Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Today on Kresta - November 30, 2010

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

4:00 – The Little Way of Lent: Meditations in the Spirit of St. Therese of Lisieux
While reading the autobiography of St. Thérèse, Fr. Gary Caster had an 'ah ha' moment that transformed his experience of Lent from one of narrow concern over what to give up to one of joyful freedom to enter into the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. "What struck me," he says, "was her insistence on the way we do things for God and not the things we do for him. It wasn't about what I was offering; it was about why." The daily Lenten meditations in this book—all colored by St. Thérèse's Little Way of Spiritual Childhood—will transform you, too, helping you focus not so much on what you have done to offend God, but on what he has done to redeem you. He joins us as we being this Advent season.

4:20 – Gray Lady Down: What the Decline and Fall of the New York Times Means for America
The New York Times was once considered the gold standard in American journalism and the most trusted news organization in America, as well as being a great Christian newspaper. Today, it is generally understood to be a vehicle for politically correct ideologies, tattered liberal pieties, and a repeated victim of journalistic scandal and institutional embarrassment. In Gray Lady Down, the hard-hitting follow up to Coloring the News, William McGowan asks who is responsible for squandering the finest legacy in American journalism. Combining original reporting, critical assessment and analysis, McGowan exposes the Times’ obsessions with diversity, “soft” pop cultural news, and countercultural Vietnam-era attitudinizing, and reveals how these trends have set America’s most important news icon at odds with its journalistic mission—and with the values and perspectives of much of mainstream America. He joins us.

5:00 – Direct To My Desk

5:40 – Advent, Ecumenism and the Relics of St. Toribio Romo
We talk to Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron for our monthly segment, today looking at the newly-minted season of Advent. Archbishop Vigneron is also participating in an evening prayer service with Metropolitan Nicholas (Greek Orthodox) this coming Sunday, so we look at the ecumenism happening in Detroit. We also discuss a relic of St. Toribio Romo, a Mexican martyr and unofficial patron of immigrants which has made its way around to local parishes. The Archbishop received the relic into the Archdiocese at the Cathedral Nov. 3 and is now enshrined at Holy Redeemer Parish.

5:50 – Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Nick Thomm joins us from London where earlier this evening London time he attended the World Premiere of Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader and conducted some interviews on the red carped. The press junket will take place Thursday and we will hear those interviews when he returns. Nick joins us with his first impressions.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Today on Kresta - Novermber - 29, 2010

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

4:00 – Relativism: A Historic, Philosophical, and Practical View
The day before he was elected Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger warned the world of a “Dictatorship of Relativism.” The choice of words was striking. Simply put, the Dictatorship of Relativism is now demanding that when religious faith comes into conflict with non-faith, faith must give way. We talk with Frank Beckwith about relativism from a historic, philosophical and practical view.

5:00 – Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Douglas Gresham is the stepson of C.S. Lewis and the Executive Producer of Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader. If there is a person alive who understands and can accurately portray Lewis’ vision – it’s Douglas Gresham. He joins us to talk about Lewis, his life, his faith the Narnia series.

5:20 – Motherless
Brian Gail has written another heart pounding, page turner of a novel for Catholics who are straining to hear their Church's voice in what Pope John Paul II called "the final confrontation between the Church and the anti Church, the Gospel and the anti Gospel." As a follow-up to his best-seller Fatherless, Brian’s new release Motherless takes the reader on a riveting behind-the-scenes journey around the globe to the boardrooms and laboratories where the architects of The Life Sciences Revolution are preparing Mankind's Final Solution... and into the confessionals and chanceries where the Church's response is being challenged. Brian joins us.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Jesuit astrophysicist: Hawking’s theory on origin of universe is unscientific

Valencia, Spain, Nov 24, 2010 (CNA)

Renowned astrophysicist and Jesuit, Father Manuel Carreira spoke out Nov. 23, noting that British scientist Stephen Hawking's theory that the universe created itself from nothing lacks “scientific rigor and validity.”

Fr. Carreira said Hawking’s theory is “unscientific” because it contradicts the laws of physics and provides no proof for its claims, according to AVAN news agency. The priest's comments came during a conference in Valencia, Spain titled, “Dialogue with Stephen Hawking on Creation.”

Fr. Carreira said Hawking’s theory “does not contribute to knowledge in any way.” While he praised the British scientist for his determination in battling his physical limitations, he said Hawking’s new book is “a highly revealing description of what 20th century science has accomplished and what remains to be done.” But, he added, the book “does not offer anything new.”

The book is only “original” in its illogical denial of human freedom in chapter one and its claims in the final chapter that “through the force of gravity, a universe created itself from nothing.” “Nothingness does not have any force or properties,” Fr. Carreira noted. It is “purely the absence of all reality.” What is evident, he continued, is that “gravity is the result of mass,” such that “since nothingness has no mass, it cannot have gravity either. It would be like saying from zero you could get a bank account.”

Fr. Carreira also noted the “compatibility” of science, philosophy and theology in discovering truth. “They are all partial ways of understanding a reality that is very rich and that cannot be known by just one methodology.” All three can “complement each other in bringing about the development of human knowledge,” he added.

Science “only speaks of how matter acts,” but it “cannot give a reason” for why that matter exists. The question of the meaning of the universe or of life “is outside the bounds of science and one must seek an answer in another order of reasoning,” the priest said.

Thus science is “a way of knowing what is observable and subject to experimentation, but it cannot be asked to speak of what it cannot prove,” such as “the desire to know, freedom, finality, ethics, art, family or social relations,” he stated. For this reason, “reducing human reality to the four forces of matter is a totally unscientific claim that goes against our experience,” Fr. Carreira explained.

Fr. Carreira is a doctor in physics and professor of philosophy at the Comillas University in Spain. He is also a member of the Vatican Observatory.

South Korean bishops call for peace after deadly artillery attack from North

Seoul, South Korea, Nov 25, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News)

Following a deadly North Korean artillery attack on a South Korean island, the South’s Catholic bishops called for peace. They urged “strong intervention” from the international community, especially China, to avoid the “catastrophe” of war.

North Korean artillery attacked Yeonpyeong-do Island in the Yellow Sea on Nov. 23. The surprise attack killed two marines and two civilians, and injured 13 marines and three civilians, UCA News reports.

The attack also damaged the only Catholic church on the island, which has 450 Catholic residents in a total population of about 1,700.

Two shells fell on the church grounds and the windows of the main church building were damaged. The old rectory was partly demolished and a van was destroyed, according to Fr. Johannes Kim Yong-hwan, chancellor of the Diocese of Incheon.

South Korean officials said North Korea fired 200 artillery shells onto the island and set more than 60 buildings on fire. The South returned fire with about 80 artillery rounds, UCA News reports.

The North and South are technically still at war since the countries’ armistice in 1953.

Bishop Peter Kang U-il of Cheju, president of the South Korean bishops’ conference, responded to the attack.

“Let us pray that the situation does not get any worse and does not become an open conflict. We pray that the Lord gives to all leaders and all of us the strength and light to overcome this crisis. Today we live in a time of great confusion and also of fear,” he told Fides news agency.

Saying that the reasons for the attack are not yet known, the bishop said it appears to be based on “political tactics” and perhaps is a distraction from North Korea’s “dramatic” internal problems. He explained that the economic situation there is difficult and North Koreans face hunger and misery.

“I am sure that the leaders of the North know that war does not amount to anything, that it is just a catastrophe that hurts civilians. It is a situation that we should try to avoid at all costs,” Bishop Kang commented. “Conflict can only bring destruction.”

“I urge a strong intervention by the international community which cannot close its eyes to this situation. It also requires involving China, which has a power of influence over North Korea, to understand the roots and causes of this crisis,” he continued.

