Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More News

***The Pope's press officer is resigning due to some very bad PR lately. Probably not a bad idea, because they have messed up too many times recently.

***40 Days for life is starting to see even more fruit. This is Aggie Catholic pro-life activism for the rest of the country. Started in Aggieland by Aggie Catholics. Whoop!

***Some quotes from the nominee for the White House Office of Legal Council:
Johnsen said that abortion restrictions “reduce pregnant women to no more than fetal containers.”

Johnsen attacked arguments that pregnant women consent to their pregnancy, saying those “who are the inevitable losers in the contraceptive lottery no more 'consent' to pregnancy than pedestrians 'consent' to being struck by drunk drivers.”

She also said that the experience of abortion is “no longer traumatic” and claimed most women respond to an abortion with “relief.”

She was approved by the Senate committee for a full Senate vote 11 to 7.

Menopause

Q - As stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church "each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life." Based on that I ask this question. How can a husband transmit life, through the laws of nature and biology, when depositing his semen in his wife that has experienced menopause?

A - Thanks for the question.

I have written about the basics of contraception many times before. The most recent was here.

But, before we go further, we need to see the verse in the Catechism that you are referring to. It says (in context):
Fecundity is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment. So the Church, which is "on the side of life" teaches that "it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life." "This particular doctrine, expounded on numerous occasions by the Magisterium, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act."
Here the Catechism is quoting Humanae Vitae. Which says in 11:

The Church, nevertheless, in urging men to the observance of the precepts of the natural law, which it interprets by its constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life.
It explains this teaching further on in the document in 12:

This particular doctrine, often expounded by the magisterium of the Church, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act.
In other words, natural infertility is not the same as using contraception. Some are naturally infertile because of health issues or age. This is not consciously denying the gift of infertility. Notice the wording above that says "on his own initiative", which refers to using contraception to make oneself infertile and thus consciously separate fertility and the sexual act - which then intentionally divorces sex from one of it's purposes.
In the Code of Canon Law is states:
§3. Sterility neither prohibits nor nullifies marriage, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 1098.
A Christian marriage does not depend upon fertility. But, Christian spouses cannot act contrary to the moral law just because they are no longer fertile or never were. This means that all acts that are sinful for a fertile couple are still sinful for an infertile couple.

Hopefully this helps.

News and Such

***The Legionaries of Christ announced that Pope Benedict XVI has asked for an Apostolic Visitation of the order. There is more on the visitation here.

***Archbishop Wuerl intends to deny Communion to Kathleen Sebelius while she is in D.C., in order to uphold the request of her Bishop in Kansas (Archbishop Naumann), who has announced that she cannot come forward to Communion due to her public support for abortion. This is an interesting development and I wonder how it will play out with all the other pro-abortion Catholic politicians in D.C.

***When addressing Planned Parenthood, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, stated the following:
I want to assure you that reproductive rights and the umbrella issue of women's rights and empowerment will be a key to the foreign policy of this Administration....I believe that women's rights and empowerment is an indispensible ingredient of smart power and therefore is integrated into our renewed emphasis on diplomacy and development… and I was very proud when President Obama repealed the Mexico City policy....
While accepting the highest honor that PP gives out (the Margaret Sanger Award) she also said:
I have to tell you that it was a great privilege when I was told that I would receive this award. I admire Margaret Sanger enormously, her courage, her tenacity, her vision.
Margaret Sanger, the founder of PP, was a racist who advocating selective eugenics to get rid of the undesirables in our society. She also advocated adultery (even in her own marriage), called the poor "human weeds", and wanted forced sterilizations.

This is the woman that Clinton admires???

***Speak some truth Papa:

Monday, March 30, 2009

Vote for The Priests

I got this in an email this morning:

Hi

I noticed that you have previously covered the musical act, The Priests (http://marysaggies.blogspot.com/2009/03/priests.html )

I am currently working on a digital campaign on behalf of The Priests. The Priests have worked incredibly hard over the last couple of years to raise awareness of traditional Christian music and even entered Guinness World Record for ‘Fastest-selling UK debut for a classical act’.

I am hoping that you might consider including a story or link or your site so that your readers can vote for The Priests in the forthcoming Classical Brit Awards. The voting is open from now closes at midnight on 1st May 2009.

The link to vote for The Priests is:

http://www.classicalbrits.co.uk/voting/143

The Priests are also playing their first UK shows soon on the following dates:

TUESDAY 16 JUNE MANCHESTER ARENA
THURSDAY 18 JUNE GLASGOW SECC HALL 4
WEDNESDAY 24 JUNE LONDON 02 ARENA

You can find more information at the official website for The Priests: http://www.thepriests.com/

If you have any questions or if I can help in anyway, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

I look forward to hearing from you

Kind Regards

Chris Woodley (Entertainment Media Research)

They are very talented presbyters.

Yes, She Did Say It

Below is a quote from an article on Hillary Clinton's visit to view the tilma of St. Juan Diego with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on it.
After observing it for a while, Mrs. Clinton asked “who painted it?” to which Msgr. Monroy responded “God!”
Great answer, but I can't believe she asked.
Someone on her staff could have informed her of the story of origin.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sounds Like Good Reading

Credo For Today: What Christians Believe - Pope Benedict XVI.
Release date - April 10, 2009
Amazon pre-order here.
What do Christians believe? What gives meaning to our life? What is the purpose of life? The Christian answer to these questions is found in the Creed, in the profession of faith. But what do the articles of this confession actually mean? And how to they affect our lives?

Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, takes a fresh look at these timeless questions. This work is a reflection of the profound, personal insights of Benedict XVI, but also of the great foundations of Christianity: faith, hope, and charity.

Tip O' the Hat to AmP.

