Friday, February 26, 2010

Obama dismisses pro-life concerns about health care reform

President Barack Obama brushed aside pro-life concerns about health care reform legislation during a bipartisan summit devoted to the topic.

“The Stupak-Pitts amendment-- which reflects the will of the American people on the issue of federal funding of abortion-- is supported by a bipartisan majority in the House, but was excluded from the president's proposal,” said Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), a Catholic who serves as House minority leader.

“Pro-life Democrats in the House have already pledged to vote against this provision,” he added. “Health care reform should be an opportunity to protect human life, not end it.”

“John, you know,” the president responded, “the challenge I have here, and this has happened periodically, is every so often we have a pretty good conversation trying to get on some specifics, and then we go back to, you know, the standard talking points that the Democrats and Republicans have had for the last year. And that doesn't drive us to an agreement on issues.”

“There is no public funding of abortion in these bills,” said Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), speaker of the House and a Catholic’ said. And I don't want our listeners or viewers to get the wrong impression from what you said.”

“Every version of the health care bill has contained multiple pro-abortion mandates and federal subsidies for abortion-- except for the version that was fixed by adoption of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, over Speaker Pelosi's objections,” responded Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee.

Outrageous Statement of the Day

Media Matter, the ultra left-wing website, has posted a video in their mmtv section of Fr. Jonathan Morris' appearance on Hannity last night. In the interview, Fr. Morris explained that Americans don't trust government right now and cited President Obama's claims that the Health Care Reform Plan would not provide funding for abortion - despite the fact that Obama's own plan would be the single biggest increase in abortion funding ever. National Right to Life has the evidence and it's backed up by independent fact-checkers like 

But the facts don't get in the way of Media Matters putting this description on the video clip: "Father Morris pushes 'federal funding for abortion' falsehood to suggest Obama is untrustworthy." (my emphasis added) Falsehood? The evidence is in front of your face Media Matters. Check into it. Until then, you are outrageous.

See the clip of Fr. Morris and Media Matters' description below.

Cartoon of the Day - Google executives convicted

Today on Kresta - February 26, 2010

Talking about the Things That Matter Most on Feb. 26

4:00 – Chasing Miracles: The Crowley Family Journey of Strength, Hope, and Joy
We talk to John Crowley, the man who inspired the film Extraordinary Measures, starring Brendan Fraser, Harrison Ford, and Keri Russell—a father’s story of his determination to save the lives of his two youngest children born with a rare genetic disorder and finding hope, strength, and joy despite extraordinary challenges. When John and Aileen Crowley learned that their two youngest children had a rare and little understood genetic disorder, they didn't hope for miracles: they made them happen. In 1998, 15-month old Megan and 4-month old Patrick were diagnosed with Pompe disease, a rare and fatal neuromuscular disorder that affects only a few thousand children worldwide, usually leaving them with little to no muscle function, enlarged hearts, and severe difficulty breathing. John Crowley was absolutely determined to find a treatment to save his children's lives. At the age of 31, he walked away from the corporate world to help co-found a start-up biotech company, focused exclusively on developing a treatment for Pompe.

4:30 – Kabul 24: The Story of a Taliban Kidnapping and Unwavering Faith in the Face of True Terror
We hear the amazing story of the capture and imprisonment of eight Western aid workers in Afghanistan by the Taliban. For three months in 2001, the desperate plight of aid workers kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan captured the attention of the world. With the growing specter of U.S. retaliation for 9/11, the Taliban and Osama bin Laden attempted to use their Western hostages as bargaining tools. What the captors did not count on was coming face-to-face with the enduring faith of people who know their only hope was in Christ. Kabul 24 revisits their grueling interrogations, their sham trials before the Taliban Supreme Court, their peril during the bombing of Kabul, and the crushing sense that the world had abandoned them. It reveals not only the eight Westerners' 105 days in captivity but also the gauntlet endured by their 16 Muslim coworkers who, after being taken to the notorious Pulicharki Prison, were beaten and tortured, having been accused by the Taliban of converting to Christianity. Author and filmmaker Henry Arnold joins us.

5:00 – How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization
The world owes a debt to the Catholic Church that it doesn't even realize. The Church built, and sustains, Western Civilization. She has had a pivotal role in shaping Western civilization for the last two thousand years. Tom Woods joins us in studio to discuss how the father of atomic theory, the father of aviation, and the father of Egyptology were all Catholic priests; how Catholic priests developed the idea of free-market economics five hundred years before Adam Smith; how the Church was the great defender of the sanctity of human life and the individual against the state; and how the Church bestowed the most unique gift to the World what we now know as the university.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Planned Parenthood of WI Makes False Statement, Fails to Report Child Sex Abuse

New undercover footage shows staff at a Milwaukee, WI Planned Parenthood abortion clinic counseling a purportedly 14-year-old statutory rape victim not to tell anyone about her 31-year-old boyfriend and coaching her how to obtain an abortion without her parents' consent. The new video, ninth in a series from Live Action documenting similar behavior in 5 other states, comes amid recent controversy about Planned Parenthood's compliance with state laws regarding minors and abortion.

In the video, after hearing the girl is 14 and her boyfriend is "much older," the counselor says whether or not the situation will be reported by clinic workers "depends on the person you're disclosing that information to." When the girl says that her boyfriend is 31, the counselor tells her, "You don't have to say anything" about the statutory rape and instructs her, "Just give them the information that's needed." The counselor also confirms that the 31-year-old "boyfriend" will be paying for the abortion.

In Wisconsin, sex between an adult and a minor under age 16 is a felony, and health care professionals are required to report such cases to law enforcement immediately. The law specifically includes abortion providers in this requirement.

Live Action, the youth-led pro-life nonprofit that produced the video, has previously released undercover footage in its "Mona Lisa Project" showing sexual abuse cover-up at Planned Parenthood clinics in California, Indiana, Arizona, Tennessee, and Alabama. The Alabama Department of Health put a Birmingham Planned Parenthood on probation two weeks ago after finding 9 legal violations during an investigation prompted by a Live Action video.

Twenty-one-year-old UCLA student Lila Rose, Live Action's president, says her organization's videos reveal a common trend of unethical counseling practices and disregard for the law at Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the U.S.: "In case after case, Planned Parenthood acts in contempt of its legal and professional obligations to report child rape. At a time when the Obama administration, through its new health care plan, is offering potentially billions of dollars to the abortion industry, state and federal lawmakers need to take notice of Planned Parenthood's lawlessness and make certain they receive no more taxpayer subsidies."

Live Action is also responsible for a recent video expose of biased counseling and medical misinformation at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. Wisconsin law requires that women be provided accurate medical information before undergoing an abortion.

"The evidence is now available for all to see that Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin ignores state laws that have been in place for years," Rose says. "Wisconsin law enforcement needs to follow the lead of other jurisdictions, investigate this corrupt organization, and enforce the laws that protect vulnerable women and their pre-born children."

US bishops renew push for health care reform

The United States Catholic Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is urging congressional leaders to "commit themselves to enacting genuine health care reform that will protect the life, dignity, consciences and health of all."

In a new letter to Congressional leaders, USCCB renew their plea for passage of health-care reform legislation. The letter deliberately avoids references to any specific piece of legislation. But the bishops' letter appears just as President Obama convenes a "summit" with leaders of Congress looking for support of his plan, which would include coverage for abortion.

Without directly addressing the Obama plan, the USCCB leaders make a more general argument for pro-life legislation. "As pastors and teachers, we believe genuine health care reform must protect human life and dignity from conception to natural death, not threaten them, especially for the voiceless and vulnerable,” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Bishop John Wester, and Bishop William Murphy write in a February 24 letter. “We believe health care legislation must respect the consciences of providers, taxpayers, purchasers of insurance and others, not violate them. We believe universal coverage should be truly universal and should not be denied to those in need because of their condition, age, where they come from or when they arrive here.”