The bishops expect prayers for peace from the Universal Church. Bishop Kang explained that peace is not simply the fruit of human will or diplomatic action. Rather, it is help from God.

“We ask the Holy Father to pray for us, for peace and for the good of the Korean people,” he concluded, saying there is hope because “we continue to trust in God’s providence.”

Priest's future hangs in balance after ordination comments

The future of a Western Port parish priest hangs in the balance after he went public with his view that women should be ordained in the Catholic Church.

Father Greg Reynolds, based at The Immaculate Conception church in Hastings, whose parish stretches from Somerville to Flinders, made his assertions in a homily during weekend Mass two months ago.

"I believe certain women are being called by God to the ministerial priesthood and our official church is obstructing the work of the Holy Spirit.

"I feel I can no longer sit back and remain silent," he said in his homily.

It was reported in The Age last week that he sent a copy to Archbishop Denis Hart, head of the Catholic Church in Melbourne, to save his parishioners the trouble.

A popular parish priest not known for inflammatory views, Father Reynolds came to Western Port in October last year, shortly after clocking up 30 years in the priesthood.

He did not respond to the Weekly's request for an interview and his staff said he was on leave this week.

On the St Mary's Primary School website he stated he hoped to be parish priest at Western Port "for many years". That hope may now be dashed.

Ordination of women is considered a "grave crime" on a par with paedophilia according to Pope Benedict, the head of the church.

Archbishop Hart's office yesterday declined to comment, saying the archbishop was at a conference in Sydney and could not be contacted.

Father Reynolds told The Age he expected to be dismissed from his job or even excommunicated from the Church.

Parents of children at St Joseph's School in Crib Point this week received a letter from principal Gab Espenschied briefly outlining the issue.

"Greg is a fine man and great priest and he wants to remain in the priesthood. We await the archbishop's response. Please keep Greg in your thoughts and prayers at this time," it read.

The parish office said Father Reynolds would be back to say Mass on the weekend and his future was not yet known.

In defense of L’Osservatore Romano

Pope Benedict XVI’s surprising comments on condoms in his new book-length interview with German journalist Peter Seewald, titled Light of the World, obviously has been the big Vatican story this week. I wrote a piece for the BBC analyzing what the pope said and didn’t say, which can be found here: Why condom comments are no earthquake in Catholic teaching. I’ve also laid out other interesting elements in the book in a piece for NCR: Pope on condoms, sex abuse, resignation ... and movie nights

Here, I’ll restrict myself to the hope that when the furor over condoms dies down, people will actually read the whole book. As always, Benedict XVI offers a fascinating diagnosis of the situation facing the church and the wider world. One may disagree with this or that point (and Benedict openly concedes that a pope’s private opinions can be wrong), but his assessments are well worth pondering.

In the meantime, a fascinating subplot has emerged in the form of fierce intra-Catholic blowback against L’Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper, which published a set of extracts from the book on Saturday night, including an edited version of Benedict’s comments on condoms. That scoop came ahead of an embargo imposed on other publications, catching the world’s media off-guard and triggering a cycle of sensational and often misleading coverage. It’s already being touted as the latest Vatican communications debacle, and some critics are insisting that heads must roll.

To put my cards on the table, I write to offer a few words in defense of L’Osservatore Romano and its editor, Italian layman Gian Maria Vian.

First, here’s a sampling of what critics are saying.

•Veteran Italian Vatican writer Andrea Tornielli provocatively called L’Osservatore’s scoop a “contraceptive on the consistory,” arguing that the tidal wave of media interest in the book unleashed Saturday night utterly overshadowed what was supposed to be the big news event on Sunday, Nov. 21, when Benedict XVI inducted 24 new members into the College of Cardinals. Tornielli also complained that L’Osservatore presented the pope’s words on condoms out of context and without any explanation.
•American Catholic writer Phil Lawler suggested that L’Osservatore is guilty of a “truly disastrous gaffe,” charging that the paper “violated the embargo” and published the comments on condoms “prematurely and outside their proper context.” Lawler complained that L’Osservatore in recent months has repeatedly embarrassed the Vatican with “puerile articles gushing about the merits of Michael Jackson, the Beatles, and The Simpsons.” This episode, he said, is even worse, provoking misinformation on a critically important issue. In consequence, Lawler said, Vian should be asked to resign.
•Noted American canon lawyer Edward Peters said that as the official release date for the book on Nov. 23 approached, writers, speakers and resource persons had been lined up in the United States and in other nations to provide context and background. Those plans were blown out of the water, he said, by L’Osservatore’s preemptive strike. “If this media fiasco is not enough to bring sweeping changes to [L’Osservatore],” Peters wrote, “then I don’t know what ever will.”
Such severe judgments from well-informed people deserve to be taken seriously, so let me stipulate a key point in the indictment: Presentation of the pope’s words on condoms could have been, and should have been, much better handled. At a minimum, it would have been helpful to call reporters in for a background session with Vatican officials and moral theologians to work through the language on condoms in advance (as well as other potentially headline-grabbing points, such as Benedict’s comments on Pius XII and on papal resignation), rather than scrambling after the fact.

Yet before demanding a purge at L’Osservatore, several other points ought to be made.

First, as a purely factual matter, the Vatican paper did not “violate” an embargo. It simply got a better deal from the publisher, in this case the Vatican Publishing House.

Several media outlets around the world were given permission to publish extracts from the book on Sunday, but had to restrict themselves to chapters one, six and seventeen, which don’t contain any major news flashes. L’Osservatore, because of its special status, was allowed to comb through the entire manuscript, and obviously made some journalistically sound judgments about which sections would be of widest public interest, including the lines on condoms (which come from chapter two). The paper waited until Sunday to run the extracts, though because L’Osservatore is always released the evening before its publication date, it actually came out Saturday night.

In other words, L’Osservatore played by the rules it was given. (If you want to be mad at somebody over the timing, try the Vatican Publishing House.) Frankly, some of the grumbling about a “violation” of an embargo may be no more than raw journalistic envy at getting beat to the punch.

Second, calling for Vian’s head on a platter ignores the great leap forward he’s brought to L’Osservatore since his appointment as editor-in-chief in October 2007.

Visually, he’s introduced color and a better use of graphics. In terms of content, he’s added timely newsmaker interviews, more ecumenical and inter-religious coverage, greater attention to local Catholic news from around the world, harder-hitting editorials and commentary, and a livelier focus on culture and the arts — including, famously, pop culture. (That may not be everyone’s taste, but it works for some. After one of my recent speaking gigs, I was witness to a lively argument between an elderly Catholic woman who thought the piece on “The Simpsons” was a disgrace, and a youth minister who said it stimulated one of the best discussions in her CCD classes she’s ever had.)

As a result, L’Osservatore today feels much more like a real world-class newspaper — it takes chances, raises eyebrows and stirs tongues. It’s become a must-read, with appeal to literate Catholics everywhere, well beyond the narrow circle of professional Vaticanologists. The price of taking chances, of course, is that sometimes the paper misses the mark or goes off half-cocked, but would anyone seriously prefer a return to the old days of a Roman version of Pravda?

Third, the notion that L’Osservatore pre-empted what would otherwise have been wide international attention to the Nov. 21 consistory is a fantasy.

Media interest in a consistory comes, if at all, a full month in advance, with the announcement of the names of the new cardinals. The actual event in Rome is purely ceremonial, and while it may generate some color pieces in the hometown papers of the new cardinals, the idea that it would have been a global media phenomenon if not for L’Osservatore’s scoop is just ridiculous.

This time around, the only real news out of the consistory was the business meeting of the cardinals on Nov. 19, where the sexual abuse crisis was on the agenda — and nothing L’Osservatore did had any effect on that story, since it had a full 24 hours to play out.

