Canon 216: Who Are You Calling Catholic?

Tuesday, January 10, AD 2012

49 And John, answering, said: Master, we saw a certain man casting out devils in thy name, and we forbade him, because he followeth not with us.

50 And Jesus said to him: Forbid him not; for he that is not against you, is for you.

Luke 9:49-50

On December 15, 2011, the Archdiocese of Detroit stated that Real Catholic TV could not use the term “Catholic”.

In a Dec. 15, 2011 statement addressing the organization’s name, the archdiocese clarified that the Church encourages its members “to promote or sustain a variety of apostolic undertakings,” but forbids them “from claiming the name Catholic without the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority.”   The archdiocese added that it has been communicating with Voris as well as his media partner at Real Catholic TV on the issue for “some time.”

Last month’s announcement also referenced Canon 216 of the Roman Catholic Church’s current Code of Canon Law, which holds that “no undertaking is to claim the name ‘Catholic’” without authorization.   According to the archdiocese, Real Catholic TV’s programming is “disseminated from the enterprise’s production facility in Ferndale, Michigan,” within the jurisdiction of Detroit’s Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron.   But Voris maintains that Archbishop Vigneron is not the “competent ecclesiastical authority” over Real Catholic TV, which is owned by Indiana resident Marc Brammer.   “I don’t have ownership over the name of the organization. It’s not my organization. The headquarters are outside of the diocese,” Voris told LifeSiteNews in a Dec. 23 article. “It’s the wrong person, and the wrong outfit asking the wrong person the wrong question.”

Go here to read the rest at LifeSiteNews.  As for Real Catholic TV, I have no great feeling one way or another.  I have watched very little of it, but what I have seen I have not found very impressive.  The heart of Mr. Voris appears to be in the right place, but his head often doesn’t seem to be fully engaged.  Having said that, considering all the faith destroying drek that I have seen promoted under the name “Catholic” in this country over the past four decades, I find it amusing, although completely unsurprising,  that it was the traditionalist Real Catholic TV that was chosen for this rare application of Canon 216.

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22 Responses to Canon 216: Who Are You Calling Catholic?

  • My comment is here:

    I don’t agree with everything Voris says. But why doesn’t AoD ask why TAC gets to use the name “Catholic” in its title? Now I think that “The American Catholic” is a perfectly fine title for this blog. But do entries at this blog have an Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat (not that they need them)? Indeed, the question remains: why single out Voris? I think that it is because he has with his usual caustic personality (I have one of those, so I recognize it well) pointed out the hypocrisy rampant among the US Bishopry and some (er, almost all) liberals really don’t like that.

  • Sounds like trademark infringement.

    Matthew 7:21: “Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

    The operative clause is, “competent ecclesiastical authority.”

  • Now if only the Archdiocese of Kansas City will take away the “Catholic” from the National Catholic Reporter.

  • On the other hand, were Real Catholic TV to submit and cease to use the Catholic moniker, it could provide coverage for bishops to do the same with other actual abusers of the Catholic identity and serve as a good witness.

  • @Phillip, so true!

    Can this apply to people? Can we have Nancy Pelosi stop calling herself Catholic?

  • Yeah, to say that I’ve never been impressed by Real Catholic TV is to put it mildly — but this kind of thing seems to show up a nasty passive aggressive streak in the hierarchy: “Oh, you keep pestering us to be more strict in enforcing standards within the Church? Well, if you like that so much, we’ll be strict with you but with no one else.”

  • I’m just finishing a book about Saint Dominic. The author puts a lot of stress on the apostolate of teaching and how certain levels of teaching authority have to fall under the authority of the Church. There really are two separate questions: who is speaking on behalf of the Church and are they properly representing the Church in their statements. One is a question of ecclesiology, the other of theology. A bad sermon is a theological problem; an independent organization implicitly claiming teaching authority is a matter of ecclesiastical discipline. Rorate Coeli is wrong to blur the two.

    But definitely, groups like Catholics for a Free Choice and the National Catholic Reporter should fall under the same scrutiny. And it’s not simply a matter of intellectual property rights. That’s like saying that simony is outside Church prosecution because an exchange of sacraments for money is a legal transaction. The Church may not have the muscle to prevent the unauthorized use of the name “Catholic”, but it has the responsibility to speak against those who falsely claim to be representing Catholicism.

  • So Pinky, should TAC then remain “The American Catholic”?

    Should Steve Ray’s blog remain “Defenders of the Catholic Faith”?

    Should Mark Shea’s blog remain “Catholic and Enjoying It”?

    I have no objection to all three retaining the name “Catholic” just as I have no objection to the same for RCTV.

    But to single out RCTV is unequitable and unfair. BTW, what about the Old Catholic Church in the US that believes in contraception and women in the priesthood?

  • Guys,

    I’ve been thinking again (a dangerous thing for a nuclear trained person, to be sure!). Remember the scandal over Fr. Corapi (whose web site is apparently pulled down now)? Remember how he really irritated a lot of people, and now he is essentially no more. I am not arguing over whether or not he really did something wrong, but rather this: what if a scandal like that is brewing for RCTV? No, I am NOT saying anybody has done anything wrong, but these kinds of things generally start with “You don’t speak for the Church” and then they escalate until all the dirty laundry is waving in the breeze. And again, no, I am not saying that there is any such dirty laundry, but things have a way of turning very ugly even in the best of circumstances (and this isn’t one of them).

    We should for both Voris and Vigneron (interesting that both names begin with “V”). We don’t need another scandal.

  • Darn my fat fingers – we should PRAY for Voris and Vigneron. Arrrrgggggghhhhhhh!

  • Paul, those are fair questions. I think that if anyone misunderstands “The American Catholic” or “Defenders of the Catholic Faith” to imply official status then, yes, the names should be changed. It’s something I’ve never thought about before, but it makes sense. I don’t think that anyone would hear the name “Catholic and Enjoying It” and assume that it speaks for the Church.

    I’m unfamiliar with the Fr. Corapi story, but to my knowledge, things rarely start with “you don’t speak for the Church”. But I can believe that one of the unintended consequences of the Council’s implementation is a confusion about who does speak for the Church. Again, I’m not saying that the clergy or official Church outlets are flawless, but lay teaching has risks, and clarity of status isn’t a bad thing.

  • “Paul, those are fair questions. I think that if anyone misunderstands “The American Catholic” or “Defenders of the Catholic Faith” to imply official status”

    The only thing “official” about this blog is our “official” mascot:

  • Michael Voris is awesome, refreshing, truthful, no-nonsense. I suppose the effeminate types and other liberals who work in these diocese offices would be turned off by him.

  • I get Voris’ daily e-mail which contains “The Vortex”, and their news segment.
    There has been a bit of an argument here at our blog.

    I think Voris gives a direct and unflinching propounding of the Catholic Faith. Sure, he can be critical of many things and people in the Church – he tends to brush over ….”in all things, charity.” Having said that, I have never heard anything that Voris says that is not orthodox Catholic teaching – he gives his presentations in a clear and unambiguous manner, and I think it is this that ruffles many feathers, particlularly the liberal/ progressive element in the Church, and he calls out liberal bishops for their failure to lead the Church firmly, thus giving cause to the multitude of problems that the Church now faces.

    I would be interested to hear directly from Bp. Vigneron. It is the chancery – the Director of Communications that is after Voris’ blood, and he has been employed by the AoD for 20 years when the infamous Bp.(Stumblebum) Gumbleton was at the helm, and he (Gumbleton) allegedly allowed or turned a blind eye to such things as Clown masses, promotion of women priests, and homosexual clergy involved in the abuse scandal.

    Also, the canon lawyer from the Indiana Diocese of Frt Wayne-South Bend considers that there is no issue with

    Interesting when the dust settles.

  • Donald, why did you post the video of Senator John Warner?

  • Isn’t this the issue that came up for Mother Angelica? If I remember correctly from her biography, she admittedly said something very unwise about a bishop, and the fallout eventually was an apostolic visitation for the television station. After the apostolic visitation, she was told that she should not have started her TV station without proper approval. She asked if approval was likely to have been granted. “No,” was the answer. Imagine….. we would have “Catholics” in government destroying our religious freedom with abandon, but no EWTN to teach the faith. Such a sad thought!

  • Tell me, good people, why would any Organization calling itself “Catholic”, coming from another country, refuse to present themselves to the “Local Ordinary” to be officially recognized as a Catholic Organization in their new domicile??? That is the question, Donald. The Canon Law quoted is unambiguously clear and it applies to all. The onus is not on the Ordinary to chase those opening in His See to present themselves to him for official recognition. It is on the Organization coming into a new See to present themselves. May you all be blessed this New Year 2012

  • So Mary, should Steve Ray’s “Defenders of the Catholic Faith” (which by its very title makes itself out to be some sort of authority on or for the Catholic faith) present itself to the local ordinary and get imprimaturs and nihil obstat for all the information on its web site? (BTW, I love Steve Ray’s apologetics and routinely plagiarize his works, though I cite attribution, buty that’s not the point.)

    Should the “National Catholic Reporter” – that liberal bastion of godless dissent – present itself to the local ordinary also?

    You yourself said that the Canon Law cited is unambiguous and applies to all of us. Does it? Really? And is it being so applied? The answer to the last is clearly “no.” Uber orthodox Michael Voris is being singled out. 🙁

    Now no, I do not agree with everything Voris says, and sometimes his mannerism is as caustic as my own. But his heart is in the right place and the liberal elements in AoD hate that.

  • Hey, guys, I can’t find Lionel Andrades comment that I received in my e-mail. I did want to respond to it by pointing what St. Paul wrote in Romans 11, namely, that God has not rejected His people Israel or the Jews, and that as Christians we are simply branches of a wild Olive shoot grafted into the Tree that is Christ. It always upsets me to read or hear criticism of the people through whom God chose to give us His Son. I do, however, agree that the Church is in a sense the “New Israel”, and that Jews and Gentiles alike are called to conversion and repentance, but St. Paul uses that very point in his Epistle to the Romans to caution us as Gentile Christians against arrogance, lest we find ourselves as wild branches cut off from the graft.

  • Paul, when Jesus taught us that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, did everybody accept Him? NO. Did that mean that His Divine Identity and Salvation Message was false? NO. It follows therefore, that the Teachings of the Catholic Church and its Magisterium Authority are binding to all those who wish to remain Faithful to Christ’s Church. But God gave us Free Will – to accept His Divine Truth and Salvation Mystery subsisting in the Divinely Constituted Catholic Church by Christ Himself and led by “The Rock” and His Successors or reject that Truth and Salvation Mystery. God created us without our permission, but He shall never save anyone without their co-operation.

Parish Shopping

Monday, June 21, AD 2010

As my wife and I are expecting in November, we’ve started to consider where we’re going to baptize the baby. Most churches that we’ve seen want you to be a parishioner before they baptize you. This has brought up the question of what parish we really belong to. We’ve found that that’s not an easy question.

Over the weekend, Tito had a post that inquired about the existence of good parishes in Las Vegas for his family. Some of the things he looks for are an orthodox priest faithful to the Magisterium, a beautiful Church, and a liturgy that aspires to beauty and lacks some of the folksy elements of post-Vatican II as well as the more scandalous aspects of the “spirit of Vatican II” like liturgical dancers.

None of those desires are unreasonable. In fact, those things are the rights of the faithful.

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24 Responses to Parish Shopping

  • I wonder if obedience is the least popular of all virtues. Sure, some other virtues get beaten up in our society, but obedience is equally resented by the nonreligious, the casually religious, and the devout.

    For quite a few years, a sleep disorder prevented me from attending early Mass. I got in the habit of attending 5 p.m. Mass at the next parish up the road. Now that I could make it to my local parish at noon, I still go up the road, because my local parish is really ugly and everyone talks through Mass.

    Before the sleep problems, I attended the Latin Mass at another parish, and it’s there that I’m registered.

    Anyway, I guess my excuse is that I’m not shopping around, and I’ve settled at a parish that’s not 100% to my liking. But it’s still not the one I actually reside in.

  • I think you have to find a good, solid church, recognize its faults, and get involved in valid ways to make it strong in those areas. We chose our parish 10 miles from home (when there are parishes 1 mile and 3 miles away) because we liked the setting, the physical church, and we interviewed, and liked the priest. But the parish is weak in spirituality, so when there was an opening for musical director, we helped find qualified people to interview. We have worked to bring in good evangelist-type preachers (we’re having Fr. Wade Menezes of the Fathers of Mercy in a few months). My point is, select a place you can live with, then do what the Holy Spirit asks you to do to make the parish better.

  • Very good article Michael.

    I feel if I were to stay active in my geographical correct parish, I would have been driven out due to my orthodoxy.

    Fortunately, I do not have that problem (Deo gratis).

    I’m all for being change agents. The question is to ask God for the courage to stay in an unCatholic parish.

  • I believe that there are many ways of living our faith as Catholics. While I am fairly conservative, I also know that is not the only path. There is always going to be some cognitive dissonence. The question is how much you can stand.

    My parish has had three different pastors in the last nine years, each with a different personal style and a different management style, as well as three deacons and I can’t even count how many assistant pastors/priest in residence. But the parishioners are the church. I feel comfortable and welcome with them, in contrast to my previous parish, where, after 25 years, I still hardly knew anyone’s name. Involvement really wasn’t welcome at my previous parish. It was the same group of people who “did things.” Quite the contrary where I am now. Ours is a very large parish. We need 18 people, per Mass, to distribute Communion. That involvement is good for the parishioners and it is also good for the community of the parish. I really think that you need to go where you feel part of the community, even if you have to drive past some other parishes to get there.

  • Tito Edwards says: I feel if I were to stay active in my geographical correct parish, I would have been driven out due to my orthodoxy.

    That happened to me. I’ll give the Reader’s Digest version. I was out of the Church for 25 years (the Prodigal Son). When I returned I was SHOCKED at all the “changes” that had taken place and I totally felt like a fish out of water.

    I was having marital problems and approached my pastor for counseling. I told him that I would like to go to confession and he replied “what makes you think you have to go to confession?”

    My wife went through the RCIA program and since I was her sponsor I was subjected to a whole years of “The best of Fr. McBrien” by the “Church Lady” that ran the program. It was a watered down mess. I sponsored another individual the following year and got into battles with the Church Lady over the lack of content in “her” program.

    I approached the parish council once to try to start a Family Rosary program using the materials from the Apostolate of Family Consecration. I mentioned at the meeting that it had the blessing of Pope John Paul II and the Associate Pastor rolled his eyes and sighed out loud.

    I was ostracized by the priests, and criticized by them to my wife for teaching then such heretical things as communion on the tongue. My wife & I eventually ended up divorcing and she left the Church and moved in with her BF. I went “parish shopping” where I found a marvelous orthodox parish that had five priests, DAILY confession, Divine Mercy & 40 hrs devotions etc.

    IMHO it’s WELL beyond “judging” – in some locations it’s become a matter of survival.

  • I think at times it is prudent to go to another parish. The parish I belonged to geographically in one city was quite unusual in its practices. Went to Mass there only once. The priest and nun processed down the aisle together with the nun wearing a dress with the exact same color of the priest’s vestments. They alternated saying the Introductory prayers of the Mass and sat in a pew together leaving the altar area empty. There were several same-sex “couples” in the congregation all beaming proudly at the homily that spoke of the equality of all “life choices.”

    Left at that point as I thought the Mass ultimately could be invalid. Never returned.

  • If there is a Latin Mass parish in your area perhaps you and your wife should consider there?

    If you raise your child in a novus ordo parish you will constantly have to explain to the child how inapprppriare the plethora of liturgical abuses are, and how the liturgy is theologically deficient, that Holy Mass is not the time where we celebrate ourselves but is the representation of Christ on the Cross in an unbloodied way. The mass is a sacrificial offering, not a fiesta.

    Since his/her very soul hangs in the balance, consider, should s/he go to a parish offering the Mass of the Great Saints of the last 400 years, or the mass where bishops of very questionable orientation give Holy Communion to the Sisters Of Perpetual Indulgence dressed in drag, the mass loved by those seeking to destroy Christ’s Church?

    When one considers the tremendous cost of choosing wrong, I think the only right choice readily becomes clear. Extraordinary Form from Baptism onward. The child will truly be blessed to be spared all the tremendous abuses, false teaching, sacrileges, and all the confusion that comes from such things.

    If you wish for the child to grow into a practicing catholic as an adult, the novus ordo must be fled from before it can corrupt the child and destroy his/her faith as it has done to millions over the last 40 years.

  • It’s not about ‘novus ordo’ versus TLM, but the concept of obedience to the Church Christ founded vs. disobedience. ‘Novus ordo’ done correctly is obedient to the Magisterium. That said, there are lots of incorrect novus ordo masses. Any mass using a Gather Hymnal could make the mass incorrect. But If you can teach your children to obey, to respect, and to be humble, they will be horrified in what they see, and be good humans and good Catholics. I would start with a daily reading of the Beatitudes, and homilies by Fr. Corapi and Fr. Pablo Straub, and Fr. Wade Menezes, or any Fathers of Mercy.

  • So if one raises a child correctly one will be subjecting them every Sunday to an experience that horrifies them?

    That is surely the way to build a love for the Mass, by weekly subjecting them to the horrific novus ordo.

    Thank you for bolstering my point concerning TLM. It seems that even a surface analysis reveals that it is an issue of content and which missal is used, since the novus ordo is fundamentally different from TLM in it’s theology. One is about the sacrifice, the other is about fiesta time and the “church of aren’t we fabulous.”

    The novus ordo is a lot like socialism. Lefties keep declaring “we just haven’t done it the right way yet! It will work this time! Really!”. But when clear thinking prevails it becomes clear that the problem is the novus ordo itself, and no variation of Catholicism-watered-down-with-Protestantism-liturgy is going to work.

    Taking such radical risks with the soul of a child is unfathomable to me. For the child’s own sake, an EF parish is objectively the optimal choice. Since a parent always wants what is best for their child, and an EF parish would be best for the child, the conclusion is inescapable.

  • Jim:

    That’s horrible. I think your story really brings out something I mentioned: your own spiritual condition. If you’re just trying to come back into the Church and fix your marriage, I would find the best possible parish with the best priest. You would have been right to ditch that parish, I think.


    I think you have a clear case of leaving. That Mass probably wasn’t valid.