Two More Bishops On ND and Obama

"They made a big mistake ... in an issue that is very close to the heart of Catholic world view, namely, the protection of innocent life in the womb, [Obama] has unfortunately taken a position very much at odds with the Church." - Archbishop Timothy Dolan
AND
I want to venture a comment on the recently released statement of the University of Notre Dame; that statement noted that the President has accepted an invitation to give the Commencement Address this year as well as receive an Honorary Law Degree. The news release then outlines the fact that a number of other Presidents have given the Commencement Address at Notre Dame and have thus highlighted, in effect, the university’s importance. I find the invitation very disappointing. Though I can understand the desire by a university to have the prestige of a commencement address by the President of the United States, the fundamental moral issue of the inestimable worth of the human person from conception to natural death is a principle that soaks all our lives as Catholics, and all our efforts at formation, especially education at Catholic places of higher learning. The President has made clear by word and deed that he will promote abortion and will remove even those limited sanctions that control this act of violence against the human person. The Bishops of the United States published a document a few years ago asking all Catholic universities to avoid giving a platform or an award to those politicians or public figures who promote the taking of unborn human life. Even given the dignity of Office of the President, this offer is still providing a platform and an award for a public figure who has been candid on his pro-abortion views. Particularly troubling is the Honorary Law Degree since it recognizes that the person is a “Teacher,” in this case of the Law. I think that this decision requires charitable but vigorous critique. - Daniel Cardinal DiNardo

Friday, March 27, 2009

Catholics Come Home - 92,000 in Phoenix Alone!!!

I am absolutely flabbergasted at this story - in a good way.
An estimated 92,000 inactive Catholics in the Phoenix Diocese have come back to the church in the last year thanks in large part to a groundbreaking television advertising campaign called Catholics Come Home.

The promotional spots featured people and locations from around the Phoenix Diocese to promote the church during prime-time television. The cornerstone of the campaign, the Catholics Come Home Web site, addresses often misunderstood aspects of the faith.

"For those who had fallen away from the practice of their faith, it let them know that we want them to come home," Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted said.

The commercials, which ran during Lent in 2008, detail the good works of the Catholic Church throughout history. They also offer real-life testimonials of local fallen-away Catholics explaining what turned them away and what drew them back.

"Phoenix was supposed to be this quiet little test," said Tom Peterson, a former resident of Phoenix who is president and founder of Catholics Come Home, which is now based in Georgia.

"Word went worldwide as soon as you launched," he said in an interview with the Phoenix diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Sun.

More than half a million different visitors from all 50 states and 80 countries have visited the Web site catholicscomehome.com since the spots first aired.

The response was so positive that other dioceses around the country are looking to Phoenix for ideas on bringing Catholics back to the church.

The Diocese of Corpus Christi in Texas recently launched different versions of the television spots in English and Spanish. Each parish supplemented the commercials at Ash Wednesday services with a brochure for everyone answering common faith-related questions and listing Mass times and ministries.

The Catholics Come Home spots will appear in more than a dozen other dioceses around the country later in 2009 or early 2010. By the time Advent rolls around in 2010, organizers say they'll go national on major networks.
This is what the new evangelization is all about - reaching out to fallen-away Catholics with new approaches and renewed fervor. Wonderful! I have previously written about this program and the quality of the production. If you haven't seen their website or video, I HIGHLY recommend them.

Check out these numbers:
Six months after the media campaign ended, a comprehensive analysis of its impact revealed a 22 percent increase in Mass attendance at nine sample parishes. Throughout the diocese, the average increased Mass attendance -- returned and new Catholics -- was 12 percent. That's despite a flat population growth in the diocese during that period.

"Wherever they've been, they can come back home. It's a message that resonates," Hanning said. "I never thought I'd have thousands of Catholics calling and e-mailing me and saying, 'I'm proud to be Catholic and I want to help others.'"

Bishop Aymond on Notre Dame - Breaking News!

Bishop Aymond, of Austin (what a great bishop), has released the following statement:

Statement regarding the University of Notre Dame

As was announced recently, the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., is presenting President Barack Obama with an honorary degree and have asked him to give the commencement address.

I, along with many other Catholics, express great disappointment and sadness that a Catholic university would honor someone who is pro-choice and who holds many values contrary to our Catholic belief.

In the midst of such a sad situation, as Catholics we must continue to be pro-life and to proclaim with even greater strength the values of Christ and the teachings of the Catholic Church.

In my opinion, it is very clear that in this case the University of Notre Dame does not live up to its Catholic identity in giving this award and their leadership needs our prayerful support.

African-American Priest Writes to Notre Dame

An interesting letter about the Obama / Notre Dame scandal.
'Dear Fr. Jenkins,

'My name is Fr. John J. Raphael, SSJ. I am a member of ND's graduating class of 1989. I am currently the principal of St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, LA and a member of Notre Dame's Admissions Advisory Board.

'I am writing to express my extreme disappointment and grave disapproval of the decision to invite President Obama to give the commencement address and to receive an honorary degree from Notre Dame at this year's graduation.

'I have spent eighteen years working with blacks and whites, Protestants and Catholics, to bring more African Americans into the pro-life movement. During the last two months the Obama administration has already begun to aggressively roll back the gains made in defense of life over the course of the last fifteen years.

'I have written two articles which attempt to show how the historical significance of the first African American president is emptied of its meaning if this same president refuses to embrace the rights of the unborn. I share them with you if you are interested in considering the devastating impact of these pro-abortion policies on the African American community in light of this historic election:

http://www.nbccongress.org/features/bridge-01.asp

http://clarionherald.org/pdfs/2009/02_07_09/page15.pdf.

'As an African American and a priest, as a principal of a Catholic high school and a member of the Admissions Advisory Board of the university, I cannot adequately express in words how deeply this action offends those who are committed to carrying out the task of Catholic education and witnessing to the Gospel of Life in the context of a Catholic school. Even if the university chooses to cooperate with certain policies of the president that are not contrary to the teaching of the faith, the conferral of this type of public honor is wholly gratuitous and incongruous with the mission of any Catholic institution

'On this Laetare Sunday, I was happy to note that this year's recipient of the Laetare Medal, Mary Ann Glendon, has eloquently and courageously served the nation and more importantly, the Church. How strange it is that at the same time the University chooses to publicly honor an administration with which the American Catholic bishops have already had to address major concerns about the lack of protection of the rights of the unborn in just two months.

