Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All Saints Day - Catholic Diocese of Oakland Produces It's Own Wine For Mass From It's Cemeteries

This is a pretty cool sort of All Saints Day  Last Things sort of related  article. See Cemetery vineyards in Hayward, San Pablo, Antioch provide sacramental wine

All Saints All Souls Day Reflection on the Tombs of New Orleans

This is was a very nice article by Fr. Kurt Young for All Souls and then All Saints day regarding the above ground tombs in New Orleans.

This aspect of our Catholic faith has always had a very special significance for me, and I would dare say for most New Orleans Catholics. Everyone, Catholic or not, who has been to New Orleans even for a short trip is most likely familiar with the great “cities of the dead,” which flank either side of I-10 in New Orleans. For those of you who are not familiar with the term “cities of the dead,” I am referring to the impression of a city that is created by rows upon rows of above ground tombs which are more or less ornate depending on the sections of the cemetery through which one is traveling at a given moment. Lending to this notion of a city is the fact that the rows of tombs are separated by street names complete with signs and all.

While driving past these “ghostly ghettos,” I am always struck with the beauty of the fact that these cemeteries have become an integral part of the culture of New Orleans. Anyone driving in or out of the city from the West is bound to pass by this area on a daily basis, and each trip provides one, either consciously or subconsciously, with a reminder of his or her own mortality. Yet this reminder is not something which causes anxiety for the average New Orleanian, rather this reminder is a common occurrence, which should strengthen one’s appreciation for this life when approached in faith. One of the many great characteristics of New Orleans is the fact that the people here love to celebrate life, and I would like to imagine that these “cities of the dead” play no small part in this reality in some way. Although New Orleans Catholics do indeed celebrate life, we also understand that this world is not the end, but rather, it is a preparation for the eternity which awaits us.

Read it all.

Dean At Samford University Returns Home To Alabama After Representing Baptists At Vatican Synod of Bishops

The Rev. Timothy George, dean of Samford University's Beeson Divinity School in Alabama , has returned home after representing the Baptists at the Vatican's Synod of Bishops. There is a nice piece here at AL.Com where he give his thoughts. See Baptist at the Vatican: Samford University divinity dean talks about addressing Pope Benedict XVI and 285 Catholic bishops in Rome

Monday, October 29, 2012

Teaching Abortion Is Wrong Could Violate Anti Bullying Law Says Education Minister

I am not against anti bully regulations. I just think that to avoid the trampling  civil liberties, speech , and other dangers that cause more harm than good they should be narrowly drawn for a specific purpose. One aspect of that is that are a not a political vehicle to wipe out views one does not like.

On that note we have a situation in Ontario Canada and some rather interesting things said by the Education minister. See Teaching that abortion is wrong is bullying: minister .

...A reporter at the press conference asked Broten why she was bringing up Bill 13 in regards to abortion, since the legislation doesn't say anything about pro-life or pro-choice issues.

"Bill 13 has in it a clear indication of ensuring that our schools are safe, accepting places for all our students," Broten responded.

"There are many, many families that send their children to Catholic schools and choose that education for their children that also support a woman's right to choose, and as I said, I don't think that there is a contrast or a conflict between choosing a Catholic education for your children and supporting a woman's right to choose.".....

 Ahh  that "acceptance"  word.

"We're very clear with the passage of Bill 13 (Ontario's controversial anti-bullying law) that Catholic teaching cannot be taught in our schools that violates human rights and which brings a lack of acceptance to participation in schools," Broten said.

"Bill 13 is about tackling misogyny; taking away a woman's right to choose could arguably be one of the most misogynistic actions that one could take."


Tufts University Grad Now Law Prof On Concerning Religious Liberty Situation At Tufts

First Amendment Prof (Speech, Press, Association, Religion Where First Amendment freedoms collide with other values. Come and speak your mind )  looks like it is going to be an interesting blog to follow.

The blogger is written by the  now  visiting Penn  Law Prof Erica Rachel Goldberg .

 She also was a FIRE  former Justice Robert H. Jackson Legal Fellow . FIRE has been on the front lines defending various First amendment rights on the American college campus. In fact Erica Goldberg wrote this good law review article Amending Christian Legal Society v. Martinez: Protecting Expressive Association as an Independent Right in a Limited Public Forum which is somewhat related to the overall issues of this post.

FIRE has been active in two cases involving freedom of religion and association that have been  of concern to many recently . First there is the case of the unfortunate events at Vanderbilt University in which as part of their work they produced this great vid. Sadly these same events are now happening at Tufts University which I have blogged on recently.   Goldberg is a graduate of Tufts and in her first post on her blog she tackles this subject head on. See here post Freedom of Association/Discrimination which she lays out 8 points on the Tufts situation which I very much agree with. All her short points are important and I think they are similar to the situation Vandy is facing.   Let me highlight four of them:

 1. Tufts is a private university, and, as such, does not need to respect freedom of association.

2. That said, Tufts really SHOULD respect freedom of association

6. All comers policies, which require every student group to accept all members, are constitutional even at public universities because they do not discriminate against any particular viewpoint, but they severely limit the values underlying freedom of association.

8. I find that people often lose their sense of principle when issues they care about are on the table- as if the existence of a right depends on the exercise of that right. In this case, in the clash between liberty and equality, where the government isn't actually doing the speaking or discriminating (student groups involve private speech in a limited public forum), I think liberty should win. However, as Tufts is a private institution, it can place whatever value on freedom of association it wishes, as long as it's up front about it. This is why a university like Liberty, which is straightforward about not respecting certain First Amendment values, gets more leeway in my opinion in restricting freedom of association.

I think that last part I bolded is very important. Some religious Universities because of their mission such as a religious school might have an affirmative duty to prohibit some official clubs on their campus. For instance I would deem it wise that Notre Dame might not approve a DOMERS FOR EUTHANASIA student group. But the purpose of doing that would be very up front and apparent..

It seems the student Govt at  TUFTS and the administration Vandy as  more private secular Universities are not being quite "straightforward".

Fr McBrien Glad Bishops Staying Out Catholic Campus Ministry ( A Response )

Fr. McBrien of Notre Dame seems happy that  Bishops are not poking their nose in College Campus Ministry it seems. See Fr. McBrien of Notre Dame Says Long Arm of Bishops Can’t Reach Catholic Colleges.

To be exact Fr McBrien did not just limit this to Catholic Colleges. In the NCR article  Showing support for LCWR during these trying times he said:

We cannot overemphasize the fact that a pall of sadness now covers the church. Many have dropped out (the recent Pew poll disclosed that ex-Catholics constitute one-tenth of the U.S. religious landscape); others stay because they have found a worshiping community that meets their spiritual needs (usually on a college or university campus, where the long arms of a bishop cannot reach).

This is a small part of this article but I think it is one of the most important which is why I think it is apt that the Cardinal Newman Society rightly jumped on it.

First it should be noted that the primary purpose of Catholic campus ministry is not to give a place for "progressives" to worship and have reign. It is not a place , at either a Catholic or secular college, to send perhaps theological wise some of the more " interesting " priest and nuns.

The primary purpose is preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ which includes the teachings of his Bride The Church to people at one of the most critical parts of their lives

Catholic colleges that largely have the field to themselves should be producing numerous vocations to the Catholic Faith. While vocations to the clerical and religious state is not the only end all of a healthy Catholicism it is a huge sign of it. The main religious orders that control ( such as the Jesuits) these Catholic places of learning and the religious sisters that often staff it at time ( see the LCWR folks) have contact with tens of thousands of young adults each year. Yet these orders are often dwindling. Compare this to a Catholic or Methodist operated school and how many vocations to the clerical state they get. One might object well they don't have to be celibate. However as we see at secular colleges that does not quite add up.

As I noted Father McBrien did not limit his remarks to Catholic Colleges. While it's true local Bishops seem to have a frustrating lack of input on Catholic colleges in their Dioceses the situation in the past has not been that much different as to the secular campus where MOST CATHOLICS attend. For decades the secular campus ( whether private or state) has largely been a place where the most progressive and some  would same dissenting priests and religious go. At least that was my experience state wide in Louisiana when I was involved in Catholic campus ministry some years back.