    Well, by the time my child is old enough to understand the Mass we’ll have moved (hopefully) out of Baton Rouge to either New Orleans or Lafayette.

    That said, I don’t think an EF parish is necessary. The novus ordo is a valid mass, and there are many parishes that provide the ordinary form in a way that it is still beautiful and faithful to the church (which is true in part b/c the church has said the novus ordo is acceptable, and being faithful entails acceptance of the validity of the novus ordo, even if the EF is personally preferred).

    That does get me thinking on another point: how much should one consider the local parish when buying a house? I tend to know Lafayette & New Orleans fairly well, and I think I would consider the orthodoxy of the local parish when making my decision. I don’t think that’s bad, though it may encourage parishes to become more like factions. I’ll have to think about that. Anyone else have thoughts on that angle?

  • Maybe I’ve just been fortunate, but I really don’t see what is so “horrific” about the Novus Ordo Mass as long as it is done reverently. I have been “subjected” to it from my earliest memory, as has my daughter, and we’re still completely faithful, practicing Catholics.

    Yes, I have been to TLM Masses and I’m all for keeping that tradition alive; yes, I like to hear Latin and real Gregorian chant (there is a parish in my area that does that), and yes, I think the new translation coming next year (hopefully) will go a long way toward restoring a sense of mystery and sacredness. However, I have seen many NO Masses done beautifully and reverently so it is not impossible.

    Of course this may be because I have had the good fortune to live in parishes that never went off some of the deeper ends of liturgical experimentation, and have never been subjected to any of the grosser liturgical abuses apparently common in some dioceses (e.g. liturgical dance, lay persons giving homilies, invalid Eucharistic matter, etc.) The worst liturgical “abuse” I have seen in the last 10 years or so is the use of some theologically questionable hymns (like “Ashes” and “City of God”), but other than that, I really can’t complain.

  • As far as your C.S. Lewis analogy.

    He was referring to the denominations of his day where people went to where they felt “comfortable”.

    Plus C.S. Lewis was a Protestant, not a Catholic.

    We aren’t “judging”, but asking for the faith Christ left us, not some invention from a 60s leftover.

  • As a matter of clarity to my previous posts; I fully agree and believe that the novus ordo (with proper form and matter as required, that is a valid priest, valid bread/wine, etc) is a valid mass.

    If my posted suggested otherwise, such an error is entirely my own and I regret any confusion.

    It is my assertation that the EF is not simply superior as a matter of personal preference, but
    is an objectively superior form of worship.

  • Also, as per the matter of church shopping, the law clearly does not require one to be enrolled at one’s geographic parish. Parishes are erected to ensure the faithful have access to what is their right, not to bind the faithful to access what is their right only in a particular place.

  • Tito:

    No, Lewis was not talking about different denominations, but different presentations of the liturgy within the Anglican Church (High and Low Church). Yes, he was Anglican but Anglicans have parishes too. While one clearly has to make an analogy between Lewis’s situation and what we as Catholics face today, I think the analogy is helpful.

    And as I said, the laity do have a right to the faith. I just want people to be careful before they bolt their parish.


    The canon law I quoted suggests that it is at least preferable for all the people to enroll in their local parish (unless there are differences of rite, nationality, etc.). Whether or not i is just merely preferable or actually binding in law is something a canon lawyer would have to interpret.

    I tend to agree with you about the superiority of the EF, though I have seen EFs done poorly such that the best NOs are superior to them. I have a feeling if Novus Ordo Masses were done right, people wouldn’t be having this discussion nearly as much.

  • Ezekiel says: Also, as per the matter of church shopping, the law clearly does not require one to be enrolled at one’s geographic parish.

    Actually, I don’t think you’ve read that right. As a Catholic, you are *automatically* a member of the parish you reside in. You no longer have to register though.

    See here:

    Note that:

    On a regular basis, when it comes to weekly Mass attendance and routine reception of the sacraments, we are not obliged to attend any one church in particular. Canon 1247 asserts that on Sundays and holydays, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass, but does not specify that we must attend Mass in any specific place. Similarly, we may receive the sacrament of confession from any priest who is lawfuly able to administer it (c. 991), without regard to the location where this takes place.

    Therefore, there is no legal reason why one cannot routinely attend Mass and receive the sacraments at a parish church other than the one to which we technically belong — although this is hardly an ideal situation. But on major occasions, such a child’s first reception of the sacraments, we have seen here that it is the norm that these be celebrated in one’s own parish church. And when it comes to marriage, as discussed above, the law is even more serious, for the validity of a marriage depends in part on whether it is celebrated in the parish of one of the spouses.

    I believe that many churches that have the EF are set up as personal parishes, and you may join those although your “mother” parish will still be the one you reside in.

  • Just remember that you are always the exception, and you will do well in life. 😉

    As a former parish shopper, I recognized that my need to be an exception was a poor reflection on me. In retrospect, I was quite silly in those days. For most folks, their involvement in a parish is one hour per week. If you are looking for more than that – and there is nothing wrong with desiring more – there are para-church organizations that are better equipped to help you.

  • I think there are certainly spiritual dangers to parish shopping — some of which we’re seeing on display. However, there are also times when it is important to move out of an environment where you family is not being spiritually nourished.

    Also, it seems to me it’s fairly important to be withing reasonable distance of your parish, since if you’re to be active there you’ll be going down there frequently.

    If you’re just entering an area or just coming back to the Church, I see no problem with looking around at the parishes within reasonable striking distance of your house before deciding which one to register in. However, once you’re settled on a parish it seems to me that the motivation for leaving would have to be something fairly major.

  • I agree with those who don’t believe the NO Mass, done correctly, is horrific. It’s simply not. I’d much rather have a priest enunciating the prayer in English reverently and properly than to have him stumbling over the Latin, butchering it so it’s undecipherable. Either mass, done properly, is beautiful. Remember, there is only one Mass. No, I don’t want tamborines, guitars, drums and piano, clapping during the Gloria, etc. But the lectionary for the NO mass is definitely superior, and gives a greater sense of the entire Bible. Well done Latin in the TLM is superior to the vernacular in the NO. But I’ve been to Hanceville and seen a NO mass using Latin, and it was truly amazing. I’ve been to TLMs that have also been amazing. I’ve been to both where I felt the content was lacking, even though Jesus was present (thereby providing a valid mass).

  • Hard to believe, when I was a pre Vatican 2 kid, all the Masses at all the churches around my very Catholic town were essentially interchangeable. Therefore people simply belonged to the closest church’s parish.

  • What an interesting perspective on “Parish Shopping.” I really liked the point that you made that if all of the orthodox parishoners leave, then the parish has little hope of changing, even if they do get a good orthodox priest. When I was still attending the parish I grew up in, I did try to respectfully approach our priest with certain problems I was having in our parish. One being that I felt that other parishoners were not respecting the presence of the Blessed Sacrament by talking and visiting after Mass instead of observing sacred silence. The priest basically blew me off. After several incidents with this priest, I left the parish and joined a more traditional parish downtown, St. Agnes. I hope that you find a good parish to belong to, and bring your baby into the Church!

  • I agree with the general tenor here. It’s a balancing act, making sure that you receive necessary spiritual support without becoming what Lewis called a “connoisseur of churches”. Smart thread.

  • Yep, sometimes times I think this “spirit of Vatican II” is really one spirit with dual personalties. I’ll call it the “spirit of the world I”…

    I say this because among many of the same spirits that had collected upon my once sick soul, (in which the true Spirit was cleansing me by fire), were to be found also hanging about the philosophies of the parish our entire family converted within.

    For over a year I didn’t realize that every wednesday evening I was (as a convert in waiting for baptism)involved with a Call To Action prayer group.. But, Our Lady gave me a strong heart for unity with the Chair of Peter during this time… On a terrestrial level, I’m sure she realized how much I had offended God previously in life, and would not bring before the Heart of the Most Holy Trinity any triump of Her Immaculate Heart that would not now or in the future remain obedient to Christ speaking through His Church.

    And that’s the whole crux of the problem, as I see it.
    These same dual spirits want desperately to confuse us all on the reality and required doctrines of Love, including the obedience Christ exemplifies in doing the will and works of the Father–still today through His Church.

    I’m on board with the notion of the orthodox remaining…

    I think that in a hidden way Our Lady uses us to destroy all manner of errors. I now look back on that time whimsically reflecting on my overly zealous self insisting to that same Call To Action group that they sit patiently through my readings of the Marian Movement of Priests book, followed by the Holy Rosary. Now I understand their discomfort a bit better. Facts are facts though:

    That group has now disbanded.

    God bless you all…


  • I agree that a well done N.O. can be very reverent. I have been fortunate in that I have not experienced too many cringe-inducing Masses, except for the occasional folksy or otherwise less than inspiring hymns (seem to get at least one each Mass).

    But, I do think a solid case can be made that the TLM, in its structure, is an objectively superior form of Catholic worship. Cardinal Ottaviani (sp?) pointed out the main differences, and over time, it seems the NO form has somewhat deteriorated – that is, it has allowed for more innovation (kind of hard to ad lib in Latin, after all, even though, ironically, “ad lib” is Latin. Go figure). Of course YMMV with individual priests, but the TLM form itself has more Catholic elements, and it is hard to argue against the claim that the NO is more Protestantized. The NO is still valid of course, and can be reverent, but the form itself seems to have purposefully changed certain elements that are not just trivial, and not necessarily for the better.

Nuns, Habits, and Disobedience

Monday, May 17, AD 2010

I was reading Father Peter M.J. StravinskasThe Catholic Answer Book a few weeks ago and on page 173 I was surprised to read that all religious are required to wear their religious garb as a symbol of their vow of poverty.

I looked up and found in Canon Law that Father Stravinskas is absolutely and clearly correct on this:

Canon 669 §1 As a sign of their consecration and as a witness to poverty, religious are to wear the habit of their institute, determined in accordance with the institute’s own law.

§2 Religious of a clerical institute who do not have a special habit are to wear clerical dress, in accordance with canon 284.

In fact the Holy See, specifically the Sacred Congregation for Religious, routinely reject religious constitutions that do not have this requirement.

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49 Responses to Nuns, Habits, and Disobedience

  • People who do Gods work will earn eternal Life. Praise the Lord

  • Stefan,

    Only God knows who is and isn’t in Heaven, Purgatory, or Hell.

    Tim Shipe said it very eloquently.

  • When my current pastor realized that a good friend of mine is a priest who always wears his cassock or the black suit with collar, he pointedly told me that he is not required by cannon law to wear clerical clothing. He seemed to feel that he had to defend himself to me, even though I had not said anything to him about the fact that he never dresses like a priest when not at the altar. I know it may be uncomfortable for some priests in this day and age, but isn’t that part of being a priest? I believe a priest who does not wear his clerical clothing misses out on many opportunities to minister. A priest should be set apart so the people know who he is.

  • Susan,

    I believe a priest who does not wear his clerical clothing misses out on many opportunities to minister.

    I couldn’t agree more.

    We don’t want to be of this world, we want to be in this world to evangelize the culture.

    What better way than to be a witness to Christ!

  • What about Vita Consecrata? JPII doesn’t seem to be in agreement with what you claim.

  • Paul,

    JPII can say that the Koran is the sole authority in the Church and it still doesn’t make it right.

    Church teaching trumps one man’s opinion.

    ie, your argument is a straw man.

  • Let’s not be too hasty or get crazy here. JPII is not merely “one man’s opinion.”

    Amen to priests out of their clericals missing opportunities. I encountered a priest who sincerely agonized over whether wearing his collar publicly was the equivalent to ‘lording it’ over others (one can pooh-pooh the thinking, but he was truly sincerely torn and such a twisted perspective is widespread). I urged him that I loved seeing priests in the collars (and nuns in their habits) because when I saw them (even if I didn’t speak to them) I immediately felt our kinship and was strengthened in my faith and witness. To wear the collar/habit (humbly!) is to give a very special kind of witness to the world that is so desperately in need of Christ.

  • Paul,

    In Vita Consecrata, JPII writes:

    Since the habit is a sign of consecration, poverty and membership in a particular Religious family, I join the Fathers of the Synod in strongly recommending to men and women religious that they wear their proper habit, suitably adapted to the conditions of time and place.Where valid reasons of their apostolate call for it, Religious, in conformity with the norms of their Institute, may also dress in a simple and modest manner, with an appropriate symbol, in such a way that their consecration is recognizable.Institutes which from their origin or by provision of their Constitutions do not have a specific habit should ensure that the dress of their members corresponds in dignity and simplicity to the nature of their vocation.

    (Article 25 – Witnesses to Christ in the World, 2nd para.)

    Where’s the disagreement?

  • Tito Edwards: “JPII can say that the Koran is the sole authority in the Church and it still doesn’t make it right.

    Correct as stated. But it’s very unclear what you are attempting to show by stating that in the current context.

    Tito Edwards: “Church teaching trumps one man’s opinion.

    And I have much the same reaction to that.

    The situation you have described is one in which we have Canon Law requiring a particular behavior, whereas the Pope subsequently and publicly requires a lesser standard.

    As far as I can tell, you think that Canon Law trumps the Pope. Why do you think that? And have you looked at what Canon Law itself says about the Pope? Canon 333 might be interesting.

  • Paul,

    You’ve provided evidence that either reinforces the post are has nothing to do with the post.

    I’m not sure what you’re attempting, but disobedience is still disobedience.

    Michael N.,

    You wrote a conflicting comment.

    You applaud disobedience and then you go around and affirm canon law.

    That’s called cognitive dissonance.

    That’s called holding to conflicting ideas simultaneously.

    You don’t make sense.

  • Phil: “Where’s the disagreement?

    For example, as quoted by the original post, Canon 339 states that “Religious of a clerical institute who do not have a special habit are to wear clerical dress”. But in Vita Consecrata, JPII requires a less specific standard: “Institutes which from their origin or by provision of their Constitutions do not have a specific habit should ensure that the dress of their members corresponds in dignity and simplicity to the nature of their vocation.”

    So long as religious members abide by JPII’s request, I do not see a problem.

    I should also point out that that Father Stravinskas’ book (Volume 1, relied on by the original poster) was published in 1990, and Via Consecrata came out in 1996, so the original post likely did not take this into account.

  • Paul,

    In their environment.

    So if they are working in southern Sudan with no air conditioning it’s completely fine and understandable.

    But here in the most industrialized, most modern, and most affluent nation and society in the history of mankind, it’s called “disobedience”.

  • Why is do people think they need to tell the sisters and the nuns what they should or shouldn’t wear? Women religious are a bright spot in the church today, and they can wear whatever they want.

  • David,

    Women religious that are obedient are a bright spot in the Church today!

    Not modernist nuns.

  • Tito,

    In your black-and-white zeal for ultimatums, you are burning bridges unnecessarily.

    There was nothing conflicting in my comment. Perhaps you misread it. Nowhere do I applaud disobedience.

    Your summary (quoted below) is both condescending and insulting. In your zeal for being ‘right’, you are sinning mightily against charity. Perhaps you do not mean it to come across so offensively, but I tell you in charity and fraternity that it most certainly came across that way. Be careful, brother.

    In Christ,

    You wrote a conflicting comment….
    That’s called cognitive dissonance.
    That’s called holding to conflicting ideas simultaneously.
    You don’t make sense.

  • Michael N.,

    Amen to priests out of their clericals missing opportunities.

    What part of your statement is it that you are not applauding disobedience?

    Many liberals get upset when confronted with facts.

    You are no different.

  • Tito,
    Just as I thought. You misread my statement and then judged me unmercilessly based on YOUR mistake.
    I said “Amen to priests out of their clericals missing opportunities”. That means I was AGREEING with previous posters who had expressed sadness that priests out of their clericals were missing opportunities to witness. I then went on to illustrate my AGREEMENT with an anecdote.
    An ounce of charity would make you hesitate before jumping to such wrong conclusions and insulting people as a result.
    You then insult me even further by trying to label me a fact-averse liberal.
    Jumping to wrong conclusions…insults…accusations.
    You are not acting in Christ.
    You are enamored of this notion of ‘being right’, of being the one who knows the rules and their applications, of being unwavering in your loyalty, and in treating those whom you deem as insufficiently faithful as so many infidels to insult and dismiss.
    There is a word for that: pharisaical.
    Beware, brother. Read Matthew 23. Habits and collars are good, but only as they point to Christ. Do not neglect the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and good faith.
    In your words to me, you have not been just, merciful or in good faith. Be my brother…
    In Christ,

  • Michael N.,

    You need to be more careful in how you write your comments.

    And for your behavior you should know better than to be more righteous than thou with your uncharitable diatribes.

    I strongly suggest you stop commenting here at TAC because you have a history of being “misunderstood” in order to make points on your liberal agenda.

    God bless you.

  • Tito,
    So now I’m at fault for you misreading my comment?
    And, of course, no apology for the many insults you hurled at me based on your mistake.
    If I was uncharitable in my response, I beg your forgiveness. I am deeply troubled by your politicizing of the Faith and your dismissive tone with people. IMHO, you will drive many away from Christ and his Church.
    I take note that I am unwelcome at TAC by you.
    You continue to try to label me ‘liberal’ despite my correcting your misapprehension. I am sorry you’re not open to my pleas.
    In Christ,

  • Michael N.,

    I apologize and am sorry for misreading your comments.

    Yours in Christ.

  • Michael N.,

    Only Catholics drive themselves away.

    That is called free will.

    You represent those on the margins trying to reconcile your Democratic Party allegiance to your Catholic faith.

    As far as politicizing the faith.

    We are asked to be a witness to our faith.

    If you prefer to cower behind closed doors so as not to “offend” others about what you believe then so be it.

    Your the first one to have ever said that about me and I hope the last.

    But in the end, you make your own decisions not I.

  • Tito,
    Once again, you make statement based on your own mistaken guesses and perceptions.
    You are tireless in your attempt to label and dismiss.
    I have no allegiance to the Democratic Party. My allegiance is to Christ alone.
    Your insinuation that I ‘cower behind closed doors so as not to offend’ is further insult.
    Are you capable of carrying on a civil exchange?
    I am not cowering. I am engaging you in a public forum. Please stop cowering behind labels and insults and engage me charitably in Christ.
    As for “Only Catholics drive themselves away,” that is contradicted by the words of Christ himself: “It would be better for anyone who leads astray one of these little ones who believe in me, to be drowned by a millstone around his neck in the depths of the sea.”
    Not only are we responsible to nurture and spread the Faith in others, it is our singular purpose in life. We cannot control people, but we must invite and share the cause of our hope…and avoid anything that might scandalize or drive others from Christ.