Fourth, no matter how well presented the pope’s words on condoms might have been, some degree of distortion was probably inevitable.

My experience is that anytime you put the words “pope,” “condoms,” and “AIDS” into the same sentence, many secular news outlets will go nuts no matter what the context might be. Likewise the blogosphere probably would have erupted anyway, and aggressive pro-choice and pro-life groups would still have rushed to supply their own spin — the former hyping the pope’s words beyond all recognition, and the latter minimizing them into nothingness.

In other words, a communications debacle is sometimes only partly the fault of the communicator. The audience also bears responsibility for listening carefully and thinking patiently, and it’s not clear L’Osservatore has much power to force the world to be more careful and/or patient.

Fifth, let’s face facts: Part of the current blowback is coming from conservatives who have never forgiven L’Osservatore Romano for its relatively friendly assessment of U.S. President Barack Obama in the wake of his election, including Vian’s famous early 2009 remark that Obama is not a “pro-abortion president.”

One can certainly disagree with that view, or point out that L’Osservatore’s editorial line was exploited by political forces in America who wanted to undercut the strong pro-life positions of the U.S. bishops. But in the interests of keeping the record straight, it has to be said that the anti-L’Osservatore anger unleashed this week isn’t just about pious concern that the paper has caused Benedict’s book to be misunderstood; it’s also about settling old political and ideological scores.

Sixth, Vian is a longtime friend of the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who hand-picked Vian for the job at L’Osservatore. Bertone’s record as an administrator over the last five years is certainly open to serious debate, but like any big-wig, he’s also got people who would love to wound him for political and personal motives. One good way to do so is by discrediting his most visible appointment.

Some of the finger-pointing at Vian, especially in Italy, thus may partly be a means of scoring points against Bertone. Anyone who watched the notorious “Boffo case” unfold in Italy last year, in which Bertone was rumored to have smeared the reputation of an Italian Catholic journalist through Vian (a claim both have repeatedly denied), knows this is not an entirely fantastic scenario.

None of this means L’Osservatore Romano is blameless for the frenzy over condoms, some of which could have been avoided if the presentation had been more artfully handled. It’s also unfair, however, to lay responsibility for that breakdown entirely at the paper’s doorstep. The Vatican Publishing House, or for that matter the pope himself, could have insisted on attaching whatever context they wanted to the extracts as a condition of giving the paper permission to run them. It’s not as if L’Osservatore was in a position to refuse.

More basically, honesty demands recognizing that mixed in with legitimate criticism of Vian and L’Osservatore are a variety of other forces, including jealousy, politics, and dated expectations of how the Vatican paper ought to behave. It would be tragic if accumulated frustrations over Vatican communications fell primarily upon what has heretofore been one of the few bright spots on that landscape.

Before heads are fitted on pikes, therefore, we probably ought to be sure it’s for the right reasons.

The Pope will travel to Africa in November 2011

Whoopi Goldberg Doesn't Believe Japanese Attacked Pearl Harbor, Muslims More Persecuted Than Jews

Whoopi Learns a Few Things

Cartoon of the Day - Nutty and Nutty Lite

Today on Kresta - November 26, 2010

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

4:00 – New Bin Laden Tape Warns France Over Ban On Veils
Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden threatens in a new audio tape to kill French citizens to avenge their country's support for the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan and a new law that will ban face-covering Muslim veils. France passed a law this month that will ban the wearing of face-covering burqa-style Muslim veils in public starting in April. Many Muslims have expressed fears the law would stigmatize them. "If you deemed it your right to ban (Muslim) women from wearing the hijab, then should not it be our right to expel your invading men by striking their necks?" bin Laden said. We talk to Marnia Lazreg, author of Questioning the Veil: Open Letters to Muslim Women

4:20 – Breakfast with the Pope
A Christian Eat Pray Love, Susan Vigilante, an average Catholic wife from Long Island, woke up one morning in the romantic Italian hillside near the ancient village of Castel Gandolfo and had breakfast with Pope John Paul II. How did she get here? Breakfast with the Pope is the funny, endearing, searing, and relentlessly honest story of a woman on a pilgrimage, a woman who has failed for years to become the writer she longs to be, who yearns for the children she is unable to bear, who seeks to find the promised God of love amidst the wreckage of failed human relationships. This is a book you will never forget, an often funny, always deeply moving spiritual memoir about seeking faith in the midst of doubt, compassion in the midst of suffering, and above all choosing love even knowing that it never comes without pain.

5:00 – Finding Freedom From Substance Abuse
The Life Process Model© is a nationally accredited, 8-week residential drug treatment program that offers an alternative to 12-step drug rehab and alcoholism treatment programs. Unlike traditional alcohol and drug addiction recovery programs, you now have a choice for permanent recovery from drug or and alcohol abuse without a lifetime of AA/NA meetings and relapse! It’s offered at the St. Gregory Retreat Center in Des Moines, IA and Co-Founder and CEO Mike Vasquez is here to tell us about it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Prelates issue statements on cremation, note that burial is preferred

“While interment of the body remains the preference of the Church, after the manner of the burial of the Lord Jesus, the use of cremation is allowed,” Cardinal Justin Rigali wrote recently as he promulgated norms for cremation in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. “If a body is to be cremated, it is always preferable that cremation take place after the Funeral Liturgy,” the norms state, and “the cremated remains are to be buried in a cemetery or entombed in a mausoleum or columbarium.”

“It is not permitted to scatter cremated remains,” the norms add, and “the permanent storage of cremated remains in a private home, funeral home or any other place is prohibited.”

Likewise, Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe said in a recent statement that “the Church earnestly recommends that the pious custom of burying the bodies of the dead be observed; it does not, however, forbid cremation unless it has been chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching.”

He continued:
However, if the option of cremation is chosen, the obligation to entomb the remains in a consecrated place remains. This is to be done as soon after the Mass of Christian Burial as possible. Especially to be condemned are the practices of scattering the ashes, enclosing them in jewelry, dividing them among relatives as keepsakes, or doing other bizarre things with them. Such practices do not give honor to the body and, indirectly, are an affront to our belief in the resurrection of the dead. There are those who say they wish to keep the ashes at home so that they “may feel close” to their loved ones. This shows a lack of faith in the communion of saints, by which we are spiritually united to the departed, in a way far more marvelous than keeping their remains on a shelf in our house.
Archbishop Sheehan also implored the faithful to hold funeral Masses for the deceased rather than “memorial services”:
The primary purpose of a Catholic Funeral is to plead the mercy of God upon the soul of the departed person. It is an infallible teaching of the Church that Purgatory does exist, and that the souls there can be helped with our prayers and it is the common teaching of the Church that most of the faithful who depart this life after the age of reason will have some time of temporal punishment for their sins in Purgatory. The Mass is, of course, the most powerful prayer we can offer God, and therefore we, the living, have an obligation in charity to offer the Mass for the departed … To fail to provide for the Funeral Mass, substituting some sort of “memorial service”, or “celebration of life” gathering, or not providing for any funeral service at all, is gravely wrong.
“Let us not be misled by the atmosphere of paganism around us, which rejects the existence of the soul, the sacredness of the body, the mercy of the Redemption, and eternal life with God in heaven,” he concluded. “Rather, let us render the debt of love we owe the dead in frequent prayer for their eternal rest, and let our funeral celebrations show to the entire world that we indeed believe ‘in the resurrection of the dead, and the life everlasting,’ won for us by the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Court Says Catholic nurse can’t sue hospital that forced her to assist abortion

by John Jalsevac
Tue Nov 23, 2010

Today the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a Catholic nurse who was forced by a New York hospital to participate in an abortion does not have the right to sue her employer.

