Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cardinal Rigali Slams Kmiec's CNS Column

Many are surprised to find that Doug Kmiec has a regular column for the bishops' Catholic News Service. He has had one for quite some time and for quite some time it was the best column available at CNS.

Then Kmiec's original candidate for president, Mitt Romney, failed and the rest of Kmiec and his column's history has been a spectacle of descent into self-absorption and shameless apologetic for President Obama's anti-life policies.

Apparently he went too far last week with his column titled, and I'm not kidding, "New ethically sensitive stem-cell guidance from the Obama administration". Cardinal Rigali as head of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities has responded with his own column this week:

New stem cell guidelines not ‘ethically sensitive’

By Cardinal Justin Rigali Catholic News Service

On April 17 the National Institutes of Health released new draft guidelines for federally funded embryonic stem-cell research. Federal tax dollars will now be used, for the first time, to encourage the destruction of innocent human beings for their stem cells.

Law professor Douglas Kmiec states in an opinion piece distributed by Catholic News Service that the new policy is “ethically sensitive” and in important respects “more strict” than President George W. Bush’s policy that preceded it.

The truth is the opposite.

The policy issued by Bush in August 2001 allowed the federal government to fund research using embryonic stem cells only if the embryos had already been destroyed for these cells before the date of his policy announcement. Thus no researcher could destroy embryos in the future to qualify for federal stem-cell grants.

The new NIH guidelines are more sweeping, encouraging the destruction of new embryos, including those not yet conceived. While Kmiec says embryos will be donated using a “strict” process by which the parents give consent, that is surely broader than not allowing them to be donated for destruction at all.

Kmiec says the new guidelines are limited to embryos created for fertility treatment that “would have been discarded if not devoted to medical research.”

That is also not true.

Parents will be invited to consider donating their embryonic sons or daughters for research at the same time that they are considering whether to save them for their own later reproduction or donate them so another couple can have a baby. The new guidelines will encourage destruction of some embryonic human beings who could otherwise have lived and grown up to adulthood.

In key respects, these guidelines are broader than any proposed in the past for destructive embryonic stem-cell research by any president or Congress.

Through his executive order of March 2009, President Barack Obama also authorized the NIH to broaden the policy later, to include, for example, the use of stem cells from cloned embryos specially created for research. Tragically there is significant support in Congress for such further expansion as well, and pro-life Americans will be called upon to defeat such legislation.

Here Kmiec applauds Obama for taking “off the table” the option of “reproductive cloning.” But that only means cloned human embryos will be created solely for stem cells and other research uses, and not be allowed to survive and be born. That cannot be called a sensitive or pro-life policy.

With all due respect to Kmiec, then, on this and other issues relating to the destruction of unborn human life, the federal government is not moving “in a noticeably more Catholic-friendly direction.” Nor is it moving in a human-friendly direction.

The values and ideals of our nation on the equality of all human beings are at stake when we discuss such issues, for people of all religions or no religion.

Respect for human life at every stage must govern our treatment of all human beings in law and medical research. To the extent that it does not, we are no longer talking about authentic human progress.

(Cardinal Rigali is archbishop of Philadelphia and chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.)

You Want This Car - Support Rural Catholic Education

Bishop Hogan Memorial School is a K-8 Catholic school in rural Chillicothe, Missouri. It is a ministry of St. Columban Church about 90 beautiful miles away from the seat of the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph and 75 miles from the Co-Cathedral city of St. Joseph. You should be interested because they have something you want.

This 1965, powder blue Ford T-Bird with powder blue leather interior was donated for auction by Harvey Donohoe to underwrite tuition grants for families interested in sending their children to Bishop Hogan.

This is a small school in a small town, so we're hoping here to spread the word to a larger group of bidders so the kids in Chillicothe can get the full benefit of what this car is worth.

The car is one item on offer at the 6th Annual Dinner Auction to be held May 2 at the School on 1114 Trenton St. in Chillicothe, MO. BUT, you don't have to be anywhere near Chillicothe to bid on this fabulous T-Bird! Interested bidders can learn more at Mike Miller Auctions. Email Mike or call him at 660-646-1179 to make a bid.

Please pass this info along to anyone you know who'd love this classic T-Bird.

If you're around Chillicothe this Saturday, doors open for silent auction at 5 pm, dinner at 6:30 and live auction at 7:30. Other auction items at the dinner include tickets for places like Branson's Grand Country Music Hall, a stay at Lake of the Ozarks and the Hyatt Regency Crown Center in Kansas City; beautiful diamond jewelry, Royals and Tee-Bones tickets, 32-Inch LDHD TV, quarter sides of home-grown beef and much, much more.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Quote of the Day - First Communion

Little Rock Bishop Anthony Basil Taylor to First Communicants in Fort Smith, AR this weekend:
You children, who are receiving your First Communion today, are old enough already to understand how important it is to give and not just receive. The person who only takes but never gives is selfish, right? No one likes those who don’t share with others, right? Well today God gives you the best gift you will ever receive. What will you give him in return? How about your whole self? That’s what he gives you!

Applies to big balding bloggers as well. I'll have to remember it.

Proposal for Pope and Patriarch to Meet in Belarus

Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko met with Pope Benedict today and foreign reports indicate the president proposed a meeting between Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill and the pope could take place in his country. From Russia Today:
Before the meeting, the Belarusian president said he was going to present the Pope with a number of questions from the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, Kirill. Talking to the Pope, he also expressed hope that Benedict XVI would come to Belarus. The visit of the Pope to Belarus, which is a canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church, would itself be a notable event. But the fact is that the Belarusian leader wants to play a role in organizing a historical meeting of the Pope and the Patriarch on Belarusian territory. That was what he proposed to Patriarch Kirill while in Moscow this spring.

The idea to bring leaders of the two branches of Christianity together in Belarus is not a new one. Aleksandr Lukashenko proposed it as early as in 2002. However, today it has taken on an interesting twist: Kirill already met Benedict XVI several times as a head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church. He was also often criticized for his ecumenical policies, as he advocates for deeper cooperation with the Catholic Church. All this makes the possibility of a meeting between the leaders of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches greater than ever. And if Lukashenko’s proposal is accepted, Belarus will play an important role as a conciliator and a peacemaker. In this sense, Lukashenko is doing a great job, improving Belarus’ image on an international level and doing a favor for Kirill who, according to all indications, would like to meet the Pope.

I'm not familiar with the paper, so I'm not sure of its reliability, but AP concurs on one point:
During the Vatican audience, which lasted 25 minutes, Lukashenko invited the pope to visit Belarus "God willing," witnesses said. The president's 5-year-old son, Nikola, gave the pontiff his ABCs book from school.

The Vatican said the two discussed the role of the Catholic Church in Belarus and relations with the Russian Orthodox Church.

Lukashenko is hoping to play the role of intermediary in relations between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church and help bring about the first meeting between the pope and Patriarch Kirill in Belarus.

The Vatican communication on the meeting, still just in Italian, does not mention the proposal but, among other things, mentions talk of good relations between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches in Belarus:
Durante le conversazioni, svoltesi in un clima positivo, sono state affrontate questioni attinenti al rapporto tra fede e ragione e al dialogo interconfessionale e interculturale. Inoltre sono stati trattati temi di carattere internazionale legati alla promozione della pace e dell’autentico progresso dell’umanità, come pure alcune problematiche interne del Paese, argomenti concernenti la Chiesa cattolica in Bielorussia e le prospettive di approfondimento della collaborazione tra le due Parti. Si è infine rilevata la pacifica convivenza che caratterizza le relazioni tra le comunità cattolica e ortodossa, nonché con le altre confessioni religiose.

Glendon Declines Laetare Medal from Notre Dame

Former Vatican Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon has declined a high honor she was to receive from Notre Dame University. The Harvard Learned Hand Professor of Law explained her decision in a letter to Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins, C.S.C. posted at First Things, excerpts:
Dear Father Jenkins,

When you informed me in December 2008 that I had been selected to receive Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, I was profoundly moved. I treasure the memory of receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame in 1996, and I have always felt honored that the commencement speech I gave that year was included in the anthology of Notre Dame’s most memorable commencement speeches. So I immediately began working on an acceptance speech that I hoped would be worthy of the occasion, of the honor of the medal, and of your students and faculty.

Last month, when you called to tell me that the commencement speech was to be given by President Obama, I mentioned to you that I would have to rewrite my speech. Over the ensuing weeks, the task that once seemed so delightful has been complicated by a number of factors.

First, as a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree. This, as you must know, was in disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” and that such persons “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” That request, which in no way seeks to control or interfere with an institution’s freedom to invite and engage in serious debate with whomever it wishes, seems to me so reasonable that I am at a loss to understand why a Catholic university should disrespect it.

