Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Today on Kresta - June 23, 2010

Talking about the "things that matter most" on June 23


4:00 – TBA

4:20 – Liturgical Changes: Coming Soon to a Parish Near You
The Vatican has given its approval to the proposed U.S. version of the new edition of the Roman Missal. Benedict XVI expressed his hope that the change in translation will serve "as a springboard for a renewal and a deepening of Eucharistic devotion all over the English-speaking world."A statement from the U.S. bishops clarified that the complete text of the Roman Missal is still being edited by Vatican officials, but is expected later this spring, when it will be prepared for publication. It now falls to the U.S. bishops to decide when to implement the new translation in parishes. We look at the changes, the timeline and the probable reception by the faithful with liturgist Fr. Peter Stravinskas.

4:40 – Empire State Building Honors China - Says No to Teresa of Calcutta
On August 26, the U.S. Postal Service is honoring the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mother Teresa. On February 2, Bill Donohue submitted an application to the Empire State Building Lighting Partners requesting that the tower lights feature blue and white, the colors of Mother Teresa's congregation, the Missionaries of Charity, on August 26. On May 5, the request was denied without explanation. Mother Teresa received 124 awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Medal of Freedom. She built hundreds of orphanages, hospitals, hospices, health clinics, homeless shelters, youth shelters and soup kitchens all over the world, and is revered in India for her work. Last year the Empire State Building shone in red and yellow lights to honor the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Revolution. Yet under its founder, Mao Zedong, the Communists killed 77 million people. In other words, the greatest mass murderer in history merited the same tribute being denied to Mother Teresa. Jeff Field, Communication Director at the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, is here.

5:00 – Father’s Day Week Wake-Up - Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know
Dr. Meg Meeker says that the absence of traditional masculinity and father-daughter interactions may explain your daughter's need for antibiotics, anti-depressants and stimulants. In this week following Father’s Day, we talk about strong fathers – strong daughters - 10 secrets every father should know. Men, your relationship with your daughter will shape her, mold her, and determine her mental, spiritual and physical health more than any other relationship she will ever have. Dr. Meeker tells us how to make it a good one.

5:40 – Are Food and Water Extraordinary Measures? Ethical Principles on Caring for Those in a Vegetative State
In a recent article published in Zenit, our next guest asked the question, “are food and water extraordinary measures?” He and his co-author defined the condition to which the term "vegetative state" refers, discussed certain facts about the tragic condition, introduced key ethical principles for analyzing duties that we have to persons in it, and clearly laid out the current state of Catholic teaching on providing food and water to patients in a persistent vegetative state. Christian Brugger reviews his piece with us.


  1. The following are remarks regarding Dr. Donohue's dispute with the Empire State Building operators, which I published to my own blog, Chronicles from the Front:

    Dr. William A. "Bill" Donohue, in his official capacity as President of the Catholic League, has engaged in a campaign against the ownership and the management of the Empire State Building (ESB).

    In his campaign, he accuses the ESB operators of anti-Catholic bias in their decision not to accept the Catholic League's request that they illuminate the ESB with the colors of the Missionaries of Charity on August 26th, to mark the centenary of the birth of MC foundress, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

    Donohue's campaign is inconsistent with the nature, purpose and traditions of the organization he leads; Donohue's conduct of the campaign is unbecoming a Christian gentleman.

    The following considerations are offered as substantiation of the critical observations, which I have made of Donohue's behavior.

    Controversy in Context

    The Jesuit priest and professor of political science at Marquette University, Virgil Blum, SJ, founded the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in 1973.

    The Catholic League tells us that its purpose is:

    [To defend] the right of Catholics – lay and clergy alike – to participate in American public life without defamation or discrimination.

    This is a cause around which all Catholics have a right and a duty to rally. Immediately following this mission statement, we discover the following specification:

    Motivated by the letter and the spirit of the First Amendment, the Catholic League works to safeguard both the religious freedom rights and the free speech rights of Catholics whenever and wherever they are threatened.

    In the broadest sense, then, the Catholic League exists in order to defend the place of the Church and of her members in the public square.

    We find this understanding confirmed in the following words, taken from the "What do we do?" header of the "About Us" page at the League's website:

    In essence, the Catholic League monitors the culture, acting as a watchdog agency and defender of the civil rights of all Catholics.

    The Catholic League has often acted in keeping with its mission statement, bringing violations of and encroachments on the rights of Catholics and of the Church to the attention and the scrutiny of the broad public in a manner consistent with Christian charity and the common morality of all people who fear God.

    The Present Case Considered

    The Catholic League has, under Donohue's leadership, sought a secular honor for Mother Teresa, one of the Church's blessed. To seek such an honor is not to preserve the Church's place in the world; rather, to seek such an honor is to desire the approval and even celebration of the world - and this is not in keeping with the stated mission of the League.

