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    AmP Countdown: Time left to demand that Congress make health care reform pro-life: 2009-11-07 18:00:00 GMT-05:00


    Monday, January 04, 2010

    Politics: Democrats may skip procedures to push through health care legislation


    I'm sure we're all very busy as we jump back into work and school this week.

    Things are moving, however, on the health care front, and we should keep up to speed.

    The latest from Steve Ertelt at LifeNews:
    Congressional Democrats are seriously examining the possibility of skipping the formal conference committee process in an attempt to railroad the pro-abortion health care bill through the House and Senate. Bypassing the normal process may allow them to skip procedural votes that could hold up or kill the bill.
    With both chambers approving different bills -- a House version doesn't fund abortions while a Senate version does -- Democrats have to create a bill that both chambers can approve and send to President Barack Obama.
    Typically a formal conference committee with members from both chambers and both parties formally meet to resolve the differences.
    Instead, Democrats may work informally to craft a final bill and Democratic aides tell the New Republican that is "almost certain" to happen.
    Michelle Malkin points out that in 2006, when political fortunes were reversed, Democrats fiercely opposed a technique they now are attempting to take advantage of themselves.

    Meanwhile, we cannot forget the shame of Catholic politicians pushing for this anti-life legislation. Deal Hudson is undertaking the thankless task of naming the names and keeping track of where politicians stand on this critical issue.

    In other news, look for my long-awaited big news within the next 24 hours....

    Thanks for your patience - I hope it will be rewarded!

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    Friday, November 13, 2009

    Unwritten story: New VA & NJ governors are strong Catholics

    On January 19th 2009 the new governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, will be sworn-in to office at 11:30 AM.

    But earlier that day, at 9:00 AM, he will attend a Mass celebrated by Archbishop John Myers at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

    Chris Christie, you see, is a practicing pro-life, pro-family Catholic. I wrote in my posts leading up to the November elections as much

    He opposes gay marriage and wants to allow the people of his state to vote on it, while on the other side, the Democrat Legislature is trying to legalize gay marriage during the upcoming lameduck session.

    Christie is also pro-life, and didn't hide that fact during the race. Like many pro-life politicians, he is forced to take an incremental approach (such as parental notification, a 24-hour waiting period and a ban on partial-birth abortions), but at least he is sincerely trying.

    Jon Corzine, Christie's opponent in the race, attached him for his pro-life, pro-family positions.

    The other new governor to be sworn in early next year is Bob McDonnell, equally pro-life and pro-family (from what I've heard). McDonnell was ruthlessly and relentlessly attacked for his pro-life, pro-family positions, as was his attorney general candidate friend, Ken Cuccinelli (who also won, despite the Washington Post calling him a "bigot" the weekend before the election).

    Remembering off the top of my head, the Washington Post alone published something like 40 or 50 individual stories about McDonnell's thesis in school, where, among other things, McDonnell expressed conservative and/or "Catholic" perspectives on the role of women in the work place, the effects of abortion and contraception on society, etc. 

    I'm a bit fuzzy on all the details - and readers are welcome (as always) to correct them in the comment box - but the basic point is this: two Catholic candidates won elections this year to state-wide office without compromising their pro-life, pro-family principles. 

    The world didn't end, and once they are in office, they won't conduct witch hunts against those who disagree with them on these issues - but they will use their office to promote these central values, which transcend any one religion or political party. Catholics aren't pro-life and pro-family, after all, only because the Church tells them to be so, but rather, they are encouraged to hold true to these commonsense principles because of the witness and encouragement of their Catholic faith.

    You read a lot, and heard a lot about how dangerous were Christie and McDonnell's "Catholic" beliefs during the election, but you won't hear much about these "dangers" now, because in the meantime, the people of Virginia and New Jersey chose them for elected office.

    I think this reality scares some pro-abortion, anti-marriage individuals. But it should encourage us.

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    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    Outrageous: Rep. Lynn Woolsey says IRS should scrutinize bishops

    My new least favorite person - Rep. Lynn Woolsey writes in Politico:
    "I expect political hardball on any legislation as important as the health care bill. I just didn’t expect it from the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

    Who elected them to Congress?

    The role the bishops played in the pushing the Stupak amendment, which unfairly restricts access for low-income women to insurance coverage for abortions, was more than mere advocacy.

    They seemed to dictate the finer points of the amendment, and managed to bully members of Congress to vote for added restrictions on a perfectly legal surgical procedure.

    And this political effort was subsidized by taxpayers, since the Council enjoys tax-exempt status.

    When I visit churches in my district, we are very careful to keep everything “non-political” to protect their tax-exempt status.

    The IRS is less restrictive about church involvement in efforts to influence legislation than it is about involvement in campaigns and elections.

    Given the political behavior of USCCB in this case, maybe it shouldn’t be."
    Rory Cooper at the Heritage Foundation has a very good response to Woolsey.

    I wonder how Catholics who are represented by Woolsey feel about her attacking their Church?

    Of course, Representative Woolsey is not the first Democrat to object to legislative advocacy by the clergy. Here is another:
    "It is an attempt to establish a theocracy to take charge of our politics and our legislation. It is an attempt to make the legislative power of this country subordinate to the church. It is not only to unite Church and State, but it is to put the State in subordination to the dictates of the church."
    That was Senator Stephen A. Douglas (D., Ill.), on March 14, 1854. He was talking about an anti-slavery petition.

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    Tuesday, November 03, 2009

    Huh? Bishop who drafted USCCB voting guide records robo-call in support of pro-abortion, anti-marriage politician

    This is complicated, and I'm confused myself - so bear with me.

    Diocese of Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio chaired the US Bishops committee which drafted the Catholic voting guide "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship." I have criticisms of that document, but the important point here is Bishop DiMarzio should know a great deal about Catholic involvement in US politics.

    He's done many things right. Earlier this year, he joined the long list of bishops criticizing Notre Dame for inviting President Obama.

    Before that, during the Presidential election cycle, he wrote an editorial in the New York Times explaining more accurately the standards Catholics ought to have when deliberating their vote.

    Before that, in 2006, he wrapped the knuckles of 55 pro-choice Catholic Democrats when they asked for "room to disagree" with Church teaching on the intrinsic evil of abortion.

    ... and now this story surfaces from Catholic Culture's news briefs:

    Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn has recorded a telephone call praising Assemblyman Vito Lopez, a state lawmaker who helped derail a bill that would have lifted the statute of limitations in clergy sex-abuse cases. Earlier this year, Assemblyman Lopez sponsored, and voted in favor of, a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in New York. In 2008-- as in previous elections-- Assemblyman Lopez was endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice New York PAC.

    The recording is being phoned to every registered voter in a city council district where the candidate supported by Assemblyman Lopez is in the midst of a close election battle.

    Why isn't this story getting much play in the press? Well, for one thing, I would bet, because Bishop DiMarzio is supporting a liberal Democrat. Can you imagine the outcry that would arise if Bishop Loverde of the Diocese of Arlington recorded calls to support Catholic Republican candidate for governor Bob McDonnell?! The Washington Post would have that story on the front page.

    And, even if Bishop DiMarzio is technically staying clear of various laws which attempt to inhibit clericis from getting involved in particular races for particular candidates, the facts of this case make it even less well-advised for Bishop DiMarzio to get involved, because he appears to be giving a favor in exchange for a favor received:

    "[the call] praised Mr. Lopez’s legislative service to the Catholic Church this summer. Mr. Lopez played a key role in defeating a bill that would have let adults file suit over childhood sexual abuse that may have occurred long ago."
    Paul Moses at Commonweal alerts us to another unsavory association:
    Bishop DiMarzio also appears in a full-page, color ad for the re-election of the resolutely pro-choice Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It ran in the diocesan newspaper, which in the past had as a matter of policy rejected all political advertisements so as to avoid taking ads from pro-choice politicians. The bishop and mayor are pictured in Yankee Stadium, the bishop in a Yankees hat and the mayor in a Yankees warm-up jacket. It says: “MIKE BLOOMBERG: PROTECTING NYC’S CATHOLIC SCHOOLS. FIGHTING FOR US.”
    Yikes, that's just not cool either. And whatever Bishop DiMarzio's spokesman wants to say about this being okay because "abortion is not an issue in the New York mayoral race", Bishop DiMarzio still has some say about how his photograhic likeness is used. He could have withheld permission to use the photograph.

    So is this what forming consciences for faithful citizenship is supposed to look like for bishops?!

    What do you think?

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    Monday, November 02, 2009

    On the radar: Elections on Tuesday, Health Care on Thu/Fri

    This is going to be an interesting week, politically.

    On Tuesday there will be several ballots Catholics should care about:
    • Doug Hoffman in NY's 23rd district - who I've been rooting for
    • A pro-marriage amendment in Maine - which we should support
    • Bob McDonnell for Virginia governor, and Ken Cuccinelli for Virginia attorney general - both faithful Catholics, both worthy of your support
    • Chris Christie, pro-life and pro-family Catholic trying to unseat the Democrat incumbent governor Jon Corzine in New Jersey - who is running a very negative campaign

    On Thursday or Friday - the big one:

    The Tuesday elections look very good for pro-life, pro-family causes, but Marriage in Maine is going to be down to the wire (so please focus your efforts there!).

    The Thursday or Friday vote on Health Care looks very bad right now, so it's imperative that Catholics mobilize and prevent this fatally flawed legislation from passing!

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    Monday, October 26, 2009

    Stupidity: Rep. Kennedy attacks the Church, and Bishop Tobin takes him to task

    Patrick Joseph Kennedy II, a democrat US House representative from Rhode Island and the son of the late Edward Kennedy, viciously smeared the Church in an interview with CNSNews.com (updated - fixed):



    Transcript of Kennedy's comments:
    “I can’t understand for the life of me how the Catholic Church could be against the biggest social justice issue of our time, where the very dignity of the human person is being respected by the fact that we’re caring and giving health care to the human person - that right now we have 50 million people who are uninsured,” Kennedy told CNSNews.com. “You mean to tell me the Catholic Church is going to be denying those people life-saving health care? I thought they were pro-life?” said Kennedy. “If the church is pro-life, then they ought to be for health care reform because it’s going to provide health care that are going to keep people alive. So this is an absolute red herring and I don’t think that it does anything but to fan the flames of dissent and discord and I don’t think it’s productive at all.”
    Local Bishop Thomas Tobin wasn't about to let Kennedy get away with it, responding:
    “Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s statement about the Catholic Church’s position on health care reform is irresponsible and ignorant of the facts. But the Congressman is correct in stating that “he can’t understand.” He got that part right.

    As I wrote to Congressman Kennedy and other members of the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation recently, the Bishops of the United States are indeed in favor of comprehensive health care reform and have been for many years. But we are adamantly opposed to health care legislation that threatens the life of unborn children, requires taxpayers to pay for abortion, rations health care, or compromises the conscience of individuals.

    Congressman Kennedy continues to be a disappointment to the Catholic Church and to the citizens of the State of Rhode Island. I believe the Congressman owes us an apology for his irresponsible comments. It is my fervent hope and prayer that he will find a way to provide more effective and morally responsible leadership for our state.”
    "Irresponsible. Ignorant. A Disappointment. Owes us an apology."

    ... now that's taking the gloves off language. As Bishop Tobin is justified in using. Kennedy completely deserved this strong rebuke, because of his pro-abortion record, and because of his recent comments which are squarely against the facts, and unabashedly anti-Catholic.

    Action items - updated:
    • Contact Rep. Kennedy (through his press secretary kerrie.bennett@mail.house.gov) and demand he apologize to Catholics for his ignorant and hateful comments
    • Contact Bishop Tobin (through his communications director - kdavis@dioceseofprovidence.org) and thank him for standing up for Catholics, and for the truth.

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    Wednesday, October 14, 2009

    4 things for Catholics to support before November 4th

    As a Catholic active in politics, there are four races I'm following in the lead up to this November 4th.

    If you have money or resources to help any of these races, they definitely deserve your attention!
    • In Virginia, Catholic pro-life candidate for Governor Bob McDonnell is running against pro-choice Democrat Creigh Deeds. McDonnell is slightly ahead but needs help across the finish line. Deeds has gone after McDonnell aggressively for McDonnell's Catholic viewpoints on current issues.
    • In New Jersey, Catholic pro-life candidate for Governor Chris Christie is running against pro-choice Democrat incumbent Jon Corzine. Christie is ahead but Corzine has been running a very mean, 100% negative campaign which is doing damage to Christie, including attacking his pro-life positions.
    • In Maine, traditional marriage is on the ballot. StandForMarriageMaine is doing great work side-by-side with the bishop in Maine, despite advertisements from the other side which try to deceive Catholics, and the other side committing acts of vandalism.
    • Finally, in New York's 23rd congressional district, Doug Hoffman is the only pro-life candidate in a race which includes a democrat and an extremely liberal, pro-abortion, pro-homosexual marriage republican. It's an important race for the national scene, for several reasons.
    If Catholics across the country support these individuals and causes, we can have something significant to celebrate and be proud about in three short weeks! Thanks so much for spreading the word.

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    Wednesday, September 23, 2009

    List: *44* Bishops against Obamacare (and counting!)

    From time to time AmP has compiled (with the help of readers like you) summaries of statements by the American heirarchy on important current issues.

    There is now a growing list of bishops across the United States who have preached or written about their prudential opposition to the current health care proposal in Congress.

    I will update this post as time goes on....
    1. Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, PA
    2. and Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, NY
    3. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, CO
    4. Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, CO
    5. Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, NY
    6. Bishop Walker Nickless of Sioux City, IA
    7. Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, ND
    8. Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, IA
    9. Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, KS
    10. and Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, MO
    11. Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul-Minneapolis, MN
    12. Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington, VA
    13. Bishop Robert Guglielmone of Charleston, SC
    14. Bishop Richard Lennon of Cleveland, OH (PDF)
    15. Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte, NC
    16. and Bishop Michael Burbidge of Raleigh, NC
    17. Bishop Jerome Listecki of La Crosse, WI (PDF)
    18. Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City, SD (PDF)
    19. Bishop Donald Trautman of Eire, PA (PDF)
    20. Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh, PA
    21. Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, CT
    22. Bishop Thomas Doran of Rockford, IL
    23. Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, NJ (part II here)
    24. Bishop Anthony Taylor of Little Rock, AR
    25. Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, WI
    26. Bishop Paul Coakley of Salina, KS
    27. Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio, TX
    28. and Bishop Oscar Cantu of San Antonio, TX
    29. Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, NE
    30. Bishop Alex Sample of Marquette, MI
    31. Bishop Victor Galeone of St. Augustine, FL
    32. Bishop David Choby of Nashville, TN
    33. Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernardino, CA
    34. Bishop Peter Sartain of Joliet, IL
    35. Daniel Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, TX
    36. Francis Cardinal George of Chicago, IL
    37. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Lousville, KY
    38. Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas, TX
    39. Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of Baltimore, MD (PDF)
    40. Bishop Joseph Galente of Camden, NJ
    41. and Bishop John Smith of Trenton, NJ
    42. Bishop Jerome Listecki of La Crosse, WI (PDF)
    43. Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando, FL
    44. Bishop James Johnson of Springfield - Cape Girardeau

    Please send me tips at "thomas [at] americanpapist.com". Thank you!

    You may also consider respectfully asking your bishop to preach or write about health care if he has not already done so. This is an important issue and we ought to hear what our pastors have to say about it!

    [photo credit - CNSNews.com]

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    Wednesday, September 16, 2009

    Important: As Acorn gets Axed, it's time to toss CCHD in the fire too

    ACORN, the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now, is in the news a lot these days (and much more now that the mainstream media outside of Fox News has decided they can't ignore the story anymore).

    Most recently, the Senate chose to de-fund 169 million dollars earmarked for ACORN by a vote of 83-7 (I'd like to see the seven names that still supported this corrupt organization).

    ACORN has long been in the inside track of democrat community activism, and until recently was even going to play a role in the 2010 census - a process which is often used for political expediency by activist organizations like ACORN, whose employees have already been convicted multiple times for registering dead people and cartoon characters to vote in elections. Seriously.

    Back in October and November (twice) of last year I did a series of posts pointing out that our own Catholic Campaign for Human Development (which operates out of the US Bishops' office) funnelled Catholic contributions to ACORN.

    That's right, money given by Catholics in the pew has been going to an organization that was caught on film telling pimps in New York City how to hide money from loan sharks by burying it in the backyard before they go apply for a government mortgage for their home under an assumed name. Seriously.

    From everything I've heard and read so far, CCHD is just bad news. The fact that it funded ACORN for so many years (and continues to fund highly-questionable organizations) simply proves the leadership of CCHD is completely at-odds with responsible Catholic social activity.

    Mary Ann Kreitzer has an extended article on CCHD's misdeeds published at Spero News. She also writes about "thirteen news stories designed to tear back the curtain on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), or as I call it, Catholic Cash Helping Democrats."

    Papists, money is tight these days. With our government (finally) de-funding the state-sponsored corruption at ACORN, we Catholics need to de-fund the Catholic-sponsored corruption at the CCHD.

    What can we do?

    Every year around Thanksgiving time there is a second collection taken for CCHD at Masses in the United States. Here's what I'd like to do:
    1. In the next weeks I will search for the dioceses that have chosen to opt out of this second collection for CCHD (you can help me by emailing me if you know this has happened).
    2. I'd will publish these dioceses here on AmP, and keep the list updated.
    3. Then, I'd encourage you to (respectfully) write your bishop (if his diocese is not on the list) and ask that he also instruct his parishes to opt out of this second collection.
    4. Put that extra money you would have given to CCHD in the collection basket of your own parish, where it will do some actual good.

