Friday, September 30, 2011

COMMENT TO HHS ON CONSCIENCE PROTECTIONS HERE!!!!

This is the final day in which the Department of Health and Human Services is accepting comments from the public on its proposed new rule regarding mandated coverage in insurance programs. The mandate would require insurance plans to include coverage for contraception, sterilization and some drugs that are abortifacients. Catholics of all stripes have been making the case since the day the rule was announced that the conscience exemption it contained was far too narrow. We now encourage everyone to make your voices heard TONIGHT.

Click here to make your comment to the Department of Health and Human Services!!!

Today on Kresta - September 30, 2011

Talking about the "things that matter most" on Sept. 30

4:00 – Anglicans and the Roman Catholic Church
The beginning of a specifically Anglican liturgy and culture within the Roman Catholic Church was established in the United Sates by Pope John Paul II. Since then, Anglican Use parishes have been worshipping in a distinctively Anglican style within several American dioceses. Thanks to Pope Benedict XVI, these communities are now able to form into personal ordinariates led by bishops who were previously Anglican clergy. As a result, even more Anglicans seeking full communion with Rome can find a home within the Catholic Church. We talk about Anglicans and the Catholic Church with Dr. Janet Smith.

4:40 – Gyrene Burgers
He founded Domino’s Pizza. He owned the Detroit Tigers. He started Ave Maria University and built a town around it. What’s next for Thomas Monaghan? At 74, he’s pursuing a new dream, going back to his roots in the delivery business. This time, it will be gourmet hamburgers, not pizza, that he will bring to the doorstep. Tom joins us to discuss his new venture.

5:00 – Catholic Consciences Under Attack – ACT NOW!!!
This is the final week in which the Department of Health and Human Services is accepting comments from the public on its proposed new rule regarding mandated coverage in insurance programs. The mandate would require insurance plans to include coverage for contraception, sterilization and some drugs that are abortifacients. Catholics of all stripes have been making the case since the day the rule was announced that the conscience exemption it contained was far too narrow. We now encourage everyone to make your voices heard TODAY. Helen Alvare joins us to encourage just that.

5:20 – The Pope & The CEO: John Paul II's Leadership Lessons to a Young Swiss Guard
John Paul II's witness to the reality of God's grace in the life of man, as divine presence and guidance, so inspired and touched the life of one of his body guards, a Swiss guard, that when the latter became an entrepreneur and a CEO, he set himself to emulate the virtues of leadership of the Pope. Andreas Widmer, the Swiss-Guard-turned-CEO gives a personal witness to the successful application of the Pope's leadership virtues in the life of a CEO and offers the same to CEOs. He joins us.

God’s Call? On Gov. Christie, Ronald Reagan, and Woodrow Wilson

By Paul G. Kengor
September 30, 2011

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is being urged to seek the Republican presidential nomination. There is a genuine groundswell for Christie.

Asked this week at the Reagan Library whether he will enter the race, Christie gave a very interesting answer. Citing the example of Ronald Reagan, he stated: “I know, without ever having met President Reagan, that he must have felt deeply in his heart that he was called to that moment, to lead our country.”

Christie seemed to say that, unlike Reagan, he isn’t feeling a call to enter the presidential race. That’s a telling statement that merits unpacking.

For Reagan, the call in his heart came from himself, from his country, and from his sense of God’s will. I imagine that Christie, likewise a religious man, is seeking a call from those same sources.

Well, as the guy who wrote the book on Ronald Reagan’s faith, perhaps I can help out Christie here.

It is correct to say that Reagan felt called by God. But Reagan’s thinking was always more complicated than that. Ronald Reagan spoke constantly, throughout his career, of what he and his close friend and colleague Bill Clark (who had been with Reagan since the California gubernatorial years) called “the DP”—i.e., the Divine Plan. Reagan prayed to discern God’s will, but he knew that discernment is a tricky business. He was happy to place his life and career in “God’s hands,” not knowing where precisely, and when, that would lead him. To cite just one example of many, Reagan felt a call of some sort in 1976, but lost his presidential bid that year. When he lost, he told his family and friends that the loss must have been God’s will.

Reagan felt that only in retrospect could one (better) detect God’s intent. He learned this as a boy from his mother. It never left him.

“God had another plan,” Reagan later put it. That plan, that divinely laid “fork in the road” that his mother always talked about, apparently included winning the presidency in November 1980, getting shot in March 1981, taking on the Evil Empire, standing at the Berlin Wall, meeting with Gorbachev and Pope John Paul II and Thatcher and Walesa, and on and on.

What Reagan possessed was a strong sense of good vs. evil, right and wrong, and, most significant of all, recognition of the need to respond to a nation (or at least a political party) that was calling him.

Gov. Christie and his fellow Republicans and conservatives would agree that, in Reagan’s case, things worked out for the best, just as Reagan’s mother always said they would—in “God’s time,” and according to “the DP.”

Now, contrast this lesson to that of another New Jersey governor, another presidential candidate, from precisely 100 years ago—with an amazingly similar trajectory to Christie’s. Newly elected New Jersey Governor Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat and progressive’s progressive, had been governor for only one year in 1912. Suddenly, he was being pursued by his party to seek the presidency and dislodge the Republican incumbent from the White House. In a wide open race, Wilson was poised to persevere.

Wilson, a devout five-point Calvinist with a superb command of Reformed theology and an unwavering belief in predestination, never shied from confidently interpreting God’s will. Modern secular liberals neglect that this progressive icon had an extremely rigid perception of the hand of Providence, of being “chosen.” He was adamant that he could accurately construe God’s plan, whether as president of Princeton, governor of New Jersey, president of the United States, or author of the League of Nations—the latter of which, Wilson believed, was God’s intent and he was God’s instrument to make it happen. Anyone who opposed Wilson in his religious sureness was judged a malefactor working against God’s resolve.

In 1912, Woodrow Wilson concluded that God wanted him to be president.

Would today’s conservatives, who strongly dislike Wilson, agree that Wilson was right in seeing God’s hand guiding him? Would Gov. Christie agree that Wilson had correctly answered a direct call from God?

Conservatives would beg to differ. (Would liberals?) As for me, I won’t hazard a guess.

My point, however, is that some leaders feel a call—particularly from Divine Providence—and some do not. What may be most important for a leader is to respond to the call of leadership when he feels a nation is hungering for it and for him. Governor Christie may not ever feel a call from God to be president. But he may be getting a call from his party and from America. And that may be the voice he needs to heed right now.

First 2012 Vote Could Be Jan. 2

Four U.S. states may leapfrog Florida primary date

(Reuters) - Four U.S. states holding contests early in 2012 to choose the Republican presidential nominee threatened on Thursday to leapfrog Florida if it goes ahead with a primary election date of January 31.

Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina are the only four states permitted by the Republican National Committee (RNC) to hold primaries or caucuses earlier than March 6, the date dubbed "Super Tuesday" with contests in multiple states.

Florida's announcement on Wednesday that it wanted to hold its primary in January started a game of leapfrog among states to assert their influence in picking the nominee and to draw millions of dollars in candidate spending.

As it currently stands, the Iowa caucuses are set for February 6, the New Hampshire primary for February 14, the Nevada caucuses for February 18 and the South Carolina primary for February 28.

Iowa Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn issued a statement indicating the four states' plan to stick together in their efforts to keep their early contest spots.

"The four sanctioned, early states have been very clear that we will move together, if necessary, to ensure order as outlined in RNC rules. If we are forced to change our dates together, we will," Strawn said.

Florida must make its January date official before South Carolina will move up its primary and face the penalty of losing delegate votes at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida in August, according to South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Chad Connelly.

"If Florida wants to be the bad boy, I am going to make them make us move," Connelly said on Thursday from the state capital of Columbia.