Then I learned that “talking points” issued by Notre Dame in response to widespread criticism of its decision included two statements implying that my acceptance speech would somehow balance the event . . .
Read more.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Quote of the Day - Why Sebelius is Morally Bankrupt

From Joseph Lawler at American Spectator. HT Ignatius InsightScoop.
Prior to yesterday, Sebelius's history of vetoing abortion restrictions and her history of close association with Tiller showed that abortion was one of her priorities. She was close enough to the abortion industry for the Washington Times to suggest that nominating her to the bureacracy that would regulate that industry constitutes a conflict of interest, much like nominating the head of an investment bank to regulate his competitors.

By casting an unpopular veto during a closely-watched nomination, though, Sebelius has shown that her stance on abortion is not just one item on the agenda -- she prioritizes abortion even above her own political future. Access to late-term abortions in Kansas is apparently something she is willing to sacrifice for.

Kansas Bishops' Conference Responds to Sebelius Veto

The Kansas Catholic Conference has responded to Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius' last minute veto of a bill which would have enforced Kansas' existing restrictions on late term abortions:


Today Governor Kathleen Sebelius vetoed SB 218, legislation approved by large majorities in the Kansas Legislature that would significantly aid the enforcement of existing late-term abortion law. Today was the last day for the governor to sign or veto the bill, otherwise it would have become law.

The governor waited until the very last minute, perhaps in the hope that the United States Senate would confirm her nomination to be secretary of Health & Human Services, thus relieving her of the obligation to act on this legislation. When it became clear that the Senate would not vote on her nomination by today, the governor did the expected — she sided with the abortion industry against the unborn, and against the women who are routinely provided misleading information by that industry.

We hope that the US Senate will closely scrutinize this latest action by the governor, and view it in the context of a long, consistent, and unmistakably clear record of support for the most extreme elements of the abortion industry.

Kansas, despite having one of the strictest late-term abortion laws in the country, is internationally known as a haven for the practice of particularly barbaric late-term abortion procedures — the kind most abortionists will not do. And no one has done more to ensure that Kansas retains its status as sanctuary for the likes of George Tiller than Governor Sebelius.

Kansas law only permits abortions on viable babies in circumstances of grave danger to the mother. Yet every time the life of an unborn child past the point of viability (often well past that point) is ended without any attempt to meet the demands of the law, the will of the people is flouted. Every time a woman is told that a baby with arms, legs, brainwaves, and a beating heart is just a piece of tissue, the abortion industry puts more money in the bank, and politicians like the governor collect another campaign check.

This situation is a moral catastrophe, and utterly out of tune with the values of the people of this state. We are again Bloody Kansas, only now it’s to our shame.

Next week, the Legislature will reconvene to conclude its 2009 session. It is expected that an attempt to override the Governor’s veto will be made. We will provide additional information on that possibility in the coming days.

Archbishop Naumann Answers Questions for Facebook Fans

This is cool. One of the numerous fan pages dedicated to bishops on Facebook is the "Fans of Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann" page. Anthony Saiki, a Kenrick-Glennon seminarian and administrator of the fan page, has asked members to send in questions for the Kansas City, Kansas Archbishop, and the Archbishop has begun answering them:
From Sr. Eva-Maria,
Your Excellency, greetings from the East! I have a couple of questions: "How did your mother influence your vocation as a priest? What is your best faith-story about your mom?"

Response from the Archbishop:

Sister Eva-Maria,
My Mother had a great influence on my vocation. My Father died before I was born. My Mother was a young widow with my older brother who was not yet two years old and me in her womb. My Mother had two practices every day: 1) She participated in Mass every day, even if that meant going to 5:30 a.m. Mass at a nearby Parish. 2) She led us each night in praying the family Rosary. As a young boy, I saw the great strength and peace my Mother received from the Eucharist and from her devotion to Mary. In such a context, it was only natural that I thought about becoming a priest.

One of my favorite faith stories about my Mother was told to me by a non-Catholic friend of my Mother’s. Her friend told me that, after my Father’s death, she was afraid to call my Mom because she could only imagine the intensity of my Mother’s grief. Finally, when her friend worked up the nerve to call, she was amazed at my Mother’s serenity and even joy in the midst of her sorrow because of my Father’s death. My Mother’s attitude not only put her friend at ease but gave her inspiration to grow deeper in her own faith.

From Rachael,
I have a question for His Excellency: What is the Catholic Church's view on national healthcare?

Response from the Archbishop:

Thanks for your question about national health care. The Church believes that everyone, including the poor, should have access to quality health care. The Church does not claim expertise in how best to make excellent health care available to everyone. The Church is the largest private health care provider in the nation. Most Catholic Hospitals were begun by Religious Communities, principally to serve the poor. Our current system of providing health care has some serious gaps, resulting in many people not having access to good health care. There are also valid concerns about more government involvement in providing health care, such as a possible loss of quality, inefficiency that would drive costs even higher and, most significantly, a fear of government mandates that could attempt to require Catholic hospitals to provide or at least refer for abortions and sterilizations.

From Sarah,
I have a question: The church claims infallibility of the pope. How can this be when the church has made mistakes in the past? The pope even apologized for the way the church handled the sex abuse scandal. How can it be both ways? I mean, if the pope is infallible, how can he apologize for anything?

Response from the Archbishop:

The Church teaches that the Holy Father is infallible in teaching of faith and morals. In other words, the Church is confident that the Holy Spirit will not allow the Church to make fundamental errors about what we believe. This does not mean that the Popes will not make personal mistakes or errors even in pastoral judgments. It does mean that the Holy Spirit will not allow the Holy Father to lead the Church into fundamental errors about doctrine - what we believe as Catholics.

Obama's Abortion Ambassador Ready to Cull the Herd

Melanne Verveer was confirmed by the Senate earlier this month to the newly created post of Ambassador for Global Women's Issues. Concerns raised here and elsewhere that the position would be used to impose the President's and Secretary Clinton's abortion regime through foreign policy have also been confirmed. The AP reports today that Verveer:
pledged Thursday the Obama administration's "deep commitment" to a U.N. blueprint aimed at slowing the world's population explosion and empowering women.

At the heart of the action plan adopted at a U.N. population conference in Cairo 15 years ago is a demand for women's equality through education, economic development, access to modern birth control and the right to choose if and when to become pregnant. . .

. . .Verveer, said President Barack Obama's decision to contribute $50 million to the U.N. Population Fund for family planning, an increase of more than 100 percent over the last U.S. contribution, in 2001, "will send an unambiguous signal to the world that the U.S. supports the Cairo Platform for Action."

Verveer spoke at a luncheon honoring Dr. Nafis Sadik, the former UNFPA head who has advocated using the UN to mandate the abortion license across the globe and force medical personnel to learn and perform abortions even against their conscience. Continuing from AP:
Verveer praised the Pakistani obstetrician-gynecologist for framing "the vision" of the Cairo plan that linked development, human rights, women's rights and reproductive health for the first time.

Verveer said she wanted to "clearly reiterate the renewed and deep commitment of the United States government to the ... Program of Action, and the Obama administration's steadfast determination to continue to work with other governments and NGOs to meet the goals we have set."

Clinton, now secretary of state, told a conference of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in Houston last month "that reproductive rights and the umbrella issue of women's rights and empowerment is going to be a key to the foreign policy of this administration."

For her part, Sadik who was celebrating her 80th birthday,
decried "the distortions of religion" that deny women their human rights and "bigots" who fall back on cultural values to deny rights to girls and women, especially on matters of reproductive and sexual health.

At Verveer's confirmation hearing, only two Senators questioned the nominee - Barbara Boxer of California and Roger Wicker of Mississippi. Verveer was lumped in with nominees for two other posts.

Senator Wicker did raise concerns that Verveer's position might be used to advocate abortion around the world to which Senator Boxer snipped, "I don't see foreign relations through the lens of abortion."

It is a testimony to the genteel nature of the Senator from Mississippi that he did not laugh out loud. Senator Boxer sees her morning breakfast cereal through the lens of abortion. Abortion is the hallmark of her entire political career.

But Wicker pressed on asking about Verveer's abortion advocacy as a former exec with People for the American Way and her financial support of Emily's list, to which Boxer expressed "shock" and said, "It is unfair to ask people what organizations they contribute money to or their personal views." She then went on a tirade about "anti-choice" people and basically shut the whole thing down by making it clear that any questioning along the lines of what has turned out to be the most pertinent responsibility of the new Ambassador wouldn't be tolerated.

For some more background on Verveer, see our older post - Obama Ambassador Tied to Catholics in Alliance, USCCB, NCR.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Faculty Union Forces USF to Keep Abortion Coverage

Valerie Schmalz at OSV continues to report on the controversy concerning abortion health care coverage at the Jesuit Run University of San Francisco. As first reported at The Catholic Key Blog, the University had initiated a mandatory student health insurance plan which included abortion coverage.

