Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cartoon of the Day - Easter Census

Today on Kresta - March 31, 2010

Talking about the "things that matter most" on March 31

4:00 – God Loves You and There's Nothing You Can Do about It
God's love comes to us through the Holy Spirit, but many people are confused about the role and work of this third person of the Trinity. David Mangan's experience of the sacrament of confirmation, when the Holy Spirit floods the soul, is typical: “I figured that God knew what He was doing, and the bishop knew what he was doing, but I wasn't sure that I knew what I was doing.” If you're wondering how to receive more of God's life and love through the action of the Holy Spirit, you want to hear this interview. The power Jesus promised his followers when he ascended to the Father is yours for the asking. Blending lively anecdotes, personal testimony and humor, the Dave shows us how to turn to God in expectant faith and open ourselves to the dynamite of the Holy Spirit.

5:00 – Sin: A History
What is sin? Is it simply wrongdoing? Why do its effects linger over time? In this sensitive, imaginative, and original work, Gary Anderson shows how changing conceptions of sin and forgiveness lay at the very heart of the biblical tradition. Spanning nearly two thousand years, he brilliantly demonstrates how sin, once conceived of as a physical burden, becomes, over time, eclipsed by economic metaphors. Transformed from a weight that an individual carried, sin becomes a debt that must be repaid in order to be redeemed in God’s eyes. We look at Sin: A History.

5:40 – A Case for the Divinity of Jesus: Examining the Earliest Evidence
Whether Jesus was really the Son of God or not is a central question for Christians--and one that has provoked heated debate since the time of Jesus' birth. Dean Overman examines the earliest Christian records to build a compelling case for the divinity of Jesus. Overman analyzes often-overlooked evidence from liturgies and letters written in the years immediately following Jesus' death--decades earlier than the Gnostic gospels or the New Testament gospels. Addressing questions raised by books such as Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus and Elaine Pagels' The Gnostic Gospels, Overman presents powerful evidence from the earliest Christian communities that will be new for many modern Christians and builds a carefully reasoned case for Jesus truly being the Son of God.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Today on Kresta - March 30, 2010

Pope Benedictus XVIImage via Wikipedia
Talking about the "things that matter most" on March 30

4:00 – Keeping the record straight on Benedict and the crisis
Intense scrutiny is being devoted these days to Pope Benedict XVI's history on the sex abuse crisis. Revelations from Germany have put his five years as a diocesan bishop under a spotlight, and a piece on Thursday in The New York Times, on the case of Fr. Lawrence Murphy of Milwaukee, also called into question his Vatican years as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Despite complaints in some quarters that all this is about wounding the pope and/or the church, raising these questions, John Allen argues, is entirely legitimate. Anyone involved in church leadership at the most senior levels for as long as Benedict XVI inevitably bears some responsibility for the present mess. Yet as always, the first casualty of any crisis is perspective. There are at least three aspects of Benedict's record on the sexual abuse crisis which are being misconstrued, or at least sloppily characterized, in today's discussion. Bringing clarity to these points is not a matter of excusing the pope, but rather of trying to understand accurately how we got where we are. John joins us.

4:20 – The New York Times, Mainstream Media and Pope Benedict XVI
Seldom has Bill Donohue seen such delirium over an innocent man, namely Pope Benedict XVI. Christopher Hitchens, the rabid atheist, wants to know why the European Union is allowing the pope to travel freely. Perhaps he wants the pope handcuffed at the Vatican and brought to the guillotine. Margery Eagan of the Boston Herald, another big fan of the Catholic Church, says, "The Pope should resign." One looks in vain for a single sentence that implicates his guilt in anything. Then we have the Washington Post indicting priests by painting all of them as child abusers in a cartoon. There are many other examples of this kind of hysteria. No one has any evidence that he even knew of the case of Father Lawrence Murphy. Indeed, his office didn't find out until 1996 and then it did the right thing by summoning an investigation (it could have simply dropped an inquiry given that the statute of limitations had run out). No matter, the pope's harshest critics are blaming him for not defrocking a man whom he may never have heard of, and in any event was entitled to a presumption of innocence. Bill is here to make his case.

4:30 – The Pope and the Murphy case: what the New York Times story didn't tell you
Multiple stories in the New York Times have suggested that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), under the direction of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, failed to act against a Wisconsin priest who was accused of molesting scores of boys at a school for the deaf. Is the story damaging? Yes. Should the Vatican have acted faster? Yes. Should the accused priest have been laicized? In all probability, Yes again. Nevertheless, before assigning all blame to the Vatican and Pope Benedict XVI, Phil Lawler says there are some major factors to consider. He is here to point them out.

4:40 – Pope faces a “scourging by words”, says former student and publisher
As nearly one billion Catholics enter Holy Week, their chief shepherd faces attacks in newspapers, blogs, twitter posts, and television and radio news. Unfortunately, the primary news sources repeatedly fail to report accurate timelines and crucial details. The impression is left that Pope Benedict XVI is part of the problem, rather than leading the way to solving it. Consequently, concerned Catholics and others are agitated and confused. Fr. Joseph Fessio says “Benedict the XVI is only infallible as an authoritative teacher of the Faith, not as an administrator. He certainly may have made some mistakes, even serious ones, in the 33 years since he was first made a bishop. But there is no evidence for the ones he’s being blamed for in the media; for those who know the facts, the evidence leads to just the opposite conclusion. Like the Master he serves, he’s also, after 33 years, being publically scourged, this time with words.” Fr. Fessio joins us.

5:00 – A Priest Forever: Nine Signs of Renewal and Hope
As we approach Holy Thursday and the institution of the priesthood, Father Alfred McBride explores a priest's commitment to feed our people and witness the church's social teachings, to spend time in daily prayer, to find solutions to the crisis of priestly identity plaguing today's priests, and to become a man of personal mercy in all one's dealings as a priest. A Priest Forever is McBride's search for fresh growths in vocations as well as new hope in the hearts of priests everywhere who again say, "Yes, Lord," to the challenge of love of God and our beloved people. Simply put, Alfred McBride sees in faith the renewal of Catholic priests.

5:40 – Health Care, Holy Week, and the Hallelujah of Easter
Archbishop Allen Vigneron joins us for his regular monthly segment. We discuss the health care legislation & the inclusion of measures on abortion that the Archbishop deems unacceptable; the media firestorm about the sex abuse cases allegedly implicating the Holy Father; and the journey of Holy Week.

Archive video of the show.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Outrageous Statement of the Day

The Heritage Foundation's Ernest Istook again runs circles around the exasperated Ed Schultz.

Cartoon of the Day - White House Easter Egg Roll

Today on Kresta - March 29, 2010

Talking about the Things That Matter Most on Mar. 29

4:00 – Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony
In Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, Richard Bauckham argues that the four Gospels are closely based on eyewitness testimony of those who knew Jesus. He challenges the prevailing assumption that the accounts of Jesus circulated as "anonymous community traditions," asserting instead that they were transmitted in the name of the original eyewitnesses. To drive home this controversial point, Bauckham draws on internal literary evidence, study of personal names in the first century, and recent developments in the understanding of oral traditions. We look at the Gospels as eyewitness testimony.