"I'm going to have a hissy fit at the RNC meeting in January if they make us accept penalties that other states have forced us into. It's inherently unfair."

Florida has said it will officially announce its date on Friday. The deadline for states to set their primaries is Saturday.

The chaos in the Republican presidential primary calendar could push Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses to January 2, said political scientist Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.

"It's ridiculous," Sabato said. "It's turning the election into the grinch that stole Christmas. Everybody's had their Christmas wiped out. It's no wonder people get sick of politics."

In the process of choosing the presidential nominees fielded by the two major U.S. political parties, candidates compete in primary elections or other contests in the states to win delegates who ultimately will pick the nominees in later party conventions.

There will be no Democratic primaries because President Barack Obama is unopposed for the party's nomination.

The Republican nominee is due to face Obama in the November 6, 2012, general election.

Anwar al-Aulaqi, U.S.-born cleric linked to al-Qaeda, reported killed in Yemen

SANAA, Yemen — Anwar al-Aulaqi, a radical U.S.-born Muslim cleric and one of the most influential al-Qaeda operatives wanted by the United States, was killed Friday in an airstrike in northern Yemen, authorities said, eliminating a prominent recruiter who inspired attacks on U.S. soil.

In Washington, a senior Obama administration official confirmed that Aulaqi is dead.

A U.S. counterterrorism official said intelligence indicates that the 40-year-old cleric, a dual national of the United States and Yemen, perished in an attack on his convoy by a U.S. drone and jet, the Associated Press reported.

The Yemeni Defense Ministry, in a text message sent to journalists, announced that “the terrorist Anwar al- Aulaqi has been killed along with some of his companions,” but did not provide further details. The report could not be independently verified; Aulaqi has been falsely reported killed before.

In a separate e-mailed statement, the Yemeni government said Aulaqi was “targeted and killed” five miles from the town of Khashef in Yemen’s northern Jawf province, 87 miles east of the capital Sanaa. The attack, the statement said, was launched at 9:55 a.m. Friday local time.

While the Defense Ministry said Aulaqi was killed in Marib province, other government sources said he was killed in neighboring Jawf province.

A Yemeni security source, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said Aulaqi was killed in an airstrike, possibly by an unmanned American drone. The Obama administration in recent months has escalated the use of drones to target al-Qaeda-linked militants in Yemen and Somalia.

If true, Aulaqi’s death would be considered a significant victory in the U.S. war against global terrorism. It comes less than five months after U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden, leader of the al-Qaeda network, in a raid on his hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Aulaqi, born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents, has been implicated in helping to motivate several attacks on U.S. soil. He is said to have inspired an Army officer who allegedly killed 13 people in a November 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Tex., as well as a Ni­ger­ian student accused of attempting to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner the following month and a Pakistani American man who tried to set off a car bomb in New York City in May 2010. Aulaqi has also been linked to an attempt in 2010 to send parcel bombs on cargo plans bound for the United States.

In April 2010, the Obama administration authorized his targeted killing. U.S. officials alleged that he is a top leader in al-Qaeda’s Yemeni wing, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Aulaqi, who lived in Virginia and was the imam of a mosque in Falls Church, left the United States in 2002. He was detained in Yemen in 2006 at the request of the United States but was released later that year. His lectures in English on Islamic scripture have drawn in countless followers online.

Earlier this year, Michael Leiter, the U.S. official in charge of analyzing terrorism threats, told a congressional committee that Aulaqi and AQAP probably posed “the most significant risk to the U.S. homeland.”

Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, called the killing of Aulaqi “a great success in our fight against al-Qaeda and its affiliates,” as well as a “tremendous tribute to President Obama and the men and women of our intelligence community.”

In a statement Friday, King added: “For the past several years, [Aulaqi] has been more dangerous even than Osama bin Laden had been. . . . Despite this vital development today, we must remain as vigilant as ever, knowing that there are more Islamic terrorists who will gladly step forward to backfill this dangerous killer.”

As a fluent speaker of both English and Arabic and a savvy user of Web sites, Aulaqi was able to gather a following online and radicalize Muslims he had never met, earning him a reputation as “the bin Laden of the Internet,” U.S. officials said.

Among those who attended his sermons were three of the hijackers who carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and the accused Fort Hood shooter, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the young Ni­ger­ian who allegedly tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight en route to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 with a bomb hidden in his underwear, reportedly told interrogators that he had met with Aulaqi in Yemen earlier that year and that the cleric helped plan the attack and provide religious justification for it.

Faisal Shahzad, who pleaded guilty to the attempted May 2010 car bombing in Times Square, never met Aulaqi but contacted him over the Internet and told interrogators the cleric had inspired him, officials have said.

Aulaqi was hired in 2001 to be the imam at Dar al-Hijrah, the Falls Church mosque that would later come under scrutiny by U.S. investigators looking into connections to terrorism cases.

“Before he came to Dar al-Hijrah, I didn’t know anything about him,” said Bassam Estwani, one of the early founders of the mosque and former chairman of its board. “Brothers from California recommended him as a good scholar.”

Estwani said he was stunned by Aulaqi’s transformation into a radical Islamist, adding that he “never saw any sign of extremist thinking” in the young cleric. Aulaqi was “very nice, very disciplined, polite, helpful to everyone,” Estwani said in an interview. “He was a scholar, spoke both languages, Arabic and English, very well. I wondered to myself afterward is he the same person who spoke here?”

Right after the Sept. 11 attacks, Aulaqi was in demand as an articulate spokesman for American Islam and interfaith understanding. He did a chat about Ramadan on washingtonpost.com and allowed a Post videographer to chronicle a day in the life of an American imam.

Eventually, however, federal investigators learned that two of the Sept. 11 hijackers — Hani Hanjour and Nawaf Alhazmi — had briefly worshiped at Dar al-Hijrah when Aulaqi was the imam there. The FBI and the federal 9/11 Commission were unable to determine whether Aulaqi met with the hijackers then. But they noted that he and some of the hijackers had met the year before at his former mosque in San Diego.

The commission’s report said the two hijackers’ appearance at Dar al-Hijrah in 2001 “may not have been coincidental.”

In 2002, after Aulaqi had already left the mosque and gone abroad, he returned one last time to Northern Virginia. Hossein Goal, a former member of Dar al-Hijrah’s executive committee, and newly hired Imam Johari al-Malik met with Aulaqi at a Northern Virginia cafe to try to persuade him to return to the mosque, Johari said.

He turned them down, saying the atmosphere for Muslims after 9/11 was just too toxic. He said he could find an even bigger platform in the Arab states, and described a few of the options he was pursuing. He was seriously considering running for parliament in Yemen, he told told Goal and Malik. He also was mulling hosting a television show in one of the Persian Gulf states or landing a teaching job at an Islamic university.

Later, media reports surfaced that during his time leading a mosque in San Diego, Aulaqi had been arrested on allegations of soliciting prostitutes and was once spotted in Washington with escorts.

Read more here...

iPhone App: Start Your Car From Virtually Anywhere

In case you were wanting to experience the keyless remote entry system that came packaged with the new Zipcar app, but you already have a car of your own, you’re now in luck. According to Mashable, as of today, you can drop in at your local Best Buy and pick up a Viper keyless entry and remote starter system from Directed Electronics for any automobile that features iPhone integration.

Not only that, but the range for the SmartStart app (iTunes link) that controls remote entry and car starting is said to be “virtually unlimited,” likely owing to the fact that it communicates via a data network connection rather than over infrared, which requires line of sight, or Bluetooth, which needs proximity.
You can even turn on the heat using the app, and do other things like pop the trunk, honk the horn, or turn on the alarm to scare off ne’er-do-wells while you sip your latté at the Starbucks patio across the street. The app won’t allow to you drive your car remotely, but at this rate, there’s probably an app for that just around the corner, too. Or at least one for locking the car down entirely in cases of theft.