The results have been sadly predictable. First there are the untold victims that many wish to ignore. In many places the Faith was so watered down that many Catholics spiritual needs were met by the Wesley Foundation, the Baptist Student Center, or the Campus Crusade for Christ. Those Catholics never returned in large part and those people are sadly numerous. They vastly outnumber the progressives that might find refuge in these communities.

Thankfully where the "long arms of the Bishop " did happen we have seen some wonderful results. Case in point is the Catholic Campus ministry at Texas A & M a state supported school . In the article Aggie Catholic Renaissance we see these amazing stats:

Daily Mass attendance averages 175

Sunday Masses draw between four and five thousand worshippers

1,250 students make or staff a retreat sponsored by St. Mary’s. “Aggie Awakening,” an adaptation of Cursillo

2,000 A&M students, not all of them Catholics, have participated in introductory sessions exploring the Theology of the Body

Since 2000, the campus ministry has averaged some nine students per year entering the seminary or religious novitiates

132 Catholic Aggies have been ordained priests or made final religious vows in the past two decades

175 new Catholics have entered the Church the past two years through St. Mary’s RCIA program.

Imagine if this was duplicated at Catholic colleges and more secular colleges nationwide. The vocation problem we have would pretty much disappear to start with.

Texas A & M is not the only place where this is happening. Let us look at the University of Nebraska. One Catholic now living in the Diocese of Shreveport recounts his experience recently at 8 Keys to Campus Ministry. Looking at the University of Nebraska Catholic web site it appears he is not just whistling Dixie.

To meet demand they are engaging in a huge ten million dollar Catholic campus expansion  because they have to meet his large demand.  You will note also that now a  Catholic fraternity house is even being built and a Catholic sorority house is on the way too. There is no doubt that the efforts of Nebraska Head Football Coach and the "long arm of the Bishop"  plays some role in this success. For an overview of the Catholic explosion at Nebraska see this very good article.

These things happen when we appreciate what demo Catholic campus ministry is for.

Nebraska like many many Catholic campus programs that are experiencing great success is associated with the  Fellowship of Catholic University Students ( FOCUS) that is on  74 campuses in 30 states . I am happy to say this includes in my home state of Louisiana the University of Louisiana - Lafayette where great results are being seen,  ( also see this National Catholic Register article )  and now at Tulane where the Archbishop is making a massive investment in campus ministry.

The impact of FOCUS when the Bishop brings them in is nothing short of amazing. Inclduing that since 1998 336 religious vocations have been  fostered . FOCUS was recently highlighted in an article by this very imprtant Evangelical magazine here.

These are just a few examples I could mention that contrary to Fr McBrien's viewpoint when we focus on whom Catholic Campus ministry is for we can very happy results.

In a year where the most famous Catholic College produced  "Social Justice" advocate is Sandra Fluke I suggest a course correction is call for at many places.

Pope Benedict Releases His 2013 Message On Immigration and Migrants

In the United States the election and now Hurricane Sandy is likely to overshadow the release of the  MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE BENEDICT XVI FOR THE WORLD DAY OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES (2013)  as to commentary in some Catholic circles this weeks.

Vatican Insider has an overview here at Pope: “Not emigrating is also a human right”

The statement again reaffirms that the Catholic view on immigration policy is not the either/or that various political groups on all sides try to portray it as.

A few parts of this statement:

.....In the footsteps of my predecessors, I sought to emphasize in my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate that “the whole Church, in all her being and acting – when she proclaims, when she celebrates, when she performs works of charity – is engaged in promoting integral human development” (No. 11). I was thinking also of the millions of men and women who, for various reasons, have known the experience of migration. Migration is in fact “a striking phenomenon because of the sheer numbers of people involved, the social, economic, political, cultural and religious problems it raises, and the dramatic challenges it poses to nations and the international community” (ibid., 62), for “every migrant is a human person who, as such, possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by everyone and in every circumstance” (ibid.).....

...Where migrants and refugees are concerned, the Church and her various agencies ought to avoid offering charitable services alone; they are also called to promote real integration in a society where all are active members and responsible for one another’s welfare, generously offering a creative contribution and rightfully sharing in the same rights and duties.....

....Certainly every state has the right to regulate migration and to enact policies dictated by the general requirements of the common good, albeit always in safeguarding respect for the dignity of each human person. The right of persons to migrate – as the Council’s Constitution Gaudium et Spes, No. 65, recalled – is numbered among the fundamental human rights, allowing persons to settle wherever they consider best for the realization of their abilities, aspirations and plans. In the current social and political context, however, even before the right to migrate, there is need to reaffirm the right not to emigrate, that is, to remain in one’s homeland; as Blessed John Paul II stated: “It is a basic human right to live in one’s own country. However this rights become effective only if the factors that urge people to emigrate are constantly kept under control” (Address to the Fourth World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees, 9 October 1998). .....

...There is an urgent need for structured multilateral interventions for the development of the countries of departure, effective countermeasures aimed at eliminating human trafficking, comprehensive programmes regulating legal entry, and a greater openness to considering individual cases calling for humanitarian protection more than political asylum. In addition to suitable legislation, there is a need for a patient and persevering effort to form minds and consciences. In all this, it is important to strengthen and develop understanding and cooperation between ecclesial and other institutions devoted to promoting the integral development of the human person. In the Christian vision, social and humanitarian commitment draws its strength from fidelity to the Gospel, in the knowledge that “to follow Christ, the perfect man, is to become more human oneself” (Gaudium et Spes, 41)....

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City Strong Article Against HHS Contraception Mandate

This is a pretty powerful OpEd from the Archbishop. Read it and pass it along. See HHS mandate’s coercive nature is fact, not opinion

Nasty Legal Battle Between Masonic Lodge and Church Splits Rural North Louisiana Families and Friends

This is a pretty interesting Shreveport Times article by  Vickie Welborn dealing with a dispute between two very old giants of the rural South. That is the local Church and the Masonic lodge. Typically this arrangement has been somewhat friendly as we see recounting the long  history of the parties here.

However there is nothing now friendly with this "breakup" that has resulted with the Masons locking the folks out of  part of the  Church facilities.  Thus the lawsuitsIt has pretty much ripped the close knit local community apart.

See the story on Separation of Church and Lodge  at Webster Parish church, Masonic lodge at odds .

In the background of this story is the decline of Southern Masons something that would have been unthinkable in my grandfather's day. In the end a good bit of the legal battle is because there is not perhaps another  good option for the aging Masons to go elsewhere.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Boston Globe Article Says Every Catholic Parish Has Pipe Organs ( Is organ music killing our churches? )

The Episcopal place The lead has a story and some commentary on a story that is running in the Globe. See Is organ music killing our churches?

The person writing the Globe article makes this incredible statement:

Who plays the organ anymore when they’re not trying to scare someone?” asks a post on YouTube, and the answer is, frighteningly enough, practically every Catholic parish.

That seems  o hilarious  and incorrect . Heck your typical Catholic Parish is lucky to have someone or pay someone of quality to even play a piano. Where are all these Organs in Catholic Parishes at?

Thankfully the typical Catholic Parish seems to be recovering it to some degree. Also note that the Pipe Organ is sort of making a comeback in Baptist Churches. Something is driving that demand.

Nice Article on Catholic Teachers Living The Radical Christian Life In the United States

This is a short but good article about young Catholic teachers living a RADICAL CHRISTIAN call in the New York Times  that is pretty exciting. Yet another story about the  Alliance for Catholic Education I have come across that is very impressive.

Mirrors of Justice has the link at A great story about a great program

Thoughts On Lose Your Virginity Vote For Obama Ad

I think across many American demographics many had a WHAT THE HELL moment as to what they just saw.
I watched it a couple times just to make sure it was not some unofficial parody

It's the kind of thing the ROMNEY campaign would like to pay and play  200 times a day.