'Today's first reading from the book of Chronicles speaks as much to us today as it did to Israel during the Babylonian exile:

'In those days, all the princes of Judah, the priests, and the people
added infidelity to infidelity,
practicing all the abominations of the nations
and polluting the LORD's temple
which he had consecrated in Jerusalem.

'Early and often did the LORD, the God of their fathers,
send his messengers to them,
for he had compassion on his people and his dwelling place.
But they mocked the messengers of God,
despised his warnings, and scoffed at his prophets,
until the anger of the LORD against his people was so inflamed
that there was no remedy (2Chr 36:14ff).

'The voice of Notre Dame needs to be raised in defense of the unborn. The African American community in particular is being decimated by abortion on demand as currently supported by the Obama administration. Our Holy Father, mocked and despised by many in popular culture, has called upon all faithful Christians to courageously bear witness to life.

'By conferring this 'honor' upon President Obama at this time, the University of Notre Dame muddies the waters of life and darkens the light in which we are called to walk.

'Sincerely in Notre Dame, the Mother of Life,

'Rev. John J. Raphael, SSJ, '89
Principal
St. Augustine High School
New Orleans, LA 70119'

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bishop D'Arcy and ND

Canon Lawyer, Ed Peters, discusses here a few of the things that Bishop D'Arcy can NOT do. I always loved Dr. Peters canon law class - he has such a firm grasp on the code and a clear mind in how to properly apply it.

Msgr. Campion has a similar article about why the Bishops can't do more.

Free Speech

Q - Following up on the question you answered earlier this week - students placed pictures of a Crucifix with blasphemous headings in their Campus Magazine and when people objected, they claimed they were protected under FREE SPEECH. I, as a Catholic, want to object as well.

A - Thanks for the clarification. I don't know that my answer changes too much. While it would have been appropriate to ask Catholics their opinions, I don't think a "right" was violated. You can still object and if you were offended, then I think it might be best that you let others know that you are displeased, but you should do so in as gentle a manner as you can.

Exercising your right to free speech includes the ability to speak up when your faith is attacked, but it also guarantees the rights of others to express their disapproval of what you believe. Now, on a college campus, there might be other rules that one must follow - because the magazine might receive government money. You might approach the administration with other Catholics who were also offended and talk to them about it.

Regardless, we don't have a right not to be offended. Go ahead and object, but stick to the facts, make a cogent argument as why the display was offensive to your religious sensibilities and don't attack the persons responsible.

My prayers are with you.

Bishop Olmsted Jumps into Notre Dame Scandal

The Bishop of Phoenix, Bishop Thomas Olmsted, sent a scorching letter to Fr. Jenkins of ND.
Two snips:

"It is a public act of disobedience to the Bishops of the United States."

and

"I pray that you come to see the grave mistake of your decision, and the way it undercuts the Church's proclamation of the Gospel of Life in our day."

No pulling punches with this one. AmP has the full letter.

The Good, The Bad, The DUH

A researcher, here at Texas A&M University, released the findings of an 8 year study that followed couples before, during, and after their first pregnancy. The marriage might suffer a great deal from having a baby. A summary of the findings are below, grouped into my own categories:
THE GOOD
About 15 percent of fathers and 7 percent of mothers ended up more satisfied with their marriage after birth. Another important goal of the research was to understand which couples did well and which did poorly after birth.

Doss says that some explanations for changes after birth can be traced to things that happened even before the couple got married. For example, some mothers whose own parents fought often or divorced showed larger drops in marital satisfaction. Also, couples that lived together before marriage showed more communication problems after birth.

However, events happening at the time of the birth also can change how couples’ marriages change. Overall, being married longer and having a higher income seemed to buffer couples against problems after birth.
THE BAD
“One of the interesting findings is that mothers who gave birth to girls showed larger drops in marital satisfaction,” Doss adds.

The birth of the first baby was followed by more problems in communication, decreases in couples’ confidence that the marriage would last and declines in couples’ overall satisfaction with the marriage.
THE DUH
Bottom line: That first baby can be a time of joy and excitement, but it can also put immense strains on a married couple and present them with difficult situations that, for most couples, lead to more relationship problems.
Several news stories have been written on this study, including UPI and USA Today.

Notre Dame Commencement

More commentary on ND's invitation to President Obama:

-Francis Beckwith says that the administration doesn't think of Bishop D'Arcy as a bishop. From these comments he quotes, it seems he is correct.
These seem strange to me. First, from the South Bend Tribune:
"Bishop D'Arcy is a longtime friend and supporter of Notre Dame. We spoke to him in advance of the announcement on the president coming here. We're sorry that he won't be able to attend," Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Brown said.

Actually, Bishop D'Arcy is the shepherd assigned to the Catholic diocese in which Notre Dame resides. He is not merely a "longtime friend and supporter of Notre Dame." Now that's an appropriate title to bestow on members of the DeBartolo family, who have generously donated millions of dollars to the university. But when Notre Dame employs such language to describe the bishop in whose diocese it resides, it diminishes the bishop's stature in relation to the university and its community. Notice also the careful language on Mr. Brown's part: "we spoke to him in advance of the announcement...." Mr. Brown did not say, "We spoke to him before the invitation was issued in order ask for his blessing." Mr. Brown did not say that because that is not what happened. To put it bluntly, Notre Dame chose not to treat its bishop like a bishop. It chose to treat him like a "longtime friend and supporter of Notre Dame," the sort of character that has no real authority or influence over the direction of the institution including the health and well-being of its theological and philosophical infrastructure.
Then Beckwith quotes more:
Second, another quote from Mr. Brown:
Asked about the volume of complaints to the university, Brown said it was "nothing beyond what we anticipated."

