Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Respect Life Sunday Message Released

This just in - Cardinal Rigali's message for Respect Life Sunday, October 5:


On October 5, 2008, Catholics across the United States will again celebrate Respect Life Sunday. Throughout the month of October, Catholic parishes and organizations will sponsor hundreds of educational conferences, prayer services, and opportunities for public witness, as well as events to raise funds for programs assisting those in need. Such initiatives are integral to the Church’s ongoing effort to help build a culture in which every human life without exception is respected and defended.

Education and advocacy during Respect Life Month address a broad range of moral and public policy issues. Among these, the care of persons with disabilities and those nearing the end of life is an enduring concern. Some medical ethicists wrongly promote ending the lives of patients with serious physical and mental disabilities by withdrawing their food and water, even though – or in some cases precisely because -- they are not imminently dying. This November, the citizens of Washington State will vote on a ballot initiative to legalize doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. In neighboring Oregon, where assisted suicide is already legal, the state has refused to cover the cost of life-sustaining treatments for some patients facing terminal illness, while callously informing them that Oregon will pay for suicide pills. Such policies betray the ideal of America as a compassionate society honoring the inherent worth of every human being.

Embryonic stem cell research also presents grave ethical concerns. The Catholic Church strongly supports promising and ethically sound stem cell research – and strongly opposes killing week-old human embryos, or human beings at any stage, to extract their stem cells. We applaud the remarkable therapeutic successes that have been achieved using stem cells from cord blood and adult tissues. We vigorously oppose initiatives, like the one confronting Michigan voters in November, that would endorse the deliberate destruction of developing human beings for embryonic stem cell research.

Turning to abortion, we note that most Americans favor banning all abortion or permitting it only in very rare cases (danger to the mother’s life or cases of rape or incest). Also encouraging is the finding of a recent Guttmacher Institute study that the U.S. abortio n rate declined 26% between 1989 and 2004. The decline was steepest, 58%, among girls under 18. An important factor in this trend is that teens increasingly are choosing to remain abstinent until their late teens or early 20s. Regrettably, when they do become sexually active prior to marrying, many become pregnant and choose abortion -- the abortion rate increased among women aged 20 and older between 1974 and 2004, although the rate is now gradually declining.

Today, however, we face the threat of a federal bill that, if enacted, would obliterate virtually all the gains of the past 35 years and cause the abortion rate to skyrocket. The “Freedom of Choice Act” (“FOCA”) has many Congressional sponsors, some of whom have pledged to act swiftly to help enact this proposed legislation when Congress reconvenes in January.

FOCA establishes abortion as a “fundamental right” throughout the nine months of pregnancy, and forbids any law or policy that could “interfere” with that right or “discriminate” against it in public funding and programs. If FOCA became law, hundreds of reasonable, widely supported, and constitutionally sound abortion regulations now in place would be invalidated. Gone would be laws providing for informed consent, and parental consent or notification in the case of minors. Laws protecting women from unsafe abortion clinics and from abortion practitioners who are not physicians would be overridden. Restrictions on partial-birth and other late-term abortions would be eliminated. FOCA would knock down laws protecting the conscience rights of nurses, doctors, and hospitals with moral objections to abortion, and force taxpayers to fund abortions throughout the United States.

We cannot allow this to happen. We cannot tolerate an even greater loss of innocent human lives. We cannot subject more women and men to the post-abortion grief and suffering that our counselors and priests encounter daily in Project Rachel programs across America.

For twenty-four years, the Catholic Church has provided free, confidential counseling to individuals seeking emotional and spiritual healing after an abortion, whether their own or a loved one’s. We look forward to the day when these counseling services are no longer needed, when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law. If FOCA is enacted, however, that day may recede into the very distant future.

In this Respect Life Month, let us rededicate ourselves to defending the basic rights of those who are weakest and most marginalized: the poor, the homeless, the innocent unborn, and the frail and elderly who need our respect and our assistance. In this and in so many ways we will truly build a culture of life.

Martin Sheen and the Governator

Not related, but both subjects of posts today at Secondhand Smoke by Wesley Smith.

Sheen has taped a radio ad opposing Washington State's I-1000 which would legalize Kervorkianism in that state. Neighbor, Oregon already has and several attempts have been made to legalize assisted suicide in California.

The post include's Sheen's reason for opposing assisted suicide:

"I try to work when I'm not on the screen to help improve conditions for the most vulnerable people in our country--low wage workers, immigrants, the disabled and the poor," Sheen said. "We have a health care system where the more money you have, the better medical care you receive. Initiative 1000 is a dangerous idea--because so many people do not have the money necessary to get the care they need. When I heard about Initiative 1000, I wanted to help stop it before it harms people who are at risk."

Secondhand Smoke is a critical resource for following the progress and debate around all forms of stem cell research. A post today looks at how far "in the tank" Arnold is with the leaders of the abysmally run and expensive California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). This week he vetoed a bi-partisan proposal that, among other things, would have made it easier for CIRM to explore non-embryo-destructive stem cell research.

CIRM was designed to emphasize and fund embryo-destructive research (ESCR) because such research was disallowed at the federal level. Now that new technologies have made ESCR yesterday's news, even supporters of the original bill want the flexibility of funding alternative research. But Arnold just wants destruction.

The juxtaposition of the two articles recalls my wonder - What is it about the ocean, mountains and beautiful scenery that turn the mind to death?

Pope Benedict's October Prayer Intentions

General - That the Synod of Bishops may help bishops and theologians as well as catechists and pastoral workers engaged in the service of the Word of God transmit with courage the truth of the faith in communion with the entire Church.

Mission - That in this month dedicated to the missions, through the promotional activities of the Pontifical Missionary Works and other organisms, the Christian may feel the need to participate in the Church’s universal mission with prayer, sacrifice and concrete help.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Obama/McCain Sell Snake Oil in Missouri

John McCain and Barack Obama are selling “cures” this week in Kansas City and Saint Louis, but nowhere in between. No cures for Springfield!

First Senator Obama ran radio ads saying he supports “stem cell research” which is going to cure diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s. He said John McCain opposes “stem cell research” – McCain just “doesn’t understand” that millions of people need these cures.

Now McCain is running an ad saying he supports “stem cell research,” and that this has something to do with being a “maverick.” And McCain’s support for “stem cell research” is apparently even more promising than Obama’s because in addition to diabetes and cancer (he doesn’t mention Alzheimer’s, sorry) his is going to cure heart disease, spinal cord damage, knee injuries, serious burns, stroke and even the “fear and devastation” of illness.

“Stem cell research” as a political, medical or moral category is a useless term – sort of like “transportation.” If Candidate A supports a particular light rail project, it’s not uncommon in politics to hear him castigate his opponent as being against “transportation.” It’s a much scarier charge than just stating the truth, eg., “My opponent is against my $5 billion plan to run a railroad from just outside town to just outside the airport.” We all know the opponent isn’t against planes and trains and buses – just one particular boondoggle.

No one actually opposes “transportation” as such, just as no one opposes “stem cell research.” Everyone supports planes and trains and cars. A lot of people don’t support particularly ill-conceived rail projects that don’t get you where you need to go. Similarly, everybody supports the promising fields of adult and induced pluripotent stem cell research, while a lot of people don’t support the largely failed field of embryo-destructive stem cell research.

What makes this McCain-Obama ad exchange particularly strange is that they both support “stem cell research” in general AND, to the great dismay of pro-life voters, embryo-destructive stem cell research in particular.

So any way you define the term, Obama’s ad was deceitful in saying John McCain opposes “stem cell research.” John McCain’s view on stem cell research is much closer to Obama’s than it is to the Republican Party platform or the views of pro-life voters.

But McCain’s ad is similarly deceitful. By avoiding the term “embryo” and running it only in Kansas City and St. Louis, McCain is trying to have his cake and eat it too. In tying his position on stem cell research to being a “maverick,” he’s coding for people in Kansas City and St. Louis his support for embryo-destructive stem cell research.