It is creepy.

It appears that the Obama campaign has given up on trying to appeal to the religious vote.

I don't think even it's intended audience of perhaps young women will be affected by it.

I can't imagine any Democratic consultant of any competence would have approved this

But here is my real problem.

The jaw dropping line with the whole herd mentalility about you don't want to be sort of the uncool one that did not do "it" because you were not ready. I was very shocked that got through. I don't consider myself prudish at all . But this seems to be a very crass ad. Its going to be interesting to see how progressive Christians react to it. I expect many have the same reaction  I do. However will the course be just to pretend it never happened.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Brilliant Australian Piece On Threats To U.S. Religious Liberty Via The HHS Mandate

This piece is one of the best I have seen on the threats to religious liberty we see now in the USA such as to the HHS mandate  and what viewpoint is behind it. It also shows why these threats will continue . I suggest wide circulation of it.

See What kind of religion is free in the public square?

I am going to try to apply this part to another situation we see developing late.

I want to consider a troubling possibility: that Western societies today safeguard true freedom in the public square for only a certain kind of religion - namely, a heavily privatized religion - and that this narrowing of religious liberty weakens the social order which serves and supports all citizens.

It is fitting to begin with a quote from Lord Acton, the nineteenth-century English Catholic historian and politician for whom this lecture is named. While Regius Professor of History at Cambridge, Lord Acton warned of a particular danger to liberty:

"The modern theory ... is the enemy of that common freedom in which religious freedom is included. It condemns, as a State within the State, every inner group and community, class or corporation, administering its own affairs; and, by proclaiming the abolition of privileges, it emancipates the subjects of every such authority in order to transfer them exclusively to its own. It recognises liberty only in the individual, because it is only in the individual that liberty can be separated from authority ... Under its sway, therefore, every man may profess his own religion more or less freely; but his religion is not free to administer its own laws. In other words, religious profession is free, but Church government is controlled. And where ecclesiastical authority is restricted, religious liberty is virtually denied."

Lord Acton wrote this warning in the 1860s, yet it foreshadowed several important trends that have taken hold in the West today: the severing of the notions of freedom and authority; freedom protected for the individual more so than for institutions; and the threat of expansive State power weakening the authority of other social institutions, including religious ones.

Read it all.

Times Picyaune Columnist- Time For Anti Catholic Monk Casket Making Protectionism Louisiana Law To Go

A little update on that case that is pitting the Louisiana funeral lobby vs some Catholics monks north of New Orleans. It's been sent to the Louisiana Supreme Court by the Federal Fifth Circuit..

This case has rightly gardnered some national attention. A New Orleans columnist today it's time for this crony protecting law to be buried and sticks up for the Monks.

See Casket law Louisiana monks are challenging ought to be killed off: Jarvis DeBerry

The 5th Circuit opinion that is referenced in that piece can be read here.

New Blog Highlights Catholic Life In the Archdiocese of New Orleans

The Archdiocese of New Orleans has a new blog up that appears to have a great deal of potential and interest. See NOLA Catholic Experience 

It says "New Orleans is a uniquely Catholic city. Read about the experiences of Catholics living there everyday!"

Will have to add to the Archdiocese of New Orleans links on the sidebar.

Pope Benedict Surprises Everyone By Naming New Cardinals This Mornings

Rocco Palmo has the names and some thoughts at  B16's October Surprise – Pope Calls Shock Consistory for 24 November

Update- Vatican Insider has a piece up. In that piece they talk about about the significance of the lone American on the list James Michael Harvey, Prefect of the Papal Household being made a Cardinal.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

LSU Removing Crosses From Fan Photos Controversy Continues On

When I posted that LSU newspaper article I figured this would not die out very quickly. Its gone national and hit the networks. I am betting a ton of state reps and LSU Board of Supervisors are getting a ton calls too.

Here is someones viewpoint  SEC Football: God is not Good Enough for the LSU Tigers which is typical of what I am seeing.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Celebrating Influence of Book of Common Prayer On Language, Faith , and Culture

Mirrors of Justice has a nice excerpt and link to a piece how important the Book of Common Prayer influence on the English language , culture , and the Christian religion.  See  James Wood on the Book of Common Prayer

I love the Book of Common Prayer. I think people would be suprised how many evangelical ministers that are not of the Anglican tradition use it in their prayer life. I know of one retired Southern Baptist Minister that does.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Concerns About New Evangelical Partnership Statement On Birth Control

The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good has issued a statement dealing with contraception and family planning at both a domestic and international level. The full statement in which I will be referencing is linked at the bottom of press release New Evangelical Partnership Releases "A Call to Christian Common Ground on Family Planning, and Maternal, and Children’s Health". It is also here.

The statement itself does not address a rather long Catholic and Protestant tradition on birth control that in many ways was in affect for 1900 years. Now being evangelicals I don't really expect them to engage  with Tradition .

However the rather scriptural case of the issues involved , which  evangelicals do engage,  is rather absent too despite all the scriptures front loaded talking about helping neighbors and justice to the poor.

So I will not engage those issues either.

They say on page 12 of their statement :
We commit to not allow partisan, political manipulations to deter us from taking determined action— either through our own ministry work or by the actions of our own government–to protect the lives of women and children that are lost to inadequate health care and family planning.

Also on page 12:
It is imperative that we seek common ground. We must give appropriate attention to family planning without entangling it in the often partisan, politically motivated abortion controversy.

Exactly how non partisan this statement is or how real this search for common ground is we shall see.

On page 4:

Here in the United States, lack of access to affordable health insurance results in an estimated four in ten poor women of reproductive age without family planning services. Although public funding by itself cannot
meet the total need, it can make a real difference in the lives of women and families. Researchers have estimated that publicly-funded family planning helped to prevent 973,000 unintended pregnancies .

One of the amazing big elephants in the room that this statement seems to avoid is the HHS contraception mandate. It really would seem in a plea to fellow evangelicals in search of "common ground" and "common good "  on birth control some talk of valid and perhaps real "non partisan" concerns would be acknowledged. The Southern Baptist Convention  is not opposed to birth control. But they did say this past summer at their convention:

RESOLVED, That we call on President Obama to instruct the Department of Health and Human Services to withdraw its insistence that health care plans provide contraceptives and abortion causing drugs and devices and instead exempt from this requirement all religious organizations and people of faith, whether in their pri- vate capacity or as employers, who declare a religious objection to such coverage; and be it further.

Now such an arrangement would have minimal impact on the overall numbers of people that would have access to birth control through the Affordable Care Act. However , in a common pattern we shall see in this statement, it is very much opposed by groups that this statement says Evangelicals   should not oppose funding too.

This is a small example of why many evangelicals that have no opposition to birth control are wary. It does not help that those that seek " common good " seem to ignore these things. In fact it leads to concerns how non partisan this statement is and whose back they actually got.

On page 5 of their statement:

Family planning is the freely and mutually chosen use of a variety of contraceptive methods to prevent or postpone pregnancy. It does not include interventions that take place after pregnancy is established;
in other words, we do not include abortion in our definition of family planning.

Family planning is undertaken by individuals and couples, but it can be encouraged and facilitated, or discouraged and rejected, by any person or entity that disapproves of family planning from a misguided concern that family planning is the equivalent of abortion. It is not.

 The association and the confusion of family planning with abortion has caused intense religious opposition by Christians and others with the result that opposition has extended not just to abortion, but to family planning as a whole. This conceptually confused opposition to family planning is an international phenomenon, and has hindered funding and support of desperately needed family planning services both in the United States and around the world.

This again ignores many issues. First some  forms of "contraception " are viewed as causing an abortion and thus illicit. See the Hobby Lobby lawsuit that has been recently filed. As Hobby Lobby states they have no objection to birth control but morning after "contraception". Again Planned Parenthood whom we shall learn we should object funding disagrees. Again it's hard to find "common ground" when we pretend these issues do not exist.

