Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bishops Annouce Campaign to Fight FOCA

Tom Grenchik, Exec. Director
People of Life
  • Following the unanimous vote of the full body of bishops to mobilize the resources of the Conference, dioceses, and the entire Catholic community to prevent either the passage of FOCA (the Freedom of Choice Act) or the elimination of current pro-life laws and policies, we are about to undertake our most aggressive communications campaign ever.
  • In the next few weeks, we will be designing a campaign in which millions of Americans can contact their own Senators and Representative with a united message that unrestricted abortion is not only tragically immoral and unacceptable but also out of touch with most American's views.
  • And we intend to have this campaign - with millions of participants - ready within weeks of the Presidential inaugeration on January 20th.
  • We will also initiate an education program on exactly how FOCA, and similar efforts, are such enormous threats to millions of unborn babies.
To make sure that this campaign is a success, I ask you today to make a special contribution of $25 or $35 to People of Life. This is one of the most important and time-sensitive issues we've ever had to confront.
Your help is needed. If you wish to mail them a donation for this critical issue, send your check to:
PO Box 97205
WASHINGTON, DC 20077-7963

H/t: Fidelity and Action e-letter

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Stop the bailout for Planned Parenthood!

From the Susan B Anthony list:
Tired of bailouts? Well they aren’t going away anytime soon. Now the abortion industry wants one! We all knew that Planned Parenthood was going to have a special seat at the table in the Obama administration. Well it hasn’t taken them long at all to roll out their extreme agenda.

Tell your Senator today that Planned Parenthood should not get a bailout.

Abortion groups have submitted their 50 page proposal to the Obama-Biden transition team. At the top of the list? More taxpayer dollars for abortion organizations like Planned Parenthood. How much more? Over 1.5 billion dollars more!

The Abortion Bailout Package:
  • $1 BILLION dollars in taxpayer funding for International Abortion Groups like UNFPA, an international aid organization connected to coercive abortion as part of China’s coercive one-child policy
  • $700 million in taxpayer funding for “Title X” Health Clinics (aka your local Planned Parenthood affiliate)
  • Repeal the Hyde Amendment – Vastly expanding federal taxpayer funding for abortions
  • Include Abortion coverage in any taxpayer-subsidized national health care program Expand taxpayer-funded abortions through the Peace Corps program

It is an outrage for Planned Parenthood to expect you to give your hard earned dollars to fund the destruction of innocent life. Join citizens across our great country in telling their Senators to keep your tax dollars out of the abortion providers. Tell them to Stop the Abortion Bailout!

Sign the Petition today!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Inauguration Day -- Masses for Life

Here's the deal.

WHO: A few faithful Catholic lay people and priests. (Anyone can do this: stay-at-home moms, singles, retired people, students--anyone--and we can have a huge impact on our country's future.)

WHAT: Have a Mass said on Inauguration Day for our new President. It can be said for his conversion or, "That our new president will work to protect the dignity of each human life." Consider that St. Leonard of Port Maurice said that one Mass offered before death may be more profitable than many after it, and St. Anslem affirmed this.

WHEN: Tuesday January 20, 2009 Inauguration Day

WHERE: Throughout our country in as many Catholic churches as possible.

WHY: Because offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for an intention is very powerful.

HOW: Simply call your local parish and ask to reserve January 20th for your intention. Then send a check for $10 to the priest for your Mass intention. Next please choose three friends (or more) to pass this on to.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

For Goodness’ Sake

Perhaps you've heard of the American Humanst Association's atheistic ad campaign, but did you know there is a counter-campaign and that you can help support it?

Rebecca Teti writes:
JoEllen Murphy, however, is not one to read such stories and tsk-tsk the state of things. Instead, she called the local transit authority and found out what it would cost to run a counter ad campaign. She found that with donated design, it would cost only $14,000.

Then she asked a graphic designer friend to come up with an ad and a web-savvy friend to build a website where she could receive donations. ...

... she didn’t want the tone of her counter-campaign to be simply another battle in the annual “Christmas wars”: a tit-for-tat debate. Instead, she focused on how many people are lonely and isolated during the holidays that stretch from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. What a terrible time to tell people they really are all alone, she thought. Instead, people need to be reminded that they are loved. So her counter-ad (which you can see here -- just click on “ to see the ad” in the upper right corner) reads: “Why Believe? Because I created you and I love you, for goodness sake. --God.”

I Believe Ad thumbnail
Here's the link to JoEllen's website, where you can donate to support her pro-God ad campaign.

Update: Great news! They have reached their target and raised enough money to run the ads on buses in the DC area through Jan 25th, in other words through the Inauguration and March for Life.

Monday, December 8, 2008

"Christmas in God's Country" CD

This is a neat CD for this Christmas, and benefits Wyoming Catholic College, a small Catholic liberal arts college.

In honor of the Advent and Christmas seasons, the Wyoming Catholic College Choir has released its inaugural recording, fittingly entitled Christmas In God’s Country, featuring beautifully rendered traditional and historical Christmas music. For a small donation, you can obtain a deluxe version of this CD, complete with plastic case and extensive liner notes. It makes a great gift idea!

Click here for more information, including samples of the music from this CD.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pro-Life UN Petition

Good news on this pro-life petition to the UN from the very reputable Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. They have collected well over 300,000 signatures so far in over a dozen languages. Still, the more the better! If you haven't signed yet, the deadline is Dec. 10.
International Call for the Rights and Dignity of the Human Person and the Family

The radical pro-abortion groups will submit petitions at UN headquarters on December 10th. They might submit a hundred thousand or more! We must match them and show the General Assembly that more people are pro-life than pro-abortion.

So, I ask you to go here: copy this address and send it to everyone you know. If you want to send it in Spanish, it is there, too, or Polish, German, Italian, French, Hungarian, Slovenian and others!

Please go to this link and send this petition to as many people as you can.

We can beat the rich and powerful abortion advocates, but only with your help!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fathers of Science

The Catholic Church has always respected reason, perhaps more so than the rationalists themselves. She has also long been a promoter and supporter of the sciences.
On March 12, 2008, the John Templeton Foundation made the announcement of the winner of its annual Templeton Prize, which honors achievements engaging the great questions of life and the universe. The $1.6 million prize for 2008 went to Michal Heller, a Polish cosmologist and professor in the faculty of philosophy at the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Cracow, Poland. What makes Heller additionally remarkable is that he is a Catholic priest. ...

As a priest-scientist, Fr. Heller is not unique. Rather, he stands in a long and great tradition of learned priests who were both scientists and men of faith. Some are well-known to history, such as Roger Bacon, the 13th-century Franciscan who stressed the concept of "laws of nature" and contributed to the development of mechanics, geography, and especially optics. Others are obscure. All, however, left a lasting legacy on their eras in learning, science, mathematics, and practical progress.

Above all, the priest-scientists offer a powerful lesson to Catholic apologists: There is no reason to stand mute when the name Galileo is wielded like a cudgel and the Church is savaged as an enemy of human progress. Apologists and well-read Catholics can point to these priest-scientists and declare forcefully what Fr. Georges Lemaître-discoverer of the "Big Bang"-robustly proclaimed in 1933: "There is no conflict between religion and science."
Read the full article at Fathers of Science (This Rock: September 2008) for many examples of scientists who exemplify this fact.

Cross-posted with Unity of Truth.

Going the Distance for Life!

Share this with your friends and family to make them aware of the basics of FOCA and what we need to do to rebuild a Culture of Life. The time to act is now!

Keeping Down's baby was "our best decision ever"

Reports the UK Telegraph:
Adkins and her husband Paul are just two of a growing number of parents who, on discovering their unborn child is likely to have Down's syndrome, go ahead with the pregnancy decide to keep babies with Down's syndrome.

Figures published on Monday by the National Down's Syndrome Cytogenetic Register found that live births of children with the condition have risen approximately 15 per cent from 2000 to 2006.