It would have been much better for Mr. Brown to have admitted that the university was surprised at the controversy. For it seems almost cruel for Notre Dame to now admit that it anticipated the outcry. First, by admitting this, it is confessing that it intentionally invited a graduation commencement speaker that the university knew (according to Mr. Brown) would result in disturbing the consciences of many graduates, their families, and alumni who are now unsure about whether they should attend the ceremony. (See, for example, Stephen Barr''s First Things essay) Second, by admitting this, combined with its decision to not consult its bishop prior to inviting President Obama, it means that Notre Dame likely knew that its invitation would require that its bishop not attend the ceremony in his final year in office. Thus, the university intentionally put Bishop D'Arcy in a position where he would have to recuse himself from a ceremony in which he would receive the sort of farewell and congratulations that a man of his accomplishments should receive at the commencement exercises of America's premier Catholic university that resides in his diocese.
-Another good commentary came from William McGurn at the Wall Street Journal. Here is a snip:

"We hope for this to be the basis of an engagement with him." So explains Notre Dame's president, the Rev. John Jenkins, as he discusses the university's choice of Barack Obama as this year's commencement speaker. In yesterday's student newspaper "The Observer," where the quotation appears, the thought is introduced with another helpful bromide: The honor accorded President Obama, it is reported, will be a "catalyst for dialogue."

Now, if the president were going to Notre Dame to engage in dialogue, that would be one thing. But Mr. Obama will not be going to Notre Dame to "dialogue." He will be going to help advance his agenda.

At the center of that agenda is abortion. Leave aside his enthusiasm for the Freedom of Choice Act, or the way he misrepresented his role in killing an Illinois state ban on partial-birth abortion. Already as president, Mr. Obama has ended restrictions that prevented taxpayer dollars from funding abortions overseas; opened a path for using taxpayer dollars to encourage the destruction of embryos for research; and taken aim at a "conscience clause" designed to protect doctors, nurses and others from being forced to participate in procedures (including abortion) that violate their consciences.

-Several ND student organizations have put up a website as a protest to the speech.

Country Dancin'

My favorite country song to two-step with my wife to is Neon Moon by Brooks and Dunn. No other song comes close for me.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Maybe it is just me...

...but this could be my kind of movie.



Stem Cells For Dummies

That is what this Zenit article is entitled. It is a good summary of church teaching on the issue and it gives highlights of language and research.

Feast of the Annunciation

The Angelus is a very appropriate prayer for today:

V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary...

V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to thy word.
Hail Mary...

V. And the Word was made Flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary...

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:
Pour forth we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Luke 1:26-35
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.
Mary pray for us.
Christ, our brother who shares our humanity, save us.

Abortion Headlines

*In Spain, 40% of out-of-wedlock pregnancies end in abortion. Pray for our culture.

*A proposed directive in the European Union says that lab testing must occur on human embryos rather than animals.

*The Washington Times says Sebelius is in trouble with the Catholic Church.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bishop D'Arcy To Skip ND Commencement

Bishop D'Arcy has announced that he will skip the commencement at ND because of President Obama's speech. Here is his statement:

40 Day Giveaway

I love this idea. Flip, a campus minister at SMU and a Catholic rapper of the group Point 5 Covenant (and a cool guy), is giving away something that he owns every day of lent. He calls the idea the 40 Day Giveaway.
What a great idea!
I love it.

He is also videoblogging the 40 days and what he is giving away and why. Greatness. Here is one of his videos.

Notre Dame Scandal - UPDATE

There are a lot of opinions in cyberspace about the University of Notre Dame inviting President Obama to be their commencement speaker. I am linking to a few of them.

1 - National Review Online - whom I very infrequently link to because of their partisan nature - has a symposium on the issue with some very good commentary from a variety of people. I highly recommend it.

2 - Shrine of the Holy Whapping - which is a very nice blog by ND alums - has some nice comments on the issue, including the following:
I gather that the administration's take is that we need to engage the president in dialogue, and that inviting him to speak somehow fulfills this. I imagine that I do not need to point out the flaws in this argument to our readership, as he is being honored by the university, and not merely invited to lecture or debate. Keeping the lines of communication open is always good; but I doubt they’re turning the commencement exercises into a town hall debate.

The flaws in the argument having been duly noted, I think that being aware of their rationale can be helpful in voicing our objections. It is true, of course, that we are called as Catholics to engage those with whom we disagree. The problem is that the opportunity for scandal to the Faithful has been ignored, perhaps willfully, by the administration. The argument for inviting him is rather nuanced, if flawed, and it behooves arguments against his coming to be well thought out and address more nuanced points. As a commenter elsewhere noted:

"saying ‘ND thinks it's okay to kill babies!’ fails to recognize the complexity of the situation. Something like ‘ND isn't taking Obama's policies toward life issues into serious enough consideration’ is a much better argument.

The difference between an ordinary speaking engagement or debate and the honor of giving a commencement address ought to be highlighted, as well as our duty to avoid giving scandal. We are not trying to retreat to the ghetto, and we do need to live in the world, but given the at least potential appearance of endorsing the president's pro-abortion actions, the choice was a highly imprudent one, at best.

Of course, that "other shoe" mentioned earlier, the bestowal of the Laetare medal upon Mary Ann Glendon, is a rather interesting wrinkle in the whole affair. I have often said that Notre Dame is a microcosm of the Church in America, for better or worse, and this juxtaposition certainly highlights the "here comes everybody" aspect of the place. Now, as Rocco noted, Laetare recipients are informed months in advance, whereas the Commencement speaker was only secured days ago, so please, no jumping to conclusions about the University covering for themselves; Ms. Glendon was chosen on her own merits.