Cutting to the chase on page 11:

Our loving challenge to pro-life Christians: Please do not block family planning efforts, globally or domestically, because of your opposition to groups that provide both contraception and abortion. Instead, consider how a deeply pro-life moral commitment, focusing on the flourishing of all human beings made in God’s image, actually ought to lead to support for family planning as we have defined it in this document.

And there we go in the end. Not only to be Christian and Pro-life must we support groups with our taxes that support abortion at home we must export it to the world. What a charming bit of American exceptional ism on steroids we are unleashing on  other Christians abroad. It would have been nice if they got to that point right at the start. One really starts to wonder  what tail is wagging what dog here in this statement.

There is no search for the common good or common ground. There is no talk of supporting structures that could give family planning  and birth control without having to participate in abortions. Again how "non partisan" is this .

In the background of all this is Planned Parenthood who at times now seems to be some unofficial branch of Government that cannot be questioned. Evangelicals no doubt noted the corporate shake down/  extortion Planned Parenthood did with KOMEN this year.  Evangelicals that have no objection to family planning  but worry about other facets of Planned Parenthood activity have good cause. They most certainly have good cause to worry about subjecting foreign populations to such a force done in part by their tax dollars.

In the end I see very little search for common ground here. Just a urge to tell people to be quiet and not rock the boat.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology Integrity Compromised By St Louis Birth Control Study ?

I have talked about this recently at Major Problems With St Louis Free Birth Control Miracle Story .

Lydia McGrew at My present thoughts on the "contraception prevents abortion" study goes into the problems also but also mentioned a fact I missed that sounds very troubling.

Before she gets in the core problems she states:

No doubt quite a few of my readers have now heard about this study, deliberately released just now with the intent of influencing the election (!), that purports to show that free contraception reduces abortions.

I've entitled my post "My present thoughts," because I anticipate that there will be more analysis on this subject from others as time goes on. However, I have gotten hold of the paper itself (thanks to Serge at Life Training Institute) as well as this Powerpoint PDF from the study author.

Before getting into criticisms of the methodology and conclusions of the study, I want to ponder something that I haven't seen discussed elsewhere. The celebratory article on the study from NBC says this:

The results were so dramatic, in fact, that Peipert asked the journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology to publish the study before the Nov. 6 presidential election, knowing that the Affordable Care Act, and its reproductive health provisions, are major issues in the campaign.

“It just has so many implications for our society,” he told NBC News.

Since when are professional scientific journals openly and proudly attempting to influence political elections by their decisions about publication? Isn't there something a tad unprofessional about that? More than a tad? The study's author, Jeffrey Peipert, tells a news organization unabashedly that he expressly asked the journal, Obstetrics and Gynecology, to hasten the publication of his article in order to influence this fall's presidential election. Frankly, if I ever tried such a thing on a philosophy journal editor, even an editor who had already accepted an article of mine, I hope (and still believe) I'd receive a sharp rebuke. (Not that my philosophy articles have political implications anyway; the scenario is hypothetical.) Such a request should be taken as an insult to the professionalism of the editor. Regardless of whether the article was accepted independently of political considerations, the timing of its release should be decided on the basis of academic and professional considerations, including time for possible revisions and the courtesy owed to other authors whose articles were submitted and accepted longer ago. The utterly unashamed announcement that author and editor colluded to time the article to influence the U.S. presidential election should leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth, especially in the mouths of scientists and scholars, and should even cast a small amount of doubt on the objectivity of the review process itself.

Now, on to content issues...........

Archdiocese of Miami Joins Lawsuit Against HHS Contraception Mandate

And the plantiffs just continue to add up.

Garden of Gethsemane’s Olive Trees All Come From One Much Older Tree

This is pretty cool and interesting via the Vatican Insider.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Difficulty of Talking Religious Liberty In A Political Season

I am really starting to like the Public Catholic blog over at Patheos. It is pretty unique in Catholic land. Public Catholic is actually Representative Rebecca Hamilton a Catholic Democrat that represents District 89 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. You can follow her on twitter here. She is one those Democrats I might vote for.

She had a nice post the other day at Politics, Religion and Lilies That Fester. I largely agree with the sentiment though I would perhaps differ in some minor things as a Republican that is involved in politics

She said this in part:

...........They made the most of the fact that Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the head of all the bishops in these United States, was going to dip his vote-getting toe into their little pond. In their glee over what they obviously wanted to play into a de facto endorsement by the Catholic Church, they did everything but put out press releases saying, “We bagged the big guy!”

The Democrats, on the other hand, dissed the good Cardinal and his attempt at bi-partisan even-handedness by not even bothering to reply when he offered to pray the benediction at their convention. Their message, which was equally loud and clear, was “We don’t need no traditional Christians.”

It would have stayed like that if the Republican publicity machine hadn’t set off a mini-firestorm with its announcements. It looked, as the Rs intended, like Cardinal Dolan was playing favorties between the two political parties. Gloating Republicans slapped him on the metaphorical back while outraged Dems denounced him for being a partisan political hack................

................I understand that the bishops are trying their best to defend the Church in what is an unprecedented attack in the HHS Mandate. I understand how grave this is. I also know, sadly, that both parties want the Mandate, each for their own reasons.

The Mandate helped the Republicans bag the big guy. It is probably why more and more Catholics are switching from Democrat to Republican. I think it is why the Democrats rudely ignored Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s generous offer to pray at their convention. Both parties are playing to their base, and right now their lead violin is the Catholic Church...........

Well I guess that is one viewpoint. A lot of the GOP PR machine seems to be that whirlwind called social media that no party can control. Of course I was part of that too as well as many other Catholic and Christians. It needs to be recalled that many of us GOP Catholic and Christians live in a  GOP party full of libertarians, fiscal only Republicans , etc that have bought the talking point of QUIT TALKING ABT THESE " SOCIAL ISSUES" . Keeping issuse like the HHS mandate and other related issues front and center in our own party takes a good bit of work. Keeping this herd of cats together is quite a task. So heck yeah we were going to talk Dolan.

I should say with the force of nature Dolan is I think the media would have provided the controversy regardless of what the GOP faithful did.

Still is the HHS Mandate in just pure political terms a win for the GOP. Well in the end that should not matter. Still even I see the risk at least in the short term.

We kinda of get a glimpse of this at First Thoughts today at  Why Is It So Hard to Debate Religious Freedom?

I laregely agree with that. Religious Freedom is a topic that is in it's infancy at the moment. As one person noted it's like Louisiana Coastal erosion. It is so slow and gradual and caused by so many factors one wakes up one day and realize it has become a full grown crisis. It tkaes a while to get the forces of hopeful recovery going.

From day one we have a media that seems to have little interest in doing the hard work of exploring the issue as to the HHS mandate. From day one its been about some faux war on contraception.

Legal things like 3 prong tests, least restrictive means , and substantial burdens do not lend themselves well to soundbites and the quick flow of a debate.

This tends to lend power to the argument of people in my party of LETS NOT TALK ABOUT IT WE ARE GOING TO GET CREAMED. It might not be fair but we know how this will be portrayed they say.

Thankfully I think we are making progress , and I am hopeful our efforts are getting through the din. But this now just battle one of what I am afraid is going to become a much bigger war.

Historic Diocese of South Carolina Has Left The Episcopal Church USA

I don't really have a dog in this fight , but as a moment of American religious history what happen yesterday is worth noting.

 The historic diocese of South Carolina founded in 1680 that help birth the Episcopal Church in the United States has left , or from those that think this secession is illegal viewpoint have just fired on Episcopal Church USA Fort Sumter , and are open rebellion / schism.

Think of it this way.

At  historic St Phillips in Charleston the bodies of John C. Calhoun former Vice President of the United States, Edward Rutledge Signer of the Declaration of Independence ,Charles Pinckney, Signer of US Constitution, and several Royal Colonial Governors among others have left the Episcopal Church USA building.

This dispute has been escalating  for some time as the much more conservative Diocese of South Carolina has been in an escalating dispute with the national Church body.