4:40 – Jesus' Journey to the Cross: A Love Unto Death
As we enter Holy Week, today we accompany Jesus through the events of his passion, death, and resurrection. Jeanne Kun helps us follow Jesus on his jubilant entry into Jerusalem, sit with him during his last supper with his apostles, pray with him during his agony in Gethsemane, and stand at the foot of the cross on Golgotha where-with a love unto death-he offered his life for our salvation. She joins us in studio.

5:00 – Deep Conversion/ Deep Prayer – A Holy Week Primer
One of the great spiritual directors of the Church today – Fr. Thomas Dubay helps us get started in this Holy Week. As we enter this week, Fr. Dubay gives us an overview of the spiritual life and journey for anyone seeking to grow in the love of God and neighbor. How to stay Deep in Prayer and experience Deep Conversion this Triduum is his topic.

Here is a video archive of the show.

Amish Grace kicks off Holy Week by pointing to Christ's Sacrifice

A fitting start to Holy Week was LMN's airring of Amish Grace, a fictional look at the tragic non-fiction shooting of 10 Amish school children, 5 died,  in a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, PA in the Fall of 2006.

It starts out a little too predictably idyllic and utopian- Amish as plaster saints with funny hats and beards- but within 15 minutes picks up dramatic intensity.

Did you see it?  Here's Steven Greyadanus' review.
Here's World Mag's review.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

PP thanks Catholic sisters for support

Washington D.C., Mar 27, 2010 / 07:28 am (CNA).- Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards has praised the Catholic religious sisters who endorsed the Senate health care bill, claiming they deserve gratitude for making “a critical demonstration of support” for a bill that significantly increased coverage of “reproductive health care.”

Writing for the Huffington Post Wednesday in her capacity as president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Richards claimed that it was Catholic nuns who “most importantly broke with the bishops and the Vatican to announce their support for health care reform.”

“This brave and important move, demonstrating that they cared as much about the health care of families in America as they did about church hierarchy, was a critical demonstration of support.”

Ugh. "Well done My good and faithful......"

Anne Hendershott did some research into Catholic groups that broke with the bishops and the unborn in the health care debate.  Listen to the interview with her on KiA especially when Chris Korzun of Catholics United phoned in.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Vienna Boys Choir caught up in sex abuse scandal

This is becoming the stuff of sick parody. Notice the headline: Vienna Boys Choir caught up in sex abuse scandal. Then read the article. There is precious little on the Vienna Boys Choir but a great deal on the Catholic Church. The photos in the Times-Online article are Church related but the Vienna Boys Choir is not Church-related.

This is a common problem of reporting on this issue. Even when dealing with an instance of abuse that doesn't deal with the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church forms the frame for the picture. As I said back in 2003:
"For instance, CBS reported on March 19, 2002. 'The FBI says it expects to arrest at least 50 more people by week’s end as it busts up an Internet child-pornography ring that allegedly included two Catholic priests, six other member of the clergy, a school bus driver and at least one police officer.' I am not interested in bringing discredit upon Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans or Episcopalians but why was it that among the eight clergy only Catholic priests were referenced? It was because the media is treating this as an institutional rather than an individual problem."  Catholic references a specific institution in the way police officer or school bus driver does. There are many different police jurisdictions; many different public school districts but there is only one Catholic Church.  "Catholic priest" works on the imagination differently than police or bus driver.

David Quinn, columnist at the Irish Independent, also notes: "A great deal of the coverage attaching to the issue of child abuse by Catholic clergy is undoubtedly motivated by animus towards the Catholic Church itself because abuse by other organisations rarely receives such coverage.

"This animus is motivated by rules and beliefs many outsiders find incomprehensible and grotesque, for example, the celibacy rule.

"But unless evidence can be found to prove that there is something about Catholicism itself which produces abuse on a scale found in no other institution that cares for children, then we will have to assume this animus is, in fact, a prejudice and treat it as such."

Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi finally and formally admit Maciel an abuser

Here is their communique from earlier today. Much remains to be determined.

 NYT:  "For years, the Vatican ignored complaints against Father Maciel, who enjoyed a strong cult of personality. But in 2004 Cardinal Ratzinger reopened a stalled investigation into the order when he was the head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, sending a Vatican official to interview Legionaries and accusers of Father Maciel worldwide...Elio Masferrer, a Mexican scholar who heads the Latin American Association for the Study of Religions, said the statement, with its vague plea for forgiveness, still did not address the damages done to victims by Father Maciel, or the civil crimes he committed."

We now await the disciplinary action of the Church for the future of the order.

For further reading: from a concerned lay Catholic.
TIME magazine earlier this month:,8599,1970320-1,00.html

Canon lawyer Pete Vere comments wisely on critics of the critics of the Legion:

From Fr. James Farfaglia

Here is a serious and needed push-back

"Christopher Hitchens' venomous attack on Pope Benedict XVI1 is a revelation that deserves wider attention. Were it not for its appearance in the National Post, it would be difficult to believe that a reputable newspaper would publish such absurdity.

Mr. Hitchens (he approved the above photo for Vanity Fair) states that in May, 2001, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger sent a "confidential" letter to Catholic bishops to remind them that anyone who disclosed "rape and torture" of children by priests would be excommunicated. He claims that Cardinal Ratzinger imposed a ten year "statute of limitations" on actions against clerical sex offenders, and was thus guilty of "obstruction of justice."

These assertions are false.  Some of these are handled in John Allen's piece below but this CERC piece is far more thorough. The details heighten the irresponsibillity. Some of these statements are downright malicious provocations. Some are as misleading as the claim Hitchens made on KiA that the Russian Orthodox Church was authorizing an icon of Stalin. A few keystrokes and an email and we were able to falsify the manifestly suspicious pronouncement. He is nothing if not colorful and provocative. Sadly, he is also reckless where he ought to be deliberative and deeply anti-Catholic.

This is a serious, non-polemical look.

Finally, somebody has gone ahead and taken the American experience and the followup studies that have been done and written a short column that doesn't stop at the point of moral outrage or consternation or reaction.
I understand the moral outrage in Germany and Ireland where they are learning something new.  But the press in the United States should be better informed by now.

"Looking at what the National Review Board viewed as the root causes of the crisis in this country may shed light on what happened in Ireland and Germany and elsewhere. On the whole, the board's analysis is about the most accurate and insightful that we have about the American situation. Of course, these are presented by the board as reasons, not excuses. There are no excuses for these crimes."  Take a look.

Sinead O'Connor? Is she serious?

I debated whether to bother posting this but it is so telling, so symptomatic of the spiritual waters we swim in, I decided to share it as instructive. I was never a fan so I may lack the proper sympathies with her experience but really....who credits her opinion. Isn't this like asking Madonna about the Church's discipline of celibacy or Mick Jagger about the Trinity?  Actually, those two examples would prove to be more interesting. She sounds completely unhinged and reckless.
Sinead O'Connor's advice about the Catholic Church.

George Wiegel and Fr. Jay Scott Newman NRO response:

Warren Buffett a better credit risk than Uncle Sam???

Michael Barone, a sober political analyst, is taking a look at recent economiccs, in particular the bond market. I'd love to hear from those of you whose livelihood depends on making financial recommendations, Barone isn't the only one saying this but this is a condensed argument.

Clarity on Abuse Controversy

John Allen, whose reporting we've come to respect, addresses the new controversies swirling around the church, the pope and the priesthood.