This rise has stunned experts, who had seen a steady drop in babies born with the syndrome since screening for the condition was introduced in 1989.

'We couldn't understand why there had been an increase,' says John Smithies of the Down's Syndrome Association. 'So we commissioned some research and found that things such as an increase in women leaving motherhood until later had an effect.

'But one of the biggest factors at play is people changing their attitudes. There is far more support, and advances in medicine mean that it is not uncommon for sufferers to live into their sixties.'
That certainly brightened my day!

Read the full article here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Reality of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Imagine an Air Force mom, serving her country on a month-long deployment, who learns that her daughter has been secretly removed by local authorities, claiming the child has been "abandoned." Children begin mandatory sex-education at the age of four, regardless of their family's opinions, beliefs, or convictions, and parents are imprisoned if their children fail to receive any of their mandatory vaccinations. Parents live in a state of constant supervision and suspicion.

Imagine if your national government had the audacity to appoint a "guardian" to monitor your child from birth, charged with the legal responsibility to evaluate your decisions as a parent and armed with the legal authority to "intervene, prevent or rectify" any violations of your child's right s. Public and private schools alike are policed by the national government, and classes begin with singing about the principles of peace, tolerance, and the United Nations. Your child's confidential medical records, stored in a nation-wide electronic register from birth until age twenty, can be accessed at any time, without your knowledge, by any physician, teacher, or government social worker in the nation.

Now stop imagining, because for parents in the 193 countries that have ratified the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child, each of these scenarios is true. Read the rest of this article.

The newly-elected Senate and President that will take office in January are hoping to pass the above UN treaty. Did you know that a ratified treaty has the same force as a Constitutional Amendment under American law?

We need to pass the Parental Rights Amendment to protect our rights as parents and homeschoolers. To learn more, visit ParentalRights.org and sign up to receive updates.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

May they rest in peace

An old friend of my parents died in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai Nov 26. His wife, acting quickly, managed to escape. Brave woman!

One of my uncles also died, in the same city, at nearly the same time, but peacefully in his bed.

May they and all the victims rest in peace.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Finn: Mingling "Woe to You" with "Be Not Afraid"

Excerpts from Bishop Finn's homily on the eve of the election:
Our Lord instructs us in the Gospel we have heard, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both body and soul in Gehenna." The enormity of this election is founded, in part, on the radical determination of some who would lead our country deeper than ever before into the darkness of the culture of death. This is a path that would certainly mean the death of countless more innocent lives. As shepherd of this Diocese I am also deeply saddened by the prospect of the cost in people's souls, the souls of those who would place a candidate's promise of economic prosperity above the life of the most innocent of our brothers and sisters.

Most perilous is the fate of those Catholics who, with hardened hearts, decide to create for themselves, and preach to others, a false gospel that the "right" to an abortion must not be challenged, or that the humanity of the child need not be protected.

Most fraudulent are those Catholic leaders, or alliances of Catholics, that insist that the radically evil injustice of abortion need not be directly opposed, but rather, that somehow solving the dilemma of the poor in a sweeping act of charity will cause the foundation of this monstrous crime to crumble.

Why is this so terribly amiss? Because the foundation and cause of abortion is not poverty but a blind disregard for personal responsibility, a heinous denial and disrespect for human life, and an idolatrous worship of personal convenience. This is why even in the wealthy countries of Scandinavia the highest rates of abortions are followed by rampant euthanasia.

Friends, the poor do not hate their children any more or less than the rich. The poison of which abortion is the most dreadful manifestation is the sinful suffocation of selfishness, and it can and does affect all strata of society. Woe to those, particularly Catholics, who dare to try to convince us that their "choice" of a radically pro-abortion leader is within the parameters of conscience. God have mercy on those who exude freely this salve for their partisan cooperators. I fear that they will bear a greater responsibility than most. Against them will come not only the cry of millions of human lives savagely destroyed, but the souls of those they have sucked down with themselves. This is the very definition of scandal, and the reason that so many have spoken out with such urgency to announce the authentic teaching of the Church.

Part of the damage we have been promised is encapsulated in the Freedom of Choice Act, which has been held at bay the last eight years. When all the reasonable limits on abortion, gained in the last 35 years have been summarily swept away: parental notification, waiting periods, counseling and informed consent, the number of those killed will grow by more than 100,000 a year.

The Freedom of Choice Act will mark the beginning of a great persecution against religious liberty, because it will require tax payer money to be used for abortions. You and I will be faced with this legal trial: whether we should pay our taxes making us participants in the slaughter of Innocents or be liable for jail and fines.

And what of our Catholic hospitals? If we are forced to provide such destructive services under the Freedom of Choice Act, we will have to refuse. Catholic health care workers, and other men and women of good conscience, will risk losing their jobs when their conscience exception is lost and they are pressured to participate. I read a letter recently in our daily paper: The man said, "If you don't want an abortion. Don't have one." Under a regime of such change, you and I will not have such an easy choice. By paying, it will become "our abortion." Lord, have mercy on us, and on our country.

In the light of these clear and present dangers, I chose tonight's Gospel, in part, because four times it tells us, "Don't be afraid!" Let us not be afraid, dear flock. You are worth so much to God; more than sparrows, more than an election, more than any man can measure. Our first goal is this: we must get through tomorrow with our eternal souls intact. We know that God will take care of the rest.

Although written before the election, the message is just as important now in its aftermath. Lest you think the good bishop is being too harsh, I offer one more small quote:
Let us not be too hard on those who, for fear or even disagreement, have shrunk back even from the call to pray! It takes time for us to learn to carry our burdens, our obedience, our responsibility. I want you all to pray that – at the hour of greatest need – none will step back from the sacrifice that makes us most like Jesus Christ.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Acorns in the Collection Basket this weekend?

A friend sent me this message. Unfortunately, it is only too true that money contributed by faithful Catholics to the CCHD collection has gone to ACORN and other political activist groups. Worse yet, the monies are specifically forbidden from being given to any organization that provides direct aid to the needy.
Dear Fellow Catholic,

This weekend, November 22-23, Catholics across America will be asked, once again, to contribute to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. I am appalled that this drive would be promoted after their financial support for the Obama campaign through their funding of the now-infamous ACORN organization this past election season. They have contributed to what will prove to be the nearly-instantaneous overturning of 30 years of pro-life work. As long as we continue funding the CCHD, there will be no need for them to be accountable and clean-up their act.

I hope my fellow pro-lifers will join with me and NOT contribute to CCHD this weekend and to verbalize to your pastor and your bishop why you are not doing so, and then in turn give the equivalent amount to your favorite pro-life group. If you are in a stewardship parish, ask that your share be donated to a local or national pro-life group to help offset the damage done through years of unwittingly giving to a group that helped to undermine the victory of pro-life candidates in this last election.

Fr. Philip writes:
Given what we know right now about the involvement of the CCHD in the leftie political machinations of ACORN and other shady activists groups, I wouldn't give them a dime.

... No doubt the CCHD does do some good, but the bottomline for me is that looking at the list of grantees, I couldn't possibly be assured that my money would be spent to actually help the poor instead of giving some pseudo-Marixist feminist a paycheck to spend her day undermining my Church under the cover of "doing justice."
Read more at his enlightening posts here and here.

Yet more information:
Catholic Campaign for Human Development and ACORN discussed at USCCB General Assembly
Bishops Urged to Shut Down Campaign for Human Development

Heresies of Today

St. Irenaeus updated!

h/t: CMR

Rosaries For Life

The battle for the Culture of Life is, under all the human actions, a spiritual battle. Rosaries For Life suggests we take up the spiritual weapon of the rosary. It makes good sense to me that this prayer focused on the mystery of God-made-man should be a means by which God once again redeems man.