What triggered these events was that Episcopal Church USA filed charges against the  bishop, the Rt Rev Mark Lawrence for allegedly “abandoning” the communion of the Episcopal Church.. This triggered triggered two pre-existing corporate resolutions of the Diocese, which simultaneously disaffiliated the Diocese from The Episcopal Church and called a Special Convention. That Convention will be held at St. Philip’s Church, Charleston, on Saturday, November 17, 2012.

Transfigurations has the  George Conger article that has a few secular and religious news sources as well as to this situation.

I guess in the new couple of weeks we shall see if there will be any hope of reconciliation to occur at the before mentioned convention before the litigation starts in spades.

Pray for all involved.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Catholic Faith of Softball Coach of The University Alabama Profiled - Alyson Habetz

Alyson Habetz is a native of Louisiana. She was a 1986-90 Notre Dame High School (Crowley, La.)

All-District baseball player (1B & P). She also was a 1990-95 University of Southwestern Louisiana ( NOW ULL )  grad where she as Four-year lettermen in softball and in basketball.

She is currently Associate Softball Coach at the Univ of Alabama that just happened to when the National Championship last year.

The Catholic Sports Association has a nice article on her in which she explores various aspect of her Catholic Faith and how that was impacted when she moved to Alabama. See Alyson Habetz - Champion Catholic.

Newspaper of the Florida Baptist Convention Strong Editorial Against HHS Contraception Mandate

It sort of seems I have a flurry of post dealing with Baptists this morning. See LSU Edits Out Crosses From Group Photo of Devoted Baptist Campus College Ministry Football Fans , and more to the point of this post President of East Texas Baptist University Interviewed On Suit Against HHS Contraception Mandate ( Religious Liberty ) .

When the Southern Baptist Convention met in New Orleans the delegates ( messengers) voted a strong resolution against the HHS Contraception Mandate. Southern Baptist and especially their leadership have within their DNA a strong attachment to religious liberty. The memories of colonial persecution in places like Virgina and elsewhere still have a  strong living memory at the SBC.

So on that note the paper of the The Florida Baptist Convention issues a strong strong  op ed against the HHS Contraception mandate. See Editorial: ‘Sinful and tyrannical’

LSU Edits Out Crosses From Group Photo of Devoted Baptist Campus College Ministry Football Fans

See University broadcasts airbrushed photo, upsets religious students .

This part interested me :

It was within the University’s legal rights to manipulate the photo, Vincent said.

When students purchase football tickets, they grant the University the right to use their names and any pictures taken during the game for any University purposes.

LSU Sports Information photographer and biological engineering senior Martin McCallister took the photograph.

“As a photographer, I submit a raw .jpeg file, untouched,” McCallister said. “I just submit whatever comes off the camera.”

After photographers submit their shots, Vincent said LSU Athletics commonly edits photos. For example, if a football player’s jersey is wrinkled in a photo LSU Athletics wants to use on the front of a brochure, they’ll edit out the crease.

President of East Texas Baptist University Interviewed On Suit Against HHS Contraception Mandate ( Religious Liberty )

Lopez at National Review has the transcript up here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012

Bible Publisher Not Religious Enough To Be Exempt from the HHS mandate

Truly this shows how absurd this is.

Thoughts On John Gehring's LA Times Times Article On Vatican II and Progressive Catholics

John Gehring  who is Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life gives us the privilege of this thoughts on Vatican II that some reason also injects a good bit of United States domestic politics. See Vatican II: Gone but not forgotten- Progressive nuns and other concerned Roman Catholics fight to keep the church's liberalism alive.

In his article he throws out this :

The Vatican's tone-deaf scolding of self-sacrificing nuns is just the latest sign that church leaders may be dragging Catholicism, known for social justice and intellectual rigor, into the reactionary arms of fundamentalist Christianity. On the same day the Vatican sought to rein in American nuns, it reached out to reconcile with the Society of St. Pius X, a traditionalist group founded by the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre that broke with the church in the wake of Vatican II.

Well As the AP Stylebook notes:

fundamentalist: The word gained usage in an early 20th century fundamentalist-modernist controversy within Protestantism. In recent years, however, fundamentalist has to a large extent taken on pejorative connotations except when applied to groups that stress strict, literal interpretations of Scripture and separation from other Christians.

In general, do not use fundamentalist unless a group applies the word to itself.

He also says "And yet, puritanical Catholicism that fixates on policing sexual morality and claims to be the victim of a godless secular culture is unlikely to help the church flourish. Nearly 10% of U.S. adults are former Catholics, which makes them the third-largest U.S. "denomination"

Wow first "Fundamentalist" and now  "puritanical" to boot!!! I laughed when I read that because it made me recall something that Thomas McDonald wrote last week at  Cranky Old People Demand Church Reform . He sadi in part

Their complaints are the usual litany of tediousness: less pope, more sex. That’s really it. That’s what it all boils down to: children who don’t like being told what to do with their genitals by an adult. It’s not like they’re in a screaming hurry to rewrite our understanding of the dual nature of Christ in the incarnation, or dismantle the preferential option for the poor. They’re only attacking this make-believe boogeyman (“authority”) because it’s in the way of gettin’ biddy.

Somehow I don't think that was point of Vatican II.

He goes on

Now Pope Benedict XVI's doctrine office has cracked down on an organization called the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents most U.S nuns. A scathing report from the Vatican in April blasted the group for "promoting radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith." It chided the nuns for largely focusing on social justice at the expense of speaking out against same-sex marriage and abortion. The Vatican appointed Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain to oversee the conference.

He does not link the "scathing" report but I will and I will leave to you to determine how "scathing" it was. I also must say it's amazing how we are moved from the seamless garment that has been miused by many people to avoid abortion political problems to now just ejecting abortion and marriage from Catholic Social Teaching all together. Marriage and indeed abortion is viewed as SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUE by the Church and Gehring's Vatican II of his imagination did not change that.

Digging more into this piece:

Vatican II met for three years beginning in 1962 and stirred groundbreaking changes: building ecumenical bridges, especially in Christian-Jewish relations; permitting Mass to be celebrated in local languages instead of only in Latin; and expansively defining the church as "the people of God." The council was guided by what John XXIII called aggiornamento, or "updating" — a profound change given the church's previous rejection of modernity and liberalism as heresies.

Pope Benedict , who was actually at Vatican II  has a good bit to say on aggiornamento last week. From Aggiornamento means renewing tradition, not breaking with it, Pope says

It does not mean reducing the faith, debasing it to the fashion of the times using the yardstick of what we like and what appeals to public opinion. Quite the contrary, just as the Council Fathers did, we must mould the 'today' in which we live to the measure of Christianity.

There is much more in his piece that appears to me to be very problematic. The Bishops can do no good it seems .

U.S. Catholics bishops make wonderful statements about the importance of unions, comprehensive immigration reform and the need to protect social safety nets now threatened by anti-government ideologues. In letters to Congress, they have described a budget proposal by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), a Catholic now vying for the vice presidency, as failing "a basic moral test."

But compared to the church's frequent public denunciations of "pro-choice" Democrats or its two-week Fortnight for Freedom campaign — launched with special Masses across the country in response to the Obama administration's contraception coverage requirements under healthcare reform — the bishops have put little institutional muscle behind challenging a GOP economic agenda that is anathema to Catholic social teaching.

Strangely this comes after he sort of gives a shout out to religious freedom earlier in the piece. However the HHS Mandate is a fight the Bishops and many other Protestants bodies did not want. While it's inconvenient to to Gerhring that Progressives have pushed this fight it still must be dealt with. This linkage of politics in a piece supposedly dealing with Vatican II makes me recall some words that Archbishop Chaput said last month. See 'We have no king but Caesar:' Some thoughts on Catholic faith and public life.

He said in part:

The way we lead our public lives needs to embody what the Catholic faith teaches -- not what our personalized edition of Christianity feels comfortable with, but the real thing; the full package; what the Church actually holds to be true. In other words, we need to be Catholics first and political creatures second.

