The Loss of Limits… the End of Art

Sunday, August 16, AD 2009

A priest friend and I are reading through Fr. Richard John Neuhaus’ posthumously-published work, American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile, and it’s been an enjoyable read thus far, even in the places where I disagree with the author.

For the purposes of this post, I wanted to share a citation which I found very intriguing regarding the impact on art of modernity’s flight from anything which might be remotely conceived of as limitation.

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One Response to The Loss of Limits… the End of Art

Res & Explicatio for A.D. 4-29-2009

Wednesday, April 29, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

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

1. Since the passing of Father Richard John Neuhaus, the FIRST THINGS journal has gone through some changes that have enhanced their image.  The mysterious Spengler joined FIRST THINGS as Associate Editor and outed himself in his Asia Times column as David P. Goldman.  Then Elizabeth Scalia, who was once as mysterious as Spengler, with her popular political-Catholic blog The Anchoress joined FIRST THINGS as well.  Not to mention that prior to these two fine additions FIRST THINGS also initiated their very own blog a few months back.

2. David P. Goldman, a.k.a. Spengler, writes an intriguing article on how Israel can reconcile it’s Jewishness with a liberal democracy and how this correlates with the West and its march towards secularism.  Mr. Goldman has this prescient conclusion to this article:

Defenders of the West democracies should take a deep interest in the outcome of what might seem to be arcane legal matters in Israel. Pushed to its extreme conclusion, the secular liberal model will exclude the sacred and the traditional from public life. Of all the things sacred in the thousands of years of pre-history and history that inform Western Civilization, surely Judaism and the Jewish people are the oldest and arguably the most pertinent to the character of the West. Eroding the Jewish character of Israel is an obsession of the secular project, precisely because the Jewish people in their Third Commonwealth in the Land of Israel have such profound importance for the Christian West.

For the article click here.

3. A very disturbing story coming from the Diocese of Savannah where Bishop John Kevin Boland is preventing an orthodox Catholic, Robert Kumpel of the very well written St. John’s Valdosta Blog, from attending any Mass in his diocese.  Bishop John Kevin Boland is doing so in conjunction with a lawsuit leveled against by another layperson to Mr. Kumpel so as to prevent him from investigating allegations of multiple abuses by diocesan officials.  In other words it seems that Bishop Boland is frantically covering something up, but we don’t know what that is because of a restraining order on Mr. Kumpel who was attempting to investigate this.

Bishop John Kevin Boland is the ecclesiastical equivalent of a Catholic politician who is personally opposed to abortion but publicly for it.  For example, Bishop John Kevin Boland is personally orthodox, but ecclesiastically heterodox in his application of Church teaching.  Such as Archbishop Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington where he is known for his personal orthodoxy but is lacking in applying it in his pastoral and management style.

For the article click here.

For more background information click herehere,  here, and here.

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26 Responses to Res & Explicatio for A.D. 4-29-2009

  • Does anyone know if Elizabeth Scalia is related to THE Scalia?

  • S.B.,

    I’ve been wondering that myself. I can only “assume” she isn’t since I haven’t casually come across any mention of this, but there could still be a connection.

  • Does anyone know if Elizabeth Scalia is related to THE Scalia?

    None of Scalia’s kids are named Elizabeth, so while’s it’s possible, the relation would have to be more distant.

  • It seems inappropriate to report the Savannah story without hearing the bishop’s side. Your source is the disgruntled party.

  • Zak,

    I understand your concern, but if the bishop is forbidding a layperson from attending Mass anywhere in his diocese, that is news to me. Especially knowing the upstanding character of Mr. Kumpel.

  • Mr. DeFrancisis,

    Discussions that deviate from the topic will not be tolerated. Please address the post or don’t comment at all.

  • Mr. Henry Karlson,

    Discussions that deviate from the topic will not be tolerated. Please address the post or don’t comment at all.

  • Zak,

    the letter from the bishop’s lawyer states explicitly the reason he is violating his office by denying the sacraments to a Catholic. It is because of pending litigation. This is completely contrary to canon law:

    Can. 843 §1. Sacred ministers cannot deny the sacraments to those who seek them at appropriate times, are properly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them.

  • B.A.,

    Thanks for clearing that on Elizabeth Scalia. It would have been a neat story if she were a sister of the Supreme Court Justice though.

  • VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican newspaper said President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office have not confirmed the Catholic Church’s worst fears about radical policy changes in ethical areas.

    The comments came in a front-page article April 29 in L’Osservatore Romano, under the headline, “The 100 days that did not shake the world.” It said the new president has operated with more caution than predicted in most areas, including economics and international relations.