As mentioned above, the app apparently doesn’t need to be near the car to communicate with the receiver, so in theory you could be setting off your alarm and starting your car in Iowa while on vacation in Prague, though aside from the slim possibility that someone watching believes it’s a ghost car, I can’t really see the point. It could be handy, as Mashable points out, in a situation where a spouse or loved one is locked out of their vehicle or has lost their own set of keys.

Of course, as with all incredibly cool things, the new Viper system will cost you a not insignificant sum of money. If you’re entirely new to the Viper system, a fresh start will set you back about $500, while existing users can add iPhone accessibility via the SmartStart module to their system for the low price of $299.

The automation industry, including home lighting and temperature control, home audio and theater, and car stereo, security, and remote control has always seemed to me to occupy the realm of unnecessary eccentric luxuries reserved for the very rich. With the iPhone operating as a central device that’s finally capable of unifying all these disparate automation services, I’m beginning to see their wider market applicability. Companies like Directed Electronics and Sonos are perfect examples of how niche businesses can expand their target markets via iPhone integration.

Holly’s Story

Father launches website to warn others of the dangers associated with ‘the abortion pill’

By Tiffany Owens

(WNS)--Eight years ago, mifepristone, “the abortion pill,” claimed the life of Holly Patterson, an 18-year-old who received the drug from Planned Parenthood and used it to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

She died seven days after taking the drug that is also known as RU-486 and 15 minutes before a scheduled follow-up appointment.

Holly’s father, Monty Patterson, did not learn of her pregnancy until a doctor at the hospital told him just moments before her death.

“I felt like I had been left in the dark,” he said. “I didn’t even know what the abortion pill was. I couldn’t believe Holly had gotten pregnant and had gone to get an abortion with her boyfriend. . . . I was mainly shocked.”

Patterson later discovered that Holly’s death was the first reported case in the United States of a Clostridium sordellii toxic shock infection after medical abortion. Medical abortion is a non-surgical approach to abortion, and Clostridium sordellii toxic shock infection is one of the health risks to the procedure, the one that Holly likely did not know about.

“There were no warnings on the label,” Patterson explained. “No one knew about Clostridium sordellii as a fatal bacterial toxic shock infection.” He later discovered that some people knew but weren’t telling: In 2001, a woman died during test trials for the drug but this risk never translated into an official box-label warning in the United States until after Holly’s death and the death of two other women.

That’s because Patterson insisted on having Holly’s tissue samples tested for Clostridium sordellii. He also pushed for the families of other victims to do the same. Finally, one year after Holly’s death, and after hours pressuring the Food and Drug Administration, Patterson finally saw a black box warning on the drug’s label for the infection.

Eight years later, Patterson hasn’t stopped. He’s spent countless hours researching the health risks of mifepristone, and Wednesday, the 11th anniversary of the drug’s approval, he launched a website (abortionpillrisks.org) designed to provide more holistic information and awareness about the health risks associated with the pill.

“The website isn’t about the abortion debate,” Patterson cautioned, stressing that he believes that women should have a “choice for what they believe is in their best interest.” But he added, “No woman should have to risk her life or her health because she lacks factual and accurate medical abortion information to make a well-informed decision when terminating an early pregnancy with mifepristone and misoprostol.”

Mifepristone is designed to terminate pregnancy by catalyzing detachment of the embroyo from the lining of the uterus. Patients use the drug in conjunction with misoprostol, another drug that catalyzes dilation of the cervix and contractions in order to expel the fetus. According to Patterson’s website, mifepristone accounted for 17 percent of all non-hospital abortions in 2008.

Although experts laud the drug as a “safe and effective” alternative to surgical abortion, Patterson knows otherwise. He’s hoping his research and website will help women avoid what could possibly be a fatal decision.

Course Instructs Journalists to Take Note That Jihad 'Not a Leading Cause of Death'

Soros-Funded Group Behind Course for Journalists That Downplays 'Jihad'

A new online journalism course on Islam appears to downplay the threat posed by global jihad groups, suggesting reporters keep the death toll from Islamic terrorism in "context" by comparing that toll to the number of people killed every year by malaria, HIV/AIDS and other factors.

"Jihad is not a leading cause of death in the world," the online course cautions studying journalists.

While that is technically true, researchers at the Culture and Media Institute who examined the online program took exception to that and numerous other claims made in the Poynter News University course.

Dan Gainor, vice president at the institute, said the course is sweeping these threats "under the rug," while watering down the section on jihad with inappropriate comparisons.

"Infectious disease, we have government structures to prevent that, and that's great ... in radical Islam we have not even one organization but several organizations that are constantly seeking to kill Americans and others too," he said. "It seems like journalists should not be involved in trying to downplay that."

Gainor's group released a report Thursday morning on the course.

Read more here

ND president protests birth control inclusion

By TOM COYNE , 09.29.11

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- President Barack Obama's health care overhaul should be changed so that religious schools such as the University of Notre Dame aren't required to go against their beliefs and provide birth control to students and employees, the school president says.

The Rev. John Jenkins wrote a letter Wednesday to Kathleen Sebelius asking the Obama administration to broaden the definition of religious employer currently under consideration to ensure the school can continue its provide health care without going against the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. He said the change in definition of religious employer is far narrower than current law and would require Notre Dame and other Catholic universities to offer prescription contraceptives and sterilization services to students and employees through health care plans.

"This would compel Notre Dame to either pay for contraception and sterilization in violation of the church's moral teaching, or to discontinue our employee and student health care plans in violation of the church's social teaching. It is an impossible position," he wrote.

A panel of health experts advising the administration last month recommended that the government require health insurance companies to cover birth control for women as preventive care, without copayments. The Health and Human Services Department asked for public comment on its proposed conscience clause. Jenkins was writing in response to that request.

Jenkins, who was criticized by dozens of bishops for inviting President Barack Obama to speak at commencement, noted that during Obama's commencement speech at Notre Dame in May 2009 he said he favored "a sensible conscience clause." Obama said the clause would give anti-abortion health care providers the right to refuse to perform the procedure.

Jenkins said the proposed change in law "runs contrary to a 40-year history of federal conscience statutes" and doesn't reflect the sensible approach Obama talked about in his speech at Notre Dame.

Jenkins urged Sebelius to change the definition of religious employer to the one used by the Internal Revenue Service, which considers whether an organization or institution shares common religious bonds and convictions with a church.

"This definition more adequately defines religious employers to include all organizations that work in ministries of the church," he wrote.

Betty Cockrum, Planned Parenthood of Indiana president and CEO, said that covering birth control without copays is one of the most important steps in preventing unintended pregnancy.

"That's why Planned Parenthood will continue to work hard to ensure that all women, regardless of their employer or insurer, have access to the health care they need, including affordable birth control," she said.

Read the Rev. John Jenkins' letter here.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

World Youth Day 2011 with Goodness Reigns

Former ABC Correspondent Peggy Stanton traveled with the group "Goodness Reigns" to World Youth Day 2011 in Spain. She produced this video to provide a sample of what the English-speaking pilgrims experienced in the catechesis sessions and what the entire Church gathered in Madrid experienced with the Pope.

Hearing on China’s 1-child policy: victims recount brutality

Marking the 31st anniversary of China’s one-child policy, the U.S. House of Representatives held its first hearing since 2009 on the coercive population-control mandate.
“The one-child-per-couple policy is the most egregious systematic attack on mothers ever,” said Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Human Rights Subcommittee, who hosted the hearing.