Unlike the rest of Missouri, the citizens of those two cities largely support embryo-destructive stem cell research because they’ve been sold a bill of goods about economic development and have a generally more lax attitude to the life issues. It may seem laughable to any outside the range of the Kansas City Star or the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but many millions of dollars have been spent there on a campaign to convince those cities that Missouri could be the stem cell capitol of the world if the state would fully support embryo-destructive research.

Outside Kansas City and Saint Louis, McCain’s chances in Missouri depend on the support of pro-life voters, so he’s got no incentive reminding them of his support for embryo-destructive research.

Side-by-side looking at the life issues alone, McCain’s positions have been far more palatable to pro-life voters than his opponent’s – at least on paper. It’s no secret though, that pro-life voters have always been suspicious of John McCain’s level of commitment to the pro-life cause. That’s a very big reason he enjoyed a bump when selecting strongly pro-life Sarah Palin as running mate.

McCain’s campaign would have been better served had he been silent or retreated from his prior support of embryo-destructive research – an issue which, with the discovery of iPSC and other advancements in science, even he has admitted, is becoming a moot. The decision to reiterate his position and to make it a campaign issue is a very big mistake.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

KC Anglican Use Update

Sent in by Father Ernie Davis. After you read this check out some reflections on how Anglican Use in Kansas City is going so far at his blog.
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There are some excellent opportunities to learn more about the Catholic Faith as well as the Pastoral Provision for converts from the Episcopal and Anglican churches. Please help us spread the word.

Matt Teel, author and former Episcopal priest will “Believing with the Church”. This will be Mr. Teel’s second presentation to those preparing to be received into the Catholic Church. His presentation will take place during the Anglican Use Liturgy, Sunday, September 28, 11:15 a.m., St. Therese Little Flower Catholic Church, 5814 Euclid Avenue, Kansas City, MO.

Bishop Emeritus Raymond J. Boland will speak about Mary and the Communion of the Saints to Episcopalians and Anglicans preparing to be received into the Catholic Church. Bishop Boland’s presentation will take place during the Anglican Use Liturgy, Sunday, October 5, 11:15 a.m., St. Therese Little Flower Catholic Church, 5814 Euclid Avenue, Kansas City, MO.

Fr. Eric Bergman, Chaplain of the Anglican Use Society, will present a public lecture “The Pastoral Provision of Pope John Paul II: Reconciling Anglicans to the Catholic Church.” He will speak about the growing number of Anglicans and Episcopalians who are coming home to the Catholic Church. The Pastoral Provision allows married Episcopal clergy to seek ordination in the Catholic Church and allows groups of former Episcopalians to continue many of their worship traditions. Fr. Bergman and sixty of his former Episcopalian parishioners converted to the Catholic Church and now Fr. Bergman speaks nationwide promoting to growth of the Anglican Use Liturgy in the Catholic Church. Fr. Bergman will speak on Tuesday, October 7, 2008, at 7:00 p.m. St. Therese Little Flower Catholic Church, 5814 Euclid Avenue. 816-444-5406

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Vatican Editorialist on U.S. Financial Crisis


It's a great sadness that the Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, has no English web presence. A very significant column appeared there yesterday by the Italian banker, economist and ethicist Ettore Gotti Tedeschi.

As you can tell by the mug, Signore Tedeschi means to be taken seriously. And since his target audience is composed of English speakers, it's a shame I can only find his article in Polish and Italian.

Tedeschi, according to Italian Wiki, is a firm believer in the superiority of Capitalism informed by Christian morality. Capitalism, though originally inspired by 13th century Franciscan theologians, has been perverted by protestant and enlightenment values like survival of the fittest, Tedeschi believes - at least according to my best effort to translate Italian.

CNS has a summary of his editorial which is excerpted below. I'll post the whole column when available in English.

The booming growth of financial markets did not correspond to real growth or concrete development for society because it created an artificially robust gross national product, said a Sept. 24 article in L'Osservatore Romano.

The only real growth registered in this crisis has been "the commissions, profits of the banks and bonuses for the managers," it said.

The article, with the headline "A costly illusion," was written by Ettore Gotti Tedeschi . . .

The U.S. financial meltdown has been blamed on "the greed of managers and lack of regulations. But curiously, no one ever refers to the indirect responsibility of the government's economic policy" which, he wrote, tried to cover the lack of any real economic development with a booming Wall Street.

He said the U.S. government's proposed bailout may stave off any worst-case scenario for its troubled financial markets, but it will not repair the root causes of the crisis.

"Despite various attempts, the Western world does not know how to map out a model of development that is capable of guaranteeing stable wealth," the article said.

The West has "not succeeded with its new economy project, it did not succeed with accelerating growth in Asia by transferring low-cost production (there), and it did not succeed after inventing a boom in the GNP through risky financial models that were poorly conceived and badly regulated," it said.

"In order to maintain this sham GNP, the banks financed things that were not guaranteed" and that should not have been financed, like the subprime loans, it said. Financial institutions created an "economic growth out of debt and, therefore, (created something) very risky," it added.

The article said the lesson to be learned is that nations cannot build a healthy economy or experience real development if it is not based on "balanced demographic growth."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I Party A take you Party B

What remains obvious in Missouri requires logo-shirts in California. (h/t Godspy)

The Sacramento Bee reports the couple on the left are protesting California's new "Marriage" license by refusing to turn in a valid form.

From The Bee:

Bird and Codding said they didn't intend to become part of the culture debate. They didn't know about the change when they applied for their marriage license in August. When they saw the terms, Codding wrote "groom" next to "Party A" and "bride" next to Party B and submitted their license. On Aug. 16, they married at her father's church.

On Sept. 3, the couple received a letter from the Placer County Clerk-Recorder Registrar of Voters informing them that their license did not comply with California law and that the state did not accept licenses that had been altered. The couple had 10 days to complete a duplicate form.

The couple say they have no intention of signing the forms.

This first-of-its-kind protest has already cost the couple. According to The Bee they cannot legally join each others' medical insurance and presumably, they cannot file a joint tax return.

I was recently in California for the marriage of my brother Joe to his beautiful Party B Christi. They happened to sign up the first day of the new form, so they were pretty mad they couldn't be recognized in law the same as everybody else in the family, and in history.

I expected more protests of this kind, but perhaps people are waiting for the outcome of a November initiative to overturn the California Supreme Court's redefinition of marriage. California readers and anyone else can help in that effort by visiting ProtectMarriage.com.



Monday, September 22, 2008

Rigali Writes to Congress on FOCA

Cardinal Rigali has written a letter to every member of Congress opposing a proposed Freedom of Choice Act which would repeal all current and future state regulation of abortion.

In the Senate, FOCA is sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer (CA) and in the House by Representative Jerrold Nadler (NY). Follow these links to see a listing of co-sponsors in the House and Senate. Most sponsors are predictably coastal, but in Missouri, Representatives William Lacy Clay and Russ Carnahan are co-sponsors.

The Freedom of Choice Act would create the most radical abortion regime in the world, and co-sponsor Senator Barack Obama (IL) has pledged to sign it if elected President.

Cardinal Rigali, like Cardinal George earlier this month, has pointedly criticized a diversion ploy in broad currency among certain 527 groups, as well as candidates. He writes, "We can’t reduce abortions by promoting abortion…. No one who sponsors or supports legislation like FOCA can credibly claim to be part of a good-faith discussion on how to reduce abortions.”