Administrators at Mt. Sinai Hospital had threatened Catherine DeCarlo with disciplinary measures in May 2009 if she did not honor a last-minute summons to assist in a scheduled late-term abortion. The hospital insisted on her participation in the procedure on the grounds that it was an “emergency.”

Lawyers for DeCarlo, however, have pointed out that the procedure was not classified by the hospital as an emergency, and the patient was apparently not in crisis at the time of the surgery.

DeCarlo claims that her participation in the abortion led to serious emotional trauma. She also claims that hospital administrators later attempted to coerce her into signing an agreement to participate in abortions in the future.

The hospital had reportedly known of the Catholic nurse’s religious objections to abortion since 2004.

Alliance Defence Fund (ADF) attorneys had filed two suits in the case – one federal, filed in July 2009, and another state, filed earlier this year. The federal suit claimed that Mt. Sinai ignored federal laws prohibiting coercion while receiving hundred of millions of dollars in federal funding.

In January the case was dismissed by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, at which point it was appealed to the Second Circuit.

However, in today’s ruling the court found that there is no right to private action or private remedy under the statue cited by DeCarlo in her suit – the so-called “Church Amendment.” (Read the decision here.)

That amendment protects health care workers working for federally-funded entities from being discriminated against because they refused to perform abortions on religious or conscience grounds.

In May Americans United for Life (AUL) had filed an amicus brief in support of DeCarlo on behalf of the National Association of Prolife Nurses, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Physicians for Life, Christian Medical & Dental Associations, and the Catholic Medical Association. According to AUL staffer Mailee Smith the groups represent over 19,000 health care professionals.

Archbishop Dolan: Pope cannot change Catholic teaching

New York Times
Published: November 22, 2010

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, elected president of the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops last week, said Monday that the bishops faced the urgent task of stopping the huge exodus of Roman Catholics from the church of their birth.

He said the bishops would not stop speaking out on political issues like abortion, same-sex marriage and immigration. But he said there was now a movement among them to confront internal problems like the “sobering study” showing that one-third of Americans born and baptized Catholic have left the church.

“The bishops are saying we need to make sure our house is in order as a church. We need to recover our vigor,” Archbishop Dolan said. “Then we can be of better service to the world and to our culture.”

In an expansive interview in the front parlor of his residence on Madison Avenue — the only news interview he has granted since he spoke to a Catholic television station after last Tuesday’s election — Archbishop Dolan discussed his surprise at his election, whether the bishops will push for repeal of the health care overhaul and what Pope Benedict XVI said about condoms.

“The Pope didn’t say, ‘Oh good, you should use a condom,’ ” Archbishop Dolan said, referring to a controversial comment the pope made in a book that is being released worldwide on Tuesday.

In the book, the pope said that a male prostitute who used a condom to prevent the spread of AIDS might be taking a first step toward moral responsibility. Some Catholic analysts claimed that the pope was floating a possible exception in the church’s ban on birth control. But Archbishop Dolan said the church could not simply change its doctrine.

“You get the impression that the Holy See or the pope is like Congress and every once in a while says, ‘Oh, let’s change this law,’ ” he said. “We can’t.”

He was most animated on the topic of disaffected Catholics. Archbishop Dolan leaned forward as he cited recent studies finding that only half of young Catholics marry in the church, and that weekly Mass attendance has dropped to about 35 percent of Catholics from a peak of 78 percent in the 1960s.

He said he was chagrined when he saw a long line of people last Sunday on Fifth Avenue. “I’m talking two blocks, a line of people waiting to get into ...” he said, pausing for suspense. “Abercrombie and Fitch. And I thought, wow, there’s no line of people waiting to get into St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the treasure in there is of eternal value. What can I do to help our great people appreciate that tradition?”

Archbishop Dolan’s election last Tuesday to head the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was the first time in the conference’s history that the sitting vice president running for the presidency was not automatically promoted. The archbishop said he thought he might be elected vice president, but was surprised to win the presidency, a three-year term.

He now holds three weighty posts simultaneously: archbishop of New York, president of the bishops conference, and chief investigator of the seminaries in Ireland in the wake of a crippling sexual abuse scandal there — a task assigned by Pope Benedict XVI.

Archbishop Dolan said he planned to spend three weeks this winter in Ireland and Rome visiting seminaries that train Irish priests. He said he would focus on whether priests were being prepared for a “healthy, happy celibacy.” He said the pope expected his report by Easter.

One of the most contentious issues facing Archbishop Dolan at the bishops’ conference in Washington is whether it will support Republican efforts to repeal the health care law. The bishops opposed the final version of the bill, convinced it allowed federal financing of abortion.

But Archbishop Dolan said the bishops ought to be “great cheerleaders” for the expansion of health care coverage, and could possibly support a “refinement” of the bill. He said he did not yet know whether the bishops would want to “overthrow” the legislation completely.

On the handling of the sexual abuse scandal, Archbishop Dolan was criticized last week by two victims’ advocacy groups for failing to post lists of priests removed from ministry for credible accusations of abuse. The archbishop said that his newspaper, Catholic New York, had identified priests as they had been removed, and that that was sufficient.

He said he had heard complaints from Catholic laypeople on his pastoral council that although they love their priests, the quality of their preaching is poor. Archbishop Dolan said he hoped to reinvigorate Mass attendance by declaring 2011 the “Year of the Mass.”

The Mass will be changed significantly at this time next year when, for only the third time in history, the church adopts its new Roman missal — the text that contains the prayers for the Mass. The text has been fought over for years, and many priests in English-speaking countries have protested that the final translation is formal and awkward. But Archbishop Dolan said he was happy with it.

“I think there’s a renewed awe, a sense of reverence, a greater fidelity to the ancient texts,” he said.

Muslim leaders: Don’t pardon Christian sentenced to death for blasphemy


Muslim religious leaders in Pakistan are urging President Asif Ali Zardari not to pardon Asia Bibi, the 45-year-old Christian mother of five whose death sentence on blasphemy charges has provoked an international outcry. Shahbaz Bhatti, the nation’s minister for minorities, has found that Bibi was wrongfully convicted, and Punjab Governor Salman Taseer has told CNN that the president will pardon her.

“I mean, he’s a liberal, modern-minded president, and he’s not going to see a poor woman like this targeted and executed,” said Taseer. “It’s just not going to happen.”

Bibi told Taseer, who visited her on November 20, that her accusers had raped her.

Islamist leaders are reportedly planning protests throughout the nation if Bibi is pardoned, and one Islamist organization has announced a November 24 protest against Taseer for his support of Bibi. Attorneys in the district where Bibi is jailed are boycotting the courts to protest a possible pardon, and opponents of the release have gathered outside the jail. Islamic fundamentalist groups are threatening to kill her if she is freed, the Fides news agency reports.

Bibi, a resident of Ittanwali in the eastern province of Punjab, was working at a local farm when the Muslim women with whom she was working called her an infidel and urged her to convert to Islam. Bibi refused, saying that Christianity was the only true religion.

“The Muslim men working in nearby fields also gathered and attacked Asia Bibi on which she fled to village in her home,” the Pakistan Christian Post reported. “The angry Muslims followed her and took her out of home and started beating her. They tortured her children also, but meanwhile someone informed police.”

Police then arrested Bibi on blasphemy charges. Following a lengthy trial, she was sentenced to death.

Bhatti, a Christian, said that Pakistan may amend its controversial anti-blasphemy law but will not repeal it-- prompting the leader of the Pakistan Christian Congress to call for his resignation.

Cardinal: Atheism Is Irrational

Cardinal Walter Brandmuller is underlining the irrationality of atheism, noting that only in God can the human person find fulfillment.