    Peculiarly distasteful is Donohue's use - as a trope - of a daughter of the Church, who so perfectly despised such dappled vanity while she was on Earth.

    Donohue's ungrounded insistence that the ESB operators must have been motivated by anti-Catholic bias in their refusal, bears none of the marks of prudence, temperance, or justice.

    Donohue, in leveling an accusation of mendacity against the ESB operators - an accusation based on the most uncharitable possible reading of comments torn from a statement published to the building's website in shocked response to Donohue's unexpected vitriol, and with the most exquisitely studied disregard for the full circumstances of the statement's publication - has behaved in a manner that is frankly indefensible.

    I do not doubt the sincerity of Donohue's commitment, nor do I believe his intentions were dishonorable.

    Nevertheless, his behavior has weakened the credibility of the Catholic League; he has done a real disservice to Catholics; he has wounded our national discourse.


  2. Lazy Disciple,

    Clearly you have some sort of grudge against Bill and the Catholic League. To go to this length and depth to raise a point that is beyond nit-picking says much more about you than than the work of the Catholic League.

    To call out a Catholic organization for what you interpret as not in keeping tightly enough with their mission is frankly pretty pathetic.

    You claim Bill has an "ungrounded insistence" as to Anthony Malkin's anti-Catholicism. How do YOU read a man who honors Communist China and then denies Mother Teresa while making up criteria and guidelines along the way? I'd really like to know.

    P.S. As long as you are tossing around erroneous charges of inconsistency - I visited your blog. While claiming to be a Catholic blog "defending truth and Western civilization" I notice that on your profile you list as one of your 4 favorite movies "There's Something About Mary" - a film with gross sexual innuendo, fleeting nudity, intermittent profanity and a humorous approach to masturbation - described by the USCCB as "outrageously vulgar". If films like this are what you love about Western Civilization, I now understand why you don't like the Catholic League.

    - Nick

  3. Dear Nick,

    I am a regular Kresta listener - daily really (via podcast), and I think you do a terrific job.

    I have no grudge with Bill Donohue or the Catholic League.

    I brought my concern with the Catholic League to the attention of the Kresta blog for two reasons: because I think the issue is important; because I thought that I would have serious engagement on the substance of the matter.

    I disagree with the Catholic League on this issue, and give the reasons for my disagreement.

    In response, you enter upon an ad hominem attack, and strongly imply a moral judgment about my character, based on a movie preference in my blogger profile.

    I am disappointed.


  4. LD,

    I did engage the substance of the matter. I asked a question which you did not answer. I will repeat "How do YOU read a man who honors Communist China and then denies Mother Teresa while making up criteria and guidelines along the way? I'd really like to know."

    As for the grotesque movie you pulicly praise, I am simply pointing out the inconsistency - As you did when you stated that Bill's campaign was "inconsistent with the nature, purpose and traditions of the organization he leads" I simply argue the same. Your public praise of this film is "inconsistent with the nature, purpose and traditions of" your blog.

    No ad hominem - just a fact.

    - Nick

  5. Dear Nick,

    You say that I, "[C]all out a Catholic organization for what you interpret as not in keeping tightly enough with their mission[.]"

    This is a misrepresentation of my case.

    My position is that the League's campaign against the ESB operators is contrary to the League's own explicitly stated raison d'etre.

    Another thing: how I would characterize the ESB's behavior is not really the issue, though I will say that the operators' decision to illuminate for red China was...annoying. It also ought to tell you what the "honor" of an ESB illumination is worth.

    Why is Bill Donohue so anxious to see so great a saint as Mother Teresa integrated into a worldy honor fit for Chairman Mao?


  6. "If films like this are what you love about Western Civilization, I now understand why you don't like the Catholic League."

    Nick, I am very sorry, but the above remarks are directed to me, personally - not to the merits of any argument. They constitute as fine an exemplar of an ad hominem attack as anyone is likely to find.


  7. You still refuse to answer the question I asked. AGAIN: "How do YOU read a man who honors Communist China and then denies Mother Teresa while making up criteria and guidelines along the way? I'd really like to know."

    And AGAIN - I am questioning your PUBLIC promotion of filth as a Catholic blogger. If Bill Donohue had a section of his site that listed his favorite films and "The Last Temptation of Christ" was one of them, are you telling me you would consider it an ad hominem attack to call his judgment into question as a Catholic leader if he publicly promotes such a film?

    Please answer these questions or we really have nothing more to discuss.

    - Nick

  8. Dear Nick,

    I can imagine that a man who has a business to run might, for any number of reasons (most of them pecuniary), find himself tempted to honor China - and I am certain that the decision to illuminate the ESB in honor of China's Communist revolution was, as I roughly said earlier, extremely irksome to me (as a Catholic, as an American and as a Big Apple native).