"Intense scrutiny is being devoted these days to Pope Benedict XVI's history on the sex abuse crisis. Revelations from Germany have put his five years as a diocesan bishop under a spotlight, and a piece on Thursday in The New York Times, on the case of Fr. Lawrence Murphy of Milwaukee, also called into question his Vatican years as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Despite complaints in some quarters that all this is about wounding the pope and/or the church, raising these questions is entirely legitimate. Anyone involved in church leadership at the most senior levels for as long as Benedict XVI inevitably bears some responsibility for the present mess. My newspaper, the National Catholic Reporter, today called editorially for full disclosure about the pope's record on the sexual abuse crisis, and it now seems abundantly clear that only such transparency can resolve the hard questions facing Benedict.

Yet as always, the first casualty of any crisis is perspective. There are at least three aspects of Benedict's record on the sexual abuse crisis which are being misconstrued, or at least sloppily characterized, in today's discussion. Bringing clarity to these points is not a matter of excusing the pope, but rather of trying to understand accurately how we got where we are." Read for the three aspects.

Today on Kresta - March 26, 2010

Talking about the Things That Matter Most on Mar. 26

4:00 – Catholic Scripture Study
Catholic Scripture Study (CSS) is an international Bible Study Program ideal for any parish or group looking for an inspiring Bible study that is completely faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church. The study commentaries are written by leading Scripture scholars and authors, and each study contains references to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, papal encyclicals, and writings of the early Church Fathers and the saints. Additional resources are available to study leaders and students on the CSS Program Website, including an Ask the Author forum, as well as maps, pictures, and articles. The full-length program includes lectures on DVD that accompany each week's lesson. The lectures are given by Catholic priests. Best of all, because the program and Study Leader Kit provides all the tools, one need not be an experienced catechist to implement and lead a CSS class. Any lay person can establish this truly life-changing program in their parish or community. Additionally, CSS Program is the only Scripture study program with a team of dedicated volunteer Regional Directors who provide support to each study leader throughout the program. Steve Ray is here to discuss our life in the Srciptures.

4:40 – Amish Grace
On Oct. 2, 2005, a gunman entered a one-room Amish school in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. In front of twenty-five horrified pupils, thirty-two-year-old Charles Roberts ordered the boys and the teacher to leave. After tying the legs of the ten remaining girls, Roberts opened fire on all of them, killing five and leaving the others critically wounded. He then shot himself as police stormed the building. His motivation? “I'm angry at God for taking my little daughter,” he told the children before the massacre. The blood was barely dry on the schoolhouse floor when Amish parents brought words of forgiveness to the family of the one who had slain their children. The outside world was incredulous that such forgiveness could be offered so quickly for such a heinous crime. We explore the many questions this story raises about the religious beliefs and habits that led the Amish to forgive so quickly. Donald Kraybill authored a book entitled Amish Grace which has now been made into a Lifetime movie. Actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley is our guest.

4:50 – Letters to God
Tyler Doherty is an extraordinary eight-year-old boy. Surrounded by a loving family and community, and armed with the courage of his faith, he faces his daily battle against cancer with bravery and grace. To Tyler, God is a friend, a teacher and the ultimate pen pal - Tyler's prayers take the form of letters, which he composes and mails on a daily basis. The letters find their way into the hands of Brady McDaniels, a beleaguered postman standing at a crossroads in his life. At first, he is confused and conflicted over what to do with the letters. Over time he begins to form a friendship with the Doherty family - getting to know not just Tyler but his tough, tender yet overwhelmed mom, stalwart grandmother and teen brother Ben - who are each trying to stand strong against the doubts that come with the chaotic turn their lives have taken. Moved by Tyler's courage, Brady realizes what he must do with the letters, a surprise decision that will transform his heart and uplift his newfound friends and community - in an exhilarating act of testament to the contagious effect of one boy's unwavering faith against the odds. We look at the film “Letters to God” with Producer / Director David Nixon.

5:00 – The Biblical Basis for Purgatory
Earlier this week we celebrated the feast of St. Catherine of Genoa, who is possibly best known for her “'Treatise on Purgatory”. Jesus taught us about it, and for centuries the Church has faithfully defined and defended it. Protestants deny it even exists, while many Catholics fundamentally misunderstand it. It is Purgatory: that place of purifying penance where souls saved by Christ are made perfect and acceptable to spend life eternal in heaven. In The Biblical Basis for Purgatory, author and apologist John Salza offers the definitive scriptural explanation of this distinctively Catholic doctrine. Building on the teachings of Christ and St. Paul, he shows how the existence of a place of temporal punishment after death is not only a logical extension of what we know about the reality of sin and God's justice, but is also a supreme expression of God's love and mercy. Although Purgatory is a place of mercy, its pains are real, and they are severe. This book does more than defend and explain Purgatory it provides a solid plan, drawn from the Church s perennial wisdom for conquering our sins by God s grace, while still on earth. John joins us.

5:20 – Man to Man: A Priest Speaks to Real Men About Marriage, Sexuality and Family Life
Fr. James Farfaglia says heroic men have always inspired him. Saints, military generals, and famous presidents have always provided light and direction during his life. He also says as men, we are constantly being challenged. If a Catholic priest wants to be faithful, mature and authentic, he has to live out his life rooted in the One who has called him. All of the traditional support for priestly life is gone. Married men can feel isolated and alone as well. At work, most Catholic men are surrounded by overly-demanding bosses and lazy co-workers. On the home front, their neighbors are indifferent and their families are crazy and dysfunctional. To combat this, Fr. James has written “Man to Man.” We discuss it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

USCCB releases audit on sexual abuse

The USCCB released a new audit showing the fewest reports of sexual abuse since 2004 and repeating that most incidents occured decades ago. .... They are also rebuilding their website which has me singing. I've argued since the early 90s that the USCCB has access to talent and technology to respond quickly to distortions of truth, falsehoods about practice and cravings for information.

Bill Donahue of the Catholic League points out how little coverage this audit received.  He is also composing an ad to appear in next Tuesday's New York Times as a response to their front page story today which covers old ground and doesn't merit front page status..

Judging by the fascination with perverts in Germany, Ireland and Italy and the frenzy to somehow discover some grievous omission and negligence on Pope Benedict's part, the press seems determined to keep monitoring this crisis. This is all to the good if it brings evil to light and produces a new accountability. Truth is great and will prevail. I will be reposting my Shaken By Scandals when I'm done making some revisions to it based on exchanges with Doug Sirman and some new stories from the U.S., Germany, Ireland and Italy.

Political consequences for Bart Stupak

NRO considers the political fallout from Stupak's flip-flop. He ended up pleasing no side in the health care debate. Now he can plan on a bitter primary and, if he survives the primary, a worse election.

‘Under God’ Upheld

Steve Weatherbee at the National Catholic Register happily updates an old story.
The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has issued a surprising judgment upholding the reference to God in the Pledge of Allegiance and reversing an earlier decision.

Congress inserted the reference at the instigation of the Knights of Columbus some 56 years ago. The Catholic fraternal organization was one of the defendants-intervenors in this case.

Also arguing for the God clause was the U.S. Department of Justice and the Rio Linda, Calif., Union School District.