Now, as to responses: I realize that Notre Dame is representative of American Catholic identity in so many ways, and thus we all (in the US, at least) have a stake in this. First, though, please understand that those of us with a stronger connection to the University really do love her; enough, paraphrasing Chesterton, to smash the whole place for the sake of herself, if it comes to that (though I don’t think we’re there yet). If we get a bit defensive at comments made by those who are less tied up in it, it is likely because we see a lot of smashing and not much love, and we ought always to speak with charity, even of institutions. I’ve read from many people ready to abandon the place to the wolves, but, as her "loyal sons," we just can’t do that, no matter how disappointed we are. Besides, those of us who know her beyond what is said on the blogs know that it’s not a Sodom and Gomorrah situation, with only a few good men worth saving. I’m not being sentimental when I say that the academic and spiritual vibrancy there has transformed the lives of too many people to begin naming.

Thus, any sort of protest, public and private, needs to be measured in terms of its effectiveness. I’ve read a lot of word from third parties proposing major protests on the day of the event, and I can understand the sentiment behind this, but it is my strong opinion that any such efforts need to come from within. It’s pretty meaningless to sacrifice someone else’s commencement day, honestly, and I would imagine that even students who disagree with the choice are going to be more annoyed at outside protesters crashing their campus and marring their commencement than anything.
Then the best part:

With regard to letters written to the University, and I do encourage you to write them, please take the time to make them informed, well thought-out, and respectful. As I’ve noted, those who do agree and love the university might get a little defensive at some comments, so how much more will those who are on the fence, or who see no problem at all with inviting the President? I’ve seen blog comments that throw around "facts" such as CatholicTV being one of the few places that doesn’t feature Mass from the Basilica (it does, every Sunday), or that the speaker was announced on the cusp of Spring Break in order to quell criticism (off by two weeks). A little research and sticking to the facts will go a long way towards being heard. And, if I may throw in a pet peeve shared by many fellow Domers, don’t call it "Notre Dame University" or "NDU"; it’s "The University of Notre Dame" (ND for short, of course).

As a note to the fellow alums and other Notre Dame Family members who read the blog, as you're well aware from all those 574-631- phone calls on your caller ID, it's fundraising time. I'd like to encourage you, rather than not giving at all, to consider directing any contributions you might have planned to a new pro-life fund started by the Center for Ethics and Culture. The page goes into very specific detail as to why this sort of fund is the best way to assist campus pro-life initiatives, and how the money will be used. I wish something like this had been around when I was a student trying to navigate the funds allocation process. And, of course, tell the University exactly why your contribution is not going to the general fund (but be nice to those poor minimum-wage students manning the phones).

One of the more unique comments I’ve heard in all of this is the hope that the President would be influenced by Our Lady during his time on campus. But really, why should that be such a singular statement? If we truly believe in the transformative power of our Faith, why should that not be our first thought in this whole affair, rather than an afterthought? So, of course, as we work and pray in prudence and charity, let us recall St. Paul’s exhortation not to empty the Cross of its power. (cf. 1 Cor. 1:17)

3 - Here is an open letter to Fr. Jenkins from students of ND.

4 - The Ironic Catholic brings some levity to the situation by volunteering to be the commencement speaker.

Sexting Results in a Suicide

Bad upon bad.
Jessica Logan's nude cell-phone photo - meant for her boyfriend's eyes only - was sent to hundreds of teenagers last year in at least seven Greater Cincinnati high schools.

The 18-year-old Sycamore High School senior was then bombarded with taunts: slut, porn queen, whore.

On July 3, Jessie hanged herself in her bedroom.

Pray for her soul and her family and friends.
Jessie's parents are attempting to launch a national campaign seeking laws to address "sexting" - the practice of forwarding and posting sexually explicit cell-phone photos online. The Logans also want to warn teens of the harassment, humiliation and bullying that can occur when that photo gets forwarded.
It is worse than many people want to admit.

Jessie was not alone in sending nude cell-phone photos. Her friends point to the increasing pressure on teenage girls to send nude photos to their boyfriends.

A national study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy revealed that 1 in 5 teen girls or 22 percent say they have electronically sent or posted nude or semi-nude images online of themselves.

Some area school resource officers and principals estimate that at least half of the students have an inappropriate photo on their cell phone.

Planned Parenthood Breaks the Law - Again

These videos seem to be a kind of entrapment, but undercover reporting has a purpose. I don't doubt that a company that survives off of killing innocents is morally bankrupt. This is the fourth video in a series we have posted about several times previously, including here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bishops and Culture in USA

Two items about Bishops commenting on the wider culture.

1 - Archbishop Chaput says that Catholic complacency is, in part, to blame for many of our cultural problems and I completely agree.

“November showed us that 40 years of American Catholic complacency and poor formation are bearing exactly the fruit we should have expected. Or to put it more discreetly, the November elections confirmed a trend, rather than created a new moment, in American culture.”

Noting that there was no question about President Barack Obama’s views on abortion “rights,” embryonic stem cell research and other “problematic issues,” he commented:

“Some Catholics in both political parties are deeply troubled by these issues. But too many Catholics just don’t really care. That’s the truth of it. If they cared, our political environment would be different. If 65 million Catholics really cared about their faith and cared about what it teaches, neither political party could ignore what we believe about justice for the poor, or the homeless, or immigrants, or the unborn child. If 65 million American Catholics really understood their faith, we wouldn’t need to waste each other’s time arguing about whether the legalized killing of an unborn child is somehow ‘balanced out’ or excused by three other good social policies.”

Offering a sober evaluation of the state of American Catholicism, he added:

“We need to stop over-counting our numbers, our influence, our institutions and our resources, because they’re not real. We can’t talk about following St. Paul and converting our culture until we sober up and get honest about what we’ve allowed ourselves to become. We need to stop lying to each other, to ourselves and to God by claiming to ‘personally oppose’ some homicidal evil -- but then allowing it to be legal at the same time.”

Commenting on society’s attitude towards Catholic beliefs, Archbishop Chaput said, “we have to make ourselves stupid to believe some of the things American Catholics are now expected to accept.”