  • FYI: that includes being condescending, judgmental and insulting. As the saint said, better honey than vinegar. Try a little honey from time to time.

  • Michael N.,

    That passage you are referring to is Christ warning priests, bishops, deacons, nuns, ie, religious.

    But if you feel I have sway from my little room here in Houston on an obscure blog then I am flattered that you have such a high opinion of me.

  • There were no priests, bishops, deacons, nuns, or religious at the time Jesus made his statement.
    He was specifically addressing the teachers of the law regarding children, but given the universal ‘priesthood’ of believers, it quite plainly applies to us all.
    A little room and an obscure blog notwithstanding, we all have full-time responsiblities to spread the Gospel in a true and charitable way. Whether to the public or to just our friends and families, our witness has the potential to attract or repel many from Christ.
    That is a responsibility we should take with utmost gravity.

  • Michael,

    I believe your mistaken.

    You’re falling for the liberal teaching that we are all priests.

    Like you said, Jesus was referring to those that lead us in faith.

    I’m not a priest and I do not have a calling to be one.

    Free will.

    I know that is something difficult for you to understand, but ultimately we are responsible for our own actions.

    If anything your frenetic diatribes may actually be driving out actual believers.

    Just sayin’.

  • There is a universal priesthood of all believers. When we are baptized we all receive s responsibility to spread the Faith. That is not a ‘liberal’ teaching. It is a fact of the Faith. As plain as a pikestaff.
    Do not confuse that ‘universal priesthood’ with the priestly ministry. That is a not uncommon ‘liberal’ fallacy.
    Obviously you agree with that or you wouldn’t be participating in a Catholic blog.
    Again with the condescension.
    As for free will – you seem to hide behind it in order to take no responsibility for your insults and attacks (i.e. ‘If I’m offensive in my defense of the Faith and others fall away as a result, then I’m not responsible because they’re free to do what they want.’).
    That’s devilish thinking.
    Nothing frenetic…no diatribe…but good to know you have a thesaurus!

  • Michael N.,

    You keep charging towards windmills and yet won’t learn.

    So I’ll try a different tact.

    “I love you man!”

  • Perhaps you should change your icon image so it doesn’t look so much like Don Quixote.

  • Michael N.,

    It’s pic taken from El Greco’s ‘Burial of Count Orgaz’.

    El Greco was a Greek.

    Where’s your pic?

  • So…I did skip all the other comments, but here is a question that personally pops in my head. Say I become a sister and wear a habit. I want to go swimming at my grandparents cabin with my cousins, how does that stand? That is something I am trying to discover.

  • Actually, the words of Christ found in the Gospels warning not to drive away his brethren is not merely addressed to clergy and it has not been known to be an admonition exclusive to a certain class of individuals — it has been seen as universal beginning in patristic thought up until this very century in contemporary biblical scholarship. I’m not sure how it can even be read in any other way without necessarily imposing on the text.

    My two cents.

  • Ash,

    I’m no canon lawyer, but my best guess is that’s ok to jump into something modest to swim in.


    Thanks for your opinion.

  • Ash: “Say I become a sister and wear a habit. I want to go swimming at my grandparents cabin with my cousins, how does that stand? That is something I am trying to discover.”

    Religious Orders have Rules. They also have Superiors. And a Vow of Obedience. Check them all out before jumping into the water. They’ll have the answer.

  • Paul: For example, as quoted by the original post, Canon 339 states that “Religious of a clerical institute who do not have a special habit are to wear clerical dress”. But in Vita Consecrata, JPII requires a less specific standard: “Institutes which from their origin or by provision of their Constitutions do not have a specific habit should ensure that the dress of their members corresponds in dignity and simplicity to the nature of their vocation.”

    I’m not sure and not inclined to do research right now, but there seems to be a difference between “Religious of a clerical institute”(referred to in Canon Law) and “Institutes which from their origin or by provision of their Constitutions do not have a specific habit” (referred to by Pope JPII)

    “Religious of a clerical institute” may mean religious or diocesan priests and deacons (clerical) and nuns (religious) who belong to an Order.

    Whereas “Institutes which from their origin or by provision of their Constitutions do not have a specific habit” could mean Third Order seculars, mostly composed of lay people.

    They may be apples and oranges that can’t be compared. If so, JPII’s document does not contradict Canon Law.

  • “religious are to wear the habit of their institute, determined in accordance with the institute’s own law.”

    This may sound like a silly question, but what if the “institute” in question dropped habits back in the 60s or 70s and specifically ADOPTS secular dress (say, skirt or suit of a given color or style) as their “habit”? In a case like that, a Sister wearing secular garb, as long as it meets the rules of her order, is wearing the “habit of their institute,” whether we find it appropriate or not, so how would they be breaking canon law?

    Also — another silly question — wouldn’t a “clerical institute” be an association of CLERGY, which by definition would only apply to men? So how could nuns be affected by that requirement?

  • Marie: “Whereas “Institutes which from their origin or by provision of their Constitutions do not have a specific habit” could mean Third Order seculars, mostly composed of lay people.

    I see no reason to interpret those words in such a highly specialized and very unobvious way. It would also disregard the ordering of that text — which first covers those institutes which have a norm, and then covers what to do in the case where an institute has no norm.

    On doing some research, I have found people who clearly take the words as applying to any institute of religious, and no one who takes the words in the sense you suggest.

    Elaine Krewer: “…what if the “institute” in question dropped habits back in the 60s or 70s and specifically ADOPTS secular dress…”

    Are there any such institutes which have that in their laws, and have had such laws formally approved by Rome?

    Elaine Krewer: “…wouldn’t a “clerical institute” be an association of CLERGY, which by definition would only apply to men?

    That seems right to me. On that supposition, the first clause of Canon 669 (“Religious are to wear the habit of the institute, made according to the norm of proper law, as a sign of their consecration and as a witness of poverty.”) applies to both male and female religious, whereas the second clause (Clerical religious of an institute which does not have a proper habit are to wear clerical dress according to the norm of an. 284.)” does not indicate what applies to female religious.

    In which case, Via Consecrata would be indicating what laws would apply to both men and women religious (as the wording of Via Consecrata itself clearly specifies), in the case where there is no specified habit.

  • I looked up Canon 284 and sure enough, it refers specifically to priests. The USCCB’s rules applying Canon 284 in the United States, which have been in effect since 1999, state that:

    “Outside liturgical functions, a black suit and Roman collar are the usual attire for priests. The use of the cassock is at the discretion of the cleric. In the case of religious clerics, the determinations of their proper institutes or societies are to be observed with regard to wearing the religious habit.”

    So one could argue that a priest who does not wear the black suit and Roman collar (or the habit of his order, if he belongs to a Religious order) is disobeying Canon 284.

    Canon 284 clearly does NOT apply to women religious. The rule for them is simply to wear the “habit of their institute,” which as I explained above, could mean some modified form of secular dress.

    I’m not saying, by the way, that I APPROVE of priests or women religious running around in secular clothing.

    Personally I believe all priests should wear a Roman collar most of the time (even if just in shirt sleeves) and all nuns/Sisters should at least wear a veil or head covering, something to make it obvious who they are, and their habits should be simple and easy to care for (it doesn’t have to be a Flying Nun-type outfit). They should NOT be totally indistinguishable from secular professionals. The only exception should be for priests or religious serving in extremely hostile environments (e.g. Communist China, Sudan) where being seen in clerical or religious garb is likely to get them arrested or killed.

    However, as much as we may dislike priests and nuns in secular dress and consider them symbolic of everything that’s gone wrong with religious life, I wouldn’t play “gotcha” with canon law and jump to the conclusion that their dress is “proof” of disobedience and mortal sin.

  • Elaine,
    Amen, amen, amen to your last statement.
    Playing ‘gotcha’ is a dangerous temptation. We should not be so gleeful to catch others in transgressions and rejoice in condemning them.

  • Michael N.,

    No one is playing ‘gotcha’, unless of course if you are paranoid such as yourself, then I can see why you feel that way.

  • Elaine,
    You forgot Mexico, where I am given to understand that the federal law (if not constutution) precludes the wearing of clericals in public outside of specific liturgical, or church related, events (pilgrimages, processions, public open air Mass).

  • Kevin,

    That is one instance where the Church allows religious not to wear their religious garb.

  • I will leave the debate about Canon law to those who are Canon law lawyers.

    I know a priest who was admitted to the Harvard Business School after his ordination. He told the story about his first week at school, which ended with a large reception for all of the new students and their significant others. He said “I’m driving there and I really wanted to just turn around and get a shirt and tie like everybody else. But no, I was admitted as a priest, I’m gonna wear the blacks.” So he walks into this room with, as he put it, 1200 extroverts, and a guy immediately came up to him, exclaiming “I love it! I wish I’d thought about wearing a costume!” He explained to the guy, who became a good friend, that it wasn’t a costume.

    That was Friday. Monday was 9/11. He spent the next two weeks counseling classmates who had worked in the Twin Towers and had friends who had died there that day. And I think he wore the blacks.

  • Patrick,

    Wonderful story.

    Very providential.

  • Michael N.,

    You’re part of the problem of always apologizing for being Catholic.

    Why don’t you crawl back from whence you came and stop denigrating those that defend and uphold our beautiful Catholic faith.

    God bless and good riddance.

  • Jesus’ prayer in John 17 seems to be fitting for the situation. Pax Christi.

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SCOTUS: 6 Catholics, 3 Jews, Law, Scholasticism and Tradition

Wednesday, May 12, AD 2010

I read a comment[1] a few weeks ago on attempting to explain why John Paul Stevens was the last Protestant in the U.S. Supreme Court which simply said that Catholics and Jews have a tradition of being immersed in law (Canon Law and Halakha respectively for Catholics and Jews as an example).

This struck me as interesting because at first glance it kind of makes sense.

Of course there is much more to why the current make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court, 6 Catholics, 2 Jews, and an Episcopalian, is as it is.[2]

But I thought it was an interesting enough topic to dive into.

Lisa Wangsness of the Boston Globe chimes in with her two cents worth [emphases mine]:

Evangelical Protestants have been slow to embrace, or to feel welcomed by, the elite law schools like Harvard and Yale that have become a veritable requirement for Supreme Court nominees. One reason for this, some scholars say, is because of an anti-intellectual strain within evangelicalism.

As Ronald Reagan would say, there you go again, pushing the liberal theory that Christians are stupid (at least Evangelical Protestants).

Lets get beyond these stereotypes done by liberals to Christians.

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47 Responses to SCOTUS: 6 Catholics, 3 Jews, Law, Scholasticism and Tradition

  • The legalistic traditions would be the most obvious theory but I suspect that it’s too abstract to have this disparate an impact. Besides, sola scriptura is much closer to the originalism of the four conservative Catholic justices. The living Magisterium is more analogous to the living constitution that they reject.

    The anti-intellectual strain within evangelicalism makes sense. Part of it may also be that Catholics make more reliable conservative judges and are therefore more appealing Republican appointees but I bet Catholics are overrepresented in the general lawyer population as well.

    Maybe religion is actually hiding an ethnic cultural difference. The legal field was one of the few fields that was relatively tolerant of Jews which is at least partially why they are overrepresented. Maybe anti-Catholic or anti-immigrant sentiment drove the Irish, Italians, and now the Hispanics into law.

    Maybe religion is hiding a regional difference. Five of the justices are from New York, two from California, and one from New Jersey. New York and California are the two biggest lawyer markets. They also happen to have the largest Catholic and Jewish populations. I can’t speak for California, but every ambitious New Yorker wants to be either a lawyer or a banker (another field where Jews, and maybe Catholics, dominate).

    Maybe Catholics and Jews can’t be lumped together. Maybe Jews are overrepresented for historic reasons and Catholics for religious reasons.

    Protestants do have their colleges, seminaries, and Bible study groups, similar to those of Catholics.

    But their emphasis is very different. I’ve heard one Protestant accuse Catholics of being too mechanical in their religious studies.

    Ironic that people got all hot and bothered when the fourth and fifth nominees for the SCOTUS were Catholic’s thus over-representing Catholics in the Judicial branch. But somehow the secularists are excited that the current nominee, Elena Kagan, a Jew, would make SCOTUS 1/3 Jewish.

    They were hot and bothered because Roberts and Alito were conservative Catholics. They had no problem with Sotomayor.

  • Let’s get beyond liberals. Liberals only have insults and lies; and fabricated/imagined crises meant to “grease the skids” for their destructive policy “solutions.”

    If we don’t stop Obama and his horde of liberal idiots (I repeat myself) in congress, and soon the Judiciary, they will cause a degree of economic devastation from which the private sector may never recover.

    Then, they will have succeeeded in making us all serfs, which was their (the two or three that aren’t gays/lesbians/puppy-lovers/morons) plan all along.

  • I take issue with the notion that the conservative justices’ approach is similar to “sola scriptura” and that the “living Constitution” approach is analogous to the living Magisterium.

    Instead, I would say the two approaches to the Constitution are rather more like the difference between how a traditionalist Catholic and a Voice-of-the-Faithful Catholic view the Magisterium.

    Conservative jurisprudence does not reject development in the law; conservative jurisprudence recognizes that the world today is different from the world 200 years ago and that matters will arise that were completely outside the imagination of the Framers. However, conservative jurisprudence also recognizes that developments in the law (1) are better suited to be addressed by legislative bodies rather than courts, and (2) to the extent the courts must develop constitutional doctrine to meet modern challenges, the development must be (a) an organic extension of the rights and values traditionally held by society and (b) be bound to the text of the Constitution as originally enacted and intended by the Framers.

    Justice Scalia famously discussed this view in the Michael H. case, in which a putative father (from an extra-marital affair) sought to use the Court’s “substantive due process” jurisprudence (see, e.g., Griswold and Roe) to overturn a state’s codification of Mansfield’s Rule, which protects the children of a marriage from outside claims of paternity. Scalia, in his majority opinion, attempted to limit the extension of “substantive due process” to those instances where society had traditionally protected such rights:

    1. The § 621 presumption does not infringe upon the due process rights of a man wishing to establish his paternity of a child born to the wife of another man.


    (b) There is no merit to Michael’s substantive due process claim that he has a constitutionally protected “liberty” interest in the parental relationship he has established with Victoria, and that protection of Gerald’s and Carole’s marital union is an insufficient state interest to support termination of that relationship. Michael has failed to meet his burden of proving that his claimed “liberty” interest is one so deeply imbedded within society’s traditions as to be a fundamental right. Not only has he failed to demonstrate that the interest he seeks to vindicate has traditionally been accorded protection by society, but the common law presumption of legitimacy, and even modern statutory and decisional law, demonstrate that society has historically protected, and continues to protect, the marital family against the sort of claim Michael asserts.

    Scalia explains further:

    In an attempt to limit and guide interpretation of the Clause, we have insisted not merely that the interest denominated as a “liberty” be “fundamental” (a concept that, in isolation, is hard to objectify), but also that it be an interest traditionally protected by our society. [Footnote 2] As we have put it, the Due Process Clause affords only those protections “so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental.” Snyder v. Massachusetts, 291 U. S. 97, 291 U. S. 105 (1934) (Cardozo, J.). Our cases reflect “continual insistence upon respect for the teachings of history [and] solid recognition of the basic values that underlie our society. . . .” Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U. S. 479, 381 U. S. 501 (1965) (Harlan, J., concurring in judgment).

    This insistence that the asserted liberty interest be rooted in history and tradition is evident, as elsewhere, in our cases according constitutional protection to certain parental rights. Michael reads the landmark case of Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U. S. 645 (1972), and the subsequent cases of Quilloin v. Walcott, 434 U. S. 246 (1978), Caban v. Mohammed, 441 U. S. 380 (1979), and Lehr v. Robertson, 463 U. S. 248 (1983), as establishing that a liberty interest is created by biological fatherhood plus an established parental relationship — factors that exist in the present case as well. We think that distorts the rationale of those cases. As we view them, they rest not upon such isolated factors but upon the historic respect — indeed, sanctity would not be too strong a term — traditionally accorded to the relationships that develop within the unitary family. [Footnote 3] See Stanley, supra, at 405 U. S. 651; Quilloin, supra, at 434 U. S. 254-255; Caban, supra, at 441 U. S. 389; Lehr, supra, at 463 U. S. 261. In Stanley, for example, we forbade the destruction of such a family when, upon the death of the mother, the State had sought to remove children from the custody of a father who had lived with and supported them and their mother for 18 years. As Justice Powell stated for the plurality in Moore v. East Cleveland, supra, at 431 U. S. 503:

    “Our decisions establish that the Constitution protects the sanctity of the family precisely because the institution of the family is deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”

    Thus, the legal issue in the present case reduces to whether the relationship between persons in the situation of Michael and Victoria has been treated as a protected family unit under the historic practices of our society, or whether, on any other basis, it has been accorded special protection. We think it impossible to find that it has. In fact, quite to the contrary, our traditions have protected the marital family (Gerald, Carole, and the child they acknowledge to be theirs) against the sort of claim Michael asserts. [Footnote 4]…

    That’s hardly a “sola scriptura” approach to jurisprudence and, in fact, I would argue that Scalia was relying upon his own Catholic understanding of the Magisterium in formulating that approach.

  • Thanks, Jay, for beating me to it. I owe you.

  • Ditto what Mike said. I’ve written that comment before (although probably not as well).

  • Three comments:

    First, I would not dismiss the existence of an anti-intellectual strain within evangelical Protestantism as mere liberal rhetoric. Certainly there is some of that, but the anti-intellectualism in evangelical Protestantism is well documented, especially by scholars such as Mark Noll, who is himself an evangelical Protestant. It is a part of evangelical Protestantism that many adherents are putting aside, but its historical existence could be a factor.

    Second, we can’t ignore social trends. Mainline Protestantism has been declining in numbers and influence for some time. The lack of mainline Protestants that “percolate up” to the upper echelons of the law is a consequence of that. At the same time, Catholic numbers and influence increased during the same decades. Also, Catholics and Jews during the last century emphasized education, assimilation, and becoming part of the “establishment.” That too, had implications. I would expect the same to happen with evangelical Protestants in the decades to come.