The three bishops, who head the committees on pro-life activities, migration, and domestic justice and human development, added that “we will continue to work vigorously to advance true health care reform that ensures affordability and access, keeps longstanding prohibitions on abortion funding, upholds conscience rights, and addresses the health needs of immigrants. Dialogue should continue and no legislation should be finalized until and unless these basic moral criteria are met.”

Hundreds of Iraqi Christians flee violence in Mosul; Pope voices alarm

Hundreds of Christian families are leaving Mosul, Iraq each day to escape a concerted campaign of violence and intimidation. Syrian Catholic Archbishop Basil Casmoussa presided on February 25 at a funeral for 3 family members who were the latest victims of executio-style murder.

Chaldean Catholic Bishop Emil Nona fears that "Mosul will be emptied completely of Christians;" he will visit Baghdad to plead for help from the national government in establishing some minimal security for the city's religious minority. Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk plans a demonstration calling the attention of international leaders to the "massacre of Iraqi Christians."

Many of the Christians who flee from Mosul-- prompted by a series of targeted killings-- are looking for refuge in the Nineveh plains. Church leaders have warned against plans to confine Christians in that region, saying that it will subject the Christian minority to "ghettoization" and make it easier to plan anti-Christian violence for a single locale.

Pope Benedict XVI interrupted his Lenten Retreat long enough to issue a statement of "deep sorrow" over the news of fresh violence against Christians in Mosul. He assured the embattled minority that he would be them "through prayer and affection" during his spiritual exercises.

Outrageous Statement of the Day

Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), who is Catholic, twice declined to say whether presidential adviser Harry Knox should resign for claiming that the Pope is "hurting people in the name of Jesus" because he opposes condom use as an apparent means to curtail HIV/AIDS in Africa. See the video below.

Cartoon of the Day - Iran Curling

Today on Kresta - February 25, 2010

Talking about the Things That Matter Most on Feb. 25

4:00 – Conversing with God in Lent: Praying the Sunday Mass Readings with Lectio Divina
Lectio divina is an ancient spiritual practice that can help us to hear God speaking to us through the words of Scripture. In recent times, Pope Benedict XVI and a Synod of Bishops have recommended that lay people pray with the Scriptures using this method. Respected biblical scholar Stephen Binz is here and chooses the Old Testament reading and the gospel for each Sunday in cycles A, B, and C during Lent, including the complete text from the Lectionary. Then he leads us through the steps of lectio divina-reading, meditation, prayer, contemplation, and action-by suggesting themes and verses on which to focus.

4:20 – Kresta Political Principle #2 - Taking Two Positions: One if I’m in the Majority and One if I’m in the Minority

5:00 – Hillary Clinton and Mother Teresa
A few years ago, Paul Kengor wrote a book on the faith of Hillary Clinton. Released in 2007, the book flopped, dismissed by conservatives who didn’t believe Hillary believed in God and liberals who didn’t care that Hillary believed in God. Lo and behold, a case in point is provided by reporter Emily Belz in World Magazine, in a story getting coverage from only a few sources. Belz caught Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s keynote at the National Prayer Breakfast, where Clinton extolled the “common ground” she once found with Mother Teresa. The two had come together to open an adoption center, the Mother Teresa Home for Infant Children, near the northwest section of Washington, D.C. Belz, however, had a thought: Why not call the home to see how things are going? She did just that, only to find it closed—for almost 10 years now. What does this mean: Paul Kengor has an analysis.

5:20 – Undercover Tape at WI Planned Parenthood Shows 9th Case of Child Sex abuse Cover-up
New undercover footage shows staff at a Milwaukee, WI Planned Parenthood abortion clinic counseling a purportedly 14-year-old statutory rape victim not to tell anyone about her 31-year-old boyfriend and coaching her how to obtain an abortion without her parents' consent. The new video, ninth in a series from Live Action documenting similar behavior in 5 other states, comes amid recent controversy about Planned Parenthood's compliance with state laws regarding minors and abortion. Lila Rose of Live Action Films joins us.

5:30 – Health Care Bill Would Become More Expansively Pro-Abortion if Modified by New Obama Proposals
Any member of Congress who votes for the final legislation proposed by President Obama will be voting for direct federal funding of elective abortion through Community Health Centers, and also an array of other pro-abortion federal subsidies and mandates. That according to Douglas Johnson of National Right to Life. If all of the President's changes were made, the resulting legislation would allow direct federal funding of abortion on demand through Community Health Centers, would institute federal subsidies for private health plans that cover abortion on demand (including some federally administered plans), and would authorize federal mandates that would require even non-subsidized private plans to cover elective abortion. Doug is here to explain.

5:40 – TBA

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Today on Kresta - February 24, 2010

Talking about the Things That Matter Most on Feb. 24

4:00 – Unbound: A Practical Guide to Deliverance
Many Christians find themselves struggling with a particular sin or dysfunction. They seek counseling, practice confession, and pursue God-centered lives, yet still these genuine believers feel hopeless in finding freedom. Could they be under the influence of evil spirits? Yes, says author Neal Lozano. He reveals Satan's strategies and the sneaky "entrance points" Satan finds to get a toehold in a Christian's life. He helps us acknowledge the doors they may have opened to evil influence, and shows them how to close those doors and walk in God's freedom and abundance. Lozano's focus on God and his work in the believer's life, not on intimidating aspects of evil spirits, gives this book a balanced and hopeful tone. Because deliverance is part of the ongoing, glorious work of the Holy Spirit, he outlines a plan for tapping into the potent power of the gospel. Neal joins us.

4:30 – The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity
How does Jesus fulfill over three hundred Old Testament Prophecies? Is Catholicism inherently Anti-Semitic? Do the Hebrew Scriptures accurately predict Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah? How does Jewish thinking presuppose devotion to Mary? Is the Catholic Church a fulfillment of historic Israel? How do Jewish water rituals relate to Catholic baptism? Is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass a Passover meal? Should the Catholic priesthood conform to the priesthood established by Moses? How has the Jewish Temple influenced traditional Christian architecture? Does the Pope wear a yarmulke? We answer these questions and more with Taylor Marshall, author of The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity.

5:00 – TBA

5:20 – Blessed Andre Bessette to be Canonized
Pope Benedict XVI has approved Brother André, the founding cleric of St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal, for sainthood. The announcement came after Pope Benedict XVI held a consistory, a formal meeting with Roman Catholic cardinals, at the Vatican on Friday morning. Brother André was one of six candidates being reviewed for sainthood. All six will be formally canonized on Oct. 17 at the Vatican. We talk with Fr. Kevin Russeau about his founders’ canonization.

In ancient wall, scholar sees proof for Bible

JERUSALEM – An Israeli archaeologist said Monday that ancient fortifications recently excavated in Jerusalem date back 3,000 years to the time of King Solomon and support the biblical narrative about the era.

If the age of the wall is correct, the finding would be an indication that Jerusalem was home to a strong central government that had the resources and manpower needed to build massive fortifications in the 10th century B.C.

That's a key point of dispute among scholars, because it would match the Bible's account that the Hebrew kings David and Solomon ruled from Jerusalem around that time.

While some Holy Land archaeologists support that version of history — including the archaeologist behind the dig, Eilat Mazar — others posit that David's monarchy was largely mythical and that there was no strong government to speak of in that era.

Speaking to reporters at the site Monday, Mazar, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, called her find "the most significant construction we have from First Temple days in Israel."

"It means that at that time, the 10th century, in Jerusalem there was a regime capable of carrying out such construction," she said.

Based on what she believes to be the age of the fortifications and their location, she suggested it was built by Solomon, David's son, and mentioned in the Book of Kings.

The fortifications, including a monumental gatehouse and a 77-yard (70-meter) long section of an ancient wall, are located just outside the present-day walls of Jerusalem's Old City, next to the holy compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. According to the Old Testament, it was Solomon who built the first Jewish Temple on the site.