The former president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, who just became a cardinal on Saturday, said this in a new Italian-language book "Ateismo? No grazie! Credere è ragionevole" [Atheism? No Thanks! To Believe is Rational], published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

It features an original interview of the prelate by Ingo Langner, journalist, publicist and film director, on the most debated questions: Does God exist? Faith or atheism? Science or religion? God or non God?

The interview begins with Langner who asked, quoting Richard Dawkins, "Why still believe?"

Cardinal Brandmuller responded: "The question is not a novelty. Friedrich Nietzsche makes his madman announce that God is dead and Yury Gagarin, the first Russian in space, on his trip of April 12, 1962, said that nowhere had he seen something that resembled God. Dawkins does not recognize God even as a hypothesis. For him God is a hallucination that exists only in the mind of a retarded person."

"In reality, the target of the atheists is not so much God but the Church, the Pope and the Vatican," said the prelate. He added that the Church has been attacked since the beginning of the Christian era, the Pope for 2000 years and the Vatican since its existence.

The cardinal addressed the topic of miracles, recalling what happened in Calanda, a small town not far from Saragossa, Spain, where there was a youth named Miguel Pellicer whose leg was amputated. Two years later and despite the difficulty in walking, the youth undertook the journey to the Marian shrine of Santa Maria del Pilar in Saragossa.

Once he arrived at the shrine, he prayed intensely to Mary to help him. That night an incredible event took place. When he woke up in the morning his leg had grown back, perfectly healthy.

To explain the miracles, Cardinal Brandmuller quoted William Shakespeare who said to followers of the Enlightenment: "There are more things between heaven and earth than your scholastic erudition can imagine."

The prelate explained that "modern man wants to come to himself through self-fulfillment, but he doesn't succeed by separating himself from God; he succeeds only if he turns to God."

He continued: "For modern man this means the prodigal son who returns to the father, hence to God. Only then does he fulfill himself, when he recognizes what he is and for what purpose God has created him."

Vatican Lashes Out at China Over Bishop's Appointment

The Vatican has issued a strongly worded condemnation of the illicit ordination of a new bishop in China.

The unauthorized ordination was “a painful wound upon ecclesial communion and a grave violation of Catholic discipline,” the Vatican said. The newly ordained Bishop Joseph Guo Jincai “severe sanctions,” the announcement notes. The ordinary canonical punishment for the ordination of a bishop without a mandate from the Holy See is excommunication.

Noting that some Catholic bishops were forced to participate in the ceremony, the Vatican protested “a grave violation of freedom of religion and conscience.” The statement questioned whether the new bishop had been validly ordained-- presumably because the use of force could compromise the freedom that is required for any valid sacrament.

The heavy-handed effort to force Catholic acceptance of a bishop appointed by the government-sponsored Catholic Patriotic Association does not serve the needs of Cathoilcs, the Vatican notes. Instead it “humiliates them, because the Chinese civil authorities wish to impose on them a pastor who is not in full communion, either with the Holy Father or with the other bishops throughout the world.”

Today on Kresta - November 25, 2010

Talking about the "things that matter most" on Nov. 25

4:00 – Jonathan Edwards: A Life
Although probably best known for his fire-and-brimstone sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," Jonathan Edwards led a rich intellectual and spiritual life that took him far beyond the pulpit in his contributions to colonial America. In this first critical biography in over 60 years, Marsden, a professor of history at Notre Dame, places Edwards squarely within the context of his times. Drawing on newly available sources in the Yale edition of The Works of Jonathan Edwards, he elegantly traces the details of Edwards's life, from his precocious childhood of observing God's handiwork in the natural world and his adolescent struggles with his faith to his powerful preaching in the revivals that dominated the Connecticut Valley in the First Great Awakening to his later modestly successful mission to the Indians. Biographer George Marsden is our guest.

5:00 – All About Thanksgiving
Did you know that Thanksgiving wasn’t an official American holiday until 1863 when Abraham Lincoln made a proclamation establishing Thanksgiving Day? A lot of people don’t know that. We are taught that it is a tradition passed down from our Pilgrim forefathers who celebrated a bountiful harvest with the Natives in the American Colonies. Of course, that IS where it started. But it wasn’t regularly practiced and there was not a holiday until a century or two after the original harvest feast that brought ALL Americans together for a day of celebration. This and  much much more about Thanksgiving and its Christian roots with Kevin Orlin Johnson.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Today on Kresta - November 24, 2010

Talking about the "things that matter most" on Nov. 24

4:00 – Benedict XVI: Essays and Reflections on His Papacy
We look at an extraordinary presentation of the first five years of Benedict's leadership as pope. Benedict XVI: Essays and Reflections on His Papacy features over 110 full-color photos rarely seen outside the Vatican. It also includes thoughtful commentary and warm memories from U.S. Church leaders, excerpts from Benedict's own writings, and an essential resource section. This is an invaluable keepsake and resource for Catholics, spiritual seekers, and those interested in how Catholicism touches the world today. We talk with editor Sr. Mary Ann Walsh

4:30 – Uncommon Vision: The Life and Times of John Howard Griffin
John Howard Griffin is best known as the white man who in 1959 disguised himself as a black man and then traveled anonymously through the heart of Dixie. From his experiences he wrote “Black Like Me”, a groundbreaking best seller that today stands as a testament to Griffin’s moral commitment and a document of one of the more extraordinary events of the Civil Rights era. A new documentary on his life entitled “Uncommon Vision” focuses on Griffin’s social activism but will also examine how a spiritual commitment led him from a segregated childhood in Fort Worth to fighting with the French Underground, sustained him during ten years of blindness incurred by war injuries and inspired him during a prolific creative life as a writer/photographer. It’s an inspiring, entertaining and edifying story. We talk to the documentary writer and producer Morgan Atkinson.

5:00 – Universalism and the Catholic Church
Many Catholics are misled by a belief that all will be saved – a notion known as universalism. Ralph Martin is here to explain why that is a fallacy. Jesus died for the redemption of all mankind. His death redeemed mankind collectively, so we can say that even non-Christians are redeemed. But because each person has free will, he can choose to reject the salvation offered him as a gift. So, while all are redeemed, it is possible that not all will be saved. Christ’s death is sufficient for the salvation of all, but it is efficient for the salvation of those who choose to accept that gift. We get in depth with Ralph.

5:40 – The Middle East Synod / Embryonic Stem Cell Research / 40 Days for Life
We check in today with Archbishop Allen Vigneron of the Archdiocese of Detroit for our monthly discussion. The Archbishop just returned today from the Middle East Synod in Rome and gives us a report on his two weeks in Rome for the Synod. He also discusses the column he released to the media before he departed in defense of the unborn child in combating embryonic stem cell research and also discusses his plans to pray at an abortion clinic this weekend in Clarkston.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Today on Kresta - November 23, 2010

Talking about the "things that matter most" on Nov. 23

4:00 – Beyond a House Divided: The Moral Consensus Ignored by Washington, Wall Street, and the Media
If you follow politics or the news, America is a country of culture wars and great divides, a partisan place of red states and blue states, of us against them. From pundits to politicians it seems that anyone with an audience sees a polarized country - a country at war with itself. In a radical departure from this "conventional wisdom," Carl Anderson explores what the talking heads have missed: an overwhelming American consensus on many of the country's seemingly most divisive issues. If the debates are shrill in public, he says, there is a quiet consensus in private - one that America's institutions ignore at their peril. From health care, to the role of religion in America, to abortion, to the importance of traditional ethics in business and society, Anderson uses fresh polling data and keen insight to show that a surprising consensus has emerged despite these debates. He sheds light on what's been missing in the public and political debates of the last several years: the consensus that isn't hard to find if you know where to look. Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, joins us.

