Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco addressed on January 13, 2010 a free will defense of abortion by Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House:
In a recent interview with Eleanor Clift in Newsweek magazine (Dec. 21, 2009), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked about her disagreements with the United States Catholic bishops concerning Church teaching. Speaker Pelosi replied, in part: “I practically mourn this difference of opinion because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And that women should have the opportunity to exercise their free will.”
Embodied in that statement are some fundamental misconceptions about Catholic teaching on human freedom. These misconceptions are widespread both within the Catholic community and beyond. For this reason I believe it is important for me as Archbishop of San Francisco to make clear what the Catholic Church teaches about free will, conscience, and moral choice.
Catholic teaching on free will recognizes that God has given men and women the capacity to choose good or evil in their lives. The bishops at the Second Vatican Council declared that the human person, endowed with freedom, is “an outstanding manifestation of the divine image.” (Gaudium et Spes, No. 17) As the parable of the Grand Inquisitor in Dostoevsky’s novel, The Brothers Karamazov, makes so beautifully clear, God did not want humanity to be mere automatons, but to have the dignity of freedom, even recognizing that with that freedom comes the cost of many evil choices.
I was talking with a relative recently who was telling me about an incident a while back where the maintenance staff at the building he worked at had gone on strike and were picketing the building. Emails had gone out from the building management telling people not to get into arguments or cause incidents with the picketers, and it became a source of quite a bit of topic around the office. My relative was amused to hear expressed several times the sentiment, “That’s what makes our country different from the rest of the world. Here, they have the freedom to hold a protest like that.”
It if, of course, true that they have the freedom to picket their employer here. However, that’s not necessarily a contrast with the rest of the developed world. They could do the same in thing in Canada, or the UK or France or Germany, etc. There is, as my relative pointed out, a tendency at times for Americans to assume that because our country was very consciously founded in order to secure certain freedoms, that this means that people who don’t live in the US don’t have the same freedoms. Obviously, some don’t. One’s freedom of political and economic expression is severely limited if you live in North Korea or China or Cuba or some such nation. But there are many other countries in which people enjoy basically all the same freedoms that we do.
This American tendency to assume that we are the only ones to enjoy the freedoms outlined in our Bill of Rights is something which very much annoys many people who consider the US to be dangerously nationalistic, or who would prefer that we see the US as just one other region, not better or worse than others. Continue reading
The Anchoress is on fire here about the ham-fisted efforts of the Obama administration to stifle dissent. Eventually someone in Obama’s administration is going to have a “Yamamoto moment” and turn to him and say words to the effect of: I fear all we have done is to rouse a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.
With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy.
You may be a member of an angry mob if:
1. You think your Congresscritter works for you and not the other way around.
2. You’re real sure that the First Amendment protects your right to free speech.
3. You believe that townhalls are something more than photo ops for members of Congress.
4. You recall that the right to vigorous political debate is one of the reasons why this country was founded.
5. You remember something in the First Amendment about the right of the people to petition the government for redress of grievances.
6. You have always regarded this picture as one of your favorite Norman Rockwell paintings:
7. You agree with President Reagan that one of the scariest phrases is, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”.
8. You are pretty sure that a lot of brave Americans didn’t die for this country so you would just keep your mouth shut and do what you’re told.
9. You strongly agree with this quote from George Washington: “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
10. You think that it might be a good idea for Congress men and women to actually read bills before they vote to make them laws.
Rioting in Tehran Saturday is shown in the above video. Protests are quickly developing into an insurrection. The Iranian government is using brutal force to suppress the dissidents, but reports from Iran clearly indicate that the situation is moving well beyond the ability of the government to suppress it without massive bloodshed. The Guardian has an hour by hour account of the events yesterday here. Nico Pitney here has been doing yeoman work in covering the crackdown at the Huffington Post. Ed Morrissey here has been doing his usual fine work covering breaking events at Hot Air.
Keep up with the Iranian protests at:
In the proud tradition of news photos of beautiful women protesting against political oppression, the Boston Globe provides a series of photos of the protests over Iran’s apparently rigged presidential election, but the first is this one:
(In all seriousness, this is some of the best photo journalism I’ve seen in a long time, go check it out.)
There’s some reasonable dispute as to whether it would help or hurt the protestors for the Obama Administration to break silence on the issue and speak in support of the protestors. Given Iran’s history and the fierce national pride across the political spectrum, if Obama openly supported the protestors it might give Ahmadinejad the ability to paint Mousavi’s supporters as stooges of the US. However, the US and the rest of the world should make it clear that a violent crackdown ala Tiananmen Square would be absolutely unacceptable.