After an article on the subject appeared in OSV, USF announced that it was dropping such coverage from the student plan. The University also said it would seek to remove abortion coverage from its employee Blue Cross plan, while it was unable to remove such coverage from another employee Kaiser Health plan.

Now Schmalz reports that USF will not be able to remove abortion coverage from the Blue Cross plan due to objections from the USF Faculty Association, excerpts (emphases mine):

The USF Faculty Association president, Elliot Neaman, said today that if the university tries to remove the abortion benefit, it would file an unfair labor practice complaint.

Whether abortion involves the killing of a child is “not relevant,” Neaman told OSV. “You are mixing up morality and contractual obligations,” he said. . .

. . .“It is my duty to enforce a contact," Neaman said. "The university cannot unilaterally change the contract. They have to go to the bargaining table. All benefits are negotiated. The Faculty Association contract expires in 2011." The issue can be renegotiated, “if they choose to put that on the table. All the ideological religious stuff is completely irrelevant," he said. . .

. . .Neaman said the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion is irrelevant, Neaman said, because USF is not legally a Catholic university.

Read her whole post. I may have a post on the history of the USF Faculty Association later.

President Obama's Chillingly Precise Prophecy

The President said today:

"It is the grimmest of ironies that one of the most savage, barbaric acts of evil in history began in one of the most modernized societies of its time, where so many markers of human progress became tools of human depravity: science that can heal, used to kill; education that can enlighten, used to rationalize away basic moral impulses; the bureaucracy that sustains modern life, used as the machinery of mass death, a ruthless, chillingly efficient system where many were responsible for the killing, but few got actual blood on their hands."

Someone should read that back to him.

Here's the context.

Archbishop Hughes to Boycott Xavier Graduation over Brazile Honor

New Orleans Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes will not attend commencement exercises at Xavier University because they have chosen abortion advocate Donna Brazile as commencement speaker. The Catholic Louisiana native and former Gore Campaign manager is also set to receive an honorary degree from the historically black college founded by St. Katherine Drexel.

Archbishop Hughes conveyed his disappointment in a letter to Xavier President Dr. Norman C. Francis. The letter is posted as a pdf at the New Orleans Times Picayune which also has a story. Letter inline follows. Any typos are mine. The document has been ocr'd. Original pdf here:

April 22, 2009

Dr. Norman C. Francis
President, Xavier University of Louisiana
1 Drexel Drive
New Orleans, LA 70125-1098

Dear Dr. Francis:

I write to you to follow up our telephone conversation. It is with regret that I make the decision not to participate in the Commencement Exercises this year at Xavier University in light of the university's decision to invite Ms. Donna Brazile to be the Commencement speaker and receive an honorary degree. Ms. Brazile has a public record in support of keeping abortion legal.

In our document released in 2004 the Catholic bishops of the United States provided explicit direction for all Catholic parishes and institutions: "The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."

I recognize that Ms. Brazile is a Catholic Louisiana native who has worked effectively in service to the poor and African Americans in particular. However, her public statements on the abortion issue are not in keeping with Catholic moral teaching. She has supported President Obama's decision to reverse the Mexico City policy allowing federal funds to organizations that provide abortions overseas by saying that this policy will "save lives." She has also relativized the importance of the fundamental life issues on national television suggesting that there are more important things for the American people to discuss than abortion. She has supported and worked for the election of candidates who support contraceptive practices and abortion on the basis that this stance is pro-woman.

The Catholic Church stands in support of all of those who want to serve and plead for the poor and vulnerable in our midst. This, however, must include those who are most vulnerable in their mother's wombs. Moreover, contraceptive practice actually leads men to be less responsible toward women and abortion both harms the mother and kills the child.

I, again, reiterate my disappointment. I have always enjoyed being a part of the Xavier Commencement when I was able to do so. I applaud the remarkable history of Xavier University in offering highly respected university education to African Americans. I also admire your remarkable record of public service.

The University has received an extraordinary legacy from its holy founder, Saint Katherine Drexel. I pray that the university will be faithful to that legacy in every way including respect and protection of all human life.

Sincerely in the Lord,

Most Reverend Alfred C. Hughes
Archbishop of New Orleans

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bishop D'Arcy Issues Statement on Father Jenkins

It's dated yesterday, but I hadn't seen it:

Statement to the faithful

April 21, 2009

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Recently, Father John Jenkins, CSC, in a letter of response to Bishop Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix, who had written him, critical of the decision to invite President Obama to speak and receive an honorary degree of law at Notre Dame, indicated that it was his conviction that the statement “Catholics in Political Life” (USCCB) did not apply in this matter. Father Jenkins kindly sent me a copy of his letter, and also at a later meeting, asked for a response.
In an April 15th letter to Father Jenkins, I responded to his letter.

Now the points made in his letter have been sent by Father Jenkins to the members of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees and have been publicized nationally, as well as locally in the South Bend Tribune. Since the matter is now public, it is my duty as the bishop of this diocese to respond and correct. I take up this responsibility with some sadness, but also with the conviction that if I did not do so, I would be remiss in my pastoral responsibility.

Rather than share my full letter, which I have shared with some in church leadership, I prefer to present some of the key points.

1. The meaning of the sentence in the USCCB document relative to Catholic institutions is clear. It places the responsibility on those institutions, and indeed, on the Catholic community itself.

“The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” — “Catholics in Political Life,” USCCB.

2. When there is a doubt concerning the meaning of a document of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, where does one find the authentic interpretation? A fundamental, canonical and theological principal states that it is found in the local bishop, who is the teacher and lawgiver in his diocese. — Canon 330, 375 §§ 1 & 2; 380; 381 § 1; 391 § 1; 392, & 394 §1.

3. I informed Father Jenkins that if there was any genuine questions or doubt about the meaning of the relevant sentence in the conference’s document, any competent canonist with knowledge of the tradition and love for Christ’s church had the responsibility to inform Father Jenkins of the fundamental principle that the diocesan bishop alone bears the responsibility to provide an authoritative interpretation.

4. I reminded Father Jenkins that he indicated that he consulted presidents of other Catholic universities, and at least indirectly, consulted other bishops, since he asked those presidents to share with him those judgments of their own bishops. However, he chose not to consult his own bishop who, as I made clear, is the teacher and lawgiver in his own diocese. I reminded Father Jenkins that I was not informed of the invitation until after it was accepted by the president. I mentioned again that it is at the heart of the diocesan bishop’s pastoral responsibility to teach as revealed in sacred Scripture and the tradition. (“Lumen Gentium,” 20; and “Christus Dominus,” 2.) I reminded him that it is also central to the university’s relationship to the church. (“Ex corde ecclesiae,” 27 & 28; Gen. Norm., Art. 5, §§ 1-3.)

5. Another key point. In his letter to Bishop Olmsted and in the widespread publicity, which has taken place as the points in the letter have been made public, Father Jenkins declared the invitation to President Obama does not “suggest support” for his actions, because he has expressed and continues to express disagreement with him on issues surrounding protection of life. I wrote that the outpouring of hundreds of thousands who are shocked by the invitation clearly demonstrates, that this invitation has, in fact, scandalized many Catholics and other people of goodwill. In my office alone, there have been over 3,300 messages of shock, dismay and outrage, and they are still coming in. It seems that the action in itself speaks so loudly that people have not been able to hear the words of Father Jenkins, and indeed, the action has suggested approval to many.

In the publicity surrounding the points Father Jenkins has made, he also says he is “following the document of the bishops” by “laying a basis for engagement with the president on this issue.” I indicated that I, like many others, will await to see what the follow up is on this issue between Notre Dame and President Obama.

6. As I have said in a recent interview and which I have said to Father Jenkins, it would be one thing to bring the president here for a discussion on healthcare or immigration, and no person of goodwill could rightly oppose this. We have here, however, the granting of an honorary degree of law to someone whose activities both as president and previously, have been altogether supportive of laws against the dignity of the human person yet to be born.

In my letter, I have also asked Father Jenkins to correct, and if possible, withdraw the erroneous talking points, which appeared in the South Bend Tribune and in other media outlets across the country. The statements which Father Jenkins has made are simply wrong and give a flawed justification for his actions.

I consider it now settled — that the USCCB document, “Catholics in Public Life,” does indeed apply in this matter.
The failure to consult the local bishop who, whatever his unworthiness, is the teacher and lawgiver in the diocese, is a serious mistake. Proper consultation could have prevented an action, which has caused such painful division between Notre Dame and many bishops — and a large number of the faithful.

That division must be addressed through prayer and action, and I pledge to work with Father Jenkins and all at Notre Dame to heal the terrible breach, which has taken place between Notre Dame and the church. It cannot be allowed to continue.
I ask all to pray that this healing will take place in a way that is substantial and true, and not illusory. Notre Dame and Father Jenkins must do their part if this healing is to take place. I will do my part.