One book I have found useful to focus my attention while I pray is The Rosary: Chain of Hope by Fr. Benedict Groeschel. Beautifully illustrated with art masterpieces, this book features simple yet profound meditations on each mystery of the rosary as well as prayers for each decade. An appendix includes the full text of Pope John Paul II's Rosarium Virginis Mariae.

If you pray the rosary already, the culture of life would be an excellent intention to add. If not, this is a great time to start!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Conversion: Abortionist becomes Pro-life Champion

CNA reports a great story:
The Spanish daily “La Razon” has published an article on the pro-life conversion of a former “champion of abortion.” Stojan Adasevic, who performed 48,000 abortions, sometimes up to 35 per day, is now the most important pro-life leader in Serbia, after 26 years as the most renowned abortion doctor in the country.

“The medical textbooks of the Communist regime said abortion was simply the removal of a blob of tissue,” the newspaper reported. “Ultrasounds allowing the fetus to be seen did not arrive until the 80s, but they did not change his opinion. Nevertheless, he began to have nightmares.”

Please read it. I won't spoil it for you by giving away the amazing details.

Let us pray for many more such conversions.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Obama vs. jobs - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

What are the likely results of Obamanomics?
I interviewed two plumbing company owners over the weekend about Barack Obama's economic proposals for small business.

One has 15 employees and 12 trucks. The other has 52 employees and 34 trucks. They're Joe the Plumber, writ large.

Both owners had the same reaction to Obama's proposed new taxes and mandates. To not have their bottom lines reduced by government fiat, both said they'd be forced to lay off employees.

Read the rest here

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bishops v. Obama

Our bishops speak out on the newly-elected government. Read it all here.

Bishop Robert Conlon of Steubenville, Ohio agreed. "Some people may think it's time for a truce, but we're dealing with a moral absolute. There's nothing here that allows for common ground. We're talking about a human being whose life cannot be compromised."

Auxiliary Bishop Robert Hermann observed that the bishops should not be afraid of mere criticism for defending Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life, when any of them would be willing to give up their life to end abortion. "Any bishop here would be willing, would consider it a privilege, to die tomorrow if it meant ending abortion,” he said. “We should dedicate the rest of our lives to taking any kind of criticism, whatever it is, to stop this horrible genocide."

Thank you, Lord!! (tears in my eyes) We need to support these good shepherds with our daily prayers and pray also for the weaker among them that the Lord would give them the fortitude, zeal, faithfulness, and wisdom that they need.

And from FRC (related to Focus on the Family), more info on this:
Marching As to War

Facing the most pro-abortion administration in U.S. history, the Catholic Church is mobilizing to respond. In a meeting yesterday, 220 Catholic bishops drafted an official statement, warning Capitol Hill and President-elect Obama that passing the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) would be viewed as a direct attack on religion. Back in July of 2007, Barack Obama announced at a Planned Parenthood banquet that signing FOCA was his first priority: "Well, the first thing I'd do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. ...On this fundamental issue, I will not yield and Planned Parenthood will not yield." With almost full control of Congress, Obama will be expected to live up to his promise as payback for the abortion community's support. If successful, the newly expanded majority would abolish over 300 pro-life laws and restrictions -- even reinstating partial-birth abortion.

Although the Catholic bishops have offered to work with the administration on a number of issues, the defense of life is non-negotiable. "This is not a matter of political compromise," said Bishop Daniel Conlon of Steubenville, Ohio. "It's a matter of absolutes." For some leaders, the church's forceful opposition to FOCA could be the excuse Catholic Democrats need to vote the legislation down.

If not for their conscience, members should be wary of the Bishops' warning for the mere fact that Catholics are a powerful player in the U.S. health care system. As Ed Morrissey points out, Catholics run more than 550 hospitals and 415 clinics in America, spending billions out of pocket to help the disadvantaged get the care they need. Under FOCA, religious providers would have two options: either comply with the abortion mandate or end their services completely. Is Congress so intent on appeasing Planned Parenthood that it would jeopardize the health care of 90 million Americans? We'll see.

Bishops Warn Obama on Abortion

The Catholic League reports:
November 12, 2008

In a statement released today, Francis Cardinal George, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, made it clear that the bishops will fight any expansion of abortion rights that may occur under the next administration. Specifically, the bishops are objecting to the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), a bill so sweeping and draconian that it would not only repeal every single state restriction on abortion, it would seriously jeopardize the right of Catholic hospitals and doctors to opt out of performing abortions.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue released the following remarks:

"Cardinal George is right to label FOCA 'an evil law that would further divide the country.' At stake are two issues: a) the rights of the unborn and, b) religious liberty.

"First, those who admit that abortion should be rare unwittingly acknowledge that there is a reason to limit its frequency: as Cardinal George said, 'abortion kills.' By contrast, no one maintains that root canals should be rare, and that is because this medical procedure-unlike abortion-does not result in the total denial of someone else's rights.

"Second, religious liberty is enshrined in the First Amendment and cannot be trespassed upon lightly, and certainly not by abortion zealots. Those who support FOCA must realize that if Catholic hospitals are ever required to perform abortions, the bishops will close every one of them; no one would be hurt more than the poor.

"Cardinal George explicitly rejected the 'common good' mantra of the Catholic Left that justifies legal abortion while pursuing ameliorative social policies that may reduce abortions. At stake, he said, is the 'legal protection of the unborn,' something which is rejected by Catholics United, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholic Democrats. We hope they amend their ways and fall in line with Catholic thought on this grave matter. If they do not, they will become indistinguishable from Catholics for Choice, a fully discredited organization."

Info from the USCCB on Catholic involvement in healthcare.
  • There are 615 Catholic hospitals, which account for 12.5% of community hospitals in the United States, and over 15.5% of all U.S. hospital admissions.
  • In addition to hospitals, the Catholic health care network also includes 404 health care centers and 1,509 specialized homes.
  • In 20 states, Catholic health care facilities account for more than 20% of admissions.
  • Catholic hospitals employ over 598,934 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs).
  • In 2005, there were more than 15.4 million emergency room visits and more than 86 million outpatient visits in Catholic hospitals.
  • In 2005, the number of Catholic residential homes for children, or orphanages, totaled 235, serving a total of 50,264 young people.

h/t: M.L.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Thank Your Bishop and One Other

Although the election results were disappointing, to say the least, one shining light in the darkness has been the many courageous bishops who stood up and told the truth.

Fr. Andrew suggests: 'So please take some time in the next weeks to write a "snail-mail" note of thanks to your local bishop who spoke out and at least one other.' More here.

I think that's a great idea! Bishops are only human, and this speaking out boldly thing is something that many are a bit rusty on. Let's do our part to help them with our prayers and encouragement.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Day After

This guy had a surprisingly accurate take on things political before the election, and now he's done it again!

H/t: Fr. Erik @ Orthometer

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"A grave mistake and an abiding hope"

Fr. Frank Pavone on the presidential election results.

"Our President-Elect cannot tell the difference between serving the public and killing the public ..."

"Be encouraged! Together ... we will win this struggle."

A better solution

This is great! Pass it on!
A worried woman went to her ob/gyn and said:
'Doctor, I have a serious problem and desperately need your help! My baby is not even 1 yr. old and I'm pregnant again. I don't want kids so close together.'

So the doctor said: 'Ok, and what do you want me to do?'

She said: 'I want you to end my pregnancy, and I'm counting on your help with this.'

The doctor thought for a little, and after some silence he said to the woman: 'I think I have a better solution for your problem. It's less dangerous for you too.'

She smiled, thinking that the doctor was going to accept her request.

Then he continued: 'In order for you not to have to take care of two babies at the same time, let's kill the one in your arms. This way, you could rest some before the other one is born. If we're going to kill one of them, it doesn't matter which one it is. There would be no risk for your body if you chose the one in your arms.'

The woman was horrified and said: 'No doctor! How terrible! It's a crime to kill a child!'

'I agree,' the doctor replied. 'But you seemed to be ok with it, so I thought maybe that was the best solution.' The doctor smiled, realizing that he had made his point.