    Third, both Jewish and Catholic teaching has not emphasized, as much as mainline Protestants, a radical separation of church/state and politics/religion. Mainline Protestants, some have argued, emphasized it so much that they made religion irrelevant in the public square.

  • It’s not a perfect fit but there are elements of originalism that more closely resemble sola scriptura. Sola scripturists would also agree that the world is different today. Jay, I don’t think anything you said is inconsistent with sola scriptura.

    It’s funny you mention Michael H. I was just rereading my notes on the case a few days ago. None of the justices objected to Scalia’s view to traditional rights. Brennan’s dissent also looks to traditional rights. But a majority didn’t join Scalia’s footnote 6 for a very different reason. I, along with most the justices, think he’s wrong in his application, if not his approach. Contrary to his assertion that broader classes are more susceptible to conflicting interpretations, Scalia’s approach allows judges to pick conflicting specific classes. Scalia puts Michael H. in the class of “cheating fathers.” One can also place him in the class of “biological fathers.”

  • No, Scalia does not place Michael H. in the class of “cheating fathers”; he places him in the class of those who society and the law don’t want breaking up intact families by challenging the paternity of the children within those families. He’s unwilling to create out of whole cloth a “fundamental right” to do something that society has not traditionally seen fit to give sanction.

    And while one may also place Michael H. in the class of “biological fathers”, that says absolutely nothing regarding the “fundamentalness” of his “right” to have Mansfield’s Rule struck down as unconstitutional. And that’s what’s at stake. The liberal would throw out a centuries old common law rule over some imagined “fundamental right” to claim the child of an intact marriage as one’s own. That’s not akin to a “development of doctrine” – that’s changing the rules to suit one’s own personal view of how the law SHOULD be and fits more in line with how the VOTF crowd view the Magisterium.

  • Furthermore, the reason the “sola scriptura” analogy is inapt is because it an ahistorical reading of how originalists have actually behaved on the Court.

    Protestants whose approach to religion is based on “sola scriptura” reject authority and tradition as having any sway over how they apply their Faith to their lives. They reject developments in doctrine (even while unconsciously accepting such developments as the Trinity and the compilation of the Bible itself). The “sola scriptura” mindset – especially when it is of the fundamentalist variety – is a back-to-the-basics approach with only the Bible and the Holy Spirit as a guide.

    The originalist, in contrast, doesn’t reject authority or tradition or developments in the law that have occurred in the intervening years since the founding. The originalist doesn’t seek to “refound” the American republic as it existed in 1787. In fact, the originalist approach to jurisprudence is actually quite limited in scope by comparison to the Protestant Reformation and the approach of the “sola scriptura” practitioner.

  • Jay,

    Protestants whose approach to religion is based on “sola scriptura” reject authority and tradition as having any sway over how they apply their Faith to their lives. They reject developments in doctrine (even while unconsciously accepting such developments as the Trinity and the compilation of the Bible itself). The “sola scriptura” mindset – especially when it is of the fundamentalist variety – is a back-to-the-basics approach with only the Bible and the Holy Spirit as a guide.

    Thanks for fleshing out what I said in one sentence.

    I’m no law expert nor a lawyer, but I too could see that sola scriptura was an impediment towards doctrinal development for Protestants.

    And with that, originalsim and sola scriptura have no similarities with the respect to doctrinal development.

    Also appreciated your first comment as well…

  • Finally, let’s be honest about why those Catholics opposed to Constitutional originalism try to stigmatize it with the taint of “sola scriptura”: they know that most Catholics, especially conservative ones, take a dim view of “sola scriptura” in the context of theology, so they use the analogy to paint Catholic constitutional originalists as unthinking (in relying on the same intellectually inferior practice as protestant fundamentalists) and/or hypocritical (in doing to the Constitution what they criticize the protestants for doing to Christianity).

    The problem, as I’ve noted above, is that the analogy is inapt. But it is inapt not only because it fails to describe what originalists actually believe and how they actually behave, but because it is a comparison of two completely different institutions established for two completely different reasons and under two completely different sets of circumstances.

  • Evangelical Protestants who take their faith seriously go to any law school they can find that’s conducive to their faith. Catholics just go to the highest-ranked school that will take them – even if that school is not particularly religious. Of course, I am speaking in general terms.

  • Jay, I see that you are anticipating in advance the charge of being trapped in a Calvinist (and very Protestant) dualism by virtue of defending originalism. But you cannot escape; in order for the intellectually cramped Calvinist-Catholic dualistic system to work, any disagreement must be described as an outgrowth of individualism/Calvinism/liberalism.

  • Evangelical Protestants who take their faith seriously go to any law school they can find that’s conducive to their faith. Catholics just go to the highest-ranked school that will take them – even if that school is not particularly religious. Of course, I am speaking in general terms.

    I am not sure how true that is. I have friends and co-workers who are evangelicals that went to Harvard Law, and the Christian (not Catholic) law student group at my school (t-10 or so) was fairly sizable and active. But, of course, these anecdotes don’t really add up to data. You could be right about the general trend.

  • I’d consider myself a Catholic originalist. Sola scriptura (or some weak version of it) can be an perfectly defensible way to interpret the Constitution but not Scripture.

    Originalists reject any develop of new doctrines not grounded in the law as understood at the time of its enactment. They accept tradition only up to the point of enactment. They do not accept the idea that later traditions that could not reasonably be anticipated, can add to the law. On the other hand, Catholics accept that later traditions can add to existing “law” in ways that could not reasonably have been anticipated.

    Even the process of development differs. Originalists reject abstract unifying doctrines and prefer to judge new situations as fitting or not fitting into specific laws or enumerated rights. Catholics, I would argue, work in the opposite direction. Starting with abstract unifying doctrines (e.g., dignity of man), then judging whether the situation falls within an exception (e.g., double effect).

    As for the Michael H. sidetrack, Jay, you demonstrate exactly why Scalia’s methodology is wanting (I’d like to note that this is a different argument than the one over originalism). I described Scalia’s classification of Michael H. as a “cheating father.” You described it as “someone trying to break up a stable family.” Which one are we supposed to use? You also dismissed the implications of classifying Michael H. as simply a “biological father.” Traditionally, biological fathers have rights over their biological children. An appeal to tradition doesn’t work here because both sides can, and did, argue it. If Scalia’s methodology is correct, it’s incomplete, at the very least.

  • Centinel, you wrote:

    Evangelical Protestants who take their faith seriously go to any law school they can find that’s conducive to their faith. Catholics just go to the highest-ranked school that will take them – even if that school is not particularly religious. Of course, I am speaking in general terms.

    That goes beyond generalization, friend. Generalization, philosophically, means abstracting a feature true of each instance of a class, e.g., “Houses have roofs.” Generalization, popularly speaking, means abstracting a feature true of most or even many instances of a class, e.g., “The students at Catholic University are Catholics.”

    What you’ve managed to do is pluck out of a bag of prejudices and biases a dazzling example of complete ignorance EXCEPT of perhaps one or two cases that you know, and a few more that you know of.

    I am close friends with a woman who, as an Evangelical, went to Yale Law School because it was “the highest-ranking school that would take” her, to use your words. Not too shabby. Granted, it’s not the University of Barbados, but I suppose Yale Law will do for her sort. She’s a Catholic now, though. Did you know that there are numerous law schools at Catholic universities bursting at the seams with… all sorts of people?

    Do you think it possible that Catholics might be serious about their faith and go to a law school conducive to it?

    Do you think it possible that an Evangelical might be serious about his faith and yet go to an ungodly school bearing in mind that it is not the law school’s job to nurture his faith, and that he will continue to seek spiritual nourishment through the means he always has – prayer, reading the scriptures, attending a good church?

    C’mon. Your “observation” was entire facile.

  • “Traditionally, biological fathers have rights over their biological children.”

    Not biological fathers who aren’t married to the child’s mother. That’s a very recent development.

  • And I’m sure you’ll say that my last comment illustrates your point about classifications.

    But there will always be classifications when talking about defining rights under the Consitition. The key is to find the classification that does the least amount of damage to the constitutional order, and this is done by limiting the interference of the judiciary into the democratic process by defining the “fundamental right” narrowly enough as not to remove a broad category of activities from democratic oversight (not to mention creating out of whole cloth “rights” that have no basis in the text of the Constitution).

    Scalia’s appeal to tradition is to look at the behavior that society has traditionally valued and protected and determine whether the particular case before the Court meets – with specificity – the activity society has sought to protect.

    The liberal will look at “tradition” and try to broadly define the activity that is “fundamental” to ordered liberty so as to include as much activity as possible and remove it from the democratic process. Thus, Brennan et al looked at Michael H. as a “biological father”, and relying on some very recent precedent (and ignoring other recent precedent – i.e. that “biological fathers” have very few if any rights when abortion and birth control are at issue), tried to make the argument that he had a “fundamental right” to interfere in the inner workings and relationships of an intact family unit.

    What’s “traditional” about that? Nothing. Maintaining Mansfield’s Rule was based on tradition – the tradition of protecting the family, as society has sought to do for generations. The Court’s “fundamental rights” jurisprudence – of very recent vintage – regarding a biological father’s “reproductive rights”, not so much.

  • While not remotely an expert on law, the sociological/historical aspect interests me in regards to biological fathers’ right. It seems to me that the accurate characterization would be that in Western Culture, a biological father can assert paternity rights over illegitimate offspring by effectively “legitimizing” or recognizing them. This, however, assumes that the illegitimate offspring are otherwise simply “fatherless” and unacknowledged.

    The rights of the pater familias as a husband typically include having paternal rights over all children he chooses to acknowledge. So if his wife bears a child which is not, in fact, his, he can effectively make the child his by acknowledging the child as his regardless of actual paternity.

    The idea that a biological father could assert paternity rights over a child he fathered on a married women over the objections of her husband (who is willing to raise the child as his own) would be distinctly un-traditional.

  • Darwin,

    You’re right. It IS distinctly un-traditional. And for over 200 years, under Lord Mansfield’s Rule, such claims cannot be heard.

    Okay, I realize I’ve dominated this thread, so just one last thing on the classifications in Michael H. and how they relate to “tradition”:

    As Restrained Radical notes, both Scalia and Brennan appealed to “tradition” in reaching opposite conclusions in the case. However, a closer examination of the arguments and what respective “tradition” was being sought to be preserved by the opposing Justices, will reveal that one of the Justices was ACTUALLY concerned with remaining faithful to and preserving an established tradition, while the other Justice’s feigned appeal to “tradition” was a complete load of BS from one of the most successful bu11$h**tters who ever sat on the Supreme Court.

    Let’s start off with the fact that the rights of “biological fathers” – the “tradition” to which Justice Brennan appealed – are, as I noted above, a recent development in the law, and there is no long-standing “tradition” of “biological fathers” having legal rights over their offspring outside the context of the marital relationship. Even the parental rights of divorcing parents have always been based on the fact that the parents were married in the first place.

    So, let’s dispense with Brennan’s nonsensical claim that he was appealing to “tradition” and cut right to the chase. Were one to follow his constitutional jurisprudence to its logical conclusion, here’s Bill Brennan’s take on the “rights” of biological fathers:

    * A “biological father” has absolutely NO LEGAL RIGHTS to protect the life of his child should the mother choose to abort the child; HOWEVER …

    * A “biological father” has a “fundamental constitutional right” to interfere in an intact marital family relationship by asserting paternity over a child born inside that marriage should the mother choose to raise the child with her husband.

    * A “biological father” has a “fundamental constitutional right” that overrides an over-200-year-old common law rule – a common law rule known to and explicitly accepted by the drafters of the Constitution – meant to protect marriages from outside attack and children from bastardization.

    That’s Bill Brennan’s definition of “tradition”.

    On the other hand, under Justice Scalia’s approach, here is the state of the law:

    * an over-200-year-old common law rule that was on the books at the time of this Nation’s founding is preserved;

    * the sanctity of the marital family unit is preserved from outside interference by claims from a stanger to that marriage that he is, in fact, the father of a child born to that marriage;

    * the original intent and meaning of the text of the Constitution is preserved from the violence done to the constitutional order whenever a newly created “fundamental right” is used to strike down as “unconstitutional” a law that was fully known to and explicitly acctepted by those who drafted the Constitution.

    Now, which one of those approaches is TRULY concerned with tradition?

  • Personally, I always thought the tradition of offering sympathy to orphans should have helped the Menendez brothers


  • Jay, your putative domination of this thread has enriched it, and is greatly appreciated at least by me.

  • Agreed, I’ve enjoyed your explanation on this stuff, Jay.

  • I spend the day in Bankruptcy Court and Jay leaves me nothing to say in regard to Constitutional interpretation. Rats! Ah well, I will merely say ditto to what Jay wrote and what Scalia says below:

  • Donald,

    I liked his Chestertonian quote:

    “Some worth doing, is worth doing terribly.”

    Or something to that effect.

  • I should’ve stated this early but I don’t necessarily disagree with the outcome of Michael H. And I do think originalism is the proper method of analysis (while I still maintain this is closer to sola scriptura). I only take issue with Scalia’s method of abstraction outlined in footnote 6. He defines classes that need not be defined in that way.

    Jay & Darwin, it all depends on how you’re defining the tradition and the specific case. The children of a married woman have traditionally been presumed to be the biological children of the husband. Is Lord Mansfield’s Rule designed to protect the husband or the biological father? In the absence of DNA testing, it would seem that it protects the biological father (usually the husband) from spurious paternity claims. Therefore, it appears tradition protects the rights of the biological father. Modern technology has eliminated the need for blunt evidentiary rules.

    Again, I’m not saying that’s right. Only that the very existence of what I think is an alternative reasonable interpretation, undercuts Scalia’s approach.

  • Don, that was a great vid. It would be interesting to see a liberal originalist on the court. Lawrence Lessig, a liberal and a broad originalist, says Kagan thinks as he does. I doubt it but if true, not only would Kagan be the most influential justice, it would also alter the course of American jurisprudence. I’ve believed that the best kind of judicial nominee would be a liberal pro-lifer. Perhaps even more important than overturning Roe is changing the way liberals view abortion.

  • “Is Lord Mansfield’s Rule designed to protect the husband or the biological father? In the absence of DNA testing, it would seem that it protects the biological father (usually the husband) from spurious paternity claims. Therefore, it appears tradition protects the rights of the biological father. Modern technology has eliminated the need for blunt evidentiary rules.”

    I suppose it provides an alternative interpretation to Scalia’s, but it is one that I believe to be ahistorical.

    The historical record will bear out that Lord Mansfield was primarily concerned with the children of marriages not being made bastards, which is a matter wholly unconcerned with determining actual biological paternity. In fact, it was an objective that was often in direct conflict with determining such.

    Preserving intact marital family units from such challenges was not for the purpose of ensuring that the husband’s factual biological paternity was protected from spurious outside claims, but rather to ensure that children were not delegitimized. For that reason, the law created an irrebuttable presumption that the children of a married woman were the legitimate children of her husband.

  • I suppose, from a sociological point of view, a lot has to do with how you interpret the purpose of established cultural norms. It seems to me that the purpose would clearly be that a pater familias be able to determine who he wants to call his children. If he want to acknowledge children he had by a woman other than his wife, he can. If he want to refuse to acknowledge those children, he can. And when his wife bears children he can either acknowledge them, or repudiate his wife and deny them.

    All this sounds rather negative and “patriarchal”, but it also has the effect of making the direct and extended family strong against outside assaults. Good or bad, though, I think it’s hard to deny that it’s “traditional”.

  • “I doubt it but if true, not only would Kagan be the most influential justice, it would also alter the course of American jurisprudence. I’ve believed that the best kind of judicial nominee would be a liberal pro-lifer.”

    I doubt restrainedradical that Kagan will be anything but an orthodox political liberal on the bench. However, the fact that she has no judicial experience on the bench should give her backers pause. Felix Frankfurter, the great advocate of judicial restraint, was a fairly conventional political liberal before he was appointed to the Supreme Court by FDR without judicial experience. Things can look quite differently after one dons the black robe, especially with a life time appointment, and Kagan, perhaps, could end up surprising everyone.

  • I would be astonished if Kagan does not prove to be “anything but an orthodox political liberal” cleverly legislating from the bench whey “necessary.” But I’m prepared to be astonished, and certainly hope that I am.

    In any event. I hope the confirmation process is a smooth one. I’m all for hardball politics, but Kagan is qualified and that should be the end of it. The Dems viciously changed the rules with Bork, and I believe that the temperament within the Senate has never been the same. I’d like to see the Republicans avoid scoring political and polemical points and just plain do the right thing.

  • I agree Mike that the Kagan nomination is not the one for the Republicans to put up a fight on, but one of the main reasons why the Democrats routinely engage in scorched earth tactics in regard to Republican judicial nominees is because the Republicans routinely fail to do the same to Democrat nominees.

  • Fair enough, Don, but it is worth remembering that both Roberts and Alito got through without the Dems resorting to scorched earth practices, which is not to say that they behaved perfectly. I’d rather try to ratchet the practices back to how they are supposed to work. I acknowledge that it is a judgment call as to whether exhibiting good behavior or returning bad behavior is the most effective way to do that.

  • In regard to Alito Mike the Democrats tried but failed to filibuster his nomination. The final vote for his confirmation was 58-42 which is astounding if one of the chief criteria is supposed to be judicial comptence.

    Obama of course voted against confirmation for both Roberts and Alito, two of the best qualified jurists ever nominated to the Supreme Court.

  • Forgot that, Don, thanks. I’d still support Kagan’s nomination, but would also score points by emphasizing the contrast between her treatment and that of Alito, and get lots of digs against Obama for voting against Alito and Roberts.

  • Roberts was confirmed 78–22. He got far more Democratic votes than Sotomayor got Republican votes. Alito had the misfortune of being second. Kagan has the same problem.

  • Wow. Such deep arguments!

    Still, I think a lot of folks are overthinking this situation. A president seeking a pro-life perspective on the high court appoints a Catholic. Another president seeking some pro-life cover also appoints a Catholic. Presidents who seek a reliably pro-abortion leftist or wish to appease leftist elements of their party often appoint a Jew.

  • Restrained Radical,

    There’s no comparison, democrats are far more emotional and vindictive when it comes to voting against well-qualified judges that happen to seem conservative.