    If an organization has proven to be a bad steward, the Lord will find new stewards. We can help.

    update - not to get distracted, but an AmP reader writes in:

    Of the 7 senators who voted against pulling funding from ACORN:
    - 1 is Baptist
    - 1 is Episcopalian
    - 1 is Jewish
    - 4 are Roman Catholic
    Wonderful.

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    Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    What is the USCCB doing on Health Care?

    Russell Shaw tries to figure out their strategy - if they have one:
    Does the bishops' conference know something about health care and abortion that the rest of us don't? Otherwise it's difficult to say what to make of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' response to President Obama's speech to Congress last week. Even as the rest of the prolife community was continuing its criticism of abortion coverage in the plan, USCCB issued a news release welcoming Obama's claim that publicly funded abortion won't be part of it.

    ... It's hard to say exactly what that means, but it could mean the bishops won't fight very hard to keep abortion out of the health care plan provided it includes some sort of conscience clause they can live with. It may also mean that the bishops have received private assurances from the White House that if they play ball on health care, that's what they'll get. If this is what's going on, however, it's a risky game at best.
    My advice: get your concession in writing.

    Because, by my count, the promises made by Obama, his campaign and his administration to Catholics have been fulfilled precisely zero times. Conscience clauses? Abortion reduction? Supporting traditional marriage?

    Name me one example.

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    Monday, September 14, 2009

    What I'm reading today in Catholic issues and Politics

    Dan Gilgoff's USNEWS & World Report blog is a great place to keep up on news relating to religion and US politics, as I've written before.

    There's a little kerfuffle today about Kathleen Sebelius appearing on ABC's This Week over the weekend and repeating Obama's promises about abortion funding not being in his health care reform.

    Quick take: nothing to see here. The status quo hasn't changed - the current health care reform will fund abortion.

    Gilgoff also has an interview with the most conservative member of Obama's faith council, who won't even rule out resigning because he feels he's so ineffective there.

    (As an aside, Americans United for Life president Charmaine Yoest is being honored with a meeting attended by "Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes and White House Director for Public Liaison Tina Tchen, both of whom are strong abortion advocates" - strong abortion advocates, you know, like everyone in Obama's administration.)

    At the end of this week I'll be attending the annual Values Voter summit, which Gilgoff describes this way:
    Sure, the 2012 election is still a ways off, but the Christian right is about to begin flexing its muscle in the race, with a presidential straw poll scheduled for next week's big Values Voter Summit.

    Spearheaded by Family Research Council Action, the summit has become the key annual get-together for conservative Christian activists. After splintering among a handful of candidates in the 2008 Republican primaries, from Mike Huckabee to Mitt Romney to Rudy Giuliani (that's right—Pat Robertson endorsed him) , some Christian right leaders are eager to consolidate movement support behind a single candidate in 2012.
    Dan also has a poll for his readers, asking them which candidate they would support.

    There is some chance that former congressman (Catholic) Rick Santorum will run for President in 2012.

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    Tuesday, September 01, 2009

    In DC, Archbishop Wuerl gets off the same-sex marriage fence

    (Not to say he was ever on the fence about the issue - but hey, it made you click the headline, didn't it?)

    In all seriousness, Archbishop Donald Wuerl is definitely off the bench and in the fight for traditional marriage now.

    From the Washington Post:
    Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl is plunging the Catholic Church deeper into the battle over legalizing same-sex marriage in the District, a tactic that could complicate the D.C. Council's efforts to quickly take up the matter this fall.

    Wuerl sent a letter to 300 local Catholic priests Tuesday reminding them about the church's opposition to same-sex marriage, and he launched a round of media interviews designed to bolster the church's presence in the debate.

    In his efforts to mobilize Catholics, Wuerl joins a group of Baptist, predominantly African American, preachers in stepping up the pressure on D.C. officials to allow a public vote on whether same-sex marriage should be legalized.
    ... 
    Wuerl launched the media offensive on the same day that eight opponents of same-sex marriage, including {non-Catholic} Bishop Harry Jackson, filed a request with the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics to hold a initiative next year defining marriage as being between a man and a woman.
    The proposed initiative simply states: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in the District of Columbia." 
    ... 
    In a letter supporting the proposed initiative, the D.C. Catholic Conference noted that there are 580,000 Catholics living in the Washington metropolitan area.
    "It is ironic that at the same time the city is asking for voting representation in the U.S. Congress, its leaders are denying residents the opportunity to participate in the Democratic process for an issue with widespread implications for children and families," Ronald Jackson, executive director of the D.C. Catholic Conference, said in a statement. 
    Good to have you in the game, Archbishop. Now let's get behind him.

    Learn more about Catholic teaching and marriage at www.MarriageMattersDC.org, an initiative of the Archdiocese of Washington to promote a deeper understanding of marriage and its contribution to society.

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    Saturday, August 22, 2009

    So much for conscience clauses for Catholics in medicine

    President Obama has promised Catholics, on multiple occasions, a "robust conscience clause."

    The fact that we need one is evident when you read about examples like this one, where a pro-life nurse forced to participate in an abortion was told she has no legal rights.

    Now read the 1,000+ pages of the health care bill in Congress that President Obama supports, and find me a "robust conscience clause."
    I'll save you the days of work - it isn't in there. So much for that.

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    Tuesday, July 14, 2009

    Taxdollar-paid abortions are too much for Winters, as they should be

    I usually disagree (strongly) with Michael Sean Winters over at America magazine.

    Today however, he got an issue (mostly) correct. 

    As background, yesterday I laid out very clearly how both the House and Senate versions of Obama's health care bill will allow federal taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions, and how Democrats are trying to hide this fact from the general public.

    Three more important points to realize:
    1. If left unchanged, this legislation would bring about the biggest expansion in abortion access since Roe v. Wade. The stats clearly show that whenever federal funds are made available for abortions, more abortions happen. It makes Obama's promise to reduce the number of abortions meaningless.
    2. A majority of Americans oppose the idea of making all Americans (including those who oppose abortions) pay for procedure. This is an unpopular, left-wing agenda position that the Democrats are sticking to right down the line.
    3. Democrats have thwarted several attempts by Republicans to include a clause saying abortions are to be excluded from the covered procedures. The Democrats, in other words, have had many chances to fix this and have categorically chosen to keep abortions under the umbrella of federal funding.
    Well, all of the above is too much for Michael Sean Winters, who writes:
    "... To be clear: I have never voted for a Republican in my life. My mother told me my right hand would wither and fall to the ground if I did. But, if the President or my representatives in Congress support federal funding for abortion in any way, shape or form, I will never vote for them again and I might risk my right hand in the next election by voting for their opponent.

    So, call your Senators and Representatives. Call the White House. Many of us pro-life Democrats have given the President the benefit of the doubt on the abortion issue because of his repeated commitment to trying to lower the abortion rate, a commitment he reiterated to Pope Benedict XVI last week. All the good will he has earned among Catholic swing voters, and all the arguments on his behalf progressive Catholics have mounted, all could be swept away if abortion is part of a federal option in health care. Politics is the art of compromise, but on this point, there can be none."
    I could use this as a selfish opportunity to point out that, on multiple occasions, I have exactly predicted that this would happen: that Obama and the Democrat leaders in congress are more chained to the liberal agenda (which necessarily includes unlimited access to abortion, at least according to the current model of Democrat preferment) than they are concerned about promoting an authentic culture of life. 

    But I don't care about being right. I care about babies and my tax dollars being spent to kill them, and more of them dying because my tax dollars are available to make that killing less of a hassle.

    So, I readily join Michael Sean Winters in drawing this line in the sand. May it be the first of many lines drawn closer and closer to the minimum standards the Gospel of Life calls us to boldly make.

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    Wednesday, May 27, 2009

    Sotomayor, sixth Catholic justice, nominated by Obama to Supreme Court

    Consider this an open thread.

    There are many, many links to follow on the Sotomayer announcement, but what is most interesting to me (and fellow papists), is her religious affiliation:
    Judge Sonia Sotomayor has much to distinguish her, but one element of her biography stands out in the world of those interested in religion and the public square: she is Catholic, and, if approved as a Supreme Court justice, she will be the sixth Catholic on the nine-member court. That is a remarkable accomplishment for American Catholics, who make up 23 percent of the nation's population, and will now potentially hold 67 percent of the high court's seats. Two of the justices are Jewish; the resignation of Justice David Souter, who is an Episcopalian, will leave, amazingly given the history of this nation, just one Protestant on the Supreme Court, 89-year-old Justice John Paul Stevens. (Michael Paulson at the Boston Globe)
    I'll refrain from further comment at this point, but it would be unfair to deny the opportunity for AmP readers to weigh-in. So have at it.

    As an important note, pro-life organizations are quickly responding to the nomination. Dr. Charmaine Yoest, President & CEO of Americans United for Life, says:
    “A vote to confirm Judge Sotomayor as the next Supreme Court Justice is a vote to strip Americans of the ability to choose for themselves how to regulate abortion. Our recent polling data speaks to this point of judicial activism and as a woman, I don't believe she 'represents' American women.”
    Related: Carl Anderson, head of the Knights of Columbus, has a compelling op-ed today; "Golden Opportunity to Move Beyond the Legacy of Roe v. Wade" over at their news blog Headline Bistro.

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    Wednesday, May 13, 2009

    Text: Letter of Catholic leaders to Obama over anti-Catholic Harry Knox

    Here is the text of the letter signed by 20 catholic leaders (including myself, and probably by the time of publication, many more) sent to Obama over the outrageous appointment of anti-Catholic bigot Harry Knox to the President's Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships:
    On April 6, you named Harry Knox to your Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. You claim to have created this Council, among other things, to “bring everyone together – from both the secular and faith-based communities.”

    Harry Knox is the hate-filled antithesis of this noble objective. Knox is a virulent anti-Catholic bigot, and has made numerous vile and dishonest attacks against the Church and the Holy Father. He has no business on any Council having to do with faith or religion.

    We do not know if you or members of your Administration were aware of Knox’s deplorable, abusive attitude towards the Church and Pope Benedict XVI when you named him to the Council. We assume you were not. But since then, there have been numerous press reports on Knox’s loathsome, and clearly bigoted rhetoric, so there no longer is any excuse for your failure to act. We can remain silent no longer.

    As Catholics, we call on you to remove Mr. Knox from his position and to formally disassociate yourself from his militant anti-Catholicism. Failure to do so will result in the tainting of your Faith-Based Council—and indeed, your entire administration—as anti-Catholic. We urge you to give this matter your immediate consideration.
    I'll try to keep track of its reception.

    update - I forgot to mention, I believe this above letter was combined with a second page excerpting some of Knox's most offensive quotes. It's easy to find them on the internet as well.

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    Saturday, May 09, 2009

    Text: Archbishop Burke's Keynote Address on the teachings of the Catholic Church

    Life Site News has the full text of Archbishop Burke's keynote address delivered yesterday at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. As I said yesterday: "I think Abp. Burke has provided Catholics in America with a comprehensive manifesto for action in the coming year. I think his speech will have wide, beneficial consequences, or at least I pray that it does." I think it's required reading for Catholics in America.

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    Thursday, April 02, 2009

    Is Sebelius banned from receiving communion in DC?

    So is Sebelius banned from Communion in DC, or not?

    Her hometown Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City has already said last year that she should refrain from presenting herself for Communion.

    Julia Duin in the Washington Times on Tuesday the 24th: "A spokesman for Archbishop Wuerl said church officials in Washington would act in accordance with the admonition from Kansas City. A church official in Washington said the admonition does not prohibit priests from serving Mrs. Sebelius if she does present herself, but declined to speculate on what would happen in that event."

    Deal Hudson mentions: "Joelle Santolla, spokeswoman for the Arlington Diocese, announced that Bishop Paul Loverde would expect the same while she was in Northern Virginia." Hudson adds:

    "The ramifications are enormous: For example, if Sean Cardinal O'Malley of Boston stated publicly that Sen. John Kerry was in violation of Canon 915, he would not have been able to receive communion at Pope Benedict XVI's Mass in Washington, D.C., a year ago. Rep. Nancy Pelosi would not have been able to celebrate her elevation to speaker of the House with a special Mass at Trinity College, if Archbishop Neiderhauer had found her wanting according to the standard of Canon 915."

    Two Washington, D.C.-area Catholic bishops have instructed Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, D-Kan., President Barack Obama’s pick to Be Secretary Of Health and Human Services, to refrain from receiving Holy Communion on account of her stances on human-life issues such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research.

    With a nod to David Gibson, who says the reality of this decision "seems to be a good deal less than is being advertised", here is what I think is safe to say:
    • Kathleen Sebelius was told last year by her home Archbishop to cease presenting herself for Communion (to my knowledge, she has not done so since in her home archdiocese)
    • Archbishop Wuerl of DC and Bishop Loverde of Arlington have made it clear that she ought not to present herself for Communion in their(arch) dioceses either (we don't know if this was done through a personal communication, or simply by going on the public record)

    Two primary questions remain:

    • If Sebelius does present herself, what ought the (extra- or ordinary) minister do in that situation, if he or she is aware that Sebelius has been told not to present herself?
    • Will Archbishop Wuerl (and Bishop Loverde) honor the public declarations of other home bishops when it comes to the suitability of politicians approaching the Eucharist in DC/VA?

    For now, I think that is where we are at. Barring unforeseen circumstance, Kathleen Sebellius will soon be approved as the new Head of U.S. Health and Human Services, which means her moving to the region.

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    WaPo Op-Ed: Does Obama risk losing Catholics?

    Finally some mainstream awareness that Obama is no friend of the Catholic Church, despite what he says:

    [During the November election,] a number of Catholic thinkers set out a "pro-life, pro-Obama" position -- disagreeing with Obama's pro-choice views but trusting in his moderate instincts and conciliatory temperament.

    So far, Obama has done little to justify this faith. His initial actions on life issues -- funding overseas abortion providers, removing restrictions from federally funded medical experimentation on human embryos, revisiting conscience protections for pro-life health-care professionals -- have ranged from conventional to radical. And this may be one reason Obama's support among Catholics has eroded

    ... Catholics are having second thoughts, but it could get much worse. If the president and Congress are not careful on several issues, these concerns could open a major rift between the Catholic Church and the Democratic Party.

    ... Obama's Catholic supporters would feel betrayed and discredited -- and rightly so. The Catholic hierarchy and Catholic health professionals would feel assaulted by the president -- and they would be correct. And President Obama would not need to worry about future invitations from Notre Dame. - Michael Gerson in The Washington Post

    Mind you - there's another alternative: Obama and the democrats could seriously revisit their commitment to abortion "rights."

    In the meantime, the Church is not backing down. And she has a good history of not blinking.

    Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal details the fine work of CatholicVote.com (to which I contributed during the election as a blogger) and other online innitiatives promoting a culture of life online.

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    Thursday, March 12, 2009

    Roundup: MSM coverage of the Connecticut Rally

    Closing down shop for the day, but before I head out the door:

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    Sunday, March 08, 2009

    Catholics Against Sebelius website launched

    Friday, March 06, 2009

    Exclusive: Newt Gingrich conversion details; plans release of JP2 documentary

    Earlier this week the New York Times dropped the news that Newt Gingrich will soon become Catholic (which I had rumored before), and I blogged about it.
    I can now add some more details. Mr. Gingrich has regularly been seen attending Mass with his wife at the National Shrine here in Washington DC (including once by yours truly). He'll be entering the Church on Sunday, March 29th in DC.
    Another interesting tidbit: Newt and his wife Callista are in the process of completing a documentary about Pope John Paul II’s pilgrimage to Poland in 1979 entitled "Nine Days That Changed The World":
    Nine Days is meant to inspire and educate those who view it to understand the nature of freedom, to live in the truth, and to recognize that there is evil in the world that, with God’s help, must and can be defeated.
    From the movie's website, it says we can expect its release this Fall.
    Welcome home, Speaker.

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    Wednesday, February 25, 2009

    Picture: Biden got his Wednesday Ashes

    ... and sported them during a cabinet meeting today ...

    ... and provided the rest of us with an opportunity for more penance today.

    (I'll try to find a Pelosi-in-ashes photo for Friday.)