That temple was destroyed by Babylonians, rebuilt, renovated by King Herod 2,000 years ago and then destroyed again by Roman legions in 70 A.D. The compound now houses two important Islamic buildings, the golden-capped Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque.

Archaeologists have excavated the fortifications in the past, first in the 1860s and most recently in the 1980s. But Mazar claimed her dig was the first complete excavation and the first to turn up strong evidence for the wall's age: a large number of pottery shards, which archaeologists often use to figure out the age of findings.

Aren Maeir, an archaeology professor at Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv, said he has yet to see evidence that the fortifications are as old as Mazar claims. There are remains from the 10th century in Jerusalem, he said, but proof of a strong, centralized kingdom at that time remains "tenuous."

While some see the biblical account of the kingdom of David and Solomon as accurate and others reject it entirely, Maeir said the truth was likely somewhere in the middle.

"There's a kernel of historicity in the story of the kingdom of David," he said.

If you don't know the answer, just say so!!!!

 We're all ignorant, just in different things. So I've never minded ignorant people especially since there are vast areas of knowledge and practice in which I am an ignoramus. So ignorance I don't mind but presumption and arrogance are a different story. Acting as though you know something when you haven't a clue galls me. So do me and the rest of your countrymen a favor: When pollsters ask you a question and you don't know the answer, just say so. Don't pollute the test by pretending. Don't create misimpressions thinking you're impressing the pollster. Maybe it's because I'm so dependent on other people's research, good will and fair mindedness that I get so worked up about this.

A new CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll reveals 74% of Americans  believe that George Washington lied to the public while in office. Why? What's the evidence? Why would I call a man a liar in the absence of any knowledge? How many of those polled even have a clue what issues Washington faced in office? How many of them could accurately even number his terms in office? How many of those polled have ever read an article on the climate of public opinion surrounding Washington during his years in office?

I don't know if George Washington ever lied to the public in office or not. The consensus among historians is that
  • he demonstrated great integrity in his exercise of the public trust.
  • He was aware of his unique position at the start of what he hoped would be a great nation.
  • He stated publicly that religion and morality were the indispensable supports for a just government,
  • He seemed to actually have given some serious thought to philosophy of governance. 
Were those polled so cynical that they assumed that all public figure in all times lie? Or were they more likely to have been wanting to impress the pollster with their sophistication? Ugly, ugly, ugly... Great chance to use this picture though.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

CCHD: Finding the Best Path to Reform

For many years, some Catholics have expressed everything from concern to dismay to outrage over some of the groups that receive grants from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. The charge is that a number of these groups are in coalitions that promote reproductive rights, same sex marriage, etc. Last fall the Catholic Campaign announced the defunding of a few organizations apparently responding to the investigative work of Rob Gaspar of Bellarmine Veritas. Since then new allegations have been made and a Reform CCHD Now coalition has formed. We talk to two of the members - Deal Hudson and Rob Gaspar

Here are a few more links pertinent on this topic.

Cartoon of the Day - Credit Card Rules

Today on Kresta - February 23, 2010

Talking about the Things That Matter Most on Feb. 23

4:00 – In Memoriam: Alex Haig’s Charge
Alexander Haig passed away over the weekend at the age of 85. A Catholic military man, a war veteran, no less than a four-star general, a chief of staff to two Republicans presidents (Nixon and Ford), a secretary of state to a third Republican president (Ronald Reagan), and once widely (but wrongly) suspected as the "Deep Throat" Watergate figure who gave the dirty laundry to Woodward and Bernstein, Haig was often controversial, often egotistical, often mercurial, and always interesting and entertaining. We talk about the Haig legacy with Paul Kengor.

4:20 – CCHD: Finding the Best Path to Reform
For many years, some Catholics have expressed everything from concern to dismay to outrage over some of the groups that receive grants from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. The charge is that a number of these groups are in coalitions that promote reproductive rights, same sex marriage, etc. Last fall the Catholic Campaign announced the defunding of a few organizations apparently responding to the investigative work of Rob Gaspar of Bellarmine Veritas. Since then new allegations have been made and a Reform CCHD Now coalition has formed. We talk to two of the members - Deal Hudson and Rob Gaspar

4:40 – Kresta Comments

5:00 – Did Christianity Cause the Crash?
A couple months ago, the Atlantic magazine ran an article under the provocative headline “Did Christianity Cause the Crash?” The article itself was much less silly than the headline, but even so, its effort to tie Christian religious movements to the crash was a pretty implausible stretch. However, the topic of Christianity and the market deserves some serious attention, because (the absurdity of the Atlantic notwithstanding) recent shifts in Christian religious attitudes really are related in important ways to the American economy. So—Did Christianity Cause the Crash? Dr. Greg Forster has the answer.

5:20 – Word Pictures: Knowing God Through Story & Imagination
At a contentious intersection of faith and contemporary culture, Brian Godawa offers what many have been calling for: balance. In a world (and often a church) torn by imbalanced devotion to either word or image, Godawa joins the two with a needed 'and.' He shows a well-developed literacy for both forms of communication, shows how the Bible incorporates both and challenges us to engage our culture creatively and redemptively on both fronts.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Today on Kresta - February 22, 2010

Talking about the Things That Matter Most on Feb. 22

4:00 – Breathless
Supernatural thriller writer Dean Koontz has written more than 50 novels, 45 of which have been on The New York Times’ best-seller list. While his novels are often filled with darkness (Faith & Family magazine warns, he is animated by his Catholic faith — a faith which has become more evident in his books in recent years. He is here to discuss his latest thriller, Breathless, a novel of suspense and adventure, as the lives of strangers converge around a mystery unfolding high in the Colorado mountains—and the balance of the world begins to tilt….

4:20 – Who Is My Neighbor? Personalism And The Foundations Of Human Rights
Over the past half century the language of human rights has gained such dominance in moral, civic, and ecclesiastical discourse that ethical and social questions are increasingly framed in terms of rights. Yet the vast literature dealing with human and civil rights focuses almost exclusively on the juridical and practical ramifications of rights, rather than the philosophical, moral, and foundational aspects. As a result, the proliferation of rights claims and catalogs has not been accompanied by a reasoned case for the existence of human rights or rational criteria for distinguishing true moral entitlement from spurious claims. Fr. Thomas Williams makes an original, compelling case for human rights as moral entitlements grounded in the dignity of the human person.

5:00 - John Paul II: Confronting the Language Empowering the Culture of Death
We live not only in a time and place but also in the description of that time and place. William Brennan is here to expose how that description was twisted and deformed, and how John Paul the Great responded by teaching the world the language of the culture of life. He reveals how, through a discourse of truth-telling - calling things by their proper name - Pope John Paul II effectively exposed the corruption of language and thought fueling a death culture that is becoming increasingly embedded in medicine, human experimentation, commerce, law, and ideology.

5:40 – Secular Sabotage: How Liberals Are Destroying Religion and Culture in America
Secularism. This assault is not happening from accident or whim. It is happening because disaffected liberals have deliberately set out to upend our Judeo-Christian traditions. Indeed, they are determined to tear down the traditional norms, values, and institutions that have been part of American society from its founding. The cultural debris that these saboteurs have created will take decades to clean up. In feisty prose Bill Donohue explores our nation where a college student is threatened with expulsion because she prayed on campus, a civil rights organization protests a statue of Jesus found on the ocean floor and a housewife sues a school district to stop the singing of Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer at a school choral production. These are just a few examples cited that demonstrate a culture descending into madness. He joins us.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Today on Kresta - February 19, 2010

Talking about the Things That Matter Most on Feb. 19

Live from the studios of Real Presence Radio in Fargo, ND

4:00 – Pivot Points: How Humanae Vitae Changed My Life
Dr. George Delgado is a board-certified family physician who now runs Culture of Life Family Services in CA. He offers quality Christ centered medical care including: Giving compassionate whole-person health care to meet the unique physical, psychological, socioeconomic and spiritual need of our patients; Natural Family Planning education; Caring for all those in need, not based on ability to pay; Spiritual direction to women and families in crisis pregnancies; and NaProTECHNOLOGY™ fertility treatment. We talk to him today about his testimony: How Humanae Vitae Changed My Life.