Sincerely yours in our Lord,
Most Reverend
John M. D’Arcy

Archbishop Chaput Credited for Death Penalty Vote

The Colorado House yesterday voted 33-32 to repeal the state's death penalty. The measure now goes to the Senate. An interesting bit of drama occurred on the floor during the vote and only the Durango Herald has picked up on it, my emphases:
Debate lasted only a few minutes Tuesday, apparently because most of the 65 representatives had made up their minds. All except Ed Vigil.

The freshman Democrat from Fort Garland sat still as the House's electronic board tallied the vote - a 32-32 tie.

Vigil, a former district attorney's investigator, thinks the death penalty is a useful tool. In a 2007 case, Jose Luis Rubi-Nava confessed to killing his girlfriend in Douglas County by dragging her behind his car. The threat of the death penalty secured Rubi-Nava's plea, Vigil said.

"As soon as the death penalty became part of the equation, he pled guilty and got a life sentence," he said.

But Vigil also was thinking about moral appeals he had heard, including from Archbishop Charles Chaput, the senior Roman Catholic clergyman in Colorado.

Vigil bit his lip and ran a hand back through his hair. Other House members stood up and looked his way as a silent minute dragged by. At last, he reached across the desk and pushed the green button for "yes."

The death penalty repeal passed 33-32.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Word of the Day - Uxoricide

Wiki's strange definition:
Uxoricide (from Latin uxor meaning "wife") is murder of one's wife. It can refer to the act itself or the man who carries it out. Overkill is reported to be common in these slayings, presumably reflecting the emotional state of the killer.

In many patriarchal cultures uxoricide is regarded less harshly than other forms of homicide, especially in cases of adultery. It may even be regarded as the correct, honourable thing to do.

Apparently written by a flack for Henry VIII. The famous double-uxoricide acceded to the Throne of England 500 years ago today.

Do you know which two? A friend and English school head told me children can remember with a simple rhyme:

Divorced, Beheaded, Died
Divorced, Beheaded, Survived

Cardinal Rigali Criticizes NIH Stem Cell Guidelines

This just in from the USCCB.

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Justin Rigali, Chairman of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, reacted today to new draft guidelines for human embryonic stem cell research issued late last week by the National Institutes of Health. The text of his statement follows:

New draft guidelines for federally funded stem cell research involving the destruction of human embryos, released Friday by the National Institutes of Health, mark a new chapter in divorcing biomedical research from its necessary ethical foundation. Without unconditional respect for the life of each and every member of the human race, research involving human subjects does not represent true progress. It becomes another way for some human beings to use and mistreat others for their own goals. Suffering patients and their families deserve better, through increased support for promising and ethically sound stem cell research and treatments that harm no one.

In most respects these draft guidelines reflect the policy approved but never implemented by the Clinton administration in 2000. However, the Clinton policy was limited to embryos that had been frozen, to ensure that parents had time to consider the decision to donate them for research; the new guidelines are broader in allowing destruction of newly created embryos that were never frozen, increasing the prospects for a rushed and biased consent process.

Despite supporters’ constant claim that this agenda involves only embryos that “would otherwise be discarded,” the guidelines provide that the option of donating embryonic children for destructive research will be offered to parents alongside all other options, including those allowing the embryos to live. For the first time, federal tax dollars will be used to encourage destruction of living embryonic human beings for stem cell research – including human beings who otherwise would have survived and been born.

It is noteworthy that, despite calls for an even broader policy by some in Congress and the research community, the draft guidelines do not allow federally funded stem cell research using embryos specially created for research purposes by in vitro fertilization or cloning. We can hope that the NIH and Congress will continue to respect this ethical norm, and will realize that the alleged “need” for violating it is more implausible than ever due to advances in reprogramming adult cells to act like embryonic stem cells. However, congressional supporters of destructive human embryo research have already said they will pursue a more extreme policy. The Catholic bishops of the United States will be writing to Congress and the Administration about the need to restore and maintain barriers against the mistreatment of human life in the name of science, and we urge other concerned citizens to do the same.

Bishop Finn Welcomes New Metropolitan of St. Louis

The Vatican announced this morning the appointment of Saginaw Bishop Robert J. Carlson as Archbishop of St. Louis. Kansas City - St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn said on news of the announcement:
“In the name of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph I sent a message of Congratulations and prayerful best wishes to the Archbishop-Elect early this morning. He is a wonderful and holy bishop who has served the Church in so many significant ways. He is very well suited to this new assignment from the Holy Father. As I extend to him my sentiments of welcome to Missouri, I look forward to working closely with him.”

Much information on Archbishop-Elect Carlson is available at the St. Louis Archdiocesan website. Check in there at 10:30 to watch the press conference online.

Following is Bishop Finn's column from the upcoming edition of The Catholic Key:
Welcome to Missouri: Archbishop Robert Carlson

As I write this column, (Tuesday, April 21) the Vatican has just announced Pope Benedict XVI’s appointment of Bishop Robert James Carlson as Archbishop of St. Louis.

Archbishop-Elect Carlson will be the tenth bishop and the ninth Archbishop of St. Louis. St. Louis is the “Metropolitan See” for Missouri. The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph is one of three “suffragan” sees to St. Louis. In the Catholic Church, dioceses are arranged around Archdioceses. The Archbishop has certain responsibilities to call together the other bishops in his jurisdiction.

On June 27, 2008, Archbishop Raymond Burke was appointed Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church’s “Supreme Court.” This produced a vacancy in St. Louis, which will now be filled. At this writing I am not yet aware of the date of the installation of the new Archbishop, but I have communicated to him my fraternal best wishes and a promise of prayers from the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

Bishop Carlson is 64 years old, and has been a bishop for 25 years. He was installed as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Saginaw on February 24, 2005. A native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, he was ordained to the priesthood on May 23, 1970 for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. He was later ordained as an auxiliary bishop for his home archdiocese on January 11, 1984 and went on to serve as Bishop of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, from 1994 to 2005. He has degrees in Theology and Canon Law.

Within the U.S. Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Carlson has chaired the Committees on Vocations, on Priestly Life and Ministry, and the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee on Youth, and the Ad Hoc Committee for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. He has been a member of several other Committees.

His recent writings include Pastoral Letters on Peace (December, 2008); on Marriage at the 40th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae (July, 2008), and on The Sacrament of Penance, (January, 2008). Bishop Carlson is well known for his leadership in the Pro-Life movement, and for his success in increasing vocations in his dioceses.

He is leaving the Diocese of Saginaw in Michigan, which was established in 1938 by Pope Pius XI. Its territory includes 16 counties, carved out the Diocese of Grand Rapids and the Archdiocese of Detroit, in Michigan’s “thumb and index finger.” The recent Catholic Directory indicates that Saginaw has a Catholic population of about 120,000. The Archdiocese of St. Louis became a Diocese in 1826, and was raised to status as an Archdiocese in 1847. It has about 500,000 Catholics.

One of St. Louis’ best known Archbishops was a Kansas City priest (born in Ireland). Cardinal John Glennon was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Kansas City in 1884. After serving as coadjutor to Bishop Hogan in Kansas City for almost 7 years, he was appointed Coadjutor-Archbishop and then Archbishop of St. Louis, where he served for 43 years.

We welcome Archbishop Robert Carlson to Missouri, and pray for him, and for faithful of the Diocese of Saginaw and the Archdiocese of St. Louis during this time of transition.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

'We are at war' - Bishop Finn's Gospel of Life Convention Keynote

The Second Annual Gospel of Life Convention co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph was held this weekend at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park, KS. Following is Kansas City - St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn's Keynote address to pro-life activists gathered from throughout Missouri and Kansas:

Warriors for the Victory of Life
Key Note Address for the 2009 Gospel of Life Convention
April 18, 2009 – St. Thomas Aquinas High School
Most Reverend Robert W. Finn
Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph

Dear friends,

Thank you for coming together for this second annual Gospel of Life Convention, co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. It is a privilege to welcome you and greet you this morning. I am grateful for the encouragement of your presence and – as a Bishop it is my solemn and joyful duty to do all I can to fortify you in your own faith.

But as I speak a word of encouragement today I also want to tell you soberly, dear friends, “We are at war!”

We are at war.
Harsh as this may sound it is true – but it is not new. This war to which I refer did not begin in just the last several months, although new battles are underway – and they bring an intensity and urgency to our efforts that may rival any time in the past.

But it is correct to acknowledge that you and I are warriors - members of the Church on earth – often called the Church Militant. Those who have gone ahead of us have already completed their earthly battles. Some make up the Church Triumphant – Saints in heaven who surround and support us still – tremendous allies in the battle for our eternal salvation; and the Church Suffering (souls in purgatory who depend on our prayers and meritorious works and suffrages).