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    Monday, February 23, 2009

    Abp. Dolan: The Reaction

    {see my complete coverage of Abp. Dolan's appointment here.}

    Episcopal appointments never occur in a political or ecclesiastical-political vacuum:

    Making his highest-profile U.S. appointment since his 2005 election, Pope Benedict XVI chose a conservative who is likely to stress the church's stand on social issues like abortion. - Dan Gilgoff

    Dolan, a St. Louis native, is virtually guaranteed to rise to the rank of Cardinal in the next consistory — a formal meeting of the College of Cardinals — at the Vatican. - TIME

    The new head of the New York Archdiocese served for seven years as rector of the Pontifical North American College, the U.S. national seminary in Rome, and was a student there himself in the 1970s. In addition, he was assigned for two years to the staff of the apostolic nunciature, or Vatican embassy, in Washington. - CNS

    Archbishop Dolan's move to the New York Archdiocese will more than triple the number of Catholics under his pastoral care -- from about 700,000 in Milwaukee to 2.5 million in New York. - CNS

    In Milwaukee, he proved a prodigious fund-raiser, staving off the bankruptcy that seemed to beckon as the priest sexual abuse scandal, and earlier efforts at a cover-up, led to lawsuits. He closed a $3 million budget deficit last year, and started a fund-raising campaign that he says is more than halfway to its goal, with $57.5 million in pledges. He has combined shrinking parishes and reached out to young people over beers, and recruited new seminarians — the Milwaukee archdiocese expects to ordain six men this year, as opposed to a single ordination a few years ago. - NYT

    The appointment marks the first time in the 200-year history of the archdiocese that power will be transferred from a living prelate to his successor in a post that Pope John Paul II once called “archbishop of the capital of the world.” - Laurie Goodstein

    While Pope Benedict XVI’s appointment of Archbishop Timothy Dolan to New York hardly marks a dramatic break with key picks under recent popes, it may confirm an intriguing pattern-within-a-pattern under Benedict when it comes to the most important jobs in the United States.
    In a sound-bite, one might call it a choice for “the center-right with a human face.”
    In essence, that means leaders who are basically conservative in both their politics and their theology, but also upbeat, pastoral figures given to dialogue. It’s a pattern with across-the-board consequences for both the substance and the style of American Catholicism, and one that could carry particularly interesting implications for relations between church and state in the Age of Obama. - John Allen

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    Thursday, November 13, 2008

    UK bishop "thrilled" by Obama's election ... or is he?

    LifeSiteNews reports:

    A British Catholic bishop has issued a statement enthusiastically welcoming the man who has been labelled the “most pro-abortion US president in history” – president-elect Barack Obama. Bishop Crispian Hollis of the Portsmouth diocese in southern England has said he is “thrilled” at the election of Obama.

    The bishop’s message, posted on the website of the Portsmouth diocese, says, “With millions of others, I have been thrilled by Barack Obama’s victory and I thank God for it. For me, it represents a rare moment of hope and optimism which shows American democracy at its best and it is of seismic significance and potential for the whole global community. And so, more than ever now, he deserves and needs us to keep him in our prayers.”

    This ardent welcome from Hollis, known in Britain to be on the extreme left of the Catholic Church, is in sharp contrast to a letter issued yesterday by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, in which they warned Obama that “aggressive pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion.”

    But an update from Damian Thompson:

    Bishop Hollis has now "clarified" his message as follows:

    I genuinely welcome [Mr Obama's] election because he represents such a different political profile from that of President Bush. America – and the world – needs that political change and will benefit from it.However, I am aware of what he has said about abortion and about the so-called freedom of choice and I deplore his words.

    There is no way in which I endorse his position on these crucial “life” matters, nor, as a Catholic bishop, could I ever do so.Perhaps it’s naïve to say this but I hope and pray that the realities of the political process will mean that he has to temper his personal policies on these all important life issues and pay serious attention to the outrage with which many view his “life” agenda.

    That's much better, though I don't think the Bishop should present his own party political views on a diocesan website. I'm glad he's deplored Obama's extreme pro-abortion opinions; I would have thought that he would have mentioned them in his original message, but maybe they slipped his mind.

    Too bad, I was waiting for the pro-Obama Catholics to register their outrage at Bishop Hollis' brutal display of partisanship. Yawn.

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    Update: Biden receives Communion, Pelosi stands-up Niederauer

    Catholic Vice-President Elect Joe Biden and Catholic Speaker Nancy Pelosi have the shared dishonor of being pro-abortion politicians who have earned the rebuke of dozens of American bishops for their misrepresentation of their faith in a textbook case of scandalizing the faithful.

    So what are they up to now?

    Joe Biden is still receiving Communion, most recently (that we know of) in Tallahassee FL the Sunday before election day. Local bishop John Ricard took swift action and warned Biden to examine his conscience carefully before approaching the altar again. But hey, when do we next expect Joe Biden to be in Florida? It's served his purpose

    Biden's home bishop Francis Malooly, meanwhile, the person most responsible for the formation and discipline of his parishioners, won't tell him to stop, saying "I won't politicize the Eucharist ... I don't want to alienate people. I want to change their hearts and minds."

    Now while that's surely a noble aim, I don't see any results. The penalties of the Church, however, can also serve to change hearts and minds. Let's not forget that. If laws are never enforced, people will feel free to ignore them.

    Speaker Pelosi, meanwhile - also still presumably presenting herself for Communion - promised her local Archbishop George Niederauer to sit down with him about her situation after he invited her. That public promise was made 68 days, 21 hours and 27 minutes ago. How do I know that? I've had a timer running since the day she made her promise. It's still ticking.

    That's right, for over two months, this "ardent, faithful" Catholic - who regularly uses her faith as credentials in the exercise of her public office - couldn't even find time to fit in a sit-down with her bishop on a matter which has received national attention, both within and outside the Catholic Church.

    Again, I'm looking for signs that progress is being made, that the pre-chosen methods are working.

    But I'm not seeing it.

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    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    Breaking: Bishops to present concerns on abortion, other issues to politicians

    CNS - which has lots of coverage, follows the knotted thread:

    With a new administration and a Democratic-dominated Congress about to take office, the U.S. bishops will spell out their concerns about policies and laws that might make abortion more readily available.

    After a total of nearly three hours of discussion in public and private sessions Nov. 11 during their annual fall meeting, the bishops gave their president, Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George, a set of concerns about abortion and other matters to raise in a public statement he will issue on their behalf. The statement was to be completed for final approval Nov. 12.

    Martino tries to get some movement:

    Bishop Joseph F. Martino of Scranton, Pa., said though he realized the statement would not address that topic, "we are going to have to speak as firmly as possible to Catholic politicians who are not merely reluctant to vote pro-life, but are stridently anti-life." He noted that in ages past, U.S. bishops took canonical measures against Catholic politicians who supported institutional racism.

    "We have to have something like that," he said. "I cannot have the vice president-elect (Joseph Biden) coming to Scranton (his childhood home) saying he learned his values there, when his values are utterly against the teachings of the Catholic Church."

    The Church already does have "something like that." The laws are on the books, they're just not being used.

    Tobin (!):

    Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, R.I., said toward the end of the discussion that if the statement were to include everything heard in that session, "you might as well just reprint 'Faithful Citizenship,'" the bishops' 2007 document on political responsibility.

    He said instead the final version should be concise, taking a lesson from Obama's own successful campaign strategy, which focused narrowly on change and hope.

    "That carried him to the presidency," Bishop Tobin said. The bishops need to find a similar succinct approach, he said, "less political, less politically correct and more prophetic. We need somehow to reclaim the prophetic voice on this issue."

    Though I agree with Tobin about "less political, less politically correct, and more prophetic" .... did I just catch a hint that he is admitting Obama reaches people better these days than the bishops themselves? What does it say that Obama can come across as more "prophetic" than bishops who are consecrated into the prophetic priesthood of Christ Himself?
    Talk about a wake-up call.

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    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    Are pro-life dems making a "breakthrough"?

    Tom McFeely has a most intersting post on NCRegister.com, my comments in bold:
    Let’s face it, there weren’t very many pro-life silver linings among the electoral clouds that formed Tuesday evening over America. Agreed.

    But here’s one: A record 31 Democratic Party pro-life candidates were elected to Congress.

    According to Democrats for Life of America, five new Democratic pro-lifers were elected, joining 26 pro-life incumbents who were re-elected. Out of 58 total.

    “This will be only the second time in 30 years that the number of pro-life Democrats increases instead of decreases,” Kristen Day, director of Democrats for Life of America, told Lifenews.com. “The first time we made gains was in 2006 due to the work of pro-life Democrats all over this country advocating on behalf of the pro-life cause.” DLA, not to be confused with "Catholic Democrats" - a front group

    The first task confronting Congressional pro-lifers from both parties in the next Congress? Forging bipartisan alliances across the aisles of the Senate and the House of Representatives to prevent passage of the abortion lobby’s Freedom of Choice (FOCA) legislation. Most important, and some small encouragement.
    I've said it before, "pro-life" and "democrat" can be a powerfully appealing combination to a Catholic. It's clear to me I need to learn more about Democrats for Life of America. What I've seen so far, I mostly like (i.e., "Pro-Life Is The Winning Strategy For Democrats", etc). Other things they have said, while I don't agree with entirely, are certainly far better than what we are used to hearing.

    I know I would love to support pro-life candidates within the democrat party. After all, contrary to what you may hear, pro-life is not a partisan issue. The goal of true pro-life advocates is not to see republicans win, but to see human life preserved across party lines.

    Sadly, it appears that the democrat party's leadership remains strongly committed to abortion rights, as is evident from their most recent party platform. What will it take to make these higher-ups realize that they need not be the "party of death", to quote the phrase of an archbishop?

    Maybe Catholics electing more pro-life Democrats.

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    Wednesday, November 05, 2008

    Picking up the pieces (recap post)

    Yes, Barack Obama won 349-173, and by about 7 million votes nationally. The Senate is Democratic 56 to 40 with 4 seats undecided (still?!), but it's highly unlikely the Democrats will reach a super majority of 60. The House is Democratic 258-173, a gain of 17 at least.
    Okay, on to ballot innitiatives....
    • It looks like Prop 8 in CA - which would ban gay marriage in that state - will win. Arizona and Florida bans on Gay Marriage and Arkansas' ban on gay adoption also passed. Good news.
    • Pro-life initiatives in Colorado, California and South Dakota have lost. Bad news.
    • In Michigan, pro-embryonic stem cell research proposal 2 passed by 4%. More bad news.
    • And Doctor-Assisted Suicide is now legal in Washington. Even more bad news.

    So what happened? Anti-gay marriage legislation won .... pro-life legislation lost, and badly.

    We've got our work cut out for us.

    update: some early numbers on how Catholics voted...

    • Catholics who attend Mass at least weekly went for McCain 54-45%.
    • Catholics who attend Mass less than weekly went Obama 61-37%

    What can we take from this? One obvious conclusion: Catholics who don't feel obligated (or desire) to attend Mass probably won't feel obligated (or desire) to inform their conscience either.

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    Sunday, November 02, 2008

    AMP NEWS Video - Episode One Featuring Archbishop Chaput Interview!

    This week I sat down for an interview with Archbishop Charles Chaput of the Archdiocese of Denver to discuss his NYT bestseller Render Unto Caesar as well as Catholic voting in this election as part of my new collaborative project AMP NEWS.

    Regular AmP readers will know that Archbishop Chaput has been one of the most (if not the most) vocal bishop defenders of the unborn in the American public scene of late, despite some criticism. God bless him for it.

    Archbishop Chaput, I am thrilled to say, gave me frank answers to the tough questions that are facing American Catholics this election, and it is my hope my that many people will have a chance to see this interview before they vote on Tuesday.

    Embedded below are the four segments of AMP NEWS Episode One. You may also watch the entire episode as a whole right here on YouTube. We hope to continue providing quality Catholic news, interviews, and offbeat programming to you in the future!

    Episode 1 - "Headlines"

    Episode 1 - "Papist Chat with Archbishop Chaput {Part 1 of 2}"


    Episode 1 - "Papist Chat with Archbishop Chaput {Part 2 of 2}"


    Episode 1 - "The Papist Takedown"

    This link creates a playlist of the entire episode: http://tinyurl.com/ampnews
    Now that you have seen the show, please forward these videos to your friends and family who are preparing to vote on Tuesday, and send AMP NEWS to folks who are seeking an informed, Catholic perspective on the important stories facing Catholics in America today. Please also subscribe to our AMP NEWS YouTube Channel if you want to be updated instantly when new episodes are uploaded.

    Special thanks go to the Catholic Information Center in Washington DC (and do check out their upcoming events) for giving AMP NEWS the opportunity of interviewing Archbishop Chaput, to AMP NEWS producer Alex Buder, to William Newton for creative input, and our profound gratitude to His Excellency, Archbishop Charles Chaput O.F.M Cap, for his faithful service on behalf of Christ and His Church.
    update, some pull quotes from the interview with Archbishop Chaput:
    • On Barack Obama: "Senator Obama is the most active pro-abortion politician to run for the Presidency since Roe v. Wade. He has committed himself to do things the Church would resist."
    • On vocal bishops: "The bishops are aware ... a quieter approach to these things has not been effective ... we have to be stronger in what we say. We've just had it."
    • On Faithful Citizenship: "[It is] not very clear. We either ought to get rid of it, or say things much clearer."
    • On claiming Obama is a pro-life candidate: "It would be foolish to say that someone who ... runs on a party platform that has no regret at all about abortion ... to call that position pro-life is really strange."
    • On IRS investigations: "It's simply bullying. It shouldn't stop us from talking about the important issues of our time."
    • On the separation of Church and State: "We do believe in it. We don't like the state to tell us what to do. We don't believe in the separation of faith and politics."
    And here is a running tally of the blogs/websites that have picked up on AMP NEWS so far:

    If I left your name off the list please send me an email!

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    Saturday, November 01, 2008

    Leon Suprenant on the November meeting

    Good words:
    At their semi-annual meeting November 10-13th in Baltimore, the United States bishops will discuss the “practical and pastoral implications of political support for abortion.” Some might question the timing of this discussion, coming days after a national election featuring a candidate whom Princeton professor Robert George described as being the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever to seek the presidency. At the same time, better (barely) late than never, and perhaps the timing will allow for a candid discussion relatively free of USCCB-speak (read “Faithful Citizenship”) or charges of partisanship.

    In my own discussions with bishops regarding this issue in the weeks leading up to the November meeting, I have urged them to consider these three concerns.
    Read them here.

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    Friday, October 31, 2008

    It bears repeating: Bishops who speak, speak this way

    At least in the overwhelming majority of cases. Bishops who are not adopting this strong rhetoric calling Catholics to vote an informed conscience on the issue, particularly, of abortion can be counted on one hand.

    Another case in point to close-out the day: Bishop Robert Carlson of Saginaw whose statement (PDF) treats the presidential election as well as pro-ESCR Proposal 2 in Michigan (which I have discussed here).

    Since I see no need to reduplicate work already done well, please see Fr. Z's analysis of the document.

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    Abp. of Omaha: "No proportionate reason outweights abortion"

    As a perfect example of what I see as a clear and growing trend, I submit this letter on voting entitled "Deciding the values that are most important to us" (PDF) by Archbishop Elden Curtiss of Omaha.
    The general framework of this letter, and other letters recently published by American bishops:
    • Catholics have a moral responsibility to vote and participate in the democratic process
    • Catholics have to vote according to a well-formed conscience - and that means well formed by Catholic principles, not ideological or partisan preconceived notions
    • Catholics must vote to respect and preserve the dignity of every human life
    • Among modern threats to that dignity, nothing matches the ongoing grave evil of abortion

    What happens next is interesting, and novel, but again - it's happening more and more often....

    After laying out the four steps above, the bishop will add a fifth step - his personal conclusion:

    "I cannot conceive of a proportionate reason that could outweigh the deaths of nearly 50 million children killed by abortion."

    "Those who do not understand or accept this basic human right [to life] are unworthy of our trust."

    Of course, this is a great simplification. And Bishop Curtiss adds the needed qualifications:
    "We are surely not one-issue people because we have to be concerned about the well-being of everyone in our society, and especially those who are hurting and in need. We have to be concerned about women with unplanned pregnancies who are without the resources to give birth or to care for their babies. We are rightfully concerned about candidates for public office who do not seem to care about babies after they are born and their mothers, and their future welfare. But the very first right we must protect, if all human rights are to be protected, is the right to life for the unborn."
    Anyway, this is just no. 84 on a list of over 115.

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    Wednesday, October 29, 2008

    Top 10 Faith Factors in the Election

    Steven Waldman's list mentions Catholics in points 4 and 5:

    4. Will Catholics Ignore Their Bishops?
    The overall Catholic vote has gone with the popular vote winner every election since 1968. Catholic bishops have been urging Catholic voters to vote for antiabortion candidates, but a majority of Catholic voters now favor abortion rights so it remains to be seen what influence the church will have. (Sen. Obama is also winning with the 100-year-old-nuns bloc.) Another factor in Sen. Obama’s favor: a higher percentage of the Catholic vote will be Latino this year.

    Last election, President Bush won Catholic voters 52%-46%.

    5. Can Obama Finally Bowl a Strike With Skeptical White Catholics?
    During the primaries, Obama did poorly with white Catholics, often working-class ethnics or their offspring. Remember his feeble attempt to curry favor through bowling? They tend to be culturally conservative and haven’t voted for a Democrat since 1996. On the other hand, they’re especially concerned about the economy this year, and Sen. Biden has been trying to bond with them as a fellow “cultural Catholics.”

    Point of reference: In 2004, Bush won 56% of white Catholics, Kerry 43%

    My thoughts:

    4. While a majority of Catholics might favor abortion rights (what poll claims this, by the way?), I would argue that a majority of Catholics would identify more with McCain than Obama on the issue. The question is how much weight they will give to abortion at all. As for Latino voters - I would guess them to be more conservative on the issue of abortion than other Catholics.

    5. I think the success of Senator Biden's Catholic outreach is hovering somewhere near zero. Catholics who do take their faith seriously couldn't care less for his "cultural Catholicism" and Catholics who don't take their faith seriously I don't foresee being seriously swayed by it, either.

    Tuesday will tell.