4:40 – America’s Prophet
The exodus story is America's story. Moses is our real founding father. The pilgrims quoted his story. Franklin and Jefferson proposed he appear on the U.S. seal. Washington and Lincoln were called his incarnations. The Statue of Liberty and Superman were molded in his image. Martin Luther King, Jr., invoked him the night before he died. Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama cited him as inspiration. For four hundred years, one figure inspired more Americans than any other. His name is Moses. Bruce Feiler travels through touchstones in American history and traces the biblical prophet's influence from the Mayflower through today. He visits the island where the pilgrims spent their first Sabbath, climbs the bell tower where the Liberty Bell was inscribed with a quote from Moses, retraces the Underground Railroad where "Go Down, Moses" was the national anthem of slaves, and dons the robe Charlton Heston wore in The Ten Commandments. We look at America's Prophet.

5:00 – A Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy: The Human Cost of the Animal Rights Movement
Over the past thirty years, as Wesley J. Smith details in his latest book, the concept of animal rights has been seeping into the very bone marrow of Western culture. One reason for this development is that the term “animal rights” is so often used very loosely, to mean simply being nicer to animals. But although animal rights groups do sometimes focus their activism on promoting animal welfare, the larger movement they represent is actually advancing a radical belief system. For some activists, the animal rights ideology amounts to a quasi religion, one whose central doctrine declares a moral equivalency between the value of animal lives and the value of human lives. Some believe their cause to be so righteous that it entitles them to cross the line from legitimate advocacy to vandalism and harassment, or even terrorism against medical researchers, the fur and food industries, and others they accuse of abusing animals. All people who love animals and recognize their intrinsic worth can agree that human beings owe animals respect, kindness, and humane care. But Smith argues eloquently that our obligation to humanity matters more, and that granting “rights” to animals would inevitably diminish human dignity. We discuss it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Reform CCHD Now? Sifting Through the Hyperbole and Getting to the Truth

A controversy over participation in two liberal social action groups by the U.S. bishops’ conference and one of its top executives is focusing attention on the perils associated with a familiar Washington institution: the coalition. Coalitions with public policy agendas are a way of life for organizations in the nation’s capital. As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has lately been reminded, however, this way of life involves certain ambiguities and risks, with guilt by association high among the latter. The current controversy erupted when several conservative groups took umbrage at the fact that John Carr, head of USCCB’s social development and peace office, played a leadership role in a coalition called the Center for Community Change, which the conservatives accused of promoting abortion and homosexuality. Carr says he severed ties with the center five years ago, and up to then it had no connection with such issues. Calling themselves the Reform CCHD Now Coalition, the conservatives also complained that 31 of 150 organizations in the Center for Community Change coalition had received grants from the CCHD—the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Russell Shaw has been looking into these charges and has a report.

Below is a youtube playlist of the Russell Shaw interview.

Al and Nick in Fargo

Al and Nick are broadcasting today and tomorrow from affiliate Real Presence Radio in Fargo, ND - 1280 in Fargo / Moorhead and 1380 in Grand Forks. Al will be speaking tonight at the station's anual banquet and tomorrow night for the local Theology on Tap group. If you are in the Fargo area, come out to see us! Contact Real Presence Radio at 877-795-0122 for more information.

Pakistan: Christians protest release of girl’s alleged murderer

Appealing to the nation’s chief justice, Christians in Pakistan are protesting a judge’s decision to release the suspected murderer of a 12-year-old Catholic girl on bail. The suspect is a prominent Muslim attorney in Lahore.

Shazia Bashir, who was brutally beaten, raped, and murdered last month, was the victim of child trafficking, according to Pakistani Catholic sources. The girl had worked as the attorney’s servant.

“The issue is particularly thorny because it surrounds a man of law, a person who should pursue justice, and instead has become complicit in criminal actions,” a source said. The attorney had purchased a “little slave-maid” from a child trafficker who had told Bashir’s family that he could help find her employment.

“Children are taken from their poor families, often Christian, with the illusion that they will find dignified work among middle-class families,” Fides reported. “They are then sold to these families, becoming ‘little slaves’ at the mercy of their employers, losing their freedom, and living practically under arrest.”

Forward in Faith Anglicans in Australia Unanimously Vote to Become Catholic

Tip of the hat to Deacon Keith Fournier and this article at

It has been an historic week for the Church in Australia and around the world. The move of many Anglican Christians into full communion with the Catholic Church has taken a decided move forward.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Bishop David Robarts OAM, the chairman of Forward in Faith Australia, explained that members of that Anglican association in Australia have decided they could no longer move forward in faith as a part of an Anglican Church in Australia which was not being faithful.

The Bishop explained that the Anglican Church was moving away from orthodox Christian belief and practice and leaving them behind: "In Australia we have tried for a quarter of a decade to get some form of episcopal oversight but we have failed… We're not really wanted any more, our conscience is not being respected."

The Bishop continued, "We're not shifting the furniture, we're simply saying that we have been faithful Anglicans upholding what Anglicans have always believed - and we're not wanting to change anything, but we have been marginalized by people who want to introduce innovations. We need to have bishops that believe what we believe."

So, on Sunday, February 13, 2010, Forward in Faith Australia voted unanimously to accept the invitation extended by Pope Benedict XVI in his historic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus. They will now take the next step in entering into the full communion of the Catholic Church.

The entire process of following the directions set forth in the Apostolic Constitution is being presided over by Catholic Bishop Peter Elliott. This Anglican group will now make Church history. They will come into full communion with the Catholic Church while maintaining aspects of their liturgical distinctives and Anglican Ethos.

Bishop Elliott explained the process in a recent article he wrote for the publication of the Traditional Anglican Communion:

"The Pastor of the nations (Pope Benedict XVI) is reaching out to give you a special place within the Catholic Church. United in communion, but not absorbed – that sums up the unique and privileged status former Anglicans will enjoy in their Ordinariates.

"Catholics in full communion with the Successor of St Peter, you will be gathered in distinctive communities that preserve elements of Anglican worship, spirituality and culture that are compatible with Catholic faith and morals. Each Ordinariate will be an autonomous structure, like a diocese, but something between a Personal Prelature (as in Opus Dei, purely spiritual jurisdiction), or a Military Ordinariate (for the Armed Forces).

"In some ways, the Ordinariate will even be similar to a Rite (the Eastern Catholic Churches). You will enjoy your own liturgical "use" as Catholics of the Roman Rite. At the same time your Ordinaries, bishops or priests, will work alongside diocesan bishops of the Roman Rite and find their place within the Episcopal Conference in each nation or region."

These members of Forward in Faith, Australia, will be accompanied on the journey to full communion by members of the Traditional Anglican Communion and others from the Anglican Church in Australia.

They have established a "working group" which, under the supervision of Bishop Elliott and the direction of the Holy See, will establish the process of establishing an Anglican Ordinariate in Australia. It may become a prototype for similar Anglican Ordinariates in other parts of the world.

Bishop David Robarts told the Daily Telegraph, "I love my Anglican heritage, but I'm not going to lose it by taking this step."

After the release of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, the Anglican Bishops of Ebbsfleet and Richborough issued a call for a Day of Prayer and Discernment on Monday 22nd February. February 22d is the Feast of the Chair of Peter.These are historic times.

Outrageous Statement of the Day

HBO’s "Real Time" host Bill Maher, avowed anti-Catholic atheist creator of the film "Religilous," tells Larry King that the Obama administration should have acted without consideration of citizens on NYC terrorism trial and health care because Americans are "Not bright enough to really understand the issues" anyway.

