Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Here's a letter from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., chairman of the bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage, to Thomas S. Manson, president of the Mormon church:
Dear President Monson,
On behalf of the members of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I am writing to express prayerful support and steadfast solidarity with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members in view of recent events.
We have watched with great distress in recent weeks as some members of society have reacted intemperately, and sometimes even violently, to the decision of the voters in support of Proposition 8 in California. We have been especially troubled by the reports of explicit and direct targeting of your church personnel and facilities as the objects of hostility and abuse. We pray that prudence and healing may prevail.
The members of the Committee offer you our profound gratitude for your role in the broad alliance of faith communities and other people of good will who joined together to protect marriage, while at the same time, witnessing to the honor and respect due to every human person created in the image and likeness of God.
Fraternally yours in Christ,
Archbishop Joseph E. KurtzArchbishop of Louisville
Hospital spokesman John Moore tells the paper that the Catholic facility had been "abiding by a good faith interpretation" of the U.S. bishops' Ethical and Religious Directives for Health Care.
A diocesan official, Father Gavin Vavarek, tells the paper the hospitals received "bad advice."
"Catholic hospitals were told under certain conditions they could do tubal ligations," he told the paper. "The spurious argument was that if a future pregnancy was even a possible risk to a mother, then the tubal ligation could be done. That a pregnancy might be a problem in the future is not an existing problem. Tying healthy fallopian tubes is direct sterilization and a far cry from being anything else."
He says the document has been in the works for at least two years. It is expected "to examine ethical issues in biological research and health care that have emerged in recent years, including the cloning and freezing of human embryos, stem cell research and new therapeutic possibilities."
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
"Initially both Catholic hospitals in the Diocese of Tyler responded that they were in compliance with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Services. Sadly, subsequent investigation reveals that there had been a serious mis-interpretation of the ERDs and that in fact many direct sterilizations had been done and continued to be done at the time of the article. As a Bishop, I am deeply saddened and upset by this news. As Bishop of the Diocese of Tyler, I have to admit my failure to provide adequate oversight of the Catholic Hospitals as regards their protection of the sacred dignity of each human person," he said.
News of the sterilizations was first reported by Our Sunday Visitor in our July 13 issue. A months-long investigation by us found that 23 Catholic hospitals in Texas performed some 10,000 sterilizations between 2000 and 20003. The Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler was the worst offenders according to the data, with some 1,619 sterilizations recorded.
Bishop Corrada's statement suggested that the hospital was still working to rid itself of the problem. "Trinity Mother Frances is a large health care system and is developing plans to protect the sacred dignity of each human person through compliance with an authentic interpretation of the ERDs, particularly ERD 53 which prohibits direct sterilization," he said.
"If someone can crack that barrier of immunity, it opens the door to other claims against the Catholic church," Jonathan Levy, a Washington, D.C., attorney who represents concentration-camp survivors in a suit against numerous parties including the Vatican bank, told the Wall Street Journal.
But the Vatican's lawyer in the matter, Jeffrey S. Lena, said the ruling "is a small step and one that is far from establishing whether Vatican policy contributed to thousands of incidents of abuse that have been alleged over several decades," the Journal reports.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Only if you ignore the earlier, Catholic manifestations of the feast, this blogger contends.
An interesting bit of trivia is that the first American Thanksgiving was actually celebrated on September 8, 1565 in St. Augustine, Florida. The Native Americans and Spanish settlers held a feast and the Holy Mass was offered. A second similar "Thanksgiving" celebration occurred on American soil on April 30, 1598 in Texas when Don Juan de Oñate declared a day of Thanksgiving to be commemorated by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The Catholic origins of Thanksgiving don’t stop there. Squanto, the beloved hero of Thanksgiving, was the Native American man who mediated between the Puritan Pilgrims and the Native Americans. Squanto had been enslaved by the English but he was freed by Spanish Franciscans. Squanto thus received baptism and became a Catholic. So it was a baptized Catholic Native American who orchestrated what became known as Thanksgiving.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
The city (and some local businesses) says the shelter violates zoning laws.
But the ACLU in its lawsuit is alleging "violation of the First Amendment, as well as the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which largely prohibits local governments from preventing religious organizations from carrying out their missions," according to The New York Times.