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    Monday, October 27, 2008

    National Catholic Reporter editors endorse Obama, and I lose it

    Well, in effect.
    Here's how the editors of NCR begin:

    "Another presidential election cycle is nearly ended, and once again the Catholic bishops in the United States have sadly distinguished themselves for the narrowness and, in too many cases, barely concealed partisanship, of their political views."

    Notice, for the NCR editors, bishops who defend the teaching of the Church must be partisan if that teaching conflicts with the liberal viewpoint of the NCR editors. The fact that these same bishops are perfectly willing to accept pro-life democratic candidates completely eludes them.

    Fundamentally, the NCR editors parrot the "get over Roe" talking point which has been made popular by pro-Obama catholics. Moreover, the NCR editors sign onto this position even after it was explicitlty condemned by the competant authorities in the US Bishops Conference.

    The NCR editors even criticize the bishops for being narrow minded, for "turning the abortion issue into a partisan rallying cry" for "damaging the church and the pro-life cause" and for "erod[ing] the legitimate authority of an already beleaguered episcopal conference."

    And all this crosses a line. How dare they.

    How dare they claim that it is "partisan" affiliation which has prompted 60+ bishops (at last count) to speak out about the radical centrality of respecting human life in this election?

    How dare the NCR editors claim that it is some sort of affinity for the GOP party (why? what do the bishops have to gain, exactly?) which prompts the bishops to council against supporting a candidate who would overturn every restriction on abortion in the books, who radically supports the right of a mother to have her child dead even in cases of a live birth, and who would have catholics and other Americans pay for it?!

    And finally, how dare the NCR editors claim that they say all of this because of their Catholic faith?

    Essentially, they are claiming to be more Catholic than (at least) 1-in-4 American bishops.

    And they have intentionally put themselves under the condemnation already leveled against those who have similarly employed this nonsensical, disingenuous "the way to reduce abortions is to increase funding, support and access to them" argument.

    How dare they.

    (Oh, and having this photo - of young people walking in the annual March for Life, petitioning the Supreme Court to repeal Roe - serve as the accompaniment to their editorial? You know what I'm going to say.)

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    Friday, October 24, 2008

    Cardinal Egan asks readers to "just look" at picture of unborn child

    In his column yesterday for the New York Catholic, Cardinal Egan tried something different:
    The picture on this page is an untouched photograph of a being that has been within its mother for 20 weeks. Please do me the favor of looking at it carefully.

    Have you any doubt that it is a human being?

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

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

    If your answer to this last query is negative, that is, if you have no doubt that the authorities in a civilized society would be duty-bound to protect this innocent human being if someone were to wish to kill it, I would suggest—even insist—that there is not a lot more to be said about the issue of abortion in our society. It is wrong, and it cannot—must not—be tolerated.
    Farther in:
    It is high time to stop pretending that we do not know what this nation of ours is allowing—and approving—with the killing each year of more than 1,600,000 innocent human beings within their mothers. We know full well that to kill what is clearly seen to be an innocent human being or what cannot be proved to be other than an innocent human being is as wrong as wrong gets.

    Do me a favor. Look at the photograph again. Look and decide with honesty and decency what the Lord expects of you and me as the horror of "legalized" abortion continues to erode the honor of our nation. Look, and do not absolve yourself if you refuse to act.
    ... but, did he mention any of this to Obama last weekend?

    I mean, I agree with everything Cardinal Egan says, I'd just like to know what we're to make of the above.

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    Calling down the IRS on teaching bishops

    It's already happening:
    A church-state watchdog group has asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether the Roman Catholic bishop of Paterson, N.J., violated tax laws by denouncing Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama.

    In a letter sent to the IRS on Wednesday (Oct. 22), Americans United for Separation of Church and State accused Paterson Bishop Arthur Serratelli of illegal partisanship for lambasting Obama's support of abortion rights. (Religion News Service)
    Read Bishop Serratelli's column here.

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    Thursday, October 23, 2008

    A final reflection for today

    I've thrown alot of material up on the blog today - 8 posts on the election alone. Let's get concise.

    I think what SDG said reflects accurately the opinion many observant, thoughtful Catholics are forming:
    1. John McCain does not deserve your vote.
    2. If Obama loses — to anyone — it will be a victory for life.
    Even for those who admit the truth of 1, it's almost impossible to get around the urgency of 2.

    And I think 3 logically follows.

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    Claim: 1-in-4 Bishops Promote "single issue voting"

    Writing for the UK Tablet, Rocco does his homework, crunches the numbers, and comes up with this:

    A quarter of America's bishops have said that the most important issue for voters in the forthcoming presidential election is abortion - comments that may help boost the fortunes of Republican candidate John McCain.

    Some 50 out of the nation's 197 active bishops have published articles or given interviews during the run-up up to the election urging abortion as the key issue on which voters should decide which way to vote.

    Of course, "single issue voting" is a caricature of what these bishops are teaching. They are actually defending the centrality of certain issues against those who would subjectively marginalize them. And so, in a very real way, the bishops are promoting "all issue voting", at least when compared to the alternative. We must always guard against letting the other side claim this truth as their own.

    But let's get back to the really amazing statistic: over 1-in-4 active bishops have said this!

    Rocco, whose comprehensiveness is to be trusted, can in fact only find two bishops who apparently argue the alternative "there's alot of issues out there" approach. So by my count, the bishops split like this:
    • Abortion is the key issue: 50+
    • Abortion is one issue among many: 2
    • No comment (yet): 145

    So what is the correct conclusion? Well, I would say it can no longer be claimed that the number of bishops who are concerned about the dismissal of abortion (and other fundamental life issues) constitute a slim minority - in fact, they are now a significant voice in the American hierarchy.

    Some people, however, are obviously still living in serious denial. Robert Kaiser writing for the National Catholic Reporter today is a sterling example of the inability to admit the tide has turned. He begins:

    "I really resent the few U.S. bishops who are now engaged in a campaign to swing the election for John McCain -- as they did for George W. Bush in 2004."

    And let me just stop him right there, because by Rocco's count (and with the confirmation of the reporting I have done over the past months), Kaiser actually "resents" about 1-in-4 American bishops, if he resents those bishops who teach publicly that abortion is the key issue for Catholics when voting.

    So, who should feel lonely now?

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    On Keeping/Kicking Kmiec Out

    One bishop (Most Rev. Lawrence E. Brandt, JCD, PhD of Greensburg, PA) is trying:

    Yesterday afternoon I received word that Seton Hill University had extended an invitation to Mr. Douglas Kmiec to speak on its campus regarding faith and politics. I have attempted in vain to reach the President of Seton Hill, Dr. JoAnne Boyle in this regard, but to no avail.

    As the teacher of authentic Catholic doctrine in the Diocese of Greensburg, I feel compelled to state in view of this situation that Mr. Kmiec distorts Catholic teaching by making it synonymous with his own personal views. There is no “other” Catholic position except the one which appears in authentic Church documents. His misrepresentations of Catholic doctrine do a grave disservice to the Catholic community and far beyond.

    I seriously question the good judgment of the University administration in allowing him a platform on campus.

    ... Is it any wonder then that not only the demonstrators at the event, but many others as well, consider his presentation an offensive trivialization of the institution's declared Catholic identity!

    In a related vein, I wonder how this will go?

    Decide in Faith: A Presidential Forum

    Now you will have the chance to ask some questions! All questions will be based on Catholic Social Teaching! Questions submitted on this web site will be reviewed nd selected for the forum by a panel of Catholic college students and young adults!

    Featuring Catholic Surrogates from the Presidential Campaigns // Senator Obama: Professor Douglas Kmeic, Author, Former Advisor to President Reagan // Senator McCain: Brian Palmer (R-Romeo) // Panel: College Students and Young Adults // Moderated by Fr. David Buersmeyer, Pastor of SS John and Paul in Washington, MI

    An AmP Shout Out to the person who prints out one of the many arguments I've made against Kmiec's position and asks it during the debate. Audio/video would be a plus, too.

    update: Seton Hill University says it will release a statement soon.

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    Partisans accusing the non-partisan of partisanship

    I would argue that this is essentially the situation that obtains when pro-Obama Catholics tell bishops to stop speaking out about the urgent evils of abortion and other life issues.

    Those with far more experience and wisdom in these matters agree. From Mirror of Justice:

    [Cahill] publicly rebukes a number of American bishops because of the proper emphasis that they have placed on the abortion issue. Yet, she fails to address that the candidate whom she has publicly endorsed will make as his first priority the passage of the Freedom of Choice Act that I addressed yesterday in a posting at Mirror of Justice. She decries that “when the Catholic church [sic] is perceived to be cheerleaders [sic] for one political party a rich faith tradition is badly damaged and loses its prophetic voice.” I do not recall any of the bishops that she has critiqued having endorsed any candidate or political party; rather, they have spoken clearly on the profound evil of abortion and how the Catholic electorate needs to consider this weighty issue. By contrast, she is the one, from her position as a university teacher, who has been a “cheerleader” of a particular party and its presidential candidate.
    Her assertions are mystifying until she reaches the conclusion of her brief essay. Then her double standard of “freedom for me but not for thee” becomes clear, and the mystery disappears. She concludes her posting by stating that, “Catholic clergy should reaffirm their essential role as moral leaders, and leave partisanship behind.” What she does not seem to understand is that they have; however, she is the one who has taken up the cause of partisanship which does not appear to trouble her in the least.

    When Pope Paul VI concluded the proceedings of the Second Vatican Council in 1965, he stated to the civil leaders of the world that the Church asked only one thing from them: freedom. Apparently, Professor Cahill expects this freedom for herself, but she is unwillingly to grant it to those whose duty it is to teach and lead the Church to which she professes that she belongs. What she has asserted for herself and denied others, including the Church’s leadership, is the real disturbing trend for both religion and democracy as we approach November 4. - RJA sj

    My question: when will one of them respond to this counter-criticism? When will one of these vocal "bishop-hushers" answer why they are not in fact using a double-standard methodology?

    I'm waiting, and it seems like I'm always waiting.

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    But for Wales?

    So the famous quote goes, as St. Thomas More speaks to Richard Rich after he has perjured himself for political gain: "Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... but for Wales?"

    Reading Ramesh Ponnuru over at the corner today, as he dismantled the pattently-absurd arguments of the pro-Obama Catholics Cafardi, Kaveny and Kmiec, I realized that we have three Richard Rich's on our hands.

    I say this only because the alternative - that these figures really do believe the arguments they are making - is even more pathetic. I think it is a service in charity to point out stupidity when you see it, and well, the arguments offered by these three Catholic intellectuals don't pass muster. I'll repeat myself: I'm hoping this is just ignorance, but frankly, given their educational background and prior accomplishments ... it's a very tenuous hope.
    Consider: in their response to the criticism they have received, these three have demonstrated a chronic inability to admit the faults of their candidate of choice. Here Ponnuru is most on target:
    The authors say nothing about Obama’s support for taxpayer funding of abortion, which the abortion lobby itself suggests will result in many, many more abortions; nothing about his stated commitment to make passing the "Freedom of Choice Act" the very first thing he does as President; nothing about his opposition to providing legal protection against homicide for all infants; nothing about his opposition to parental consent and notification laws (which have demonstrably reduced the number of abortions); nothing about his opposition to federal funding for pro-life crisis pregnancy centers that help make it possible for pregnant women in need to avoid resorting to abortion; nothing about his support for the industrial production of "research embryos" by cloning. . . well, you get the picture.

    Yes, I get the picture, but for them to not get this picture ... again, it is either a case of incredible ignorance or willful oversight. How can three people talk about Obama for so long, and never once mention these positions he has taken? How can they even claim to be in a debate, as opposed to spouting their stump-speech talking points?

    I agree with Ponnuru: "these three professors have given the sort of intellectual performance you would expect of an unscrupulous politician."

    But I'll go further: at least when you listen to a politician, you expect them to emerge from a biased background. These three professors, on the other hand, have claimed to be emerging from an objective background formed by Catholic principles of social thought.

    I don't mind, particularly, Obama people supporting Obama. At least they are being honest about their priorities. I do mind Catholics claiming to support Obama, who never seriously engage the issues or answer the questions which Catholics hold most dear. That's politicking, and worse, it's stealth politicking, and I won't stand for it.

    I have the benefit of time on my hands. I'll be around to watch what happens to these three figures should Obama become elected. I just figured I should say something now. "I told you so" will have so much more meaning this way. But let me also be very clear: it will be the tragic "I told you so" because more children have been needlessly put to death. For that I only have (in order) prayers, tears, and my words.

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    Top myths about abortion dispelled on USCCB website

    Spread this news. Richard M. Doerflinger has published a concice essay on the USCCB website asking the question "What Reduces Abortions?"

    His answers are startling and contradict claims spread by pro-Obama catholics. Consider (underlining mine):

    Sometimes election years produce more policy myths than good ideas. This year one myth is about abortion. It goes like this: The Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision is here to stay, and that's fine because laws against abortion don't reduce abortions much anyway. Rather, "support for women and families" will greatly reduce abortions, without changing the law or continuing a "divisive" abortion debate.

    Various false claims are used to bolster this myth. It is said that over three-quarters of women having abortions cite expense as the most important factor in their decision. Actually the figure is less than one-fourth, 23%. It is said that abortion rates declined dramatically (30%) during the Clinton years, but the decline stopped under the ostensibly pro-life Bush administration. Actually the abortion rate has dropped 30% from 1981 to 2005; the decline started 12 years before Clinton took office, and has continued fairly steadily to the present day.

    More myths (underlining again mine):
    The steepest decline is among minors. Is it plausible that economic factors reduced abortions for teens but not their older sisters, or their mothers who support them?

    The reality is this: In 1980 the Supreme Court upheld the Hyde amendment, and federally funded abortions went from 300,000 a year to nearly zero. With its decisions in Webster (1989) and Casey (1992), the Court began to uphold other abortion laws previously invalidated under Roe. States passed hundreds of modest but effective laws: bans on use of public funds and facilities; informed consent laws; parental involvement when minors seek abortion; etc. Dr. Michael New's rigorous research has shown that these laws significantly reduce abortions. In the 1990s, debate on partial-birth abortion - kept in the public eye, ironically, by President Clinton's repeated vetoes of a ban on this grisly late-term procedure - alerted many Americans to the violence of abortion and shifted public attitudes in a pro-life direction, just as growing concern over AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases was giving new force to the abstinence message for teens. Now the Court has upheld a partial-birth abortion ban, and signaled that other laws to save unborn children and their mothers from the horrors of abortion may be valid. If Roe is reversed outright, that will allow more laws that can further reduce abortions.

    By contrast, a pending federal "Freedom of Choice Act" (FOCA) would knock down current laws reducing abortions, and require public programs for pregnant women to fund abortion. No one supporting that bill can claim to favor reducing abortions.
    Conclusion:
    Many women are pressured toward abortion, and they need our help. The pressures are partly, but only partly, economic in nature. Women are influenced by husbands, boyfriends, parents and friends, and by a culture and legal system that tells them the child they carry has no rights and is of no consequence. Law cannot solve all problems, but it can tell us which solutions are unacceptable - and today Roe still teaches that killing the unborn child is an acceptable solution, even a "right." Without ever forgetting the need to support pregnant women and their families, that tragic and unjust error must be corrected if we are to build a society that respects all human life.
    This essay is significant for its publication on the USCCB website, and its timing - days after the US Bishops' statement setting the record straight on Roe v. Wade and other common errors.

    This may feel a little bit like throwing sandbags on a broken dike, but that's what we are called to do. So roll up your sleeves and get to work. Dikes don't repair themselves.

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    Open Thread: politics stuff

    Okay, get it out there - thoughts and observations that haven't come up, or that you think should be examined again here. Less than two weeks to go. Plenty riding on this election. So Let's talk about it. 1-2-3-go!

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    Wednesday, October 22, 2008

    Quote of the Day: "Nimble Catholics"

    From a Chicago Tribune piece on pro-Obama Catholics:
    "Catholics have, historically, been nimble at finding loopholes in church doctrine, ways to deftly excuse themselves from the guilt of lesser sins skipping church, swearing, eating meat on Fridays. Abortion is a much steeper hill to climb."
    This gives me a new phrase: "Nimble Catholics."

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    Bad news: Obama close to double-digit lead

    Polls can be wrong. But lots of polls showing a general trend are normally right:
    “Three big days for Obama. Anything can happen, but time is running short for McCain. These numbers, if they hold, are blowout numbers. They fit the 1980 model with Reagan's victory over Carter -- but they are happening 12 days before Reagan blasted ahead. If Obama wins like this we can be talking not only victory but realignment: he leads by 27 points among Independents, 27 points among those who have already voted, 16 among newly registered voters, 31 among Hispanics, 93%-2% among African Americans, 16 among women, 27 among those 18-29, 5 among 30-49 year olds, 8 among 50-64s, 4 among those over 65, 25 among Moderates, and 12 among Catholics (which is better than Bill Clinton's 10-point victory among Catholics in 1996). He leads with men by 2 points, and is down among whites by only 6 points, down 2 in armed forces households, 3 among investors, and is tied among NASCAR fans.” (Zogby)
    Catholics will put Obama over the top, unless we do something about it.

    update: aw geez - "AP presidential poll: All even in the homestretch" (I give up.)