    “On ethical questions, too — which from the time of the electoral campaign have been the subject of strong worries by the Catholic bishops — Obama does not seem to have confirmed the radical innovations that he had discussed,” it said.

    So much for “the most extreme” — the Vatican doesn’t think so.

  • Number 3 is very upsetting, and I encourage those who are also upset to contact both the Bishop, and his attorney.

  • Well, the CNS article quotes a whole 120 words from the original article, so it’s difficult to say what kind of judgment is involved. If it were me, I’d prefer to see the actual article before making ultramontanist declarations about what “the Vatican” thinks, but de gustibus.

    Just 2 notes: First, the moderate ESCR guidelines are simply draft regulations subject to comment and modification. I’d reserve judgment on that point until they become finalized, and after the intensive lobbying by ESCR proponents is finished. Moreover, even in draft form, they authorize solicitation of embryos for research from those who avail themselves of IVF. That’s a non-negligible moral problem, and potentially large loophole for mischief.

    Second, the excellent pregnancy support legislation is the laudable creation of pro-life Democrats, not the President.

  • “None of Scalia’s kids are named Elizabeth.”

    Scalia is Elizabeth Scalia’s married name – she’s of Irish descent. If she is related to the Supreme Court justice (I’ve read her blog for quite a while now, and she’s never mentioned a connection), it would be by marriage, not blood.

  • Well, if she had indeed married into the Scalia family, I can well imagine that she might not be bragging about the connection . . . Justice Scalia no doubt wouldn’t want the usual nasty leftists digging around her blog for something with which to discredit him by association.

  • So actually, now that I think about it, never mind.

  • Ah yes, the Anchoress, the noble defender of Rudy Gulianni and apologist for his pro-abortion and pro-gay stands, at least when he was heir apparent to the Republican nomination.

    Another we must put our Republicanism above our Catholicism Catholic.

  • Another wonderful pro-Rudy article by the Anchoress:

    A wonderful addition to First Things.

  • Another we must put our Republicanism above our Catholicism Catholic.


  • Michael I.,

    On this point I completely agree.

    Elizabeth Scalia defending the pro-abort Rudy Giuliani is inexcusable. I don’t have any time to waste reading her Repulicanist propaganda.

  • Michael — someone who uses the word “heterosexism” to describe the Church’s position on marriage is living in a glass house . . . .

    Ah yes, the Anchoress, the noble defender of Rudy Gulianni and apologist for his pro-abortion and pro-gay stands, at least when he was heir apparent to the Republican nomination.

    Learn to look at dates. That blog posting was from April 29, 2008. Giuliani was not the “heir apparent,” he had dropped out 3 months earlier. And she defended Giuliani only in the sense that she thought he could still take communion.

  • Anyway, it’s funny seeing guys who voted for Obama pretending to be upset that “the Anchoress” might have endorsed a personally pro-choice candidate.

  • Inexcusable.

    Voting for Obama is simply inexcusable and reveals the depth of his Catholicism which is shallow.

  • SB:

    Who I voted for or whether I voted at all is my business. . .suffice it to say I did not vote for Obama.

    Secondly, please do not embarrass yourself by stating the Achoress was not a rabid supporter of Rudy Gulianni just on the Rudy G. link on the left side of her website. The woman salavates over him so much its embarassing.

  • OK, I was just talking about Michael Iafrate, who did vote for Obama.

  • In the 13th century, the Pope placed an interdict on England forbidding any sacraments (except, I believe, baptism and annointing of the sick) there. Bishops may apply an interdict to individual persons as well, which is like an excommunication in terms of access to sacraments but without expulsion from the Catholic community. The bishop’s actions may have been justified under Canon 1373.

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Religion, Culture, & Politics

Monday, March 16, AD 2009

R.R. Reno reflecting on Fr. Neuhaus:

I have many fond memories of him, but many important and influential ones, as well. During the fall of 2006, I was in his office, expressing my anxious agitation about the upcoming congressional elections. I worried over the loss of  a Republican majority, linking my political concerns to the future of the pro-life cause, the dangers of unfettered bioengineering, and so forth. He sat back in his chair, puffing on his cigar while I prattled on. Then, with a wave of his hand, he dismissed my anxieties with a simple observation:

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7 Responses to Religion, Culture, & Politics

  • One of the fatal flaws of the libs. They have the equation turned around. Ooopsie. Won’t make it easier for Tiller the Killer in court.

  • Put not your trust in congressional majorities…

  • When you give Republicans free passes on unjust war (even cheerleading the Iraq War), torture, exceptions with ESCR funding et al., you should not be surprised if they are apt to betray you in the most important matters of life and death.