The more we transfer our passion for Jesus Christ to some political messiah or party platform, the more bitter we feel toward his Church when she speaks against the idols we set up in our own hearts. There’s no more damning moment in all of Scripture than John 19:15: “We have no king but Caesar.” The only king Christians have is Jesus Christ. The obligation to seek and serve the truth belongs to each of us personally. The duty to love and help our neighbor belongs to each of us personally. We can’t ignore or delegate away these personal duties to anyone else or any government agency.

When I think what is best about "Progressive Catholicism I think of people like Blessed Dorothy Day. I see very little of attributes in this article.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Why Are Catholic Conservatives So Less Effective Than Catholic Liberals in The Public Square

For all the talk from the Catholic "left"  of how the "Christian Right" and by implication Catholic political conservatives are injecting too much partisan politics in the faith, the fact is the conservative /GOP Catholic facet organized movement is  a paper tiger.

Catholic Democrats, Catholics United , Catholic United For the Common Good are just three. See for how well funded and what talent two of these groups have here.

Then throw in the very closely aligned Faith In the Public Life whose staff including John Gehring, Catholic Program Director is a favorite  go to person of the media and whose staff members of are also closely aligned with NETWORK .

These groups are a whose who of past National Catholic Bishops office talent, well known theologians , clergy, bothers, and sisters  that happened to be well funded and have the media ear.

I mention this today because Father Z had a very short simple one line post at  QUAERITUR: Catholics For Romney? That is "Has anyone heard from Catholics For Romney?"

The answer is no doubt no despite the fact that Catholics For Romney is full of past Catholic Enovys to the Vatican as Co Chairs.  The most I have seen is a press release or two and that web page.

Conservative Catholics do find a nice advocate for their views in the market place of idea in Catholic Vote whose leadership of doing the best with the resources it has is an asset. However it is  nothing compared to sure complexity and well coordinated activities of the Catholic left that has an amazing ability to be quoted in the media.

Then we have the problem of the leading Catholic media that gets quoted that often seem to be of a progressive side. See America , Commonweal , and U.S. Catholic. Observe over a period of time how these publications are quoted versus  lets say people at First Things or the National Catholic Register ?

It seems on occasion the media will throw in a George Weigel and once in  blue moon a Robert George but that seems to be the limit of the Rolodex.

Why is this situation so and why does it repeat in such a  depressing fashion year after year.

First I do think there is a self serving implication by many in the Catholic media  at times that the above more progressive Catholic orgs are involved in "common good " work while the rest are just party hacks. In other words one gets a sense that some are involved in legitimate public square work while the rest are just tearing the Church apart. This is all perfect nonsense but that seems to be the memo.

Second to some extent D.C. is a company town and the media has a relationship with people that happened to have worked at the United States Catholic Bishop's Office that have now moved on to more thinly veiled partisan work. Quote your friends and the people you know.

Last but not least Conservatives are a quite herd of cats to get to agree on matters to start with. So that has no doubt some relationship to why Republican /Conservative  aligned Lay Catholics do a horrid job of getting their voice out.

In the end we got to do a better job of getting our voice out there , and not just be reminded how far behind we are every 4 years. Catholic conservatives in the lay duty of contributing to the public square and to social justice have a ton of resources. We just have to use them better.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cool Map- What Protestant Groups Dominate and Where in USA

This is an interesting map put out by the Association of Religion Data Archives looking at the 2010data. They have many more here.

This map is where the different Protestant Faith groups   dominate. I never realized the Assembly of God were so big out West. Its a cool site and I might be playing with the State by State stuff  later

The Missing Women In Guardian Piece on Paul Ryan and Abortion

Over at the Guardian we have this little piece called Paul Ryan on abortion: not so much 'reason and science' as stealth misogyny-What bothers me about male politicians pronouncing on abortion is their basic lack of empathy with a woman's point of view.

Something happens in this is piece that is so common many just I have guessed  we decided not to press the issue anymore.

Much of the leadership of the Pro-life movement is WOMEN. The people in the trenches of the Pro-life movement are WOMEN. Many of the people that keep the fire under politicians like Paul Ryan are WOMEN. If you go the National March for Life in D.C I bet there might be more WOMEN  than men.

From issues like the HHS Contraception mandate to abortion this women  on side vs men on the other meme that so many wish to push is not the reality.

United States Catholic Bishops Respond to False Remarks On HHS Contraception Mandate By VP Biden

Last night was the Vice President big debate. Vice President Biden made a sort jaw on the floor inaccurate statement about the HHS Contraception mandate.

The United States Catholic Bishops have quickly responded today at USCCB Responds To Inaccurate Statement Of Fact On HHS Mandate Made During Vice Presidential Debate

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Major Problems With St Louis Free Birth Control Miracle Story

Last week the media including the the national evening news channels all breathlessly ran with a miracle story out of St louis. That is giving out tons of free contraception reduced abortions up in St Louis.

My first objection was this story was it was framed in terms of the HHS Contraception mandate  is of considerable discussion and indeed lawsuits. It was not clear from the story that the main argument against is the FED SHOULD NOT FUND BIRTH CONTROL. The main argument and complaints is the way the Federal Govt is trying to achieve it's aims violates religious liberty, the first amendment , and one very big important statute.

Besides some major dispute over a few forms of contraception that might be covered that some view as causing an abortion this was where the dispute is at. Further it is not clear at all how the relative few exceptions to opt out we would see would "lower" the abortion rate in any real sense even if the study was correct.

That being said besides that matter I had a rather skeptical attitude toward the results of the study of itself. See a good piece at THE CORNER that really calls into question the "results" - New Study Exaggerates Benefits of No-Cost Contraception .Again as I suspected there are problems.

However knowing this area and some of the problems of ST Louis one problem jumped out at me as I read the article last week. If 75 percent of women got a IUD as their choice then what about that little STD problem that is epic there. That very much went unmentioned.

Thankfully Jennifer Fulwiler has decided to look into that major elephant in the room and the results are very troubling. See The Shocking Ethics Behind the Contraceptive Choice Project .

WHOA a a 46 percent jump in syphilis, a 31 percent rise in gonorrhea and a 3 percent increase in chlamydia."  Who would have thought that? This is perhaps an example of what big government programs do perhaps. Cause perhaps some very big harm.

Fulwiler goes into more ethic problems too.

The study authors, as well as the media outlets who have championed this project, show a laser-like focus on reducing the fertility rates of women, particularly those who are poor and minorities -- even at the expense of their overall health. Given the powerful control that these invasive contraceptive measures exert over a woman's body, I wouldn't be surprised if this program of free IUDs and under-the-skin implants did lead to fewer pregnancies as compared to other methods of contraception. But, if that's the only goal, wouldn't permanent surgical sterilization be even more effective? Perhaps full hysterectomies, just to be safe? The slope that we have begun sliding down is a dangerous one, and leads to a terrible, ugly place.

The New York Times coverage of the Contraceptive Choice Project noted that "women’s health specialists said the study foreshadows the potential impact of the new health care law." Indeed it does. And women have now been given a glimpse of a system which has zero interest in their wellbeing, and sees them only as breeding machines to be kept under control.

It has been a while But I can recall it was all the rage among some of my fellow misguided conservatives in some Legislatures to mandate some form of birth control if one was getting some form  Govt assistance. Lets hope some  diverse political forces don't combine in the future


Notre Dame Law Professor Criticizes New Catholic Scholars Statement Released Day Before Vice President Debate - " On All of Our Shoulders "

The day before the Vice Presidential debate a group of Cathoic Scholars have released this statement  On All of Our Shoulders:  A Catholic Call to Protect the Endangered Common Good",

Prof Rick Garnett  of Notre Dame talks about what he think is right and also a tad misguided in this statement here.

I think Garnett is largely right.

I do believe there is some justifible criticism from the the Catholic  Left  that too many conservatives abuse the term Subsidiarity at times. Subsidiarity of course cannot be use as a hammer in opposition to every Federal program.

On the flip side the Catholic left or progressive factions have not done the cause of Catholic social teaching much good wither this year. As Garnett points out just throwing out Ayn Rand and calling everything Libertarian is not helpful either.