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    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    Myth: Catholic grassroots support Obama

    "Suddenly, Obama is the natural choice for Catholics."
    That's the only way I can describe the message being spread by numerous pro-Obama Catholic websites, organizations and a few prominent figures. I would submit this is the perfect example of a snowball phenomenon, made possibly by large amounts of money.
    First of all, while such arguments have been circulating since shortly after Obama clinched the nomination, they have rapidly crystallized and have mutually supported each other's emergence in the recent couple weeks, timed perfectly to sway the decision of 11th-hour independent voters, of whom, apparently Catholics comprise a significant majority, especially in crucial swing states.
    Whether planned or spontaneous, the end result is masterful. First, Doug Kmiec dipped his toe into the waters to test what the reaction would be to his public endorsement of Obama. The reaction, after he was (mistakenly) denied communion, was becoming a psuedo-martyr for his conscience and cause, a noble attempt to try a different way and give Obama a chance. Soon his boldness grew - an Obama vote morphed from an "acceptable" or "arguable" one, into the "natural" and even "obvious" one, one that could be made without "even a moment's consideration." There was a crack in the dam.
    Because timidity does not win arguments where one is unsure of one's position, subsequent Obama endorsements by Catholics have been very strong, even directly challenging and/or mocking of the traditional thinking on this topic. Obama's desire to repeal all restrictions on abortion is actually the path towards reducing abortions. Obama's own admission that Roe v. Wade hangs in the balance (a classic line used historically to scare women into voting democrat) is ... an enlightened approach that legislation is not the way to reduce abortion (indeed, Obama's legislative approach seems to be geared towards increasing abortion access). Obama's 100% rating by NARAL and 0% rating by the NRL is simply an expression that he is beyond the old politics of divisiveness and partisanship. Obama's criticism that McCain isn't enough in favor of expanding the creation and killing of embryos ... well, we won't talk about that.
    As you can see, the argument of the pro-Obama Catholics has to be very focused, and simply cannot respond to the counter-arguments. This is a particular application of the general (successful) campaign principle "never answer the question." As long as they decide what aspects of the Church's social teaching are to be observed, their candidate will always come out ahead.
    Stage two has been the proliferation of this tactic with big money, and I mean *really* big money, and the apread of the message through the media, whos eemingly ahve the pro-Catholic Obama spokespersons on speed dial. Once again, they get to create the narrative, and it remains unchallenged. It's the classic methodology of propaganda - be omnipresent and persistent.
    Catholics should be wary of this outreach for several reasons. Here is one of the most significant ones I think: it completely cuts out the American bishops, treating them like "middle men". Only the bishops aren't "middle men", we believe they are the guardians of the Church, and ought to play a significant role in forming the conscience of Catholics. Their position has been very clear, and I think some of their best are quickly getting wise to what is going on. The old silence doesn't work when the void is being filled with the chatterings of pro-Obama catholics. Regardless, the fact that the luminaries of the Catholic pro-Obama cause categorically refuse to dialogue with American bishops and other Catholic intellectuals is very telling.
    After all, they will still direct mailings to hundreds of thousands of Catholics in battleground states.
    Have no doubts about it. I think we are seeing a new thing here. A persistent, organized, well-funded attempt to hijack the social teaching of the Catholic Church among the next generation of Americans. If it proves as successful as I think it will be this election cycle, it will remain, by merit of its success, an active force in the next election, and so on. A response must be made, and the first step towards that response is admitting that a battle of interpretations is already taking place, and we are losing it.

    update: in a similar vein, SDG asks "Who gets to say what is Catholic?"

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    Gerard Bradley on applying the Golden Rule to Catholic Voting

    Over at the Public Discourse (which is really belting out the high-quality stuff recently):

    "Recent debates have centered on the question of when an otherwise "pro-life" voter is morally justified in voting for a "pro-choice" candidate. The question amounts to asking when is it fair--that is, just--to vote for a "pro-choice" candidate. The answer depends on applying the Golden Rule."

    [Read on.]

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    This November: the big picture

    Jim Manzi writing for the American Scene notes that this November, it's not just the presidency up for grabs. The democrats are also set to control both houses of congress, the only question is by how much:

    The exact size of the majority in the House is not as crucial as it is in the Senate, where a key point is reached right around 60 seats for Democrats, which, in theory, allows them to prevent a filibuster. Given that the marginal Democrats and marginal Republicans are not reliable party-line voters, getting very close to 60 will prevent some filibusters, hitting 60 will prevent a lot, and getting even slightly past 60 will prevent yet a lot more.

    What is the likelihood of this happening?

    Five Thirty Eight says:

    Senate projections are little changed from our last update six days ago. We currently project the composition of the new Senate to be 56.7 Democrats, 41.3 Republicans, and 2.0 independents; this is not significantly changed from 56.6-41.4-2.0 last week. We furthermore show the Democrats as having a 32 percent chance to control a 60-seat caucus (counting independents Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders), up incrementally from 30 percent last week.

    Also look at this Senate Map.

    MN is exactly tied, while GA, MS, and KY are "barely" GOP. NC, OR and AK are "barely" DNC.

    Why is it important to prevent a filibuster-proof DNC majority? From the perspective of building a culture of life in America, such a democrat majority would far increase the chances of radical legislation such as the "Freedom of Choice Act" of making into into law.

    That's really bad news.

    update: like it was planned by a higher power, Family Research Council has released its 2008 Congressional Voter's Guide - highly recommended, and spread the word.

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    Monday, October 20, 2008

    Don't waste time on John A. Farrell's argument for Obama

    Some folks are making interesting arguments for why a Catholic could support Obama.

    John Aloysius Farrell of US News & World Report is not one of them.

    Farrell has previously, by his own admission, compared the leadership of the Catholic Church to the Taliban, although he admits that was probably "a little over the top." Excuse me, a little?!

    Now, in his pro-Obama argument "An Obama Vote Is No Sin for Catholics, Even With His Abortion Views", he first gets this wrong:

    As a matter of church doctrine, Catholics are free to vote for any candidates whose stands they like on foreign policy, the economy, or other issues.

    Of course not! A Catholic is not "free" to vote for Hitler if they like his policy on aggressive foreign expansion (Farrell apparently likes Nazi analogies). Anyway, liking a candidate on a single issue is not enough - they also have to be morally acceptable on important issues.
    C'mon John - you have to admit that the above is just a stupid line, and claiming that it represents "church doctrine" doesn't help your cause with anyone who has ever cracked a catechism open.

    Next wrongness:

    And as a matter of practical politics, Catholic voters who vote Republican because they think the GOP is a strong foe of abortion have been sold a bill of goods.

    In the 35 years since Roe v. Wade guaranteed a right of abortion for women, the Republicans, though dominating American politics, have consistently failed to take the tough political steps necessary to outlaw the practice.

    This is a huge mis-reading of American history. Republicans have worked hard to reduce the incidence of abortion, and have been stymied in their attempts to do more by democrats. Are the republicans perfect on this issue? Of course not. Are they better than democrats on average? Yes.
    And why do pro-abortion groups love democrats? Are they being sold a bill of goods by the democrats? What say you, Farrell?

    Oh gosh, I'm sorry I asked. His solution:

    If the Catholic clergy truly believes that abortion is so intrinsic an evil—a sin above sins—then it's time to blink at the lesser transgressions of birth control and sex education. Not just in America, but around the world.

    You want to reduce the number of abortions? Distribute condoms and show teens how to use them.

    I'm sorry, I've stopped listening. It's amazing how easy it is for Farrell to transition from an arguable claim about the legitimacy of voting for Obama to ... flat-out dissent from and opposition to Church teaching. No wonder he finds such a fast friend in Doug Kmiec, whom he quotes more than anyone else in the article.
    It would be nice if we could all come together and condemn Farrell's ignorant, un-Catholic portrayal of the issues. He does his readers a disservice by claiming he speaks as an informed Catholic. I certainly do not see much evidence of being either.

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    Coming out of the woodwork

    Why is it that all these catholics have waited until now to come out for Obama?

    It's not like he's new to the scene. Why the 11th-hour endorsement that serves to comfort Obama-leaning catholics that "people in high places agree with me", but does not allow time for a sustained debate about Obama's merits, or the merits of catholics voting for him.

    It's called a pile-on, and the gates are apparently wide open.

    Over the very same weekend that catholics in the pew heard the famous "render unto Caesar" gospel passage, numerous Catholics have decided who they are giving their denarius to this November.

    Lisa Sowle Cahill of Boston College criticizes the "partisanship" of American bishops in the National Catholic Reporter (I know - what a surprising venue for such views!):

    "Abortion is a moral tragedy for Catholics and many Americans. But when the Catholic church is perceived to be cheerleaders for one political party a rich faith tradition is badly damaged and loses its prophetic voice. Bishops should correct Catholic politicians who misrepresent Catholic teaching on life and justice issues in public interviews."
    Why is it impossible for some to see that the bishops aren't cheerleaders for one political party, they are cheerleaders for the unborn, who happen to be defended better by one party?! Why, when the vast majority of culprits who "misrepresent Catholic teaching on life and justice issues" are democrats, is it the bishops and republicans who are criticized for being partisan on this issue?

    M. Cathleen Kaveny of Notre Dame, meanwhile, does some philosophical gymnastics over at America:

    For many pro-life Catholics, the issue of voting and abortion comes down to this: what does one do if one thinks that the candidate more likely to reduce the actual incidence of abortion is also the one more committed to keeping it legal? The language of intrinsic evil does not help us here. Only the virtue of practical wisdom, enlightened by charity, can take us further.
    This might be an interesting thought experiment in another case, but in the practical situations presented to Americans this November, I can't see how it even applies. It's quite obvious that the occasion for this re-re-visiting of the obligation to eliminate "intrinsically evil" acts is prompted by the Obama candidacy and catholics desiring to vote for pro-choice politicians.

    It does not seem to me a hyper-expression of practical wisdom that the candidate who will proliferate embryonic stem cell research and sign the freedom of choice act into legislation will increase, not decrease, the number of unborn human lives exterminated in America each year. How can someone who sees abortion as an inaliable right of women that can never be questioned or challenged somehow the actual path to eliminating the scourge of abortion?

    CNA coverage of Cathleen Kaveny here.

    update: Grek Sisk has penned an excellent, lengthy rebuttal to Kaveny over at MOJ.

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    Opposing Views on voting for pro-abortion politicians

    {update: this debate is now live and the post below has been updated to reflect it...}

    I've been invited to contribute to the Opposing Views website by their editorial staff.
    OV strives to "encourage intelligent, thoughtful discussion where all viewpoints are respected", and has been featured in the New York Times and republished on FoxNews.com.
    I take the "No" position, and mention the (rare) exceptions where Catholics might vote for a pro-choice politician in this argument. I've also written:
    Joining me in the "No" position are authors from The Catholic Thing, and Deal Hudson.
    Taking the "Yes" position are Chris Korzen of Catholics United, Jon O'Brien of Catholics for a Free Choice, and Catholic Democrats. Pro-Life Pro-Obama evidently declined the invitation.
    I would urge you to consider joining the debate. You can post your own comments, vote in their poll and let other users know which side you agree with. I hope that when third parties see the discussion, they at least come away knowing that many Catholics are faithful to the teaching and witness of the Church on this important question.

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    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    Abp. Chaput names, criticizes Obama and Kmiec openly in address

    Even though I'm running out the door, this story deserves coverage now:

    Archbishop criticizes Obama, Catholic allies (AP)

    Denver Roman Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput labeled Barack Obama the "most committed" abortion-rights candidate from a major party in 35 years while accusing a Catholic Obama ally and other Democratic-friendly Catholic groups of doing a "disservice to the church."

    Chaput, one of the nation's most politically outspoken Catholic prelates, delivered the remarks Friday night at a dinner of a Catholic women's group.

    His comments were among the sharpest in a debate over abortion and Catholic political responsibility in a campaign in which Catholics represent a key swing vote.

    Coverage here from CNA and Zenit has the full text of the Archbishop's address.
    update, excerpt from Abp. Chaput on the "Catholic" argument for Obama:
    To suggest -- as some Catholics do -- that Senator Obama is this year’s “real” pro-life candidate requires a peculiar kind of self-hypnosis, or moral confusion, or worse. To portray the 2008 Democratic Party presidential ticket as the preferred “pro-life” option is to subvert what the word “pro-life” means.
    ... I think [Kmiecs'] activism for Senator Obama, and the work of Democratic-friendly groups like Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, have done a disservice to the Church, confused the natural priorities of Catholic social teaching, undermined the progress pro-lifers have made, and provided an excuse for some Catholics to abandon the abortion issue instead of fighting within their parties and at the ballot box to protect the unborn.
    ... The one genuinely new quality to Catholic arguments for Senator Obama is their packaging. Just as the abortion lobby fostered “Catholics for a Free Choice” to challenge Catholic teaching on abortion more than two decades ago, so supporters of Senator Obama have done something similar in seeking to neutralize the witness of bishops and the pro-life movement by offering a “Catholic” alternative to the Church’s priority on sanctity of life issues. I think it’s an intelligent strategy. I also think it’s wrong and often dishonest.

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    Friday, October 17, 2008

    "Save our Children!" says Bishop Robert Hermann

    The Archdiocesan Administrator who is running St. Louis until a replacement can be found for its previous shepherd Abp. Raymond Burke ... has issued an extraordinary exhortation to the Catholics under his care:

    "Save our children! More than anything else, this election is about saving our children or killing our children. This life issue is the overriding issue facing each of us in this coming election. All other issues, including the economy, have to take second place to the issue of life."

    ... Save our children! How can a so-called good Catholic vote for a candidate that supports laws that take the life of innocent children, when there is an alternative? If there were two candidates who supported abortion, but not equally, we would have the obligation to mitigate the evil by voting for the less-permissive candidate.

    ... Save our children! How can a so-called good Catholic vote for a candidate that supports laws that justify the killing of a child that survived a botched abortion? How can such a so-called good Catholic receive the Holy Eucharist?

    ... Save our children! I have no doubt that there may be some so-called good Catholics who are reading this column and who may be really angry about now. I ask the question "Why would such a person be angry?" If we do good deeds, then our conscience is at peace. If we do evil deeds, then our conscience bothers us. It is my hope that this column will lead some of our so-called good Catholics to study the Catholic Catechism.

    ... Save our children! Some of our so-called good Catholics may have hardened their hearts against the real understanding of induced abortions, that they can no longer see that this involves the destruction of our children. "If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts!"

    ... Save our children! Supporting induced abortions is not the greatest sin in the world. A greater sin is the refusal to repent of such a serious crime or the denial that this involves the killing of innocent children.

    ... Save our children! I have used this terminology again and again penetrate the defenses of anyone who in the past may have put personal, economic or political interests above the issue of saving our children. The right to life is our most fundamental right, and to defend this right on behalf of the most vulnerable is a great privilege and is worth giving one’s life for. Policemen and firemen always risk their lives to save human life. Why should we not risk our own reputation to save our children?"

    [Read his entire column.]

    His spiritual exhortation? Pray. the. rosary.

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    Making the Catholic case for McCain

    As I've noted in my writings about the Presidential race, my main question has been to determine whether or not it is acceptable for Catholics to vote for Barack Obama. I also have not missed opportunities to point out where John McCain fails to abide fully by Catholic social teaching.

    SDG has a lengthy post at JA.O on the Catholic case for McCain, taking into consideration the objections raised about Obama, and weighing the prudence of voting for a third party (or not voting) instead:

    "As I noted in my first post, some serious and thoughtful Catholics, including my friend Mark Shea and his sometime co-belligerent Zippy Catholic, have suggested or argued that to support and vote for a candidate who advocates any intrinsically immoral policy, even if the only other viable alternative is far worse, is objectively wrong. Thus, the argument goes, given McCain's support of embryonic stem-cell research, Catholics who support and vote for either major-party ticket, whatever their sincerity or their culpability may be, are engaged in objectively wrong behavior.

    ... However, to the extent that quixotic-vote advocates have been influenced by concerns over the alleged unjustifiability of voting for any candidate who supports any intrinsically immoral policy, even when the only other viable candidate is far worse, they have been led astray. Such concern is, I submit, unnecessary, unfounded and deeply unfortunate. Catholic moral theology does not support the scrupulous conclusion that one cannot support or vote for the candidate one regards as the least problematic viable candidate unless that candidate is free of all support for intrinsically evil policies."

    He goes on to post a brief summary of his argument.

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    Slideshow: Cardinal Egan, Obama & McCain together

    Al Smith was the first Catholic Presidential candidate. My father has one of his campaign buttons. Yesterday Cardinal Egan hosted both John McCain and Barack Obama at Al Smith's fundraising dinner:





    Coverage at WSJ.

    So what do you think of this?

    1. A perfect image of the Church transcending politics and bringing people together?
    2. A pitiful depiction of the worst sort of pandering for political expedience?
    3. An unconsciounable ignoring of the differences that truly divide us?
    4. A benefit dinner - what else?

    Obama's mind might have been elsewhere during the evening:

    Cardinal Edward Egan, Senator McCain, and Senator Obama were staged for their grand entrance in seating order. However, all did not go as planned.

    McCain's name was called, and the Republican nominee took the stage. Obama's name was called in the midst of the applause and he appeared to not hear and did not take the stage, producing an awkward moment where the Democratic presidential nominee was chatting unknowingly as people waited for him to take the stage.

    The announcer then went on to introduce Cardinal Egan instead.

    Obama was then introduced - for a second time - and he finally took the stage to sustained applause. (ABC)
    (Unendorsed) commentary at Commonweal. And interesting observations from the National Post.

    update: Diogenes is not pleased.