He convinced the mom that there is no difference in killing a child that's already been born and one that's still in the womb. The crime is the same!

h/t: Cary

Monday, November 3, 2008

Obama says his plan will bankrupt coal, raise energy costs

A YouTube video has appeared featuring audio of Obama's comments during an interview with a reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle (the video says SF Gate, which is the name of the Chronicle's website) back in January. The Chronicle inexplicably failed to report on it. On the audio recording, Obama says:

What I've said is that we would put a cap-and-trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else's out there. I was the first to call for a hundred-percent auction on the cap-and-trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases that was emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted-down caps that are imposed every year.

So if somebody wants to build a coal power plant, they can. It's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greeenhouse gas that's being emitted.

[emphasis added]

Incredible that he can be so casual about destroying an industry and thousands upon thousands of jobs. He also acknowledged that energy costs for all of us would rise under his scheme:

When I was asked earlier about the issue of coal…under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket…even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad, because I’m capping greenhouse gasses, coal power plants, natural gas…you name it…whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retro-fit their operations.

That will cost money…they will pass that money on to the consumers.

How is that going to help the poor?

The Ohio Coal Association commented on the audio, saying: "Regardless of the timing or method of the release of these remarks, the message from the Democratic candidate for President could not be clearer: the Obama-Biden ticket spells disaster for America's coal industry and the tens of thousands of Americans who work in it."

Chris Hamilton, the senior vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association, described Obama's comments as "unbelievable." On Sunday, Hamilton said,
His comments are unfortunate and really reflect a very uninformed voice and perspective to coal specifically and energy generally.

In Ohio recently, when Joe Biden said 'not here' about building coal-fired power plants -- this is exactly what will happen. Financing won't be directed here. It will all go aboard for plants elsewhere in the world. The United Sates is importing more coal today from Indonesia, South Africa and Colombia than we ever have.

If we're going to create a situation where coal-fired power plants are at that much of a disadvantage, there will be new ones built. But as Biden said, just not here.
People in coal-belt states like Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania need to hear this.

I am thinking that if McCain had said anything similar, whether about this industry or any other, it would have been headlines for weeks. Instead, we have the media once again using the Obama campaign's talking points and pretending these comments were taken out of context. No bias here, folks.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

What the Catholic Church Really Teaches

New video from the Scranton Diocese counters deceptive claims of so-called "Catholic" groups. Thank you, Bishop Martino, and may God's blessing be always with you!

H/t: a comment on Inside Catholic

Martin Sheen: No on Initiative 1000 (I-1000)

Martin Sheen speaks out against the Washington State assisted suicide proposal in this brief video.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bias? What bias?

I was pleasantly surprised to find a link to this article in my inbox a few days ago. Even more so because it was on ABC's website.

Media's Presidential Bias and Decline: Columnist Michael Malone Looks at Slanted Election Coverage and the Reasons Why is an article you don't want to miss.

A couple of paragraphs to tempt you:
But what really shattered my faith - and I know the day and place where it happened - was the War in Lebanon three summers ago. The hotel I was staying at in Windhoek, Namibia only carried CNN, a network I’d already learned to approach with skepticism. But this was CNN International, which is even worse. I sat there, first with my jaw hanging down, then actually shouting at the TV, as one field reporter after another reported the carnage of the Israeli attacks on Beirut, with almost no corresponding coverage of the Hezbollah missiles raining down on northern Israel. The reporting was so utterly and shamelessly biased that I sat there for hours watching, assuming that eventually CNNi would get around to telling the rest of the story . . .but it never happened.

But nothing, nothing I’ve seen has matched the media bias on display in the current Presidential campaign. Republicans are justifiably foaming at the mouth over the sheer one-sidedness of the press coverage of the two candidates and their running mates. But in the last few days, even Democrats, who have been gloating over the pass - no, make that shameless support - they’ve gotten from the press, are starting to get uncomfortable as they realize that no one wins in the long run when we don’t have a free and fair press. I was one of the first people in the traditional media to call for the firing of Dan Rather - not because of his phony story, but because he refused to admit his mistake - but, bless him, even Gunga Dan thinks the media is one-sided in this election.

I'd say when Dan Rather recognizes media bias, it's gotta be getting pretty obvious.

"The Irony is Heartbreaking"

Writes Elizabeth Foss:
Back in February, my children rudely asked a woman we know how she had cast her ballot in the Virginia primary. She named a candidate who is adamantly pro-choice. They were horrified. “How can you vote for someone who is for abortion?” one of them blurted indignantly.

“I’m more concerned with the people who are already alive than the ones who aren’t yet,” came the steady reply.

Please go read the rest at her blog. She's a wonderful writer with a gift for putting her finger on the vital point.

H/t: Creative Minority Report

What do you say to: "Abortion needs to be legal so women don't die?"

The other day, my family was praying with a 40 Days for Life group outside a Planned Parenthood abortion site when a man walked by. He slowed down and I had that feeling ... you know, that feeling. Sure enough, he stopped, doubled back and said: "I think you're wrong. Abortion needs to be legal to protect women. If it weren't legal, women would die in illegal abortions."

One of the other women pointed out to this man that women still die from legal abortions, but that didn't really seem like an answer that satisfied any of us.

I thought of some retorts that might have won "debating points" but nothing that would actually have helped. So later on I went searching online for something to say should this happen again.

And I found Chp. 27 of Why Can't We Love Them Both?, an online book by Dr. and Mrs. Willke. There's great information on this page and throughout the e-book. Three things really struck me:
1. Legalization did not historically have any impact on improving women's safety from abortions.
2, The year before Roe, CA and NY had pretty permissive abortion laws already, and the number of women who died from legal abortion was pretty close to the number who died from illegal ones: 25 vs. 39. Considering that far less than 39% of the population lived in those two states combined, proportionally, more women died when abortion was legal.
3. They have an example of a country that has gone from permissive to restricted on abortion (Poland) showing that making abortion illegal makes women's lives safer.

Print this graph and be prepared for a situation where you have to answer the same question that I couldn't. Notice how the graph trendline for deaths from illegal abortions does not show any response to legalization. Cover up the labels showing when abortions were legalized and ask your interlocutor to guess from the graph when they were legalized. (Or you may want to use white out on all 4 labels showing legalization as well as the introduction of antibiotics).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Over 120 Bishops Clarify: Life is Primary Issue in Election

There is an exciting new phenomenon this election season: many, many bishops speaking out forcefully on the need to defend and protect the right to life of innocent human beings. It's not just the usual 2 or 3, but has grown to a veritable flood. And they have been amazingly clear that no other issue or combination of issue is an evil proportionate to the the evil of abortion, which has already claimed the lives of close to 50 million innocent children.

I started to compile a list of all the bishops who have spoken on the need to give priority to life issues -- but then found that Deal Hudson over at the Inside Catholic Blog had already done so.

Update: I have updated the links in this post to point to the latest list on Inside Catholic.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Abortion and the Economy

Lots of people have lately been claiming that improving the economy will have the result of reducing the number of abortions; it is implied (sometimes stated) that this will be more effective than laws. Not surprisingly, this has become a mainstay of those "pro-life" persons who advocate voting for a pro-abortion candidate.

While I've seen a lot of responses to such arguments, what I haven't seen is the actual data. So, a few weeks back, I decided to make the attempt myself.

I downloaded GDP stats from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis and the abortion stats from the Guttmacher Institute over the period 1973-2005. (2005 is the latest year for which national abortion figures are available.) I then plotted them and calculated the correlation.

Here's the graph showing the two rates plotted against time. Note that I've used two Y-axes; the left is the scale for the abortion rate data while the right is the scale for the GDP growth data. Just looking at it reveals that there's really no relation between the two.

Click for larger image
Nevertheless, in order to quantify the relationship, I calculated the correlation. What did I find? I find no correlation between real GDP growth and abortion rates.