“At the core of this is that it’s difficult for the borough officials to wrap their mind around the concept that church use is more than a Sunday service,” said Witold J. Walczak, the ACLU's legal director. “This entire church is set up to help the least fortunate.”
Friday, November 21, 2008
Here's my translation of the interview with Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments:
"Another point of reflection regards a different location for the sign of peace during the Mass. Often this gesture is not completely understood. One thinks that it is an occasion to shake hands with friends. Instead, it is a way to tell those who are near us that the peace of Christ, truly present on the altar, is also with all people. To create a climate that is more recollected while one prepares for Communion, it's been thought to transfer the exchange of peace to the offertory. The pope has asked for a consultation from the entire episcopate. Then he'll decide."
Now she's had the opportunity.
A NASA astronaut, Col. Ron Garan, took a relic of the saint aboard the space shuttle Discovery during its May 31 to June 14 voyage, accordinfg to the Order of Discalced Carmelites.
"We gave him a relic of St. Thérèse to take, so now she has traveled 5,735,643 miles around the earth for 14 days at 17,057 miles an hour! And while she did the sisters commended the world to her intercession," a statement from the religious order says.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
"Many Catholics were discouraged by the November election because President-elect Barack Obama and an apparent majority of the U.S. House and Senate favor unrestricted access to abortion. But Richard Doerflinger, the point man for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on the life issues, says one advantage of his 28 years working on Capitol Hill is a sense of history -- and Catholics need to re-energize for the new era."
Keep reading here.
German-born Ratzinger in 1985 presented a paper entitled ``Market Economy and Ethics'' at a Rome event dedicated to the Church and the economy. The future pope said a decline in ethics ``can actually cause the laws of the market to collapse.''
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
— Russell Shaw has an analysis of the U.S. bishops' meeting last week in Baltimore. He starts: "In a meeting dominated by fallout from the recent election, the Catholic bishops of the United States approved a statement on abortion that sets them on a potential collision course with President-elect Barack Obama and his administration." Read it here.
— Emily Stimpson talks to Stephen Miller, author of "Conversation: A History of a Declining Art," who tells her that Americans aren't just losing their ability to converse civilly about politics; they're losing their ability to converse at all. He gives the causes and the cures. Read it here.
Daschle is a Catholic who has been described even by The New York Times as "an ardent supporter of abortion rights."
HHS has influence over health care policy, including, among other things, defining freedom of conscience protections for health care providers.
Not a surprise choice. But disappointing to Catholics for two reasons: the Catholic angle and the pro-choice angle.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
"If Obama signs the Freedom of Choice Act in his first months in office 'it would be the equivalent of a war,' says [a top Vatican official]. 'It would be like saying: "We've heard the Catholic Church and we have no interest in their concerns.'"
Time says the pope and Obama may first meet in early July 2009 when the G-8 meets in Italy.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Aside from the question of a secular newspaper getting involved in Church affairs, the editorial raises an interesting issue: Given that homosexuality is not identified by the American Psychological Association as a pathology, how could psychologists help seminary rectors identify (and screen out) men with "deep-seated" homosexual tendencies without breaking codes of professional ethics?
Friday, November 14, 2008
CARDINAL GEORGE VOICES HOPE FOR OBAMA ADMINISTRATION, POINTS TO POSSIBLE OBSTACLES TO OUR DESIRED UNITY
BALTIMORE--Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), voiced hope for the Obama Administration but pointed to possible obstacles to our desired unity, in a Nov. 12 statement at the end of the annual fall assembly of the USCCB.
“The bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States welcome this moment of historic transition and look forward to working with President-elect Obama and the members of the new Congress for the common good of all,” he said.
He said that “the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve,” if the administration’s policies increase abortions.
“Aggressive pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion.”
“We express again our great desire to work with all those who cherish the common good of our nation,” he added. “The common good is not the sum total of individual interests: it is achieved in the working out of a common life based upon good reason and good will for all.”
Cardinal George’s remarks follow.
STATEMENT of the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
“If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor; if the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil.” (Psalm 127, vs. 1)
The Bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States welcome this moment of historic transition and look forward to working with President-elect Obama and the members of the new Congress for the common good of all. Because of the Church’s history and the scope of her ministries in this country, we want to continue our work for economic justice and opportunity for all; our efforts to reform laws around immigration and the situation of the undocumented; our provision of better education and adequate health care for all, especially for women and children; our desire to safeguard religious freedom and foster peace at home and abroad. The Church is intent on doing good and will continue to cooperate gladly with the government and all others working for these goods.