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    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    Bishop Finn does everything but name Obama

    In his upcoming column for the Catholic Key, Bishop Finn responds to the question "Can a Catholic vote, in good conscience, for a candidate who supports abortion?" He says he is asked this question "over and over again", and this is his response.

    (You will remember, at the outset, that Bishop Finn co-authored this excellent pastoral letter along with Archbishop Naumann of Kansas City. Finn made it into AmP's '06 coverage: Everyone Loves Bishop Finn - "and with good reason!" I added at the time.)

    First of all, Finn explains that a politician who seeks the Catholic vote on an issue in which he opposes the Church is doing something very wrong:

    "I must say that there is another question I would pose. What is the effect on Catholics of a candidate who has been consistently supportive of abortion?

    When a candidate supports ready access to abortion on demand, they are inviting Catholics to put aside their conscience on this life and death issue. Such a candidate is inviting conscientious Catholics to look elsewhere for moral leadership.

    When a candidate promotes total unhindered “choice,” he or she discourages the Catholic vote, and at the same time tempts the voter to betray one of the most obvious intuitions of our humanity and to support the continuation of the willful destruction of human life.

    If the candidate has supported partial birth abortion, he or she asks the voter to affirm the continuation of an act that 75% of the population has rejected as repulsive."

    Finn puts quotation marks around those who advocate a vote for Obama, and explains why:

    Some groups calling themselves “Catholic” have suggested that generous programs for the poor will reduce abortions more than the repeal of Roe v. Wade. But a candidate who pledges that he or she will seek to immediately ratify the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), signals to voters that the reduction of abortions is not a goal. They are asking voters to suspend the effort to constitutionally protect human life, and – at the same time - to discard all the good progress we have made to actually reduce the number of abortions in the last thirty-five years. Such a candidate is asking Catholics to “give up” on abortion. They want us to deny our conscience and ignore their callous disregard for the most vulnerable human life.

    And now, Obama is named, in every way except by using his name (underlining mine):

    If the candidate has addressed their legislative assembly, urging opposition to the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, then it must be concluded that this candidate wishes Catholic voters to be complicit in infanticide. Rejection of this Act, which would require that a baby who survived an unsuccessful abortion attempt be cared for and not laid aside to die with no medical assistance, is a convincing example of the numbing of our moral sensibility. The candidate who supports this fatal neglect of life and asks our vote, asks too much of any fellow human being.

    Our country is at the edge of the precipice concerning the protection of the life and dignity of the human person. A significant new attack on innocent human life will likely send us into a moral freefall that would rival any financial decline. The price for such a “walk over the cliff” is millions more human lives for many more years to come.

    A candidate who asks us to add our weight to such a destructive momentum in our society, asks us to be participants in their own gravely immoral act. This is something which, in good conscience, we can never justify. Despite hardship, beyond partisanship, for the sake of our eternal salvation: This we should never do.

    Following the statement released by the bishops of Texas and Fort Worth (blogged extensively here), we have a third bishop unambiguously a) rejecting the argument of pro-Obama Catholics, b) condemning the actions of pro-choice politicians who seek the Catholic vote, and c) calling Catholics to unapologetically reject candidates that support and promote the evil of abortion to the degree that Obama does.
    I described the Texas statement as a "game changer," I think this is the beginning of momentum. Bishops are gaining courage in their position, and systematically ruling out the reservations, objections and counter-arguments that have been brought forward.

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    In the spotlight: Pro-Obama Catholics

    The question of whether one may, in good conscience, support Barack Obama as a Catholic after taking into account his positions and views will be an ongoing AmP feature leading up to the November election.

    After last night's debate, it's a perfect time to survey what top Catholic writers and intellectuals are saying about the decision-making process, and about the recent minority phenomenon of (militant, vocal) Catholic Obama supporters.

    As an important qualification - one that I thought could be presumed but judging from the comments and emails is evidently not apparent - arguments that raise questions about the prudence of voting for Obama do not necessarily constitute an argument for a McCain vote. That's a separate question, and while I realize a consideration of either men does not occur in a vacuum, it is crucial to realize that my reservations about Obama are not the result of a prior decision that McCain is the right candidate. That said.

    Point one: Some people are arguing stridently that Obama is the more acceptable candidate to Catholics.

    Point two: When Archbishop Wuerl was presented with the dominant strains of the pro-Obama argument by Catholic journalist John Allen, he repudiated them.

    Point three: Robby George has published a comprehensive overview of Obama's positions on the life issues, and talks about an often-neglected aspect of Obama's anti-life views, namely, his desire to proliferate embryonic stem cell research:

    But for a moment let's suppose, against all the evidence, that Obama's proposals would reduce the number of abortions, even while subsidizing the killing with taxpayer dollars. Even so, many more unborn human beings would likely be killed under Obama than under McCain. A Congress controlled by strong Democratic majorities under Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi would enact the bill authorizing the mass industrial production of human embryos by cloning for research in which they are killed. As president, Obama would sign it. The number of tiny humans created and killed under this legislation (assuming that an efficient human cloning technique is soon perfected) could dwarf the number of lives saved as a result of the reduced demand for abortion-even if we take a delusionally optimistic view of what that number would be.

    He sandwiches this point around two statements:

    "I have examined the arguments advanced by Obama's self-identified pro-life supporters, and they are spectacularly weak. It is nearly unfathomable to me that those advancing them can honestly believe what they are saying...

    ... In the end, the efforts of Obama's apologists to depict their man as the true pro-life candidate that Catholics and Evangelicals may and even should vote for, doesn't even amount to a nice try. Voting for the most extreme pro-abortion political candidate in American history is not the way to save unborn babies."

    Point Four: George Weigel in Newsweek has also heard the arguments and contributes in his response a summary of the current situation and a prediction of the future should Obama win:

    The argument [of pro-Obama Catholics] is, some might contend, a bold one. Yet it is also counterintuitive, running up against the fact that, by most measures and despite his rhetoric about reducing the incidence of abortion, Barack Obama has an unalloyed record of support for abortion on demand. Moreover, he seems to understand Roe vs. Wade and subsequent Supreme Court decisions as having defined abortion as a fundamental liberty right essential for women's equality, meaning that government must guarantee access to abortion in law and by financial assistance—a moral judgment and a policy prescription the pro-life Catholic Obama boosters say they reject.

    About the growing boldness of the American bishops, he observes:

    Many U.S. bishops, in other words, seem exasperated with Catholic politicians who present themselves as ardent Catholics and yet consistently oppose the Church on what the bishops consider the premier civil-rights issue of the day. It seems unlikely that the bishops, having found their voices after discovering the limits of their patience, will back off in an Obama administration—which could raise some interesting questions for, and about, a Vice President Joe Biden, whose fitness to receive holy communion may well be discussed in executive session at the bishops' annual meeting in mid-November.

    Indeed, the questions and problems we are facing now will only increase - dramatically - if this will come to pass. I join Weigel in waiting to see what the likes of Kmiec, Kaveny and Cafardi will have to say about this. I'll be here, blogging about it when that happens, but I'm not looking forward to it.

    As context to this whole debate, let's add a few remaining points.

    Point five: Raymond Arroyo notes that this remains a seriously open question mostly to those who have not examined the questions carefully and at length:

    "The real swing voters in this election will be the Easter/Christmas Catholics — those who infrequently attend church, but consider themselves in the fold. They too will be influenced by the cultural tug of the faith described above. How to capitalize on the inherent tendencies of Catholic voters will be for the candidates to discover. But it will take real savvy and sensitivity to win over this block — and a few novenas couldn’t hurt."

    Point six: But for all that, ignorance of Obama's true positions are not just found among Catholics. Average Americans are decidedly more pro-life than Obama:

    A new national poll of Americans finds a large majority take one of three pro-life positions opposing all or most abortions. The survey also finds more than one-quarter of people who say they are "pro-choice" on abortion really take a pro-life position against abortions.

    Some 60 percent of Americans say abortions should never be allowed or only in the rarest of circumstances, such as rape and incest, that constitution less than two percent of all abortions nationwide. (LifeNews)

    Point seven: Amazing as it might seem, I'm approaching this issue not just because of the upcoming election. Obviously we stand at a crossroads and Catholics have a critical part to play in the upcoming election. But we also have a critical part to play the whole year round, year by year, in forming a culture of life. Election moments, especially when candidates such as Obama are on the ballot, provide special opportunities to examine how, as Catholics, we form our conscience and prudentially strive to participate in building that culture of life.

    I'll leave off at this point since I've already compiled a huge amount of information here to read through.

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    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    Open thread: final presidential debate {updated}

    High stakes, McCain's last chance to change the trajectory - yadda, yadda. What do you think?

    update: the abortion question came up as the second-to-last question. I am aware of several grassroots efforts that petitioned the moderator to ask such a question, though I'm not sure those are directly responsible for it being asked tonight.

    There is much to talk about here, but I'll summarize my impression (and I'll wait to comment further until I have access to a transcript): I think McCain missed a golden opportunity to press Obama on his pro-abortion positions. I can't even feel confident that McCain is aware of these positions or gives them much priority. Obama's support of FOCA and repealing the Hyde amendment are two examples of his radical positions that polling shows are unappealing to the American populace. Moreover: I have never heard Obama say before that he supports a ban on partial birth abortion (can someone track this down?) - such a position cannot co-exist with his unwavering support of abortion on demand, and on removing all restrictions to abortion access.

    I think the question posed about supreme court justices gave us a small taste of what we simply have not seen in the debates this far - substantive questions about moral issues and cultural ones. What a difference a fourth debate might have made. The fact that Obama was so on the ropes and so disadvantaged when these topics came up would account heavily, I would argue, for his repetative insistence that all American's really care about is the economy ... surely we do, but we care about so much more. Economies ebb and flow, but the moral and cultural fabric is what sustains a nation throughout good times and bad. How will Obama support the government policies that will allow us to remain a great nation regardless of whether we are rich or poor?

    Anyway, waiting for the transcript, the video, and the fact checks....

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    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    Texas bishops firmly rule out common justifications for Catholic pro-abortion voting

    I have just finished reading an extraordinary document that was sent to me over the weekend. I have only just now come to it as I was catching up on my email correspondence. It is a two-page bulletin insert issued by Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas and Bishop Kevin Vann of Fort Worth.

    The Dallas website already has a note claiming the joint letter has "generated much discussion", but the bishops respond that they intended only to "clarify Catholic doctrine", not endorse or rule out specific candidates.

    But what they have said is so clear, however, that either they must be reprimanded and/or contradicted by subsequent bishops/competent Church authorities or the claim made by some, that one may vote for a pro-abortion politician even when there is a pro-life politician in the race ... is false, at least in the concrete situation of America today.

    Don't believe it? Let's follow what the document says, point-by-point. If I had to describe it in a phrase: "game changer."

    [It should be quickly noted, as well, that the bishops are being attacked for this statement. Local reports say people have walked out of the churches where this letter was read, one person claimed "My bishop basically told me that if I vote for Barack Obama, I will go to hell", others have suggested an IRS audit and said "you’ve got feet; don’t be afraid to use them."]

    Points one and two summarize the continued teaching of the Church that "not all issues have the same moral equivalence" and the destruction of the unborn "undercuts the basic human right to life ... [and] also subverts and distorts the common good."

    Point Three, ellucidates these claims (all formatting, by the way, is in the original document):
    "Therefore, we cannot make more clear the seriousness of the overriding issue of abortion – while not the “only issue” – it is the defining moral issue, not only today, but of the last 35 years. Since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, more than 48 million innocent lives have been lost. Each year in our nation more than one million lives are lost through legalized abortion. Countless other lives are also lost through embryonic stem cell research. In the coming months our nation will once again elect our political leaders. This electoral cycle affords us an opportunity to promote the culture of life in our nation. As Catholics we are morally obligated to pray, to act, and to vote to abolish the evil of abortion in America, limiting it as much as we can until it is finally abolished."
    Now here is where the rubber begins to hit the road. Point Four anticipates a common response to the above position, and rules it out:
    "As Catholics we are faced with a number of issues that are of concern and should be addressed, such as immigration reform, healthcare, the economy and its solvency, care and concern for the poor, and the war on terror. As Catholics we must be concerned about these issues and work to see that just solutions are brought about. There are many possible solutions to these issues and there can be reasonable debate among Catholics on how to best approach and solve them. These are matters of “prudential judgment.” But let us be clear: issues of prudential judgment are not morally equivalent to issues involving intrinsic evils. No matter how right a given candidate is on any of these issues, it does not outweigh a candidate’s unacceptable position in favor of an intrinsic evil such as abortion or the protection “abortion rights.” (Italics original)
    My summary: Matters of prudential judgement - including health care, the economy, concern for the poor and the war on terror - do not equal matters of intrinsic evil, and it does not matter how right a candidate is on the former if he opposes the latter. That's what this document teaches. Prudential matters, even many of them, do not outweigh the intrisic evil of abortion in America today.

    Point Five responds to the "but I'm not voting for this candidate because they are pro-abortion, I'm voting 'despite' their position on the issue of abrtion" (the most - and indeed really only -common counter-argument proposed by Catholic thinkers today):

    "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, in paragraphs 34-37, addresses the question of whether it is morally permissible for a Catholic to vote for a candidate who supports an intrinsic evil – even when the voter does not agree with the candidate’s position on that evil. The only moral possibilities for a Catholic to be able to vote in good conscience for a candidate who supports this intrinsic evil are the following:

    a. If both candidates running for office support abortion or “abortion rights,” a Catholic would be forced to then look at the other important issues and through their vote try to limit the evil done; or,

    b. If another intrinsic evil outweighs the evil of abortion. While this is sound moral reasoning, there are no “truly grave moral” or proportionate” reasons, singularly or combined, that could outweigh the millions of innocent human lives that are directly killed by legal abortion each year.

    To vote for a candidate who supports the intrinsic evil of abortion or “abortion rights” when there is a morally acceptable alternative would be to cooperate in the evil – and, therefore, morally impermissible."

    My summary: I can't say it more clearly than they have. I've said it before, but I can apply it to the debate. Here is the shift in the debate the Texas bishops are proposing: "As Catholics, one must prove there is not a morally acceptable alternative to voting for a pro-choice politician." In other words, one must claim it is not even morally acceptable to refrain from voting for that candidate!

    It is possible, I admit, that the Texas bishops are presuming that one will vote one way or the other, in which case the shift still remains: one must prove how there is no moral alternative to actually voting for a pro-choice candidate. This is, of course, a very tall order, indeed - because the document has said that in the situation of America today there are no issue which can outweigh abortion.

    Again, that is what the document says. I admit I could be missing something - in which case I'm waiting to have it pointed out. But if I am right, then either the Texas bishops are wrong about Church teaching, or a common argument claimed by some Catholics is wrong. I don't see how the two positions can co-exist in the situation as it exists in America today for catholics.

    Point Six moves further still, reminding Catholics that voting is never morally neutral:
    In conclusion, as stated in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the decisions we make on these political and moral issues affect not only the general peace and prosperity of society at large, but also may affect each individual’s salvation. As Catholics, we must treat our political choices with appropriate moral gravity and in doing so, realize our continuing and unavoidable obligation to be a voice for the voiceless unborn, whose destruction by legal abortion is the preeminent intrinsic evil of our day. With knowledge of the Church’s teaching on these grave matters, it is incumbent upon each of us as Catholics to educate ourselves on where the candidates running for office stand on these issues, particularly those involving intrinsic evils. May God bless you. (underlining original - bolding mine)
    My conclusion:

    Does this mean every Catholic in every election in America will vote the same way when there is a pro-abortion politician running against a pro-life one? No, it doesn't. It does mean, however, that a common argument used to justify voting for the pro-abortion option has been thoroughly ruled-out by this statement. I don't see how they can be any more clear.

    It goes without saying that I applaud and thank the bishops for the gift of this clear teaching. I would claim that it agrees in substance with the position I have been arguing for months in my writings. But I do not speak with authority - they do. One can ignore my arguments and conclusions, but a Catholic is bound to listen to the guidance and arguments of his shepherds. I find myself agreeing with both.

    What do you say?

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    American Bishops' VP discusses the status of pro-abort politicians

    Expert canonical commentary over at CanonLawBlog.com:

    Bp. Kicanas on Catholic pro-abortion politicians Bp. Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, now vice-president of the USCCB, gave an interview to the National Catholic Reporter's John Allen on, among other things, the situation of pro-abortion Catholic politicians. While I hesitate to read too much into Kicanas' answers (they seemed off-the-cuff, understandably so), and while I recognize that some of Allen's questions were oddly phrased, what the future USCCB president says about this issue is important, and I think a few remarks are in order. {Read about it here.}

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    Friday, October 10, 2008

    "How the Bishops Found Their Voice"

    What a difference four years make. In 2004 a small number of bishops publicly criticized the pro-abortion position of the Democrat running for president. This election year, they have grown to a large and lusty choir taking strong public stands against the pro-abortion politics of the Democratic ticket and their loudest supporters. Why such a difference from 2004 to now?

    [Find out.]

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    Thursday, October 09, 2008

    What if Obama wins?

    Many Catholics will finally realize, and admit to, the power of the political left in their Church. This will lead to a stark red state, blue state divide among Catholics in the U.S., which will be wider and deeper than what we presently see.