    Case in point, Robert Bork who lost the nomination 42-58.

  • The Bork confirmation process was unprecedented. It broke with longstanding Senate tradition, and frankly the Senate has not been the same since. The Dems broke the rules and lied shamelesslessly while doing it. Mutual rancor, payback, and distrust have been the order of the day since.

    While not unopinionated, I am not given to immoderate commentary. In fact I sign my real name as a matter of self-discipline. But let there be no misunderstanding or doubt: Joe Biden made his bones in the Bork hearings and behaved like a consummate dirtbag. I expected such dishonest behavior from the cowardly Senator from Massachusetts, but this was when Biden showed his true character colors.

    Finally, let’s be clear. When the Left decides to play hard ball, you can ususally count on the subtext being their sacrament of abortion. It started with Bork and Palin has been the most recent manifestation.

  • Bork and Thomas are outliners. People like Bork with long controversial paper trails don’t get nominated anymore. And Thomas had to deal with Anita Hill. I don’t think either party has a monopoly on outrage. As I noted before, Roberts had an easier confirmation than Sotomayor who in turn will have had an easier confirmation than Kagan. I predict Kagan’s confirmation to be similar to Alito’s. Four Democrats voted for Alito. I predict 2 or 3 Republicans will vote for Kagan (Snowe, Collins, and maybe Brown).

  • It’s a straw man.

    Bork had the most difficult.

    You can continue to apologize for your democratic party, but facts are facts.

  • While, I do not disagree with the overall thesis expressed herein. I find the characterization of Reform and Hasidic Judaism to be off the mark. I contend that the divisions within Judaism that they represent a division with Judaism but that these division were the result not of dogmatic differences.

    Rather I view the divisions within Judaism as being similar to the differences that exist between religious orders with Catholicism.

    In the sense that each religious order agrees on the truth of the dogma espoused by universal church, their missions differ,and as a result there may exist minor differences within their devotions and practice.

  • Nathan Zimmermann,

    I would like to default to your position because I know very little about Judaism.

    But when I see “conservative” and “reform” Jews advocate for the death of the unborn in absolute violation of the Ten Commandments and then I see “orthodox” Jews express identical views with Catholics and stand up for the unborn, then your analogy does not seem to fit that of Catholic religious orders.

    Catholic religious orders differ in mission, but adhere completely to the teachings of the Church.

    I don’t believe your analogy falls into that category with all due respect.

  • Mr. Edwards,

    I based my analogy upon my experiences and interactions with the aforementioned communities within my native city where even the conservative and reform Jews tend to be more conservative and pro-life.

  • If the Republicans wish to Bork a nominee Solicitor General Kagan’s nomination may be the best opportunity. If President Obama had nominated Judge Merrick Garland, the ability of the Republicans to Bork the nominee would have proved less tenable because, Judge Garland’ nomination was openly advocated by Senator Hatch.

    As addendum to my two previous posts, and to throw a fox into a hen-house. While there is no doubt of the universal church on the subject of abortion and euthanasia, eugenics and Darwinism.

    It should be noted that there existed a split with the church on the subject of eugenics and Darwinism during the 1920s and 1930’s as is evident in the writings of Rev. Hermann Muckermann, the elder brother of Rev. Friederich Muckermann SJ.

  • Nathan:
    There has never been a split regarding either Darwinism or eugenics in Church teaching properly understood The fact that some Catholic priests and theologians have favored abortion rights, for instance (which of course is still the case) does not in any way impair the fact that the Magisterium has remained consistent, even as it develops.
    I have countless Jewish friends. Sadly I know none who consider themselves of the Reform stripe who favor laws forbidding abortions, even though I know many who claim they themselves would not abort a child.

Can Catholics Abstain From ObamaCare

Thursday, March 25, AD 2010

I came across this American Thinker article on the exclusion of Amish and Muslims from ObamaCare:

The Senate health care bill just signed contains some exemptions to the “pay-or-play” mandate requiring purchase of Obamacare-approved health insurance or payment of a penalty fine. As Fox News has pointed out, for instance, the Amish are excused from the mandate:

So while most Americans would be required to sign up with insurance companies or government insurance plans, the church would serve as something of an informal insurance plan for the Amish.

Law experts say that kind of exemption withstands scrutiny.

“Here the statute is going to say that people who are conscientiously opposed to paying for health insurance don’t have to do it where the conscientious objection arises from religion,” said Mark Tushnet a Harvard law professor. “And that’s perfectly constitutional.”

Apparently, this exemption will apply similarly to believers in Islam, which considers health insurance – and, for that matter, any form of risk insurance – to be haraam (forbidden).

Steve Gilbert of Sweetness & Light calls our attention to the probability that Muslims will also be expempt. According to a March 23 publication on an authoritative Islamic Web site managed by Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid, various fatwas (religious decrees) absolutely forbid Muslim participation in any sort of health care or other risk insurance:

Health insurance is haraam like other types of commercial insurance, because it is based on ambiguity, gambling and riba (usury). This is what is stated in fatwas by the senior scholars.

In Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah (15/277) there is a quotation of a statement of the Council of Senior Scholars concerning the prohibition on insurance and why it is haraam:

It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah (15/251):

Firstly: Commercial insurance of all types is haraam because it involves ambiguity, riba, uncertainty, gambling and consuming people’s wealth unlawfully, and other shar’i

Secondly: It is not permissible for the Muslim to get involved with insurance companies by working in administration or otherwise, because working in them comes under the heading of cooperating in sin and transgression, and Allaah forbids that as He says: “but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allaah. Verily, Allaah is Severe in punishment”

[al-Maa’idah 5:2]. End quote.

And Allaah knows best.

So, it turns out that observant Muslims are not only strictly forbidden from buying any health insurance under the ObamaCare mandate, but may also not even work for any company that provides such insurance or any other form of commercial insurance.


Being an observant Catholic I don’t have to participate because it goes against my faith to kill unborn innocent children?

The 5th, 7th, and 10th Commandments and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) forbids me from participating.

5th Commandment & CCC 2268-2269: You shall not kill. (ObamaCare kills unborn babies)[1]

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23 Responses to Can Catholics Abstain From ObamaCare

  • The bill requires that at least one plan on the exchange not cover abortion, so I don’t think this is an issue.

  • The Church also teaches about double effect and remote material cooperation with evil. I don’t know how many times I’ve been told to pay taxes for nukes because Jesus said, Give to Caesar what is Caesars. Perhaps there is some common ground in the making here! 🙂

  • I’m willing to allow an out on my tax filings for both nukes and ObamaCare.

    Is this possible in the U.S.?

  • Abstain from it Tito? I want to kill it!

  • I’m with Donald.

    Though being proactive and searching for many possible alternatives to further mitigate ObamaCare is what I’m after as well.

  • Does your insurance at work cover abortion or contraception? If so, should you opt out and pay for a private plan that excludes these?

  • JohnH,

    I plan to once I get a permanent full time job.

    Contract work at the moment.

  • Good on you, Tito.

  • I’d be a little leery of saying Muslims are forbidden to participate on the basis of Sheik Sumduud’s website, or even a fatwa. Fatwas are pretty easy to come by, actually, and have about as much force as the individual Muslim wants to accord it. To use a (very, very) rough analogy, they are like a trial court’s ruling, binding to varying extents on the parties involved, but lacking precedential force.

    More to the point, Muslims have worked out ways to get around prohibitions like this before (e.g., murabaha, which manages to do a fine job of mimicking interest via a client paying a financial institution an agreed upon marked-up price for a commodity).

  • Eliminating “nukes” in paying one’s taxes: would this include nuclear power plants? Labs which study detection of atomic weapons? etc etc

  • Catholics should get involved in a campaign to sign pro-lifers (and others) up with plans that don’t cover abortion. Hopefully, abortion coverage will die from lack of demand.

  • RR, that is really an excellent suggestion, and I can imagine it’s also one that would be quite easy for us to do as individuals, as well as collectively. Even for my moderately pro-choice friends (esp. the males), I think they would probably agree to purchase insurance that excludes abortion coverage.

    This seems worthy of really looking into and organizing as a pro-life goal.

  • “Catholics should get involved in a campaign to sign pro-lifers (and others) up with plans that don’t cover abortion. Hopefully, abortion coverage will die from lack of demand.”

    Considering the number of abortions we have in this country I think that hope is both futile and farfetched.

  • Pingback: Health Care Exemptions? « A Voice into the Void
  • The concern I have is that in order to get a general religious exemption from Obamacare for Catholics, wouldn’t we have to prove that abstaining from absolutely all participation in abortion, no matter how remote, was an integral and non-negotiable part of Church teaching, and that ALL Catholics were bound under pain of mortal sin or excommunication to abide by it (like the teaching against participating directly in abortion itself)?

    However, that is not true — remote material cooperation such as would occur in the case of paying taxes under Obamacare or participating in an insurance program that covered abortion is permitted for sufficient reasons, for example, if it would be extremely difficult or impossible to find another insurance plan. A Catholic CAN refuse to participate in such a plan on moral grounds, but he or she is not necessarily obligated to take such action.

    As for Muslims, I have heard that many Muslims do not believe in borrowing money and so they pay cash for everything, but how on earth do so many of them manage to run businesses (shops, etc.) without insurance? What happens if the shop burns down, or a pipe freezes, etc.? How do they legally drive cars if they can’t have car insurance? If Muslims really are forbidden to have insurance, it must be a teaching many Muslims either don’t know about or ignore, kind of like Catholic teaching against contraception.

  • Donald, I don’t think it’s futile or far-fetched to think plans that cover abortion can become unpopular, not just among pro-lifers but anyone who doesn’t think they need abortion coverage.

  • Ooops, my first sentence should have read “wouldn’t we have to prove that abstaining from all COOPERATION in abortion, no matter how remote…”

  • restrainedradical, don’t get me wrong. If people wish to persuade others not to get insurance that covers abortion, I am all for it. However, considering the sheer number of abortions, I don’t think this strategy will have much of an impact in reducing the total number of abortions. However, I would be delighted if I were proven to be in error.

  • So the Stupak Amendment wouldn’t have had much of an impact on the number of abortions? Maybe.

  • I don’t know how many abortions the Stupak amendment would have stopped. I know it would have stopped any of my tax money paying for abortions which is extremely important to me. Too bad Stupak folded like the weasel he apparently is.

  • Donald-
    I was really hoping the pro-life dems would actually come through.

    When I heard the news say they agreed to vote for it in exchange for Obama signing something that “clarified” federal funding of abortion… sounds like a setup for a bad, bad literal genie moment.

  • I have long had hopes for the pro-life Democrat movement Foxfier. More fool me. A handful of pro-life Dems stuck to their guns, but most proved that their pro-life stance was, at best, conditional to the needs of their party. These remarks are of course only aimed at pro-life Dem Congress Critters and not at rank and file pro-life Dems.

  • Are believers in Christian Science exempt?

Is Bishop Howard Hubbard Cooperating In Evil

Friday, February 5, AD 2010

Formal cooperation in another’s evil act (that is, undertaking to help expressly another to perform an act known to be evil) is itself evil. Davis, Moral and Pastoral Theology (1938), I: 341-342. There are no exceptions to this rule; no supervening circumstances can ever render formal cooperation in evil good.

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21 Responses to Is Bishop Howard Hubbard Cooperating In Evil

  • I really don’t think Peters’ argument is sufficient to conclude that there has been formal cooperation. I’ve addressed this further on my blog.

  • On the other hand, I agree with Dr. peters ananlysis.

  • Here I think you’re correct — this is a foolish and disgraceful thing for a diocese to get itself involved in.

  • Hubbard is big with the homosexual agenda and with recruiting homosexuals for the priesthood.

  • The secular church has been enjoying political power and we should be very wary of the social programs that have been initiated by this bishop. Many of our local politicians got their political careers launched through Catholic charities and some of them with openly homosexual agendas. Remember the Henchmen that were sent out to the critics of howard hubbard, Jessie Jackson, and Al Sharpton all in the name of the Lord. I remember how Catholic charities paid Mary Jo White millions to defend Howard Hubbard. She was in charge of overseeing over 800 N.Y.S. lawyers. These social programs were placed here by Catholic Charities. All on taxpayers money. Oh and by the way, when the government gives up money, any talk of religion is forbidden. Shame on Catholic Charities and the government that supports it.

  • I can take any implied threat as what is to come and you know how easy it is to turn perfectly normal children into drug addicts. All I am saying is that there are ways to get children on drugs and howard knows this. He also knows that without God we are helpless. I take the distribution of needles as an implied threat that will be carried out. prepare for a generation of children on hard drugs. anything for his agenda. Hey Howard why be a coward show us the nightmare you have already imposed on your critics and drop the phoney show. You aint no govenor and you aint no rock star but I know how jealous you are of your betters. Wanna have a public talk with me? Ill make the people hear by the power of God. signed rose above the agony in albany.

  • For all you critics opposed to needle exchange, how do you expect heretics to support themselves if they close his beloved hope house and all the stupid programs he started by stealing money from the true church? How can he continue when he depends on mental health and other government funds because he has sifted all the good will he can out of all of your communities. He works for the government now. No need for any true faith. He can not allow your children to know the truth and the only flock he has consist of homosexual drug users and he wants to allow this for your chidren. Separation of church and state is his biggest fear. He is not interested in the advancement of normal children. The Pope should be arrested for not defrocking Howard J. Hubbard. Respond!!!!! I should sue this man and many catholic families should do the same. he is a shepard but not a good one but he has placed many in positions of political power and I want to be there for his meeting with the Lord.

  • I read Paul’s argument. The gist of it seems to be that material cooperation is avoided by the acceptance of an old needle in exchange for the new one, the theory being that one could prudentially conclude that such an exchange reduces a health risk while otherwise not increasing the risk that the evil of drug abuse would occur. Next he will tell us that it is morally acceptable to pay for a hospital abortion as long as one can prudentially conclude that the mother would otherwise have a more dangerous so-called back alley abortion, since a health risk is averted presumably without increasing the risk of the evil of abortion.

  • Mike Petrik: “I read Paul’s argument. The gist of it seems to be that material cooperation is avoided by the acceptance of an old needle in exchange for the new one, the theory being that one could prudentially conclude that such an exchange reduces a health risk while otherwise not increasing the risk that the evil of drug abuse would occur.

    Right. The prudential discernment lies in deciding whether or not the drug-taker is encouraged in drug-taking by the exchange of needles. It might be so, but not necessarily so (and Edward Peters’ argument relied on the flawed assumption that it necessarily furthered drug-taking.)

    Mike Petrik: “Next he will tell us that it is morally acceptable to pay for a hospital abortion as long as one can prudentially conclude that the mother would otherwise have a more dangerous so-called back alley abortion, since a health risk is averted presumably without increasing the risk of the evil of abortion.

    I won’t tell you that, because it’s plainly wrong. One cannot directly participate in an abortion (which is what choosing to pay for it is) for any reason whatsoever. Abortion is an intrinsic evil (something known with certainty to be evil), whereas the physical exchange of needles isn’t.

  • Paul, I’m afraid I disagree with your application of the analogy. The abortion is the analog to the drug abuse. The provision of the needle is the analog to the provision of money, neither one of which is an intrinsic evil. In each case the provider must reasonably assume that the recipient will use what he has been given to commit an evil act. Also in each case one can assume that the evil act would be committed anyway, which is what invites the donor’s rationalization that he causes no harm. In neither case does that last assumption and its attendant rationalization rescue the provider from his material cooperation problem.

  • Mike Petrik: “The provision of the needle…

    No. In a needle exchange there is no provision of a needle (in the usual sense of the word “provision”). The drug addict already has a needle, ready to be used. What’s being provided is a removal of dirt and potential infection. (The moral situation would be equivalent if what was provided was a service to clean the addicts’ own needles.)

    Mike Petrik: “The provision of the needle is the analog to the provision of money, neither one of which is an intrinsic evil.

    If the money is intended to enable the abortion to take place, then that means there is a direct share in the evil of the abortion — so it’s something known to be wrong, regardless of any reasons for the abortion.

    The same is not true for the cleaning of a needle.

    In one case:
    – someone is paying for an abortion, SO THAT the abortion can take place.

    In the other case:
    – someone is cleaning a needle, SO THAT the addict won’t become ill from it.

    The intentions are dramatically different. In the first case, there is a direct share in an intrinsic evil. In the second, there is the intention to help the addict.

    (The prudential decision is then whether providing the needle encourages the addict to keep taking drugs. It might be so, but not necessarily so.)

  • Paul, volunteering to clean the needle of a drug abuser so that it may be used to abuse drugs more safely is no different than volunteering to clean the surgical instruments of an abortion provider so that they may be used to perform an abortion more safely. Either way, a cooperation with evil problem is present.
    This problem may or may not be formal cooperation depending on the intention of the cooperator, but it certainly is material cooperation. Your better argument is that while it is material cooperation, it is mediate rather than immediate and is furthermore contingent, in which case it can be morally justified with sufficient reason. I encourage you to explore that because the reasoning in your blog is deficient.

  • Paul,
    Furthermore, I do not think Catholic moral teaching reduces “sufficient reason” to an ordinary prudential calculus.

  • In the case of needle exchange there are three distinct ways in which material cooperation with evil might take be taking place:

    (1) In the exchange of the physical needle itself.
    (2) In the absence of dirt and infection in the exchanged needle.
    (3) In increasing the likelihood that the drug addict uses the clean needle, rather than his own.

    I reject (1) as a material cooperation because — provided the exchanged needle is equivalent — there is not the slightest change in the physical properties of the needle itself.

    I reject (2) because the absence of dirt and infection — in itself — does nothing to accomplish the act of drug-taking, which can take place entirely independently of the cleanliness or otherwise. The cleanliness of the needle is, in itself, irrelevant to the accomplishment of drug-taking. (And thus, because it is irrelevant, it cannot comprise a material cooperation).

    In relation to (3), there are three ways in which the likelihood of drug-taking is changed. Either (a) it makes no difference at all (e.g. because the addict is hopelessly addicted). Or (b) it makes the drug-taking less likely to occur (e.g. because the drug-addict is so impressed with the care taken over him that he reevaluates his life). Or (c) the drug addict becomes more likely to take the drug (e.g. because there is one less dangerous obstacle in the way).

    Distinguishing between (a), (b), and (c) is necessarily a matter of prudence, and opinions might differ.