    Such reasons are not particularly edifying or encouraging, but they are not malicious, either.

    I can also imagine that he could find any number of reasons not to honor Mother Teresa (e.g., what's in it for him?).

    I am not interested in speculating on Malkin's motives: attributing malice when it is not both unequivocably manifest, and absolutely necessary to condemn it as such, is bad for the soul.

    What I am interested in saying is that his decision to honor red China (among others), is proof that this worldy honor is really worthless, at best - at worst, one might consider the juxtaposition of Blessed Teresa and Mao Tse-Tung to be an insult to the former.

    Let me ask you a question: how is the Church's voice in the public square strengthened by the Catholic League's campaign against the Empire State Building operators?

    On Film

    With regard to my "public praise of filth", I frankly think you are trying to get way more mileage than is reasonable out of it.

    In a strict sense, I do not even praise the film. I merely say I liked it (and not, I hasten to add, in a blog post. It is in my profile. Do you remember what else is written there? I do not.).

    I will speak to the issue, however, as I would not see the discussion end either here, or so sourly.

    In the first place, I do not allow the USCCB film office to act as a surrogate for my judgment, whether moral or aesthetic. Neither does your excellent film critic, Steven Greydanus.

    The picture is vulgar, to be sure: filled with crude scatological, genital and sexual humor.

    These are things that are to be found - albeit not in such great quantity - in many films that are not "filthy" in a critical sense.

    It strikes me that the most serious charge you could make is that the film celebrates the sin of self-abuse.

    Against this, I would argue that, although the film treats masturbation humorously, it does not treat the sin (or other disordered sex acts) favorably: the character who spurs the protagonist to commit the sin is actually the villain - and the protagonist's decision to take the villain's advice ends in embarrassment and disgust.


  9. LD,

    You ask "how is the Church's voice in the public square strengthened by the Catholic League's campaign against the Empire State Building operators?"

    It is strengthened because Catholics stand up and say to secular society, "You cannot discriminate against us."

    To quote Catholic League's "About us" section: "Harvard professor Arthur Schlesinger, Sr. once observed that prejudice against the Catholic Church was 'the deepest bias in the history of the American people.'

    This is pretty directly related to the Empire State Building situation. I'm sure you disagree, but based on the response Catholic League and Ave Maria Radio has received on this - you would be in a very small minority.

  10. Dear Nick,

    I do not mind being in the minority.

    I also know about the depth of anti-Catholic prejudice in American culture and society.

    As I say in my remarks at the top of this thread, defense of the right of Catholics to participate in American public life without defamation or discrimination - the Catholic League's stated purpose - is a cause around which all Catholics have a right and a duty to rally.

    How do you get a grudge against the League out of that?

    My concern is with this particular campaign, and with Bill Donohue's conduct of it.

    I have never understood how the ESB operators' decision not to honor Blessed Teresa is in any way harmful to Blessed Teresa's good name, specifically, or to the Catholic place in the public square, generally.

    NB, I have nothing good to say apropos the ESB operators' track record in choosing people and organizations to honor.

    Nothing at all.

    I simply don't see how exposure of their rotten judgment ought to occupy the time and energy of the Catholic League.

    I would have liked to see the League say something, e.g., about the blasphemous Hyundai ad that ran - and was pulled after Catholics made themselves heard - at the beginning of the World Cup.

    I may be wrong, but I do not beleive they said word one.



    I did blog about the Hyundai outrage, and wrote a sample letter that was used in the campaign to see the ad pulled. It is still there, if you are interested.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. I think Matthew 7:3-5 is being employed here.

  13. Okay, I am going to hop in on this one.

    I will say that Malkin is NOT anti-Catholic, because as Bill Donahue himself points out in all of his posts, the Empire State Building has been lit up on a number of occasions for Catholic figures. It is one of Donahue's talking points. So how can Malkin be anti-Catholic?

    My guess is, Malkin looked at the application, and decided the 100th birthday of Mother Teresa wasn't worth lighting the ESB. It was his decision to make. He made it. Probabaly, as Lazy Disciple points out, because he didn't see how it would help in financially. The Catholic League, and the Catholic Church for that matter, does not have the right to tell Malkin when and how to light his building.

    If Bill Donahue walked into Katz's Deli, and asked them to put up a picture of Mother Teresa, would the Jewish owner have to comply in order to not be anti-Catholic?

    If someone walked into Bill Donahue's house, and asked him to put up a picture of Martin Luther, would he have to comply in order not to be anti-Protestant?

    I just don't get this one on the Catholic League's part. It seems like a personal vendetta, based upon a perceived slight by a man who thinks he is more important than he is.