A press release from the USCCB is below with links to Cardinal Rigali's letter and analysis of the bill (both pdf):

PRO-LIFE CHAIR TO CONGRESS: “WE CAN’T REDUCE ABORTIONS BY PROMOTING ABORTION”

WASHINGTON—Writing to all members of Congress on September 19, Cardinal Justin Rigali warned against enactment of the proposed “Freedom of Choice Act” or “FOCA” (S. 1173, H.R. 1964).
“Despite its deceptive title,” he wrote, “FOCA would deprive the American people in all 50 states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry. FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars. And FOCA would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government to reduce abortions in our country.”
Cardinal Rigali, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, wrote that under FOCA “abortion on demand would be a national entitlement that government must condone and promote in all public programs affecting pregnant women.” While some have said the bill would simply codify the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, he added, supporters of FOCA say it “would sweep away hundreds of anti-abortion laws [and] policies” that are now in effect because they do not conflict with Roe. These include bans on public funding of abortions as well as “modest and widely supported state laws” protecting women’s safety, informed consent and parental rights.
With his letter, Cardinal Rigali enclosed a legal analysis by the bishops’ Office of General Counsel documenting the extreme legal impact of FOCA.
“Members of both parties have sought to reach a consensus on ways to reduce abortions in our society,” wrote Cardinal Rigali. He cited laws restricting and regulating abortion, and “bipartisan legislation providing practical support to help women carry their pregnancies to term, such as the Pregnant Women Support Act (S. 2407, H.R. 3192),” while noting evidence that programs promoting access to contraception do not generally reduce abortions.
“However,” wrote Cardinal Rigali, “there is one thing absolutely everyone should be able to agree on: We can’t reduce abortions by promoting abortion…. No one who sponsors or supports legislation like FOCA can credibly claim to be part of a good-faith discussion on how to reduce abortions.”
Cardinal Rigali urged all members of Congress “to pledge their opposition to FOCA and other legislation designed to promote abortion,” so that “we can begin a serious and sincere discussion on how to reduce the tragic incidence of abortion in our society.”
The full text of his letter can be found at www.usccb.org/prolife/FOCArigaliltr.pdf. The legal analysis of FOCA by the USCCB Office of General Counsel is at www.usccb.org/prolife/FOCAanalysis.pdf.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Bishop Finn's Red Mass Homily

Following is Bishop Robert W. Finn's very powerful homily from this morning's Red Mass in Kansas City. The Mass was jointly for those serving in the legal profession from the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and the Diocese of Kansas City, Missouri.

Homily at the Red Mass – September 19, 2008
Our Lady of Perpetual Help “Redemptorist” Parish
Most Reverend Robert W. Finn
Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph

Dear Friends in Christ,

Thank you for gathering with me and Archbishop Naumann for this celebration of the Red Mass, a solemn Mass invoking the Holy Spirit and in which we mark the opening of the judicial year. I again want to acknowledge and welcome an expanded group this year as Kansas City hosts the annual meeting of the Missouri Bar and the Missouri Judicial Conference. Today we pray for the guidance and strength of God during the coming term of Court.

The exercise of your office is and must be an expression of your ultimate vocation to holiness in the world. We come as integral persons. We dare not try to put aside the totality of our human experience in applying the law, lest we forget the law’s purpose: the well being of the human person and his just and right relationship with all other persons.

For us, as people of faith, the right ordering of these human relationships assumes and rests also on the primary relationship we have as children of God. Each and every one of us has this dignity and value precisely because we have been made in God’s image, we are redeemed by the Blood of Christ, and destined in accord with His plan to live for all eternity in heaven.

Several of these fundamental principles are acknowledged in our Constitution and they provide a vital starting point for the whole construct of rights and obligations. The framers of these foundational documents were people of faith. Their reliance on faith provided a livable framework for good law, because Judeo-Christian faith and its values are not peripheral to human experience. They are in continuity with the Natural Law. God’s revealed truth and an authentic human experience of truth are never contradictory.

So how does the judge, lawyer, or legislator fulfill his or her sworn charge and at the same time respond to Jesus Christ as a faith-filled person? We have to find a way to live the Christian call to holiness in the course of our everyday responsibilities. It can and must be done. We must find a path to heaven in the law office, the courtroom, and the legislative hall, and we can.

The Gospel today reminds us in clear and strong terms that we cannot live divided lives. We cannot live: part of us for God; part of us directed to some contrary ultimate gain. “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”

We are citizens of the world, of our country, state, and community, and we must seek to love others in the crossroads of the world. We are citizens of the Church, wherein we must love God and our neighbor for Christ’s sake. We have families and friends whom we love with a very special closeness. But the truth is this: Each of us has only one heart. With this same one heart we must love God, family, community, and each person we encounter.

With this one heart, and trying to make it each day a more pure and loving heart, our challenge is to turn all the circumstances and events of our life into occasions of loving God and serving the Church with joy and simplicity, bringing our faith and Christ’s love into every effort and challenge.

Dear friends, the world around us and the culture in which we live and act is one in need of Jesus Christ and His transforming grace. It is for this reason that He Himself came among us. He showed us the truth about God and ourselves. He carried in His very person a “New Law” of life and sealed it in His blood. After winning the victory over death, He ascended to heaven commending the continuation of this work to the apostles, to you and me. And for our help He sent the Holy Spirit. Come now, O Holy Spirit!

Whatever our abilities and circumstances we must bring them to bear – in tandem with our Christian faith – on the transformation of the world in Jesus Christ. If we are experts in the law, then we must assure that it best represents and protects the dignity of each person. The bishop must do his part. The priest or pastor must do his part; BUT so also the expert in business, science, journalism, or the law. What we do must be grounded in the larger vocation which is ours: the call to holiness – to be holy men and women working toward heaven.

We mustn’t think for a moment that we can accomplish any of this without God, and without fortifying ourselves through prayer, constant conversion, and the help of the sacraments, particularly this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass around which we gather. We need also the counsel of the Church in her authentic Magisterium.

In 2004, (January, 2004, in Boston) Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston reflected on the debacle under which his state continues to suffer – namely the deterioration of the natural and moral state of marriage under the fraudulent legal equivalency of same sex unions. He used the image and example of Sir Thomas More, who went to his death, in 1535, for his refusal to acknowledge, by signed oath, the legitimacy of King Henry VIII’s divorce. St. Thomas More is for us, the Cardinal noted, a “martyr” for the sanctity of marriage and he epitomizes the kind of heroic sacrifice any of us may have to make – though perhaps on a smaller scale - when, as people of integrity, we determine to oppose peaceably an intrinsically unjust law. More is for Catholic lawyers, therefore, a patron, model, and intercessor.

Determining to uphold the law and the service of the King, More nonetheless could not part from his resolve to retain his conscience. His was not a frivolous conscience made up of merely subjective inclinations, feelings, or intuitions about what “seems right.” Rather, for him as a Catholic – as for us – it rested firmly on the promise of the Holy Spirit our Lord made on the night before He died. To the Church, through the Apostles, he gave his pledge of the Holy Spirit, the Counselor. “He will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” (Jn 14: 25). You, too, bear the name “Counselor,” and you must take seriously your responsibility to conform your prudent direction in consonance with the One Eternal Truth and the dignity of the human person, well-defined by the Church.

We must ask ourselves whether we still believe that the Holy Spirit is entrusted to the Church, or not. When, for example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states so clearly that human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception, (CCC, no. 2270), and when it affirms the grave moral evil of every abortion as our teaching from the very first Christian century, (CCC, no. 2271) how is it that twice within a month, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops found itself needing to correct Catholic elected officials for publicly expressing contorted interpretations of this clear teaching in justification of their support of abortion?

Locally, we ought not to underestimate the significance of the integrity of the “Catholic position” on the life issues – whether it is in regard to human embryonic stem cell research in Missouri, or the regulation of abortion mills in Kansas.

When these issues are engaging the life and death of so many human persons, they are clearly not matters of partisan politics. They are much more. They are matters of the eternal salvation of souls. And there is absolutely no text from the Second Vatican Council which defines “right conscience” apart from the established moral teaching of the Church.

In a moving citation from his trial, Thomas More shows his clear determination to seek, not the dissolution of his enemies, but to exercise a constant prayerful diligence for their conversion and salvation. More was read the order of his execution: that he was to be dragged through the streets of London, hung up, disemboweled, and cut into pieces.

In response, Thomas makes no protest but expresses a fond hope for his accusers. He draws upon the image of the martyr St. Stephen and the converted St. Paul: “More have I not to say, my Lords, but that like us, the blessed Apostle St. Paul, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, was present and consented to the death of St. Stephen, and kept their cloaks that stoned him to death. And yet, be they now both holy Saints in heaven, and shall continue there friends forever. So I verily trust, and shall therefore heartily pray, that though your Lordships have now on earth been judges to my condemnation, we may hereafter in heaven merrily all meet together, to our everlasting salvation, and thus I desire Almighty God to preserve and defend the King’s majesty, and to send him good counsel.” (Peter Ackroyd, The Life of Thomas More. Anchor: New York, 1998. c. 32; p. 398)

This integrity is a heroic yet worthy model for our life. Jesus Christ told us that we would be challenged by the world, as He was. In fact, He promised us the Cross, and told us many times in the Gospel that, unless we take up the Cross and follow Him we can not be His disciples. We cannot bear the Cross without the gift of fortitude that comes from being united to Him. Come Holy Spirit!