Cartoon of the Day

Today on Kresta - February 18, 2010

Talking about the Things That Matter Most on Feb. 18

Live from the studios of Real Presence Radio in Fargo, ND

4:00 – Camelot No More?
Rep. Patrick Kennedy, the Rhode Island Catholic congressman whom Bishop Thomas Tobin publicly called to “conversion and repentance” because of his support for abortion, has decided not to run for reelection. Referring to his father, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, the congressman said that “illness took the life of my most cherished mentor and confidant, my ultimate source of spirit and strength.” Kennedy said that the death of his father, Sen. Edward Kennedy, last year led to "soul-searching" that ended with his decision to leave public office. However the announcement that he would not seek re-election came soon after the release of poll figures showing that the Rhode Island lawmaker was viewed unfavorably by 56% of the people in his congressional district, and only 35% said that they would support him for another term. This means that as of this fall, there will be no Kennedy in national office for the first time since 1947. Is this the end of “Camelot”? We talk with Kennedy expert James Piereson.

4:20 – The Power of Reconciliation
We take a look at reconciliation from a combined psychological and spiritual perspective. Dr. Peter Damgaard-Hansen offers some thought-provoking insights based on his professional experience from over 26 years in the field of working with families, couples, groups and individuals. With a unique combination of a heartfelt gentleness and a compelling directness, he helps us look at how much and in what way we ourselves play a critical part in the friction or conflicts we easily run into in our relationships with our loved ones, spouse, children, inlaws, friends, etc. The psychotherapeutic power of repentance and forgiveness is explored, and it becomes clear how Jesus Christ provides the ultimate life giving source of true mental health and authentic peace in relationships.

5:00 – Reform CCHD Now? Sifting Through the Hyperbole and Getting to the Truth
A controversy over participation in two liberal social action groups by the U.S. bishops’ conference and one of its top executives is focusing attention on the perils associated with a familiar Washington institution: the coalition. Coalitions with public policy agendas are a way of life for organizations in the nation’s capital. As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has lately been reminded, however, this way of life involves certain ambiguities and risks, with guilt by association high among the latter. The current controversy erupted when several conservative groups took umbrage at the fact that John Carr, head of USCCB’s social development and peace office, played a leadership role in a coalition called the Center for Community Change, which the conservatives accused of promoting abortion and homosexuality. Carr says he severed ties with the center five years ago, and up to then it had no connection with such issues. Calling themselves the Reform CCHD Now Coalition, the conservatives also complained that 31 of 150 organizations in the Center for Community Change coalition had received grants from the CCHD—the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Russell Shaw has been looking into these charges and has a report.

5:40 – A Handbook for Catholic Moms
Drawing from the deep tradition of the Catholic faith, Lisa Hendey coaches Catholic moms how to care for themselves―heart, mind, body, and soul―so that they can better love and care for their families, their neighbors, and their Church. With warmth and wisdom, Hendey creates an environment where Catholic moms can reflect peacefully upon often-competitive topics like parenting style, types of schooling, and working outside the home. By sharing her own story, Hendey inspires us to better balance their own needs with the demands of family life and faith commitment. We look at a handbook for Catholic moms.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Catholic Radio as Exhibit #1

For the new evangelization to become a reality, laypeople have to step up.

This is the affirmation made by Archbishop José Gomez of San Antonio in a pastoral letter released today, the fifth anniversary of his installation as archbishop.

This is a man who knows the power of Catholic Radio, as his diocese has a powerhouse of a station run by our friends (and affiliates), the Guadalupe Radio Network.

"The proclamation of Christ is not an option or an obligation reserved for bishops, priests, deacons and religious. It is the duty of every believer," the archbishop wrote.

He asserted evangelization begins "in the heart that has been evangelized, the heart that has heard the Good News and been converted."

"We cannot be silent about what we have seen and heard and felt," the 58-year-old archbishop declared. "We cannot help but to proclaim and testify to the great difference that Jesus Christ has made in our lives."

Evangelization is a duty, the Texas prelate affirmed, but it is a "duty of delight, a duty we carry out with joy and thanksgiving."

"We want the world, beginning with those nearest to us, to share in what we have been given -- the free gift of God’s grace and the joy that comes with knowing the truth that sets us free," he said.

Priestly souls

The duty to proclaim Christ falls upon every member of the Church, he recalled. But, he said, today's pastoral letter is addressed particularly to the laity.

"I want to speak especially to you who live out your faith in the midst of the world and all its secular affairs," he wrote. "As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, lay people are given the 'duty ... to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth. This duty is all the more pressing when it is only through them that men can hear the Gospel and know Christ.'"

Archbishop Gomez noted how laypeople have been fundamental for the process of evangelization since the very beginning of the Church.

"The primary apostolate of lay people, since the early Church, has always been to spread and defend the faith among their families and neighbors and to bring the teachings of Christ to bear on the issues facing their communities," he said.

And lay believers have a "priestly soul," with a primary mission in the world, "not inside the sanctuary of the church or inside a Church office."

"Your first duty," he stated, "remains to heed the commission every one of us receives at the end of every Mass -- to go out into the world to love and serve our Lord.

"Nourished by the gift of his Body and Blood, you are called to bear witness to this gift by making your lives a form of worship to God. Your evangelization must always be profoundly ecclesial and intensely Eucharistic. You are calling people to Christ and to his Church -- and to the heart of the Church, which is the Eucharist."

Archbishop Gomez urged the faithful to have a renewed awareness of their priestly souls and to "seek to serve God and your brothers and sisters every day, through all that you do and say, through the way that you live your life."

"People respond more to example than to 'teaching,'" he acknowledged. "Testify to your faith through your daily habits and actions. You will find that your witness to the Christian life will be attractive to others and will afford you regular chances to talk about the 'source' of your happiness in Jesus Christ and your Catholic faith."

Particular concerns

The San Antonio archbishop said that he is particularly concerned about two groups in the Church: Hispanics and fallen-away Catholics.

"Our Hispanic brothers and sisters are in danger of drifting from the Catholic faith to other religions or to no religion at all," the Mexico native cautioned.

"There are many complicated reasons for this situation," the prelate proposed. "It is very difficult under any circumstances to begin a new life in a foreign country. It is even harder for Hispanics, who often come here in poverty and under great personal stress and facing other pressures. More often than not, they experience discrimination and misunderstanding as they try to assimilate into American society. It is not easy for them to 'fit in' to our parishes, and their lack of faith formation can make it difficult for them to distinguish between the Catholic Church and other ecclesial communities that aggressively try to reach out to them.

"To my mind, however, the deepest problem we face is the 'secularization' that I talked about earlier. The tendency under secularism is to reduce religious identity to a kind of 'cultural Catholicism.'"

And for those who have left the Catholic Church, Archbishop Gomez recommended an active approach.

"Let us talk to our brothers and sisters about what is keeping them from the Church," he said. "Let us talk to them of Christ’s living presence in his Church and in his sacraments. The happiness we all seek is found only in communion with Christ in his Church. Let us then issue a compassionate call for our lapsed Catholic brethren to return to the sacrament of penance and reconciliation and welcome them back to the Eucharistic table."

The prelate asserted that lay evangelizers must "be convinced of the truth that the Apostles knew, that everyone in some way is searching for Christ."

"People used to seek out the Apostles and say to them: 'We wish to see Jesus,'" he reflected. "The men and women of today still want to see Jesus. You are the disciples they will come to with their questions and doubts, interests and needs. You are the ones who must lead them to our Lord."

Bishop Vasa ends diocese’s sponsorship of hospital that performs sterilizations

In "a difficult decision for all those involved," the Bend, Oregon-based Catholic Diocese of Baker announced Monday its intention to dissolve the official sponsorship relationship of St. Charles Medical Center-Bend by the Catholic Church over sterilization procedures performed at the hospital.

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Tipton, Ind., founded St. Charles Bend 92 years ago with a mission to serve all patients in need in Central Oregon.

Although the hospital became a community nonprofit organization in the 1970s, it has maintained a relationship with the Catholic Church and has continued voluntarily to follow the Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives for Health Care Services.

Recently, hospital administrators and Bishop Robert Vasa of the Diocese of Baker have respectfully disagreed on the meaning of some of those directives.