4:40 – “Defying Deletion” in Iraq
Andre Anton is a 26-year-old Assyrian filmmaker who lost two cousins in the massacre earlier this month at the Iraqi church, Our Lady of Salvation. He recently produced a documentary, "Defying Deletion" about the violence against civilians in post-war Iraq and joins us to look at this issue.

5:00 – Fr. Barron back from Rome
Fr. Robert Barron was just in Rome at the Plenary Assembly “The Culture Of Communication And New Languages” at the Vatican. He presented on the topic “Communicating the Faith to the Next Generations: memory, creativity, and relation.” He is here to share his insights and details of the event.

5:20 – The Magdala Project: Archaeology and the Historical Jesus
Modern droughts have revealed harbors from Jesus’ time. Early 19th-century explorers, searching for places where Jesus had walked, attempted to locate the ancient harbors of the Sea of Galilee but failed. Now, after 25 years of searching and researching, they have been found. We talk to Fr. Eamon Kelly about the Magdala Project, an effort to promote this type of archaeology in the Middle East to uncover the Historical Jesus!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Vatican newspaper has betrayed the Pope

The Vatican newspaper has betrayed the Pope
by Phil Lawler, November 22

Pope Benedict has not changed the Church’s teachings, or even intimated that they might be subject to change. The Holy Father has not called for a new debate on the morality of contraception. He has not suggested that condom use might sometimes be morally justifiable.

Yet today millions of people around the world believe that the Pontiff has changed Church teaching, has opened the question of contraception for debate, and has justified condom use in some circumstances. How did that happen?

Yet again, Pope Benedict has been badly served by his public-relations staff. In this case, the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano bears most of the blame for a truly disastrous gaffe.

An exciting book project subverted

The stories that are dominating media coverage of the Vatican this week can be traced to an interview in which Pope Benedict XVI responded to questions from the German journalist Peter Seewald. That interview was the basis for an exciting new book, Light of the World, which is due for publication this week.

The book is the 3rd such collaborative effort between the Pope and Seewald. But it is the first since Benedict XVI assumed the Chair of Peter, and the notion that a reigning Pontiff would submit to a book-length interview is a sensation in itself. Readers who expect something very special from such a book will not be disappointed. Light of the World is indeed sensational.

As an interviewer Seewald does his job well. He respectfully but persistently pressed the Pope to explain his thinking on a host of issues, many of them controversial. Pope Benedict, for his part, is candid and lucid, presenting his thoughts with that simple clarity that makes him such a great natural teacher. In Light of the World the reader will find the Pontiff’s honest thoughts on topics such as:

•the nature of papal infallibility and Petrine authority;
•the real reason for lifting excommunications on the traditionalist bishops of the Society of St. Pius X;
•the limits of dialogue with Islam;
•the possibility of a papal resignation;
•the message of Fatima;
•the day-to-day life of the apostolic palace;
•the true causes of the sex-abuse scandal and the prospects for reform.

On every one of these topics, this reader found the Pope’s remarks refreshingly honest and thought-provoking. The Holy Father offers a number of fascinating revelations, along with an enormous amount of profound theological reflection. The book is, again, sensational.

Those of us who received advance copies of Light of the World were told that the text was under a very strict embargo. We were forbidden to quote from it, cite it, or even make any specific revelations about its content until the formal launch of the book this week. Such embargos are not unusual in the world of publishing (although the publishers were unusually stern about it in this case), and professional journalists routinely honor them.

Then, incredibly, the Vatican’s own newspaper violated the embargo. Betraying the publishers and breaking trust with all the other journalists who were fulfilling their promises, L’Osservatore Romano reproduced a passage from the Pope’s interview. And not just any passage. The Vatican newspaper reproduced—without explanation or comment—a passage in which Pope Benedict reflected on the possibility that in some extreme cases, the impulse to use a condom might show a flickering of unselfishness in a seriously corrupted conscience.

Moreover, L’Osservatore broke the embargo, and published the excerpt, during a weekend when the Vatican was happily distracted by a consistory. At a time when Church leaders should have been celebrating a joyous occasion—the elevation of 24 members to the College of Cardinals—top Vatican officials were scrambling to explain the Pope’s words, which had been published prematurely and outside of their proper context.

The launch of Light of the World should have been another joyful occasion. With appropriate planning, the publisher was poised to introduce the Pope’s book with a major publicity campaign. Now that publicity—which might have offered an accurate and favorable portrayal of the Pope’s book—will be nearly lost in the deluge of misinformation currently sweeping across the world.

What the Pope said—and did not say

Of all the passages that might have been culled out of the book, L’Osservatore Romano chose some speculative remarks by the Pontiff on the subject of condom use. Any capable journalist should have realized in advance that these remarks would be misinterpreted—especially when they were presented out of context.

In the passage that L’Osservatore published, Pope Benedict was not backing away from earlier statements, in which he had said that the distribution of condoms is not the proper way to fight the spread of AIDS. On the contrary, the Pope was defending that stand! Far from retracting his previous words, the Holy Father was explaining and elaborating on them.

In that context, when Seewald pressed him on the question of whether condom use might ever be advisable, the Pope replied:
There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.
When Seewald asked for a clarification, the Pope quickly added that the Church can never regard condom use as “a real or moral solution.”

Notice that in his hypothetical example, the Pope spoke of a “male prostitute,” presumably involved in homosexual acts. So the question of contraception—the main reason for the Church’s opposition to condoms—was removed from the equation. This prostitute is engaged in profoundly immoral acts. The Pope does not suggest that the use of a condom would make his prostitution less immoral; he says only that by recognizing the imperative to protect his sexual partner, the theoretical prostitute is making a small step toward proper moral reasoning.

Here the Pope was making a theoretical point, not a practical one. He was not teaching, but explaining a point. He was not speaking with authority—in fact, earlier in the book he had explained why nothing the Pope says in an interview should be regarded as authoritative—but speculating. Nothing in what the Pope said, or the way he said it, reflects any change in the Church’s teaching.

In her helpful explanation of the Pope’s words, Janet Smith observed that “the Holy Father is not making a point about whether the use of a condom is contraceptive or even whether it reduces the evil of a homosexual sexual act; again, he is speaking about the psychological state of some who might use condoms.” To place the Pope’s speculative remarks about the male prostitute in the proper context, Smith offered an analogy of her own:
If someone was going to rob a bank and was determined to use a gun, it would better for that person to use a gun that had no bullets in it. It would reduce the likelihood of fatal injuries. But it is not the task of the Church to instruct potential bank robbers how to rob banks more safely and certainly not the task of the Church to support programs of providing potential bank robbers with guns that could not use bullets.
Journalistic incompetence

If it is “not the task of the Church” to give safety tips to bank robbers and homosexual prostitutes, why did the Pope offer that example? In the context of a lengthy conversation, with a sympathetic interviewer, it is easy to see how the Pope might have been tempted toward speculative remarks. But in the weeks between the time of the interview and the date of publication, did no one at the Vatican recognize the likelihood that the Pope’s words would be yanked out of context? Did any authoritative Vatican official vet the text of the interview, to ensure that the Pope’s answers to Seewald were not subject to confusion and/or misinterpretation? If not, then this pontificate is now suffering from another self-inflicted wound. Surely any capable journalist would have recognized the potential for trouble, immediately upon reading the Pope’s words. Anyone alert to the rhythms of everyday public debate would have been able to warn the Pontiff that his subtle distinctions about the morality of condom use would be lost upon the secular media. Jeff Miller makes a witty reference to the “Ginger factor”: the tendency of journalists, when they encounter a mention of “condoms,” to block out all other words. Secular journalists, reading the Pope’s words in the fateful paragraph above, would ask themselves only whether the Pontiff was allowing for the possibility of condom use, and conclude that he was. So inevitably the Pope’s statement would be seen as opening a loophole in Church teaching.