Details: The calculted correlation coefficient ("r") is -0.02, practically zero. To be statistically significant, the correlation would have to be more than 0.344 (p=0.05).

Monday, October 27, 2008

Rosary Novena begins TODAY

Please join us in a Rosary Novena to Our Lady of Victory (Our Lady of the Rosary) for the Triumph of the Gospel of Life, especially in the upcoming elections. The novena begins TODAY, Oct 27, and ends Nov 4.

The Novena prayers may be found here.

See previous post for more details.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

"Just Look," says Cardinal Egan

The picture on this page is an untouched photograph of a being that has been within its mother for 20 weeks. Please do me the favor of looking at it carefully.

Have you any doubt that it is a human being?

If you do not have any such doubt, have you any doubt that it is an innocent human being?

If you have no doubt about this either, have you any doubt that the authorities in a civilized society are duty-bound to protect this innocent human being if anyone were to wish to kill it?

If your answer to this last query is negative, that is, if you have no doubt that the authorities in a civilized society would be duty-bound to protect this innocent human being if someone were to wish to kill it, I would suggest—even insist—that there is not a lot more to be said about the issue of abortion in our society. It is wrong, and it cannot—must not—be tolerated.

Thank you, Cardinal Egan, for an eloquent and powerful defense of life. Please read the whole thing at Catholic New York.

Hat-tip: Creative Minority Report

Friday, October 24, 2008

Not all issues are equal

As you form conscience, know not all issues are equal, writes Bishop Robert Vasa (Baker, OR) in the Catholic Sentinel, Oregon's Catholic newspaper.
“Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” ... does, in fact, provide very sound guidance. It is important, however, to properly discern what the document says and what it does not say. The document does not say, for instance, that it is just fine to vote for a pro-abortion candidate as long as one votes for that candidate only because of his or her stand on other important social issues.
I am quite confident that if a candidate made a bold proclamation that he or she would actively seek to institute in these United States a concerted program of genocide against any minority group every Catholic, without exception, would oppose that candidate. I am also confident that if a candidate swore that he or she, as the first act of the new Administration, would institute an aggressive program of torture to root out crime, violence and terrorism in this country there would be no doubt that such a candidate would be categorically unacceptable. Rightly so! Further, if any candidate would attest that he or she intended to prosecute the war on terror by the aggressive and random targeting of civilian non-combatants no one, of either party, would give even the slightest thought to wasting their vote on such a position even if the candidate had a marvelous record in the area of all the other social programs. Unfortunately, when candidates for office in these United States make bold assertions that they have every intention of working to assure that the alleged right of a woman to kill her pre-born child is either preserved or even expanded, many Catholics seem to think that it would be morally acceptable to vote for such a candidate as long as they somehow miraculously excised the candidate’s pro-abortion mindset out of the equation. A vote for such a candidate, like it or not, is likewise a vote for the firmly held abortion position; it is inseparable from the person. Just as a vote for a genocidal maniac is a vote for genocide and a vote for the avowed torturer is a vote for torture and a vote for the indiscriminant targeter of innocent women and children is a vote for such targeting so a vote for a promoter of abortion, when there is another less evil alternative available, is a vote for abortion.
[my emphasis]

The full text is well worth the read.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rosary Novena for the Election

From Fr. Corapi:
Among the most important titles we have in the Catholic Church for the Blessed Virgin Mary are Our Lady of Victory and Our Lady of the Rosary. These titles can be traced back to one of the most decisive times in the history of the world and Christendom. The Battle of Lepanto took place on October 7, (date of feast of Our Lady of Rosary) 1571. This proved to be the most crucial battle for the Christian forces against the radical Muslim navy of Turkey. Pope Pius V led a procession around St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City praying the Rosary. He showed true pastoral leadership in recognizing the danger posed to Christendom by the radical Muslim forces, and in using the means necessary to defeat it. Spiritual battles require spiritual weapons, and this more than anything was a battle that had its origins in the spiritual order – a true battle between good and evil.

Today we have a similar spiritual battle in progress – a battle between the forces of good and evil, light and darkness, truth and lies, life and death. If we do not soon stop the genocide of abortion in the United States, we shall run the course of all those that prove by their actions that they are enemies of God – total collapse, economic, social, and national. The moral demise of a nation results in the ultimate demise of a nation. God is not a disinterested spectator to the affairs of man. Life begins at conception. This is an unalterable formal teaching of the Catholic Church. If you do not accept this you are a heretic in plain English. A single abortion is homicide. The more than 48,000,000 abortions since Roe v. Wade in the United States constitute genocide by definition. The group singled out for death – unwanted, unborn children.

No other issue, not all other issues taken together, can constitute a proportionate reason for voting for candidates that intend to preserve and defend this holocaust of innocent human life that is abortion.

I strongly urge every one of you to make a Novena and pray the Rosary to our Lady of Victory between October 27th and Election Day, November 4th. Pray that God’s will be done and the most innocent and utterly vulnerable of our brothers and sisters will be protected from this barbaric and grossly sinful blight on society that is abortion. No woman, and no man, has the right to choose to murder an innocent human being.

May God grant us the wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and counsel to form our conscience in accordance with authentic Catholic teaching, and then vote that well-formed Catholic conscience.

God Bless You, Fr. John Corapi

Monday, October 20, 2008

Are journalists even getting basic stuff right?

Apparently not, at least when it comes to Sarah Palin. According to this piece in GetReligion:
Let’s just get right to it. This Los Angeles Times piece about the religious views of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is pretty much worthless.

Considering that I am a journalist, I’m somewhat sad to report that I believe nothing I read or watch when it comes to coverage of Palin. I have seen way too high an error rate, way too much in the way of unsourced allegations presented as fact, way too much seething anger, even about issues that have nothing to do with religion.

But let’s look at this Los Angeles Times piece, one of the many recent examples of this phenomenon. Here’s the headline:

Palin treads carefully between fundamentalist beliefs and public policy

Which would be a fine headline. If PALIN WERE A FUNDAMENTALIST. She’s not.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Save our children!

Bishop Robert Hermann, Administrator of the St. Louis Archdiocese, makes a poignant plea in his diocesan newspaper:
Save our children! More than anything else, this election is about saving our children or killing our children. This life issue is the overriding issue facing each of us in this coming election. All other issues, including the economy, have to take second place to the issue of life.

Save our children! Many people in Germany supported Hitler for economic reasons even though, as his programs advanced, he put to death millions of Jewish people. He ended up wrecking the economy together with the country of Germany.

How are we different if we vote for proabortion candidates for office? How can we help change our political and legal situation to protect innocent children and support a culture of life?
Save our children! I have used this terminology again and again penetrate the defenses of anyone who in the past may have put personal, economic or political interests above the issue of saving our children. The right to life is our most fundamental right, and to defend this right on behalf of the most vulnerable is a great privilege and is worth giving one’s life for. Policemen and firemen always risk their lives to save human life. Why should we not risk our own reputation to save our children?

Save our children!You can see by now that I do not believe that this column by itself will change hearts. The issue of abortion involves serious sin, and to overcome serious patterns of sin requires grace. If you are still with me, may I suggest that you join me and many others in praying the daily Rosary from now until election day for the sake of life. Why not pray the family Rosary every night between now and the general election. The Rosary brought down the Iron Curtain. It can also help us turn around the culture of death to a culture of life.

What can I add to that but my prayers?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What kind of America do we want?