In particular, St. Charles-Bend offers patients the service of tubal ligations, a form of permanent female reproductive sterilization, which goes against the Church's teachings.

"It is my responsibility to ensure the hospital is following Catholic principles both in name and in fact," Vasa said. "It would be misleading for me to allow St. Charles Bend to be acknowledged as Catholic in name while I am certain that some important tenets of the Ethical and Religious Directives are no longer being observed."

Vasa asked St. Charles Bend in 2007 for an audit of the hospital's compliance with the Ethical and Religious Directives. The hospital has been transparent about its practices and openly provided the Bishop with the information he requested. Since that time, the two parties have had a number of discussions about the future of the hospital as a Catholic institution.

"We are saddened by this decision because of the 92 years of history the St. Charles Bend hospital has had with the Catholic Church," said James A. Diegel, FACHE, president and CEO of Cascade Health-care Community, the parent company of St. Charles-Bend. "But we have an obligation to provide comprehensive health care services to our patients while remaining true to our values of compassion and caring for all."

Vasa has encouraged the hospital to stay as close to the Directives as possible in the future.

"St. Charles has gradually moved away from adherence to the requirements of the Church without a clear knowledge that it was doing so," Vasa said. "Unfortunately, that distance is now too great to sustain a formal sponsorship relationship, but I believe that using the Church's Directives as a basis for their local ethical guidelines is a good idea."

Vasa and Diegel agreed that for all practical purposes, very little will change at St. Charles Bend as a result of this decision. However, Catholic Mass will no longer be celebrated in the hospital's chapel, and all items considered Catholic will be removed from the hospital and returned to the church.

St. Charles Bend's name will remain the same, and the cross will remain on top of the hospital building.

Outrageous Statement of the Day

Lou Dobbs tells Steve Doocy that Obama is going to start ruling "by fiat" because "this has been too complicated, this democracy thing." This is just one of those disingenuous statements that is all to common in politics. Most everybody supports a President doing things by Executive Order or "fiat" as long as it is something they agree with. Some pro-lifers have been arguing for years that abortion could be eliminated by and Executive Order defining personhood. If Obama issued an Executive Order to build a wall 20 feet tall along the entire Mexican border, I doubt Dobbs would be complaining. Ahhhhhh politics. It's good to be Catholic and therefore able to think in a distinct way about these things.

Cartoon of the Day - MSNBC

Today on Kresta - February 16, 2010

Talking about the Things That Matter Most on Feb. 16

4:00 – Taliban's most senior military commander captured by the CIA in Pakistan raid – Terrorists, Trials, and Civil Rights
The Taliban's top military commander has been arrested in a joint CIA-Pakistani operation in Pakistan. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the No.2 behind Afghan Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar and a close associate of Osama bin Laden, was captured in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi. The arrest represents a major victory against the insurgents as U.S. troops push into their heartland in southern Afghanistan. In light of this capture and the debate raging about the Christmas bomber and the Khalid Sheik Mohammad trial, we talk to former JAG Officer and Ave Maria Law School Dean Eugene Milhizer about terrorists, trials, and civil rights.

4:20 – The Long Journey: In Search of Justice and Peace in Jerusalem
The Long Journey takes us into the heart of Jerusalem-Mount Zion, the site of the Benedictine Dormition Monastery, a place where pilgrims, seekers, and peacemakers come for liturgies, prayer, and conversation. Our guide on this journey is James Paharik, who in nine closely woven essays, leads us through the labyrinthine spaces of Jerusalem. He also reveals hearts damaged by violence but also brimming with hope that Israel will one day soon live up to her calling, as expressed in Psalm 76.

4:40 – “Blood Done Signed My Name”
“Blood Done Signed My Name” is a drama based on the true story in which a black Vietnam-era veteran is allegedly murdered by a local white businessman who is later exonerated. The plot focuses on the role of a local high school teacher and the civil unrest that followed the acquittal. It is the film adaptation of a book of the same name by Timothy Tyson. The film hits theaters this weekend and writer / director Jeb Stuart joins us.

5:00 – The Gargoyle Code
Not since the Screwtape Letters has there been such a devastatingly diabolical collection of correspondence. Master Tempter Slubgrip writes daily to a trainee devil Dogwart, advising him on the temptation of a confused young Catholic, while he struggles to control his own patient, an older Catholic man who is facing a serious illness. Meanwhile, Slubgrip has to watch his back, keep control of various under devils who are plotting to take control of his territory and send him to the banqueting house of the Father below. The Gargoyle Code makes for un-put-downable reading at any time, but it is especially designed as a book to be read during Lent. The letters from the tempters begin on Shrove Tuesday and follow day by day, taking the reader on an entertaining, enlightening and sobering journey toward Easter Sunday. Fr Dwight Longenencker has written a book on spiritual warfare that is profound, hilarious, upbeat and inspiring. He nails the devils and all his works, and succeeds in keeping the reader's attention all the way through. He joins us.

5:40 – The Spirituality of Fasting: Rediscovering a Christian Practice
On this day before Ash Wednesday, we take a look at the history, theology, and spirituality of fasting. We draw on sources ancient and current--from Augustine to Michael Pollan--to consider anew how fasting informs the relationships between creator/creature, body/soul, and rich/poor. In timely response to Pope Benedict's urging that the value and meaning of fasting need to be "rediscovered and encouraged again in our day," Msgr. Michael Murphy is here to look at fasting.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hollywood's History Movies

As I'm preparing for a talk on "Using Hollywood to cultivate virtue" I came across a list of movies that try to translate historical truth into cinematic entertainment. One scholar sees such films falling into four basic categories (the examples are his)::
1. exercising artistic license [And lots of it!] (Mississippi Burning; JFK);
2. drawing lessons from the past (Sergeant York, Missing);
3. reflecting current controversy in the past (Bonnie and Clyde; Patton);
4. celebrating heroism (All the President's Men; Norma Rae).
Without critique, here's 100 of Hollywood's most celebrated efforts at doing history. [It does need to be updated. So, e.g., don't forget Gladiator or The Passion of the Christ or Seabiscuit.] Try to forget Kingdom of Heaven.

Canadian authorities losing the high ground

James Lawton argues that the death of 21 year old Nodar Kumaritashvili is due to the moral blindness of the Canadian Olympic authorities. Kumaritashvili had just 26 practice runs as opposed to 200 for the homeboy Canadians. The head of the American luge team, Ron Rossi was especially cutting in his criticism: "The Canadians have to be answerable for their position on training. A track like this demanded the weaker athletes get more time...They knew they had problems from day one. They had people hitting the wall and going airborne. If you were already concerned about it and you already raised the wall, why didn't you keep going? And why didn't you protect the [metal] posts at the chance that maybe something could happen. I'm not the one to answer but that's the kind of question that needs to be asked."

Irish bishops at Vatican for discussions on clerical abuse

The bishops of Ireland have begun meetings with Pope Benedict XVI and officials of the Roman Curia to discuss the clerical abuse scandal in their nation. The February 15-16 meeting was arranged following the publication of the Report by the Commission of Investigation into Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin, popularly known as the Murphy report.

Pope Benedict is expected to attend most-- if not all-- of the sessions during the 2-day meeting. In a clear demonstration of the importance that he attaches to the talks, the Pope has asked most of the leading prelates in the Curia to attend, including the prefects of the Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith (Cardinal William Levada), for Bishops (Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re), for the Clergy (Cardinal Claudio Hummes), for Religious (Cardinal Franc Rodé), and for Catholic Education (Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski), as well as the Secretary of State (Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone) and the president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts (Archbishop Francesco Coccoplamerio), the body that handles interpretations of canon law. All active members of the Irish hierarchy are also expected to take part, with Cardinal Sean Brady speaking first in deference to his senior position as Primate of All Ireland.