I am happy to gather with you to pray for the light and gift of the Holy Spirit. There is a great work of justice to be accomplished. The decisions are difficult and we need Wisdom. The circumstances can be discouraging and we need the Hope of the Gospel. The path is narrow that leads to life. Lord, keep us on the right path.

St. Thomas More, pray for us. Mary, seat of Wisdom and Spouse of the Holy Spirit, pray for us.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Church Demands Latino Leadership Says Archbishop Chaput

Recently, a group of Catholic Latino leaders from around the country met in Denver forming a new organization named CALL – the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders. Archbishop Charles J. Chaput opened their conference with some encouraging and challenging remarks to the Catholic Latino community.

Reflecting on the massive contributions of the immigrant Irish to the Church in America, Chaput said Latinos are poised to make a similarly huge impact, but not without effective, organized leadership.

The full text of his remarks below was provided to The Catholic Key by the Archdiocese of Denver and is reprinted with permission.

OPENING REMARKS AT CATHOLIC ASSOCIATION OF LATINO LEADERS

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM.Cap

St. Malo Retreat Center

I’m happy to be here tonight, not only because I enjoy greeting you every year, but also because this is the first time I can welcome you as a formal organization: -- the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders, or CALL.

CALL is already on the map of Catholic and Latino organizations. I’ve been a witness to the great interest it has already earned. This could not have happened without the efforts of CALL’s board, headed by Mr. Mario Paredes, and the leadership of my good friend Archbishop José Gomez. Congratulations to all of for this achievement.

I’d like to express my particular pleasure in the name you’ve chosen for the organization: CALL.

In Latin, the word for “call” is vocare. It’s the root word that “vocation” comes from. “The call” is a key idea in Catholic tradition. It’s what being a Christian means: the acceptance of a call from God, of a unique vocation prepared for each of us by our Creator. Being a Christian is nothing more or less than responding to the call of Jesus Christ and then transmitting the fruits of his death and resurrection to the rest of the world.

In choosing your name, you’ve understood quite accurately the nature of your vocation as Catholics, Latinos and leaders of your communities. You’ve seen the need to respond to Christ’s invitation to discipleship, and that’s vital as a first step. You’ll discuss over the next two days the kinds of things you’ll want to accomplish as an organization. But let me share just a few thoughts with you, in the hope that I can help you better understand what God, through his Church, may want from you.

My pastoral experience with Latinos is very gratifying but also at times frustrating. It’s gratifying because Latinos instinctively bring with them a Catholic vision of the world. Their faith is deeply embedded in a wider cultural outlook. Even if they don’t practice their faith, they usually see reality – life and death, family and friends, work and leisure -- in a way that’s deeply Catholic in its roots, and therefore, profoundly human.

There’s truth to the old joke that 90 percent of Mexicans are Catholic, but 99.9 percent are Guadalupanos. The faith of Latinos is vividly expressed in their culture, and that’s something American Catholics urgently need in the midst of a materialist and fundamentally Protestant culture.

I also find in Latinos a great responsiveness to every pastoral effort made on their behalf. It’s very moving to see the joy they feel when a bishop greets them, or when a new Mass in Spanish is announced, or when new pastoral resources become available. That kind of joy in a parish is one of the greatest gifts a pastor can experience. I’m not glorifying the Latino community. We all know Latino weaknesses and shortcomings when it comes, for example, to bringing their faith into the public square or supporting the Church in her material needs. But as I told you last year, “demography is destiny.” And I very strongly believe that what Latinos bring to our Church and to our nation is a huge blessing.

I also said that ministering to the Latino community can be frustrating. One reason is the current mood of our country. The amount of negative reaction I receive for arguing that justice requires genuine and systematic immigration reform has been sobering. Another reason for my frustration is financial. The needs of our Latino community are huge, and while the Church in Colorado is not poor, we never have enough resources to match our people’s needs.

I think we have several achievements we can be proud of in the Archdiocese of Denver, from a 10-fold increase in Masses in Spanish, to the promotion of Hispanic vocations; to the creation of the Centro San Juan Diego and a division of Catholic Charities especially dedicated to helping Latinos with their legal status in this country.

But despite all these efforts, we still don’t adequately minister to Latinos. We’re losing them, not so much to Protestant churches, though that’s a problem as well, but mostly to a secularized, consumer-driven society. They’re being digested by our culture, when they should be renewing it.

As I said, demography is destiny. But leadership is destiny too. Let me explain.

Ethnically, the Catholic Church in the United States has been fueled by several major waves of immigrants: the Irish, Italians, Germans, French, Polish and Hispanics. The very heavy Irish influence in shaping the American Church over the past 150 years has obviously been based in the demographic realities. The Irish were the largest single Catholic ethnic group in the country. But the really interesting thing is this: Their actual influence was even greater than their numbers.

Why? It’s because unlike all the other ethnic groups that came to America, the Irish developed a highly organized and effective leadership. In fact, Archbishop Paul Cullen, installed as Archbishop of Dublin in 1852 and the first Irishman to become a Cardinal, made sure that a steady stream of talented Catholic priests and religious went to America to “keep the flock straight,” as he would say.

He not only created a seminary dedicated to forming vocations that would go abroad to reinforce the Catholic identity of the Irish in the United States, Canada and Australia; but also – despite the poverty of Ireland – he created a complex support system to finance his seminary and the missions to these other countries.

As a result, the Italians, Polish, French, Germans and other Catholic ethnic groups made many very important contributions to American life, but their real influence was probably more limited. The Irish, with their own priests and religious, created an extraordinary cultural system that impacted not only the organization of the Catholic Church in the United States, but also the whole political and social environment. In essence, the Irish turned a persecuted minority into a cultural, economic and religious force in the United States.

What’s the lesson? Today, Latinos are by far the largest Catholic ethnic group in the country.

But numbers aren’t decisive. Organization and leadership are decisive. In other words, you are decisive. Not us, bishops. The work of bishops is certainly crucial, but what the Church really needs is a generation of Latino leaders willing to do the work to have an impact on American Catholic life and American society. We need leaders willing to vigorously promote priestly vocations and pastoral ministers. We need leaders eager to show by their example that success in the financial, political or social environment can be achieved by reaffirming, not relinquishing, their Catholic values. We need leaders willing to strengthen the Latino family as the domestic Church, which is the cornerstone of a renewal of American culture.

You’ve chosen the name CALL, Catholic Association of Latino Leaders. This is my simple request to you: Lead. But don’t forget who you are. Lead as Catholics and Latinos. Make sure that your service is deeply and authentically Catholic. And if you lead, if you accept God’s call, then the future will be full of hope -- not only for the Latino community, but for everyone who shares this great and beautiful nation. God bless you.

'This issue' is not just one among many

Slavery that is. Apparently an historian once asked why Abraham Lincoln had chosen to highlight the divisive issue of slavery over so many other important issues facing the country:

"With all the problems that might have been put before the people as proper matter for their consideration in choosing a senator —choice of government servants, immigration, the tariff, international policy, promotion of education, westward extension of railroads, the opening of new lands for homesteads, protection against greedy exploitation of those lands ... encouragement to settlers ... improving the condition of factory workers, and alleviating those agrarian grievances that were to plague the coming decades—with such issues facing the country, those two candidates for the Senate talked as if there were only one issue."

Hadley Arkes posts that paragraph today in an article today at The Catholic Thing and answers why slavery was not just one issue among many:

"As Harry Jaffa pointed out, following Lincoln, the question of whether a black man was a human being was not a 'value judgment.' His standing as a human would not depend on whether we imputed 'value' to his life. Whether he was a 'human' was a question with an objective answer. That answer did not hinge on the vote of a majority; the answer had to be clear before we would know just what kinds of creatures are suited for the life of politics in offering arguments and reasons and casting votes."