“Women bare the major brunt of the one-child policy — not only as mothers,” Smith said at the hearing. “Due to the male preference in China’s society and the limitation of the family size to one child, the policy has directly contributed to what is accurately described as ‘gendercide’ — the deliberate extermination of a girl, born or unborn, simply because she happens to be female. … It has been noted that the three most dangerous words in China today are: ‘It’s a girl!’”

U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, when recently in China, failed to say anything of the sort, instead publicly assuring that he would not be “second-guessing” the policy. A spokesman would later assure Americans, at least, that he considers the policy “repugnant.”

Smith opened the hearing by addressing Biden’s comments and issuing an open invitation to him to address the committee about “what actions, if any, the Obama administration is taking to end this barbaric policy.”

This isn’t simply a war of words among American politicians. Despite the “repugnant” clarification, the Obama administration has restored U.N. Population Fund funding after a George W. Bush administration hiatus. The UNFPA has been a support to China’s brutal policy. Smith has introduced the China Democracy Promotion Act of 2011, which would allow the president to deny Chinese government officials entry into the United States if they have participated in human-rights abuses, including coercive enforcement of the one-child policy.

At the hearing, an exiled Chinese human-rights activist, Liu Ping, recalled her horrific experience working in a textile factory in Tianjin in the 1980s.

“There was a system of collective punishment: If one worker violated the rules, all would be punished,” Liu testified. “Workers monitored each other. Women of reproductive age accounted for 60% of my factory floor. Colleagues were suspicious and hostile to each other because of the one-child policy. Two of my pregnancies were reported by my colleagues to the Family Planning Commission. When discovered, pregnant women would be dragged to undergo forced abortions — there simply was no other choice.

“We had no dignity as potential child-bearers. By order of the factory’s Family Planning Commission, every month during their menstrual period, women had to undress in front of the birth-planning doctor for examination. If anyone skipped the examination, she would be forced to take a pregnancy test at the hospital. We were allowed to collect a salary only after it was confirmed that we were not pregnant.”

Read more here.

18 Catholic universities join in appeal against contraceptive mandate

A group of 18 Catholic colleges and universities have joined in an appeal to the Obama administration to back away from a mandate that would require the institutions to provide contraceptive coverage in health-care plans.

The appeal was organized by the Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education, a division of The Cardinal Newman Society, with legal support from the Alliance Defense Fund. Bishop Thomas Curry, an auxiliary of the Los Angeles archdiocese, also signed the appeal. Bishop Curry, who signed in his individual capacity, chairs the education committee of the US bishops’ conference.

“Catholic institutions will not compromise on the question of the immorality of contraception and sterilization or the grave injustice of abortion,” said Msgr. Stuart Swetland, the executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education, in explaining the appeal. “The administration seems to be telling Catholic institutions that the only way we can operate in their America is to abandon our core ethical beliefs. This law and its outrageously narrow religious exemption cannot stand.”

Today on Kresta - September 29, 2011

Talking about the "things that matter most" on Sept. 29

4:00 – Kresta Commentary

4:20 – The Mystery of Israel and the Catholic Church
Today Jews celebrate the feast Rosh-Hashanah. We take the opportunity to talk about the mystery of Israel and the Church. Lawrence Feingold presents a theology of Israel and her beautiful mission in salvation history from the perspective of the Catholic faith.

5:00 – Toy Plane Terror Plot Averted
A 26-year-old Massachusetts man was busted yesterday in a bizarre plot to attack the Pentagon and US Capitol with remote-controlled model planes packed with explosives. Rezwan Ferdaus, a US citizen, was radicalized by watching jihadist Web sites and planned to kill “enemies of Allah” in an elaborate plot hatched a year ago, according to the Justice Department. We talk with Islamic terrorism expert Robert Spencer.

5:20 – Bishops Speak Out Against HHS Mandate and Urge Faithful to Do Likewise As Deadline Looms
New HHS rules mandating contraception and sterilization insurance coverage could cause the ‘persecution’ of Catholic institutions, Auxiliary Bishop James Conley of Denver has said. “In opposing unjust laws, we can positively articulate the truth we have been given. In the weeks and months to come, we can witness to the Catholic belief that sexual relations are a beautiful and integral part of marriage, and that contraceptives rob them of their true and full meaning,” he said in his latest Denver Catholic Register column. If a new federal rule goes into effect, coverage for sterilization and contraception would be mandatory for many Catholic institutions’ health-insurance plans. If implemented, the bishop said, “there could be persecution ahead for Catholic institutions.” We talk with Michael Hernon of Franciscan University and Jeanne Monahan of the Family Research Council.

5:40 – Gold and The Markets
The price of gold has been fluctuating the past week while the markets are bouncing back from significant drops two weeks ago. George Schwartz of Schwartz Investment Counsel Inc. and the Ave Maria Family of Funds is here to look at the Fed, gold, the markets and more.

My second response to Ed Peters

I was glad to read Ed's response. I don’t have any desire to drag this out but wanted to respect Ed’s careful approach and clarify a simple point or two regarding the role of lay Catholics, like myself, seeking to faithfully use the public media.

With the remarkable growth of Catholic radio and presence on the Internet, journalistic questions of propriety, jurisdiction, exercise of influence will all have to be submitted to, at the very least, careful prudential thinking. But the future looks good if we continue in a spirit of fraternal challenge and let, as Proverbs puts it, “iron sharpen iron.”

Like Ed, I do regard this as essentially a disciplinary matter between Bishop Zurek and his priest. However, when it became publicized it morphed, secondarily, into a news story.

Since it is a disciplinary matter, it would be arrogant of me to expect Bishop Zurek to come on-air and disclose his plans or defend his decision. As a news matter, however, he should be given the opportunity to make a public comment. His refusal to do so should not be interpreted as some kind of shirking of duty. I didn’t expect him to join us on-air and I certainly didn’t expect him to “defend” his actions.

His vicar, however, had made a number of public statements that Fr. Pavone was a priest in good standing and that no charges of malfeasance had been made. So I thought I should leave the door open for his participation. I've seen precedence for this over many years.

When years ago, Bishop Bruskewitz, “excommunicated” members of various groups, he authorized his chancellor to interview with me.

In the Archdiocese of Detroit, Cardinal Maida, allowed me to question him publicly regarding the problem of pro-choice Catholic politicians. Some thought that I shouldn’t have asked about any particular officeholders by name. I disagreed and asked about one particular governor by name. (Guess who?).

Cardinal Maida understood far better than I the boundaries between the public and private that needed to be respected in that case. Nevertheless, my asking of the question publicly clarifies the boundaries.

During the most intense period of the sex abuse controversy, the Archdiocese of Detroit, asked Bishop Hurley to address questions publicly with me. Ten years before when I approached the USCCB with similar questions, they decided not to speak. So there seems to be some Episcopal discretion in handling the public dimension of these largely private matters.

Back to the Fr. Pavone matter: At the time of the interview I was under the impression that Fr. Frank was entirely free to discuss this matter without, in any way, violating Bishop Zurek’s order. Given my continuing respect and appreciation for Father Pavone and the many requests for information that I had received from listeners, I thought it best for Fr. Pavone to tell his own story and speak to his own supporters among Ave Maria and EWTN listeners.

If this turned out to look like an attempt to settle a private disciplinary matter through the mobilizing of public pressure, then I regret the impression. I don’t regret, however, providing the opportunity for Fr. Frank to clarify his own handling of the matter up to that point. Nor do I regret the challenge offered by Ed Peters to clarify my thinking publicly.