Robert George has written a superb article that clearly exposes Obama's Abortion Extremism. He then asks the important question:
What kind of America do we want our beloved nation to be? Barack Obama's America is one in which being human just isn't enough to warrant care and protection. It is an America where the unborn may legitimately be killed without legal restriction, even by the grisly practice of partial-birth abortion. It is an America where a baby who survives abortion is not even entitled to comfort care as she dies on a stainless steel table or in a soiled linen bin. It is a nation inwhich some members of the human family are regarded as inferior and others superior in fundamental dignity and rights. In Obama's America, public policy would make a mockery of the great constitutional principle of the equal protection of the law. In perhaps the most telling comment made by any candidate in either party in this election year, Senator Obama, when asked by Rick Warren when a baby gets human rights, replied: ''that question is above my pay grade.'' It was a profoundly disingenuous answer: For even at a state senator's pay grade, Obama presumed to answer that question with blind certainty. His unspoken answer then, as now, is chilling: human beings have no rights until infancy - and if they are unwanted survivors of attempted abortions, not even then.
Everyone should read the full article before voting this November.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Racism, racism everywhere

On an email list I'm on, someone accused conservative arguments against Obama of being all about race instead of about the issues.

Needless to say, I disagree vehemently.

Those of you know me "in person" know that I am not white. I have lived in several countries: in Asia & Europe as well as here in the US. My siblings have lived in several more. I have experienced real racism from the subtle to the overt -- as in being called names and having stones thrown at me because of my race. I can honestly say that the US is far less racist than any other country / culture my siblings and I have lived in.

From where I sit, all these cries of "Racism!" from the Obama camp are sounding a lot like the boy who cried "Wolf!"

As a culture we are so afraid of being racist that far too many of us allow ourselves to be cowed even by the totally unsubstantiated charge of racism.

The reality is that most of the racism in America today comes not from the "right" but from the "left", in the form of Affirmative Action and even generally in welfare policy. Not to mention the Rev. Wright and his numerous ideological compatriots.

The cry of "racism" is just getting ridiculous. For example, all of the following have been denounced as racist:
  • President Bush saying that a person's race should not be a factor in college admissions.
  • Sarah Palin saying that Obama palled around with terrorists -- an obvious reference to Bill "Weatherman" Ayers -- who is white. (Democrat strategist Jenny Backus calling Palin "the fluffy bunny" in her response is not to be construed as sexism, however.)
  • Republican attempts to regulate and clean up the Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac "irregularities" back in ~2005. This is how Democrats shut down the cleanup that might have prevented the present royal mess.
  • Bill Clinton saying that Obama is like a "fairy tale".
  • Basically anyone questioning anything in Obama's background, like his non-participation in reform in Chicago politics, his 20 year friendship with Rev. Wright and Rev. Pfleger, his alliances with Ayers, ACORN, the Joyce Foundation ....

I am not sure what other people have been reading / watching, but I have yet to come across a conservative argument against Obama that has anything to do with race. They have uniformly focused on the issues. May I suggest National Review Online as a resource for those who want to consider the merits of the arguments on the issues and not simply assume that racism is behind them.

To me it seems that yelling "racism!" has simply become and easy way to AVOID debate on the real issues.

Issues like the protection of innocent life, which the Church reminds us are "preeminent" and where we must "begin". Issues like marriage, which as our Church reminds us, is the foundation of society. Issues like freedom of conscience, which would be denied by FOCA. Issues like parental rights, which would be usurped by a UN committee if the "Convention on the Rights of the Child" were to be ratified.

Obama's race is irrelevant -- as is McCain's. That Todd Palin is part Y'upik is interesting, but likewise irrelevant. I neither know nor know of anyone who plans to vote against Obama because of his race. However, the opposite does seem to be a reality -- i.e. people voting for him wanting to "make history" because of his race or because "it's about time" for a black person to be President. Excuse me for saying so, but that's racist, too.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

"We cannot allow this to happen" - Cardinal Rigali

As part of the USCCB's 2008-09 Respect Life Program, Cardinal Rigali has written a superb statement for Respect Life Sunday. I encourage you to read it all, but here is a portion of it that I found especially powerful:
Today, however, we face the threat of a federal bill that, if enacted, would obliterate virtually all the gains of the past 35 years and cause the abortion rate to skyrocket. The "Freedom of Choice Act" ("FOCA") has many Congressional sponsors, some of whom have pledged to act swiftly to help enact this proposed legislation when Congress reconvenes in January.

FOCA establishes abortion as a "fundamental right" throughout nine months of pregnancy, and forbids any law or policy that could "interfere" with that right or "discriminate" against it in public funding and programs. If FOCA became law, hundreds of reasonable, widely supported, and constitutionally sound abortion regulations now in place would be invalidated. Gone would be laws providing for informed consent, and parental consent or notification in the case of minors. Laws protecting women from unsafe abortion clinics and from abortion practitioners who are not physicians would be overridden. Restrictions on partial-birth and other late-term abortions would be eliminated. FOCA would knock down laws protecting the conscience rights of nurses, doctors, and hospitals with moral objections to abortion, and force taxpayers to fund abortions throughout the United States.

We cannot allow this to happen. We cannot tolerate an even greater loss of innocent human lives. We cannot subject more women and men to the post-abortive grief and suffering that our counselors and priests encounter daily in Project Rachel programs across America.

[my emphasis]
WOW. God bless Cardinal Rigali and our other faithful and zealous bishops. (Of course you know that Obama has pledged to sign FOCA "first thing". So connect the dots.)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Friday, October 3, 2008

Burke: Democratic Party risks becoming "Party of Death"

In this ZENIT interview, Archbishop Burke says:

At this point, the Democratic Party risks transforming itself definitively into a 'party of death' due to its choices on bioethical issues, as Ramesh Ponnuru wrote in his book 'The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts and the Disregard for Human Life.'

And I say this with a heavy heart, because we all know that the Democrats were the party that helped our Catholic immigrant parents and grandparents to better integrate into and prosper in American society. But it's not the same anymore.

Nonetheless, there are among Democrats some pro-lifers, but they are, unfortunately, rare.

God bless Archbishop Burke for his forthright comment, which I do consider another "sign of hope". My only issue with it is that he says the Democratic Party "risks" becoming the party of death while I think their current platform is already the platform of the Culture of Death -- that which offers the death of innocents as solutions to life's problems.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What can a President do about abortion?

I've had several people bring up the concern that they (or someone they know) don't believe a president can do much about abortion.

Priests for Life has a wonderful resource for all those who are wondering about this question:
Elections Have Consequences: Does it Matter if the President is Pro-life? [htm] or [pdf]

In particular, we have good records of what our current President has done:
The Pro-Life Record of the George W. Bush Administration (Catholic Exchange: Bush's first term only)
President George W. Bush's Record on Life (NRLC: less detailed but covers both terms)
I think his Blanket Pro-Life Veto Warning was also very helpful in stopping anti-life legislation and in protecting pro-life "riders" such as the Hyde Amendment.

Abortions have dropped 25% from their peak of nearly 1.6 million in 1990; in 2005, the latest year for which figures are available, there were about 1.2 million abortions. That's nearly 400,000 fewer babies killed each year! Major reasons for this significant drop are:
1) State level pro-life legislation such as parental notification or consent, informed consent (women's right to know), waiting period, etc.
2) An improved Supreme Court that upheld these types of regulations.
3) A significant increase in support of pro-life views by Americans, due to education by pro-life churches and groups. The campaign against partial-birth abortion is thought to be a significant part of this. This extends also to doctors: an increasing fraction of OB-GYNs is avoiding the abortion business.

The drop was definitely not due to primarily economic reasons (I will post my analysis on this soon), nor to increased availability of contraception (USCCB Pro-Life secretariat's Fact Sheet: Greater Access to Contraception Does Not Reduce Abortions).

Now this is all relevant because, as I mentioned earlier, Obama has promised to sign FOCA: "Well, the first thing I’d do as president is, is sign the Freedom of Choice Act." - from PPAF address cited above

As the USCCB Pro-Life media campaign notes: "You Can't Reduce Abortions by Promoting Abortions"
Radical abortion rights groups and their allies in Congress are promoting the extreme pro-abortion agenda of the so-called “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA). If they have their way, reasonable, widely supported and constitutionally sound abortion regulations will be knocked down nationwide. Unlimited abortion-on-demand will become our national policy.
And the abortion rate will go up, not down.
Also see our post on Cardinal Rigali's recent statements about FOCA.