Arkes argues the same question and importance is involved in today's abortion debate. See the whole article.

Chant as Active Participation

Todd Flowerday of CatholicSensibility has a piece today at InsideCatholic offering advice on how parishioners might constructively introduce, or re-introduce, chant into parish liturgies. The following paragraph is worth pondering, and all the more interesting since Todd is a self-described progressive:

"If the parish liberals are howling by now, emphasize the progressive political and social considerations here: Chant moves against the market-driven excesses of contemporary liturgical music. It negates the abuses of overbearing leadership from the organ console or the cantor's microphone. It places all the singers in the church on the same communal footing. And it's an exercise in participative democracy -- as well as participative liturgy."

Todd was formerly liturgist at St. Thomas More parish in this diocese and now serves at the campus parish for Iowa State University.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Woman Makes Portraits of Dying Newborns

The Key has offered a number of stories over the years about Alexandra's House, a perinatal hospice in Kansas City providing support to families facing the birth of a terminally ill child. A new aspect of this service came to light recently and Marty Denzer explains the quiet ministry of a woman who makes baby portraits for the families of the dying children. The story appears in the next issue of The Catholic Key.

Local artist draws poignant portraits for grieving parents

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter

KANSAS CITY — She spent many minutes huddled over a photograph of an infant, tears welling in her eyes and blurring her vision. No, she didn’t know the baby, but Maureen Noonan knew that somewhere a family was grieving over similar photos of a baby that had died at or soon after birth.
Her gift to that family would be a drawing of the baby, a keepsake embodying the memories of his or her brief life. Noonan shook her head to clear her eyes and began drawing.
BabyDrawing
She has created about 60 portraits of infants over the past years, working from photographs forwarded to her from Alexandra’s House. The perinatal hospice provides emotional, spiritual and logistical support services for families facing a pregnancy of a child that won’t survive.
“My sister in New Jersey has a niece who lost her baby at birth,” Noonan recalled. “She wanted a portrait of the baby, and my sister sent me a photograph. That first one was very hard — a dead baby, oh, that was hard. But after a while, I got past the photo and the artist in me took over.
“Sometimes photographs are too graphic, but a portrait can be displayed,” she said.
Noonan has been teaching kindergarten at Visitation School for 10 years. While in college working toward a degree in elementary education, she took life-drawing classes, and discovered she could draw.
“I was in college during the touchy-feely days of the 1970s, when ‘experts’ said if you were going to teach art to kindergarteners, you had to do art yourself. I was a little surprised to discover I could draw and I liked to draw. Then I married George, who has 6,000 relatives,” she said with a grin, “and because back then we had no money I started doing line drawings of their houses for Christmas gifts.
0919_portraits2
“After I did the portrait for my sister’s niece, I wanted to do more, but I didn’t know who to contact. Who would want this kind of ministry? Then George told me he had met Patti Lewis of Alexandra’s House and she was going to send me a photograph of an infant, and well, I’m working on five portraits now.”
Noonan can’t be matter-of-fact about her ministry. She can’t just shove it under the rug saying, “oh those poor parents” and then forget about it.
“These people have lost their child. I don’t know the parents but I’m torn between wanting to be true to the photograph and wanting to pretty things up. But this is the little face parents see. I’ve cried buckets, sometimes I’m crying while I’m drawing,” she said.
“You have to go into artist mode. With the first one, I made myself push through it to draw the portrait.”
Now she puts a CD in the player, often Jon Bon Jovi, and lets herself cry a while. Then with the music soothing and energizing her at the same time, she takes a deep breath, picks up her conte pencil and begins to draw.
Noonan mattes each portrait and decorates two corners with rosebuds. The rosebuds symbolize the child: beautiful but too fragile to reach his or her full potential.
The rosebud portrait Noonan created for Johnny and Susan Hart of baby Andrew is a treasured keepsake.
There was both sadness and beauty to the journey, Johnny remembered. The Harts, who were living in Washington State at the time, were looking forward to bringing home a new brother or sister for sons Luke and William, buying little outfits, and talking a lot about the baby. Then an ultrasound exam at 20 weeks showed an anomaly that could not be denied: a probable severe chromosome disorder.
The doctor offered several options, Johnny remembered, one, offered reluctantly, was terminating the pregnancy. Believing strongly in the sanctity of life, neither of the Harts would consider that option.
“Susan went through a whole box of Kleenex,” her husband said, “but in the end we were determined to carry this child to term. The doctor was a spiritual leader for us through the ordeal.”
The Harts decided to move back to Kansas City, where Johnny grew up and still has family here. The last few months of Susan’s pregnancy were hectic, with trying to sell their house in Washington, finding a place to live in Kansas City, keeping up with two small, active boys, all the while knowing that in the fall, the baby she carried would very likely die shortly after birth. An amniocentesis at 35 weeks showed the baby had trisomy 13, where there are three copies of chromosome 13 that usually results in mental retardation and often fatal defects to the central nervous system and heart. There would be no emergency treatment, only comfort care, as the life expectancy of infants with trisomy 13 was very low.
0919_portraits
Johnny’s mother, Helen, had met Patti Lewis at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church some time ago, and enthusiastically connected her son and daughter-in-law to Alexandra’s House.
“The family and Patti Lewis helped keep us strong,” Susan said. “Just entering Alexandra’s House you know a great many blessings are showered on you.”
The birth was very hard, she recalled. “Knowing the baby was not going to live very long was hard enough, but labor and delivery were difficult. William and Luke were there with us so they got to see and hold Andrew when he was born.”
He lived long enough to be baptized, Johnny said. That was a great comfort.
Andrew’s pregnancy and birth and death taught us compassion, Susan said.
The rosebud portrait Noonan created of Andrew lay on the coffee table. Susan, who is joyfully three months pregnant, picked it up and cradled it with tears in her eyes and a small, trembling smile.
“He was so gorgeous,” she said, “and we are grateful to God for letting us meet him. We have a beautiful advocate in heaven.
“And the portrait is a beautiful reminder of how special he was and still is,” Susan said. “I want to give the artist a big hug.”

The Liturgy Wars Set to Pizza

I've always been a passive observer of the liturgy wars since I really don't understand it enough to have strong opinions. But with pizza, I'm a partisan traditionalist. The Shrine of the Holy Whapping has the liturgy wars today set to pizza (excerpt):

. . . but for a brief period in 1967, it looked as if Traditional Roman Pizza would vanish forever from the Vatican cafeteria. On one momentous day in October of that year, Paul VI's special commission on the Holy See's food services (informally nicknamed "Dominus Pizza") introduced an American innovation called "Chicago Deep Dish" to the Sistine dining room in the Apostolic Palace, explaining that it would be fine-tuned ad experimentum in order to permanently replace the old-fashioned, thin-crust traditional Italian pizza, made according to recipes developed organically, and in continuous use since the eighteenth century. (snip)

Progressives thundered against the thin, insubstantial, flimsy crust of the antiquated Italian pizza, with its insufficient quantities of dough (as well as the unchanging one-year topping cycle), while traditionalists fulminated against the Americanized Novus Ordo Pizzae. One early article by anti-Deep Dish critic Michael Davies even went so far as to claim the Novus Ordo Pizzae was, in fact, not a pizza at all, but a dish called a "raised pie"--suspiciously associated not with Italy, but with the Protestant nation of England. . .

Some cardinals began to start installing ovens in their own private apartments, and a few determined laymen began to frequent illicit pizzerias set up by the increasingly belligerent Society of San Marzano.

The whole article is worth your time and so is checking back with the Whapsters regularly.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blogging will continue Tuesday, including some commentary on the commentary. Till then, I'm on the road.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

KC Bishops on Moral Responsibility, Voting

"Could a Catholic in good conscience vote for a candidate who supports legalized abortion when there is a choice of another candidate who does not support abortion or any other intrinsically evil policy?"