    ..This network has become very adept at cloaking its dissent, its political intentions, and its disdain for the agenda of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. I won't go into details because it has been chronicled often, but there are a growing number of Catholics willing to believe it because of this election.

    Steve Ertelt follows through.
    I have one prediction to add:
    Some vocal Catholics have been promising, with increasing-intensity, that Obama will bring about a renaissance of Catholic social teaching in action, and that it is morally imperative for Catholics to help him bring this about by voting for him on November 4th.
    My prediction? Come November 5th, we'll never hear from them again.
    ... that is, until November 2012.
    on a related note:
    For an example of the selective pandering that is being given to pew Catholics, consider this press release from the group "Catholic Democrats" that dropped in my inbox yesterday:
    "Catholic Democrats calls on McCain campaign to acknowledge the fundamental right to health care - [because] Catholic Bishops recognize "a fundamental human right," an approach to health care advanced throughout Obama's career."

    Given the economic climate, one can reasonably argue about whether Obama's mandate or McCain's tax credit plan will provide coverage to more people.

    On the other hand, Obama's record of opposition to the Church's teachings on abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and cloning (to name a few), is absolutely indisputable.

    And in fact, the Church's teaching about health care presumes that this health care protects the unborn, does not seek unethical cures through embryonic stem cell research or cloning.

    So run that by me again - how exactly has Obama been advancing a form of health care acceptable to Catholics throughout his career?

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    Pic: Anti-Catholic, Anti-Bishop Cartoon in Scranton Newspaper

    Bishop Martino of Scranton, PA - the hometown of pro-choice Senator Joe Biden - recently wrote a pastoral letter for Respect Life Sunday which focused on the evil of abortion. He told all his priests to read the letter in place of their homily this past Sunday.

    Here's how the local paper, the Scranton-Times Tribune responded:

    Gee, I guess depicting the Bishop with a baby cradled in his arms wouldn't convey the kind of point this cartoonist-satirist is comfortable with. I've said before that anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice, and this is a perfect example. Imagine a cartoon that claimed Jewish leaders are shills for the Democrat party? Yeah, it doesn't get published.
    I don't want this story to get unfocused by chasing down the rabbit trails of biased reporting that is also coming out of the Scranton-Times Tribune (here they are if you are interested). Suffice it to say the paper has a history of allowing this sort of anti-Catholic editorial and journalistic content. {Just look at this cartoon also mocking Bishop Martino.}
    I think the best thing is to submit a letter to the editor telling them why you don't appreciate this cartoonist mocking a bishop for caring about the rights of unborn children - a constant teaching of the Church. And watch your own papers - this sort of thing is sadly not confined to Scranton.
    Related: "The Five Non-Negotiables" (Mark Brumley lists: "Abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell experimentation, human cloning, and same-sex marriage." This list is not alphabetical.)

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    Wednesday, October 08, 2008

    Just where does McBrien get off?

    Arch-dissentor Fr. Richard McBrien has published an article - surprise, surprise - in the National Catholic Reporter in which - surprise, surprise - he claims that "one-issue bishops violate their own teaching".
    Carl Olson patiently points out that this is a straw man argument. And that's just a start.
    The Cardinal Newman Society, meanwhile, takes a bit more umbrage at McBrien:

    “Father McBrien’s blatant disregard and contempt for the leadership of the Catholic Church is nothing new,” said Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society. “Until Notre Dame and other Catholic colleges are rid of such jaded liberal theologians, the renewal of Catholic higher education can never be complete.”

    Boy, they're really coming out of the woodwork these days.

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    Obama supporter resigns for Franciscan University Board

    I mentioned the case of Nicholas Cafardi briefly when he published an article in the National Catholic Reporter. Here's what I identified at the time as objectionable in his article:
    • Selective reading of Faithful Citizenship which ignored key passages
    • Despair at ever overturning Roe and exhortation that we should get over it
    • False claim that McCain and Obama are identical on ESCR
    • Gross overstatements about the new DNC platform's language regarding abortion
    • False claim that reducing poverty outweighs the DNC plan to liberalize abortion legally
    • False claim that republicans have more total moral baggage than Democrats

    50+ comments later, today's headline rolled into my inbox: "Obama Supporter Dr. Cafardi Resigns from Franciscan University Board." Before this happened, Franciscan University of Steubenville issued a press release saying Cafardi's views did not reflect those of the University.

    The University also quickly moved to distance itself and its president "stressed that Dr. Cafardi's resignation from the board of Franciscan University was voluntary and had in no way been requested by the University" and added that he was "grateful" for Cafardi's letter, as Deal Hudson chronicles. In fact, a group of University students protested a schedule lecture by Cafardi at Carlow College in Pittsburg.

    Cafardi is the former dean of the Duquesne University Law School. He was quickly criticized for his public position, and you can bet Steubenville received plenty of complaints as well.

    My take: I think Steubenville handled this situation very well, and Cafardi's (publicly) voluntary resignation was probably the best way to handle it.

    I wonder what would happen if Doug Kmiec was still at Catholic University as he energetically seeks to convert Catholics into Obama supporters. I have noted that recent press releases for his Pro-Life Pro-Obama media center now include an asterisked line stating clearly that his views are his own and do not represent Pepperdine University.

    And, as an aside, it's also fairly evident to me that Kmiec has given up his attempts to have an intellectual debate about his position - he's just part of the Obama faith outreach machine at this point.

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    Tuesday, October 07, 2008

    BeliefNet notices Fidelis' "Anti-Abortion, Anti-Gay Marriage Video"

    It might seem odd to say this, but it makes sense if you know Beliefnet, but anyway ... for an "outsiders" prospective on the CatholicVote.com innitiative of Fidelis, and particularly their stunning video on Catholic voting, click here.
    I think the author, Dan Gilgoff, would make great strides in understanding this "phenomenon" if he realized that the motivation behind this project is not partisan in the way that so many pro-Democratic faith-based outreaches are.
    Rather, these "conservative" Catholics genuinly believe they are applying the social teaching of the Church in an authentic manner. Knowing what one must render to God informs how we approach the things of Caesar.
    That's belief in action, as strange as it may appear to some.
    I've significantly expanded this post over at the CatholicVote blog.

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    Friday, October 03, 2008

    NY state bishops say right to life outweighs other issues in voting

    I blogged about this statement when it was released yesterday. I think it is extremely significant. CNA summarizes in a helpful way, and excerpts the "radioactive" passages:

    The document [issued by the bishops of NY] “Our Cherished Right, Our Solemn Duty,” states that there are many important issues such as the right to life, issues of war and peace, the education of children and how we treat the poor and vulnerable. While all must be considered, “not every issue is of equal moral gravity.”

    “The inalienable right to life of every innocent human person outweighs other concerns where Catholics may use prudential judgment, such as how best to meet the needs of the poor or to increase access to health care for all,” the New York bishops’ document says.

    “The right to life is the right through which all others flow. To the extent candidates reject this fundamental right by supporting an objective evil, such as legal abortion, euthanasia or embryonic stem cell research, Catholics should consider them less acceptable for public office.”

    Sure, to most readers of AmP, this might seem like common sense. But in the wider discourse of Catholics, it is distinctly uncommon sense (sadly). But this is what the bishops are telling us. What response do they (we) have?

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    Thursday, October 02, 2008

    Michael Novak takes on "Catholics for Obama"

    The entire article is illuminating reading, but I excerpt Michale Novak's reaction to one of the arguments de jour of the new pro-Obama Catholic apologists (underlining mine):

    The other reason for supporting Obama that some Catholic leftists put forward is that very little in reducing abortions has been accomplished by the Republican party in the years since President Reagan. Is that claim true?

    Well, President Bush did sign the two acts of legislation that Obama opposed in their state forms, the ban on partial-birth abortion and the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. These acts do not seriously alter the number of annual abortions. But they do establish in law the fundamental principle of the natural rights of infants in the womb. They treat these human individuals as worthy of respect and they defend their rights to live and breathe and continue growing into adults.

    Two formidable obstacles have prevented Republican presidents from going farther. The first is heavy resistance from most Democrats (who until recently were driving pro-life Democrats out of party leadership) and some Republicans (country-club Republicans, mostly). The second is furious resistance from the liberal judiciary (mostly country-club liberals) at almost every higher level.

    It is mind-twisting for reasonable people to discern how leftist Democrats think Obama will change his abortion stripes, and then go farther than President George W. Bush (boo! hiss!) in promoting a culture of life. Most of those who will vote for Obama do not think Obama is pro-life. Why should a few leftist Catholics?

    Exactly. If Obama were actually the candidate that a few leftist Catholics claim him to be, that means the vast majority of people voting for Obama don't know what he is about. This is a deception being played upon Catholics on a grand scale, and the rank-and-file Obama planners and strategists know it.

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    NY bishops' voting guide: abortion outweighs health care, Roe & FOCA crucial

    I think this statement released yesterday by the NY bishops conference is very important because it responds to the recently-popularized argument that some pro-choice candidates could actually reduce abortions through their other policies - such as poverty reduction and health care - and thus Catholics could vote for them.
    As a faithful Catholic, I think both these policies hold great merit, but if pursuing them means electing someone who will allow and promote the destruction of unborn life along the way, then it is an evil means and cannot be chosen. Catholics are more than utilitarians. And killing some children so that others may have a higher quality of life is the most brutal of utilities.
    For a summary of what the New York bishops say, see LifeNews.

    For their full original document, click here (recommended).

    An excerpt from the statement (underlining mine):

    It is the rare candidate who will agree with the Church on every issue. But as the U.S. Bishops’ recent document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship makes clear, not every issue is of equal moral gravity. The inalienable right to life of every innocent human person outweighs other concerns where Catholics may use prudential judgment, such as how best to meet the needs of the poor or to increase access to health care for all.

    Did you catch that? The right to life outweighs other concerns, such as universal health care. Universal health care and meeting the needs of the poor is important, but both are logically secondary to having life in the first place. You have to be alive to be poor or need health care. The unborn are the poorest and the most in need of "health care."

    The very first "important questions for political candidates" posed by the NY bishops:
    • Do you agree with the need to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, which struck down all state laws criminalizing abortion and established a woman’s “right” to abort her unborn child in the womb?
    • Do you oppose the state’s “Reproductive Health & Privacy Protection Act” or the federal “Freedom of Choice Act” which both go beyond Roe v. Wade, guaranteeing a fundamental right to abortion with no restrictions or regulations?

    The clear teaching of the NY bishops here is that Roe cannot be tolerated by Catholics in good conscience. We cannot give up the fight to tear down unjust and immoral laws. Furthermore, any candidate who actively supports guaranteeing the right to abortion through FOCA, is actively abetting the murder of children.

    Simply put, one cannot reduce abortions by promoting them. One cannot vote for someone who will promote abortions and convince oneself honestly that he or she has the best good of unborn children at heart.

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    Sisters of Mercy host Catholics for Obama event

    Deal Hudson has a report from the event, passed along by Fransiscan U. of Stuebenville students:

    Last evening at Carlow University in Pittsburg, the Sisters of Mercy hosted a Catholics for Obama event. I received a call from someone who attended the event who told me the “high point was when a Catholic priest urged everyone in the crowd to report any priest to the IRS and to the diocese of Pittsburgh who preaches from the pulpit that you must vote based on one issue.”

    There were about 15 sisters present and three priests. Here is the description of the event sent to me by those who attended.

    I hope things don't get any more nasty before the election.

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    Wednesday, October 01, 2008

    Kmiec defends pro-Obama position in conference call

    This morning I was able to listen-in on some brief parts of a conference call hosted by the Matthew 25 Network which featured Doug Kmiec defending his position that a Catholic can support Barack Obama for President.

    John Allen asked a very interesting question and has posted Kmiec's response.

    I only heard bits and snatches of Kmiec's comments in response to a CNS question about the reaction he has encountered subsequent to coming out in support of Obama as a Catholic. He did, however, make some sort of claim that the blog world has been filled mostly with hatred for him and that most of his critics haven't even bothered to read his book.

    I have a few reactions to Kmiec. First, my extensive criticisms of his position have always been based on his public position and actual words. As you can see, I've found plenty of material right there.

    Second, as for reading Kmiec's book, here's the best review of it I've read so far:
    "It doesn't contain anything new, but it does make the best argument that can be made for a preposterous position." (source.)
    Kmiec's arguments aren't anything new, and what he says in the book is simply a more extended version of the argument - albeit refined with greater precision - that he's already been peddling. It's an argument I've extensively critiqued on these pages, and think simply does not hold up.

    I'll end with an observation about this Matthew 25/Kmiec phenomenon. It doesn't feel genuine. It feels calculated, and political. For one thing, they protest to much: they protest that anyone who criticizes Obama's position on life issues must in fact be a republican and be criticizing Obama essentially for political gain.

    I wish they could prove to me that they weren't supporting Obama for identical reasons (i.e., political). And I have some sort of sneaking suspicion that this whole push to get Catholics on the Obama bandwagon ... well, I think all this attention is going to evaporate the day after the election.

    Because it's our votes they really want.

    More reading (to be updated):

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    Monday, September 29, 2008

    Video: Chaput discusses Catholics & Politics at length

    Archbishop Chaput sat down for a five-part interview with Peter Robinson for NRO's "Uncommon knowledge." Watch it here.
    Here are summaries of the individual segments and links if one interests you particularly:
    • Part 5: Archbishop Chaput says Catholic Democrats have an obligation to change their party’s platform on abortion, just as Catholic Republicans are responsible for keeping their party pro-life. Moreover, he says the Catholic position on abortion need not be just a Catholic position, but an American position.
    • Part 4: Archbishop Chaput has written that “The logic behind abortion makes all human rights politically contingent.” For example, Chaput explains that if our leaders can decide when life begins, they also can make determinations about when life should end. Overall, Chaput describes what is a coarsening of the value of life in the Western world.
    • Part 3: Archbishop Chaput describes the relationship between Jesus and Caesar, or between Catholics and the state: First, Jesus acknowledged his responsibilities to Caesar. Second, Jesus demoted Caesar, making clear that “God is God and Caesar is not.” Third, Jesus remained silent about what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God, allowing for individual determinations on the duties of citizens.
    • Part 2: Archbishop Chaput describes Vatican II as the “primary grace of God to the Catholic Church in the 20th century.” And yet, since Vatican II, the Catholic Church in America has suffered greatly. In particular, the numbers of Catholic seminarians, priests, and nuns have plummeted. Chaput explains why this is, and is not, a dilemma.
    • Part 1: Archbishop Charles Chaput corrects House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has said the Catholic Church’s teachings on abortion aren’t clear. On the contrary, Chaput says the Church has long held that abortion is always and in all circumstances wrong. He also says Sen. Joe Biden’s position on abortion — that people should not impose their beliefs on the subject on others — is highly flawed.

    Aside from taking on some current topics, it appears the Archbishop has closely followed the structure and primary points illustrated in his recent NYT-bestsellar, Render Unto Caesar.

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    Palin Jitters

    I'm sad to agree with Brian Saint-Paul's assessment. I think the coaching that Sarah Palin has been receiving to prepare her for Thursday's VP debate is hurting, not helping her ability to perform well under pressure.

    Related: Breaking Sarah?

    also Related ... this sick scheme: "Donate to Planned Parenthood in Palin's name."

    Ph/t: AmP Reader Jake.

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    Papist Quote of the Day

    Deal Hudson on pro-Obama Catholic Doug Kmiec's new book:

    "It doesn't contain anything new, but it does make the best argument that can be made for a proposterous position."
    Deal suggests reading this article by Deacon Keith Fournier for a thorough review and refutation.

    I pointed out a serious error in Kmiec's book last week here.

    Related: Doug Johnson on the Obama Abortion Reduction Scam

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    Friday, September 26, 2008

    Tip: Submit your live chat questions to Abp. Chaput today!

    Got a tip for ya:

    "Archbishop Chaput will be answering questions live on [his new book] Render Unto Caesar today from 5-6 p.m. EST in an online bookclub discussion"

    You may already submit a discussion question here.

    I already submitted a question. =)

    And of course, if you haven't bought his book yet, I consider it required pre-voting reading.

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    Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    Madison Theology on Tap Appearance

    Last Thursday, as I mentioned, I was invited to give the Theology on Tap talk for the Cathedral Parish of Madison, Wisconsin on the topic of "Faith in the Ballot Box: Catholic Conscience in the Civic Arena."

    It was a wonderful chance to systematically think through and then present the huge range of material AmP has covered in recent months on the relationship between our Catholic faith and our involvement in American politics.
    I drew most immediately upon Abp. Chaput's new book on the topic, as well as the most recent voting guide of the U.S. Bishops (Faithful Citizenship - PDF), as well as their excellent 1998 version, Living the Gospel of Life. Obviously these documents themselves rest on Sacred Scripture, the Catechism, Documents of Vatican II, Encyclicals, etc.
    The Cathedral Parish is a tech-savvy setup, so you can already access an audio of the talk and the subsequent Q&A session through this link. It's amazing how fast an hour-and-a-half flies by when you get going. I also posted the photos that were taken to this AmP Flickr photo set.