But we are the Church on Earth – The Church Militant. We are engaged in a constant warfare with Satan, with the glamour of evil, and the lure of false truths and empty promises. If we fail to realize how constantly these forces work against us, we are more likely to fall, and even chance forfeiting God’s gift of eternal life.

The ultimate promise of the Gospel.
Before I go any further I must proclaim a most important truth – a truth that we have just been celebrating throughout the last week: Jesus Christ, in His life, death, and Resurrection, has already won the war: definitively and once for all. He has conquered sin and death and has won the prize of life on high in heaven forever. We know the final outcome, but the battle for eternal life is now played out in each human heart with a free will to love or not, to be faithful or to walk away from the life which has been offered as God’s most wonderful gift.

Every day the choice is before us: right or wrong; good or bad; the blessing or the curse; life or death. Our whole life must be oriented toward choosing right, the good, the blessing; choosing life.

If you and I fail to realize the meaning and finality behind our choices, and the intensity of the constant warfare that confronts us, it is likely that we will drop our guard, be easily and repeatedly deceived, and even loose the life of our eternal soul.

As bishop I have a weighty responsibility to tell you this over and over again. This obligation is not always easy, and constantly I am tempted to say and do less, rather than more. Almost everyday I am confronted with the persuasion of other people who want me to be silent. But – with God’s grace – you and I will not be silent.

This work of speaking about the spiritual challenges before us is not just the responsibility of the Bishop. I am not the only one entrusted with the work of faith, hope and charity. You are baptized into this Church militant. You are also entrusted with the mission of righteousness. You have the fortification of the sacraments, and the mandate to love as Jesus loved you. You share in the apostolic mission and work of the Church.

What can we say about this constant warfare?
Our battle is ultimately a spiritual battle for the eternal salvation of souls – our own and those of other people. We are not engaged in physical battles in the same way military soldiers defend with material weapons. We need not – we must not – initiate violence against other persons to accomplish something good, even something as significant as the protection of human life.

But it is true that we might have to endure physical suffering to prosper the victory of Jesus Christ. He carried the Cross. He promised us that – if we were to follow Him – we also would share the Cross. We must not expect anything less. When you stand up for what is right – you will be opposed. The temptation will be to avoid these attacks. But through our responses we must see what kind of soldiers we are.

Who is our enemy in this battle of the Church Militant?
Our enemy is the deceiver, the liar, Satan. Because of his spiritual powers he can turn the minds and hearts of men. He is our spiritual or supernatural enemy when he works to tempt us, and he becomes a kind of natural enemy as he works in the hearts of other people to twist and confound God’s will. In our human experience people deceived by Satan’s distortions and lies may appear as our “human enemies.”

But, in his Letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul makes, for us, a very important distinction. “Draw strength from the Lord and from His mighty power,” He tells them and us. “Put on the armor of God, in order that you can stand firm against the tactics of the devil.” “For, our struggle,” St. Paul tells us, “is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the rulers of this darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” (Eph 6:10-12).

So let’s be clear: Human beings are not Satan, but certainly they can come under his power, even without their fully realizing it. When we, in our sinfulness, put something in the place of God: pleasure and convenience; material success; political power and prestige, we open a door for the principalities and contrary spirits who war against God. They want you and me for their prize. When we forsake God and outwardly reject His law and what we know to be His will, we make an easy victory for our supernatural enemies. We fall right into their hands.

But what about the so-called human enemies?
What about the persons who wish to establish a path of living which contravenes God’s law: promoting abortion; unnatural substitutes for marriage, and all such distortions of true freedom? Here Jesus is clear: “But I say to you, love your enemies: and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt 5:44)

We cannot hate these human enemies, and we must find a way to love them. But we need not show them any sign of agreement. We pray for them. We do not lie to them – and we seek that which pertains to their conversion – not to their worldly comforts, but to their eternal salvation. To ignore their destructive errors, particularly those that cost the lives of others, is to shirk our responsibility to attend to their eternal salvation.

There are people who make themselves the public enemies of the Church. They openly attack belief in Christ, or the Church’s right to exist. Quite honestly such groups or individuals are less prevalent than they might have been in prior moments of history. In some ways they are not the most dangerous opponents in our spiritual warfare, because they show themselves and their intentions more forthrightly.

The more dangerous “human enemies” in our battle are those, who in this age of pluralism and political propriety seek ways to convince us of their sincerity and good will. With malice or with ignorance, or perhaps with an intention of advancing some other personal goal, they are willing to undermine and push aside the values and the institutions that stand in their way. They may propose “tolerance” and seem to have a “live and let live” approach to all human choices – even if the choice is not to “let live,” but actually to “let die,” or “let life be destroyed.” These more subtle enemies are of all backgrounds. They may be atheists or agnostics, or of any religion, including Christian or Catholic.

This dissension in our own ranks should not surprise us because we all experience some dissension against God’s law of love within our own heart. But the “battle between believers,” who claim a certain “common ground” with us, while at the same time, they attack the most fundamental tenets of the Church’s teachings, or disavow the natural law – this opposition is one of the most discouraging, confusing, and dangerous.

In my first U.S. Bishops’ Conference meeting – June of 2004 – the bishops passed what seemed to me to be a compromise statement as a result of our lengthy debate on politicians and Communion. There we stated that pro-choice leaders (and specifically, Catholic leaders were mentioned) should not be given public platforms or honors. As we all know the eminent American Catholic University, Notre Dame, is poised to bestow such an opportunity and honor on President Obama, who is, of course, not Catholic. But it doesn’t take another Bishops’ Conference statement to know this is wrong: scandalous, discouraging and confusing to many Catholics.

God knows what all motivates such a decision. I suspect that, since Notre Dame will need a scapegoat for this debacle, and Fr. Jenkins will probably lose his job, at this point perhaps he ought to determine to lose it for doing something right instead of something wrong. He ought to disinvite the President, who I believe would graciously accept the decision. Notre Dame, instead, ought to give the honorary degree to Bishop John D’Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who has supported and tried to guide the University, despite their too frequent waywardness, faithfully for 25 years.

In my remaining time this morning I want to talk principally about three things: 1) I want to comment briefly on some of the particular battles we face in the cause of the protection of the life of human beings. 2) I want to reflect on some of the costs of doing battle; and 3) I will suggest some ways we can fortify ourselves to go forth in this mission.

First – the battle for Human Life.
The battle we face for the salvation of our souls is the most important one we face – bar none. Where I spend all eternity; where you spend eternity – in bliss or in damnation – is important beyond any individual choice I make. But the individual human choices I make – even one grave choice in which we remain unrepentant – can determine the direction of my salvation.

To deliberately destroy a human person, and without any justification of self-defense, is to preempt without an equal and sufficient cause, the right to life bestowed by God alone. Life is a gift which we have from God, not from man. This right cannot be taken away by means of a human law. It ought to be protected and assured by human law.

The constant magnitude of this crime against humanity is staggering. We must never get used to it. In the United States there are 4000 abortions every day. Compare that to the tragedy of September 11, or to any other war, or even to the genocidal Holocaust of six million Jews and many others under the Nazi regime.

The count of abortions over the 36 years, since its legalization in January, 1973, is beyond 50 million human lives. These are just the reported abortions. There are more. There are many, many more worldwide. But keep reflecting on 4000 killings a day of innocent babies. Recently someone told me the number of abortions had gone down. I don’t believe it, but if you wish, you can think of 3500 killings a day or even 3000 per day.

Thousands of human lives every day: If we keep saying this – first of all – some people will get very upset with us. They will want us to stop. They may quote other statistics about the tragedies of poverty and war. We must truly share their horror at these things too. However, in the end the measure of our society is in how we treat the most vulnerable in our midst. The unifying thread is “the value of human life and the dignity of the human person.”

4000 abortions each day in the United States. This is the tally of the enemy. Are we in a war? Absolutely. Are we winning? Are we even battling to win? Or do we consider this someone else’s war?

We can hardly know how many human embryos have been destroyed in pursuing in vitro fertilization, and other experimentation, or through abortifacient contraceptives. Our President has just signed a law providing government funding – your tax money and mine – for the funding of these human embryonic stem cell experiments. Are we at war? Absolutely. Are we winning? Missouri lost a valiant battle to constitutionally outlaw human cloning and human embryonic stem cell research. We haven’t given up, but it requires a constant effort. We won many people over through good instruction in the truth. We were outspent 30 to 1.

Assisted Suicide is now legal in Oregon and Washington State. There are more efforts underway and polls, sadly, show a steady decline in the numbers of people opposing such referenda. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that matters concerning the regulation of medicine and other health issues are up to the states. Several state supreme courts have already ruled that assisted suicide would not be unconstitutional. Are we at war? Absolutely. Are we winning? Unfortunately, there is reason to believe that people are losing their sense of the moral evil of assisted suicide. But we cannot give up.