Kansas City, Kansas Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and Kansas City - St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn address that question and more in their Joint Pastoral dedicated on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and released today:

(UPDATE - See all of Bishop Finn's Catholic voter statements here)

Our Moral Responsibility as Catholic Citizens
Joint Pastoral Letter – September 8, 2008
Most Reverend Joseph F. Naumann, Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas
Most Reverend Robert W. Finn, Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph

Dear Friends in Christ,

With the approaching general election this November, we believe this to be an important moment for us to address together the responsibility of Catholics to be well informed and well formed voters.

Except for the election of our next President, the people of Northwestern Missouri and Northeastern Kansas will be choosing different candidates for different offices in our two dioceses. Yet the fundamental moral principles that should guide our choices as Catholic voters are the same.

For generations it has been the determination of Catholic Bishops not to endorse political candidates or parties. This approach was initiated by Archbishop John Carroll – the very first Catholic Bishop serving in the United States. It was long before there was an Internal Revenue Service Code, and had nothing to do with a desire to preserve tax-exempt status. Rather the Church in the United States realized early on that it must not tether the credibility of the Church to the uncertain future actions or statements of a particular politician or party. This understanding of the Church’s proper role in society was affirmed in the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern Word: “The Church, by reason of her role and competence, is not identified with any political community nor bound by its ties to any political system. It is at once the sign and the safeguard of the transcendental dimension of the human person.”(Gaudium et Spes n.76)

A Right to Speak Out on Issues

At the same time, it is important to note that the Catholic Church in the United States has always cherished its right to speak to the moral issues confronting our nation. The Church has understood its responsibility in a democratic society to do its best to form properly the consciences of her members. In continuity with the long history of the efforts of American Bishops to assist Catholics with the proper formation of their consciences, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) this past November issued a statement: Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. In that document our brother bishops took care to note: “This statement is intended to reflect and complement, not substitute for, the ongoing teachings of bishops in our own dioceses and states.”

It is in this context that we offer the following reflections to assist the Catholic people of Northwestern Missouri and Northeastern Kansas in forming their consciences in preparation for casting their votes this November.

Many Issues: Prudential Judgments

Every Catholic should be concerned about a wide range of issues. We believe in a consistent ethic that evaluates every issue through the prism of its impact on the life and dignity of the human person. Catholics should care about public policies that:
a) promote a just and lasting peace in the world,
b) protect our nation from terrorism and other security threats,
c) welcome and uphold the rights of immigrants,
d) enable health care to be accessible and affordable,
e) manifest a special concern for the poor by attending to their immediate needs and assisting them to gain economic independence,
f) protect the rights of parents to be the primary educators of their children,
g) create business and employment opportunities making it possible for individuals to be able to provide for their own material needs and the needs of their families,
h) reform the criminal justice system by providing better for the needs of the victims of crimes, protecting the innocent, administering justice fairly, striving to rehabilitate inmates, and eliminating the death penalty,
i) foster a proper stewardship of the earth that God has entrusted to our care.

This is by no means an exhaustive list.

While the above issues, as well as many others, have important moral dimensions, Catholics may and do disagree about the most effective public policies for responding to them. How these issues are best addressed and what particular candidates are best equipped to address them requires prudential judgments – defined as circumstances in which people can ethically reach different conclusions. Catholics have an obligation to study, reflect and pray over the relative merits of the different policy approaches proposed by candidates. Catholics have a special responsibility to be well informed regarding the guidance given by the Church pertaining to the moral dimensions of these matters. In the end, Catholics in good conscience can disagree in their judgments about many aspects of the best policies and the most effective candidates.

The Priority of Rejecting Intrinsic Evil

There are, however, some issues that always involve doing evil, such as legalized abortion, the promotion of same-sex unions and ‘marriages,’ repression of religious liberty, as well as public policies permitting euthanasia, racial discrimination or destructive human embryonic stem cell research. A properly formed conscience must give such issues priority even over other matters with important moral dimensions. To vote for a candidate who supports these intrinsic evils because he or she supports these evils is to participate in a grave moral evil. It can never be justified.

Even if we understand the moral dimensions of the full array of social issues and have correctly prioritized those involving intrinsic evils, we still must make prudential judgments in the selection of candidates. In an ideal situation, we may have a choice between two candidates who both oppose public policies that involve intrinsic evils. In such a case, we need to study their approach on all the other issues that involve the promotion of the dignity of the human person and prayerfully choose the best individual.

Limiting Grave Evil

In another circumstance, we may be confronted with a voting choice between two candidates who support abortion, though one may favor some limitations on it, or he or she may oppose public funding for abortion. In such cases, the appropriate judgment would be to select the candidate whose policies regarding this grave evil will do less harm. We have a responsibility to limit evil if it is not possible at the moment to eradicate it completely.

The same principle would be compelling to a conscientious voter who was confronted with two candidates who both supported same-sex unions, but one opposed abortion and destructive embryonic research while the other was permissive in these regards. The voter, who himself or herself opposed these policies, would have insufficient moral justification voting for the more permissive candidate. However, he or she might justify resorting to a write-in vote or abstaining from voting at all in this case, because of a conscientious objection.

In 2004 a group of United States Bishops, acting on behalf of the USCCB and requesting counsel about the responsibilities of Catholic politicians and voters, received a memo from the office of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, which stated: “A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.”

Could a Catholic in good conscience vote for a candidate who supports legalized abortion when there is a choice of another candidate who does not support abortion or any other intrinsically evil policy? Could a voter’s preference for the candidate’s positions on the pursuit of peace, economic policies benefiting the poor, support for universal health care, a more just immigration policy, etc. overcome a candidate’s support for legalized abortion? In such a case, the Catholic voter must ask and answer the question: What could possibly be a proportionate reason for the more than 45 million children killed by abortion in the past 35 years? Personally, we cannot conceive of such a proportionate reason.

Time for Catholics to Exercise Moral Leadership

The number of Catholics and the percentage of Catholics in the United States have never been greater. There has never been a moment in our nation’s history when more Catholics served in elective office, presided in our courts or held other positions of power and authority. It would be wrong for us to use our numbers and influence to try to compel others to accept our religious and theological beliefs. However, it would be equally wrong for us to fail to be engaged in the greatest human rights struggle of our time, namely the need to protect the right to life of the weakest and most vulnerable.

We need committed Catholics in both major political parties to insist upon respect for the values they share with so many other people of faith and good will regarding the protection of the sanctity of human life, the upholding of the institution of marriage between a man and a woman as the foundation of family life, as well as the protection of religious liberty and conscience rights. It is particularly disturbing to witness the spectacle of Catholics in public life vocally upset with the Church for teaching what it has always taught on these moral issues for 2,000 years, but silent in objecting to the embrace, by either political party, of the cultural trends of the past few decades that are totally inconsistent with our nation’s history of defending the weakest and most vulnerable.

Thank you for taking time to consider these reflections on applying the moral principles that must guide our choices as voters. We are called to be faithful Catholics and loyal Americans. In fact, we can only be good citizens if we allow ourselves to be informed by the unchanging moral principles of our Catholic faith.

(UPDATE - See all of Bishop Finn's Catholic voter statements here)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bishops to Discuss Abortion Politics in Full Assembly

The Administrative Committee of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops is that body's highest authority outside the bishops' plenary assemblies. The committee, of which our own Bishop Robert Finn is a member, has been meeting in DC this week and have issued a statement endorsing prior statements from Cardinal Rigali on the matters of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Joe Biden's Meet The Press abortion remarks.

They have further determined that the bishops as a whole will take up the issue of abortion and politics at their next plenary meeting in November.

Here the Administrative Committee's statement:

In light of recent comments by Catholic politicians misrepresenting Catholic teaching, the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops affirms the statements that have been issued by Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Doctrine. We confirm the Catholic Church's constant teaching about the sanctity of all human life from the moment of conception and the intrinsic evil of abortion. As the teachers of the faith, we also point out the connectedness between the evil of abortion and political support for abortion. We plan to discuss the practical and pastoral implications of these serious matters at the U.S. bishops' November 10-13, 2008 general meeting in Baltimore.

The two referenced statements are here for Biden and here for Pelosi.