    As for your attack on Lazy Disciple for his enjoyment of There's Something About Mary - that was an ad hominem attack, pure and simple. The film is crude, but funny (the first time, the jokes do not hold up on a second viewing).

    I am a good Catholic. Attend Mass. Believe the catechism, and have worked for the Catholic Church in various capacities for over 15 years. I find nothing inconsistent with my initial laughter in watching There's Something About Mary with the practice of my faith.

    Neither does my confessor.

    And frankly, that ad hominem attack is the only reason I felt the need to comment, because it was beneath you, and, frankly, you are lucky that Lazy Disciple is not Bill Donahue, because I am sure that if he was, he would be contacting every organization listed in the Kenedy Catholic Directory for official condemnation of you right now.

  14. This squabble is quite unseemly. It reminds me of a line from another movie:

    "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here. This is the War Room!"

  15. Charles and Lazy Disciple - I gotta agree with Nick on this one. I may have this post deleted because of my bluntness, but for you both to defend that film is insane. What do you mean the film is "crude but funny"? There is a scene in the movie, as you both know, where Ben Stiller masturbates before a date, apparently so he doesn't have pent-up sexual desire. He then proceeds (on camera - without nudity) to climax into his hair and a huge joke is made of this as "hair gel."

    Hilarious right! Your spiritual director should be ashamed.

  16. LD, Even if you think the Catholic League is a bit off base in choosing this as a battle worth fighting, (which I do not agree with) why do you feel the need to write against them? I mean this is a pretty petty nuance for a group who has done a great amount of good. Why bother? There are plenty of fights to pick with cultural forces lined up against us. Bill Donohue is a hero in my book.

  17. Yep, that scene happened. I nearly fell off my chair laughing. 'Cause it was funny.

    It might not be your cup of tea. My (non-practicing Catholic) wife thought it was crude. I am sure you agree with her.

    I also liked The Exorcist a lot. She hated it.

    Funny, she liked The Passion more than me (I thought it needed fewer CG special effects, which left a bad taste in my mouth).

    I also loved The Mission. And the Godfather. And the remake of Dawn of the Dead (best darn zombie movie of the last 10 years).

    I have eclectic movie tastes.

    But to say my spiritual director should be ashamed is a bit much, and a little judgemental.

    Mr. Barber, you are the one who should be ashamed for attacking a priest you do not even know. Frankly, I find that disgusting comment more disturbing than any film I have seen.

    That's it from me. I am bugging out of this one.

  18. Dear Charles Barber,

    Please consider the following remarks:

    "It strikes me that the most serious charge you could make is that the film celebrates the sin of self-abuse.

    Against this, I would argue that, although the film treats masturbation humorously, it does not treat the sin (or other disordered sex acts) favorably: the character who spurs the protagonist to commit the sin is actually the villain - and the protagonist's decision to take the villain's advice ends in embarrassment and disgust."

    I do not ask that you subscribe to this reading, on which the scene in question would be anything but an unqualified endorsement of masturbation, but I would insist that the reading is legitimate.

    You can say that "There's Something About Mary" is not your cup of tea, or even that you find the film distasteful (I certainly do, but then, I do not mind a dirty joke), and I would not paint you as a prude - but to attack a priest confessor, whom you have never met, is entirely beyond the pale.

    To Anonymous: I feel the need to raise these concerns, for the reasons I gave in my original post.

    Please revisit those remarks.


  19. Okay, Lazy Disciple (who, yes, is a friend of mine) told me someone is posting as me who is not me. I did not post the biblical quote, although I am sure someone is trying to "shame" me to no effect. To sit there and ascribe sinfulness because I think a silly movie is funny is, well, rather silly in itself.

    But still, the idea of slinging bible verses in order to shame people reminds me of another film I like, "Carrie".

    You remind me of the mother in Carrie!

    But seriously:

    To whoever this false person is, I advise them of the 10 commandments, and giving false witness.

    Sir, whoever you are, you have sinned, by pretending to be me. You should avail yourself of the sacrament.

    I use my own name when posting because I am not ashamed of my views. But it is my name. This is the first time this has ever happened to me on the web, and would say I was surprised it happened on the blog of a "Catholic" show, but the way the "catholics" have acted on this thread means I am not at all surprised.

    I am really bugging off now, I advise those few people reading this thread that any other posts under my name are not by me.

    P.S. I would ask the moderator of this blog to remove the above comment, since it has a false attribution. If the moderator agrees the comment is useful for the conversation, but all means change the attribution to "anonymous", since that is what it is.

    P.S.S. Again, I do not disagree with the scripture, but I do not think a silly movie is what Paul was talking about. In any event, I highly object to my name being put on a comment I did not post, whether I agree with it or not.

  20. Charles Collins,

    The offending post has been removed. We do not tolerate false attribution on this blog.

    - Nick