If we're going to ask what a President can do to reduce abortions, we should also ask what he can do to increase them. And Obama has already committed to promoting abortion through FOCA, which will surely increase them.

Update (10/15): The USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat's Richard Doerflinger offers more insight into abortion increases under FOCA.

What about the Iraq War?

According to the Catechism (CCC 2309, after explaining the conditions for a just war): "The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good." In other words, while the conditions are absolute, there is some leeway in their application, moreover, it is those in government who have to make the prudential judgment on whether a particular situation meets the criteria for a just war. This is because they are the only ones with all the necessary information. An analogy would be that parents are the only ones empowered to make the prudential judgment on what type of education their kids get: homeschooled, public school, or private / parochial school. Others may feel that they made the wrong decision, but because it is a prudential judgment, we can never be certain of that.

Thus, whether a particular war is just is something Catholics can disagree on in good conscience. As Pope Benedict wrote to the American Bishops when he was head of the CDF:
"Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
(Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles, June 2004)
Importantly, this instruction came after the Iraq war began and in response to requests by American bishops -- thus, clearly, the "war" referred to here includes the Iraq war. So even a Catholic can be "at odds" with the Holy Father on "the decision to wage war" in Iraq and remain in good standing with the Church, while one who supports abortion or euthanasia cannot.

IOW, a politician's position on war is "negotiable" in a way that his position on abortion is not. It simply does not have the moral weight of an intrinsic evil. The USCCB acknowledges the same point when it says in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (FC) 33 that although their guidance on prudential issues (including the war in Iraq) are an "essential resource," they "do not carry the same moral authority as statements of universal moral teachings."

The other very important fact to face is that although we may disagree with the decision to have gone to war in Iraq, that decision is now past, and right now our choices are really only:
1) stay until conditions in Iraq are stabilized (McCain), or
2) leave on a fixed schedule regardless of consequences (Obama)

Although the Holy See warned against going to war in Iraq (which I completely agreed with even at the time, btw), later pronouncements which got a lot less press here in America have warned against the second option of a rapid pull-out after Saddam was removed from power. Rather, the Holy See and our Bishops have wanted the coalition forces to bring stability to the country before leaving and to help with the reconstruction. (For example see here and here.) There are hopeful signs that this is happening, such as recently in Anbar province. The stability in the region is much, much greater than it was before the troop surge. I personally feel it would be irresponsible to simply leave -- that would leave a power vacuum which could easily result in anarchy or in another tyrannical regime like Saddam Hussein's. Either way, there would be even greater suffering for the Iraqi people. The Bishops' official position is very similar:
The war in Iraq confronts us with urgent moral choices. We support a “responsible transition” that ends the war in a way that recognizes the continuing threat of fanatical extremism and global terror, minimizes the loss of life, and addresses the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, the refugee crisis in the region, and the need to protect human rights, especially religious freedom. This transition should reallocate resources from war to the urgent needs of the poor. (FC 68)
McCain's Iraq strategy is option 1: stay long enough to stabilize conditions in Iraq and ensure the Iraqi government and troops are strong enough to maintain that stability before withdrawing troops. He supported the troop surge, which is now acknowledged even by his opponents as having been effective. Indeed, because of the reduction in violence, President Bush has withdrawn five brigades from Iraq this year. The Iraqi government also supports the McCain plan.

Obama has called for an "immediate withdrawal" with a hard deadline of 16 months, i.e. option 2, which seems at odds with the requirements of a "responsible transition" outlined above. In contrast, a June 2008 article in the Washington Post reported on a telephone conversation Obama had with the Iraqi foreign minister, who "said he was reassured by the candidate's response, which caused him to think that Mr. Obama might not differ all that much from Mr. McCain." However, this July article says that Obama has decided to stick with his 16 month timetable. The fact that he sticks to the schedule irrespective of the actual situation on the ground troubles me -- it seems that the consequences to Iraq are not as important to his plan as the mere keeping of a schedule.

In short, it appears that McCain's Iraq strategy is entirely compatible with what the US Bishops and the Holy See are calling for, and Obama's might be also. But the immediate withdrawal / fixed deadline position is not.

Update: Joe Biden indicated in the recent VP debate that Obama is back to the 16 month arbitrary deadline.

What's at stake in this election, in Barack Obama's own words

"With one more vacancy on the Court, we could be looking at a majority hostile to a woman's fundamental right to choose [abortion] for the first time since Roe v. Wade and that is what is at stake in this election." [my underlining]

"we fought together in the Illinois State Senate against restrictive choice legislation—laws just like the federal abortion laws, the federal abortion bans that are cropping up. I’ve stood up for the freedom of choice in the United States Senate and I stand by my votes against the confirmation of Judge Roberts and Samuel Alito.

So, you know where I stand. But this more is than just about standing our ground. It must be about more than protecting the gains of the past. We’re at a crossroads right now in America—and we have to move this country forward. This election is not just about playing defense, it’s also about playing offense. It’s not just about defending what is, it’s about creating what might be in this country. And that’s what we’ve got to work together on.

There will always be people, many of goodwill, who do not share my view on the issue of choice. On this fundamental issue, I will not yield and Planned Parenthood will not yield."

- Barack Obama, address to Planned Parenthood Action Fund, July 17, 2007
(from transcript by Laura Echevarria, video available at "One Million for Planned Parenthood")

When Obama refers in this speech to the "federal abortion laws" and "federal abortion bans" he is talking about laws such as the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, the federal ban on Partial-Birth Abortions, and the "Unborn Victims of Violence Act" (Laci and Conner's Law). When he speaks of "playing offense" he is referring to overturning limitations on abortion that currently exist, taxpayer funding of abortion, and other features of the so-called "Freedom of Choice Act" (FOCA).

Also see: Obama pledged to Planned Parenthood: “I will not yield” to pro-life concerns

Update 10/20/08: Video clips of Obama and McCain - including the above quotes

Or go to America's Choice Now.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Viva Verastegui!

In this powerful video, actor and producer Eduardo Verastegui, of "Bella" fame, speaks the truth about the tragedy of abortion and Obama's promotion of it. This edited version from CNA does not contain the brief graphic images of the original video, which you can find at Dura Realidad (Hard Truth).

More on his conversion and pro-life work here.

Prenatal Testing for Down Syndrome Dangerous for All Babies

Prenatal Testing for Down Syndrome Dangerous for All Babies:
A study published by Down Syndrome Education International, a British charity organization, reports that invasive prenatal testing kills 400 healthy babies a year who had been identified as having the condition by false-positive blood tests, The Telegraph reported.

The testing also results in annual abortions of 660 British babies with Down syndrome who would have survived until birth if the pregnancies were allowed to progress, Frank Buckley and Sue Buckley wrote in the online version of Down Syndrome Research and Practice.

'When widespread prenatal whole genome screening becomes a possibility, many of the troubling issues raised by our experiences of screening for Down syndrome will be brought into sharper focus,' the Buckleys continued.

That's putting it mildly.

The NRLC article also cites another study showing that a shocking 92% of English and Welsh infants whose Down syndrome is identified in utero are aborted.

Obama and Intrinsic Evils

An intrinsic evil is something that can never be justified under any circumstances. On some issues, there is only one right position because they involve intrinsic evils.

The Bishops' document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship identifies several such issues. Foremost among them are the life issues: abortion and infanticide, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, human cloning. Another is the protection of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

We must evaluate every candidate's positions on these issues. Frankly, I find Obama's record and positions on life issues, marriage, and parental rights disturbing. His stances on these issues are extreme, to put it simply. For example:

I. Abortion

Obama is a firm supporter of legal abortion, consistently earning 100% scores from NARAL. He has reiterated his support for abortion many times, including in his statement to NARAL: "I have consistently advocated for reproductive choice and will make preserving women's rights under Roe v. Wade a priority as President. I oppose any constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's ruling in this case."