Bishop Wester on DHS Workplace Raids



Bishop John C. Wester is calling this hour on the Department of Homeland Security and President Bush to re-examine the use of workplace immigration raids as an enforcement tool. Speaking as Chairman of the Bishops' Committee on Migration, the Salt Lake City Bishop further urges elected officials to turn away from enforcement-only policies and work toward comprehensive immigration reform. The text of his remarks from today's press conference in Washington, D.C. is below:

On behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), I call upon the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and President Bush to reexamine the use of worksite enforcement raids as an immigration enforcement tool. The humanitarian costs of these raids are immeasurable and unacceptable in a civilized society.

In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, we have sought to work collaboratively with DHS to ensure that raids are carried out humanely. It seems to us that DHS has attempted to abide by several humanitarian considerations in executing some of the workplace raids.

However, we believe that DHS has not gone far enough to ensure that human rights protections are consistently applied in all enforcement actions.

For over a year now, DHS has targeted employers who hire unauthorized workers by using force to enter worksites and arrest immigrant workers. During the process of these raids, U.S.-citizen children have been separated from their parents for days, if not longer; immigrants arrested have not been afforded the rights of due process; and local communities, including legal permanent residents and U.S. citizens, have been disrupted and dislocated. The sweeping nature of these raids---which often involve hundreds of law enforcement personnel with weapons---strike fear in immigrant communities and make it difficult for those arrested to secure basic due process protections, including legal counsel.

We have witnessed first-hand the suffering of immigrant families and are gravely concerned about the collateral human consequences of immigration enforcement raids on the family unit. Many of our local parishes have helped respond to human needs generated by these enforcement actions, providing counseling and legal services to parents and children and basic needs assistance to immigrant communities.

Raids strike immigrant communities unexpectedly, leaving the affected immigrant families to cope in their aftermath. Husbands are separated from their wives, and children are separated from their parents. Many families never recover; others never reunite.

As our government confronts the challenges of immigration, let it not forget one of its core duties: protecting the family unit as the fundamental institution upon which society and government itself depends.

While we do not question the right and duty of our government to enforce the law, we do question whether worksite enforcement raids are the most effective and humane method for performing this duty, particularly as they are presently being implemented. In this regard, we ask DHS to immediately pledge to take the following actions to mitigate the human costs of these raids:

-DHS should refrain from enforcement activity in certain areas that provide humanitarian relief—churches, hospitals, community health centers, schools, food banks, and other community-based organizations that provide charitable services;

-Primary, not simply sole, caregivers should be released following an enforcement action to care for their children. A variety of release mechanisms, including parole in the public interest, release on recognizance, bail, and alternatives to detention should be utilized for this purpose:

-DHS should facilitate access to meaningful legal representation for arrested individuals so that they are aware of their legal rights and options;

-Enforcement actions should be conducted in a manner which preserves basic human dignity: immigrants who are working to survive and support their families should not be treated like criminals.

-Mechanisms should be instituted to allow family members to remain together and to locate each other during and following an enforcement action. Non-profit and community groups should be engaged in this effort.

Absent the effective and immediate implementation of these safeguards, we believe that these enforcement raids should be abandoned.

Immigration enforcement raids demonstrate politically the ability of the government to enforce the law. They do little, however, to solve the broader challenge of illegal immigration. They also reveal, sadly, the failure of a seriously flawed immigration system, which, as we have consistently stated, requires comprehensive reform.

As they begin their general election campaigns, we urge the two presidential candidates to engage the issue of immigration in a humane, thoughtful, and courageous manner.

We urge our elected and appointed officials to turn away from enforcement-only methods and direct their energy toward the adoption of comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

(CNS file photo)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

USCCB Responds to Biden Abortion Remarks

This just released:

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William E. Lori, chairman, U.S. Bishops Committee on Doctrine, issued the following statement:

Recently we had a duty to clarify the Catholic Church’s constant teaching against abortion, to correct misrepresentations of that teaching by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on “Meet the Press” (see www.usccb.org/prolife/whatsnew.shtml). On September 7, again on “Meet the Press,” Senator Joseph Biden made some statements about that teaching that also deserve a response.

Senator Biden did not claim that Catholic teaching allows or has ever allowed abortion. He said rightly that human life begins “at the moment of conception,” and that Catholics and others who recognize this should not be required by others to pay for abortions with their taxes.

However, the Senator’s claim that the beginning of human life is a “personal and private” matter of religious faith, one which cannot be “imposed” on others, does not reflect Catholic teaching. The Church teaches that the obligation to protect unborn human life rests on the answer to two questions, neither of which is private or specifically religious.

The first is a biological question: When does a new human life begin? When is there a new living organism of the human species, distinct from mother and father and ready to develop and mature if given a nurturing environment? While ancient thinkers had little verifiable knowledge to help them answer this question, today embryology textbooks confirm that a new human life begins at conception (see www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/bioethic/fact298.shtml). The Catholic Church does not teach this as a matter of faith; it acknowledges it as a matter of objective fact.

The second is a moral question, with legal and political consequences: Which living members of the human species should be seen as having fundamental human rights, such as a right not to be killed? The Catholic Church’s answer is: Everybody. No human being should be treated as lacking human rights, and we have no business dividing humanity into those who are valuable enough to warrant protection and those who are not. Even this is not solely a Catholic teaching, but a principle of natural law accessible to all people of good will. The framers of the Declaration of Independence pointed to the same basic truth by speaking of inalienable rights, bestowed on all members of the human race not by any human power, but by their Creator. Those who hold a narrower and more exclusionary view have the burden of explaining why we should divide humanity into the moral “haves” and “have-nots,” and why their particular choice of where to draw that line can be sustained in a pluralistic society. Such views pose a serious threat to the dignity and rights of other poor and vulnerable members of the human family who need and deserve our respect and protection.

While in past centuries biological knowledge was often inaccurate, modern science leaves no excuse for anyone to deny the humanity of the unborn child. Protection of innocent human life is not an imposition of personal religious conviction but a demand of justice.
# # # # #

Bishops to Call for End to Workplace Raids

Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City will lead a press conference tomorrow calling on the Department of Homeland Security and the Bush Administration to end the practice of massive workplace immigration raids.

In a release announcing the conference, Bishop Wester said, "The humanitarian costs of these raids are immeasurable and unacceptable in a civilized society.” Bishop Wester is chair of the USCCB Committee on Migration (and a wonderful priest and auxiliary bishop from my past-life in San Francisco).

The cost of these raids has been devastating not only for immigrants, but on their children who are citizens, and for the fabric of whole communities where they once lived and worked. I'm sure Bishop Wester will explain more about that at tomorrow's conference, and we'll have the story here - so check back.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Archbishop Chaput on Biden, Pelosi and Moral Reasoning

Archbishop Chaput and Auxiliary Bishop Conley have issued a new statement on "Public Servants and Moral Reasoning" related to recent statements by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Joe Biden. Excerpt:

"In 2008, although NBC probably didn't intend it, Meet the Press has become a national window on the flawed moral reasoning of some Catholic public servants. . .

Abortion is a foundational issue; it is not an issue like housing policy or the price of foreign oil. It always involves the intentional killing of an innocent life, and it is always, grievously wrong. If, as Sen. Biden said, "I'm prepared as a matter of faith [emphasis added] to accept that life begins at the moment of conception," then he is not merely wrong about the science of new life; he also fails to defend the innocent life he already knows is there.


As the senator said in his interview, he has opposed public funding for abortions. To his great credit, he also backed a successful ban on partial-birth abortions. But his strong support for the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade and the false "right" to abortion it enshrines, can't be excused by any serious Catholic. Support for Roe and the "right to choose" an abortion simply masks what abortion is, and what abortion does. Roe is bad law. As long as it stands, it prevents returning the abortion issue to the states where it belongs, so that the American people can decide its future through fair debate and legislation.


In his Meet the Press interview, Sen. Biden used a morally exhausted argument that American Catholics have been hearing for 40 years: i.e., that Catholics can't "impose" their religiously based views on the rest of the country. But resistance to abortion is a matter of human rights, not religious opinion. And the senator knows very well as a lawmaker that all law involves the imposition of some people's convictions on everyone else. That is the nature of the law. American Catholics have allowed themselves to be bullied into accepting the destruction of more than a million developing unborn children a year. Other people have imposed their "pro-choice" beliefs on American society without any remorse for decades."