Yet it was the Vatican’s own journalists, at L’Osservatore Romano, who put the Pope’s words in print without any proper introduction, any effort to put the Pontiff’s thoughts in context. The Pope’s statement was bound to stir up trouble; its premature publication in the Vatican newspaper exacerbated the problem.

In past months L’Osservatore Romano has often embarrassed the Vatican, with puerile articles gushing about the merits of Michael Jackson, the Beatles, and The Simpsons. But this editorial blunder is far more serious. With its gross mishandling of this very serious issue, the Vatican newspaper has given rise to a worldwide confusion on a very important moral issue—damage that it may take years of painstaking work to undo.

“Ironically, the message of this good and brilliant Pope has been hobbled nearly as much by the baffling failures of some of his own aides as by unfriendly coverage from the world's media,” writes Archbishop Charles Chaput for First Things. For the welfare of the Church, these public-relations debacles must end.

Why did L’Osservatore Romano violate journalistic norms, ignore obvious dangers, and print a potentially explosive statement out of its proper context? Was the editor hoping to stir up a ruckus, and push sales of Light of the World regardless of the pastoral cost? Was he hoping to stir up a new debate on condom use—something the Pope was quite obviously not seeking? Or was the editor blind to the dangers of publishing this excerpt? Whatever the answer might be, he has demonstrated that his editorial judgment cannot be trusted. As a necessary first step to address the continuous public-relations bungling at the Vatican, Giovanni Maria Vian, the editor of L’Osservatore Romano should be asked to resign.

Decision Point: George W. Bush’s Pro-Life Path

Decision Point: George W. Bush’s Pro-Life Path
By Dr. Paul Kengor

George W. Bush is an interesting man with a complicated presidency that most Americans—going into Bush’s final year of office—deemed a failure. At one point, Bush had the worst approval/disapproval rating since Gallup began measuring. His record on domestic policy and foreign policy, on the economy and Iraq, on Katrina and the War on Terror, engenders much heated debate.

That said, George W. Bush was our best pro-life president, hands down. To cite just a few examples:

Bush’s confirmed picks to the Supreme Court, from a pro-life standpoint, were superb. His actual policy changes, from bans on partial birth-abortion to stopping taxpayer funding of the deliberate destruction of human embryos, were wonderful. His first day in office, Bush authorized a ban on U.S. taxpayer funding of international “abortion rights” groups like International Planned Parenthood, which seek abortion implementation worldwide. In contrast, President Barack Obama immediately restored that funding his first week in office, specifically, January 23, 2009, the day after the annual March for Life. In August 2002, Bush signed the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, which requires medical attention to a child that accidentally survives an abortion. Barack Obama, as a state senator in Illinois, repeatedly blocked or voted against such legislation.

This is a short list of Bush’s pro-life actions.

Yet, unappreciated is the full story behind George W. Bush’s pro-life convictions. At its crux is a basic belief that every human life, from the moment of conception, is unique, precious, blessed by God, and deserving of protection by a compassionate society.

But is there more to it, maybe something personal? With the release of Bush’s new book, Decision Points, we learn that, yes, there was something deeply personal. As someone who wrote a biography of Bush, I had known only half the story.

It was the mid-1960s. With his father out of town on business, a teenage George W. Bush, the oldest child in the family, and the first with a driver’s license, quickly drove his mother to the hospital. She had just had a miscarriage. When Barbara Bush worried she would not be able to walk out of the car, George told her he would carry her into the emergency room. She spent the night in the hospital.

George W. Bush has told that much before. In his new book, however, he continues the conversation, albeit very briefly. He adds that one thing he didn’t expect to see during this ordeal was the remains of the fetus. Bush writes: “I remember thinking: There was a human life, a little brother or sister.”

A decade earlier, Bush had lost a little sister, Robin, who he adored, to childhood cancer. It was deeply painful; the Bushes still haven’t gotten over it. Here was another loss of a sibling, at an even earlier stage of development.

When asked about this incident in an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer, and explicitly if it spawned his pro-life commitment, Bush merely said he related the story as an example of the bond he has with his mother.

No doubt, though, it was a poignant encounter. Think about the significance: This was pre-Roe v. Wade. It was also long before the blessed advent of ultrasound machines, which have been the single greatest technological factor in convincing women considering abortions to proceed with their pregnancy. The percentage of women persuaded by ultrasound images is upwards of 75-90 percent (studies vary). That’s no surprise. These images offer a window into the womb, confirmation that the fetus is not a mere “blob of tissue.” It’s likewise no surprise that groups like Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Rights Action League are ferocious in opposing legislation requiring or funding ultrasounds. Clearly, this suggests that their goal is not to inform a woman’s “choice,” as they claim, but to advance abortion. If abortions, overnight, were cut by 75-90 percent, Planned Parenthood would be out of business.

To bring this back to the person of George W. Bush, what he glimpsed after his mother’s miscarriage was a vivid, early substitute to an ultrasound image. It portrayed the other end of life. He saw not a brother or sister sucking a thumb or grasping a toe in the womb but someone who never made it. Either way, he saw a human life. He saw a brother or sister—another potential Robin. Clearly, he or she was not a blob of tissue.

For countless other Americans who experienced such a trial, that’s a searing image that affected them in untold ways. For George W. Bush, however, it no doubt set him on a road to becoming America’s best pro-life president.

1,000 Attend Funeral for 17 Discarded Unborn Babies

Over 1,000 people packed St. Mary’s Cathedral in Lansing, Michigan, Saturday in a public display of grief and mourning and paid their respects to 17 aborted babies whose dismembered bodies were discovered in the trash dumpster used by Womans Choice abortion clinic located in Lansing—the states’ capitol. The aborted babies, whose bodies once lay at the bottom of a garbage container, were brought before the sanctuary in a simple white infant’s coffin for a funeral Mass celebrated by Lansing bishop Earl Boyea. Boyea also presided over the aborted babies’ funeral rite at St. Joseph’s Cemetery. Five hundred of those who were present at the Mass attended the burial ceremony.

Several young children gathered around the aborted babies’ grave as their white coffin was lowered into the ground. Children helped bury the remains of the aborted children—each taking turns as they shoveled dirt into the grave.

Monica Miglioriono Miller states: “The abortion clinic treated these human beings as if they were trash. Pro-lifers buried them—and treated them with dignity and respect. In this we see the clash of two cultures—and it matters which one shall prevail. This grave is a place of justice and healing—healing for all the mothers and fathers who grieve the loss of their aborted child. But this grave is also an indictment—an indictment against a nation that allows this sort of atrocity. The voices of these unborn children cry out to us from the ground that covers them now. Let us hear their plea and end the injustice of abortion.”

Benedict XVI, Condoms, and the Light of the World

A book-length interview with Benedict XVI, due to be released on Tuesday, is already causing controversy in the public spotlight due to the Pope's comments on the use of condoms.

Some quotes from the book, "Light of the World" (Ignatius Press), were published ahead of the release date, prompting media opinions and a statement of clarification by Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office.

Janet Smith, a consultor to the Pontifical Council on the Family who holds the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, and has published extensively on the topics of sexuality and bioethics, explained in this interview the source of the controversy and what the Pope is really saying.

She noted that in the book (p.119), to the charge that "It is madness to forbid a high-risk population to use condoms," Pope Benedict replied (This paragraph is at the end of an extended answer on the help the Church is giving the AIDS victims and the need to fight the banalization of sexuality.):

"There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality."