In a 2-1 decision, the court ruled that the public school district did not force a specific religion on several unnamed student plaintiffs by holding the pledge ceremony daily in their classrooms. Therefore, they did not violate the establishment clause in the Constitution’s First Amendment, which forbids the state from establishing a religion.

“The decision is a victory for common sense,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “It is a welcome reversal of the 9th Circuit’s 2002 decision in a similar case that was ultimately thrown out by the Supreme Court on technical grounds. Today the court got it absolutely right: Recitation of the pledge is a patriotic exercise, not a religious prayer.”

Shroud on display in Turin-April & May

"Our faith ... our prayer ... our meditation is aided by the contemplation of this image."

Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Severino Poletto, custodian of the Holy Shroud and Archbishop of Turin, was in Rome on Thursday morning to officially present plans and progress at a press conference for the Shroud's exposition this spring. He emphasized the "spiritual" benefits that will be provided to pilgrims through their contemplation of the image.

The famous Shroud, which is believed to be the burial shroud of Jesus, will be on display in the Cathedral of Turin from April 10 - May 20 of this year. Msgr. Giuseppe Ghiberti, president of the archdiocesan commission on the Shroud, said at the press conference that no research would be done on it during the days of the exposition

Speaking about how the exposition will be the first in the new millenium and the first since its restoration in 2002, Cardinal Poletto said it must be remembered that the event should not be seen as "religious tourism," but instead, as "a spiritual and pastoral initiative."

"In the Shroud we are able to read all of the marks, all the particulars of the person of Jesus as they are described in the Gospel. It's clear that ... our Christian faith is not found in the Shroud," rather it is based on the "Gospel and the witness of the Apostles who announced Jesus Christ as the only Savior of the world, crucified but, most of all, resurrected."

Castro approves!

With friends like this....
HAVANA -- It perhaps was not the endorsement President Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress were looking for.

Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro on Thursday declared passage of American health care reform "a miracle" and a major victory for Obama's presidency, but couldn't help chide the United States for taking so long to enact what communist Cuba achieved decades ago.

"We consider health reform to have been an important battle and a success of his (Obama's) government," Castro wrote in an essay published in state media, adding that it would strengthen the president's hand against lobbyists and "mercenaries."

Huh. It's hard to imagine that Cuban health care, for its decades long headstart on us, is superior. Is Cuban health care renown for anything?

Today on Kresta - March 25, 2010

Talking about the Things That Matter Most on Mar. 25

4:00 – Kresta Comments

4:20 – Is Bipartisanship Necessary?: A History Lesson
After passage of the health care reform bill, many are saying “pro-life Democrat” is an oxymoron. Is this the case? If so, what does it mean for the pro-life movement? We talk to a man who has been fighting the pro-life fight for over three decades as a lawyer, judge, activist and writer – Bob Cetrulo.

4:40 – Direct to My Desk

5:00 – Rift Remains for U.S. and Israel
The U.S. and Israel failed to heal their deepest dispute in decades as a two-day visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ended Wednesday without resolving a rift over Israeli housing planned in E. Jerusalem. Before departing the U.S., Netanyahu said he thought some progress had been made. "I think we have found the golden path between Israel's traditional policies and our desire to move forward toward peace," the Israeli leader said. U.S. officials said last-minute talks between Netanyahu and U.S. Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell had not ended tensions over Israeli construction in the part of Jerusalem that Palestinians want to be a capital of a separate state. We talk with James Paharik, author of “The Long Journey: In search of Justice and Peace in Jerusalem.”

5:20 – Direct to my Desk - Is your political hangover keeping you from or driving you to Christ?
As a Catholic, a believer in the Resurrection, what I do know is that my work, in season and out of season, in good times and in bad, is to stay focused on Christ and his Church turning neither to the right or the left. How well any of us do this is for God to decide but that we should do it and encourage and exhort each other to so do is undeniable. There will be a lot of discussion for some time to come over what this health care bill means in the long run for Americans and their relationship to their government. Catholics are especially endowed by historical altar/throne or church/world or Christ/Caesar debates to make vital contributions to these discussions as long as we don't fold or opt out of the game. Those Catholics who understand that to be a good American citizen is to first be a faithful citizen of the Kingdom of God will remember in the words of the prophet Isaiah that, ultimately, "the government shall be upon Christ's shoulders." We shouldn't let Sunday's shameful disregard for the unborn as an excuse to abandon faithful citizenship. We should see it as one more open door to bear witness to the priorities of the Kingdom of God. Despair, hysteria, blameshifting, demonizing are rarely helpful in such a witness. We look at whether your political despondence is keeping you from or driving you toward Christ.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Sabbath World: Everyone's least favorite subject: rules and why we need them.

The Slate Book Club deals with a surprising topic that bears listening in on: The Sabbath World: Everyone's least favorite subject: rules and why we need them.

It runs at least six exchanges but reminds us again that God's commandments have a way of reasserting themselves in unexpected places. Here's a brief quote that I loved:

"And now I want to end by talking about everyone's least favorite subject: rules, and why we need them. Everyone always asks me why I wrote this book, and I always give feel-good answers about this or that missing from my life, but the truth is—and I think I'm honest about this in the book, even if I weasel out of it in conversation—what was really missing from my life were rules. What I was really sick of was knee-jerk libertarianism, my own as much as everyone else's. If we don't have rules, we don't have a Sabbath, or anything like it. The rules are onerous, and they must be continually rethought, re-debated, and re-legislated to keep pace with our kaleidoscopic mores, but without them we have no institutions, no customs, no shape to our time. Even the early Christians, however antinomian they may have been at first, figured that out pretty quickly.

"Let me put it another way: If we as a society don't collectively set aside time for social activities—for leisure, for family, for the building of community, for weird nonutilitarian pursuits—and protect that time against encroachment, we won't have any. We need rules (which, by the way, can be customs; they don't have to be laws) to teach us the tricky but essential distinction between time spent advancing ourselves and our mastery over the world, and time spent on one another. Perhaps that means taking care of our garden, as it did on the Sundays of Mary's childhood, or perhaps just being in one another's company, time that yields no profit other than pleasure and an enlarged quantity of love in the world."

AP: Obama Issues Low-Key Order on Abortions

Strange lead for a wire service story.
AP Special Correspondent

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Anything but jubilant, (emphasis mine) President Barack Obama awkwardly kept a promise Wednesday he made to ensure passage of historic health care legislation, pledging the administration would not allow federal funds to pay for elective abortions covered by private insurance.

Unlike Tuesday, when a beaming Obama signed the health care law in a nationally televised ceremony interrupted repeatedly by applause, the White House refused to permit coverage of the event. It occurred in the Oval Office in the presence of a small group of anti-abortion Democratic lawmakers who had extracted the commitment over the weekend. The president supports abortion rights...

Passage wasn't assured until Sunday, a few hours before the final vote, when Obama agreed to issue an executive order specifying that he would not permit the use of federal funds to pay for abortions except in the cases of rape, incest or if the life of the mother was in danger.

The commitment, backed up by a draft of the order that circulated, was enough to secure the votes of Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich. and a few other holdouts.

As signed into law, the health care bill says individuals who receive federal subsidies to purchase insurance may purchase abortion coverage, but must do so by writing a separate check from personal funds. Obama's executive order commits the administration to issuing regulations making sure that personal and federal funds are kept separate."  Would that it were so. May we all be shocked.