The end result being I suspect that very few Catholics and indeed no one else is really going to take Catholic Social Teaching seriously sadly outside the blogs of America, Commonweal, First Thoughts , and other  places in the Catholic Ghetto where we are largely talking and "yelling" amongst each other.

Thought this statement will get a headline or two I think it will in the end just be part of the background noise.

The Problems of An Episcopal Church Ordinaritate For Fleeing Roman Catholics

Religion news writer Mark Silk makes note of the dust up between Catholic and Episcopal Bishops in San Francisco last week. Episcopal Smackdown in SF

In the process he mentions :
Whatever, with Catholic bishops on the warpath against SSM and the ECUSA offically endorsing it, I'd say it's time for Andrus and company to man up and announce the establishment of an ordinariate for U.S. Catholics who want to become Episcopalians. Last January, you'll recall, the pope announced a U.S. ordinariate for Episcopalians who want to become Catholics but would like to retain some of their own liturgical and other traditions

While Episcopalians are indeed welcome the fact is most of the targeting and invitations are going out to people/. parishes that have already left the Episcopal Church USA. These invisible Anglicans don't seem to exist in some news writers minds for some reason.

But then he says:

If what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, the new Episcopalians would be able to retain some of their Roman traditions. Of course, the pope thing would have to go. On the other hand, priests and bishops would now have the opportunity to marry, including (in some jurisdictions) members of the same sex.

The pope's ordinariate is headquartered in Houston. Where better to locate the Episcopalians' than in San Francisco?

Catholic Robert George touched on this topic at Mirrors of Justice . See Inviting people in religion B to join religion A if they actually believe the teachings of A and don't believe the teachings of B

George hits on the topic of the San Fran  Episcopal Church Bishop inviting Catholics to come on over in his welcome letter to the new Catholic Archbishop. He thinks there is no problem with that. But then he says:

...I’m not one of them. Quite the opposite. I don’t much care for the Bishop’s manners; and I certainly don’t share his moral views; but I think it is entirely natural and reasonable for someone who strongly believes something to invite others to believe it. And it is even more natural and reasonable for someone in religious community A to invite people in religious community B who do not believe the teachings of B but do believe the teachings of A to leave B and join A. That, it seems to me, is precisely what Pope Benedict did in establishing the ordinariate for Anglicans who wish to join the Catholic Church while retaining certain aspects of their Anglican heritage. Perhaps the San Francisco bishop could create a special community for Catholics in the city who wish to become Episcopalians, but who want to hang on to, I don't know, folk masses and Teilhard de Chardin reading groups.

And that is I think is sort of the amusing problem with the whole Episcopal Church ordinaritate for Catholics that want to leave musing. What traditions would they want to keep?

The Leadership of such a group that would likely emerge has already dismissed so many  so called "Pre Vatican II things".

 Such as :

Many Catholic devotions as the Rosary ( or at least the traditional kind) ,

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament,

the recent reform of the English language to give it a more " Church Sounding Form"

the option of the Latin Mass

not kneeling at communion


Heck who would be attracted to the import of " Big Puppet Masses" that some liberals like as well as other interesting forms of "liturgy" .Heck we know "modern Catholic music " would not be a draw

In the end would lets say a gay Catholic or other disaffected Fisheater really  want to hold to the" old " Eucharistic Prayers 1 through 4 or just adapt the Episcopal Liturgy itself which in many places is quite appealing.

The problem with such a scheme would be the unfortunate Liturgical Nazis that would tag along.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Two Major Texas Baptist Colleges File Suit Against HHS Contraception Mandate Today

They are East Texas Baptist University (ETBU) and the very up and coming  Houston Baptist University (HBU) .

Is the Louisiana Supreme Court Racist ?

Jame Gill is talking about the Louisiana Supreme Court fracas at Louisiana Supreme Court still drawing lines based on race: James Gill .

While he says in one line its can be debatable that their position on who should be Chief Justice is based on race that is not really the tone of his piece. That can be seen with the last line of the piece.

One thing I have noticed in all this is no real reporting. Generally  I see an assumption that the Justices legal case has no merit, interviews with people that very much have a self interest in returning the Chief Justice seat back to New Orleans, and talk of race race race.

So what is going on here? Is it race, is it a vast personality conflict, its it they think Justice,  Bernette Johnson is out to lunch and would be a disaster thus the legal  calculation argument. We don't really know.

I have yet to see any articles that source on background workers for the court or in fact what must a huge number of Law Clerks that must have observed the interaction over the years.

The media is not very good at covering the Louisiana Supreme Court. In North East Louisiana it was mostly insiders that knew Supreme Court Justice Chet Traylor was in some people's view quite a piece of work.
It took an election challenge to Senator David Vitter to just bring a good bit of that.

In other words it seems to be the reporting has been very lazy on this issue. The racial issue in the air is such low hanging fruit that most reporters have not seemed to want dig further.At the very least if race is a factor it seems after decades on the court some sources on the court could be brought forth to see bring this evidence out.

Maybe race is at play? Just seems reporters are not interested in doing any real hard reporting to confirm or deny it to me.

Quick Thoughts On Forced Organ Donation Hypo and Aborton

I have been having an interesting conversation via twitter with The R.oB. Opinion over abortion and the pro life movement.

This conversation is one that has been happening for some time as to his premise that the Pro-life movement is not really pro life but just pro baby.

Today he brought into the debate a “ bodily rights " or "the bodily autonomy" argument hypo.He also brings in the subject of Christian love and justice into the matter.

This argument and hypo which he presents is quite compelling .

First before we get to his hypo some needed background.

In many ways it's a rehash of the famous "Famous Violinist Problem", proposed  by Judith Jarvis Thomson in 1971 that deals with some poor soul that was kidnapped by the music lover's society and hooked up to a machines so his kidney's could also help extract poisons from not only his blood but the poor violinist.

That hypo has taken on some importance.

Prof Thompson in her now much reprinted article argued  if the unborn child is a human life or a "person"  is not relevant.

 A woman cannot be forced to donate her organs for nine months much like a person cannot be forced to donate a kidney in order to save someone else. In other words she is saying that the fetus is an infringement on the woman's personal bodily autonomy and an abortion procedure that results in killing is not a wrong. She has added abortion to the category of when it's ok to kill human life. Those being for instance self defense , capital punishment , just war etc.

This argument has had some legal effect. That is it strives to not to deny the humanity of the unborn child but to strike a balance. In many ways this is the argument that The R.oB. Opinion  has been making to me. In fact he mirrors the thought of current Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg.

When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the head of the ACLU, she argued that Roe v. Wade should be recast from a due process decision to an equal rights decision. R. B. Ginsburg, Some Thoughts on Autonomy and Equality in Relation to Roe v. Wade, 63

N.C.L. Rev. 375, 383 (1985). Her philosophy remains the same now that she serves on the Supreme Court, as her dissent in the partial-birth abortion case, Gonzalez v. Carhart, illustrates:

[L]egal challenges to undue restrictions on abortion procedures do not seek to vindicate some generalized notion of privacy; rather, they center on a woman's autonomy to determine her life's course, and thus to enjoy equal citizenship stature.

Dissent of Justice Ginsberg, Gonzalez v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124, ___; slip op. at 1 (2007).

The R.oB. Opinion hypo we have been debating on twitter is interesting because we are actually dealing with a increase in complexities and ethic of organ donation. His hypo runs like this as I best can paraphrase

Since  people  have a kidney to spare  should be we be legally obligated to give  a kidney whenever one is needed? That is do we  believe that the government should physically seize a person with two kidneys, take them to a hospital by force, and remove that person's kidney without their permission?

It's quite clear the answer is NO or least I think most hopefully sane folks  would say that.  The argument continues

A pregnant woman is in a very similar situation. One person depends on another person for their very life. There is no debate about the fetus's personhood since that is ceded . Does the fetus have a right to exist that supercedes the mother's right to control her own body?