    And Ii am not saying the Democrats are any better.

  • I would argue those things are betrayals (maybe not Iraq if you accept the Just war arguments for it), rather than signs of betrayals, but that was one of my first thoughts also. I liked the oft-overlooked point about religion shaping culture and then politics – makes me wonder why I bother spending time blogging about politics.

  • JH,

    I concur with your qualification completely.

    As a personal note, I was an avid First Things reader until I became loosely privvy (sic?) to the challenges set forth to that group from David Schindler and the Communio crowd in the mid to late 90s.

    As I sided with Schindler from a distance, I stopped following Neuhaus, Weigel and that bunch.

    I only checked in with there writings during the buildup to the Iraq invasion in 2003. Needless to say, I was tremendously disappointed then.

  • I was whole-heartedly in favor of the Iraq war and still am, so of course I do not view that as a betrayal. In regard to ESR I was against the initial decision by Bush to allow any use of the stem cells. However, afterwards he stood like a champion against it.

    In regard to water-boarding, I thought it crossed a line into physical torture that I do not personally approve of, although I can see how reasonable people would disagree with my conclusion. One should also note the firm stance that Neuhaus took against Obama in the last election:

  • Obama’s record on abortion is a disgrace; I can’t vote for pro-abortion rights politicians for President. I’ll miss Fr. Neuhaus’s critiques next time around even if I disagreed with some of his other stances.

13 Responses to Shameless

  • Mr. McClarey,

    Did you major in outrage as an undergraduate?

  • No Mr. DeFrancisis, although I would say that Doug Kmiec, based upon his “eulogy” for Father Neuhaus, must have minored in chutzpah.

  • Dr. Robert Royal, editor-in-chief of “The Catholic Thing” and President of The Faith & Reason Institute, will be my guest tomorrow on “Catholic Radio 2.0” to discuss Fr. Neuhaus’ work and legacy. You can either listen live at 11:00 AM ET or download the archive of the show later that day by going to

  • I suspect that if Kmiec’s conscience was entirely clear on this matter, he simply would have praised Fr. Neuhaus in general terms without having to get in the last word in an argument.

    May Fr. Neuhaus enjoy his reward in heaven.

    And Donald McClarey, it is a pleasure to find your blog. You are a sensible man and an eloquent writer.

  • OK, I’ve just had more of a look-around and I see it is a group blog. Well, this is good news. I’ve just bookmarked it.

  • Thank you Donna V. I hope our comboxes will often be graced with your always insightful comments.

    Kmiec is still desperately trying to convince people that he simply did not switch sides on the abortion issue last year. Perhaps if he repeats it often enough he will believe it someday. I doubt if he will ever convince anyone else.

  • Don’s getting a little desperate. Kinda like Alger Hiss for the last 50 years of his life- No I Wasn’t Stalin’s Sock Puppet. Welcome Donna V. We have big fun at this playground. Y’all come back any ol’ time.

  • Don as in Kmiec. Not the always sensible Mr. McClarey.

  • It is good to see you here as well, Gerard E. and your very unique writing style, which always brings a smile to my face. I look forward to your reports from the city (the one of Brotherly Love, if I remember correctly) and all it’s pomp, works 🙂

  • Here’s First Things Editor Joseph Bottum on Doug Kmiec’s “obituary”:

    Finally, there is Douglas Kmiec’s odd obituary. I’m tempted to say a reasonable response can be found here, but some readers may not appreciate the profanity. Anyway, Kmiec’s attempt to pose himself as a friend and dialogue partner of Fr. Neuhaus may be the saddest and most pathetic of all the responses to this recent death. “It absolutely delighted Father John that the Holy Father gave American Catholics credit for resisting the secular trends of Western Europe,” Kmiec writes—to which the only response is: Who the hell ever called Richard by the name “Father John”? Only people who didn’t actually know him and want, after his death, to pretend that they did.


  • And I must admit, I did indeed find the linked blog’s assessment to be pretty much all Kmiec’s piece deserves.

  • I concur.

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Death Be Not Proud

Friday, January 9, AD 2009
DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
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One Response to Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus: Round-Up of Reflections

Father Neuhaus on the CBC

Thursday, January 8, AD 2009

Father Neuhaus was instrumental in my conversion. I have to admit that when I was first introduced to him I was a “devout” post-modern liberal relativist and his “conservative, self-rightousness”, as I saw it, really vexed me. Over time I could not deny the power of his arguments, afterall, they were not merely his opinions but the Truth speaking to my heart through him.  Father Neuhouse helped bring me home and I will be ever grateful. His humor, wit and intellect will be greatly missed.