There's little more on abortion in the remainder of the story.

Bob Dylan Jewish Messiah?

"In 1978, a young graduate student traveling in India named Daniel Matt wrote to Gershom Scholem, the 80-year-old Professor of Jewish Mysticism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The letter discussed his experiences, his ambitious plans to translate the central text of Jewish mysticism, the Zohar, and, most of all, about Bob Dylan, who he hoped Scholem might appreciate.

Scholem replied: “Who was or is Robert Zimmerman, called Bob Dylan? Is he a Jew?" Good questions! Almost from the beginning of his career Bob Dylan né Zimmerman has had an odd, intense, divisive, often mysterious, relationship with Jews and Judaism. For some Jews (and Christians too) he has become a virtually messianic figure. In his new book, Bob Dylan: Prophet, Mystic, Poet, Seth Rogovoy portrays him as a kind of biblical prophet on the order of Isaiah or Jeremiah.

Ron Rosenbaum in The Jewish Review of Books gives it a once over.

An old Times story, Why Pope Tried to Stop Dylan Knockin' On Heaven's Door,  plays the cool JPII off against the rigid Ratzinger in recounting Bob Dylan's performance before JPII. JPII's homily is of special interest as he tries to connect with Dylan fans.
"At the concert in Bologna, attended by 300,000 people in 1997, Dylan – who was born into a Jewish family in Minnesota but later flirted with Christianity – sang Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door and A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, his antiwar classic, with Forever Young as an encore.

He did not sing his 1963 hit Blowin’ in the Wind, but John Paul II – who was known for his showmanship and media skills – showed his familiarity with the song and based his homily on it in an effort to connect with the audience.

“You say the answer is blowing in the wind, my friend,” he said. “So it is: but it is not the wind that blows things away, it is the breath and life of the Holy Spirit, the voice that calls and says, Come!” This brought the house down. The Pope added: “You ask me how many roads a man must walk down before he becomes a man. I answer: there is only one road for man, and it is the road of Jesus Christ, who said, ‘I am the Way and the Life’.”

Renowned atheist has near death experience, 'Wha' happened?'

This story came to my attention in 1988 or 89 on the pages of National Review. For those of us in college philosophy classes in the 60s and 70s who had to deal with the rigors of logical positivism and Ayers' Language, Truth, and Logic, this story was an ironic curiosity. I just came across it told from a different point of view and thought it deserved wider distribution.

"An Atheist Meets the Masters of the Universe"

Dr. Jeremy George, senior consultant in the Department of Thoracic Medicine at London University’s Middlesex Hospital, was on duty one fine May afternoon in 1988. It was a day like any other. At around 3 p.m., an elderly patient was admitted with pneumonia.

When the young doctor saw this “crumpled heap in a corner of the private wing,” as he later put it, he instantly recognized “it” as Professor Sir Alfred Jules Ayer, also known as A.J. Ayer (or “Freddie” to his friends), the former Wykeham Professor of Logic at Oxford, and Britain’s most eminent philosopher." Read on.

Accountability in the Church

Why is it that secular corporations whose prime objective is financial return on investment are governed with greater scrutiny and accountability than the Catholic Church whose objectives transcend mere mammon and reflect the spiritual and moral judgments of God?

Maybe the question presumes a state of affairs that is false but, on the face of it, sounds plausible to me. An opinion piece in Business Week argues the case.  As a Catholic, former pastor, president and CEO of an apostolic non-profit who has written and interviewed widely on the sex abuse scandal I've asked similar questions and would welcome any conversation. I'm interested in canon, civil, criminal law as well as Scripture, theology and Tradition and especially how an episcopal polity can best serve the people of God in a society where accountability is exercised by elections, independent legal investigation (political) and consumer choice and warrantied goods and services (economic), etc.

Bart Stupak's continued confusion. Now he gets it wrong on the bishops

Bart Stupak is accusing the USCCB of hypocrisy for not applauding the pending Obama executive order that sealed his yes vote on the health care bill. He accuses the bishops of applauding Bush's executive order of 2007.

Two things to keep in mind:
1. In August of 2001, the USCCB criticized President Bush for his Executive Order permitting embryo-destructive research on existing stem cell lines even though Bush was rejecting virtually all public funding for embryonic stem cell research. The bishops would not accept an evil act in service to the good.

2. In 2007, the bishops applauded Bush for signing an executive order after his veto of legislation that would have expanded embryo destructive research.  After the veto, Bush then issued an Executive Order calling for NIH research for alternative ethically acceptable means for obtaining stem cells , e.,g., from cord blood and amniotic fluid and the reprogramming of ordinary adult cells to be come plurpotent stem cells.

Stupak, who for years, was a stalwarat pro-lifer seems dazed and confused and lashing out because of the avalanche of criticism he's endured for, as Chris Smith R NJ, put it: running the marathon so heroically and then collapsing a hundred yards from the goal.

So my unsolicited advice to Bart Stupak is to pray, slow down, think clearly before speaking and try to get the parallels right. Try this.

You only have a parallel situation when President Obama vetoes the Senate Bill and then signs an Executive Order tightening measures to avoid public funding for abortion. Then the two of you can expect the applause from the USCCB.  The problem is the Senate Bill and the apparent meaninglessness of the Executive Order according to every pro-life attorney we've spoken with including counsel for the USCCB.

Right to Life Michigan PAC rescinds Rep. Stupak's endorsement

On Wednesday, March 24, the Right to Life of Michigan Political Action Committee notified U.S. Representative Bart Stupak that his endorsement was rescinded. In a letter sent to Rep. Stupak, the RLM-PAC qualified how the endorsement criteria was no longer met.

The letter noted the endorsement had been based on Rep. Stupak's voting record, previous interview and completion of a questionnaire in which Rep. Stupak indicated he would oppose any efforts to include federally funded abortion in national health care plans; support efforts to specifically exclude federally funded abortion in national health care plans; and be willing to vote against federal funding of abortion except where necessary to save the life of the mother.

On March 21, Rep. Stupak failed to meet those requirements by voting for President Barack Obama's health care bill, H.R. 3590.

In accordance with the Right to Life of Michigan Political Action Committee bylaws and by the March 23 unanimous vote of the RLM-PAC Board, the Right to Life of Michigan Political Action Committee rescinded Rep. Stupak's endorsement, effective immediately.

Another member of the U.S. House from Michigan who calls himself prolife, yet voted in support of H.R. 3590, is Representative Dale Kildee. While Rep. Kildee was endorsed by the Right to Life of Michigan PAC in the past, he did not meet the RLM-PAC criteria in 2008 and was not endorsed by the RLM-PAC in that election. Representative Kildee does not meet RLM-PAC's definition of prolife.

Today on Kresta - March 24, 2010

Talking about the Things That Matter Most on Mar. 24

4:00 – They Can Take it Away, But Will They Pay?
The barren, rocky lot down an Alexandria, Virginia, alley doesn’t look like much, but it’s worth millions. Charlie Hooff’s family owned the land for more than 40 years before the government decided to take it by eminent domain in order to expand operations for the Alexandria Sanitation Authority (ASA). Hooff had negotiated with the ASA years before, but when the parties couldn’t reach a deal, Hooff decided to take it onto the open market. He says he had an offer in the neighborhood of $48 million, which evaporated once the government announced it would take the land. The ASA wound up offering Hooff $20.4 million, but he’s refusing to accept that as final. Hooff points to the $48 million offer, along with appraisals he’s contracted which he says put the value in the range of $44 to $51 million. We look at this eminent domain case with Charlie Hooff.