The interviewer asked the Pontiff, "Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?"

The Holy Father replied, "She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality."

Smith explains in the following interview, which she sent to ZENIT, how Benedict XVI was advocating conversion, not condoms, in the striving for moral behavior.

Q: What is Pope Benedict saying?

Smith: We must note that the example that Pope Benedict gives for the use of a condom is a male prostitute; thus, it is reasonable to assume that he is referring to a male prostitute engaged in homosexual acts.

The Holy Father is simply observing that for some homosexual prostitutes the use of a condom may indicate an awakening of a moral sense; an awakening that sexual pleasure is not the highest value, but that we must take care that we harm no one with our choices.

He is not speaking to the morality of the use of a condom, but to something that may be true about the psychological state of those who use them. If such individuals are using condoms to avoid harming another, they may eventually realize that sexual acts between members of the same sex are inherently harmful since they are not in accord with human nature.

The Holy Father does not in any way think the use of condoms is a part of the solution to reducing the risk of AIDs. As he explicitly states, the true solution involves "humanizing sexuality."

Anyone having sex that threatens to transmit HIV needs to grow in moral discernment. This is why Benedict focused on a "first step" in moral growth.

The Church is always going to be focused on moving people away from immoral acts towards love of Jesus, virtue, and holiness. We can say that the Holy Father clearly did not want to make a point about condoms, but wants to talk about growth in a moral sense, which should be a growth towards Jesus.

Q: So is the Holy Father saying it is morally good for male prostitutes to use condoms?

Smith: The Holy Father is not articulating a teaching of the Church about whether or not the use of a condom reduces the amount of evil in a homosexual sexual act that threatens to transmit HIV.

The Church has no formal teaching about how to reduce the evil of intrinsically immoral action. We must note that what is intrinsically wrong in a homosexual sexual act in which a condom is used is not the moral wrong of contraception but the homosexual act itself.

In the case of homosexual sexual activity, a condom does not act as a contraceptive; it is not possible for homosexuals to contracept since their sexual activity has no procreative power that can be thwarted.

But the Holy Father is not making a point about whether the use of a condom is contraceptive or even whether it reduces the evil of a homosexual sexual act; again, he is speaking about the psychological state of some who might use condoms. The intention behind the use of the condom (the desire not to harm another) may indicate some growth in a sense of moral responsibility.
In "Familiaris Consortio (On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World)," John Paul II spoke of the need for conversion, which often proceeds by gradual steps:

"To the injustice originating from sin ... we must all set ourselves in opposition through a conversion of mind and heart, following Christ Crucified by denying our own selfishness: such a conversion cannot fail to have a beneficial and renewing influence even on the structures of society.

"What is needed is a continuous, permanent conversion which, while requiring an interior detachment from every evil and an adherence to good in its fullness, is brought about concretely in steps which lead us ever forward. Thus a dynamic process develops, one which advances gradually with the progressive integration of the gifts of God and the demands of His definitive and absolute love in the entire personal and social life of man. (9)"

Christ himself, of course, called for a turning away from sin. That is what the Holy Father is advocating here; not a turn towards condoms. Conversion, not condoms!

Q: Would it be proper to conclude that the Holy Father would support the distribution of condoms to male prostitutes?

Smith: Nothing he says here indicates that he would. Public programs of distribution of condoms run the risk of conveying approval for homosexual sexual acts.

The task of the Church is to call individuals to conversion and to moral behavior; it is to help them understand the meaning and purpose of sexuality and to help them come to know Christ, who will provide the healing and graces that enable us to live in accord with the meaning and purpose of sexuality.

Q: Is Pope Benedict indicating that heterosexuals who have HIV could reduce the wrongness of their acts by using condoms?

Smith: No. In his second answer he says that the Church does not find condoms to be a "real or moral solution." That means the Church does not find condoms either to be moral or an effective way of fighting the transmission of HIV. As the Holy Father indicates in his fuller answer, the most effective portion of programs designed to reduce the transmission of HIV are calls to abstinence and fidelity.

The Holy Father, again, is saying that the intention to reduce the transmission of any infection is a "first step" in a movement towards a more human way of living sexuality. That more human way would be to do nothing that threatens to harm one's sexual partner, who should be one's beloved spouse. For an individual with HIV to have sexual intercourse with or without a condom is to risk transmitting a lethal disease.

An analogy: If someone was going to rob a bank and was determined to use a gun, it would better for that person to use a gun that had no bullets in it. It would reduce the likelihood of fatal injuries. But it is not the task of the Church to instruct potential bank robbers how to rob banks more safely and certainly not the task of the Church to support programs of providing potential bank robbers with guns that could not use bullets.

Nonetheless, the intent of a bank robber to rob a bank in a way that is safer for the employees and customers of the bank may indicate an element of moral responsibility that could be a step towards eventual understanding of the immorality of bank robbing.

New book released based on interview with Pope “Light of the world: The Pope, The Church, and the Signs of the Times”


The below are all examples of why Catholic radio is SOOOOOOOOO necessary. People don't even try to understand the Church's teaching on sexuality. The mainstream media certainly doesn't try to understand the Church's teaching. It's all sensationalized. We are in such need of remedial catechesis. And that's where Ave Maria Radio comes in. This whole story line about the Pope and condoms is easily understood when you know that the Church's teaching on contraception is a discussion about the MARITAL act. Maybe all religion reporters (and political cartoonists) should be required to listen to Ave Maria Radio for an hour a day. :)

Today on Kresta - November 22, 2010

Talking about the "things that matter most" on Nov. 22
4:00 – Defying Deletion: Violence Against Christians in Iraq
Andre Anton is a 26-year-old Assyrian filmmaker who lost two cousins in the massacre earlier this month at the Iraqi church, Our Lady of Salvation. He recently produced a documentary, "Defying Deletion" about the violence against civilians in post-war Iraq and joins us to look at this issue.

4:20 – Walking Together: Discovering the Catholic Tradition of Spiritual Friendship
Catholic journalist Mary DeTurris Poust writes with simplicity and directness about spiritual friendship--the connection people can make when they trust one another with matters of the soul. It's a lot different from Facebook friending; the author defines it as "two people bound together by a love of God." She draws on a variety of writings, from the biblical tale of Ruth and Naomi to the correspondence between such sainted pairs as Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal, in illustrating the depth of such a connection.

4:40 - Why Enough Is Never Enough: Overcoming Worries About Money --A Catholic Perspective
No amount of money will ever lift your anxiety. This may seem counter-intuitive, but in Gregory Jeffrey we have an experienced guide. With degrees in business and theology, he has worked as a development consultant for two decades. In meeting with thousands of individuals to ask their support for various causes, he discovered to his amazement that some people with millions worried constantly about money; others of very modest means seemed immune. Apparently, making peace with money entails something other than money. This insight led Jeffrey to question every fundamental assumption we hold about wealth. With warmth, humor, and a writing style as simple as the Dakota prairie he grew up on, he offers a unique perspective on the interplay between our spiritual and financial lives. Rich with images, stories, and compassion for the millions now burdened with financial worries, Jeffrey teases out what is required of the soul who wishes to be free of anxiety. He joins us.

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

5:40 – Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist to be on Oprah again Tomorrow
The Dominican Sisters of Mary will be featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show again tomorrow. This is a new show that includes interviews with Mother Assumpta, Sr. Jose ph Andrew, Sr. Mary Samuel, Sr. John Dominic and other Sisters; as well as on-site filming of the First and Final Profession Masses and this year’s Entrance Day, during which they welcomed 22 Aspirants. The show will also feature the experience of a Sister entering religious life and the meaning of religious profession as being ‘married’ to Christ. We talk with Sr. Joseph Andrew.