Fraternally,
Al

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A response to Ed Peters' criticism of Fr. Frank Pavone Interview

In a Sept 26 blog post entitled "Is John Wesley really the ministerial model Fr. Pavone wants to invoke?" Ed Peters took "Kresta in Afternoon" to task for the Sept. 19 interview with Fr. Frank Pavone, calling it a 40-min. infomercial and neglectful of canon law. Because Ed is a frequent guest on the show and counted as a friend, I thought in a spirit of fraternal disagreement that I should respond publicly. I believe Ed completely missed the objective of the interview. A paragraph of Ed's post is below:
"I thought it a bad idea for Kresta to give Pavone what amounted to a 40 minute infomercial while his dispute with Zurek was in full swing. Whatever problems provoked this conflict, its correct resolution must draw heavily on objective principles of canon law, and neither Pavone nor Kresta are competent to explain that canon law to the public. Indeed, Pavone’s characterizations of canon law went unchallenged in the interview and he deftly skirted some other key issues."
Below is my response to Ed's criticism:
As most of you know, I interviewed Fr. Frank Pavone last week.

Canon lawyer Ed Peters and some other friends thought it imprudent for us to offer a forum for Fr. Pavone. They didn’t think Fr. Frank was acquitting himself very well and were afraid that the more he spoke the worse the situation would become. That may or may not turn out to be true.

But in a situation like this I ask myself as a Catholic, “How should I respond?” Then as a Catholic with a microphone I ask, “How should I respond?” In my role as a Catholic I respond with prayer and offering fraternal support to a brother I have worked with on various projects. As a Catholic with a microphone and an audience, I decided to post all the relevant materials including Ed Peters’ numerous commentaries and ask the principals if they want to speak to you.

We are a media outlet. We are, of course, not merely a media outlet, but on “Kresta in the Afternoon” we do current events in light of the teaching of the Church. The Fr. Frank issue is significant news for our listeners, as Ed well knows given the amount of time and ink he has spent analyzing it both as a canon lawyer and in personal commentary. Rule #1 in journalism is to get as close to the sources as possible. That would be Fr. Pavone and Bishop Zurek. We requested interviews with both and Fr. Frank replied “yes.” The Bishop’s office chose not to reply. My responsibility was to get as close to the principals in this story as possible, ask clarifying questions, and let you ask your questions. We did just that.

Ed was one of a few friends that didn’t think I should have done the interview. But Fr. Frank is a big boy…he has an Episcopal advisory board, he has a canon lawyer with him, and he heads up one of the most respected pro-life organizations around the world. He didn’t ask for my advice as to whether or not he should do the interview. Even if he had I would have told him that he was in the best position to judge this.

He is making decisions for himself which may or may not be good for him, his ministry, or the Church. The same for Bishop Zurek. We asked some clarifying questions, as did our audience, about obedience, misguided supporters, authority, and more. His answers are now part of the public record and shed some light on the situation from his point of view. Again, only one of the principals in this story decided to respond. Now Fr. Pavone’s statements can be verified or proven false.
Peters is upset because we did the interview at all when he thinks this should have been handled behind the scenes canonically. But Ed's dozen or so posts have all been public.

Nobody seems to know how Bishop Zurek’s statement to the United States Bishops got “leaked” to the public, but once public, Priests for Life had to respond to preserve its reputation. Priests for Life apparently has decided to let Fr. Frank Pavone continue to represent them during this period.

Others are welcome to make comment as Ed as done over a dozen times now. It’s not up to us or Ed to save Fr. Frank from himself, which appears to be what he thinks should have happened, as if we know how he or the Bishop want to address our audience. This is an immature, paternalistic approach which lords it over Fr. Frank. You don’t like the way he responded? Write commentaries. But without the interview Ed would not have from Fr. Frank’s own mouth his rationale for how he wants to present himself and manage public impressions of the conflict. In fact, all of Ed’s many commentaries have been without any contact with the principals.

Calling the interview an “infomercial” is silly. It was not a hostile interview. Why should it have been since the diocese of Amarillo doesn’t allege any wrongdoing and he is a priest in good standing? Why should it have been an interview which tested Fr. Franks’ grasp of canon law when in fact I don’t pretend to be a canon lawyer? This was an interview with a friend who is loved and appreciated and quite familiar to many in our audience who wanted to give people a chance to ask clarifying questions. You can’t complain that a bowling league isn’t a chess match. These are different things.
I’ve done one interview on the topic. Ed has made 12 posts on his public blog without interviewing Fr. Frank or his canon lawyer or Bishop Zurek. Fr. Frank’s canon lawyer has published a public statement. Since Ed seems so interested in keeping this in the public eye why doesn’t he interview? So I'm going to invite Ed to debate Fr. Frank’s canon lawyer. They’ve both gone public on this. Canon law issues are not above the head of the Kresta in the Afternoon listener. And I, for one, look forward to it.
Al Kresta

Outrageous Statement of the Day

Black Tea Party Members are "Oreos...Black on the outside and white on the inside"

House Panel Launches Probe of Planned Parenthood

A Republican-led House committee has launched an investigation into Planned Parenthood, requesting a mountain of documents covering everything from audits to abortion-funding records to its policies on reporting sexual abuse.
In a move Democrats decried as "unfair and unjustified," Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., earlier this month wrote to Planned Parenthood informing them that the House Energy and Commerce Committee was looking at the group's "institutional practices and policies."

Stearns, chairman of the committee's oversight panel, said in a statement that federal funding indirectly helps Planned Parenthood pay for abortions despite legal restrictions. Leaving no doubt about his intentions, he said that funding "should be evaluated" along with other expenses to reduce the deficit.

"Although Planned Parenthood is barred from using federal funds to perform abortions, these funds are fungible and allow the group to use funds from other sources ostensibly for abortions," Stearns said in a statement. "Since the Planned Parenthood Foundation of America receives about $1 million a day in taxpayer funds, I sent a letter to the group's president requesting documents and information as we look at the organization's use of federal dollars and its compliance with various laws."

Stearns also cited what he called the group's "extensive record of violating state sexual assault and child abuse reporting laws, and of encouraging young girls to lie about their ages to circumvent state reporting laws."

The line was an apparent reference to a series of sting operations conducted by anti-abortion group Live Action. The group has released videos which appear to show, in some cases, Planned Parenthood employees offering advice to people posing as sex traffickers.

But Planned Parenthood staunchly defended its practices and dismissed Stearns' request as a politically motivated attack -- one that follows unsuccessful Republican-led attempts in Congress to strip federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

"Planned Parenthood is a trusted nonprofit health care provider that provides professional, reliable and quality health care, including birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, annual exams and STD testing and treatment to 3 million women and men across the country," group President Cecile Richards said in a statement. "This politically motivated investigation is a continuation of the efforts of earlier this year to undermine Planned Parenthood, and more disturbingly, women's access to the primary and preventive care they need."

In a letter sent Tuesday to Stearns, Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Diana DeGette, D-Colo., excoriated Stearns for his request.

Read more here.

British court rules against withdrawing food and water from brain-damaged patient

CWNews.com

A British judge has refused to approve an order to withdraw food and water from a brain-damaged woman, saying that she has some degree of consciousness and there is a possibility that her condition could improve.

The family of the woman, who is identified only as “M,” asked for court permission to withdraw food and water, causing her death. “M” has been in a condition that doctors describe as a “minimally conscious state” for over 8 years.

But Mr. Justice Baker of High Court noted that “M” does respond to her surroundings. “The factor which does carry substantial weight, in my judgment, is the preservation of life,” he said.

Read More here.

Don't Waste Your Poison Ivy

Faced with life's worries, how shall we respond?