Read the whole statement. (It's a pdf)

Two Great Quotes

Family and I spent the weekend in Saint Louis and today the blog takes a backseat to newspaper production. We'll get back to regular posting tomorrow.

So for today's post I'll have to steal two great quotes.

First from Intentional Disciples -

"Most people use Church documents the way baseball managers use statistics and drunks use streetlights -- for support, not illumination."

Second from Disputations -

Note for sophists

"Pluralistic" does not mean "of or relating to a situation or society in which moral behavior is optional."

Both of those sites are on my blogroll and well worth visiting often.

BTW - The 10:00 AM Sunday Mass with Choir at the Cathedral Basilica in Saint Louis is alone worth the trip.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Cardinal George Slams 'Common Good' Fraud

UPDATED ON FEB. 20 - GO HERE.

Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good is an organization whose purpose is convincing Catholics to vote for pro-choice Democrats. The sleight of hand they employ in this task is to claim that such candidates align so well across the board with Catholic teaching on the common good, that their support for legalized abortion can be fairly overlooked. In fact, the group does not even call for the repeal of the Roe regime and is constantly critical of those who do, preferring to praise those pro-choice politicians who claim to reduce abortions by adjustments in social policy.

Cardinal George attacks that notion today in a letter posted to the Archdiocese of Chicago website (excerpt):

"The unborn child, who is alive and is a member of the human family, cannot defend himself or herself. Good law defends the defenseless. Our present laws permit unborn children to be privately killed. Laws that place unborn children outside the protection of law destroy both the children killed and the common good, which is the controlling principle of Catholic social teaching. One cannot favor the legal status quo on abortion and also be working for the common good."

Cardinal George does not call out Catholics in Alliance by name, but he has previously banned their deceptive material from parishes in his diocese.

The tactics employed by Catholics in Alliance are not surprising given their birth from within the Democratic Party and strong ties to pro-choice Catholic politicians.

Executive Director and Co-founder of Catholics in Alliance, Alexia Kelley, served as religious outreach coordinator for John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign.

James Salt, who helped start Catholics in Alliance and is now Director of Organizing for a nearly identical group called Catholics United, had previously worked on the campaign of the pro-choice Catholic Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius.

While the group was forming, David Wilhem, the non-Catholic former chair of the Democratic National Committee, was helping to form the group's board of directors.

Former Boston Mayor and President Clinton's Ambassador to the Vatican Ray Flynn told The Catholic Key that Wilhelm attempted to recruit him for the board. Flynn though is a truly pro-life Democrat and when the organization made clear to him that they would not support efforts to legally curtail abortion, he declined.

The Chair of the Board of Directors for Catholics in Alliance is Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley. She served in a number of capacities in the Clinton State Department and is the wife of former Democratic National Committee finance chair, Smith Bagley. Ambassador Bagley has herself given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the DNC, as well as to numerous stridently pro-choice Democratic candidates including, Barack Obama, Al Franken, Barbara Boxer, Claire McCaskill, Charles Schumer and The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.

There is a pressing need and a noble task involved in faithful Catholics who are Democrats working to change their party's attachment to abortion on demand. Unfortunately, Catholics in Alliance and Catholics United are simply trying to spin their fellow Catholics into thinking the Democrats' position on abortion is no big deal.

World's First Anglican Use / Gospel Mass Parish

St. Therese Little Flower Parish in Kansas City was an early host of Charismatic Catholicism in the U.S. Situated in a largely African American neighborhood, St. Therese offers a liturgy drawing on charismatic and more traditional Gospel forms of worship. The parish is also a magnet for those seeking cultural diversity in church life.

Today St. Therese is led by a married man, Fr. Ernie Davis, who was an Episcopal priest for 15 years. In 2002, he was ordained to the Catholic priesthood for Kansas City.

Now a group of Anglicans and Episcopalians looking to "come home" to the Catholic Church is meeting at St. Therese and is beginning the area's first Anglican Use liturgy which lives alongside the existing Gospel-themed Mass at St. Therese.

"Both liturgies are Catholic to the core," Fr. Davis said.

The following article appears in the upcoming issue of The Catholic Key:

By John Heuertz

KANSAS CITY - A new organization has formed in Kansas City called the Society of Our Lady of Hope offering guidance, comfort and support to local Anglican Communion members who wish to become Catholics.

Beginning Sunday, September 7 and continuing through November, society members will celebrate the Liturgy of the Word each week at St. Therese Little Flower parish in Kansas City using the Book of Divine Worship - the Catholic Church-approved liturgy for Catholics with an Episcopalian or Anglican background.

Each week until December 1, the first Sunday of Advent, the liturgy will be followed by a talk on some aspect of the Catholic faith. If all goes as planned, the full Anglican Use Mass will begin on that date at St. Therese's.

Speakers will include Bishop Emeritus Raymond Boland and former Episcopal priest Mat Teel and every talk is open to the public.

"I get excited about these things," says Jude Huntz of Gladstone, who is helping coordinate the process. "I get emotional. I guess I'm in the right business."

Huntz, RCIA formation director at St. Michael the Archangel parish in Leawood, also has a personal interest.

"I have a five year old son and I really wanted him to feel he could attend the same church as a child and as an adult," says Huntz's wife Cristen, a society member and lifelong Anglican. "But I don't see that viability in the Anglican continuum anymore."

The goal is for Bishop Robert Finn to administer the sacraments of confirmation and holy Communion to society members - and to all who join them in this faith journey - at St. Therese's on December 10.

The liturgy and the talks are the first step to a complete "Anglican use" Roman Catholic Mass at St. Therese's each Sunday.

"They're already Trinitarian and very sacramental, so it's not the full RCIA program," says Father Ernie Davis, St. Therese pastoral administrator and the group's guiding spirit. "We're emphasizing things they might stumble over as new Catholics."

Anglicans live everywhere, and most Episcopalians are Americans. Both are part of the Anglican Communion, the Church of England’s international family.

In recent years, ongoing Anglican Communion disagreements over issues including abortion and euthanasia, ordaining women, and gay marriage have caused a crisis of conscience for some communion members.

Father Davis himself experienced this crisis, and he was an Episcopal priest with 15 years of loyal service at the time. Why would a lifelong Episcopalian become a Catholic when he still loved the Episcopal Church?

“The short answer is, because I finally realized I wasn’t a Catholic,” he says. “And even though the practical steps were much harder than actually converting, I’ve never regretted my decision to leave.”

He points out that cradle Catholics might be surprised to learn that many Anglicans and Episcopalians consider themselves part of the Catholic Church now.

On the other hand, the similarities help to lower the natural barriers to religious conversion.

The process got started late last winter, when a group of local Anglicans and their pastor, Father John Cochran, explored entering the Catholic Church in a body.

“I had thought about this basically twice before in my lifetime and it’s finally culminating,” says society member Luanne Fliss of Raytown. “I’m tremendously thrilled to be joining the mother church.”

The Society of Our Lady of Hope hopes to focus on evangelization for all who wish to join or return to the Catholic faith. It’s one of a growing number of similar Catholic organizations nationwide.

But it’s also unique. After December, St. Therese’s will be the only Catholic parish in the United States that has added a regular, weekly Anglican-use Mass.

“There’s been some anxiety, but the parish has been very welcoming,” Father Davis says. “The Anglicans say they’ve never experienced such a warm and welcoming parish.”

In fact, St. Therese may be the only Catholic parish anywhere with two unique Sunday liturgies — the joyous and exuberant African-American inspired Gospel Mass, and the Anglican-use Mass with its rich spirit of contemplation and recollection.

“There is a lot of beauty in the Anglican tradition,” Cristen Huntz says. “And I felt the presence of God at the Gospel Masses.”

“Both liturgies are Catholic to the core,” says Father Davis. “But neither one is a white-bread liturgy.”

“For me, the time since May has gone like lightning,” he continues. “I see divine intervention everywhere in this process.”

For further information, contact St. Therese the Little Flower parish at (816) 444-5406 or visit the society’s website. More information is also available on Father Davis’ weblog.

John Heuertz is a freelance journalist living in Kansas City.