4:20 – The Truth About The Shroud of Turin: Solving the Mystery
The Shroud of Turin, one of history’s most controversial and perplexing relics, is set to draw a crowd more than 5 times as big as the Olympic Games drew in Vancouver. Two million people are expected in Turin, Italy to see the ancient burial cloth when it goes on display in April. While some believe that purported image of Jesus is a fake, investigative journalist Robert K. Wilcox, author of The Truth About The Shroud of Turin: Solving the Mystery, says the authenticity of the burial cloth of is no longer overshadowed by doubt. Wilcox approaches the subject as a journalist and has interviews with scientists and researchers using cutting-edge technology to look into the scientific facets of this historical mystery and reveal the latest evidence behind the claim that the shroud is actually the cloth that was placed over Jesus’ tortured body. He joins us.

4:40 – The Loser Letters: A Comic Tale of Life, Death and Atheism
A wickedly witty satire, The Loser Letters chronicles the conversion of a young adult Christian to atheism. With modern humor rivaling that of the media lampooning Onion, found on college campuses all over America, A. F. Christian's open letters to the "spokesmen of the New Atheism" explain her reasons for rejecting God and the logical consequences of that choice. Along the way she offers pithy advice to famous atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, in the hope of helping them win over more Christians. Amid the many current books arguing for or against religion, social critic and writer Mary Eberstadt's contribution is truly unique: a black comedy about theism and atheism that is simultaneously a rollicking defense of Christianity. Mary is with us.

5:00 – Who are These Fake Catholic Groups and Whose Side are They On?
Some of the biggest supporters of the health reform bill—replete with public funding for abortion—are self-described “progressive” Catholic organizations, such as Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Catholics United, and Catholic Democrats. These Catholic organizations, along with the Catholic Health Association have created confusion for Catholics because at the same time the USCCB has strongly opposed the current health care reform bill because of its inclusion of public funding for abortion, these Catholic organizations are providing “official” Catholic support for the bill. Anne Hendershott says this duplicity should surprise no one. She has been researching these groups, their leadership and their funding and she joins us today.

5:20 – Direct to my Desk - Is your political hangover keeping you from or driving you to Christ?
As a Catholic, a believer in the Resurrection, what I do know is that my work, in season and out of season, in good times and in bad, is to stay focused on Christ and his Church turning neither to the right or the left. How well any of us do this is for God to decide but that we should do it and encourage and exhort each other to so do is undeniable. There will be a lot of discussion for some time to come over what this health care bill means in the long run for Americans and their relationship to their government. Catholics are especially endowed by historical altar/throne or church/world or Christ/Caesar debates to make vital contributions to these discussions as long as we don't fold or opt out of the game. Those Catholics who understand that to be a good American citizen is to first be a faithful citizen of the Kingdom of God will remember in the words of the prophet Isaiah that, ultimately, "the government shall be upon Christ's shoulders." We shouldn't let Sunday's shameful disregard for the unborn as an excuse to abandon faithful citizenship. We should see it as one more open door to bear witness to the priorities of the Kingdom of God. Despair, hysteria, blameshifting, demonizing are rarely helpful in such a witness. We look at whether your political despondence is keeping you from or driving you toward Christ.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What about the pro-life democrats?

WSJ's William McGurn expresses the frustation.

Bart Stupak and Democrats for Life have inflicted great damage on the pro-life movement. They handed us a failure when we were on the verge of victory. Many of us thought that cooperation to protect the unborn was so foundational that it transcended the usual party politics.

We thought we could count on our pro-life brethren to do the right thing when it came to the unborn regardless of party affiliation. Bart Stupak and other avowedly pro-life Democrats like Indiana's Joe Donnelly, Brad Ellsworth, Baron Hill, Ohio's Marcy Kaptur and Pennsylvania's Chris Carney have just made believing that virtually impossible. What they have done is demonstrate that our common humanity from conception to natural death is secondary to other interests.  Remember that they voted for this health care bill over the objections of every experienced pro-life organization, over the objections of the USCCB, and in spite of the admittedly, complex problems, economic and administrative, associated with this health care bill. The reasons to stand in solidarity with the unborn were firm. The reasons to vote for the health care bill relied on a list of assumptions that nobody who voted for the bill could guarantee.

This leaves Republicans with a claim to a monopoly on the pro-life vote. History shows this is bad politics for any social movement that wants lasting political change. Nevertheless, any prospective candidate who thinks that abortion is a foundational issue is bound to think that Stupak and company have given him a good reason to dismiss the Democrats.

For those of us who do think that abortion is foundational to our understanding of what it means to be human, the question remains: Can the unborn be protected without support from both sides of the aisle? Would the partial birth abortion ban have passed without bi-partisan support? Or the Born Alive Infant Protection Act? In state legislatures can regulation of abortion be carried out by one party?  This is why all the talk about pro-life democrats as insincere, hypocritical, moral pariahs is understandable but ultimately unhelpful.

What is helpful?  This is a question for a "Direct to my Desk" segment.

McGurn puts it well: "In signing on to this sham order, the Stupak people signed their death warrant as a force within their party. In an America where a majority now describe themselves as pro-life, they have put legislative accommodations on abortion further out of reach. At least in the near future, they have ensured the Democrats will become even more uniformly pro-choice, and our national debate more polarized.

And that's a tragedy for our politics as well as for our principles."

Is your political hangover keeping you from or driving you to Christ?

After being introduced, President Obama steps  towards VP emcee  Joe Biden who, not realizing that the microphone was still hot, whispers to President Obama, "This is a big F***g deal!.      
Mark Steyn, writing before the health care vote, lets us know just how big and what's at stake in the age of Obamacare..
"Sometimes you do live to see it. In my book America Alone, I point out that, to a five-year-old boy waving his flag as Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee procession marched down the Mall in 1897, it would have been inconceivable that by the time of his 80th birthday the greatest empire the world had ever known would have shriveled to an economically moribund strike-bound socialist slough of despond, one in which (stop me if this sounds familiar) the government ran the hospitals, the automobile industry, and much of the housing stock, and, partly as a consequence thereof, had permanent high unemployment and confiscatory tax rates that drove its best talents to seek refuge abroad." There's plenty more food for thought at NRO.

I generally resist narratives of decline and fall since in my reading of history most every generation seems to believe that Christ is returning and that the younger generation is less disciplined, more rebellious, less committed to maintaining society's tradition than they, the elders, are. BUT, in fact, empires do fall, cultures devolve, civilizations ebb and flow so somewhere along the way some generation gets what's wrong, right!

As a Catholic, a believer in the Resurrection, what I do know is that my work, in season and out of season, in good times and in bad, is to stay focused on Christ and his Church turning neither to the right or the left. How well any of us do this is for God to decide but that we should do it and encourage and exhort each other to so do is undeniable. 

There will be a lot of discussion for some time to come over what this political moment means in the long run for Americans and their relationship to their government. Catholics are especially endowed by historical altar/throne or church/world or Christ/Caesar debates to make vital contributions to these discussions as long as we don't fold or opt out of the game.