By Marvin Olasky

(WNS)--When John Piper needed surgery a few years back he wrote a great piece, "Don't waste your cancer." He argued that it would be wasted "if you think that 'beating' cancer means staying alive rather than cherishing Christ." When I needed a surprise operation in 2008, I stood on Piper's shoulders and wrote, "Don't waste your bypass." I resolved to spend my remaining years praising Christ and promoting what derives from Christ's sacrifice for us.

Now here's another, less-significant message. Moving into a new home in Asheville and never having had poison ivy during my six decades, I didn't keep in mind useful sayings like "Leaves of three, let it be." My legs were soon blistering and oozing. I started taking 12 days of prednisone pills, which have both common and rare side effects.

The common side effect I had was insomnia—and realizing that all things come from God, the question was how not to waste my poison ivy. OK, here's an opportunity not just to read for 30 minutes on the treadmill each day but also to read late at night. I wanted challenging but optimistic books, not "sky is falling" diatribes that might leave me lying in bed and churning about dire tidings. Having read America Alone by witty columnist Mark Steyn (Regnery, 2006), which dealt with the fall of Europe to Islam, one night I picked up his new one, After America (Regnery, 2011).

Big mistake. Europe is one thing, but the end of our beloved USA? Steyn's humor seemed gone, and the subtitle, Get Ready for Armageddon, which I had thought of as raised-eyebrow irony was dead serious. Despite my confidence in Christ, the book pressed all my vestigial worry buttons, particularly because I didn't expect Steyn to be so hopeless. It was after midnight and I was churning.

What to do? Take a heavy-duty sleeping pill? Read a joke book? That would have been wasting my poison ivy. I looked through books sent from publishers and never read, searching for one about a person and nation in dire circumstances: Aha, a Reformed Expository Commentary on the book of Daniel by Iain Duguid (P&R, 2008). Years ago I taught a Sunday school course on Daniel as a study on how to follow God within hostile organizations, but now Duguid dealt with my worries.

First worry: As Daniel's country was gone, so the United States will be someday (I hope not soon). Well, what if it is? Duguid posed the right question: "Are we pouring ourselves into the pursuit of the power and the glory of this world's kingdoms ... or are we instead pouring ourselves into the pursuit of God's kingdom, the only kingdom that will truly last?" We should love America but love God more, and whatever He does is right.

Second worry: What if life became very hard for Susan and me, or for our children, "after America"? Here's Duguid's biblical comfort: "God has not promised to give us the grace to face all the desperate situations that we might imagine finding ourselves in. He ... does promise that if he leads us through the fire, he will give us sufficient grace at that time. Like manna, grace is not something that can be stored up for later use: Each day receives its own supply."

Let me add that I believe Steyn is wrong. We still have time to come out of a national death spiral. I will do whatever small things I can do to help prevent such a disaster. The United States has been in grim situations before: Consider Dec. 8, 1941, or some Cold War nights when nuclear war could have come. God brought us through those fires and I hope He will bring us through this one—but if He doesn't, it will still be good.

That night I did not waste my poison ivy. I finally went from reading about Daniel to reading the book of Daniel and then reading Psalm 73 about being "envious of the arrogant ... until I went into the sanctuary of God." Amen. When I thought about going into the sanctuary, I was finally able to go to bed and sleep—not long, but well. Thank you, God.

Marvin Olasky is the editor-in-chief of WORLD Magazine.

Today on Kresta - September 28, 2011

Talking about the "things that matter most" on Sept. 28

4:00 – Kresta Commentary

4:20 – Church, State, and Original Intent
This week in 1789 Congress amended the U.S. Constitution to prohibit establishment of a state church or governmental interference with the free exercise of religion. Following the Supreme Court’s (in)famous 1947 decision, Everson v. Board of Education, which constitutionalized a strict-separationist interpretation of the Establishment Clause on the basis of the Clause’s purported original meaning, generations of scholars have sharply disagreed on what the original meaning actually is. We discuss it with constitutional law professor Lee Strang.

4:00 – Kresta Commentary

5:20 – Is there a Place in Modern Medicine for a Traditional / Natural Hybrid of Treatment?
Envita Medical Centers is the only clinic of its kind which offers an extensive array of advanced natural treatments from all over the world under one roof. They combine these treatment options with the best of conventional medicine to offer our patients comprehensive and complete treatment programs. We talk to owner an CEO Dr. Dino Prato.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Justice Scalia: Duquesne should strive to retain Catholic identity

By Mike Wereschagin, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, September 25, 2011

He is one of the most outspoken, influential and controversial justices in the recent history of the Supreme Court, and on Monday, Antonin Scalia marks his 25th anniversary on the nation's highest court.

He came to Duquesne University Law School on Saturday and challenged its officials to preserve the school's Catholic identity in a speech commemorating the school's centennial.

Scalia's 20-minute address to about 1,200 people in the A.J. Palumbo Center, Uptown, included a defense of religion in the public life and of an approach to constitutional law that he helped pull into the mainstream of legal thought.

"Our educational establishment these days, while so tolerant of and even insistent upon diversity in all other aspects of life seems bent on eliminating diversity of moral judgment -- particularly moral judgment based on religious views," Scalia said.

As examples, he cited attempts to sue a religious university in Washington, D.C., for offering only same-sex dorms and other attempts by a law school association to bar schools that discriminate against homosexuals.

"I hope this place will not yield -- as some Catholic institutions have -- to this politically correct insistence upon suppression of moral judgment, to this distorted view of what diversity in America means," Scalia said.

Scalia's interpretation of the Constitution, which holds that the meaning of the document's words doesn't change over time, has shifted the country's legal landscape during his quarter-century on the court. During a panel discussion after his speech, he defended that approach against those who say his approach is too ideological or rigid.

"The Constitution is not an empty bottle. It says some things and doesn't say others. ... What is a moderate interpretation of the Constitution? Halfway between what it really says and what you want it to say?" Scalia said.

Scalia has been the court's most forceful and outspoken advocate of this philosophy, called orginalism.

"He has an approach to constitutional interpretation that was fairly unorthodox when he came on the court, and is now central for a significant segment of the legal community," said Arthur Hellman, law professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Hellman said Scalia applies the Constitution based on "the words (the framers) used and what they meant at the time" rather than as a "living Constitution."

It can lead to seemingly contradictory opinions, Hellman said. Scalia has supported religious advocates in saying tax dollars can go to parochial schools, but ruled against religious interests in cases where they seek to be exempt from a law because of religious beliefs.

"The common thread is that, in both instances, he's willing to leave it -- and thinks the Constitution leaves it -- to the people," Hellman said.

Scalia said he's "sometimes embarrassed" when abortion opponents thank him for being an advocate for their cause because he often sides in legal decisions with their attempts to limit access to abortion.

"I'm embarrassed because, of course, I did not champion their cause," Scalia said. "I would no more hold that the Constitution requires abortion to be prohibited than I would hold that it forbids abortion to be prohibited. In my honest reading of the constitutional text, it addresses the subject not at all, which means it is left for the people of the states."

But his biting, sometimes acerbic opinions and public comments spark controversy. He once told someone who asked about his ruling in Bush v. Gore, which handed President George W. Bush the presidency, to "get over it." He has ignored calls to recuse himself from some cases after saying and doing things that some said caused a conflict of interest.

"He's a very combative writer, and I have always wondered if he is as effective a justice as he could be because of that," Hellman said. "The sharpness of his anger and the combativeness of his personality may have diminished his influence on the court."

U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Schwab, of the Western District of Pennsylvania, said he saw a different side of Scalia when he took a first-year contract law class that Scalia taught at the University of Virginia.

"Although he was the smartest person in the room, there was nothing intimidating about his manner of teaching," Schwab said.

Scalia hosted regular dinners at his home for small groups of his students and their spouses. Schwab came to the school from Grove City College and said Scalia helped him move past the early intimidation of being surrounded by graduates of Harvard and Princeton. "He gave me a great deal of encouragement that I could do the work."