The fight for life is a constant warfare. Those who vied for the leadership of our country last November offered Americans a clear choice in this regard. The President is keeping his promises – one by one. We are getting what we chose. Is the war over? Never. Is the battle over? We must not give up. Remember: we already know the final outcome. The battle now is about our readiness to remain faithful – our readiness to suffer while we peacefully, legally, and prayerfully seek the victory of life.

We must defend life, but also build.
In his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, on the Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II said that we must oppose the culture of death, and he said we must construct a civilization of life and love. So, we must defend the right to life, but even beyond that we must take action for the promotion of what is good. We must build a civilization that proclaims the Gospel of Life.

Occasionally we still hear an elected official speak of his or her personal opposition to abortion, while they support the legal right to an abortion. We should be very clear: Such a person places him or herself completely OUTSIDE the moral framework, the moral imperative of Evangelium Vitae and other Church teaching on these issues. They are NEITHER defending human life against the forces of death, NOR or they taking steps to build a culture of life. They have abandoned their place in the citizenship of the Church. Quite simply they have become warriors for death rather than life.

Such a person who makes a public stand – and acts directly – in defense of the right to kill - endangers their eternal salvation. If you and I support such a person who has so flatly told us of their intentions to protect a fraudulent Right to Death, a Right to an Abortion, we make ourselves participants in their attack on life. We risk our salvation, and we better change. Why? – because Bishop Finn is going to condemn you? No, I must say what the Church says, but I will not finally judge any human soul.

I know Catholics in our country are looking to their bishops for leadership in this. Four out of five letters I receive on these issues urges me to do more, not less. I was not able to attend the installation of Archbishop Timothy Dolan in New York this week, but I watched part of the Mass on EWTN. I heard the homily and saw how well the new Archbishop was received. But there was one place in the homily that was particularly dramatic. When Archbishop Dolan mentioned the defense of human life, all St. Patrick Cathedral thundered with spontaneous applause and rose to its feet. At no other spot in the homily did any such thing happen.

Please note: This is NOT partisan politics on the part of bishops or their flock. This is zeal for life, pure and powerful. This is care for truth, and attention to the salvation of souls. It cannot and must not be neglected, even if it means we might get scolded at times by those who want us to speak less. We bishops should note it carefully – how our people are starving for more leadership – more unanimity – more courage in this regard.

Every believer is called to be a warrior for righteousness – a soldier in support of human life. Are we at War? It is clear we are, and we will each stand before Jesus Christ, the Lord of Life.

Dr. Scott Hahn makes an interesting observation about a well known passage from Matthew’s Gospel. St. Peter is entrusted with the leadership of the Church; he is handed the “keys” to the Kingdom. “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” (Matt 16:18). Hahn points out that it is not just the work of the Church to hold strong against the powers of hell. Rather: in the battle, the Church must beat upon the gates of hell. We must not give up until those sorry gates fall off their hinges and the victory of Jesus Christ is made full and complete and final. Bishops are called to teach, lead and sanctify. These are not defensive postures – but elements of a powerful offensive designed to promote and extend the Kingdom of God.

It is not enough for us to defend against the assaults of Satan. It is not enough for us even to defend innocent human life. Of course, if we fail to do this, we fail in our most urgent task. But by good deeds of love and charity, we must build this active culture of life that is ready and capable of turning back hell itself. If we won’t put the abortionist out of business we are pitiable souls. If we don’t enact laws and work tirelessly to change human hearts so that life is forever reverenced and protected, we have not fought the good fight which is our charge as the Church Militant. As warriors we must first beat back the enemy. But then let us not forget that we are warriors for the victory of life!

How do we arm ourselves for what is first and foremost a supernatural war?

First: Unless we are living in God’s life we should not go near this battle. I don’t care if you are the strongest and most brilliant and clever person on the planet. The devil – as he has shown over and over again – will turn you inside out. If you are not fortified by the sacraments – frequent confession and worthy Holy Communion – you cannot succeed in an ultimately supernatural battle. We must live – no longer ourselves – but Christ in us. Be always in the state of grace.

Pray. Be a prayer warrior. One modern day saint said when you are going out to try to change someone’s heart determine to make your effort 80 % prayer and 20% words or actions. Prayer defeats the devil. Prayer aligns us with Christ. Pray for the abortionist. Pray for the legislator. Pray for the mother (and father and other family members). Pray for the child in the womb. Pray for yourself and allow God to guide you. Pray that you will be a warrior of faithfulness and love and mercy. Remember that God often chooses the foolish to shame those who are clever.

Use the symbols and instruments of our devotion. Arm yourself with the rosary. Protect yourself with the scapular or a blessed medal. Ask for a blessing as a sign of unity in the Church in what we do: unity with the Holy Father, with your bishop, with your pastor. What I am supposed to do as bishop (teach and lead, and sanctify) I must, in turn, delegate in proper measure to my pastors. They, in turn, need you as soldiers.

Don’t worry very much about numbers. If you read the accounts of the Old Testament battles, over and over again God used a tiny misfit army to overthrow a legion 1000 times its size. In this way it is so much clearer that God is fighting the battle. We are only His instruments.

What will happen to us if we take up this war in faithfulness?
Do you really want to know? You will be hated by some powerful people. You may be rejected by those whose approval you most desire. You will be loved and supported by some and this will be a wonderful encouragement. You will be misunderstood by many – and this can be very painful. After you have suffered a little in your battle, some will tell you that you have done nothing – or that you have done it the wrong way.

Yes, if you push – others will “push back.” We should always be very careful to obey the law. But, regardless, some will threaten you with legal action, and law suits cost money and you may suffer that difficult hardship. In the end, dear friends, if we err let it be on the side of life. Life! 4000 human lives a day!

What if I suffer greatly trying to change this tragic trajectory – through prayerful, legal, peaceful means? It is in God’s hands, and you and I are warriors for the victory of life. The stakes in terms of human life are high. The stakes in terms of human souls are even higher.

A final word
There is much more we might say, and I know that today’s many presentations will be of great value to you all. Years ago I first heard Dr. Janet Smith teach so eloquently about the dangers of contraception: to our souls, on marriages, on our culture, as a preamble to abortion and as a degrading stain on human love. I am so pleased she has joined us to teach this truth so much at the foundation of the sad culture of discarded life and love.

I wish to thank Adrienne Doring and Ron Kelsey who, with much assistance from so many of you, coordinated this event. To my brother and co-worker Archbishop Joseph Naumann, whose leadership in pro-life is so well known throughout our country, I express my thanks and admiration.

May the Peace of the Risen Lord Jesus – the glory of His Easter triumph– the hope and promise of undying love and the power of Life sustain you all in your high calling as Warriors for the Victory of life.

Bishop Finn's Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday

Kansas City - St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn visited the parish of Our Lady of Good Counsel today in Kansas City. The parish also serves as the diocesan Shrine to the Divine Mercy and St. Faustina. Following Confession and recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Mass was celebrated. After introductory remarks to the parish community, Bishop Finn's homily continued as below:

. . . I am grateful for [Msgr. Blacet's] invitation to join you for the observances of this Feast: Confessions, Holy Mass and the Praying of the Chaplet, here at the Diocesan Shrine to Divine Mercy and St. Faustina.

In the rhythm of this beautiful prayer, and in the Holy Eucharist and Sacrament of Reconciliation, we experience the rich and unending love of God which flows out toward man and offers him forgiveness and new life beyond what we could ever ask or imagine.

In the Gospel account of the Risen Jesus which we read each Divine Mercy Sunday, we are filled – as were the apostles – with a deep sense of Easter peace. This is the message of the Lord who appears to these men on the evening of that first day of the week. Christ offers peace to the apostles - still so unsure of what has taken place; of what is happening even now. This is a most welcome gift: Peace to calm their fears; Peace to ease their guilt at having abandoned Him in His sufferings; Peace when they are still trying to comprehend these powerful and mysterious realities. Again He says to them, “Peace be with you!” This peace is perhaps the first manifestation of His mercy, and the Gospel tells us that Christ’s peace led to joy.

This year, in our observance of the Divine Mercy, I want to reflect very briefly with you on the intercessory prayers that many of us have made as a part of our novena, along with the recitation of the chaplet each day since Good Friday.

Jesus not only gave the chaplet to St. Faustina. He taught her many things about the wide embrace of his merciful love. And so each of the last nine days we have heard Our Lord’s invitation to “bring to Him” all mankind: the faithful and the unfaithful – so that He could flood them with this divine gift of undeserved love.

Today bring to Me all mankind, especially sinners. The first intercession comes on Good Friday and reveals the purpose of Christ’s supreme self sacrifice – to win and redeem all people of every age – not just the righteous, but sinners. And what will Christ do with us sinners? He wants to immerse us in the ocean of His mercy.