In his homily at a Mass inaugurating the meeting, Cardinal Bertone said that Church leaders must face up to the damage done by "some churchmen involved in particularly abhorrent acts." He acknowledged that difficulties facing the Church may come from inside or ouside, and "those that come from within are naturally difficult and humiliating." The painful result, he said, should "strip us of any false security and push us to entrust ourselves to God alone."

“The fullness of the truth must come out, everything must be laid on the table,” said Bishop Joseph Duffy of Clogher said on the eve of the two-day summit. He added that “precise questions of resignation [are] not on the agenda of the bishops because that is not our prerogative.” During the meeting with Pope Benedict, each Irish bishop participating in the meeting will have seven minutes to speak.

Pope Benedict will issue a pastoral letter to the Church in Ireland following the meeting, and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin-- who has been both praised and criticized for his criticism of bishops implicated in a cover-up of abuse-- raised eyebrows again with the remarkable statement that he expects “a very significant reorganization of the Church in Ireland.” (The Associated Press inaccurately reports that Archbishop Martin “heads the Holy See’s office on justice;” in reality, he served as Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace from 1994 to 2003, when he was named Coadjutor Archbishop of Dublin.)

Outrageous Statement of the Day

Rachel Maddow in an MSNBC Promo: "I'm Not Trying To Push An Agenda" - Need I even comment

ABC Celebrates the Adulterous Affair of JFK as a "Love Story"

Good Morning America this morning touted an adulterous affair John F. Kennedy had in the early 1950s as a "love story" and a "torrid and fleeting romance." Co-host George Stephanopoulos lauded the Kennedys as "American royalty" and the show offered no hint of criticism over the infidelity. An affair is an affair - immoral and unacceptible for those elected to public office, whether you are JFK, Ted Kennedy, Mark Sanford, Eliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Mark Foley, or any others you can think of. That's not to say redemption cannot be sought and granted, but to pretend that it is a romantic love story is outrageous.

Cartoon of the Day - Obese Kids: No Responsibility

Today on Kresta - February 15, 2010

Talking about the Things That Matter Most on Feb. 15

4:00 – Faith and the Presidency: From George Washington to George W. Bush
Religion has been a major part of the presidency since George Washington's first inaugural address. Despite the mounting interest in the role of religion in American public life, we actually know remarkably little about the faith of our presidents. Was Thomas Jefferson an atheist, as his political opponents charged? What role did Lincoln's religious views play in his handling of slavery and the Civil War? How did born-again Southern Baptist Jimmy Carter lose the support of many evangelicals? Is George W. Bush, as his critics often claim, a captive of the religious right? On this President’s Day, Gary Smith answers these questions and many more. He takes a sweeping look at the role religion has played in presidential politics and policies. Drawing on extensive archival research, Smith paints compelling portraits of the religious lives and presidencies of eleven chief executives for whom religion was particularly important. We will examine what each of its subjects believed and how those beliefs shaped their presidencies and, in turn, the course of our history.

5:00 – Kresta Comments – Pope “hurting people in the name of Jesus”
Harry Knox, who serves on President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, is standing by a statement he made that Pope Benedict XVI is “hurting people in the name of Jesus.” When asked last week whether he still holds that view, Knox said, “I do.” Knox is also the director of the religion and faith program at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a homosexual activist group. In a follow-up question, Knox was asked: “So, even in light of—Edward Green, a Harvard researcher in AIDS prevention said the pope was correct in that condom use aggravates HIV, the spread of it, in Africa…do you still hold to that position?” Knox answered, “He is simply incorrect in his assertion. All the other evidence of science shows otherwise.” Al has a commentary.

5:20 – To Be Like Jesus: Inspiration From the Gospel of Luke
God's plan for your life is not as mysterious or unknowable as you might think. As Sister Ann Shields demonstrates in her probing reflections on the Gospel of Luke, the key to knowing what God is asking of you is to discover, first, who God is. If you are willing to spend time daily in his presence, ruminating on his word as it comes to you in Scripture, he will reveal himself and help you make the choices that conform to his will for your life. Sr. Ann helps us to distinguish God's voice from the voices, noise and distractions of the world. As you let his word soak into your soul, you'll find there the power to surrender to him and play your part in building his kingdom.

5:40 – Discovering the Feminine Genius: Every Woman's Journey
Katrina Zeno is here to present a framework in which women can discover and understand their human and spiritual journey as a daughter of God, a woman, a unique individual, and spouse of the Spirit. Katrina, a renowned speaker on the theology of the body, explores the role of women in our complex world. Based on an immensely successful women’s retreat that Katrina has been offering for the past decade, Discovering the Feminine Genius continues her exploration of women seeking to understand their own journey.

Friday, February 12, 2010

No Kennedy in national politics for the first time since 1947

Rep. Patrick Kennedy, the Rhode Island Catholic congressman whom Bishop Thomas Tobin publicly called to “conversion and repentance” because of his support for abortion, has decided not to run for reelection. Referring to his father, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, the congressman said that “illness took the life of my most cherished mentor and confidant, my ultimate source of spirit and strength.”

Kennedy said that the death of his father, Sen. Edward Kennedy, last year led to "soul-searching" that ended with his decision to leave public office. However the announcement that he would not seek re-election came soon after the release of poll figures showing that the Rhode Island lawmaker was viewed unfavorably by 56% of the people in his congressional district, and only 35% said that they woud support him for another term.

Outrageous Statement of the Day

This is a 10 minute clip, but the point can be gotten 2-3 minutes. I think it is worthwhile to view the whole segment however to get a good picture of just how off the rails MSNBC has become. In some ways this goes for all of talk radio / cable talk and how vitriolic it can be, but Lawrence O'Donnell and Keith Olbermann at MSNBC have figured out a way to take it to a whole new level. I've never seen a host have to call for a commercial break to calm down one of his colleagues who is yelling and screaming at a guest and won't stop to let the guest answer the tirade, but that's exactly what Joe Scarborough has to do when Lawrence O'Donnell goes berzerk.

Cartoon of the Day - Iran Valentine

Born - March for Life 2010

Very nice video filmed and produced by Franciscan University students, sharing the experience of some of the 750 person strong FUS representation at the 2010 March for Life in Washington, DC. As a proud graduate of the Franciscan University Communication Department, I'm happy to see the quality of their work. Ending comment on the video by Most Reverend John D'Arcy, bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.Produced by FUS senior Cory Heimann.
- Nick Thomm

Today on Kresta - February 12, 2010

Talking about the Things That Matter Most on Feb. 12
The Best of Kresta in the Afternoon

4:00 – Haiti: 4 Weeks Later
Nearly one month after a powerful earthquake brought this country to a halt, Haiti is tumbling headlong through a crisis that has not begun to abate, with evidence everywhere that current relief efforts are falling short. Despite the good intentions of the United States and the world community, weary relief workers say the coming weeks will severely test the resolve of those foreign contributors and the resourcefulness of a Haitian government that remains all but invisible. Pressure will grow on a fledgling food distribution network backed by U.S. soldiers that so far has largely managed to deliver only rice. From surgery to shelter to sanitation to schooling, the needs are vast and the international commitment unproven. Jim Cavnar brings us up to date on the situation and the work of Cross International Catholic Outreach.

4:20 – The Difference God Makes: A Catholic Vision of Faith, Communion and Culture
Penned by the leading intellectual in the American Catholic hierarchy, the book The Difference God Makes: A Catholic Vision of Faith, Communion, and Culture, by Francis Cardinal George of the Archdiocese of Chicago brings together some of the most influential writings on the Catholic vision—not just the Church itself but of the relation and unity of all people. Weaving together intellectual insight and personal wisdom, this investigation offers a luminous Catholic vision of communion, illustrating the Church’s relation to numerous religions as well as the secular world. Drawing from both the author’s observations of Catholicism in cultures around the globe and countless theologians’ perspectives—including Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, Thomas Aquinas, and Francis of Assisi—this analysis demonstrates how to recognize the self-giving, liberating God who provides freedom from the competitive, oppressive gods of secular modernity. Cardinal George is our guest.