“There’s nothing more empty-headed in a pluralist democracy than telling citizens to keep quiet about their beliefs. A healthy democracy requires exactly the opposite.”

I recommend you read the entire article.

2 - Our own Bishop Aymond is quoted in an article in USA Today about the recent survey numbers about religious following in the US. In the quote below he is referencing the resources that many parishes and dioceses have in the Northeast, where Catholic numbers are shrinking, but where they have many beautiful churches that aren't being used:

Bishop Gregory Aymond would be happy to have those resources in Austin. He's spiritually delighted and financially challenged as his Texas diocese has doubled in numbers with retirees, Mexican immigrants, students at five major universities and Californians moving in for high-tech jobs.

"And demographers expect it to double again in the next 10 to 12 years," he says.

Pope In Afica - More Video







Notre Dame Controversy

There is a big controversy brewing over the University of Notre Dame inviting President Obama to speak at commencement. I am sure this one is just starting, but here are some links.

The Notre Dame Observer has this to say:
University President Fr. John Jenkins responded to criticism regarding the announcement of President Barack Obama as the 2009 Commencement speaker by clearly making a distinction between honoring the president and supporting his political views.

Jenkins made it clear in an interview with The Observer Sunday the University does not "foresee circumstances" that would cause Notre Dame to rescind the president's invitation.

"We have invited the president and he's honored us by accepting," he said.

The White House and the University announced March 20 the president will speak at the May 17 Commencement ceremony, to take place in the Joyce Center. The Notre Dame appearance will be Obama's second commencement address as president; he will speak at Arizona State University on May 13 and the United States Naval Academy on May 22.

Notre Dame has a long-standing tradition of inviting the current U.S. president to speak at the University, Jenkins said.

"Presidents from both parties have come to Notre Dame for decades to speak to graduates about our nation and our world. They've given important addresses on international affairs, human rights, service, and we're delighted that President Obama is continuing that tradition," Jenkins said.

Some members of the Notre Dame community, and the larger national Catholic community have negatively responded to the announcement, launching campaigns to stop the president from visiting the University because of his stances on issues regarding the protection of life.

Jenkins made clear the University is not honoring the president for his stances on these issues, but for his leadership.

"The invitation of President Obama to be our Commencement speaker should in no way be taken as condoning or endorsing his positions on specific issues regarding the protection of life, such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research," Jenkins said.

These "crucial differences" in positions on the protection of life are not being ignored in extending the invitation to the president, Jenkins said, but rather can be used as a catalyst for dialogue.
Of course, the US Bishops have asked Catholic schools to not give "awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for actions which fundamentally contradict Catholic teaching."
More links:
*Notre Dame press release
*Catholic Online
*Lifesite News
*American Papist coverage
*Cardinal Newman Society petition against the visit.
*Ralph McInerny, a prof at NDU, argues that ND says NDU is no longer Catholic. I don't know about that, but they surely aren't strengthening their Catholic identity with this invite.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Catholic Church and Free Speech

Q - Can you please let me know what the Catholic take on Free Speech is and perhaps lead me to what the Pope has said about it.We had an incident at one of our Universities. Jews, Muslims and Evangelicals were approached and asked for an opinion but no Catholics.

A - Thanks for the question. The quick answer is that the Church would support the political right to free speech, rightly understood. Free speech protects the right of persons to express their ideas and beliefs free from compulsion or fear of punishment for their ideas. There are natural limits, the most common example is the screaming of "fire" in a crowded theater in order to incite a stampede. Another example is threatening another person with physical harm.

Within this proper understanding, the Church highly values free speech, especially in regards to religious beliefs, because the two are intimately tied together. When limitations are placed on religious groups, there will be limits on free speech - think Saudi Arabia.

When addressing the US Bishops last year, Pope Benedict XVI said this:

As preachers of the Gospel and leaders of the Catholic community, you are also called to participate in the exchange of ideas in the public square, helping to shape cultural attitudes. In a context where free speech is valued, and where vigorous and honest debate is encouraged, yours is a respected voice that has much to offer to the discussion of the pressing social and moral questions of the day. By ensuring that the Gospel is clearly heard, you not only form the people of your own community, but in view of the global reach of mass communication, you help to spread the message of Christian hope throughout the world.

Clearly, the Church’s influence on public debate takes place on many different levels. In the United States, as elsewhere, there is much current and proposed legislation that gives cause for concern from the point of view of morality, and the Catholic community, under your guidance, needs to offer a clear and united witness on such matters. Even more important, though, is the gradual opening of the minds and hearts of the wider community to moral truth. Here much remains to be done. Crucial in this regard is the role of the lay faithful to act as a “leaven” in society. Yet it cannot be assumed that all Catholic citizens think in harmony with the Church’s teaching on today’s key ethical questions. Once again, it falls to you to ensure that the moral formation provided at every level of ecclesial life reflects the authentic teaching of the Gospel of life.

For more on the Church's idea of freedom (both true human freedom found in God and political freedom), then I recommend these two documents:

*Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation.
*Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life.

With this being said, without knowing more details about your particular situation, I don't think that the right of free speech means that you have to be queried about your opinion just because others were.

Friday Fun - Matrix Ping Pong

Japanese television is interesting, to say the least.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pope in Africa





St. JPII - may be official in 2010...

Check it out.

Last Night

Christopher West had a great time in Aggieland last night. Thanks to all of you who gave him such a warm welcome. I thought I might share some of the pics.

For those of you who were not able to make it, we had a bit of a change in the schedule. But, God is good and it all worked out. We were scheduled to start a little after 7pm and then I would introduce the night, make a few announcements and then intro Bishop Aymond. He would then intro Christopher, who would speak until 9 or 9:30. Afterward, Vince (Army of Me) would play aset in our courtyard.