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Richard John Neuhaus, 1936-2009

Thursday, January 8, AD 2009

From Jody Bottum:

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus slipped away today, January 8, shortly before 10 o’clock, at the age of seventy-two. He never recovered from the weakness that sent him to the hospital the day after Christmas, caused by a series of side effects from the cancer he was suffering. He lost consciousness Tuesday evening after a collapse in his heart rate, and the next day, in the company of friends, he died.

My tears are not for him—for he knew, all his life, that his Redeemer lives, and he has now been gathered by the Lord in whom he trusted.

I weep, rather for all the rest of us. As a priest, as a writer, as a public leader in so many struggles, and as a friend, no one can take his place. The fabric of life has been torn by his death, and it will not be repaired, for those of us who knew him, until that time when everything is mended and all our tears are wiped away.

Funeral arrangements are still being planned; more information about the funeral will be made public shortly. Please accept our thanks for all your prayers and good wishes.

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6 Responses to Richard John Neuhaus, 1936-2009

  • My prayers for all the friends and family of Fr. Neuhaus.

    Lord, we pray that You bless this humble servant of Yours, and ever hold him in Your embrace.

  • Irreplacable, in his gifts and service to the Church. Below is thread about how Paul Scofield and Orson Welles butted heads in movie version of Man for All Seasons. Father Neuhaus was truly one for our time. May light eternal shine upon him.

  • I have no doubt that he is now enjoying the Beatific Vision.

  • I have been a Catholic my whole life and I have, for the most part, attended mass my whole life. I never really was interested in the intellectual part of Catholicism until these past years. 9/11, wars, and an increasingly antagonistic Left has made me eager to learn more and to become an active defender of the faith. So here I am reading Catholic literature and visiting Catholic blogs. I feel that I missed out in a big way by not learning from Fr. Neuhaus while he was among us. I will read all his works and the legacy of his thinking will affect me and perhaps help me to affect others. RIP Fr. Neuhaus.

  • Well said daledog.

Fr. Neuhaus Update

Wednesday, January 7, AD 2009

Kathryn Lopez at the Corner reports that Fr. Neuhaus, editor in chief of First Things, received Annointing of the Sick last night, and is not doing well:

His friends and family are keeping vigil and he was administered last rites shortly after midnight. Fr. George Rutler, who gave him the Catholic Sacrament, says that “he is not expected to live long” and suggests “that it is appropriate that prayers be offered for a holy death.”

Please keep Fr. Neuhaus and his friends and family in your prayers.

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6 Responses to Fr. Neuhaus Update

Please Pray for Fr. Neuhaus

Wednesday, December 31, AD 2008

Father Richard John Neuhaus, editor in chief of First Things, is currently undergoing treatment for cancer. Jody Bottum has conveyed the following general message:

Please forgive this group email, but so many have asked after the health of Richard John Neuhaus that is seemed best to send out this single message to all our friends.

Fr. Neuhaus is in the hospital here in New York. Over Thanksgiving, he was diagnosed with a serious cancer. The long-term prognosis for this particular cancer is not good, but it is not hopeless, either, and there is a possibility that it will respond to the recommended out-patient chemotherapy.

Unfortunately, over Christmas, he was taken dangerously ill with what seems to be a systemic infection that has left him very weak. Entering the hospital the day after Christmas, he was sedated to lower an elevated heart rate and treatment was begun for the infection. Over the last few days, he has shown some signs of improvement, and there is a reasonable expectation that he will recover from this present illness—sufficiently, we hope, that he will be able to begin the chemotherapy for the cancer.

Fr. Neuhaus is not able at the moment to receive visitors or speak on the telephone or answer his mail, and he has requested that no flowers, candy, or other get-well presents be sent—just your prayers for his quick recovery. Further bulletins will be sent when there is news to report.

Fr. Neuhaus disclosed his condition in a post to First Things‘ “On The Square” earlier in December.

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6 Responses to Please Pray for Fr. Neuhaus

  • Prayers on the way! If all Catholics were as stalwart in their faith as Father Neuhaus, a convert, most of our problems would shrink to insignificance

  • Prayed and done. Will put him in my daily prayers from here on out. Fr. Neuhaus a fine clergyman and a good example to many in practicing the faith.


  • Very sad news. Padre Neuhaus is a stalwart defender of the faith. Clearly one of the Good Guys. Along with his prodigious literary output, he and Raymond Arroyo were sparkling in anchoring EWTN’s coverage of the transition between the ascendancy to heaven of Johannes Paulus Magnus and the ascendancy of Benedictus Splendiferous. Prayers for healing.