Duquesne celebrates its 100th anniversary today. In addition to his 20-minute address, Scalia attended a lunch with federal judges, faculty and student leaders, as well as a black-tie fundraiser for the alumni association, and received the Carol Los Mansmann Award, given in memory of the first woman appointed to the Third Circuit District Court, who was also a law professor at Duquesne.

Bishops Behaving Boldly

Because the myopic vision of those who make a career out of bashing Bishops represents a tiny minority of what our shepherds do.



Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has decried abortion and attacks on religious freedom in a statement for Respect Life Month.

“We face increasing attempts to expunge God and religious discourse from public life. This promotes the dangerous proposition that human beings enjoy no special status by virtue of their God-given humanity,” he said. “Some now even seek to eliminate religiously motivated people and organizations from public programs, by forcing them to violate their moral and religious convictions or stop serving the needy.”

Read full statement here.

Vatican rebuffs reports of planned papal resignation

Freiburg, Germany, Sep 27, 2011 / 10:56 am (EWTN News/CNA)
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi has dismissed reports published by an Italian newspaper that Pope Benedict XVI plans to resign from the papacy in 2012.

Fr. Lombardi recalled that the Pope displayed “great energy” during his trip to Germany, which included a demanding schedule over four days.

His remarks came in response to a story by Italian journalist Antonio Socci of Libero, who claimed that the Pope is considering resignation next April, when he will turn 85.

Fr. Lombardi told reporters in Freiburg, Germany that Benedict XVI is in “good health, as we are seeing during this trip to Germany. He is in good condition and holding up well during a visit to his country as intense as this one. From the point of view of the pontiff’s health, it has been a success.”

The Vatican spokesman added, “the only thing we know about possible resignations is what the Pope said in his book ‘Light of the World.'”

In the book published in 2010, Benedict XVI said a Pope has “the right, and according to the circumstances, the duty to resign” if he feels he lacks the “physical, psychological and spiritual” strength to carry out his office.

According to the Efe news agency, Fr. Lombardi added, “(y)ou would need to ask the newspaper where the story came from, but the strength and stamina that (the Pope) is displaying on this trip to Germany seems to me to speak more than eloquently of his ability to continue and to take on new commitments.”

Why Barack Obama could be America’s last big government president

By Nile Gardiner

This week Gallup is unveiling a series of in-depth analyses of “Americans’ views on the role and performance of government” based on its annual Governance Survey. The first overview, released on Monday, is a real-eye opener. According to Gallup, Americans are expressing historic levels of negativity towards the US government, with “a record high 81 percent of Americans dissatisfied with the way the country is being governed,” including 65 per cent of Democrats, and 92 per cent of Republicans. Gallup concludes by stating that “Americans’ various ratings of political leadership in Washington add up to a profoundly negative review of government,” ratings which are likely to get worse during the lead up to next year’s presidential elections.

Congress’s job performance takes a real hammering at 82 per cent disapproval, with 69 per cent of Americans declaring they have “little or no confidence” in the legislative branch of government (consisting of the US Senate and House of Representatives), an all-time high, and up from 63 per cent a year ago. Gallup’s polling also finds that more than half of Americans “have little or no confidence in the men and women who seek or hold elected office.” Congressional disapproval is even higher in some other recent polls – 84 per cent according to CBB/Opinion Research, and 87 per cent in the latest Associated Press/GfK survey. The RealClear Politics average now stands at 83.3 per cent disapproval, with just 13.5 per cent approval for Congress.

While not as low as the ratings for Congress, public satisfaction with the federal government has also plummeted. According to Gallup:

• 57% have little or no confidence in the federal government to solve domestic problems, exceeding the previous high of 53% recorded in 2010.
• Americans believe, on average, that the federal government wastes 51 cents of every tax dollar, similar to a year ago, but up significantly from 46 cents a decade ago and from an average 43 cents three decades ago.

Most strikingly of all, Gallup finds that:

• 49% of Americans believe the federal government has become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. In 2003, less than a third (30%) believed this.

These figures pose huge problems for Barack Obama ahead of the presidential election in November 2012. Obama’s declining presidency has become synonymous with the image of big government, from spiralling budget deficits and out of control federal spending to massive taxpayer funded bailouts and increasing regulations on businesses and healthcare. Even 28 per cent of Democrats agree with the 61 per cent of Republicans (and 57 per cent of independents) who now view the federal government as “a threat” to the rights and freedoms of the American people. It is little wonder that a mere 11 per cent of US voters now describe themselves as liberal on fiscal issues in Rasmussen polling, compared to 44 per cent who call themselves conservative and 40 per cent who describe themselves as moderate.

The United States is undergoing one of the biggest political revolutions in its post-war history, and perhaps the most important since Ronald Reagan, with an emphatic rejection of the idea that government knows best when it comes to handling key domestic issues, especially relating to the economy. President Obama, whose administration has practically worshipped at the trough of big government, looks spectacularly out of touch with a clear majority of the American people. The highly interventionist liberal experiment of the last two and a half years has been a spectacular failure, with 14 million Americans out of work, sliding consumer confidence, collapsing house prices, and falling stock markets.

This is why Barack Obama could well end up being the last big government president of the United States, a nation that simply cannot afford the lavish excesses of an imperious presidency that drains the pay-checks of hard-working Americans with impunity and reckless abandon. The historic loss of faith in the federal government under Obama has combined with growing support across America for a return to the limited government ideals of the Founding Fathers. Nothing is ever certain in politics, but it is hard to see how a future president can shamelessly adopt the same borrow, bailout and spend approach zealously adopted by the current administration, without extremely damaging consequences for the United States.

Iran: Faced with Death Sentence, Christian Convert Refuses to Revert to Islam

Iranian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani has twice refused to recant his Christian faith during two court hearings held in Rasht, Gilan Province on 25 and 26 September. Sources close to CSW indicate that recanting will again be demanded at sessions scheduled for 27 and 28 September, and that if he continues to refuse, he will be executed thereafter.

Pastor Nadarkhani was tried and found guilty of apostasy (abandoning Islam) in September 2010 by the court of appeals in Rasht. The verdict was delivered verbally in court, while written confirmation of the death sentence was received nearly two months later. At the appeal in June 2011, the Supreme Court of Iran upheld Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s sentence, but asked the court in Rasht, which issued the initial sentence, to re-examine whether or not he had been a practicing Muslim adult prior to converting to Christianity. The written verdict of the Supreme Court’s decision included provision for annulment of the death sentence if Pastor Nadarkhani recanted his faith.

Following investigation, the court in Rasht has ruled that Pastor Nadarkhani was not a practicing Muslim adult before becoming a Christian. However, the court has decided that he remains guilty of apostasy because he has Muslim ancestry. Pastor Nadarkhani’s lawyer, Mr Mohammed Ali Dadkhah, has made it clear to the court that the repeated demand for recanting is against both Iranian law and the constitution. The court replied that the verdict of the Supreme Court must be applied, regardless of the illegality of the demand.

The death sentence for apostasy is not codified in the Iranian Penal Code. However, using a loophole in Iran’s constitution, the judges in Rasht based their original verdict on fatwas by Ayatollahs Khomeini, the “father” of Iran’s revolution in 1979, Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, and of Makarem Shirazi, currently the most influential religious leader in Iran.

Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, of the Church of Iran denomination, was arrested in his home city of Rasht on 13 October 2009 while attempting to register his church. His arrest is believed to have been due to his questioning of the Muslim monopoly on the religious instruction of children in Iran. He was initially charged with protesting; however the charges against him were later changed to apostasy and evangelising Muslims. His lawyer, Mr Mohammed Ali Dadkhah, a prominent Iranian human rights defender, is also facing legal difficulties. On Sunday 3 July a court in Tehran sentenced Mr Dadkhah to nine years in jail and a 10-year ban on practicing law or teaching at university for "actions and propaganda against the Islamic regime". He is currently appealing the sentence.