The R.oB. Opinion when it comes down to it seems to say  no from best I can tell so far. In our debate we talked about the hard cases of rape and mother life. However from the conversation I had with him its seems he is embracing the fullness of the organ donation scenario even with a Christian twist beyond these hard cases.

That is not to treat the forced organ donor the same as the woman is not of show love or justice to the woman. That is we are playing "favorites" and that is not Christ like. This post is getting incredibly long so I will have to engage the hard cases in another post. However I wanted to engage this hypo as it would applied in 99 percent of the cases.

I have revisited several articles I have read in the past on this issue and in large part inform a good bit of the  the post below. Two of the articles arguments I use are  Dr Francis Beckwith work here ,  and this  chapter by Patrick Lee and Robert George 

First, both hypos seem to assume moral obligations are all voluntary. This is a fallacy that also brings back an interesting facet of the gender issue.In reality in cases besides rape something very "voluntary" has of course happened  that resulted in a foreseeable  result we are dealing with here. However that is not what people advocating this theory mean  when say "voluntary".

 Let's say a couple despite doing everything they could to prevent a pregnancy has a child. The mother has the child over the objections of the father who wanted her to abort. She now sues for child support. If you want a case of the Court interfering  with bodily autonomy child support court is where it happens.

 The Court will order him to devote a portion of his energy and livelihood and work to taking care of his child. That supervision  and control over his "bodily autonomy" will last not just 9 months but very likely 18 years. Don't want get a job TOUGH here is a jail cell tend you put in a tad more effort.

 The Father unlike the forced donor organ is not a stranger , but is in a relationship with the child just like the mother. The mother in reality is bringing the Father to court to enforce a relational and natural obligation he has to the child. It matters little if his excuse is  the pill did not work or the condom broke and thus not "voluntary".

Second, a good case to be made the child has at the very least a Prima Facie NATURAL  RIGHT TO BE IN THE WOMB. The womb is a natural place for a child. Where being hooked up to a machine to save a violinist or restrained to have your organs forcibly removed in not natural.

For more on this see this very good article A Kidney versus the Uterus   where she engages a slightly different donor hypo . She says in part :

Once one looks at the function of the kidneys and the uterus, it is quite clear why the professor's analogy does not have merit. The kidneys exist for the health and proper functioning of the body in which they reside. In other words, kidneys exist in a body, for that body. In contrast, the uterus exists in one body, to be around - and for - another body. The fact that a woman can live without her uterus but a fetus cannot shows that the uterus exists for the unborn child rather than for the mother. The unborn, as members of the human family then, must not be denied the environment that regularly waits in great expectation for them.

The fact that the uterus, an organ created to nurture the unborn, belongs to the woman tells us something very important - and beautiful - about the nature and purpose of women: that they are to be mothers (whether in physical or spiritual form). A pregnant woman becomes a tabernacle enveloping a person made in the image of the Divine. Far from being viewed as an injustice, as an intrusion on one's bodily rights, it should be viewed as a fulfillment of one's purpose - the purpose both of the woman and of her body, including her uterus. While we cannot deny the difficult, even tragic, life circumstances that a pregnant woman may face, the life in her womb is not something to be destroyed. It is something - someone - to hold in awe, to admire with sacred reverence, declaring as Elizabeth once did to her cousin Mary, "Blessed is the fruit of your womb!" (Luke 1:42)

The role of woman as mother means that she (like the father) has a responsibility to her offspring that she does not have to strangers.2 And while that responsibility does not obligate her to do extraordinary things, such as taking trips to Disneyland or donating kidneys, it does obligate her to do ordinary things, such as feeding, clothing, and sheltering her offspring. To do otherwise would be parental neglect. In fact, Western countries have made it illegal for parents to neglect their children. And so, maintaining pregnancy is simply doing for the unborn what parents must do for the born - providing the shelter and nourishment a child needs. It is what is required in the normal course of the reproduction of our species.

While it true pregnancy entails all sort of physical, emotional, and financial burdens this also occurs in parenthood in general.

This is one reason why we sanction parents by law that abuse and neglect their children and don't allow killing of bothersome children if they are no longer wanted. Much like the organ donor if someone drops off a infant on my front porch I don't have then a natural obligation to take care of that child for 18 years. It's not clear why if the child is human these rights should differ in the womb than in post womb life.

As pointed out people can make a case that somethings might outweigh the child's interest such as the life  of the mother. However at the very least the child has a prima facie case for that right.

Third, denial of treatment is not the same as a intentional killing. While it might be a great act of Christian love to donate a organ it is not the same as a moral and natural obligation. A mother and father that have natural obligations for a child dependent on them are in a far different situation. No one for instance would say that if a mother refused to feed an infant that she just denying or withholding  assistance like a organ donor that likes the fact he has two kidneys . She ( as well as the father) is responsible for the dependence of the child as to where some perfect stranger with a kidney is not.

The parental relationship itself – not just the voluntary acceptance of that relationship – gives rise to
a special responsibility to a child.

Advocates  of the bodily rights argument  seem to want to deny this point. Many claim that one
has full parental responsibilities only if one has voluntarily assumed them. The incredible logic of this position would put the foundation of American family law in incredible danger .

A final word on organ donation and how it applies here.. The Church since the days of Pius XII  has been explicit on the qualifications of organ donations both as cases of living and the dead.

The Catechism states :

2296 Organ transplants are in conformity with the moral law if the physical and psychological dangers and risks to the donor are proportionate to the good sought for the recipient. Organ donation after death is a noble and meritorious act and is to be encouraged as a expression of generous solidarity. It is not morally acceptable if the donor or his proxy has not given explicit consent. Moreover, it is not morally admissible to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of other persons.

Needless to say forced organ donations are a non starter. But as The R.oB. Opinion  has argued to me is the Church being consistent. I think it is. Christ did not upset the natural obligations parents have to their children. Parental obligations are far different than those of others we live with in the Christian and larger world.

Pope Benedict said in CARITAS IN VERITATE

First of all, justice. Ubi societas, ibi ius: every society draws up its own system of justice. Charity goes beyond justice, because to love is to give, to offer what is “mine” to the other; but it never lacks justice, which prompts us to give the other what is “his”, what is due to him by reason of his being or his acting. I cannot “give” what is mine to the other, without first giving him what pertains to him in justice. If we love others with charity, then first of all we are just towards them. Not only is justice not extraneous to charity, not only is it not an alternative or parallel path to charity: justice is inseparable from charity[1], and intrinsic to it. Justice is the primary way of charity or, in Paul VI's words, “the minimum measure” of it[2], an integral part of the love “in deed and in truth” (1 Jn 3:18), to which Saint John exhorts us. On the one hand, charity demands justice: recognition and respect for the legitimate rights of individuals and peoples. It strives to build the earthly city according to law and justice. On the other hand, charity transcends justice and completes it in the logic of giving and forgiving[3]. The earthly city is promoted not merely by relationships of rights and duties, but to an even greater and more fundamental extent by relationships of gratuitousness, mercy and communion. Charity always manifests God's love in human relationships as well, it gives theological and salvific value to all commitment for justice in the world.

Further Pope John Paul the II said as to organ donation

It must first be emphasized, as I observed on another occasion, that every organ transplant has its source in a decision of great ethical value: "the decision to offer without reward a part of one's own body for the health and well-being of another person" (Address to the Participants in a Congress on Organ Transplants, 20 June 1991, No. 3). Here precisely lies the nobility of the gesture, a gesture which is a genuine act of love. It is not just a matter of giving away something that belongs to us but of giving something of ourselves, for "by virtue of its substantial union with a spiritual soul, the human body cannot be considered as a mere complex of tissues, organs and functions... rather it is a constitutive part of the person who manifests and expresses himself through it" (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Donum Vitae, 3).

Christian love and charity , unlike justice , cannot generally be  mandated by law. Thus the crucial difference between giving what is owed  ( Justice) to a child such as not directing lethal force, and the person that makes the sacrifice ( Love Charity ) to give affirmative assistance by giving  one's organs.