  • Father Neuhaus and I live on different planets theologically. I will certainly remember him in my prayers.

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

Tuesday, November 25, AD 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • “were lambasting an anti-poverty program because it simply did not fit with the the ideological talking points of the hour.”

    Funding a far-left group that engages in voter fraud is anti-poverty? I assume that Obama’s Minion can square that particular circle.

  • I can’t think of a single orthodox Catholic I know who has ever given a dime to the CCHD.

    In fact, I have always considered it be Catholic in same spirit as Catholics for a Free Choice is Catholic. It calls itself Catholic, but after that all bets are off. In fact CCFC is most certainly far more welcome on CCHD grounds than is actually Church teaching.

  • The unfortunate reality is that CCHD is far too comfortable with groups that advocate against the unborn. This is another reason why charity should be as local as possible: Christ called us to help our neighbor, there is never a shortage of need, and the opportunity for that sort of nonsense is less.

  • I emailed the Diocese of Joliet about my disgust with CCHD. Here is the not at all reassuring reply:

    I note your concerns about the use of Catholic Campaign for Human Development funds in the Joliet Diocese, and I want to assure you that none of the local CCHD funded groups are affiliated with ACORN. As you may know, CCHD is a program developed by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to address domestic poverty. The Campaign funds projects that empower the poor to develop leadership skills and to organize so that they can be successful in their own efforts to break the cycle of poverty. All local grant applications are carefully screened by the diocesan coordinator and a CCHD committee made up of representatives from various parishes within the diocese to ensure that the objectives and actions of each funded group are consistent with Catholic Social Teaching. In addition, the Bishop endorses every project recommended for funding here in the Joliet area. National grant applications are carefully evaluated by CCHD national staff and must be approved by a group of bishops selected to oversee grants as well. Partisan activity is strictly prohibited for all grantees; any organization engaged in partisan activity is not eligible for funding. Some activities that are encouraged and eligible for funding are: community organizing, job training, legitimate voter registration initiatives, leadership development, citizenship training, and English language classes. The goal is to empower the marginalized groups within our community so that they may enjoy a more active role in shaping their own lives. In this way they can move from poverty on the fringes of society to a more fulfilling life for themselves and their families as full participating members. For a list and more information about the grants awarded here in the Joliet diocese see A full explanation regarding the mission and policies of CCHD is available at

  • I was at this Mass, and didn’t see the person with the sign. I probably would have gone up to him and given him a high-five. But MM and I don’t often see eye-to-eye on such things.

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Not One Dime

Thursday, November 13, AD 2008


I have never given a dime to the Campaign for Human Development.  The always indispensable Father Neuhaus explains why here:

“Which brings me, finally, to another and related matter that will surely be discussed in Baltimore and deserves to be on the agenda. The Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) is an annual collection in parishes, usually on one of the last two Sundays in November. It used to be called the Catholic Campaign for Human Development but the Catholic was dropped, which is just as well since it has nothing to do with Catholicism, except that Catholics are asked to pay for it. Some bishops* no longer allow the CHD collection in their dioceses, and more should not allow it. In fact, CHD, misbegotten in concept and corrupt in practice, should, at long last, be terminated.

Ten years ago, CHD was exposed as using the Catholic Church as a milk cow to fund organizations that frequently were actively working against the Church’s mission, especially in their support of pro-abortion activities and politicians. Now it turns out that CHD has long been a major funder of ACORN, a national community agitation organization in support of leftist causes, including the abortion license. ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) is under criminal investigation in several states. In the last decade CHD gave ACORN well over seven million dollars, including more than a million in the past year. It is acknowledged that ACORN, with which Sen. Obama had a close connection over the years, was a major player in his presidential campaign. The bishops say they are investigating the connection between CHD and ACORN. They say they are worried that it might jeopardize the Church’s tax-exemption. No mention is made of abusing the trust of the Catholic faithful.

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One Response to Not One Dime

  • Fuzzy wuzzy ideology is easy to implement when times are fat. Oh you wonderful neighborhood organzation (led by the local Stalinists) we’ll send cash to you. No we don’t need to audit our books we trust these people. Our Serious Financial Crisis may produce all manner of good, if unexpected, fruit. One result is that the biggest public scam in American Catholicism may be in its last days. I will vote for Nancy Pelosi before one red cent from my pocket ever goes into CHD anymore. Maintained that position since reading some of The Wanderer’s investigative pieces. Would that many of our peeps- some of whom really are hurting very deeply- do likewise.