Those Catholics who understand that to be a good American citizen is to first be a faithful citizen of the Kingdom of God will remember in the words of the prophet Isaiah that, ultimately, "the government shall be upon Christ's shoulders."  We shouldn't let Sunday's shameful disregard for the unborn as an excuse to abandon faithful citizenship. We should see it as one more open door to bear witness to the priorities of the Kingdom of God. Despair, hysteria, blameshifting, demonizing are rarely helpful in such a witness.

With this confidence, we can avoid the political chest-beating or agonized hand wringing that so many seem to be wallowing in right now. "Know the truth and the truth will set you free", Jesus said and one of those truths is not to trust in human princes. Politics is never the ultimate issue. The existence and providence of God and the promise of Christ's second coming always insures that politics will remain a secondary issue. The reason really is simple: His kingdom is not of this world and we are told to seek that kingdom above all else. This relativizes all human political commitments and participation.

In A Man For All Seasons, Thomas More makes my point: After Richard Rich betrays him for a promise of political advancement. More turns to him with a touch of ironic disbelief: "Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... but for Wales?" When you betray your principles in pursuit of political victory, you squander your birthright and get shortchanged in the end anyway. For Catholics this is summed up by St. Paul's maxim: "Never do evil in the interest of good." Sometimes it simply translates: "The end doesn't justify the means."  The state can never be ultimate because it doesn't live forever; the person is immortal and therefore any trade of personhood for collective security may well be a devil's bargain, a form of idolatry rather than a striving for justice, an acceptance of the temporal as ultimate and the eternal as privately engaging but socially irrelevant.

So much mischief is done under the label of "Building the Kingdom." Good people have used it but it is misleading and confuses job descriptions. God builds his Kingdom, we bear witness, by our actions, to the fulfillment of his coming kingdom. We should have neither an over-inflated sense of ourselves as crusaders or over-persecuted sense of ourselves as resistors.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#676) condemns any attempt to conflate current political structures, governments, movements with the Kingdom of God. Paul Kengor writes well of this tendency among the modern political left who spoke as though this was "God's Health Care Bill."

So much of the language popular with early twentieth century Protestant liberals and many post-Vatican II Catholic activists about "building the kingdom" misleads us into thinking that somehow the Kingdom of God comes on the back of elections, votes, laws and social structures rather than in the works of the Holy Spirit commonly called the corporal works of mercy.

The Kingdom is always about people being treasured as God created them to be: His image. To treat people well is to honor God's image. To treat persons shabbily in the womb or in political infighting is to engage in Satan's strategy of belittling the human person. When people are trashed we are witnessing a cheapening of God, their Creator and Sustainer. By demeaning the value of the human person Satan's intention is extinguish our confidence in the Divine person. This doesn't mean politics is nothing; it does mean that the way we conduct ourselves in doing politics means everything. What are we willing to do to gain the whole world or Wales or Christ's Kingdom?

Outrageous Statement of the Day

Again with the Olbermann theme that all conservatives and those that disagree with the President are racist. No mention that the Republican Party and Tea Party Leaders denounced in no uncertain terms the use of the n-word. As I type this Joe Biden muttered to the President with an open mic ON STAGE at the Health Care Bill signing ceremony "This is a big f#&*ing deal." With all the majesty of the moment, that's what Biden came up with? Why do I have a feeling Olbermann will not have a "Special Comment" tonight on the VP's offensive language?

Cartoon of the Day - China vs uncensored Google

Today on Kresta - March 23, 2010

Talking about the Things That Matter Most on Mar. 23

Best of Kresta in the Afternoon

4:00 – Mission Work in Ethiopia
Marcie Erickson was born and raised in Naples, Fl. In her senior year of high school she was discerning a call to religious life as a sister and instead heard God calling her to the missions. She has now been in Ethiopia for more than 5 years and has adopted 4 Ethiopian children. She has forrmed a project called Grace Center for Children and Families, which now serves 850 women and children and provides jobs for 70 Ethiopian employees. This program is “GRACE,” an integrated, holistic approach to meeting the needs of a broad range of very underprivileged children. The Centre, like the whole program, is non-discriminatory. Children of all ethnic and religious backgrounds are accepted, based only upon the recognized need of the family. She is with us in studio to discuss her work in Ethiopia.

4:20 – Supreme Court to decide military funeral protest case
The Supreme Court has agreed to decide on the outer limits of free-speech protection for public protests and to rule on whether the family of a dead Maryland Marine can sue fringe religious protesters who picketed near his funeral with signs that said, "Thank God for dead soldiers." The court's action is the latest twist in a long legal battle that arose out of a funeral for a soldier. The case triggered a multimillion-dollar damage award and attracted national media attention. The Supreme Court will now hear the case and rule on whether the right to free speech includes the right to intrude on a solemn ceremony. The justices will hear arguments in the fall. Pat Gillen of Ave Maria Law School joins us.

4:40 – The Crusades
Dr. Jeff Hass teaches the history of the Crusades at Ave Maria University - a comprehensive history that ranges from the preaching of the First Crusade in 1095 to the legacy of crusading ideals and imagery that continues today. We look at the ideas of apologists, propagandists, and poets about the Crusades, as well as the perceptions and motives of the crusaders themselves and the means by which they joined the movement.

5:00 – “Vianney” – The Drama
Pope Benedict XVI opened the “Year for Priests” last June, with the theme “Faithfulness of Christ, faithfulness of priests.” The year also marks the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Vianney, known as the “Curé of Ars.” The prefect for the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, is encouraging local dioceses and parishes to plan events that will “celebrate and show appreciation for priests.” As a key contribution to the celebration, a new theatrical drama “Vianney” has launched a worldwide tour. The play focuses on the question, “What is a priest?” and tells the story of St. John Vianney, whose exemplary life was so remarkable that the Pope has named him the patron of this jubilee year, and will, at the close of the year, declare him the patron of all the priests of the world. The drama, starring actor and film director Leonardo Defilippis, is playing for packed houses around the country and is touring SE MI this week. We talk with Leonardo.

5:20 – Scripture and the Mystery of Israel

5:40 – Gray Land: Soldiers on War
No one indicts war more powerfully than experienced professional soldiers, and no one enumerates more eloquently the reasons for serving. Gray Land is a collection of photographic portraits of veterans accompanied by excerpts from candid, unsupervised interviews and images documenting the realities of life in a war zone. The nobility and wisdom of these men and women will change the way we see war. Given extraordinary access by the U.S. Army, Barry Goldstein spent two years photographing and interviewing more than fifty actively serving members of a veteran battalion, including two month-long trips during which he lived and patrolled with the unit. He joins us to share his experiences.

Wisdom in a world of chaos

Like many of us, I look to Scripture to hear the counsel of God. Here from the first chapter of Wisdom are words which I found especially helpful as I've navigated, negotiated, and negated over the weekend concerning this historic, society changing health care bill cobbled together by the same people who had responsibility to regulate Wall Street and .promised nothing this large would be implemented without bi-partisan support.

