,


  • Michael,

    You’re right, symbols can convey information about priorities. This symbol has the flag under the Cross. I think the symbol is aesthetically pleasing although I think you’re right that the Cross could be bigger.

    I have a post on the subject of our priorities on the way. I think it will be posted tomorrow and I look forward to your comments.

    – Zach

  • Michael,

    We’ll try to be all things to all men. Just for you: Perhaps the eagle is bowing beneath the cross while gently cradling the olive branch of peace and biting Old Glory out of frustration. 😉

  • Best wishes. I enjoy exploring my faith with like minded people.

  • Wagonburner,


    Engaging in constructive dialogue to better understand our faith is one of the goals of this new blog.