Well, Christopher's flight into Austin was canceled and he got stranded in Chicago. He called me and determined the quickest way to get here was through Houston. So, I had to finish the planning for the night, hand off all tasks to others and jump in my truck (I live in TX) and go pick him up in Houston. His flight was on time, but at best he would be an hour late. We had a big crowd in the church, so Vince played beforehand starting at 7. We arrived about 8 and I thanked everyone for their patience and attendance and then introduced the night and the Bishop, who introduced Christopher who knocked it out of the park. Vince then did a smaller set in the courtyard around midnight. We went late and had a great time. Thank you God!

The pics are not in order.















Think

"For paradise we long. For perfection we were made...This longing is the source of the hunger and dissatisfaction that mark our lives...This longing makes our loves and friendships possible, and so very unsatisfactory. The hunger is for...nothing less than perfect communion with the...one in whom all the fragments of our scattered existence come together...we must not stifle this longing. It is a holy dissatisfaction. Such dissatisfaction is not a sickness to be healed, but the seed of a promise to be fulfilled...The only death to fear is the death of settling for something less." - Fr. Richard John Neuhaus

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Unwed Mothers

Marriage in this country is completely misunderstood.
Here is another stat to prove it - a new record, 40 percent, of births are to unwed mothers.
Access to condoms clearly isn't helping here, why would it help in Africa? Even DC is said to have an HIV "epidemic".

Meet Your Ambassador

Here is your new Ambassador at-large For Women's Issues.
Earlier this month, President Obama nominated Melanne Verveer to the newly-created position of Ambassador-at-Large for Women's Issues. Pro-life groups have worried that the position was created to "Promote abortion and overturn pro-life laws in nations across the world," and Catholic News Agency has reported that the position may have been created as a sop to the president's pro-abortion backers.

Verveer certainly has the pro-abortion bona-fides, and in line with other controversial appointments of this administration, Verveer is a well-connected Catholic.

In both her professional career and political commitments, Verveer has been an ardent supporter of abortion. As Executive Vice-President of People for the American Way, Verveer helped orchestrate the rejection of Judge Robert Bork's nomination to the Supreme Court. She also testified(pdf) against the nomination of the late William Rehnquist as Chief Justice, in part, because of his perceived hostility to Roe.

Verveer has worked for Common Cause, various pro-choice politicians, and most notably as Chief of Staff to then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Verveer's political contributions have been to a 'who's who' of pro-abortion politicians, including original FOCA co-sponsor Louise Slaughter. Verveer is a three-time donor to EMILY's List, an organization exclusively dedicated to the election of pro-abortion, female Democrats.

And yet, Verveer has several ties to Catholic and "Catholic" organizations. Prior to her work at People for the American Way, Verveer was Coordinator for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs for the then-named U.S. Catholic Conference (now USCCB).

In 2002, Verveer was appointed to the board of the National Catholic Reporter. In 2004, then-Kerry for President spokesman Mike McCurry told the reporter that Verveer helped the candidate craft his Catholic image. She was part of a group of Catholic advisors including Dean and chaplain of pro-abort Catholic pols, the late Jesuit Father Robert Drinan and the eventual Catholics in Alliance chair Elizabeth Frawley Bagley.

The failure of the Kerry campaign led to the creation of several Catholic Democrat groups which have effectively served to provide cover to pro-abort Catholic pols. In 2006, the Reporter ran an article on the phenomenon titled "Democrats seek to woo Catholics back to the fold." In discussing the creation of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, the Reporter identifies Verveer and Bagley as original board members of the group. Bagley, a DNC and Obama mega-fundraiser, is still chair of the group and Verveer now sits on their Advisory Council. Bagley also sits on the board of Verveer's current organization, Vital Voices.

As a Parent...

I fully support this post at CMR.

Africa Visit

Pope and Condoms

Q - What are your views on this rebuke of the Pope's stance on condoms?

A - Thanks for the question. My view is the same as the Pope's view. I also believe the author is naive' about the Pope being naive'. His metaphors are also lousy.

But, let me break down his article:

And frankly, Pope Benedict clearly shows he doesn't get it.

What we need today are our church leaders preaching, teaching and imploring their members not to go to bed with anyone and everyone. We also need church leaders who are willing to stand up and tell folks that if they do choose to sin -- that's what the church and other faith leaders consider sex outside of marriage -- then you had better take the necessary precautions to protect yourself.

Folks, there is nothing in the Bible about wearing a seat belt. But it would be foolish of any pastor not to tell his or her members to use the safety device when driving. Churches all across the country trust and love their fellow members, but you can bet that an accountant is employed by many churches to ensure that no one is stealing the tithes and offerings.

Pope Benedict surely loves God and sees him as his protector and provider, but he goes nowhere without armed bodyguards. The pope has to know that murder is against God's will. He has to believe that every person has the choice to be a moral and upstanding person. Yet not everyone abides by those religious views, and his security is there to prevent him from being harmed.

So how are condoms any different?

Here is a better metaphor. If my kid was going to go shoot the Pope, would I give him a gun? If a student was going to steal money, then would I encourage them to do it in a way that would protect them from getting caught and suffering the consequences?

Christians cannot say that sin is bad, on the one hand, and then say that you ought to be "responsible" if you are going to do it any way, on the other. It is just plain wrong to do so. Sin is sin. Christians need to preach the fullness of the Gospel, not a truncated rendition that humans can't control themselves and thus we need to give everyone a condom.

While Catholicism expands on the continent of Africa, we are seeing the expansion of HIV/AIDS as well. Sub-Saharan Africa has 22 million people infected with HIV.