"Love justice, you who judge the earth; think of the Lord in goodness, and seek him in integrity of heart; Because he is found by those who test him not, and he manifesets binself to those who not disbelieve him. For perverse counsel separates a man from God, and his power put to the proof, rebukes the foohardy. Because into a soul that plots evil wisdom enters not, nor dwells she in a body under debt of sn. For the holy spirit of discipline, flees deceit and withdraws from senseless counsel and when in justice occurs it is rebuked. For wisdom is a kindly spirit, yet she acquits not the blasphemer of his guilty lips; Because God is the wirness of his inmost self and the sure observer of his heart and the lisener to this tongue. For the spirit of the Lord fills the word, is all-embracing and knows what man says. (Wisdom 1:1-7)

The secular rulers of the day are only the implied recipients of this book. The Wisdom of Solomon is not so much an attempt to persuade secular rulers to "love righteousness" as it is an appeal to Israelites to remain faithful in trying times. addressing the 'rulers of the earth' is a literary device to remind the Israelites that God, the ruler of the nations, will call these earthly rulers to account for their actions. (New Interpreters Study Bible).

Monday, March 22, 2010

20 Promises for $2,500 - We Await Results

Cartoon(s) of the Day

Today on Kresta - March 22, 2010

Talking about the Things That Matter Most on Mar. 22

The US House of Representatives voted 219-212 just before midnight last night to approve the $940-billion Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act after the White House and pro-life Democrats agreed on the language of an executive order. The executive order will purportedly state that “longstanding Federal laws remain intact and new protections prohibit discrimination against health care facilities and health care providers because of an unwillingness to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.” Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the US bishops’ secretariat of pro-life activities, says, “Unfortunately, this proposal does not begin to address the problem, which arises from decades of federal appellate rulings that apply the principles of Roe v. Wade to federal health legislation. Only a change in the law enacted by Congress, not an executive order, can begin to address this very serious problem in the legislation.” We spend this edition of “Kresta in the Afternoon” analyzing the bill which will be signed tomorrow by President Obama. Guests include Leonard Nelson, Deal Hudson, Marjorie Dannenfelser, Kristen Day, Mary Harned, Fr. Frank Pavone, and YOU. We look at the abortion aspect, economic impact, politics, and immediate impact of it all. Be with us.

4:00 p.m.   Kresta Comments

4:20 p.m.   Diagnosis Critical: The Urgent Threats Confronting Catholic Health Care

4:30 p.m.   The Political Impact

4:40 p.m.   Direct to My Desk

5:00 p.m.   Is “Pro-Life Democrat” Realistic Phrase?

5:20 p.m.   Health Care: Cue Up The Legal Fights

5:30 p.m.   Pavone: “It’s Our Move”

5:40 p.m.   Direct to My Desk

House approves health-care bill and aborts Democrats for Life

Washington Post reports on the House passage of the Senate health-care bill.  Just as abortion dismembers an intact body and splits mother from child, so it continues to divide and polarize our body politic. Expect conservatives to make the argument that "pro-life democrat" is a contradiction in terms and expect most pro-life people to believe it.  Fewer Democrats will believe that abortion is an issue they will sacrifice for or win on. Remember it was just two elections ago that Democrats won a few House seats with new pro-life candidates. It was a little glimmer of promise since it's very difficult to pass major social legislation if it's supported by only one party. What little momentum may have started in 2004 will likely peter out and pro-life Democrats will be a thing of the past giving Republicans one-party control of the pro-life movement.

Pro-lifers may well become to Republicans what African-Americans are to Democrats. You can use 'em, run 'em, party with 'em but you can never give 'em what they really want. Keep them hanging on the line always living in hope.  Where do they have to go after all? Pro-lifers aren't going to be jumping to the Democrats and African-Americans have proven that there remain so few of them among Republicans that they are almost always guaranteed a speaking berth at Republican gatherings and conventions.

Protecting the unborn needs to be a bi-partisan issue. Major social legislation needs support from both sides of the aisle or it gets bloody, gridlocked and ultimately unresolved. We've had bi-partisan pro-life victories in the past.
For example, banning partial birth abortion legislation had been vetoed twice by President Clinton. Then in 2003 its time had come. In the House, the final legislation was supported by 218 Republicans and 63 Democrats. It was opposed by 4 Republicans, 137 Democrats, and 1 independent. Twelve members were absent, 7 Republicans and 5 Democrats. In the Senate the bill was supported by 47 Republicans and 17 Democrats. It was opposed by 3 Republicans, 30 Democrats, and 1 independent. Two Senators were absent, Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tx.), a supporter of the bill, and John Edwards (D-NC), an opponent of the bill. It was truly a pro-life victory with support from both parties.

Or consider the Hyde Amendment which is a rider attached to the Appropriations Bill each year barring HHS funds from being used for abortions. It primarily effects Medicaid funding for the poor. The original Hyde Amendment was passed in 1976 by the House of Representatives, by a 207-167 vote. Why wouldn't pro-lifers have been satisfied with a Gerald Ford executive order banning Federal funds for abortion? At that time Ford was clearly pro-life and opposed Roe v. Wade as stated in a letter to Archbishop Bernardin of Cinncinnati who was president of the NCCB.  Further, he wanted a constitutional amendment to return the decision to the states and he rejected abortion on demand. Ford was pushed further by his opponent Jimmy Carter because the Southern Baptist while personally opposed to abortion but tolerant of Roe v. Wade refused to support funding for abortion. So a Ford executive order may have serve President Ford quite well as the campaign went on.

The Hyde Amendment represented the first major legislative success by abortion opponents. It was a major bipartisan effort, 207-167. This is not true of this health care reform act. The behavior of Ben Nelson and Bart Stupak will make future bi-partisan pro-life victories less likely.  I'd like to believe Stupak got something for his efforts beyond a face-saving but when all the pro-life legal minds, at this point, are holding their nose, then I smell defeat.

Democrats for Life of America headed by Kristen Day (see pix left) hasn't been burning up the track racing around to pick up new members. But now with Ben Nelson's flip and Stupak's failure the brakes have been slammed on the once hopeful organization. Today, it stands opposed to every single major pro-life organization by applauding the Stupak/Obama executive order. I'd love to be proven wrong but even Planned Parenthood and NARAL seem only disappointed not threatened. They are unhappy with rhetorical restrictions on abortion. They don't like their pro-abortion champion even giving the time of day to this anti-choice extremist Stupak.  The President knows and Stupak does too that an Executive Order cannot stop domestic abortion funding unless the limits are approved by statute. That was the reason for the Hyde Amendment and not a Gerald Ford executive order. Unless there is a silver legal lining in this executive order Democrats for Life sounds oxymoronic.

Listen to their press release for Sunday. It's almost self-parody: "Democrats for Life of America (DFLA) applauds the President Obama for his bold leadership in agreeing to an Executive Order that bans taxpayer funded abortions in the health care reform bill expected to pass the House this evening."

"We are proud to support this historic healthcare legislation. President Obama's Executive Order shows that when we work towards common ground in Washington we can do the people's business and end the gridlock. By working with House Leaders and the White House, DFLA shows how the pro-life Democrats are a key and growing constituency."

"Hubert H. Humphrey best stated it when he said, “ ... the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped. “

"End gridlock"? "Key and growing constituency"? Who is she kidding? Nelson's disgrace and Stupak's failure only guarantee that pro-life people will gravitate to one party (it's already been trending that way for two decades) but this isn't good for the pro-life movement.  I've always loved the Hubert Humphrey quote about the moral test of government. But maybe our expectations should be more modest. How about basic honesty and loyalty, Kristen?