The second day: Today bring to Me the souls of priests and religious.
On Easter Sunday: Today bring to Me all devout and faithful souls.

The thought that comes to me as I hear these urgent pleas from Jesus Christ, is that He truly longs to embrace and flood us with His Easter life and grace. Dear friends, this is the Lord of Life, the Redeemer of the world, the eternal living God, the Incarnate Son. And He is asking you and me to carry one another to His heart – to His pierced side – so that the most faithful and the most unworthy alike can be drenched in the Blood and Water: signs of salvation - baptismal water and precious blood. In these living gifts Jesus gave us life. In them He established the Church. Through the Blood and Water He is granting us a new birth as sons and daughters of the Father.

The fourth day: Today bring to Me those who do not believe in God and those who do not yet know me.
And the next: Today bring to Me the souls of those who have separated themselves from the Church.

Here it becomes clear that Jesus wants to extend a grace of evangelization which we may now call mercy. Yes, it is a work of mercy to teach the truth in love, to bring others to Christ who do not know Him – or even to those who have abandoned Him and His Church, but need the grace and mercy of a new chance.

In these powerful words of Jesus the Divine Mercy, we are learning what the mandate of mercy in the Church will require. When we have received mercy, we must in turn become instruments and apostles of mercy. Those whom our Lord calls to Himself, we must not reject. In our prayers and by our actions we must “bring to Him” all the souls He loves.

Jesus shows then a special tenderness for the small and helpless: Today bring to Me the meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These childlike souls, He says, are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God. It must be clear to us that, in God’s eyes, children are not a burden or an inconvenience, but a sign of His own innocence and simplicity.

Next, Our Lord calls to Himself those who have been ready cooperators in His love: Today bring to Me the souls who especially venerate and glorify My Mercy. This prayer acknowledges that those who bring and proclaim God’s mercy have discovered the greatest attribute of the Eternal Father: fathomless mercy. According to His words to St. Faustina, Our Lord’s special resting place for these co-workers is enclosed within the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. This calling is not reserved for a limited few. It is offered to you and me, if we will come determined to do deeds of mercy and to place all our Hope and trust in Him. Jesus I trust in You. Jesus I trust in You!

In the last days of the Novena, the message of mercy is extended to the Poor Souls in Purgatory and to those who have become lukewarm. Again, Jesus tells us: Bring them to Me. Bring them to Me. These are not the demands of a vindictive judge – but the prerogative of perfect charity expressed by a victorious risen Savior, so that all mankind can be immersed in the abyss of His mercy, so that the fruits of His supreme act of redemption can be offered to the many.

This Feast of Divine Mercy is a wonderful climax to Easter week. I pray that – having responded in trust to the invitation of Christ – we may all come into a greater union with Him.

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world!
Mary, Holy Queen and Mother of Mercy, pray for us!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Statement on 'Catholics United' Ads in Kansas City

The following is from the Director of the Human Rights Office for the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph:

Representing the Church

By Jude Huntz

Recently there have been a number of radio advertisements in the Kansas City area paid for by a group called Catholics United. These advertisements thank Senator Claire McCaskill for supporting the economic recovery package in the budget bill and stating that this piece of legislation represents the best in Catholic social teaching. While a number of things can be said in response, three essential points need to be stated.

First, no private organization – even if it has the word ‘Catholic’ in its name – represents the Catholic Church. The bishop of the diocese is the only official teacher, guardian, and interpreter of the Catholic tradition (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church # 888, 894, 895, 1560,, Code of Canon Law 375.1, 392.1, 393, 394.1, 394.2) While the bishop may appoint others, i.e. priests, deacons, lay people, to work and act on behalf of the Church, the task of authentically transmitting the deposit of Faith belongs to the bishops of the Church. Thus, while there are many well intentioned groups with the term ‘Catholic’ in their name, none of them represents the Catholic Church in any official capacity.

Second, this specific organization – Catholics United – is a clearly partisan organization that heavily supports the Democratic Party. A glance on their website shows endorsements for President Obama, his selection of Kathleen Sebelius as director of Health and Human Services, and support for the University of Notre Dame in its decision to honor the president with an honorary doctorate at its commencement ceremony. While every Catholic has the right to join whatever political party they choose (cf. Compendium of Social Doctrine #573), a person does not have the right to equate their own personal opinion as the official position of the Catholic Church (cf. Compendium of Social Doctrine #574 ). The Church cannot endorse particular candidates for public office, nor can she align itself with one particular political party over another. The Gospel transcends the political order while at the same time intersecting with it along the way.

Finally, while there are some aspects of the economic recovery package in the budget that are in accord with Catholic social teaching, notably the preferential option for the poor and the concern for the common good, there are also troubling aspects of the stimulus package that do not reflect Catholic social teaching. While the Church acknowledges the rightful role of the state in the life of society and the economy, there is also a concern for the principle of subsidiarity that becomes threatened with excessive government intervention. What is more, there are family planning provisions within the stimulus package that promote abortion and contraception, which clearly violate the inviolable life and dignity of the human person, which is the foundation of all Catholic social teaching.

The Church does not seek to take a position on every piece of legislation that passes through our various organs of government. To do so would blur the line that distinguishes the work of the Church and the work of the state. The Church does hold up the perennial values and principles of the Gospel and her magisterium that impact the moral life of society in political legislation. She also has the obligation to instruct the faithful on what constitutes authentic Catholic teaching and practice. These rights belong to her alone, not to private organizations who falsely claim to represent the Church.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Why the LCWR is Being Investigated

Note: This is a long post. Skip to the red Option 3 if you don't have time:

In his letter announcing a doctrinal review of the Leadership Conference for Women Religious, Cardinal William J. Levada makes reference to a 2001 meeting between LCWR officials and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. At that meeting, the officials were invited to report on the reception by LCWR congregations of Church teaching on the sacramental priesthood, Dominus Iesus and "the problem of homosexuality."

He then declares, “Given both the tenor and the doctrinal content of various addresses given at the annual assemblies of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the intervening years, this Dicastery can only conclude that the problems which had motivated its request in 2001 continue to be present.”

One address that has aroused particular concern and discussion was given at the LCWR 2007 annual assembly in Kansas City. The keynote that year was given by Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Laurie Brink and was titled "A Marginal Life: Pursuing Holiness in the 21st Century"(pdf). In her address, Sr. Laurie says that religious life stands at a moment of "indecision", being pushed and pulled toward numerous directions, and thus not moving.

She suggests religious are challenged toward:
· recognizing the various directions we as individuals and we as community are moving toward,

· evaluating which of these will foster our life and charism as women religious,and, finally,

· abandoning the other possibilities, sailing headlong into the direction we choose.

Sr. Laurie identifies four directions religious are being pushed or pulled and discusses the merits of each:
1. Death with Dignity and Grace
2. Acquiescence to Others’ Expectations
3. Sojourning in a New Land not yet Known
4. Reconciliation for the Sake of the Mission

Regarding the first, Sr. Laurie details the well-known signs of decline and says:
Faced with this scenario some communities have made valiant choices to die with dignity and grace, to put their house in order, to pass on their charism and to ritualize that who they have been will not continue into the future. They do not invite or accept new candidates. They recognize that they have served the Church well, and now leave room for a new movement of the Spirit. They accept that their congregations were called into being for a specific purpose, and they endeavored enthusiastically to accomplish that purpose. Shoring up the crumbling walls of the institution would never be the desire of their founders. They acknowledge their accomplishments, engage in appropriate mourning and rejoicing, prepare for burial and recognize that others will come along after them.

"Death is the default mode for many congregations in denial", she says, who are not actively "ritualizing" the death or making an appropriate burial which would recognize "that the sisters have served long and well." Instead they place:
an exorbitant focus on retirement and its financial needs, and a wholesale depression that manifests in apathy and individualism. These are the walking dead among us. And they don’t even know it.

Regarding 2 - "Acquiescence to Others' Expectations," Sr. Laurie give a rather snide title and description to the phenomenon of new orders which are flourishing, but admits nonetheless their success:
Not every congregation is giving up the ghost sort to speak. Some have attended to their reality and are making choices that a generation ago would have been anathema to their members. These groups are recognizing the changing atmosphere in the institutional Church, the reneging on the promises of Vatican II, and the seemingly conservative young adults interested in pursing a life of holiness through the profession of the evangelical counsels. They are taking seriously Pope John Paul II’s call to pursue holiness first above all else. They are putting on the habit, or continuing to wear the habit with zest. They are renewing pious practices such as adoration and the Rosary. They are returning to the classroom.

Some would critique that they are the nostalgic portrait of a time now passed. But they are flourishing. Young adults are finding in these communities a living image of their romantic view of Religious Life. They are entering. And they are staying.

In context, this option is clearly not recommended given the extremely condescending description of such congregations in the address. (You can read it beginning on page 13 of the pdf.)