    So, I see no material cooperation in (1) or (2), and no necessary material cooperation in (3).

  • Paul, the cooperation need not increase the likelyhood of the evil act to still be cooperation, just as in my abortion example which you ignore and which your reasoning would permit. The cooperation is the provision of the needle, and that is true even if one recasts the provision as simply the cleaning of the needle. The fact that properties don’t change is not relevant to material cooperation just as is the fact that the abortionist’s instruments properties don’t change. As I said, your better argument is that the material cooperation is mediate and contingent and therefore can be morally justified, but to say that there is no material cooperation simply misunderstands the concept. The following is from Fr. Hardon, but there are many more meaty explanations available.

  • Mike Petrik: “The cooperation is the provision of the needle, and that is true even if one recasts the provision as simply the cleaning of the needle. The fact that properties don’t change is not relevant to material cooperation…

    You assert this, but with insufficient argument for me to understand why you say that. For material cooperation to occur, the cooperation has to be actually specified.

    If I have a dollar bill, and you have a dollar bill, and we exchange these dollar bills, what will you be able to buy after the exchange that you could not buy before? Nothing whatsoever. The exchange does nothing to help you accomplish any act, and so (by itself) it cannot possibly be an act of cooperation. Now it might be that the exchange somehow alters your thinking — and if I can anticipate that, then on that basis there might well be some kind of cooperation.

    As far as I can tell, you disagree with something about the argument in the preceding paragraph. But I don’t know what.

  • Will you please explain to me what any of this has to do with church business or don’t any of you know?

  • This is inside Church politics so to speak.

    Are you familiar with Canon Law?

  • I am aware of theology and I woulld like to know why you think you can ignor it. Jesus instructed us completely on these matters. he said a thing or two about luring little ones into sinful behavior and giving out condoms to unmarried children and needles to drug adicts could well lure them into sinful lifesyles that could cause them to live horrilble lives. But they should not despair because Jesus will come after the ones that are teaching them that its O.K. today. Hey when do you think the church will be able to openly disuss race in this country? I seem to remember lots of children sent out by drug dealing nasty pimps. Could this have been a form of racism or do ya think those nasty drug dealing pimps were loving those children? Again what is your argument? Should we just go along with this abuse of power and let these agendas continue to slaughter the spirits and bodies of children? Save lives without honor? The church is supposed to be a sanctuary and we will get that back for the the sake of all Gods children. I think this Bishop needs to get out of the political business and get back to the job he was suppose to do, such as the true teaching of the one true faith. Its ok for children to hold these nasty homos and drug dealers accoutable for the crimes. And its ok for parents to say homosexuals have no business near children. Do you know that children have a right not to agree with the homosexual agenda? Why should it be force upon them in schools.

  • Hey guys, long time lurker here so thought I would finally post. I’m a little shy because I’m a girl and it seems there are mostly guys here but I wanted to know why it seems you guys don’t have lives. Are the guys with very high post counts really better posters than the ones with less?

  • hey Lisa, some people are seeking everlasting life. I children are expected to keep up the perverted lifestyles of the people making obsene moral judgments then the children are going to need to be self medicating and hubbard is right. Need to get a decent life for the sake of the children.

Anglicans And Catholics To Reunite, Reaction And News Roundup

Tuesday, October 20, AD 2009

St. Thomas More

I will be updating this post as often as I can throughout the day [Last update at 10:01pm CDT].  I’ll be reporting on reactions and news concerning this groundbreaking development that came from the Vatican this morning.  The Vatican issued a note explaining a new provision in an upcoming Apostolic Constitution that will allow for a structure to be in place to receive Anglicans and Episcopalians into the Catholic Church.  Basically a corporate reunion!

To read the full text of this announcement from the Vatican click here.

To read the full text of the joint press release of the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Gerard Nichols, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, click here.

Reaction and news from around the world [all emphasis mine]:

Last Update of the day at 10:01pm CDT (Earlier updates further down this post)

Ruth Gledhill of the Times of London.  Offers a brief history of what transpired the last couple of years between Anglo-Catholics, and those inside the Vatican, both faithful and dissident Catholics.

Rome has parked its tanks on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s lawn [Interesting choice of words, but nonetheless accurate in my opinion] after manoeuvres undertaken by up to fifty bishops and begun two years ago by an Australian archbishop, John Hepworth [The leader of the Traditional Anglican Communion].”

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18 Responses to Anglicans And Catholics To Reunite, Reaction And News Roundup

  • Does this action reverse Apostolicae Curae?

  • A brilliant stroke on the part of Pope Benedict. He has the mental agility and energy of a prelate half his age. Disaffected Anglicans now have a home and the powers that be in the Anglican Church have a major problem. To all of our Anglican brothers and sisters who will be joining us I say that we are overjoyed to have you!

  • Might I just add that this is what Ecumenism is supposed to be about: Conversion into the Catholic Church, and not the other way around (i.e., Catholics mutating into Protestants)?

  • e.,

    In addition to what you said, Ecumenism is about conversion, not dialogue that continues without resolution.

  • Tito: I was having problems earlier at the website. Would you kindly remove the first instance of my comments above since it’s merely a duplicate?

    Also, would you happen to know if in that ordinariate in the Anglican ultimately means that a person can actually be married and yet become a priest in that rite (for lack of a better word)?


  • e.,

    Yes, I read the Note that was released early this morning the same way.

    Married men can now become priests in the Catholic Church, but only within the Anglican Personal Ordinariate. Very similar to Easter Catholic Rites.

    But they may not become priests in the Latin Rite, which encompasses the vast majority of Catholics worldwide.

    I’m sure once the mainstream media gets to reading the details they’ll begin to make hay about this pretty soon.

    Take note though, only unmarried priests can become bishop within the Anglican Personal Ordinariate, just as in the Easter Catholic Rites and the Easter Orthodox Churches.

  • Tito:

    Thanks for the info!

    I’m just wondering if a person who is seeking to become a priest and yet at the same time be married, alls he need do is pursue such vocation but within that same Anglican Personal Ordinariate which you mention; in other words, will this be at long last that loophole for those married but yet feel a calling to serve the Lord in the priesthood.

    Here is The Wall Street Journal scoop:

    Vatican Opens Door for Anglican Converts

    ROME — Pope Benedict XVI introduced a fast track for Anglicans seeking to join Roman Catholicism, paving the way for conservative Anglicans frustrated by their church’s blessing of same-sex unions and homosexuality in the priesthood to enter the Catholic fold.

    The Vatican on Tuesday announced plans to create a special set of canon laws, known as an “Apostolic Constitution,” to allow Anglican faithful, priests and bishops to enter into full communion with the Vatican without having to give up a large part of their liturgical and spiritual traditions.

    With the measures, Pope Benedict is attempting to reclaim ground lost by the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century when King Henry VIII defied papal authority to found the Church of England. The move clears the way for entire congregations of Anglicans to join the Catholic Church and makes it easier for married Anglican priests to convert without embracing Catholicism’s traditional code of priestly celibacy…'s_Most_Popular

  • e.,

    As much as the mainstream media hypes that the solution to a declining pool of priests is to allow married people to pursue this vocation, it won’t be anything more than a trickle.

    We all know that families that practice and teach the faith to their children, ie, foster vocations, in addition to participating in orthodox Catholic parishes will create large pools of seminarians.

    As evident in the Lincoln and Omaha dioceses of Nebraska.

    Allowing married men and wymyn priests is a band-ade at best.

  • Tito:

    Obviously, woman priests is clearly forbidden and should never be allowed — ever.

    However, allowing married priests is more of a disciplinary rather than a doctrinal matter; I don’t see how such a thing can actually even be considered subversive.

    In fact, even Fr. Corapi admitted as much in his Catechism of the Catholic Church series on EWTN.

  • e.,

    I know that it is a discipline and not doctrinal.

    I agree with you completely on this point. You may have misread my comment on this, but to be clear, I believe you and I are on the same page.

    I’m fine with allowing married priests. Especially how it will be set up in the upcoming provision in the Apostolic Constitution.

    …and I looove Father Corapi!

  • I got to see Fr. Corapi in Buffalo this past August on Our Lady’s feast. He is wonderful. A true son of the Church.

    I prefer that the Latin Rite keep the celibacy discipline. We are at a point right now where experience is teaching us that when we are orthodox we grow and when we are hetrodox we wane.

    Even though the Pope could lift this I think it diminishes the priest’s efficacy if he has to worry about the formation and protection, etc. of children of his own flesh – it is actually a freedom to be able to care for all the children in his parish.

    Nevertheless, whatever the Pope decides is fine by me. I think everyone except the Holy Spirit underestimated our German Shepherd. He rocks.

  • AK,

    I agree 100%.

    Celibacy needs to be kept for many apparent reasons, one of the most basic is he has dedicated his life to Christ. Adding a good wife would only shorten his time on earth.

  • Fr. Grandon is a distant relative of mine by marriage, whom I met for the first time when he had just become Catholic and had gone from being an Episcopal priest to a Catholic layperson. Great guy with a really interesting conversion story.

    On another blog I read that Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman, retired Episcopal bishop of Quincy, Illinois (its cathedral, however, is in Peoria), was more or less stripped of his episcopal status by the “High Priestess” referred to above… he also is a great guy, good friends with Bishops Myers and Jenky, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him jump the Tiber now. Since he’s married and has kids he wouldn’t be able to be a bishop anymore, but given how he’s been treated by his own denomination of late, he’d probably have little to lose if he did convert.

  • Also, maybe I’m getting WAY ahead of everyone here… but could this approach to ecumenism be carried even beyond the boundaries of the Anglican or Orthodox churches? Could we someday (probably centuries from now, if ever) have a Lutheran Rite or Baptist Rite or Pentecostal/Charismatic Rite that combine their distinctive styles of worship with the sacraments, doctrines and teaching authority of the Church?

  • Elaine,

    I briefly touched on that in the next posting.

    In my opinion, I could possibly see something for the Lutherans in a Personal Ordiniate.

    But after them, there are no vestiges of any signs of an apostolic church. Maybe the Methodists, but that is stretching it a bit.

    But again, it’s strictly my opinion.

  • Tito:

    No disrespect; however, if you actually felt that way about married priests, then why did you put it up there with woman priests which, in fact, can never be allowed as it directly goes against Christian doctrine itself?

    Also, I don’t think there could ever be rites that would cater to such Protestant sects as the Baptists who clearly do not hold the same Christian beliefs that we do, like the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

    Ironically, it is folks like the Lutherans who we have more in common (relatively-speaking, of course) in comparison with those sects who are far more heretical in degree.

    Yet, I do greatly appreciate the fact that you are keeping us apprised of such news. Keep it up.

    Adding a good wife would only shorten his time on earth.

    This reminds of precisely what Saint/Sir Thomas More once said as regarding marriage; that is, once a man is married, he can never be free of worry!

  • e.,

    Now your reading into things way to much.

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Day 2: Reaction To The Passing Away Of Ted Kennedy Around The Catholic World

Thursday, August 27, AD 2009

Ted Kennedy young

Day II of what Catholics are saying on the passing away of Edward Moore Kennedy around the web (will be continuously updated until tonight at 7:00 pm CST):

A Catholic Funeral for Ted Kennedy by Dr. Edward Peters of Canon Law

A Catholic Funeral for Ted? It’s a Lie, a Sham, a Scandal, a Pretense, an Insult to faithful Catholics by Robert Kumpel of St. John’s Valdosta Blog

Dissident Catholic America magazine doesn’t want to talk about Ted Kennedy’s stance on abortion and trashes Patrick Madrid by Father John Zuhlsdorf of What Does The Prayer Really Say?

Who can have a Catholic Funeral & more by Elizabeth Scalia of The Anchoress via First Thoughts

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One Response to Day 2: Reaction To The Passing Away Of Ted Kennedy Around The Catholic World

Notre Dame Must Answer For The Obama Scandal

Wednesday, August 26, AD 2009

Obama Notre Dame

[Updated as of 8-26-2009 AD at 6:01 pm CST, see below]

Bishop D’Arcy pens an article in the dissident Catholic Jesuit-run magazine, America, by rapping the University of Notre Dame in it’s failure in being a witness to the Gospel by honoring the most anti-life president in the history of the United States.

He goes on to single out Father John Jenkins for his failure in leading as a man of faith and to the board of trustees for their deafening silence.

Finally he asks the University of Notre Dame, but also other Catholic universities, whether they will follow the Land O’Lakes Statement, which proclaimed in ambiguous language that it was ‘ok’ to dissent from Catholic teaching, or adhere to Ex Corde Ecclesiae, where Catholic teaching and identity must be a priori.

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32 Responses to Notre Dame Must Answer For The Obama Scandal

  • Should Notre Dame have avoided teaching or even discussing evolution until the Holy Father accepted it as fact? Should any Catholic school not asked Galileo to speak if the Church leaders believed the Earth was the center of the universe?

    Sometimes ignoring those we do not agree with and at times violently opposing them, simply means leaders will have to apologize for the backwards thinking a few decades or centuries later.

    I understand abortion is less cut and dry than evolution or the basic structure of the solar system. Ethical and moral positions may not need objective knowledge in determining their validity, but often morality is seen as a means to ignore the pain of others, a means to stop thought and discourse, a means to vilify the “other.”

    Allowing President Obama to speak did not cause anyone to perform an abortion and keeping him from speaking would not have prevented any abortions.

    There is more to life and to the Life of Christ than one issue, no matter how important it is, and I would have liked to see a similar discussion take place when anyone who supported the death penalty or the war in Iraq or the torture of prisoners came to Notre Dame.

  • MacGregor,

    I’m not sure you know what you’re talking about.

  • I am sure MacGregor does not know what he is talking about. Abortion is more cut and dry, not less, than the other issues he raises.

    But putting that aside, how will ND answer for the O scandal? Will D’Arcy walk the walk? Them’s fine words, but what consequences has ND suffered, other than increased applications from liberal students and professors? Do you seriously expect that, if push comes to shove, that ND’s Catholic creds (to the extent they exist) will be removed by the Bishop?

    Heck, I haven’t even seen one deny communion to a Catholic pro-abort politician, much less yank a Catholic university’s affiliation.

  • Hi Tito and c matt

    I actually do know what I am talking about.

    I am very clear that abortion as an issue is more cut and dry as to its moral consequences than the other issues, however it is less cut and dry when it comes to being able to prove that personhood and the soul enters the body at the moment of conception/fertilization. It will never be possible to PROVE the existence of the soul much less prove that the Bible or Church Teachings are infallibly correct … that is why it is called FAITH.

    Both of you act as if your conservative views of Catholicism are the only ones that matter.

    Asking Obama to speak at ND is no different than asking Bush to speak there. That is the point.
    Capital punishment is no less a sin than abortion. That is the point.
    Not all student who go to ND are Catholic and not all Catholics believe that we should force others to believe everything that we do. Should all speakers and professors at ND take a test as to whether they believe in transubstantiation? in speaking in ex cathedra?

    My point is that reasonable and moral people can have differing opinions on matters of faith. It is unreasonable to disagree that the Earth is in the center of the solar system, but it is reasonable to disagree on at what point human life deserves legal protection or at what point a woman has control over her own body.

    ND should not merely stand for dogma, like a radical Islamic madras, as both of you seem to feel. ND as an institution of learning needs to stand for the free and honest and ethical exchange of ideas so that those who come have all of the opportunity to seek the Truth and live a moral life.

    I believe that abortion is the ending of a human life, but it is not self-evident to everybody that that is true. The Catholic Church can deny communion to anyone that the Bishops want, but the Church and they must do so for the right reasons, not just to make conservatives feel good about themselves or because they have a 3rd grade Sunday School view of theology.

    My comments are merely a voice asking those who feel the need to condemn others, to look at ourselves first. More people die because of neglect (starvation, disease) and murder (illegal wars, crime) than from abortions, yet I rarely see conservative Catholics protest these as much. They may not be as viscerally abhorrent to you as abortion or as politically significant, but they are just as important. Maybe both of you did protest the war in Iraq – I don’t know. I simply want the discussion of Obama at ND to be fair and reasonable and sometimes a quick post to a blog isn’t enough for that to occur.


  • Actually Capital punishment is not a sin. Sorry, as cmatt and Tito point out, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • Capital punishment is no less a sin than abortion. That is the point.

    Errr, no. It isn’t. The Church is very clear in its teachings that abortion is neve permissible under any circumstance, whereas the death penalty is permitted, though under strict applications. This is not the “conservative” Catholic approach – it’s simply the Catholic approach. If you disagree with that, take it up with the Pope.

    Not all student who go to ND are Catholic and not all Catholics believe that we should force others to believe everything that we do. Should all speakers and professors at ND take a test as to whether they believe in transubstantiation? in speaking in ex cathedra?

    I am beginning to agree with Tito. Clearly you do not understand what you’re talking about, or what the issues of this debate are. The question has always been whether or not it is appropriate or permissible for a Catholic institution to honor someone who holds positions that are in direct conflict with Church teachings. The answer again is no.

    My point is that reasonable and moral people can have differing opinions on matters of faith.

    You sound like my Junior year high school theology teacher, who was unsurprisingly a Jesuit priest.

    It is unreasonable to disagree that the Earth is in the center of the solar system, but it is reasonable to disagree on at what point human life deserves legal protection or at what point a woman has control over her own body.

    No, actually, you have this reversed, unless you are looking at this from a non-Catholic perspective, which I take it you are.

    a 3rd grade Sunday School view of theology.

    Considering that every single statement you have uttered indicates that you have not ever picked up a Catechism, I would refrain from such comments if I were you.

    More people die because of neglect (starvation, disease) and murder (illegal wars, crime) than from abortions

    Aside from the fact that your stats are wrong, at least as applied to the US, your comment is just silly. The fact that you think that the war in Iraq is a more pressing moral issue than abortion just confirms the fact that your viewpoint is pretty much worthless.

  • The whole quote on the death penalty from the Catechism. This is probably at a higher level then just pure Sunday school.

    2267 Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
    If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

    Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

  • Paul, Phillip, C Matt,

    Thank you for supporting my points with examples.


    Paul made it pretty clear.

    The fact that a Catholic university gave an honorary degree to a person that implements policies that are diametrically opposed to the most important of Catholic issues is the scandal.

    Not anything else.