In line with his beliefs, he is a co-sponsor of FOCA, the "Freedom of Choice Act," which goes even beyond the Roe and Doe decisions to nullify virtually all federal and state limitations on abortion. It would make taxpayer-funded abortion on demand throughout all nine months of pregnancy into a fundamental right. Nearly all the pro-life achievements in legislation at both the state and federal levels, such as women's right to know laws (informed consent), parental notification, and even the ban on partial birth abortions would be reversed. Even the right of medical personnel and hospitals (such as Catholic hospitals) to decline to provide abortions due to conscientious objections would be denied by this law.

When the Supreme Court upheld the ban on partial-birth abortions, Obama opposed that decision.

Planned Parenthood's political action arm has endorsed him based on his record and his pledge that "the first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act."

(Update: also see What's at stake in this election, in Barack Obama's own words)

II. Embryonic stem cell research

Obama has consistently voted in favor of embryonic stem cell research, even saying that, "Embryonic stem cells can be obtained from a number of sources including in vitro fertilization. ... We should expand and accelerate research using these embryos."

III. Human cloning. Actually, this contains two intrinsic evils - the first in the creation of the clone for research, and the second in the destruction of the new human life once it has served its purpose.

He co-sponsored a bill that would allow the cloning of human embryos for research purposes, but require that they then be killed.

IV. Euthanasia

When Tim Russert asked Obama and Clinton if “there are any words or votes that you’d like to take back ... in your careers in public service,” Obama answered that it was a "mistake" to have joined the Senate in the unanimous consent on the Terri Schindler-Schiavo case. This consent provided her family with a last opportunity to try to save her. In other words, Obama singled out his agreement in a last-ditch attempt to prevent the starvation death of a severely disabled woman as the mistake of his public career.

Just to clarify, a lot has been reported in the media about Terri's case. There were many claims that she was in a "persistent vegetative" state as well as counter-claims that she was responsive to people and things around her. Yet this was irrelevant. She was not dying from any underlying condition. She was not on any life-support machines. It is a little-known fact that 29 disability-rights organizations filed legal briefs and lobbied Congress to make them understand that this was not about a "right to die" but about protecting her right to continue living. All she needed was food and water, just like the rest of us.

As Pope John Paul said:
Just because the chances of recovery are judged small and waning, when the ‘vegetative’ state lasts more than a year, does not justify withdrawing minimal care for the patient, including nutrition and hydration. Death by starvation or thirst is, in fact, the only possible outcome of such a withdrawal. If done knowingly and willingly, this ends up being euthanasia by omission.

The sick person in a ‘vegetative’ state, awaiting recovery or a natural end, still has the right to basic health care (nutrition, hydration, cleanliness, warmth, etc), and to the prevention of complications related to his confinement to bed. He also has the right to appropriate rehabilitative care and to be monitored for clinical signs of eventual recovery.

I want particularly to emphasize that the administration of water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act. Its use should be considered, in principle, ordinary and proportionate, and thus morally obligatory, insofar as and until it attains its proper goal of nourishing the patient and alleviating his suffering." (John Paul II, Address on Life-Sustaining Treatment and the ‘Vegetative’ State §4)
This teaching has since been confirmed by the CDF with Pope Benedict's approval.

V. Marriage. Not a direct life issue, but equating homosexual unions to marriage is again intrinsically evil.

"Society owes its continued survival to the family, founded on marriage. The inevitable consequence of legal recognition of homosexual unions would be the redefinition of marriage, which would become, in its legal status, an institution devoid of essential reference to factors linked to heterosexuality; for example, procreation and raising children. If, from the legal standpoint, marriage between a man and a woman were to be considered just one possible form of marriage, the concept of marriage would undergo a radical transformation, with grave detriment to the common good. ... all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions." (Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, CDF, approved by Pope John Paul II)

Obama has pledged to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

VI. Infanticide.

OK, so we are all used to pro-abortion politicians but this one shocked me. Are you familiar with the "Born Alive Infants Protection Act" (BAIPA) that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush in 2002? This very simple law states that once a baby is born alive, even if it happens "accidentally" during an abortion, that baby is legally entitled to all the normal care than any baby is legally entitled to have. In other words, once born, the baby cannot be discriminated against, killed, or left to die in a utility closet simply because he or she is unwanted.

Initially, NARAL opposed the measure, but later dropped its opposition to avoid the political fallout. Indeed, this is such a common-sense measure that the US House passed it 380-15 and the Senate 98-0.

Obama was not a member of the US Senate at that time. But, when the Illinois senate considered a very similar measure, then-state senator Obama tried to prevent it's reaching the floor for a vote, argued against it on the Senate floor, and voted against its passage three times. You can read the text of the measure yourself, at the Illinois General Assembly website. It's very short and clear.

His position on this issue is nothing short of approving murder. Obvious and cold-blooded murder of the weakest, the most innocent, and the most defenseless.

Is that not disturbing?

Many people say that you cannot rule out a candidate on the basis of a single issue. Generally, I think they are right, but here's what our bishops said: "As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support." (Faithful Citizenship, my emphasis)

If that is the case, then what about the candidate who supports a half-dozen intrinsic evils?

But what about this other issue?

Some issues involve intrinsic evils, that is, actions that are never right under any circumstances. Others involve prudential judgments: in these cases, we must agree on the principles, but may disagree on how best to achieve them. For example, we may all agree that something needs to be done about the quality of public education in our nation, but while some think the answer is vouchers to give parents a choice about their children's education, others insist the solution is more funding for schools. Issues involving intrinsic evils are always more serious than those involving prudential judgments because we can be certain of the right answer. We can never deliberately choose to do wrong, even so that good may result. Further, not all intrinsic evils are equally serious: murder is much more grave than cheating on a test.

On a second level, we may compare issues of similar moral seriousness in terms of the number of victims and the gravity of the injury they suffer.

Abortion is, of course, an intrinsic evil. But the sheer magnitude of abortions is also stunning. For example, in 2005 (the latest year for which full figures are available), according to CDC statistics, the total number of deaths of American children under 15 from all causes except abortions was 39,798. This compares with deaths from abortion of 1.2 million, or more than 30 times as many. Nearly 3,300 babies are killed by abortion every day. Nothing else even comes close.

No wonder our Bishops have written that "Abortion and euthanasia have become pre-eminent threats to human life and dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental good and the condition for all others." (Living the Gospel of Life)

It may be true that a pro-abortion candidate (such as Obama) has appealing positions on other issues, perhaps on health care, for example. However, let us bring to mind what Pope John Paul II said on this matter:
The inviolability of the person which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, fínds its primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life. Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights - for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture - is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination. (Christifideles Laici, n. 38, emphasis in original)
False and illusory. Those are powerful words, indeed.

The Church affirms that some issues are more important than others. The right to life of an innocent person, which is under attack in a number of ways, takes precedence for several reasons.

1. All other rights depend on life. Without life, a person cannot exercise any other rights.

2. When abortion, cloning, embryonic stem-cell research, etc. are made legal, then the clear implication is that some persons have less value than others. Hence all are not equal under the law.

3. The view that supports the right to life and the one that instead affirms a "right" to abortion, euthanasia, etc. are based on two irreconcilable views of human rights and dignity:
  1. That all our rights come from God and the government has the duty to protect those rights.
  2. That our rights are granted us by the state (in the form of legislation, or the Constitution, etc.)
The former is the traditional Judeo-Christian view and is still the view of people of faith. The second view is extremely dangerous to human freedom; if the state is the source of our rights, then clearly the state can limit or even revoke them.

These are some of the reasons for the Pope's description of the "outcry .. on behalf of human rights" as being false and illusory if the right to life is not defended as part of the program; defending the right to life is not any part of Obama's program.