CSW’s Special Ambassador Stuart Windsor said, “CSW is calling on key members of the international community to urgently raise Pastor Nadarkhani’s case with the Iranian authorities. His life depends on it, and we have grave concerns regarding due process in this case, and also in that of his lawyer, Mr Dadkhah. The verdict handed down to Pastor Nadarkhani is in violation of the international covenants to which Iran is a signatory, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICPPR), which guarantees freedom of religion and freedom to change one’s religion. It also violates article 23 of the Iranian Constitution, which states that no-one should be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.”

Bishops Behaving Boldly

Because the myopic vision of those who make a career out of bashing Bishops represents a tiny minority of what our shepherds do. The regular segment "Bishops Behaving Boldly" will highlight this point.

US bishops say contraception mandate coerces religious groups
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has called for the withdrawal of the new federal mandate that will require private insurers to provide women with coverage for FDA-approved contraception, including sterilization and contraceptives that have an abortifacient effect.

The HHS contraception mandate for insurance plans is “more radical” than any other in the United States and entails “nationwide coercion of religious people and groups,” the U.S. bishops’ general counsel said as he called for the mandate to be rescinded.

“Only rescission will eliminate all of the serious moral problems the mandate creates,” said Anthony Picarello, general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Con't reading here



Archbishop of US military ordinariate issues blunt warning against attacks on DOMA
Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who head the US military ordinariate, has joined New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan in calling upon President Obama to “call off his administration’s attack on the constitutionality of the 1997 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.”

The effort to overturn DOMA, Archbishop Broglio charged, is an effort “to subvert the clear will of the majority” in the US. He pointed out that DOMA was passed by a solid and bipartisan majority in Congress, and similar legislation has been approved in 29 American states. “Anywhere that the people have been allowed to decide,” the archbishop observed, “marriage has been reaffirmed as that union made clear by nature itself.”

“As a nation we walk down a dangerous path when appointed officials are allowed to arrogate to themselves the right to call bigotry whatever does not correspond to their agenda,” Archbishop Broglio warned.

Con't reading here



‘Obamacare’ Vs. The Catholic Church
Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik joined KDKA Radio’s Mike Pintek to talk about how “Obamacare” contradicts the teachings of the Catholic faith and how an impending federal rule requiring contraception and sterilization coverage in all health insurance will cause Catholic agencies to drop all health insurances.

The Bishop told Mike that this could cause Catholic agencies to close.

Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Susan Rauscher said “It poses for us the dilemma of providing health insurance coverage for our employees that include services that are counter to our teaching, or not providing health benefits at all.”

Listen here.

Today on Kresta - September 27, 2011

Talking about the "things that matter most" on Sept. 27

4:00 – UN to begin considering Palestinian membership on Wednesday
The U.N. Security Council will meet Wednesday to start the process of formally considering the Palestinian request for membership in the world body. The United States has said it would use its Security Council veto to block Palestinian membership should the measure receive the necessary nine of 15 votes. That would keep the membership bid from moving forward to the 193-member General Assembly for the needed two-thirds vote. A vote in the Security Council was not expected for weeks, at the least. We discuss this issue with Gary Burge, author of Whose Land? Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told About Israel and the Palestinians.

4:30 – God and poetry in prisons, but what about public schools?
In a meeting room at Ohio’s Warren Correctional Institution, inmates, dressed in prison garb, their bodies decorated with tattoos, sat in chairs listening to a man talk about poetry. Some volunteered to read centuries-old pieces related to love, like Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways;” William Blake’s “The Clod and the Pebble;” and John Donne’s “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning.” Volunteer instructor Greg Dougherty said the course — Discovering Virtues through Poetry — is changing the inmates’ lives, and he wants the same opportunity brought into public schools. He joins us to discuss this fascinating program.

5:00 – Reject 'worldly' vision of Church, Pope urges German faithful
Pope Benedict XVI repeatedly called for reform within the Catholic Church—as well as efforts to counteract a secularizing trend in society—during the final hours of his visit to Germany on September 24 and 25. Celebrating Mass at the airport in Freiburg on Sunday morning, September 25, the Pope remarked that “renewal of the Church will only come about through openness to conversion and through renewed faith.” We talk with Matthew Bunson about the Pope’s trip and message.

5:20 – “The Lion King 3D”
What's old was new again as Disney's iconic “The Lion King” is rocking the box office with a souped-up 3-D redo of the 1994 original. Disney will also re-release this family favorite into 3-D Blu-Ray and DVD on Tuesday, October 4. We talk with Lion King Producer Don Hahn about the film’s revival.

5:25 – Dolphin Tail / Courageous / Moneyball / Machine Gun Preacher
It’s been a busy time for quality films at the box office with the re-mastered “The Lion King” in 3D dominating the competition recently. Now the trend continue with FOUR great flicks about to hit the big screen. Catholic film critic Steven Greydanus is with us to review “Moneyball,” “Courageous,” “Dolphin Tail,” and “Machine Gun Preacher.”

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Catholicism Project! (part 2 of 2)

What is the Catholicism? A 2,000 living tradition? A worldview? A way of life? A relationship? A mystery? In Catholicism Father Robert Barron examines all these questions and more, seeking to capture the body, heart and mind of the Catholic faith. Starting from the essential foundation of Jesus Christ's incarnation, life, and teaching, Father Barron moves through the defining elements of Catholicism -- from sacraments, worship, and prayer, to Mary, the Apostles, and Saints, to grace, salvation, heaven, and hell -- using his distinct and dynamic grasp of art, literature, architecture, personal stories, Scripture, theology, philosophy, and history to present the Church to the world.

The Catholicism Project! (Part 1 of 2)

What is the Catholicism? A 2,000 living tradition? A worldview? A way of life? A relationship? A mystery? In Catholicism Father Robert Barron examines all these questions and more, seeking to capture the body, heart and mind of the Catholic faith. Starting from the essential foundation of Jesus Christ's incarnation, life, and teaching, Father Barron moves through the defining elements of Catholicism -- from sacraments, worship, and prayer, to Mary, the Apostles, and Saints, to grace, salvation, heaven, and hell -- using his distinct and dynamic grasp of art, literature, architecture, personal stories, Scripture, theology, philosophy, and history to present the Church to the world.

Today on Kresta - September 26, 2011

Talking about the "things that matter most" on Sept. 26

4:00 - Now I Walk on Death Row
As one of the most influential finance lawyers in the country, Dale Recinella was living the American dream. With prestige, power, and unthinkable paychecks at his fingertips, his life was perfect... at least on paper. But on the heels of closing a huge deal for the Miami Dolphins, Dale's life took an unfathomable turn. He heard--and heeded--Jesus's call to sell everything he owned and follow him. Thus began a radical quest to live out the words of Jesus--no matter what the cost. Dale is here to share his amazing journey from growing up in the slums of Detroit to racing through "the good life" on Wall Street to finally walking the humble path of God--the path of ministry on death row.

5:00 - Direct to My Desk: The Church and Capital Punishment
The executions last week of Troy Davis in Georgia and Lawrence Russell Brewer in Texas, as well as the United States Supreme Court's recent decisions to stay the execution of two other Texas inmates, Duane Buck and Cleve Foster, have pushed the death penalty back into the national spotlight. Davis's case, which inspired protests around the world, and intervention by Pope Benedict XVI. We talk about the history of Catholic teaching on capital punishment and the prudential judgments involved.