  • Thank you Phillip for the quote from the Catechist. I do understand the doctrine, but I also believe that maximum security prisons are quite able to “effectively defend human lives against the unjust aggressor” and that there are plenty of “non-lethal means to defend and protect people’s safety.”

    Maybe in times of war or civil strife on the battle field it is necessary to execute a guilty aggressor, but

    I agree that the Catechist IS at a higher level than Sunday school, I just think some people who read it are not and that comment was not even directed at anyone on this blog. I did make the observation that this blog seems to be as much about political conservative principles as it is about Catholic theological principles.

    As I do not know anyone in this forum, I wouldn’t presume to attach any of you as uninformed. As for myself, I went to a diocesan elementary school, a Jesuit high school, an Holy Cross university and my home parish was Franciscan. Maybe that makes me mixed up a bit, especially when it comes to donating to alumni associations, but I think it was a great education. The diocesans taught me how to respect authority, the Jesuits taught me how to think, the Holy Cross taught me how to be a college football fan and the Franciscans taught me how to love.

    I don’t have the time or the space to explain each of my points fully, and I acknowledge that I may have been a bit chavalier comparing abortion and the death penalty, but I have had a good deal of time discussing these issues with Catholic theologians, and I do believe that life is a little more complex than a few paragraphs in the Catechism. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t need the Holy Spirit to continue to guide the Church.

    Regarding the extremely limited allowance for death penalty, this is largely an acknowledgment of the position of self-defense and the defense of others who are innocent. I would hope it were obvious that the hundreds of prisoners that are executed in Texas each year would never be released and executing them is not an act of self-defense. It is an act of revenge or “justice” or some other emotion that is not clearly self-defense. No one on death row to my knowledge has ever escaped unless they were exonerated and I’m pretty sure most people in the judicial system would admit that more than a few innocent people have been executed in the last 100 years. So here simply quoting the Catechism may be a good sophist’s argument, but it isn’t particularly practical for most cases.

    As for the immorality of “any and all abortions,” I don’t have the time right now to describe my thoughts on the historical context, historical writings by Church Fathers (Didache, etc.). The supposed moral clarity of a few lines of text in old writings were never sufficient defense for the stagnant, overly conservative, “whitened sepulcher” Pharisees when Christ came to articulate the new commandments of Love so I hope that the same is true for you. Acknowledging of course that most abortions are not done in self-defense, if self-defense can be a reason to kill a prisoner, why is it not reason to kill a fetus? The logic is one-dimensional.

    Again not enough time to go over this and I do appreciate and agree with most of Donald DeMarco’s writings concerning this in

    However he and many here act as if any question of interpretation or any critical thinking that may find contradictory propositions in Catholic teaching as being “liberal” and “anti-Catholic” is absurd. My issue in this thread is not with the details of the abortion debate, it is with the peculiar atmosphere of the debate as to whether President Obama deserved to be honored. And that atmosphere is one of being partisan and political and exists within the context of a vehement conservative backlash that goes beyond theology.

    How is it, Tito, that abortion is “the most important of Catholic issues?” Did the Pope tell you this? Is euthanasia and unjust war suddenly numbers 2 and 3? Are only conservative issues of life the ones that Catholics should be concerned with?

    Let’s not fool ourselves, George Bush was not protested by many of the same people who protested Obama because they only care about their social/political biases, not by theological arguments.

    No person or president is defined by one issue, no matter how important that issue is or no matter how important it is for you.

    When I was in my parishes boys choir, we went to the state capitol to sing for a pro-life rally. It was a deeply respectful and moving moment and even though I know a good deal more about life and morality now than when I was 12, I still remember it as a spiritual event. I did not see that in the fearful, ignorant, arrogant and angry faces that I saw on some at ND, nor on those at tax teaparties or at some of the latest health care town halls.

    I didn’t challenge anyone’s morality or question anyone’s education or honesty in this forum in my post. I wish you would do the same.

    If it is true, paul, that the ONLY question “has always been whether or not it is appropriate or permissible for a Catholic institution to honor someone who holds positions that are in direct conflict with Church teachings. The answer again is no.” Then I accept you opinion and I sympathize with your statement. However you and the protesters have proven that that is not the only question, and that many who hold placards really haven’t gotten beyond Sunday school level theology.

  • I would hope it were obvious that the hundreds of prisoners that are executed in Texas each year

    Texas executed 18 people last year, 16 people so far this year, and they are by far the leading state. Let’s at least start with facts, okay.

    Acknowledging of course that most abortions are not done in self-defense, if self-defense can be a reason to kill a prisoner, why is it not reason to kill a fetus? The logic is one-dimensional.

    Okay. If a fetus comes at its mother with a knife, we’ll grant that an abortion might be okay. So we’ll carve out a new exception to the complete prohibition against abortion: knife-wielding fetuses can be killed in self-defense.

    As an aside, you spill a lot of verbiage for someone who doesn’t “have time” to explain their positions.

    How is it, Tito, that abortion is “the most important of Catholic issues?” Did the Pope tell you this?

    Actually, yes.

    In his letter, Cardinal Ratzinger also wrote that “Not all moral issues have the same weight as abortion and euthanasia…. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion, even among Catholics, about waging war or applying the death penalty, but not, however, with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

    that many who hold placards really haven’t gotten beyond Sunday school level theology.

    Again, since you have repeatedly shown a complete lack of knowledge about basic Catholic teaching, you ought to quit making this ridiculous assertion.

  • If a fetus comes at its mother with a knife, we’ll grant that an abortion might be okay. So we’ll carve out a new exception to the complete prohibition against abortion: knife-wielding fetuses can be killed in self-defense.

    Perhaps MacGregor has this in mind:

  • MacGregor, the faithful here will pillory you if you don’t subscribe to THEIR version of the Catholic faith. They are all about capital punishment, as you can see by their defense of it. Abortion is the holy grail by which all matters will be weighed. If you dissent, you show a “complete lack of knowledge”.

  • MacGregor, the faithful here will pillory you if you don’t subscribe to THEIR version of the Catholic faith. They are all about capital punishment, as you can see by their defense of it. Abortion is the holy grail by which all matters will be weighed.

    To my knowledge, more of our writers here oppose capital punishment than support it, and even among those of us who think there on occasions when it is called for (a claim that the catechism supports — though it questions whether they exist in modern first world nations) that support is generally fairly quiet. What people are pointing out here is simply what the Church teaching, indeed what the pope himself has written: that the justice of a given war or issues such as capital punishment are prudential while the evils of abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage and cannot legitimately be questioned by any Catholic.

    That this does not align with your personal preferences is unfortunate, but it’s not “our version” of Catholicism but Catholicism itself that you have a problem with if you find this unacceptable.

    We are all called to accept correction and guidance by Christ’s church on earth — and this applies even when this does not align with one’s political tribe.

  • Master C,

    I abhor capital punishment.

    You need to do your research before you say anything accusing us of what we aren’t.

    The American Catholic was put together with varying points of view being represented. The one thing that unites us is our love of the triune God and fidelity to the Magisterium.

    I hope that helps you the next time you accuse us of something we clearly are not.

  • Since when do you oppose the death penalty?

  • I never commented on it until now, that’s why you didn’t know. But I’ve always opposed the death penalty. Most of my friends know this, but now you know.

    Final judgment is for God, not man.

  • remember this?

    Call it an accusation if you like, but this blog has certainly stood up for it
    [the death penalty] previously.

  • Master C.,

    That is a blanket statement. You are reading too much into this particular topic.

    Just because we don’t fit into your worldview of an evil conservative doesn’t mean you need to accuse us of what we aren’t.

  • I am glad to hear you are opposed to the death penalty. Indeed, the mind of God is unsearchable.

  • My long rant of the night. Since we’re talking about the death penalty, I want to talk about the prison system.

    I oppose the entire prison system as it exists today… it makes monsters out of mere lawbreakers. The condition of prisons in states like California are a testament to how little we value human life. A non-violent criminal has no business being thrown into a jail with hardened, violent, career criminals. And no one deserves to be beaten, gang-raped, and given terminal diseases, yet it happens all the time – and the prison guards are either indifferent or the perpetrators themselves.

    With such a system in place, I would actually prefer a quick execution to a long prison sentence, especially a life sentence. As things are, I’m not sure it is even an effective deterrent.

    I do believe there is a small percentage of criminals who are incurable sociopaths/psychopaths who should be put to death. I mean, these people are going to suffer an eternity in hell (most likely); if we’re so terrible for wanting to put them to death, how does the angry liberal deal with the reality of hell? Is God just a mean old man, or has hell been effectively written out of liberal theology? Is the problem REALLY that we’re supposedly taking the judgment out of God’s hands, or is it just materialist-determinist sociology seeping through theology – they didn’t really “choose” to be criminals so they shouldn’t really be punished?

    Let’s not forget that there is an unforgivable sin, the total and willful rejection of God. It is unforgivable, I think, because forgiveness would do nothing for such a person. A psychopath/sociopath that has willfully rejected all restraint and consideration for others, I believe, can and should suffer the final punishment. They cannot be cured because they will not be cured. We have to respect their decision.

    For the other 95% of criminals, I think the death penalty should be off the table and prison reform enacted as soon as possible. We have more criminals than any other developed country in the world – over 2 million prisoners. States like NY have ridiculous drug laws. Rehabilitation programs that work are deliberately denied funding by people who want to “get tough on crime”, even if it means sending non-violent, first time offenders into a hell on earth.

    This attitude is unconscionable for a Christian. Every effort at rehabilitation must be made in a society that places value on human life, and sensible policies regarding sentencing, placement, the structure of the prison, the screening out of sadists and bullies among the guards, all must take place.

  • Indeed, the mind of God is unsearchable.

    I bet Google will find a way. 😉

    Joe, I agree, our prison system is an abomination. It’s a scandal that persists quietly in the background. Infinitely more good would be done by working to reform the prison and justice system before tackling the death penalty.

  • Looks like Joe is our google. He has already figured out which 5% should be put to death. He already knows they are going to hell. Bravo.

  • I never said I knew. It’s just an opinion, one I’m willing to defend with a reasonable argument.

    Can you say the same about anything you believe, or do you think indignation is an adequate substitute for argument?

  • Rehabilitation programs that work are deliberately denied funding by people who want to “get tough on crime”, even if it means sending non-violent, first time offenders into a hell on earth.

    Suggest that the State of New York issue brief determinate sentences specified precisely or by formula in the statute. Families and charitable organizations can work on rehabilitation after convicts are released.

  • I agree with Tito that capital punishment is wrong.

  • Master C,


    Who are we to judge a man and take his life away.

    That is for God, not man.

  • It looks like my last post on Friday didn’t make it to the thread, but I appreciate reading the discussion that has taken place since.

    First to paul:

    Thank you for actually using facts on the number of death penalty executions in Texas, my suggestion that the number was in the hundreds was incorrect and came from what I read concerning those on death row, not actually executed. Here is a graph from the US State Dept. that represents the number of exectutions by year over the last century.

    It is interesting to see what the effects might have been of the civil rights movement and a more “liberal” slant to national politics during the 60’s and 70’s. However, paul, your data begs several questions.

    1. If Texas is on tap to execute over 20 prisoners this year, is that much different than executing 100 prisoners (beyond of course the perspective of those individual prisoners)? Meaning, is a morally questionable act moderated by how often one does it?

    2. If Texas executed 18 individuals last year and the entire US executed 37 individuals, what does this mean for Texas – that it has around 50% of all the most vicious criminals in the country? That it is 50% better at finding, convicting and then executing its most vicious criminals, or that it has a political bent that make it more likely to execute someone than in most other states?

    3. Even if you believe capital punishment is okay, do you trust the system to be fair and impartial and effective in implementing it? Many governors, those who have the most personal and public choice about allowing the death penalty in their states have found that the system is far too biased and have found too many innocent people have been on death row, though I think only a few have been exonerated after their execution.

    My point is that with capital punishment, there seems to be more than a few grey areas and many times when one side acts very self-righteous and misses their own moral relativism.

    Also, paul, you wrote:

    “Okay. If a fetus comes at its mother with a knife, we’ll grant that an abortion might be okay. So we’ll carve out a new exception to the complete prohibition against abortion: knife-wielding fetuses can be killed in self-defense.”

    You are either being overly glib or completely ignorant and callous as to what giving birth entails. Abortion as means of self-defense is an incredibly small number, but to say that the risk does not exist is too ridiculous to waste time arguing. So what is more common, to die in childbirth (600 deaths per year in the US) or for death row prisoners to escape (0 per year in the US).

    I’ll leave your comment of – “As an aside, you spill a lot of verbiage for someone who doesn’t “have time” to explain their positions.” – as just an example of snarkiness or it being a long day for you.

    As for your final quote from Cardinal Ratzinger – certainly it is obvious that not all moral issues of life and death are the same. Certainly times of war one of the greatest evils is that people are put into violently diverse grey areas regarding the morality of killing someone else – is it murder or self-defense, is it personal or political self-defense, etc., which is why war is so terrible. I am certain that the Cardinal at the time did not think World War 2 was a particularly insignificant moral issue.

    As I read the article from 2004 regarding then Cardinal Ratzinger (, the author actually has to explain a series of “technical” terms to interpret the Cardinal’s remarks. The point behind the article was good, in that voters are often lazy in how they vote and in how much responsibility they take for voting.

    Again, this thread and my purpose is not to argue abortion, Roe v. Wade or liberal vs. conservative values, it is about how we should view Notre Dame’s honoring of President Obama. Those are all related, but different discussions.

    I am saying simply that I disagree with those in this forum who feel that Obama is pro-abortion and that this one issue should be the sole barometer for any university to decide upon conferring honors. I do not question the theology behind Cardinal Ratzinger’s letters, but I do question how they are used by others to act holier-than-thou and how they are applied to political decisions.

    This forum does not seem to be the place for an open, sophisticated or truly rational debate on how Catholic teachings should operate in the public sphere.

    As for the view that gay marriage is of similar evil as euthanasia, this is an example of what I mean. I respect the Church’s opinions on both, but my “fidelity to the Magisterium” does not simply give me a hall pass to ignore the fact that there is a difference between the legality of civil marriage and the grace of the sacrament of marriage. Two people choosing to live together even if they can not produce children does not need a papal blessing and it is not morally equivalent to killing an innocent person. As much as I am sure DarwinCatholic knows all about the biological and psychological and spiritual truths of homosexuality, I find space to still question those who “cast the first stone.”

    Obama is against gay marriage. I did not see any signs of support by those who picketed his speech at ND, showing that they support his views on gay marriage. THAT is my point. THEY obviously already made up their minds about Obama and THEY did so from a very narrow viewpoint.

    I agree that the justice system is broken, but also based upon medieval ideas of punishment and rehabilitation. I also believe that a just economic system and a rich cultural/familial/social system are the best means for reducing criminal behavior outside the very rare sociopaths that any population will have.

    I believe a supportive family and just economic system and a just and universally accessible health care system is the best way of eliminating abortions. Anyone who claims to be pro-Life and yet wants to continue the current system in which cut-throat competition and corporate board rooms get to arbitrate all aspects of our health system are blinded by ideology.

    In the end, in my opinion, those who protested the Presidents visit to ND may be driven by honest opinions, but in the end they will probably save more innocent lives by helping him succeed, than by holding signs in opposition.

    Thanks for your comments.

    PS That conservative website is pretty funny. The fact that it has these two sentences at the very beginning and that the author doesn’t see the inherent contradiction is amazing:

    “Reagan said: The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom . . .

    The sine qua non of a conservative is someone who rises above his personal self-interest and promotes moral and economic values beneficial to all.”

    This shows the basic flaw in current American, neo-conservative thought. This is the notion that there is no conflict between self-interest and community values, that one can hold the Bible in one hand and Atlas Shrugged in the other.

  • “I am saying simply that I disagree with those in this forum who feel that Obama is pro-abortion and that this one issue should be the sole barometer for any university to decide upon conferring honors.”

    Has anyone ever heard the President describe abortion as a tragedy? Unlike Hillary Clinton, I have not seen him say anything like that.

    Not to get into the kerfluffle of “pro-choice” v. “pro-abortion,” but it is a significant insight into his thinking on this that he is unwilling to make even a verbal nod toward the idea that an abortion is morally problematic. It is of a piece with the statement that his administration will work to reduce the need for, but not the number of, abortions. Leaving aside the difficulty of measuring reduced “need,” as opposed to measurable numbers, the former comes from a world view where abortion is the morally responsible decision. Troubling, to say the least, and difficult to see how workable common ground can be found.

  • “…it is a significant insight into his thinking on this that he is unwilling to make even a verbal nod toward the idea that an abortion is morally problematic”

    It appears you didn’t watch the last presidential debate last year between he and McCain wherein Obama had actually mentioned that he considered abortion itself not even being a moral matter.

  • that one can hold the Bible in one hand and Atlas Shrugged in the other.

    Yeah, I love me some Atlas Shrugged. Good, perceptive analysis there.

  • Paul, you kinda take things personally, don’t you.

  • Pingback: Adios Heretics, Hello Orthodoxy! « The American Catholic

Res & Explicatio for A.D. 5-8-2009

Friday, May 8, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

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

1.  Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC made some extraordinary claims of how to manage dissenting Catholics such as Nancy Pelosi.  His Excellency believes that Canon 915 does not apply in advancing the salvific mission of the Church which is basically a losing argument because there are no exemptions for Nancy Pelosi in regards to Canon 915.  Archbishop Wuerl is mistaken if he can escape from his episcopal duty to apply Canon 915 to the pro-abortion representative from California.

Dr. Ed Peters responds to Archbishop Wuerls misapplication of Canon 915 here.

To learn what Canon 915 is click here.

2.  Bishop Robert Morlino of the Diocese of Madison continues with his house cleaning of heterodoxy in his diocese.  It was reported earlier this week that dissident ‘Catholic’ Ruth Kolpack was removed from her position of pastoral associate at St. Thomas the Apostle Church.  In addition:

“Kolpack will be barred from all leadership roles in the parish, paid or volunteer.”

The diocese has not said explicitly why she was fired but strongly suggested that it may have had something to do with her opposition to church doctrine in her capacity as a Catholic teacher.  The tide is continueing to turn as more American bishops evanglize boldly as St. Paul and act strongly as St. AmbroseDeo gratias!

For the story click here.