The fundamental good is life itself, a gift from God and our parents. A good state protects the lives of all. Legal protection for those members of the human family waiting to be born in this country was removed when the Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade in 1973. This was bad law. The danger the Bishops see at this moment is that a bad court decision will be enshrined in bad legislation that is more radical than the 1973 Supreme Court decision itself.
In the last Congress, a Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) was introduced that would, if brought forward in the same form today, outlaw any “interference” in providing abortion at will. It would deprive the American people in all fifty 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. It would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government and others of good will to reduce the number of abortions in our country.
Parental notification and informed consent precautions would be outlawed, as would be laws banning procedures such as partial-birth abortion and protecting infants born alive after a failed abortion. Abortion clinics would be deregulated. The Hyde Amendment restricting the federal funding of abortions would be abrogated. FOCA would have lethal consequences for prenatal human life.
FOCA would have an equally destructive effect on the freedom of conscience of doctors, nurses and health care workers whose personal convictions do not permit them to cooperate in the private killing of unborn children. It would threaten Catholic health care institutions and Catholic Charities. It would be an evil law that would further divide our country, and the Church should be intent on opposing evil.
On this issue, the legal protection of the unborn, the bishops are of one mind with Catholics and others of good will. They are also pastors who have listened to women whose lives have been diminished because they believed they had no choice but to abort a baby. Abortion is a medical procedure that kills, and the psychological and spiritual consequences are written in the sorrow and depression of many women and men. The bishops are single-minded because they are, first of all, single-hearted.
The recent election was principally decided out of concern for the economy, for the loss of jobs and homes and financial security for families, here and around the world. If the election is misinterpreted ideologically as a referendum on abortion, the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve. Abortion kills not only unborn children; it destroys constitutional order and the common good, which is assured only when the life of every human being is legally protected. Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion.
This statement is written at the request and direction of all the Bishops, who also want to thank all those in politics who work with good will to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us. Those in public life do so, sometimes, at the cost of great sacrifice to themselves and their families; and we are grateful. We express again our great desire to work with all those who cherish the common good of our nation. The common good is not the sum total of individual desires and interests; it is achieved in the working out of a common life based upon good reason and good will for all.
Our prayers accompany President-elect Obama and his family and those who are cooperating with him to assure a smooth transition in government. Many issues demand immediate attention on the part of our elected “watchman.” (Psalm 127) May God bless him and our country.
# # # # #
Thursday, November 13, 2008
But that leaves the pro-life movement with some interesting challenges. Greg Erlandson wrote a column for our Nov. 16 issue proposing five new priorities. Let me know what you think his proposals, and whether you'd modify any of them, or add some of your own.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
The statement is very similar to the draft that was presented in an open session of the meeting yesterday afternoon. While it pledges support of the new president in working for the common good, it warns: "Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion."
Monday, November 10, 2008
But they're left with charting a course ahead. The bishops have gone behind closed doors in regional groups to discuss the question of politics and Church teaching (and other issues) this afternoon, will do so again as a body tomorrow morning, and then will address it in open session tomorrow afternoon.
Today's press conference with Chicago Cardinal Francis George, president of the bishops' conference, Bishop Arthur Seratelli of Patterson, N.J., head of the bishops' liturgy committee, and San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer, head of the bishops' communications committee, gives a sense of what the bishops' are grappling with. Here's a half-hour videocast of it.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Says Gray: "In both Missouri and Pennsylvania Catholic bishops made statements, widely covered by the media, regarding the importance of life issues relative to other issues in the campaign. These statements potentially had an effect on the votes of Catholics in these states given Obama's voting record and support for abortion. In California voters approved a ballot proposition banning same-sex marriage that was supported by California bishops. It is not possible to isolate these potential effects with the exit poll data released so far but these are potential hypothesis to explore further."
Read the entire article on osv.com here»
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Obama beat McCain soundly among Catholics (55% - 44%), performing better than Kerry in 2004 and Gore in 2000.
Among white Catholics, Obama narrowed the Republican advantage from Bush’s 13-point advantage (56% - 43%), with McCain holding only a 5-points advantage (52% - 47%).