Option 3, "Sojourning in a New Land not yet Known", I suspect, is the one most relevant to the concerns raised by Cardinal Levada - not simply because it presents an option for the continuation of religious life, but because it purports to be descriptive of the reality in certain congregations. I'll post it here in its entirety and leave it to your own reflection. I may post on option 4 later, but gotta run:
C. Sojourners in a New Land not yet Known

i. Biblical Foundation: Hagar, the Mother of Another Great Nation (Gen

The story of Hagar, at first read, is a sad tale. An Egyptian handmaid to a powerful wife of a powerful resident alien is offered to the husband, in order to produce an heir. Misinterpreting these actions as the possibility of release and elevation in position, Hagar flaunts her new status before Sarah. Bad move. Abraham chooses wife over sexual slave, allowing Sarah to do with her property as she wishes. Sarah sorely mistreats Hagar, who eventually runs away. As the story is told from the perspective of Israel, God intervenes and commands that Hagar return to her abuser. A shred of hope is given her. God will bless her son, who will become a founder of another great nation. She returns dutifully at the word of a foreign God not her own.

Later when Sarah spies Ishmael, the son of Hagar, playing with her son, Isaac, she again intercedes to Abraham. "Drive out that slave and her son! No son of that slave is going to share the inheritance with my son Isaac!" (Gen 21:9). Abraham is distressed—not because of Hagar—but because of his son. Again God promises this child, too, since he is an heir of Abraham, will be a great nation. Abraham sends the two off into the wilderness of Beersheva with only a skin of water and a bit of bread. When the water is gone, she places her son under a shrub and walks a distance away, for she cannot bear to watch him die. As luck would have it, God hears the child’s cry (not the mother’s?) and provides water in the desert. The text continues, “God was with the boy as he grew up” (Gen 21:17). But the story never says that God was with Hagar.

The narrative of Hagar is also a tale of paradox. Hagar may be a member of the household, but she is a slave, an Egyptian slave at that. She is property for the woman in power, Sarah, to abuse and to dispose of. She is sexually exploited by the man of power, Abraham. The God of Israel is not her God, and sees little need to protect or care for her. But Hagar is, nonetheless, paralleled with Abraham. God promises Abraham that he will be the father of a great nation (Gen 12), a similar promise God also makes to Hagar (Gen 21:18). Abraham sends for a wife from among his kin for his son Isaac (Gen 24:4). Hagar will find a wife among her own Egyptians for her son, Ishmael (Gen 21:21). Sarah needed her man to fulfill her wishes, pleading with Abraham twice to take care of that upstart. But Hagar has no such man, and no such limitation. When last seen, Hagar is leading her son through the desert, bereft of God’s guidance for her, with neither man nor family for support or protection. A seemingly vulnerable woman sojourning in an inhospitable land.

ii. Application

The dynamic option for Religious Life, which I am calling, Sojourning, is much more difficult to discuss, since it involves moving beyond the Church, even beyond Jesus. A sojourning congregation is no longer ecclesiastical. It has grown beyond the bounds of institutional religion. Its search for the Holy may have begun rooted in Jesus as the Christ, but deep reflection, study and prayer have opened it up to the spirit of the Holy in all of creation. Religious titles, institutional limitations, ecclesiastical authorities no longer fit this congregation, which in most respects is Post-Christian.

When religious communities embraced the spirit of renewal in the 1970s, they took seriously that the world was no longer the enemy, that a sense of ecumenism required encountering the holy “other,” and that the God of Jesus might well be the God of Moses and the God of Mohammed. The works of Thomas Merton encouraged an exploration of the nexus between Eastern and Western religious practices. The emergence of the women’s movement with is concomitant critique of religion invited women everywhere to use a hermeneutical lens of suspicion when reading the androcentric Scriptures and the texts of the Tradition. With a new lens, women also began to see the divine within nature, the value and importance of the cosmos, and that the emerging new cosmology encouraged their spirituality and fed their souls.

As one sister described it, “I was rooted in the story of Jesus, and it remains at my core, but I’ve also moved beyond Jesus.” The Jesus narrative is not the only or the most important narrative for these women. They still hold up and reverence the values of the Gospel, but they also recognize that these same values are not solely the property of Christianity. Buddhism, Native American spirituality, Judaism, Islam and others hold similar tenets for right behavior within the community, right relationship with the earth and right relationship with the Divine. With these insights come a shattering or freeing realization—depending on where you stand. Jesus is not the only son of God. Salvation is not limited to Christians. Wisdom is found in the traditions of the Church as well as beyond it.

Sojourners have left the religious home of their fathers and mothers and are traveling in a foreign land, mapping their way as they go. They are courageous women among us. And very well may provide a glimpse into the new thing that God is bringing about in our midst. Who’s to say that the movement beyond Christ is not, in reality, a movement into the very heart of God? A movement the ecclesiastical system would not recognize. A wholly new way of being holy that is integrative, non-dominating, and inclusive. But a whole new way that is also not Catholic Religious Life. The Benedictine Women of Madison are the most current example I can name. Their commitment to ecumenism lead them beyond the exclusivity of the Catholic Church into a new inclusivity, where all manner of seeking God is welcomed. They are certainly religious women, but they are no longer women religious as it is defined by the Roman Catholic Church. They choose as a congregation to step outside the Church in order to step into a greater sense of holiness. Theirs was a choice of integrity, insight and courage.

Like Hagar wandering the wilderness with neither guide nor Israel’s God, the congregations that choose the way of the sojourner may leave the land of religious familiarity, but they will also become a great nation, for women and men are hungering for their leadership, insights and inspiration.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Levada Orders Separate Review of LCWR

(Read this new update after the post below - Why the LCWR is Being Investigated)

NCR reports today that Cardinal William Levada has ordered a doctrinal review of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. The review is separate from the previously announced Apostolic Visitation of U.S. Women Religious.

The new review will be conducted by Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo, Ohio. According to NCR, leaders of the LCWR had asked for a meeting with Levada before a review of their organization was announced publicly. That meeting was set for April 22, but the announcement has apparently been advanced by NCR's reception of a copy of Levada's letter ordering the review.

NCR does not print the letter, but summarizes CDF's concerns:

The Vatican assessment has become necessary, according to Levada, because at the 2001 meeting between the women’s leadership conference and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which took place in Rome, the women were invited “to report on the initiatives taken or planned” to promote the reception of three areas of Vatican doctrinal concern: the 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis, the 2000 declaration Dominus Jesus from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and “the problem of homosexuality.”

Ordinatio sacerdotalis, Latin for “On the Ordination to the Priesthood,” was a Vatican document that reasserted that Catholic ordination to the priesthood is reserved for men alone and that the church “has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women.”

Dominus Jesus was a declaration that, in part, insisted that non-Catholic Christians are “in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the church, have the fullness of the means of salvation” and that non-Catholic Christian communities suffer “defects.” It was viewed at the time by some Catholic theologians and leaders of other religions as a major setback in interreligious dialogue.

In a 1986 letter written by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, to the world’s bishops, he wrote: “Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.”

Regarding the investigation of the women’s leadership conference, Levada informed conference leaders: “Given both the tenor and the doctrinal content of various addresses given at the annual assemblies of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the intervening years, this Dicastery can only conclude that the problems which had motivated its request in 2001 continue to be present.”

NCR is very slow today for some reason, but their entire report is here.

Near KC? - Find Out Why Green Sex is Best!

NaraFrom the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph Young Adult Office:

America is a country going "green". We recognize the consequences of injecting harmful chemicals into our food, our water, and our air -- and yet, there is an unbelievable disconnect! Millions of women in America unknowingly put toxic chemicals in their bodies every day by taking "the pill" or other contraceptives.

Join Dr. Janet Smith at Nara for appetizers, cocktails and straight talk on the harmful effects of chemical contraceptives. She'll address the alarming figures on how much has been paid out by Johnson & Johnson and other pharmaceutical companies to women harmed by "the patch". Dr. Smith will also explain why women who use chemical contraceptives are attracted to different men than whom they would naturally choose and why excess estrogen is so harmful to the environment. This is important information for women and men -- and it very well could change your life!

Doors open at 6 PM for a Cocktail Hour (cash bar) and Appetizers on us!

- Mini silver dollar sandwiches
- Chicken drummets in spicy mango bbq sauce
- Shichimi spiced roasted red pepper hummus with wonton chips
- Assorted vegetable tray with Nara wasabi ranch dip
- Edamame with sea salt

Dr. Smith's talk starts at 7 PM and the cost is only $5!

Nara Event Space
1617 Main Street
Kansas City, MO [map]

+ + +

City on a Hill Young Adult Ministry
Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph
816.756.1858 x 552

Janet Smith will also be speaking at this weekend's Gospel of Life Convention. Read about it here and sign up for the Convention here.