3.  There is more than meets the eye from the Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano newspaper that showed an article giving a glowing review of President Obama’s presidency thus far.  Apparently anything labeled from “The Vatican” carries magisterial weight, especially if it’s contra the Church’s position.  Let’s get something straight first, a janitor walking out of St. Peter’s Basilica can give an interview and that can be called news from “The Vatican”.  Second, there were glaring mistakes in said article and it was plainly obvious that Giuseppe Fiorentino, who wrote the article, did not know what he was talking about concerning embryo destruction and abortion.  Mr. Fiorentino has fallen under President Obama’s rhetorical spell, just as many dissenting Catholics have, of falling for style over substance.

Austin Ruse of The Catholic Thing breaks it all down for you here.

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13 Responses to Res & Explicatio for A.D. 5-8-2009

  • Archbishop Wuerl is an exemplary teacher, pastor and leader. God bless him and his sanity.

  • Mark D.

    that’s absurd. Why not post a response instead of a bumper sticker?

  • The Miami priest and his girlfriend evidently take his last name, “Cutie, ” much more seriously then they do the inconvienent title which precedes it.

  • In regard to L’Osservatore Romano, the author has been a fan of Obama since at least the election:

    “The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, was published Nov. 5 with an opinion piece headlined “A choice that unites.”

    “In the end, change occurred. The slogan that accompanied Barack Obama’s whole electoral campaign found its expression” in the results of the Nov. 4 election, said the article by Giuseppe Fiorentino.

    “As the president-elect underlined in his victory speech in Chicago, America really is the country where anything can happen,” a country “able to overcome fractures and divisions that not long ago seemed impossible to heal,” it said.

    But, the article said, the vote for Obama was “very pragmatic” because he was the “more convincing” candidate for “an electorate needing new hope, especially for a quick economic recovery.”

    The newspaper said Obama and his supporters know “not everything is roses and flowers,” because of the “huge political, social, economic and moral challenges” the United States is facing.

    Obama must unite the nation, a process L’Osservatore said will be helped by the concession speech of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who referred to Obama as “my president.”

    I’d say the article says a lot about the opinion of Giuseppe Fiorentino and little about the opinion of Pope Benedict.

  • Kolpack fired because of a paper she wrote in college. Unbelievable!

  • Michael,

    The article says specifically the paper itself was not the reason she was fired:

    The diocese later said that a college thesis, by itself, would not be a reason to fire someone.

    If you wish to criticize the Bishop, it would be better for you to extend the courtesy of not misrepresenting him.

  • Archbishop Wuerl is a superb catechist–that is not open to question. And, to his credit, he said he will honor the ban on communion for Kathleen Sebelius imposed by the bishops of Kansas. He’d be a much better pastor if he left denial of communion an open question. Conceding without a fight weakens his voice.

  • If you wish to criticize the Bishop, it would be better for you to extend the courtesy of not misrepresenting him.

    I’m not misrepresenting him at all. I didn’t say “The bishop said he fired he because of a paper she wrote in college.” All the diocese said was that was not the ONLY reason. It was certainly a reason.

    And I find it utterly hilarious that this bishop asked her to recant the views she stated in a freaking thesis. Does he think he’s dealing with Roger Haight? Totally lame.

  • It’s not hard to see why Michael “the Church is heterosexist” Iafrate would be nervous about Church institutions taking an interest in whether people expressed heretical positions while a student.

  • It seems like conservative Catholics are not the only ones who take umbrage at vile screeds against Israel:

    Sheikh attacks Israel, pope walks out

  • It’s not hard to see why Michael “the Church is heterosexist” Iafrate would be nervous about Church institutions taking an interest in whether people expressed heretical positions while a student.

    S.B., you should stop lying about what I, in fact, said. “Anon” is not fooling anyone.

  • I challenge you to show me where I said “The Church is heterosexist.” You are a liar.

    [ed. Permission to defend yourself granted, Michael; but comments may be edited]

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The Giggle Test

Monday, April 13, AD 2009


In my “real life”, for my sins no doubt, I am an attorney.  Before I raise an argument in court before a judge or a jury, I always make sure it can pass the giggle test.  It has two components:  1.  Can I make the argument with a straight face;  and 2.  do I think a judge or a jury can hear the argument without giggling.  The giggle test has saved me a lot of embarrassment over the years in court.

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7 Responses to The Giggle Test

  • Pingback: “diminishes the reputation of Notre Dame and makes one wonder what its mission truly is.” « The American Catholic
  • The good Father is feeling the heat.

  • Notre Dame gets an “F,” on the Giggle Test, an “F” for Catechism and an “F,” for not defending the free speech of the unborn. We who calls ourselves Christians/Cath. have been depicted as provincial backward folks with little comprehension, for progress and the sciences. Our faith is ridiculed by the media/academia quoting that 54% of the Cath. voted for President Obama. How many Cath. voted not to be sacrificed to the lions, when Emperor Nero was in charged? Our faith has not changed in the elapsed time especially, when the “life” of the innocent is the question. Jesus loves us today just as he did then, but more important; we must remember that Jesus always had a special love/consideration, for the weak, innocent, and the most vulnerable. November 17, will soon be water under the bridge. However, dishearten Christians/Cath. can reaffirm their commitments to faith and life through prayers. John Cardinal O’Connor reminded us in his book “Moment of Grace” of the following: “If prayer is resolutely united with that of Jesus in trust and boldness as children, we obtain all that we ask in his name, even more than any particular thing: The Holy Spirit himself, who contains all gifts.” On commencement day, I will pray/dedicate the rosary, for the protection of the innocent. I will also ask our Lord Jesus Christ to give our Cath. leaders the strength of character and wisdom to stand in disagreement when disagreement is required by principle. God Bless J. Cardinal O’Connor.

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  • “Chancellor Hitler” professed himself to be a Catholic. He was raised Catholic and remained a formal member of the CC until his death. And for the record, this entry goes straight to the top of the list of online rants that most quickly go out of their way to lend support to Godwin’s Law due to the oblique and nonsensical relationship attributed to Hitler and whoever it is you’re disagreeing with.

    If you aren’t familiar with Godwin’s Law, please do look it up.

  • Mike, Hitler despised the Catholic Church and only waited until the end of the war to settle accounts with it. Perhaps you are not aware of Hitler’s Table Talk? Here are some selections:

    ‘The war will be over one day. I shall then consider that my life’s final task will be to solve the religious problem. Only then Will the life of the German native be guaranteed once and for all.”

    “The evil that’s gnawing our vitals is our priests, of both creeds. I can’t at present give them the answer they’ve been asking for, but it will cost them nothing to wait. It’s all written down in my big book. The time will come when I’ll settle my account with them, and I’ll go straight to the point.”

    “I don’t know which should be considered the more dangerous: the minister of religion who play-acts at patriotism, or the man who openly opposes the State. The fact remains that it’s their maneuvers that have led me to my decision. They’ve only got to keep at it, they’ll hear from me, all right. I shan’t let myself be hampered by juridical scruples. Only necessity has legal force. In less than ten years from now, things will have quite another look, I can promise them.”

    “We shan’t be able to go on evading the religious problem much longer. If anyone thinks it’s really essential to build the life of human society on a foundation of lies, well, in my estimation, such a society is not worth preserving. If’ on the other hand, one believes that truth is the indispensable foundation, then conscience bids one intervene in the name of truth, and exterminate the lie.”

    “Once the war is over we will put a swift end to the Concordat. It will give me the greatest personal pleasure to point out to the Church all those occasions on which it has broken the terms of it. One need only recall the close cooperation between the Church and the murderers of Heydrich. Catholic priests not only allowed them to hide in a church on the outskirts of Prague, but even allowed them to entrench themselves in the sanctuary of the altar.”

    “The fact that I remain silent in public over Church affairs is not in the least misunderstood by the sly foxes of the Catholic Church, and I am quite sure that a man like the Bishop von Galen knows full well that after the war I shall extract retribution to the last farthing. And, if he does not succeed in getting himself transferred in the meanwhile to the Collegium Germanium in Rome, he may rest assured that in the balancing of our accounts, no “T” will remain uncrossed, no “I” undotted!”

    Hitler remained Catholic in the same sense that Benedict Arnold remained an American. As to Godwin’s Law, the point I was making obviously eluded you, or, more likely, you are unable or unwilling to debate the substance of it.

  • Mike,

    Perhaps you’ve never heard of excommunication latae sententiae.

Res & Explicatio for A.D. 3-6-2009

Friday, March 6, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

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

1. Unlike many bishops in America, Coadjutor Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of  the Archdiocese of Cincinnati prayed the Rosary with other protesters outside an abortion mill on Wednesday, March 4.  Archbishop Schnurr will replace Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk upon his retirement.  Among the protesters came this comment referring to Archbishop Schnurr’s presence:

“It’s tremendous,” Ferraro said of Schnurr’s presence. “He’s the head of the flock. It certainly affirms (the church leadership’s) commitment.”

For the link click on Archbishop Schnurr’s name above or here.

Updated: Archbishop Pilarczk actively leads Rosary prayer vigils in front of abortion mills as well!

2. Doctors who performed and directly assisted in the abortion of twins to a nine year old rape/incest victim have been declared excommunicated by Archbishop Jose Sobrinho of the Archdiocese of Olinda e Recife in Brazil.  The nine year old girl was not excommunicated for many reasons, most likely due to her age.  Where are these bishops in America?  Probably hiding behind the USCCB Faithful Citizenship document thus failing to lead their flocks.

Dr. Ed Peters volunteered his sentiments on this case, “as for the perpetrator of the rape, there isn’t a mine shaft deep enough on this earth for him.”

For the link click on excommunicated above or here.

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8 Responses to Res & Explicatio for A.D. 3-6-2009

  • Got another fave on this Lenten Friday- posted on both Drudge and Lucianne. From St. Lou Post Dispatch. Handwringing about Catholic hospitals and how their administrators- hint, their local bishops- may close facilities rather than assist Dear Leader’s plans for abortions more common than Happy Meals, in event of FOCA becoming law. Poor thing. Libs always overreach when in power. Often in ways that bite them in the schnozz. But fun to read as in one corner of MSM trying to counsel Dear Leader in more discreet judgment on the matter. Oh- like approaching Kathy Silbelius- Friend of Tiller The Killer- as HHS Secretary.

  • It should be noted that Archbishop Pilarczyk has prayed at the same abortion mill, and celebrates Mass for the Cincinnati branch of the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants on somewhat regular occasions.

  • Fr. Schnippel,

    That is wonderful news!

    Deo gratias!

    I pray and hope that my good bishop joins us in prayer as well, to lead his flock to victory.

  • It is also worth noting that Bishop Jackels of the Wichita diocese also leads the rosary at least once per year at George Tiller’s abortion facility. We also have a regular first Saturday rosary with priests from various parishes assigned to lead. I believe that three or four parishes are assigned per first Saturday–there are always priests present as well as parishioners. Anyone know of any other diocese with this sort of program?

  • You people really need help. You’re seriously praising Sobrinho for his vicious heavy-handed excommunication? You make me feel ashamed to be a Catholic – isn’t it time you left the Church to take your poison elsewhere?! If you think adopting a brown-nosing attitude to everything many idiot bishops do and say is following the mesage of Christ then you are wrong. Problem is that your in america – you smell the incense and see the ritual and it affects your mind and reason.

  • “You make me feel ashamed to be a Catholic – isn’t it time you left the Church to take your poison elsewhere?!”

    Who can argue with that blinding logic? The Archbishop was absolutely correct. The nine year girl had been through hell, and it was a terrible situation. The doctors killing the twins she was carrying changed none of the evil that was done to her, but merely added two more names to the innocents put to death by abortion.

    The vatican backs the excommunication.,23739,25155346-954,00.html

    Maybe you think the Pope should leave the Church?

  • You’re seriously praising Sobrinho for his vicious heavy-handed excommunication?

    And why not? These doctors looked at this unspeakable crime, and proceeded to kill two of the three victims.

    If someone is to be killed as a result of this crime, it should be the rapist-father-grandfather — not the innocent children who resulted from his crime.

  • it’s not really even the bishop who acted here, it was the doctors and parents themselves who excommunicated themselves by virtue of their actions. The bishop simply declared what the universal law of the Church is… those who procure abortion are automatically excommunicated.

Canonical Options For Dealing With FOCA

Sunday, November 23, AD 2008

With President-elect Obama assembling together the most anti-life and anti-family radicals imaginable for his upcoming administration.  In addition to ignoring the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) statement* (November 12, 2008 AD) to reconsider not signing the misnomered Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA).  Along with other abortion related executive, judicial, and legislative acts, the options to combat this evil are becoming fewer for American Catholics.

With American Catholics being left to their faith for sustenance, our shepherds, the Catholic Bishops (USCCB), may need to review their canonical options for dealing with Catholic legislative support for FOCA.  The USCCB will have to engage the issue of well known “Catholic legislators supporting a specifically and gravely evil bill” as Dr. Edward Peters, a well respected canon lawyer, stated today on his blog.  Dr. Edward Peters sees four (4) canonical options in “dealing with these Catholic legislators who support FOCA” (emphasis mine):

1. Canon 915. Make plain, by public announcement and/or private contact, that a legislator’s support for FOCA qualifies as (probably formal, but certainly proximate material) cooperation with objective grave evil and that such conduct, in this case, would render one ineligible for reception of holy Communion under Canon 915.

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3 Responses to Canonical Options For Dealing With FOCA

  • As Prof. Dr. Peters outlines, numerous options for our shepherds in case FOCA gets Mr. Obama’s John Hancock. The one possibility for prevention is that other issues command his attention, particularly the economy. If not, the bishops are in a significant bind. Many bold and freeswinging letters, documents, interview quotes were issued before November 4. Oops- the majority of our brethren voted with the understanding that economic issues trump the lives of unborn babies. Some quick and fast evangelization may be needed to reinforce opposition to FOCA. Never a very good idea to call for battle with no troops behind the generals.

  • Forget the troops! Be true shepherds and defend the magisterium regardless of the flock. The Bishops are wholly responsible for 54% of Catholics voting for evil by their equivocating in their ‘Faithful Citizenship’ Document. They must now act and act boldly. Forget the economy, the rich progressive benefactors, and lead, or resign. Also, the Vatican needs to be more selective when it chooses Bishops. The time for gentle politics is over. Act now and act decisively! This will seep back into what little is left the Church if no action is taken.

  • COLUMBIA, S.C. – A South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect supports abortion, and

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

Monday, October 13, AD 2008

“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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5 Responses to Kmiec on Korzen, Kelly and Chaput – A Matter of Priorities

  • I cannot help but believe that these guys simply have no interest in abortion as an issue. I don’t believe their insistence that they are somehow pro-life, nor can I believe that they honestly think that Barack Obama will cure war and poverty in the same way that they criticize Republicans for not having ended abortion.

    At best, these guys may think that they’ll be pro-life later, when there ain’t-a gonna be no war no more, and when the poor are no longer with us. But I can’t help my suspicion that, even if they could achieve these things, they’d still want to uphold the “right” to an abortion.

    Their refusal to be taught by the bishops and the Holy Father on this issue is most telling. They are desperate to justify their vote for Obama and the new ardently pro-abortion regime he promises. Maybe they can sleep at night after spending their days giving such scandal, but I couldn’t.

  • I believe it is utter rationalization to vote for Democrats, who champion the culture of death in all its forms, because the Republicans haven’t eliminated abortion themselves. Congress operates on coalitions, and, Bush has only been able to get two Supremes through…both pro-life.

    Simply put, it is the ONLY issue this year…everything else pales next to the sacred duty of all Christians to uphold “personhood!” The Natural Law, upholds the dignity of each human life, but, for Christians, it is the Holy Trinity, ie., “three Divine Persons in communion,” which bestows ultimate dignity on human personhood. “Personhood” is the ultimate victim in every abortion.”

  • “Of course, voting for a “prolife” candidate does not guarantee that he will appoint Supreme Court justices who accept the church’s natural-law arguments against abortion. Nor does it mean that anti-Roe appointees will be approved by what is sure to be a Democratic Congress.”

    Is Kmiec trying to say that only “natural law” jurists will be anti-Roe?

    One of Kmiec’s arguments that really concerns me holds that we’ve been counting anti-Roe justices wrong.

    First, because the GOP is unwilling to make openly the case for overturning Roe, we have to judge anti-Roe justices by circumstantial evidence, like whether his wife is a strong pro-life woman.

    Even if a justice is putatively anti-Roe, he or she might not completely overturn Roe but only make minor piecemeal changes. The justice might be more committed to stare decisis or schools of jurisprudence that would mitigate his or her desire to fully overturn the decision.

    As for FOCA, I’d like to know if it has a realistic chance of passing even under a predominantly Democratic Congress.

  • But why is the GOP unwilling to openly make the case for overturning Roe?

    I think it is because this type of campaigning is easily misunderstood; people may misunderstand the Constitution and the law. It also might not be a very winning issue politically.

    I don’t think this is a good excuse, but it’s probably why they’re not doing it.

  • Kevin – FOCA has been attempted in the past. However, there is more support for it from members of Congress than ever more. The current legislation was introduced April 19, 2007. Planned Parenthood is actively campaigning for the bill. See:

    Given our country’s political climate at this time in history, it would be imprudent for Catholics to assume the FOCA is too radical to ever be passed.

    The house bill has already more than 107 cosponsors (106 Democrats, one Republican). To view an always-current list of co-sponsors, arranged by state, click here for the current list:

    The senate version introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Ca.), had more than 19 Democratic cosponsors, including presidential candidate Barack Obama (IL) plus Sen. Hillary Clinton (NY), and independent Joseph Lieberman (Ct.). To view an always-current list of co-sponsors, arranged by state, click

    This bill is so dangerious that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Pro-Life Secretariat has urged clear, vigilant, and persistent advocacy against the “Freedom of Choice Act” (or FOCA). The Pro-Life Secretariat has expressed grave concern to state Catholic conferences that FOCA would, if enacted and signed into law, sweep away hundreds of pro-life laws and policies at the state and federal levels! Check out the USCCB-approved alert released September 24, 2008:

    For a careful legal analysis of FOCA by the USCCB’s Office of General Counsel, see:

    Cardinal Rigali recently warned “if enacted, would obliterate virtually all the gains of the past 35 years and cause the abortion rate to skyrocket.” See the September 30, 2008 press release from USCCB about FOCA: