Friday, November 30, 2012

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" - November 30, 2012

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

4:00 - A Victory in the War on Christmas: Nativity Display Will Stay in Warren, MI
After four years of litigation by the Thomas More Law Center, John Satawa will once again be able to erect a Nativity display on a public median in Warren, Michigan—a tradition that his family and neighbors have been observing every Christmas since 1945. The Nativity display had been erected and maintained by members of the Satawa family and their neighbors every Christmas since 1945 without a single complaint. However, in December 2008 the Macomb County Road Commission received a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation which claimed the presence of the Nativity display on the public median violated the constitutional principle of separation of church and state. Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center joins us.

4:20 – Kresta Comments

4:40 – Massive Human Trafficking Ring Broken Up By Feds
Authorities on Tuesday broke up a $7 million, three-state prostitution and money laundering ring, rescuing two human trafficking victims and arresting more than a dozen people. The crackdown was the result of a 16-month investigation. So far, 17 people have been arrested in connection with running the prostitution ring. We talk to Linda Smith, Founder of Shared Hope International which exists to rescue and restore women and children in crisis about a recent report they released which analyzes how effective different states are in combating human trafficking.

5:00 – 10 Things You Need To Know About Advent
Advent begins this Sunday. Most of us have an intuitive understanding of Advent, based on experience, but what do the Church's official documents actually say about Advent? Jimmy Akin is here with some basic questions and (official!) answers about Advent. Some of the answers are surprising!

5:20 – Lincoln / The Life of Pi / Rise of the Guardians
It’s holiday time and that – among many things – means opportunities to head to the movie theater. Film critic Steven Greydanus is here to look at Lincoln, The Life of Pi, The Rise of the Guardians and more.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" - November 29, 2012

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

4:00 – First Appeals Court Victory Against HHS Mandate
A federal appeals court today issued an order granting a motion for a preliminary injunction that temporarily blocks the implementation of the HHS mandate against a Missouri business owner. The decision is the first occasion on which a plaintiff has secured a legal victory against the HHS mandate at the federal appeals court level. Most of the dozens of cases against the HHS mandate are still at the federal district court level. We talk to Frank Manion, the attorney who argued the case.

4:20 – 6:00 - Direct to My Desk - Two and a Half Men: Hero or Hypocrite?
Angus Turner Jones, the "half" of CBS's Two and a Half Men, sent shockwaves through the entertainment world this week by denouncing his own show, the third highest-ranked TV comedy, as "filth" and urging viewers to stop watching. Since age 10, Jones has played the character Jake Harper for nine seasons—eight of those as Hollywood's highest-paid child actor, making roughly $8 million annually. His declaration was spurred in part by his newfound faith in God, a faith he says is at odds with the themes of the show. But he hasn’t left the show. We talk about this story, the HHS Mandate victory and we give you the opportunity to raise the questions and topics that matter most to you.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Today on "Kresta in the Afternon" - November 28, 2012

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

4:00 – 6:00 – Direct To My Desk
Today on “Kresta in the Afternoon” we give you the opportunity to raise the questions and topics that matter most to you. Follow up on interviews we have had, introduce a new subject, or ask a question that has been gnawing at you. Our lines are open at 877-573-7825, that’s 877-KRESTA-5.

Critics Find U.N. Contraception Push Harmful to Women

The money spent on contraceptives would be better spent preventing maternal deaths, according to doctors and pro-life advocates.


NEW YORK — A United Nations population report calling for global contraceptive access has drawn fire from doctors and pro-life advocates who say the funding would be better spent preventing maternal deaths.
“A push to increase spending on contraceptives in developing countries by the United Nations Population Fund is at best misguided and at worst harmful to women and families,” Dr. John Brehany, executive director of the Catholic Medical Association, told Catholic News Agency Nov. 15.
On Nov. 14, the United Nations Population Fund released its annual report on the “State of World Population.”
This year’s report — titled “By Choice, Not By Chance” — links family planning to international development, declares it a global “right” for women and calls for the removal of any social and financial obstacles to it.
UNFPA included some population-control advocacy and depicted access to family planning as a “sound economic investment.” It also claims that the use of contraceptives will “improve” global health.
Brehany countered, however, that oral contraceptive pills “negatively impact women’s health in significant ways — by increasing the incidence of breast cancer, strokes and STDs.”
He also pointed out that an article in the January issue of The Lancet Infectious Diseases found that the use of injectable contraceptives in Africa has been shown to double the risk of HIV infection.
“Women’s greatest needs,” Brehany said, “are for education and health-care resources for prenatal care, safe childbirth and general health. Providing resources for natural methods of fertility awareness and regulation are not only cheaper than artificial contraceptives; they are better for women’s health and for the stability of marriages.”
The UNFPA report summary said family planning is “almost universally recognized as an intrinsic right” that should be “available to all.” It said family planning should be promoted as “a right” which enables “a whole range of other rights.”
Wendy Wright, an official at the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute and the former head of Concerned Women for America, called this “ludicrous.”
“The U.N. doesn’t have the authority to declare contraception a human right, but particularly an agency of the U.N. doesn’t have the right to declare something a human right; it debases the entire concept of human rights to declare a commodity or a product a human right,” she said in a Nov. 15 interview with CNA.
“The U.N. hasn’t declared food a human right and yet we need food to survive. So it's ludicrous to think that contraception would be a human right when the most necessary items for survival have not been considered human rights.”
The Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute's president, Austin Ruse, said that “it is precisely such debasement of authentic human rights which puts people in the developing world in grave danger. Human rights are about freedom of religion, democratic self-determination, freedom of assembly.”
Wright considers the UNFPA’s claim that “its products and services should be universally available and paid for by others” to be “crass self-interest.”
She also pointed out that “many countries are experiencing depopulation. Sadly, the UNFPA does not recognize the current status of the world’s population and that the most serious problems are ones of depopulation, not overpopulation.”
The report further claims that meeting the need for family planning for its estimate of 222 million women who lack it would cost some $8.1 billion every year.
Wright said that in light of the current fiscal crisis being experienced by most nations, “Right now seems to be a bizarre time for UNFPA to be claiming that its pet project ought to be getting an additional $8 billion a year.”

‘New life’ for Liberty U. health care lawsuit

The Washington Times

Monday, November 26, 2012
A Christian university's lawsuit against the Obama administration's health care law must be heard by a federal appellate court so its issues can be resolved properly, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.

Mathew D. Staver, dean of the Liberty University School of Law, is also founder and chairman of the Liberty Council, representing Liberty University and two other challengers in their suit against the Affordable Care Act. (Associated Press)
Mathew D. Staver, dean of the Liberty
University School of Law, is also founder
and chairman of the Liberty Council,
representing Liberty University and
two other challengers in their
suit against the Affordable Care Act.
(Associated Press)

The ruling "breathes new life into our challenge" to the Affordable Care Act, said Mathew D. Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, which represents the petitioners. "Our fight against Obamacare is far from over."
The petitioners are the private Christian college Liberty University and two Christians, Michele Waddell and Joanne Merrill. The university argues that it does not want to be forced to buy insurance as prescribed by the Affordable Care Act. All of the petitioners object to paying for insurance that is likely to include coverage for abortion. Such a mandate, they said, violates their rights to religious freedom under the U.S. Constitution and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.
Liberty University filed its first lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act shortly after President Obama signed the law in March 2010.
Mr. Staver is also dean of the Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Va.
The new health care law requires virtually all Americans to have some kind of health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty. The law also requires all employers with 50 or more employees to provide them with health insurance.
In 2011, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond declined to address the substance of the Liberty University petitioners' lawsuit, saying the case was premature and the individuals had no standing because no health care penalties (taxes) had been demanded or paid yet.
In June, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act by a 5-4 majority, saying the law was constitutional because Congress had the power to levy taxes.
It upheld the individual mandate but did not address the employer mandate or the religious liberty arguments.
In their July petition to the Supreme Court, Mr. Staver and his colleagues argue that their case should be sent back to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals for a full hearing.
Unless the substance of their case is reheard, Mr. Staver wrote, "the petitioners will remain in limbo and their claims will fade into oblivion."
On Monday, the high court agreed to the rehearing and remanded the case, Liberty University v. Geithner, to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
While Mr. Staver said the new hearing may "pave the way" for the case to return to the Supreme Court in 2013, writers at did not offer much hope for a victory for Liberty University, which was founded by the now deceased Rev. Jerry Falwell. contributing blogger Rick Ungar noted that the Virginia court is "one of the most liberal appellate courts in the nation."
"Even the U.S. Solicitor General [Donald B. Verrilli Jr.] declined to intervene, figuring Liberty will go down to defeat once again," opined Forbes senior editor Daniel Fisher.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

PRI Launches New Cartoon on Megacities

FRONT ROYAL, Va., Nov. 27, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ Population Research Institute is proud to announce the sixth episode of its highly popular YouTube cartoon series. Called "Urbanization: Who's Afraid of the Big Bad City?" it talks about why people are crowding into cities in increasing numbers.
Over the past hundred years, half the world's population has moved country to city. Megacities with ten million or more people have sprung up as countrysides have emptied out.
But urban overcrowding should not be mistaken for overpopulation. Heavy traffic, homelessness, and long lines are not symptoms of a global glut of people, but of people seeking the good life that cities offer.
"Urbanites often complain about overcrowding," says Steven Mosher, PRI's president. "Yet they enjoy the economic, educational and cultural benefits that come from living in the city. This video will help them understand that they can't have the perquisites of city life without the people that provide them. If you don't love your neighbors you can always move to North Dakota where you won't have any."
"The fight against the myth of overpopulation does not have to be a bare-knuckled brawl," continues Mosher. "These videos are funny and easy to digest, the very opposite of Al Gore's dark and boring pronouncements on the 'dangers' of too many people. Our viewers end up considering the science that supports our pro-people position, often for the very first time. We say to our skeptics: watch, laugh, and learn."
The latest video, two minutes long, is available here: 

or by visiting The series has, to date, garnered over 1,500,000 views in multiple languages.

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" - November 27, 2012

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

4:00 – Supreme Court orders lower court to hear challenge to HHS mandate
In a significant ruling for Obamacare and the HHS mandates, The United States Supreme Court has ordered the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to hear Liberty University’s challenge to the constitutionality of the HHS mandate. The appeals court had previously declined to hear the challenge. The Dean of Liberty University Law School, Matthew Staver, joins us to explain.

4:20 – New UN Document on World Population Continues High-Pressure Push for a Universal Human Right to Abortion
“The State of World Population 2012,” a new report by the United Nations Population Fund, has attracted criticism from pro-life advocates because of its emphasis on contraception and abortion as a fundamental human right. The report calls upon nations to “promote family planning as a right, the exercise of which enables the attainment of a whole range of other rights. All human beings—regardless of age, sex, race or income—are equal in dignity and rights,” the report adds. “Yet 222 million women in developing countries are unable to exercise the human right to voluntary family planning.” Susan Yoshihara, a UN watchdog from the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute joins us.

4:40 – AP Exclusive: Memos show US hushed up Soviet crime
The American POWs sent secret coded messages to Washington with news of a Soviet atrocity: In 1943 they saw rows of corpses in an advanced state of decay in the Katyn forest, on the western edge of Russia, proof that the killers could not have been the Nazis who had only recently occupied the area. Documents released recently and seen in advance by The Associated Press lend weight to the belief that suppression within the highest levels of the U.S. government helped cover up Soviet guilt in the killing of some 22,000 Polish officers and other prisoners in the Katyn forest and other locations in 1940. We talk to the man who wrote the book on it – literally – Ken Koskodan.

5:00 – Wife of slain West Bloomfield police officer: Catholic faith sustaining me
Amy O’Rourke, is a mother of four and a member of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Fenton, MI. She is also the wife police officer Patrick O’Rourke who was killed last month after being shot during a standoff late at a home in West Bloomfield, MI. The 39-year-old’s funeral was attended by thousands of friends, family and fellow force members. Amy joined us by phone shortly after the funeral but today’s sits with us in studio because she wants people to know that her husband would want people to know that he forgives the gunman who shot and killed him and “that he would want the light of Christ, the love of Christ, to shine out of him right now.” She joins us to share her husband’s life, faith and memories.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Disabilities group opposes UN treaty

Joni and Friends has concerns about the treaty’s effect on parental rights, the rights of the unborn with disabilities, and U.S. sovereignty
by J.C. Derrick,
WASHINGTON, WNS —Joni and Friends, the organization started by quadriplegic Joni Eareckson Tada, announced this week it is opposed to a United Nations disabilities treaty up for ratification in the U.S. Senate.
Joni Eareckson Tada
Joni and Friends
Joni Eareckson Tada

Joni and Friends released a statement saying although the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) could provide some benefits, including promoting the human dignity of people with disabilities, the drawbacks outweigh the reward: “Joni and Friends holds deep concerns regarding CRPD language on parental rights and the rights of the unborn with disabilities. We are also concerned how U.S. ratification of this treaty would impact U.S. sovereignty.”
Conservatives on Capitol Hill have voiced similar concerns, but the CRPD passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 13-6, in July with the support of 10 Democrats and three Republicans. The treaty has already been ratified by more than 115 countries and attracted support from prominent Republicans such as Sen. John McCain and former President George H.W. Bush. Proponents say it would give American citizens more rights when traveling abroad.
In September, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., tried to ratify the treaty by a voice vote late one afternoon, but Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, produced a letter from 36 senators pledging not to consider any treaty until the 113th Congress is seated in January. The move dealt a temporary deathblow to the treaty because ratification requires two-thirds approval (67 votes) in the Senate. As of this week, the coalition vowing to delay the vote is still holding strong.
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) also opposes the treaty as an infringement on U.S. sovereignty and parental rights. Since the Constitution guarantees Senate ratification of a treaty makes it the “supreme law of the land,” HSLDA is concerned the CRPD would lead to unelected bureaucrats making decisions about “the best interest of the child.”
Among other issues conservatives have with the treaty, it includes the phrase “sexual and reproductive health,” language that some claim includes the right to an abortion. The Vatican has already refused to sign the treaty on the grounds that it may be used to promote abortion.
The statement from Joni and Friends said Americans who want to help those with disabilities should focus on enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act and “investing in those global initiatives which provide spiritual and practical help” to disabled persons.
Tada started Joni and Friends in 1979 as a Christian outreach ministry to the disabled community. She was injured in a diving accident in 1967 and is one of the longest surviving quadriplegics on record at age 63.

The cross returns

Angela Lu
A long legal battle over the Mojave Desert monument comes to a happy end
by Angela Lu, WNS
Hardy supporters reinstated a World War I memorial cross in the Mojave Desert on Veterans Day—after a 13-year battle over the constitutionality of a religious symbol on federal ground.
Henry Sandoz and the new, 7-foot steel cross.
Liberty Institute/AP
Henry Sandoz and the new, 7-foot steel cross.
More than 100 people showed up for the ceremony—including cross caretakers Henry and Wanda Sandoz, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), attorneys from the Liberty Institute, and an honor guard.
The Sandozes have taken care of the cross since 1984 when they promised a World War I veteran they would watch over it. In 2001, the American Civil Liberties Union sued VFW, calling the cross unconstitutional because it violated the separation of church and state. Throughout the court process, the cross was bagged and covered in a plywood box.
A 2010 Supreme Court ruling allowed for the VFW to transfer the federal land beneath the cross, allowing for the cross to stand on private property. But the cross was stolen days after the ruling.
The land transfer finally was completed early in November, and the stolen cross was found in Northern California. But Henry Sandoz decided to put up a newly made cross for the ceremony.
The site is now fenced off and includes a plaque stating that the cross is a memorial for World War I veterans.
“We are so, so happy that it’s going up and staying up without opposition since the Veterans of Foreign Wars owns it now,” Wanda Sandoz said. “We are so happy that it all came together and the veterans can have their memorial now.”

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Real Divisions in the Church of England

November 21, 2012 By , Standing on my Head
Yesterday I posted an explanation of the complex relationships within the Church of England. I explained here about Anglo Catholic, Evangelicals and Liberals. However, this is not the full story.
As usual, there is a story behind the story. The divisions between Liberal, Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical are, in many respects, only superficial and historical. The real division is between those Anglican Christians (no matter how they dress or worship) who believe that the Christian faith is a revealed religion, established by God and therefore unchanging, and those who believe the Christian religion is a human construct developed out of the circumstances of a particular historical and cultural setting.
Those who believe the Christian religion is revealed by God supernaturally also believe that the Church is essentially not of this world. They exist in this world to challenge the ways of this world. They are not supposed to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed. Those who believe that the Christian religion is revealed by God for the eternal salvation of souls see this world as needing repentance and forgiveness and salvation. They don’t mind if the world rejects them. They expect that. When asked to compromise the faith and change the faith to adapt to the world they assume the martyr’s stance. “Offer incense to idols? Bring on the roaring lions, the coliseum and the crowds.”
The second category of Christian are those who believe the religion is a human construct. They think it is the result of certain historical and cultural conditions and accidents. As it was produced by a cultural context, so Christianity has always adapted to the culture in which it finds itself. They see this as a good thing. This is their method of evangelization. They follow the lead of the current cultural climate because they see that as the way of being relevant and connecting with the people in their culture. They do not view the world as full of souls to be saved so much as a wayward child that needs educating and a little bit of discipline in order to reach his full potential. Christianity is for them, a method of personal growth and a system for societal change. It is for them more of an ideology than a theology.
The clash therefore is between those who believe the Christian religion is revealed and those who think it is relative.
This is the essential clash in the Church of England, and the vote on women bishops in the General Synod has revealed this deep fault line within the Church of England, and it is this clash of essential beliefs about what the Church really IS that is at the heart of the rift. This rift exists within the Catholic Church too, but it is especially painful for Anglicans because part of their heritage and core identity is that they are a national church. They are an established church, so their basic self identification is the second of the two choices–the church conformed to society in order to minister to society.
This is written into the Church of England genetic code. That’s how they’re wired. From the foundation of the Church of England it has been a church formed by the monarch, steered by Parliament and guided by the English culture. English vicars still love to think that they minister to “everyone who lives in the parish”. However, one of the comments from a woman who voted against women bishops yesterday is telling. She is a conservative Evangelical (and therefore of the group who thinks the Christian religion is revealed not relative) she said quite simply and sweetly, “We are the part of the Church of England that is growing. Our churches are full. We are producing the largest number of new priests. We tithe and are therefore donating more than any other group in the Church of England.” She might also have added that it is conservative Evangelical religion which also makes up the largest part of the vast and fast growing church in the developing world.
If this is so, then the Church of England’s present crisis is not just the failure of its liberal leadership to bully everyone and push through a vote for women bishops. The crisis is a crisis of identity. Will the Church of England continue to be a church that adapts to every passing fad and fashion, or will it become a church of martyrs–a church which stands up against the trends of society and calls for repentance and a return to the gospel?
I think I can predict the answer…

Ireland Government Defeats Motion to Legalize Abortion

by Steven Ertelt | Dublin, Ireland | | 11/21/12 6:48 PM

Motions to essentially legalize abortion in Ireland, following the death of a pregnant Indian woman named Savita, have been defeated.
Sinn Fein and Gerry Adams tabled a motion in the Irish Parliament (the Dáil) today calling for immediate changes to abortion laws and urging legislation supporting abortion in the Irish Republic.
A Sinn Féin Private Members’ motion calling on the Irish government to give effect to the 1992 Supreme Court ruling on the X Case was voted down 90 to 53 in the Dail. A report in RTE News provided more details:
Earlier, United Left Alliance TD Clare Daly said that the bill that she introduced this morning, to legislate for the X Case, is an amended version of legislation she had previously introduced.Deputy Daly’s original bill was debated in April and was defeated on second stage during Private Members’ Time.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Drivetime, Ms Daly said that the deputies behind the legislation had responded to the criticism of their original bill.“At the time, the Government pinpointed a number of areas where they thought our legislation was a bit loose, in terms of areas around the issues of consent and issues of offences,” Ms Daly said. “Obviously, it’s not the same bill that we’re introducing. It’s an amended version to take account of the objection raised by Government at the time.”
The legislation, in the name of Deputy Daly, Mick Wallace and Joan Collins, was introduced as a Private Members’ Bill and has to be debated in Private Member’s Time.
When Deputy Daly’s bill was debated in the Dáil in April, it was defeated by 111 votes to 20.
Before the vote, the Pro-Life Campaign, one of the major pro-life groups in Ireland, asked members of the Irish Parliament to defeat it.
In a statement to LifeNews in response to Sinn Féin’s Dáil motion in support of legislation to implement the Supreme Court’s 1992 ruling, Dr Ruth Cullen of the PLC said: “It is clear listening to Sinn Féin spokespeople that they don’t even have a basic grasp of what the X case judgement actually entails. Given the seriousness of the issue, this is inexcusable.”
She said: “Contrary to what Sinn Féin are saying, the X Case would lead to abortion on a very wide scale as the court heard no medical evidence and there is no duty of care to even attempt to save the life of the baby.
“In addition, the peer reviewed medical evidence since the X case contradicts some of the assumptions made in the judgement. It does a tremendous disservice to women as well the right to life for Sinn Féin to be rushing forward with this motion when clearly they are unaware of the most basic background facts,” she added.
“It is also a disgrace that Sinn Féin and others are continuing to falsely create the impression that Ireland is not a safe place for pregnant women when the complete opposite is the case. Out of 171 countries, according to UN figures Ireland is consistently in the top five, sometimes even first, is terms of safety for pregnant women, much safer than places like Britain where abortion is freely available,” Cullen concluded.
Also before the vote, the pro-life group Precious Life released a document signed by Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams in 2008 which clearly rejects the extension of the 1967 Abortion Act abortion to Northern Ireland. The letter sent to all Members of Parliament acknowledges the “..strong opposition to any move to impose this legalisation legalising abortion on the Province.”
“Sinn Fein seem to have a dual policy for abortion on the Island of Ireland and by doing so have ‘reintroduced the border’. Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein’s call to legalise abortion will be judged as political opportunism; cause division in the Irish Republic; and will undermine the power- sharing executive in Northern Ireland,” the group said. “The vast majority of grass root supporters of Sinn Fein are against abortion and it is now apparent that they cannot trust their political leaders to keep their word.”

“There has been understandable public sympathy following the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar. This is a hugely difficult time for the family of Savita Halappanavar, and we hope that the official investigations will shed full light on this tragedy,” Precious Life added. “The tragic loss of Savita Halappanavar’s life was not caused by Ireland’s law against abortion. In every pregnancy in Ireland it must always be ensured that both mother and baby are best protected; but abortion is not part of best medical practise. Doctors are always obliged to intervene to save the life of the mother – even if there is a risk that the medical treatment could result in the unintentional death of her baby.”
“Sinn Fein’s motion is unwarranted particularly given that the official inquiry into Savita Halappanavar’s death is not yet complete, and there is no evidence to suggest that the current laws are to blame for her death,” the group concluded. “The Irish Government have recently commissioned an ‘Expert Group Report on Abortion’ which has not yet been published or debated so it is pre-mature for a political party to be moving a motion in the Dáil at this time. Sinn Fein must now explain to their voters how the Party can be opposed to the introduction of the 1967 Abortion Act in Northern Ireland but want an abortion law even more liberal than the ’67 Act to be introduced in the Republic of Ireland.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bono Thanks Vatican for Helping With Debt Forgiveness

Without Pope John Paul II’s intervention, the rock star says, the international debts of impoverished nations wouldn’t have been canceled. 11/19/2012, National Catholic Register

VATICAN CITY — The famous U2 vocalist Bono traveled to the Vatican Nov. 16 to thank the Church for its work to free the world's least developed countries from their foreign debt, enabling them to invest in education.
On Friday, Bono spent nearly an hour speaking with Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, according to Vatican Radio.
– Wikipedia
In 2000, the Church was an important backer of the “Drop the Debt” campaign, which coincided with the Church's Jubilee Year. Bono was one of the leading figures in the campaign, and he is known for his activism on behalf of the world’s poorest people.
Drop the Debt was an effort to persuade first-world nations to forgive the debt owed them by the poorest countries. The success of that effort has made possible “an extra 52 million children going to school,” Bono told Vatican Radio, since governments were able to use the money they would have had to pay back for investment in schools.
Bono said the Church deserves “incredible credit” for its role in securing debt forgiveness and that Catholics should be made aware of how their faith was central in the efforts.
Jubilee years are celebrations of God's mercy, the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation, and they are rooted in Jewish tradition.
The Jewish tradition of jubilee years was that in every 50th year slaves and prisoners were freed. Debts were also forgiven, which is why the Great Jubilee of 2000 was an opportune time for the Church to advocate forgiveness of foreign debt.
Pope John Paul II met with Bono on the eve of the Jubilee Year to discuss the debt campaign, and, shortly after his death, Bono recalled that “we would never have gotten the debts of 23 countries completely canceled without him.”
The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace promotes the Church's social teaching to advance justice and harmony the world over. Bono and Cardinal Turkson were looking forward to further collaboration on development and foreign aid.
Bono told Vatican Radio, “I just think the Church hasn’t done a good job yet of telling people what they’ve achieved, and we were just trying to figure out how best to do that.”

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Court Rules Against Hobby Lobby’s Challenge To HHS Mandate

November 20, 2012
by Bethany Monk, CitizenLink
HobbyLobbyA federal court on Monday rejected a legal challenge from the largest corporation so far to sue the Obama administration over a mandate requiring most businesses to offer contraceptives and possible abortion-inducing drugs under their insurance plans.
Hobby Lobby, the popular arts and crafts store, sued the government on Sept. 12, and asked the court for relief from the mandate as the case proceeds. The Christian-owned-and operated store is the largest and the first non-Catholic-owned businesses to file a lawsuit against the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate.
“This is not the end of the road for Hobby Lobby,” said Emily Hardman, communications director for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberties, representing Hobby Lobby in the case. The ruling, she said, is “disappointing,” but not a final decision.
The court did not question the religious beliefs of the Hobby Lobby owners, but ruled that those beliefs were only “indirectly” burdened by the HHS mandate’s requirement that the business provide free coverage for possible abortion-inducing drugs, according to the Becket Fund.
The Becket Fund filed an emergency appeal Monday evening asking the 10th U.S. Circuit of Appeals to stop enforcement of the HHS mandate, Hardman said. Becket Fund attorneys requested the court to respond to the request by Jan. 1.
David Green founded Hobby Lobby in an Oklahoma City garage in 1972. He and his family currently own and operate more than 500 stores in 41 states. Employees have access to spiritual counseling and chaplains; stores are always closed on Sundays.
“It is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured,” Green said. “Therefore we seek to honor God by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles.”
The Obama administration gave secular businesses until Aug. 1 to comply with the mandate. Faith-based groups, including Catholic hospitals, universities and nonprofit ministries, have until August 2013 to comply.
“Every American, including family business owners like the Greens, should be free to live and do business according to their religious beliefs,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund.
There are currently more than 110 plaintiffs and a total of 40 lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate.
A court date has not been set in the Hobby Lobby case.

No Mere Marriage of Convenience: The Unity of Economic and Social Conservatism

November 16, 2012
On November 6, Democrats and liberals had a good election night; Republicans and conservatives had a bad one. These things happen. It’s certainly true that the Republican Party and its candidates made some serious mistakes and could have done a number of things better than they did; but it would be tragic—and foolish—for the Party or the conservative movement to abandon its principles. Those principles are true and good. They are the principles on which our nation was founded, and their restoration and defense is vital to its future. Contrary to the claims of the Democratic Party and the cultural-political left, they have not been repudiated by the American people.

Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence
and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and
Institutions at Princeton University.

Still, all-too-predictably the recriminations have been flying back and forth between different elements in the Republican Party and the conservative movement. Many economic conservatives claim that the Republicans lost the presidential contest and took a drubbing in the battle to win a majority in the United States Senate because of the strong pro-life and pro-marriage stands of the party’s platform and candidates. Their mantra is “time for a truce” (i.e., surrender) on social issues.

Some social conservatives lay blame for the Republican defeat on those whose pro-market and small government convictions and rhetoric allegedly lead working class people and other voters to believe that the party and its candidates are only concerned to protect the economic privileges of the rich and don’t care about ordinary people.

Both sides need to knock it off. Economic and social conservatives need each other—and not merely to win elections. The marriage of economic and social conservatism, while not always a love match, is no mere marriage of convenience. It is a union rooted in shared principles. Let me offer some reflections on why I believe that to be true.

Any healthy society, any decent society, will rest upon three pillars. The first is respect for the human person—the individual human being and his dignity. Where this pillar is in place, the formal and informal institutions of society, and the beliefs and practices of the people, will be such that every member of the human family—irrespective of race, sex, or ethnicity, to be sure, but also and equally irrespective of age, size, stage of development, or condition of dependency—is treated as a person—that is, as a subject bearing profound, inherent, and equal worth and dignity.

A society that does not nurture respect for the human person—beginning with the child in the womb, and including the mentally and physically impaired and the frail elderly—will sooner or later (probably sooner, rather than later) come to regard human beings as mere cogs in the larger social wheel whose dignity and well-being may legitimately be sacrificed for the sake of the collectivity. Some members of the community—those in certain development stages, for example—will come to be regarded as disposable, and others—those in certain conditions of dependency, for example, will come to be viewed as intolerably burdensome, as “useless eaters, as “better off dead,” as lebensunwertes Lebens.

In its most extreme modern forms, totalitarian regimes reduce the individual to the status of an instrument to serve the ends of the fascist state or the future communist utopia. When liberal democratic regimes go awry, it is often because a utilitarian ethic reduces the human person to a means rather than an end to which other things including the systems and institutions of law, education, and the economy are means.

The abortion license against which we struggle today is dressed up by its defenders in the language of individual and even natural rights—and there can be no doubt that the acceptance of abortion is partly the fruit of me-generation liberal ideology—a corruption (and burlesque) of liberal political philosophy in its classical form; but more fundamentally it is underwritten by a utilitarian ethic that, in the end, vaporizes the very idea of natural rights, treating the idea (in Jeremy Bentham’s famously dismissive words) as “nonsense on stilts.”

In cultures in which religious fanaticism has taken hold, the dignity of the individual is typically sacrificed for the sake of tragically misbegotten theological ideas and goals. By contrast, a liberal democratic ethos, where it is uncorrupted by utilitarianism or me-generation expressive individualism, supports the dignity of the human person by giving witness to basic human rights and liberties.

Where a healthy religious life flourishes, faith in God provides a grounding for the dignity and inviolability of the human person by, for example, proposing an understanding of each and every member of the human family, even those of different faiths or professing no particular faith, as persons made in the image and likeness of the divine Author of our lives and liberties.

The second pillar of any decent society is the institution of the family. It is indispensable. The family, based on the marital commitment of husband and wife, is the original and best ministry of health, education, and welfare. Although no family is perfect, no institution matches the healthy family in its capacity to transmit to each new generation the understandings and traits of character—the values and virtues—upon which the success of every other institution of society, from law and government to educational institutions and business firms, vitally depends.

Where families fail to form, or too many break down, the effective transmission of the virtues of honesty, civility, self-restraint, concern for the welfare of others, justice, compassion, and personal responsibility is imperiled. Without these virtues, respect for the dignity of the human person, the first pillar of a decent society, will be undermined and sooner or later lost—for even the most laudable formal institutions cannot uphold respect for human dignity where people do not have the virtues that make that respect a reality and give it vitality in actual social practices.

Respect for the dignity of the human being requires more than formally sound institutions; it requires a cultural ethos in which people act from conviction to treat each other as human beings should be treated: with respect, civility, justice, compassion. The best legal and political institutions ever devised are of little value where selfishness, contempt for others, dishonesty, injustice, and other types of immorality and irresponsibility flourish.

Indeed, the effective working of governmental institutions themselves depends upon most people most of the time obeying the law out of a sense of moral obligation, and not merely out of fear of detection and punishment for law-breaking. And perhaps it goes without saying that the success of business and a market-based economic system depends on there being reasonably virtuous, trustworthy, law-abiding, promise-keeping people to serve as workers and managers, lenders, regulators, and payers of bills for goods and services.

The third pillar of any decent society is a fair and effective system of law and government. This is necessary because none of us is perfectly virtuous all the time, and some people will be deterred from wrongdoing only by the threat of punishment. More importantly, contemporary philosophers of law tell us the law coordinates human behavior for the sake of achieving common goals — the common good — especially in dealing with the complexities of modern life. Even if all of us were perfectly virtuous all of the time, we would still need a system of laws (considered as a scheme of authoritatively stipulated coordination norms) to accomplish many of our common ends (safely transporting ourselves on the streets, to take a simple and obvious example).

The success of business firms and the economy as a whole depends vitally on a fair and effective system and set of institutions for the administration of justice. We need judges skilled in the craft of law, free of corruption, and disciplined enough to respect the limits of their own authority in the constitutional system. We need to be able to rely on courts to apply legal rules and principles faithfully to settle disputes, including disputes between parties who are both in good faith, and to enforce contracts and other agreements and enforce them in a timely manner.

Indeed, the knowledge that contracts will be enforced is usually sufficient to ensure that courts will not actually be called on to enforce them. A sociological fact of which we can be certain is this: Where there is no reliable system of the administration of justice—no confidence that the courts will hold people to their obligations under the law—business will not flourish and everyone in the society will suffer.

A society can, in my opinion, be a decent one even if it is not a dynamic one, if the three pillars are healthy and functioning in a mutually supportive way (as they will do if each is healthy). Now, conservatives of a certain stripe believe that a truly decent society cannot be a dynamic one. Dynamism, they believe, causes instability that undermines the pillars of a decent society. So some conservatives in old Europe and even the United States opposed not only industrialism but the very idea of a commercial society, fearing that commercial economies inevitably produce consumerist and acquisitive materialist attitudes that corrode the foundations of decency. And some, such as some Amish communities in the U.S., reject education for their children beyond what is necessary to master reading, writing, and arithmetic, on the ground that higher education leads to worldliness and apostasy and undermines religious faith and moral virtue.

Although a decent society need not be a dynamic one (as the Amish example shows) dynamism need not erode decency. A dynamic society need not be one in which consumerism and materialism become rife and in which moral and spiritual values disappear. Indeed, dynamism can play a positive moral role and, I would venture to say, almost certainly will play such a role where what makes it possible is sufficient to sustain it over the long term.

That is, I realize, a rather cryptic comment, so let me explain what I mean. To do that, I will have to offer some thoughts on what in fact makes social dynamism possible.

The two pillars of social dynamism are, first, institutions of research and education in which the frontiers of knowledge across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences are pushed back, and through which knowledge is transmitted to students and disseminated to the public at large; and, second, business firms and associated institutions supporting them or managed in ways that are at least in some respects patterned on their principles, by which wealth is generated, widely distributed, and preserved.

We can think of universities and business firms, together with respect for the dignity of the human person, the institution of the family, and the system of law and government, as the five pillars of decent and dynamic societies. The university and the business firm depend in various ways for their well-being on the well-being of the others, and they can help to support the others in turn. At the same time, of course, ideologies and practices hostile to the pillars of a decent society can manifest themselves in higher education and in business and these institutions can erode the social values on which they themselves depend not only for their own integrity, but for their long-term survival.

It is all too easy to take the pillars for granted. So it is important to remember that each of them has come under attack from different angles and forces. Operating from within universities, persons, and movements hostile to one or the other of these pillars, usually preaching or acting in the name of high ideals of one sort or another, have gone on the attack.

Attacks on business and the very idea of the market economy and economic freedom coming from the academic world are, of course, well known. Students are sometimes taught to hold business, and especially businessmen, in contempt as heartless exploiters driven by greed. In my own days as a student, these attacks were often made explicitly in the name of Marxism. One notices less of that after the collapse of the Soviet empire, but the attacks themselves have abated little. Needless to say, where businesses behave unethically they play into the stereotypes of the enemies of the market system and facilitate their effort to smear business and the free market for the sake of transferring greater control of the economy to government.

Similarly, attacks on the family, and particularly on the institution of marriage on which the family is built, are common in the academy. The line here is that the family, at least as traditionally constituted and understood, is a patriarchal and exploitative institution that oppresses women and imposes on people forms of sexual restraint that are psychologically damaging and inhibiting of the free expression of their personality.

As has become clear in the past decade and a half, there is a profound threat to the family here, one against which we must fight with all our energy and will. It is difficult to think of any item on the domestic agenda that is more critical today than the defense of marriage as the union of husband and wife and the effort to renew and rebuild the marriage culture.

What has also become clear is that the threats to the family (and to the sanctity of human life) are at the same time and necessarily threats to religious freedom and to religion itself—at least where the religions in question stand up and speak out for conjugal marriage and the rights of the child in the womb. From the point of view of those seeking to re-define marriage and to protect and advance what they regard as the right to abortion the taming of religion, and the stigmatization and marginalization of religions that refuse to be tamed, is a moral imperative.

It is therefore not surprising to see that they are increasingly open in saying that they do not see disputes about sex and marriage and abortion and euthanasia as honest disagreements among reasonable people of goodwill. They are, rather, battles between the forces of “reason” and “enlightenment,” on one side, and those of “ignorance” and “bigotry,” on the other. Their opponents are to be treated just as racists are treated—since they are the equivalent of racists.

That doesn’t necessarily mean imprisoning them or fining them for expressing unacceptable opinions—though “hate crimes” laws in certain jurisdictions raise the specter of precisely such abuses; but it does mean using antidiscrimination laws and other legal instruments to stigmatize them, marginalize them, and impose upon them and their institutions various forms of social and even civil disability—with few if any meaningful protections for religious liberty and the rights of conscience.

Some will counsel that commercial businesses and business people “have no horse in this race.” They will say that these are moral, cultural, and religious disputes about which business people and people concerned with economic freedom need not concern themselves. The reality is that the ideological movements that today seek, for example, to redefine marriage and abolish its normativity for romantic relations and the rearing of children are the same movements that seek to undermine the market-based economic system and replace it with statist control of vast areas of economic life.

Moreover, the rise of ideologies hostile to marriage and the family has had a measurable social impact, and its costs are counted in ruined relationships, damaged lives, and all that follows in the social sphere from these personal catastrophes. In many poorer places in the United States, and I believe this is true in many other countries, families are simply failing to form and marriage is disappearing or coming to be regarded as an optional “life-style choice”—one among various optional ways of conducting relationships and having and rearing children. Out of wedlock birthrates are very high, with the negative consequences being borne less by the affluent than by those in the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of society.

In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Harvard professor who was then working in the administration of President Lyndon Johnson, shocked Americans by reporting findings that the out-of-wedlock birth rate among African-Americans in the United States had reached nearly 25%. He warned that the phenomenon of boys and girls being raised without fathers in poorer communities would result in social pathologies that would severely harm those most in need of the supports of solid family life.

His predictions were all too quickly verified. The widespread failure of family formation portended disastrous social consequences of delinquency, despair, violence, drug abuse, and crime and incarceration. A snowball effect resulted in the further growth of the out-of-wedlock birth rate. It is now over 70% among African-Americans. It is worth noting that at the time of Moynihan’s report, the out-of-wedlock birth rate for the population as a whole was almost 6%. Today, that rate is over 40%.

The economic consequences of these developments are evident. Consider the need of business to have available to it a responsible and capable work force. Business cannot manufacture honest, hard working people to employ. Nor can government create them by law. Businesses and governments depend on there being many such people, but they must rely on the family, assisted by religious communities and other institutions of civil society, to produce them. So business has a stake—a massive stake—in the long-term health of the family. It should avoid doing anything to undermine the family, and it should do what it can where it can to strengthen the institution.

As an advocate of dynamic societies, I believe in the market economy and the free enterprise system. I particularly value the social mobility that economic dynamism makes possible. Indeed, I am a beneficiary of that social mobility. A bit over a hundred years ago, my immigrant grandfathers—one from southern Italy, the other from Syria—were coal miners. Neither had so much as remotely considered the possibility of attending a university—as a practical economic matter, such a thing was simply out of the question.

At that time, Woodrow Wilson, the future President of the United States, was the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton. Today, just two generations forward, I, the grandson of those immigrant coal miners, am the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton. And what is truly remarkable is that my story is completely unremarkable. Something like it is the story of millions of Americans. Perhaps it goes without saying that this kind of upward mobility is not common in corporatist or socialist economic systems; but it is very common in market-based free enterprise economies.

Having said that, I should note that I am not a supporter of the laissez-faire doctrine embraced by strict libertarians. I believe that law and government do have important and, indeed, indispensable roles to play in regulating enterprises for the sake of protecting public health, safety, and morals, preventing exploitation and abuse, and promoting fair competitive circumstances of exchange. But these roles are compatible, I would insist, with the ideal of limited government and the principle of subsidiarity according to which government must respect individual initiative to the extent reasonably possible and avoid violating the autonomy and usurping the authority of families, religious communities, and other institutions of civil society that play the primary role in building character and transmitting virtues.

But having said that, I would warn that limited government—considered as an ideal as vital to business as to the family—cannot be maintained where the marriage culture collapses and families fail to form or easily dissolve. Where these things happen, the health, education, and welfare functions of the family will have to be undertaken by someone, or some institution, and that will sooner or later be the government.

To deal with pressing social problems, bureaucracies will grow, and with them the tax burden. Moreover, the growth of crime and other pathologies where family breakdown is rampant will result in the need for more extensive policing and incarceration and, again, increased taxes to pay for these government services. If we want limited government, as we should, and a level of taxation that is not unduly burdensome, we need healthy institutions of civil society, beginning with a flourishing marriage culture supporting family formation and preservation.

Advocates of the market economy, and supporters of marriage and the family, have common opponents in hard-left socialism, the entitlement mentality, and the statist ideologies that provide their intellectual underpinnings. But the marriage of advocates of limited government and economic freedom, on the one hand, and the supporters of marriage and the family, on the other, is not, and must not be regarded as, a mere marriage of convenience.

The reason they have common enemies is that they have common principles: namely, respect for the human person, which grounds our commitment to individual liberty and the right to economic freedom and other essential civil liberties; belief in personal responsibility, which is a pre-condition of the possibility and moral desirability of individual liberty in any domain; recognition of subsidiarity as the basis for effective but truly limited government and for the integrity of the institutions of civil society that mediate between the individual and the centralized power of the state; respect for the rule of law; and recognition of the vital role played by the family and by religious institutions that support the character-forming functions of the family in the flourishing of any decent and dynamic society.

Congressman Paul Ryan has put the matter well:

A “libertarian” who wants limited government should embrace the means to his freedom: thriving mediating institutions that create the moral preconditions for economic markets and choice. A “social issues” conservative with a zeal for righteousness should insist on a free market economy to supply the material needs for families, schools, and churches that inspire moral and spiritual life. In a nutshell, the notion of separating the social from the economic issues is a false choice. They stem from the same root . . . . They complement and complete each other. A prosperous moral community is a prerequisite for a just and ordered society and the idea that either side of this current divide can exist independently is a mirage.

The two greatest institutions ever devised for lifting people out of poverty and enabling them to live in dignity are the market economy and the institution of marriage. These institutions will, in the end, stand or fall together. Contemporary statist ideologues have contempt for both of these institutions, and they fully understand the connection between them. We who believe in the market and in the family should see the connection no less clearly.

Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.

Bishops and Birth Rates - A Heroic Solution

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bishops and birth rates. In 2005, His Beatitude Ilia II, Orthodox Patriarch of All Georgia, became aware that the birth rate in his post-Soviet nation of George was in a downward spiral.

Patriarch Ilia began to preach about "large families" as one of the key elements of Christian civilization. To put it simply, the birth rate and the "faith rate" tend to mirror one another. Look at nations that have rejected the Church and you'll see that these have the lowest birth rates. Perfidy and despair go hand in hand.

In 2008, not only did he preach big families, but the Patriarch promised to personally stand as Godfather for all babies born into Georgian homes with more than two children.

His initiative was widely successful and has since increased the birth rate by 25 percent! Meanwhile, the number of abortions in the nation of Georgia decreased by 50 percent!

The President of George commended the Patriarch saying, "We should be thankful to the Patriarch for continually remind the Georgian people that we should multiply."

My goodness, what a wonderful model for the Western bishops. Can you imagine if bishops all over Europe, America, and Latin America began to preach big families, and then personally stood as Godfathers so as to provide encouragement and hope to married couples who fear more than three children? What a difference it would make.

Patriarch Ilia...Axios! Axios indeed.

PS: The Patriarch has over 11,000 godchildren!

HT: I found this story in the Catholic Newspaper provided by the laudable Transalpine Redemptorists (Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer). I highly recommend it. $40 for an annual subscription.

Transalpine Redemptorists
OLGS Seminary
7880 W. Denton Rd
Denton NE, 68339

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" - November 20, 2012

Talking about the "things that matter most" on Nov. 20

4:00 – On the Meaning of Sex
Everyone in every time and place is interested in sex. Our own time is obsessed by it. One would think that a society obsessed by sex would understand it very well. But the truth is that obsession drives out understanding. We no longer understand even the common sense of sexuality, the things that were common knowledge in supposedly less enlightened times. Acclaimed philosopher J. Budziszewski remedies this problem. He corrects the most prevalent errors about sex, particularly the errors of the sexual revolution, which by mistaking pleasure for a good in itself has caused untold pain and suffering. In restoring the meaning and purpose of sex, the author reclaims what Dante calls “the intelligence of love.”

5:00 – A Heart for Freedom: The Remarkable Journey of a Young Dissident, Her Daring Escape, and Her Quest to Free China's Daughters
Sept. 25 marks the 31st anniversary of China's”'gendercide war on girls.” Chai Ling, the woman who, at age 23, was the commander-in-chief of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student rebellion, is now a U.S. citizen exiled from China. Risking imprisonment and possible death for her leadership role in the student democracy movement, she was on the run in China for ten months while being hunted by the authorities. She eventually escaped to the U.S., completed her education at Princeton and Harvard, found true love, and became a highly successful entrepreneur. But her desperate quest for freedom, purpose, and peace—which she had sought in turn through academic achievement, romantic love, political activism, and career success—was never satisfied until she had an unexpected encounter with a formerly forbidden faith. Her newfound passion for God led to her life’s greatest mission: Fighting for the lives and rights of young girls in China. She joins us.

Family Wins Reprieve in Nevada ‘Forced Abortion’ Case

A district judge removes abortion as an option for a mentally disabled woman, backing away from his original stance

Washoe County District Judge Egan Walker
– EWTN News
RENO, Nev., NCR  — When a Reno, Nev., group-home manager called Amy and William Bauer to report that their daughter was pregnant, the news set in motion a chain of events that almost ended with a court-mandated abortion, despite the Bauers’ objections.
But three weeks later, during a Nov. 14 hearing at a Washoe County District courthouse, Judge Egan Walker told the Bauers that abortion was no longer an option for their 32-year-old daughter Elisa’s crisis pregnancy. The news offered an unexpected reprieve for the embattled family and their supporters in the pro-life community.
“We won after a very welcome, but sudden, change of heart: Judge Walker announced that abortion is no longer being considered as an option in this case,” said Jason Guinasso, the Bauers’ lawyer.
From the start, the case featured two starkly different responses to Elisa’s pregnancy.
The judge initially asserted that an abortion offered the best solution for the woman, who has the mental and emotional capacity of “a 6-year-old,” according to Guinasso, and had been taking powerful medications for epilepsy and bipolar disorder that could affect the health of her unborn child.
However, the Bauers, who serve as the legal guardians for their Costa-Rican-born adopted daughter, defended their right to abide by their moral and religious beliefs, which prohibit abortion.
When the judge first made his views known during a hearing that addressed issues related to Elisa’s pregnancy, his stance sparked fears that she would be required to undergo a “forced abortion.” Pro-life websites quickly raised the alarm, as the family’s lawyer requested but failed to have the state Supreme Court dismiss the case.
But as Guinasso marshaled expert opinion from doctors and service providers, who outlined a plan for monitoring Elisa’s pregnancy, her medication needs and the health of her unborn child, Walker finally relented.
“The medical evidence presented shows that the risks regarding her epilepsy and bipolar disorder, and the medications used to treat those conditions, were not significant or substantial and could be managed with appropriate medical attention throughout the duration of her pregnancy,” said Guinasso, who became involved in the case through a referral from the public interest group Alliance Defending Freedom.
He expressed relief that the judge’s ruling upheld the right of legal guardians to make appropriate choices for vulnerable people under their care.
“It was startling for me that the court would compel anybody to have an abortion. In circumstances like this, you would usually leave that decision up to the woman and her family,” said the lawyer.
Stephen Napier, a consultant with the Philadelphia-based National Catholic Bioethics Center, which advises Church leaders, hospital administrators and laypeople concerned about a host of ethical issues in health care and related fields, welcomed the judge’s reprieve and said the case was unusual.
“I haven’t heard of any case like this getting to the level of a court hearing,” said Napier.
“I am glad to know that the judge has not pressed this issue,” he added. “The mental disabilities of the mother should not be a death sentence for the unborn child.”
Napier noted that he had not been asked to consult on the case and thus did not have access to any details that might provide further context for the unfolding events. But he suggested that any review of the case should focus on improving supervision of the young woman.
In fact, the case provides a window into the challenges and heartache experienced by many parents like the Bauers who struggle to protect adult children with mental and emotional disabilities.
Civil-rights law limits the power of caregivers. Families worry that a loved one could be vulnerable to sexual exploitation or other forms of coercion.
It is not known whether Elisa Bauer’s pregnancy was the result of sexual assault or to what extent any sexual partner knowingly exploited her vulnerable status. But while abortion is frequently presented as the best solution in such cases, Amy and William Bauer raised their two biological children and six adoptive children from Costa Rica — including Elisa — to embrace the sanctity of human life.
After their daughter’s pregnancy was brought to the attention of Walker, the Bauers realized they would have to convince the court that their daughter would choose life — if only she were able to fully articulate her family’s core beliefs.
“I have helped my daughter to understand what is happening about the baby and about the need for adoption,” said Amy Bauer during a telephone interview.
“She realizes that it will take time for the baby to come out, and she understands that she may not be able to take care of the baby.”
Many years ago, when the Bauers first agreed to adopt six siblings from Central America, they knew it would be a challenge, but they were shocked to discover that several children were severely impaired by fetal alcohol syndrome. Still, the Bauers persevered, and seven of their offspring are now married or living independently.
Elisa, however, constantly tested the Bauers’ ability to keep her safely at home, and, in her mid-teens, they placed her into the first of a string of supervised facilities and foster homes that provided needed social services and a secure environment for mentally disabled adolescents.
As Elisa advanced in years, her tendency to wander off and engage in sexual encounters posed a dilemma for the Bauers, who were advised to approve a prescription for an injectable contraceptive. After initially agreeing to the doctor’s orders, the Bauers later determined that they could not in conscience keep her on the medication.
They stayed in close touch with Elisa, bringing her home on weekends and driving her around on errands. But that pattern was disrupted over the summer when a broken leg prevented Amy Bauer from spending time with her daughter.
“After we were told about the positive pregnancy test, we took Elisa to the neurologist who had prescribed her seizure medication,” recalled Amy Bauer.
The neurologist feared that his patient might have been sexually abused and alerted adult protective services, which ordered a hearing on her case.
Napier of the National Catholic Bioethics Center noted that some persons with significant mental disabilities are not capable of full consent to sexual relations.
If “her mental abilities are compromised, she cannot give valid consent to sexual relations. And if she cannot give valid consent, any sexual intercourse would be, by definition, rape,” said Napier, while stressing that he did not have access to the young woman’s medical records or any other details related to her case.
When the Bauers arrived for the first scheduled court hearing, they were shocked that the judge showed little regard for the family’s pro-life values.
Summarizing Walker’s initial position, Guinasso said the Bauers were told: “Your faith has no place in this court. The decision on whether to have an abortion or carry the pregnancy to term needs to be based on the best medical science.”
Accordingly, Guinasso was surprised and relieved when the judge later reversed course.
“What I am describing is a miracle. If you had been in the courtroom three weeks ago, you would have been discouraged,” he said.
“The attorney appointed by the judge to argue for abortion and the doctor called before the court to support the abortion framed the medical and legal issues in such a way as to make this week’s outcome seem impossible,” added Guinasso.
“The doctor said it was society’s responsibility to protect vulnerable people, and he couldn’t think of a better way to protect and serve her than to have her undergo an abortion and have her tubes tied.”
Yet Elisa had told family members “on numerous occasions that she understands that there is a life growing in her belly, and she wants to keep that baby,” reported Guinasso. “She told me, ‘No kill baby.’”
Guinasso repeatedly reminded the court that the Bauers, as legal guardians, retained sole authority over decisions regarding Elisa’s health care. And he argued that Elisa Bauer shared her parents’ values.
Ultimately, the judge agreed to a series of evidentiary hearings that allowed the Bauers an opportunity to marshal their case for sustaining the pregnancy. They soon assembled a group of experts to back their case and reported that six couples had stepped forward to be considered as adoptive parents for Elisa’s child.
Alison and John Oertley, one couple who had already completed paperwork for adopting a child with special needs, were among the six couples. Alison Oertley told the Register that she learned about the family’s plight after one of the Bauers’ daughters, a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, alerted the college’s alumni network.
The Oertleys had been prepared to testify at the Nov. 14 evidentiary hearing and will now await future discussions with Elisa’s family.
At present, the Bauers are busy working with their team of physicians and service providers to establish a plan for keeping their daughter and her unborn child healthy and safe.
It has been a long three weeks for Amy Bauer, who said that she felt supported by prayers from many supporters and that faith in God had always guided her through the challenges of family life.
“We have an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and when I turned to her [in prayer], she told me, ‘You are going to suffer heartache, but I will be with you,’” said Amy Bauer. “God is with us.”
Joan Frawley Desmond is the Register’s senior editor.

Catholic University Rejects Pro-Life Speaker, OKs Peter Singer

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | | 11/19/12 12:55 PM

Catholic Fordham University is coming under fire from pro-life advocates for rejecting a pro-life speaker but then deciding it is okay to bring pro-infanticide speaker Peter Singer to campus.
Fordham University’s president Fr. Joseph McShane, S.J. determined conservative and pro-life author Ann Coulter was too “hateful and needlessly provocative” to speak on campus. But, as the Cardinal Newman Society indicates, Fordham hosted Singer at a conference entitled “Conference with Peter Singer: Christians and Other Animals: Moving the Conversation Forward.”
Matthew Archbold, of the CNS group that serves as a watchdog for Catholic colleges and universities, writes more about it:
For those unfamiliar with Singer, Joe Carter at First Things summed up Singer’s ethics this way:
Singer has spent a lifetime justifying the unjustifiable. He is the founding father of the animal liberation movement and advocates ending “the present speciesist bias against taking seriously the interests of nonhuman animals.” He is also a defender of killing the aged (if they have dementia), newborns (for almost any reason until they are two years old), necrophilia (assuming it’s consensual), and bestiality (also assuming it’s consensual).
Nevertheless, not only is the Jesuit university hosting the infanticide-supporting philosopher, but the description of the conference at Fordham Notes even goes so far as to call Singer “the most influential philosopher alive today”:
This panel, conducted with non-specialists in mind, will provoke Christians to think about other animals in new ways. Currently a very hot topic in academic theology and philosophy, concern for non-human animals is gaining traction in the broader culture, and our panel will try to connect academic and popular themes, in language that is accessible to a broad audience.
Peter Singer—in addition to being the most influential philosopher alive today—was the intellectual heft behind the beginning of the animal rights movement in the 1970s. David Clough is one of the leading voices in defense of animals in the contemporary Christian conversation, and Eric Meyer’s research has mined the Christian tradition in ways that turn the current debate about animals on its head.
Be assured, this is not a Peter Singer scandal. This is a Fordham scandal. The moderator of the event is Charles Camosy, a Fordham theologian. It’s interesting that Camosy would moderate as he’s defended Singer’s work in the past, even going so far as comparing Singer with Pope John Paul II. In a piece called Peter Singer Is Not the Antichrist, Camosy showed that he understood Singer’s position on issues but still found a comparison with the beloved Pope accurate.
The Cardinal Newman Society contacted Fordham University’s administration this morning but “have received only silence thus far.”

Register your complaint by contacting Fordham’s president:
Joseph M. McShane, S.J.
President, Fordham University
Room 107, Administration Building
Rose Hill Campus
441 E. Fordham Road
Bronx, NY 10458
(718) 817-3000


November 19, 2012, Catholic League

Bill Donohue released the following statement today:

For most of American history, manger scenes adorned public property at Christmastime without controversy. It was also normal to ban public nudity. But times have changed: now the authorities in Santa Monica and San Francisco are set to rule on these issues.
in Santa
Monica a federal judge will decide whether the city can ban churches from erecting crèches in Palisades Park. On Tuesday, lawmakers in San Francisco will decide whether the city can ban public nudity. Activists in the atheist and homosexual communities are responsible for upending these traditions.

Last year an atheist in Santa Monica succeeded in getting his anti-Christmas message shown alongside a nativity scene in Palisades Park, and this year the city ruled against all of these displays. Not surprisingly, an anti-Christian group from Madison, Wisconsin, Freedom From Religion Foundation, is heralding the bigot.

Homosexuals have been walking around naked in San Francisco with increasing regularity, and tomorrow lawmakers will rule on whether to adopt an ordinance that would make public nudity illegal. There is a caveat: because gay pride is inseparable from genital liberation, the law being considered would still allow these men to go naked at the annual gay pride parade, and at the Folsom Street Fair; the latter event is marked by naked homosexuals who whip each other in the street. Jolly for them, they will still be allowed to torture themselves in public even if the law is passed.

Such is the state of American culture in 2012, California-style.