4:40 – A Deacon’s Retreat
Pope Benedict XVI’s inspiring first encyclical contains the passage, “The good pastor must be rooted in contemplation. Only in this way will he be able to take upon himself the needs of others and make them his own.” The Institute for Priestly Formation seeks just that. The Institute’s programs exist to help diocesan seminarians and priests become “contemplatives in action,” i.e., to learn how to pray in such a way that they meet God in the midst of everyday busyness and are thus able to help the people of their parishes and dioceses do the same. To that end Deacon James Keating, Director of Theological Formation for the Institute, has written a self-directed retreat for deacons in the Catholic Church designed to lead the deacon into silent adoration and deeper appropriation of his call from Christ to become a deacon.

5:00 – Kresta Comments – New Ways Ministries
The president of the US bishops' conference has issued a reminder that New Ways Ministry, a Maryland-based group that works with homosexuals and lesbians, "has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church." Cardinal Francis George of Chicago added that New Ways Ministry fails to provide "an authentic interpretation of Catholic teaching." "Like other groups that claim to be Catholic but deny central aspects of church teaching," the cardinal observed, New Ways Ministry does not speak for the Catholic faithful. The group's founders, Sister Jeanine Gramick and Father Robert Nugent, were warned by the Vatican in 1999 that their public statements on homosexuality contained "ambiguities and errors." They were ordered not to speak or write on the topic-- an order that Nugent has observed but Gramick has defied. New Ways Ministry issued a statement of its own claiming to be "astonished" by Cardinal George's public caution and complaining that the group was not notified that the cardinal would be issuing such a statement. Al has experience with the group and tell us about them.

5:20 – Marriage, Prop 8, and the Battle for Hearts and Minds
Should the pro-marriage votes of Catholics, Baptists and other people of faith in California be disregarded as irrational, “discriminatory” and unconstitutional? That’s the extraordinary question being asked in a federal lawsuit argued on behalf of two same-sex couples to overturn Proposition 8, the 2008 measure passed by 52% of California voters to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. During two and a half weeks of rapid-fire testimony in San Francisco, the plaintiffs’ legal team worked to build a case claiming that Prop. 8 should be thrown out, in part, because it was swept to victory on a tsunami of “irrational” religious “prejudice and hostility,” generated by discriminatory “messaging” put out by a broad coalition of Mormons, evangelical Christians and Catholics. We caught up with Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage at the Legatus Summit last week. We share that interview with you now.

5:40 – Pope’s Intervention on Britian “Equality Bill” Stirs the Pot
Pope Benedict told a group of bishops last week that the equality bill before Britain's Parliament might force it to hire gays, violating church doctrine, among numerous other moral problems. The bill seeks to address a host of inequalities, from low wages to women to limited educational opportunities for the poor. Britain's parliamentarians are mulling a radical equality law that its sponsors claim has the power to reshape the country into a fairer, less class-driven and discriminatory society. But in some circles in England the bill is stirring unease because, in its quest for equal treatment for all, it appears to require private organizations to make hiring decisions that conflict with their deeply held beliefs. British Catholic journalist Joanna Bogle weighs in.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

China's worst 'disappearance'

The article below is from our friend David Aikman. David was a journalist with TIME Magazine for 23 years, and is now a professor of history at Patrick Henry College in Virginia. He has authored more than a dozen books, including "Jesus in Beijing" (Regnery, 2003), "Billy Graham: His Life and Influence" (Thomas Nelson, 2006) and "The Delusion of Disbelief" (Tyndale, 2008). His latest book, "The Mirage of Peace" (Regal), was released in September. Aikman is also the founder of Gegrapha, an international fellowship for Christians in the mainstream media.

"Disappeared," in Spanish desaparecido, is one of the most hideous terms to enter the evil lexicon of international human rights abuses. It was first used during the rule of the military junta that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983 and it denoted people who had been disappeared – an intransitive verb become transitive – because organs of state power had kidnapped them, made them vanish from view, and often murdered them clandestinely.

Until very recently, "disappearing" people was not commonly associated with organs of state power in China. Political dissidents, unapproved Christian evangelists and others who annoyed the regime would normally be arrested for "subversion" or some other catch-all word. Then they would be put on trial at a closed hearing, swiftly convicted, and dispatched to some camp on the outskirts of China's laogai, its "reform-through-labor" gulag. But in one of the most sinister examples of China's growing repression of its dissidents, a prominent human-rights lawyer and Christian, Gao Zhisheng, was kidnapped, held for 54 days and tortured in 2007, then kidnapped again by unidentified thugs early in 2009. In fact, the first anniversary of Gao's most recent disappearance was February 4, 2010 -- by coincidence the date of the annual Presidential Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC.

Gao is no ordinary dissident. In fact, in 2001 China's own Ministry of Justice proclaimed him "one of the country's ten best lawyers." His Beijing-based Zhengzhi Law Firm had taken on numerable civil cases where ordinary citizens fought to secure legal rights – and in some cases compensation – from large enterprises and state organizations. Gao's problems seemed to arise, however, as he began to investigate the brutal repression of Falungong practitioners following their unauthorized demonstration outside China's Communist Party headquarters in 1999. Gao discovered -- as have many independent legal researchers -- that at least 3,000 FLG followers had been arrested and tortured to death while in detention. Outraged by the brutality of the regime and its blatant breach of normal legal procedures, Gao publicly resigned his Communist Party membership in 2005 and began to write open letters of denunciation to China's Communist chief, Hu Jintao, and its prime minister Wen Jiabao.

He and his entire family were then put under round-the-clock surveillance, with four plainclothes police thugs at one point assigned to keep watch on his then three-year-old son. Amnesty International claimed that security police in 2006 had tried to assassinate Gao in a faked car wreck. Gao was released from a 54-day detention in December 2007 after a "confession" had been extracted from him after days of absolutely brutal torture (electric shock batons to the private parts and toothpick jabs all over his naked body). On his release he recanted the confession.

As China's Olympic Games drew near, Gao drew more attention to himself by a long, open letter to the U.S. Congress pleading with the U.S. not to participate in the games. "Freedom, democracy, and the rule of law," he wrote in September 2007, "are the values China has longed for but has not been able to enjoy." In the letter he lashed out at China's Communist Party, describing it as "a criminal group that operates under the protection of state power." He described China's brutal one-child policy, with its forced abortions up through the ninth month or pregnancy, as "the largest genocide in the history of mankind" (based on the fact that the Chinese authorities have claimed to have ended 400 million pregnancies since the program began in the 1980s). The letter to the U.S. Congress quotes James Madison and Martin Luther King, Jr. -- "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" -- and asserts that the Chinese communists are basically "less forgivable than the Nazis" because, he says, they have killed at least 80 million people since they first came to power.

Without doubt, Gao's direct assault on the legitimacy of the Communist Party must have not only put him beyond the pale for its Public Security Bureau but stirred them up to wreak especial pain in their torture of him. Essentially, the Chinese authorities seem now to be outsourcing their judicial violence to groups with genuinely psychopathic character and virtually no accountability to state authorities for what they do. To quote Gao in his letter to the Congress again, "the whole nation is subdued by a small group of hooligans who segregate and persecute people, one group after another."

The Chinese Foreign Ministry, understandably, has been deluged by requests for information about Gao, his well-being, and his whereabouts. In one bizarre episode last September, Chinese authorities claimed that Gao had gone for a walk and "gone lost," as if he were an absent-minded professor in Carmel, CA, rather than a tortured inmate of China's secret prisons. In February this year, a Chinese spokesman said that Gao was "where he should be" -- an Orwellian idiocy almost as absurd as the assertion he had "gone lost."

Gao is arguably the bravest and most heroic human-rights campaigner to have emerged in China for years. As China becomes financially more powerful and more assertive, its government will probably be more defiant about its human-rights record. The new practice of "disappearing" people is an outrage. Those interested in helping Gao should sign the petition at