In a few key states, Obama made significant gains.
In FL, Catholics swung from the Republican party to the Democratic party. Obama improved upon Kerry's Catholic performance by 16 percentage points, from trailing by 15 points in 2004 (57% - 42%) to leading by 1 point (50% - 49%) in 2008.
In IN, a 13-point GOP advantage in 2004 (56%-43%) disappeared, with Catholics split evenly between the candidates (50%-50%).
However, in PA, McCain won Catholics 54%-46%, increasing GOP advantage from Bush’s margin of 52%-48%.
I say: "I know from letters I've received from readers in the months before the election that some of you are jubilant that Sen. Barack Obama is president-elect, and others of you are sickened to your core mainly because of his pro-abortion ideology."
Let me know what you think.
"So now it's back to reality. Like patients awaking from feverish dreams, Americans are waking up from a fevered election campaign to face a host of unpleasant facts. Among those who must do that almost at once are President-elect Barack Obama, the pro-life movement and the leaders of the Catholic Church." Click here to read the rest and then come back here to leave comments.
And here's our editorial.
"The job of the president of the United States is one that is of immense and the highest responsibility, not only for his own country but for the entire world, given the weight that the United States has in every arena on the world stage. Therefore we all wish to the new President Obama that he may be able to respond to the expectations and hopes of those who turn to him, serving law and justice efficaciously, and finding the best means to promote peace in the world; favoring the growth and dignity of persons in respect for essential human and spiritual values. Believers pray that God may illuminate him and help him in his great responsibility."
"The pope has sent via the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See a message to Barack Obama. ... In the message, the pontiff sends best wishes to Obama and his family, calls this election a historic occasion and assures him of his prayers that God may assist him in his great responsibilities nationally and in the international community. Benedict XVI invokes God's blessing on the president-elect and on the American people in order that, with all persons of good will, they can build a world of peace, solidarity and justice."
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
California's bishops have condemned the ad — which depicts two Mormon missionaries conducting a home invasion of a lesbian couple’s home to steal their wedding rings and rip up their marriage license — as "a blatant display of religious bigotry and intolerance."
And the president of California's Catholic bishops says he's shocked that networks would even air it.
"There's room for [this conversation] now in a way that there couldn't have been even six weeks ago," Daniel Finn, professor of economics and theology at St. John's University, Collegeville, Minn., and co-director of the True Wealth Project at the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies, told U.S. Catholic in early November.
Finn said Catholic concepts like the common good and solidarity with the poor should affect the way any market is run. And while wealth creation depends on markets and individual initiative, "not every deal needs to be allowed."
In the meantime, we're still waiting for the release of Pope Benedict XVI's third encyclical, which is expected to be on issues of social justice, and address the current economic crisis. The document was supposed to be out earlier this fall, but now the best guess is that it will be out in the spring.
I arrived at 6:30 a.m. and was leaving the polling station at about 7:45 a.m. -- an hour and 15 minutes for those that don't want to do the math. When I arrived, I figure there were about 150-200 people ahead of me. My colleagues tell me I also made the local television news; a reporter happened to stand close to me during a live stand-up as I was waiting in line.
I detected a general mood of muted excitement but I have no idea if it was about the political process or just being in line with hundreds of other people in a chilly, dawn parking lot.
How long did you have to wait today to vote?
Monday, November 3, 2008
Over at insidecatholic.com, Steve Skojec says he's voted for Chuck Baldwin, presidential candidate for the Constitution Party. He says McCain is not really pro-life, is "irresponsible" in foreign policy and has an "unacceptable" immigration policy. "Simply put: When you vote for a candidate, you're telling the other parties that you will support candidates similar to that one. The political field is a lot like the market: If enough people buy a thing, you'll start to see a lot more of it."
Mark Shea, another prolific Catholic blogger, makes a similar argument.
What do you think about that argument?
The position on sexual orientation was recently underscored, writes Catholic News Service’s John Thavis, reporting on a Vatican press conference to release a document on the use of psychological testing of seminarians.
“One lingering doubt about the homosexuality document was whether a homosexually oriented man who was nevertheless committed to celibacy could be ordained a priest. At Thursday’s press conference, Cardinal Grocholewski gave a rather forceful ‘No,’” Thavis writes. Here’s the story.