The refusal of the Catholic Church and other religious denominations to accept the reality of the situation on the ground is doing nothing for the issue. If the church used its powerful voice -- while continuing to speak out against sex outside of marriage -- to also implore people to practice safe sex, it could have a major impact on slowing the spread of the disease.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Sexual immorality gave us AIDS and putting a condom on doesn't solve the problem. In fact, the ONLY place in Africa where AIDS prevention has shown to be truly effective is Uganda - where abstinence and monogamy were the backbone of the effort to prevent the spread of AIDS. But, the results of even that success have been recently attacked in order to push condoms over and above abstinence and monogamy. To put a condom on and have sex is denying God access to the sexual act. Try to find any place in the Bible where fertility is seen as a curse. Never. The Bible regards infertility as a curse and fertility as a blessing - in every instance.

Then we have this reality:

Edward Green is director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. He wrote Rethinking AIDS Prevention: Learning From Successes in Developing Countries and reported that, between 1989 and 2001, the average number of condoms per male ages 15 to 49 in African countries skyrocketed. So did the number of those infected with HIV. South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe had the world’s highest levels of condom availability per man. They also had the world’s highest HIV rates.

Condom distribution in Africa - to fight AIDS - is a disaster, not a cure. Criticism of the Catholic Church in this area is merely a distraction.

The cure will be found in John Paul II's theology of the body. This is the full Gospel explanation of what our lives and sexuality are created for. The full flowering of our sexual embrace as married couples that become an icon of God's interior life - all the while bringing the spouses together in a free gift of selves while being open to life. This is the place where we will dig out the roots of the AIDS problem, and almost every other issue in society today.

Come to Christopher West's presentation tonight to hear more.

UPDATE - Here is a GREAT video on this issue. Tip O' The Hat to Patrick Madrid. The Catholic woman (Joanna) is clearly on the right side of the issue and the "moderator" is in no way unbiased. He says such things as "condoms clearly work" and the Pope is "condemning millions to death".



If you want to read some of the facts that Joanna was unable to talk about, then you can go to her blog here.

UPDATE 2 - Here are the Pope's comments in full about condoms, AIDS and Africa.
Lest it be taken out of context, here is the exchange that took place on the pope's plane. The question's premise was "The Catholic Church's position on the way to fight against AIDS is often considered unrealistic and ineffective," and the pope responded:

"I would say the opposite. I think that the reality that is most effective, the most present and the strongest in the fight against AIDS, is precisely that of the Catholic Church, with its programs and its diversity. I think of the Sant'Egidio Community, which does so much visibly and invisibly in the fight against AIDS ... and of all the sisters at the service of the sick.

"I would say that one cannot overcome this problem of AIDS only with money -- which is important, but if there is no soul, no people who know how to use it, (money) doesn't help.

"One cannot overcome the problem with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, they increase the problem.

"The solution can only be a double one: first, a humanization of sexuality, that is, a spiritual human renewal that brings with it a new way of behaving with one another; second, a true friendship even and especially with those who suffer, and a willingness to make personal sacrifices and to be with the suffering. And these are factors that help and that result in real and visible progress.

"Therefore I would say this is our double strength -- to renew the human being from the inside, to give him spiritual human strength for proper behavior regarding one's own body and toward the other person, and the capacity to suffer with the suffering. ... I think this is the proper response and the church is doing this, and so it offers a great and important contribution. I thank all those who are doing this."

Flight of the Conchords "Think About It"

Greatness.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tomorrow

Don't forget that Christopher West is speaking here Wednesday and Army of Me is performing afterward.

Check them out:

The quality of the video isn't good, but the content is great:


Vince rocks:

Lord Have Mercy On Us!

You can't make up stuff like this...
A Quebec couple have launched a $3.5-million lawsuit against Montreal Children's Hospital for allegedly putting their infant daughter back on artificial food and hydration without their approval.

Marie-Eve Laurendeau gave birth to Phebe Mantha at LaSalle Hospital in November 2007. After a difficult delivery Phebe was transferred to Montreal Children's Hospital in serious condition and put on life support.

According to the lawsuit Laurendeau and Phebe's father, Stephane Mantha, were told by doctors that their daughter had little chance for survival and advised them to take her off respiratory support and hydration, to which they agreed.

After withdrawing respiratory support, however, it was found that Phebe could breathe on her own, and the hospital's ethics committee reversed the parents' decision to withhold fluids and food from their baby.

The allegations have not yet been substantiated in court.

The couple's lawyer, Jean-Pierre Ménard, said the hospital's ethics committee violated Quebec law and that only the court should have the power to overrule the couple's decision.

"It is totally unacceptable.… Those people have imposed their view of the treatment to the parents," Ménard said at a press conference held by the parents.

"The doctors said that each time she was fed the child suffered and they recommended letting her go and give her palliative care to control any discomfort," he said.

"The parents said it was the worst decision they ever had to make but they could not see what kind of life Phebe would have. They believed if their child could somehow consent, she would have agreed to have her life end."
They didn't want the inconvenience of the child and they wanted to kill her. Now they are stuck with her and have a more difficult, inconvenient child - see below (emphasis added)
After two-and-a-half months in hospital, Phebe was alive and neither deaf nor blind, as doctors had predicted she would be. She does, however, still suffer from some significant disabilities, including cerebral palsy, which reportedly require constant care. Hospital officials told the parents they could take their child home, or she would be placed in protective custody. They opted for the former.

Phebe is now almost 18 months old and, according to a CTV report, smiles at her parents. The parents say that Phebe's mother has had to quit her job to take care of their daughter and they are now living on only one income.

"I would tell them to come to our house for a week and see what it's like to live with a child like ours," said Mantha. "See the involvement that's needed -- the time and energy in terms of everything involved in our life."

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, congratulated the hospital ethics committee for upholding basic ethics and not dehydrating to death an infant who was not otherwise dying.

"The facts of this case appear fairly clear," he said. "Phebe was born with significant disabilities and the doctors thought that she was better off dead. Since the ethics committee recognized that Phebe was not dying, and because they didn't believe that she was better off dead, they decided to continue to provide her basic care."

Medical ethicists, without God in their midst, making life and death decisions. Scary. At least they got this one right. But, if the couple wins the case, does that legalize infanticide in Canada?