    A special surprise came with the appearance of local bishop Robert Morlino to hear my presentation. As AmP readers may remember, Bishop Morlino set aside his prepared homily on the Sunday that Joe Biden spoke his foolishness in order to set the record straight.
    Since Bishop Morlino made his clarification, he's been facing a bit of local backlash from the liberal element in Madison, but appears to be weathering the storm just fine.
    I'm happy to say that it appears he enjoyed the talk, and as long as I don't receive an excommunication in the mail shortly, I can presume safely that I didn't manage to confuse the issues too badly. ;-)

    Special thanks go to Monica Freng, who invited me and was a wonderful hostess, as was her husband Ryan (er, "host"). Please keep them in your prayers as they have their first little one on the way. My gratitude also to Msgr. Kevin Holmes, pastor of the combined "Isthmus Catholic area", for his hospitality throughout my stay.
    Mr. Brock Heinz and his wife were also extremely generous to me over the weekend. I would urge all WI-area readers to check out the excellent Men of Christ conference and their various hosted events. You can already sign up for the 2009 conference, for instance.

    Thanks, finally, to all the AmP readers who made an appearance at the talk, participated actively in the before-during-and-after debate, and even stood me for a pint or two as the evening wore on!
    It's always such an excitement for me to meet readers in person. Blogging can be a very impersonal affair at times and it means so much to me whenever I get the chance to meet folks in person with whom I've been corresponding!

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    Joseph Bottum sums things up

    Joseph Bottum, editor of First Things, has an excellent piece in the UK Weekly Standard that sums up well about twenty or so stories that AmP has been covering in recent months regarding catholics and American politics.
    I urge you to read the whole article, but if don't have time, at least note his conclusion (underlining mine):

    "And yet, there remains that question of abortion. Things have tightened over the last few years, the Catholic position is firmer in the public's mind--firmer in the Catholic mind, for that matter. McCain was a long way from the pro-lifers' first choice for a Republican nominee, but the Democrats this election cycle are determined to force the issue. They've pushed, and they've pushed, and they've pushed, until Catholics are falling off the cliff. Poor Doug Kmiec and his sad question, "Can a Catholic Support Him?" As a matter of good conscience, the answer looks increasingly like no, a Catholic can't support Obama. And as a matter of political fact--well, that's starting to look like no, as well, isn't it?"

    Of course, it's better to earn this conclusion after following Bottum's extended analysis.

    If you don't agree with Bottum's conclusion, please at least read the entirety of his piece before objecting.

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    Canadian Bishops release 4-page voting guide

    Our American version, by comparison, is roughly 42 pages (PDF here).

    The Canadian 4-pager is here, again in PDF format. It has four principles:
    • Respect for life and dignity of the human person
    • Preferential option for the poor
    • The war in Afghanistan
    • Environment

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    Biden bad, Palin good, for Catholic vote

    Biden bad - the author claims that 55 bishops have responded to Biden thus far?!

    Palin good - note that regular Mass attendees choose against Obama more often.

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    Thursday, September 18, 2008

    Bishops invite presidential candidates for a sit-down

    They're saying "stop on by!":

    Leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have invited both major party presidential candidates to meet with them before the election, reportedly to discuss social issues. The bishops who would attend any such meeting are chairmen of USCCB committees on pro-life issues, education, migration, international affairs and communications.

    A spokeswoman for the McCain campaign told the Wall Street Journal that the Republican senator wants to accept the invitation, but does not know if he can fit a meeting into his schedule.

    Sister Mary Ann Walsh, Media Director of the USCCB, confirmed to CNA that neither candidate has accepted the invitation yet. (CNA)

    As I've noted before, McCain has squeezed-in meetings with several bishops during his journies across the states. Obama? Not-a-one (that I've seen reported, anyway).
    Again, this really makes me wonder about the sincerity of Obama's Catholic outreach, when he himself refuses to pursue a meeting with our bishops and the head of his Catholic outreach committee refuses to debate any notable Catholic representatives.

    Basically, it makes me think they just want our votes, not our input.

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    Wednesday, September 17, 2008

    Doug Kmiec's lesson learned, and mine

    I'm going to make this post as simple as possible so hopefully it will retain a sharp focus.

    Doug Kmiec, the most notable Catholic with a previous pro-life record who publicly supports Barack Obama, has published an excerpt from his new book about voting for Barack Obama as a Catholic. This excerpt tells the story of an event that took place in April where he was denied communion for his public support of Barack Obama.
    I'm not going to get into that here, because others have already done so.
    At the end of telling his story, Kmiec concludes (underlining mine):
    "Perhaps there was a Providential hand at work using [this event] to teach a lesson to a larger congregation. The lesson? Any Voter Guide even hinting at a Catholic duty as a matter of faith and morals to vote against Senator Obama is seriously in error."

    Now that is quite a claim.

    Kmiec himself admitted, in his famous coming-out-for-Obama article in Slate:

    "Beyond life issues, an audaciously hope-filled Democrat like Obama is a Catholic natural."

    Now hold on a second. "Beyond life issues"? That should give us pause. Kmiec is of course referring to Obama's extreme stance on abortion rights, embryonic stem cell research, etc. But do the American bishops also say Obama's positions should give us pause? Do they hint at it? Let's see....

    First, Faithful Citizenship (PDF), the most recent Voting Guide from the American bishops, says:

    "A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter’s intent is to support that position." (#34)

    Okay, so already above we have one example of the official voting guide of the American bishops describing a way in would be a Catholic duty, as a matter of faith and morals, to not vote for Senator Obama. So does that mean the American bishops are "seriously in error"? Maybe not...

    Second quote from Faithful Citizenship:

    "A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support." (#42)

    Here now is a second situation in which the official voting guide of the American bishops describes a situation (applicable here) where one may "legitimately" disqualify Obama. So here the American bishops, to use Kmiec's words, "hint" at what could be a Catholic duty. So would Kmiec consider the American bishops "seriously in error" for even hinting this?

    Third quote from Faithful Citizenship, from their "Goals for Political Life" (p. 29):

    We hope Catholics will ask candidates how they intend to help our nation pursue these important goals:

    • Address the preeminent requirement to protect the weakest in our midst—innocent unborn children—by restricting and bringing to an end the destruction of unborn children through abortion.

    Note that the first question they teach Catholics should ask their candidate is how they intend to protect innocent unborn children by means of restricting or bringing an end to abortion.

    Obama would actually repeal current restrictions (by signing the "Freedom of Choice" act as his "first act as President") and has committed himself, in pursuing the platform of the DNC, to never bring an end to abortion. He fails 2 out of 2.

    Therefore, one could reasonably argue, the official Voting Guide of the American Bishops more than "hints" that it might be a Catholic duty as a matter of faith and morals to vote against Senator Obama, making them, by Kmiec's own conclusion, "seriously in error."

    I know what the response to the above argument will be: "But the Church will never choose parties, candidates or tell us who to vote for!" That's right, but they sometimes hint. If they didn't even hint, we would have absolutely no guidance for how to vote, but we do. Stating a general principle that (incidentally but obviously) applies to a particular candidate is hinting.

    Kmiec could have played it safe, but he didn't. He may have learned his lesson, but it's a wrong one.

    Oh, and for good measure, one could also make the case that this Voting Guide gives hints that McCain could be an unacceptable candidate (e.g., for his support of embryonic stem cell research).

    As I hope is clear, this is not an anti-Obama post. This is an anti-Kmiec-sophism post.

    So what lessons did I learn? Kmiec thinks the Voting Guide of the American bishops is seriously in error, and Kmiec's support of Obama has forced him to propose more and more untenable arguments.

    update: and just to take one example of a local bishop also making the sort of "hints" that Kmiec would claim are "seriously in error", see this Voting Guide (PDF) issued by Bishop William Lori, Diocese of Bridgeport, CT and Chair of the USCCB Committee on Doctrine:

    "... while Faithful Citizenship acknowledges that one may vote for a politician who supports pro-abortion policies “only for truly grave moral reasons,” a conscientious voter must question what grave moral issue rises to the level of nearly 49 million lives lost to the evil of abortion."

    And there are many, many others like this.

    Where is Kmiec getting his lessons?!

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    Monday, September 15, 2008

    Obama campaign rolls out line of "faith merchandise"

    Aimed broadly at Christians, but more specifically at Catholics:

    The Obama campaign is preparing rolling out a new line of “faith merchandise” – the latest move in an ambitious effort to win over religious voters.

    “Check out the Believers for Barack, Pro-Family Pro-Obama, and Catholics for Obama buttons, bumper stickers and signs….” says Obama Deputy Director of Religious Affairs Paul Monteiro in an e-mail obtained by the Beliefnet Web site.

    Both campaigns have been making a major push for the Catholic vote, which has gone to the winning presidential campaign in every race since 1976, except Al Gore’s 2000 White House bid.

    Beliefnet reported that "Clergy for Change" and "Pro-Israel Pro-Obama" merchandise will soon be offered. (CNN)

    With less than 50 days to go until Election Day, watch for things to heat up - fast. It's a changed game: "For 1st time this election, more Americans think McCain will win."

    Strange that the Obama campaign should be doing all this merchandising distribution, while staunchly avoiding any opportunity to dialogue with the leaders of the Catholic church.
    McCain has met repeatedly with various bishops during his travels, and I'm sure Obama has had similar opportunities but has turned them down. The infamous "Pelosi Timer" is at 10 days and counting. Joe Biden has not publicly responded to to any of the fourteen bishops who have criticized his public defense of abortion and he skipped out on the installation Mass of his own local bishop.

    Oh wait, not so strange at all, really.

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    Sunday, September 14, 2008

    My latest for CatholicVote.com

    As I mentioned briefly earlier, I'll be contributing occasionally to the CatholicVote.com blog.

    Today I take the substance of this post on Joe Biden's "Catholic Problem", focus it, and post it there.

    CatholicVote.com is a "project of the Fidelis Center for Law and Policy" and " does not endorse any candidate for office" (more). They also commissioned this fantastic video that deserves re-posting in case you missed it:



    "Catholics United" could take a note on objectivity and truth-in-advertising from CatholicVote.com.

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    Friday, September 12, 2008

    More bishops respond to Joe Biden

    Sen. Joe Biden's home bishop, recently-installed W. Francis Malooly, has issued a statement:

    "Earlier today, our United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a statement to clarify remarks recently made by Senator Joseph Biden. They explain the truth of the matter in a clear and concise way. As your Bishop, I want you to understand our Church teaching, embrace it and promote it.

    [he quotes the USCCB statement]

    It is my intention to build a supportive and trusting friendship with Senator Biden and as many public officials as I can. I will do my best, with your prayers, to assist him and all public officials as well as all citizens in our Diocese and beyond to understand how crucial the sanctity of human life is to a just society in the State of Delaware, the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and our entire nation."

    Justin Cardinal Regali, who co-authored the USCCB statement, has also published his personal comments in the diocesan newspaper of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

    Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo addressed Biden's remarks in a letter sent to his priests:

    "Senator Biden, and all others who mistakenly claim that the beginning of life is a matter of religious opinion confuse matters more by implying that the time of when life begins is a matter of faith, and not that of science, the natural law, or truth,” Bishop Aquila wrote. “Any person who has studied biology, whether they are a Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Christian, agnostic or atheist, knows that human life begins at the moment of conception.” (CNA)

    Here is the updated list of bishops who have responded to Sen. Joe Biden.
    Ph/t: Whispers.

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    Thursday, September 11, 2008

    Kansas City bishops find their voice, teach the truth unambiguously

    On Wednesday, I made the case that the American bishops are at a cross-roads, where they have begun "waging an offensive (as opposed to defensive) war on behalf of unborn children in this country." Tonight, two American bishops have begun an all-out assault on the culture of death.

    The Catholic Key (the offical blog of the diocesan newspaper) provides us with the joint pastoral statement "Our Moral Responsibility as Catholic Citizens" of Archbishop Joseph Naumann, the Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas and Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph on the question ""Could a Catholic in good conscience vote for a candidate who supports legalized abortion when there is a choice of another candidate who does not support abortion or any other intrinsically evil policy?"

    The bishops cover their doctrinal bases, citing the normative documents in the social teaching traditional of the Church. I urge my readers to read the entire text, as I'm only excerpting the "radioactive" passages. After speaking of a wide range of moral matters that the Church intersts herself in for the best good of the human person in society, they come to the solid food of their statement.
    First, they rule out voting for candidates that support intrinsically evil actions because one agrees with their anti-life stance (underlining mine):

    There are, however, some issues that always involve doing evil, such as legalized abortion, the promotion of same-sex unions and ‘marriages,’ repression of religious liberty, as well as public policies permitting euthanasia, racial discrimination or destructive human embryonic stem cell research. A properly formed conscience must give such issues priority even over other matters with important moral dimensions. To vote for a candidate who supports these intrinsic evils because he or she supports these evils is to participate in a grave moral evil. It can never be justified.

    Clearly such a decision-making process is gravely disordered.
    But what about the situation where one is considering voting for a candidate who supports intrinsically evil acts not because one agrees with them:

    In another circumstance, we may be confronted with a voting choice between two candidates who support abortion, though one may favor some limitations on it, or he or she may oppose public funding for abortion. In such cases, the appropriate judgment would be to select the candidate whose policies regarding this grave evil will do less harm. We have a responsibility to limit evil if it is not possible at the moment to eradicate it completely.

    The same principle would be compelling to a conscientious voter who was confronted with two candidates who both supported same-sex unions, but one opposed abortion and destructive embryonic research while the other was permissive in these regards. The voter, who himself or herself opposed these policies, would have insufficient moral justification voting for the more permissive candidate. However, he or she might justify resorting to a write-in vote or abstaining from voting at all in this case, because of a conscientious objection.

    They then mention the all-important communique from Cardinal Ratzinger (before he became pope):

    In 2004 a group of United States Bishops, acting on behalf of the USCCB and requesting counsel about the responsibilities of Catholic politicians and voters, received a memo from the office of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, which stated: “A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.”

    And here they go, applying the cardinal's principles to the concrete situation confronting American catholic voters today (underlining mine):

    Could a Catholic in good conscience vote for a candidate who supports legalized abortion when there is a choice of another candidate who does not support abortion or any other intrinsically evil policy? Could a voter’s preference for the candidate’s positions on the pursuit of peace, economic policies benefiting the poor, support for universal health care, a more just immigration policy, etc. overcome a candidate’s support for legalized abortion? In such a case, the Catholic voter must ask and answer the question: What could possibly be a proportionate reason for the more than 45 million children killed by abortion in the past 35 years? Personally, we cannot conceive of such a proportionate reason.

    They conclude with some excellent observations regarding the state of the Church in America at this juncture, and the incredible opportunity afforded to Catholics to shape public policy informed by the teachings of Christ, which ultimately have the best good of the human person at their source and heart.
    Where does this leave us Catholics? It does not bind us, necessarily, on penalty of sin, to agree with the conclusion of these bishops. But it binds us, in our conscience, to be confident that our evaluation of the situation is more correct than theirs.
    The bishops are not imposing a course of action upon us, they are proposing an approach that is illumined by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, directed by the tradition of the Church, and supported by their own hard-earned wisdom from being pastors of souls and guardians of ours.
    Some readers might respond that I am "stacking the deck" too heavily in favor of agreeing with their position, and that I have not used such language in similar circumstances where bishops have spoken on other moral matters (and I have disagreed with their particular judgement).
    This observation, while true to some degree, misses the fact that in this case the bishops argue that their description of the moral gravity concerned here trumps that of other moral issues. When other bishops, say, argue about immigration, health care, or a working wage, they never claim that such-and-such a specific issue holds a special place (this does not mean it can't still occupy an important one), but it seems nearly universal that when bishops speak out about abortion and other equal life issues that involve the life and death of human persons, they boldly and unequivocally state their case.
    I believe we are called to as boldly, and as unequivocally, join them in taking a stand for the dignity and right to life of every human being from conception to natural death. This does not mean we can cease fighting other injustices in this world, it means that we must address the totality of issues, and like a house built on a rock, firm up the foundational life issues even as we seek to build up a culture of life, a house and world worthy of the children of God.
    I end with the words of the above-mentioned bishops:
    The number of Catholics and the percentage of Catholics in the United States have never been greater. There has never been a moment in our nation’s history when more Catholics served in elective office, presided in our courts or held other positions of power and authority. It would be wrong for us to use our numbers and influence to try to compel others to accept our religious and theological beliefs. However, it would be equally wrong for us to fail to be engaged in the greatest human rights struggle of our time, namely the need to protect the right to life of the weakest and most vulnerable.
    We need committed Catholics in both major political parties to insist upon respect for the values they share with so many other people of faith and good will regarding the protection of the sanctity of human life, the upholding of the institution of marriage between a man and a woman as the foundation of family life, as well as the protection of religious liberty and conscience rights. It is particularly disturbing to witness the spectacle of Catholics in public life vocally upset with the Church for teaching what it has always taught on these moral issues for 2,000 years, but silent in objecting to the embrace, by either political party, of the cultural trends of the past few decades that are totally inconsistent with our nation’s history of defending the weakest and most vulnerable.

    Okay, let's talk about it.

    update: I've re-posted one of my above comments over at the Catholic Vote blog, which I'll be contributing to from time to time. My thanks to its organizers for the kind invitation.

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    Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    Open thread: Kerry v. Biden

    In recent decades, the American bishops have fought a defensive war against pro-abortion Catholic politicians, giving up one strategic position after another.
    John Kerry battled them to a near-total defeat in 2004. But victory breeds indolence: pro-abort politicians could afford to push the boundaries because they had no reason to expect resistance, and they didn't have to be particularly smart or careful about how they waged their war of dissemination.
    All that changed when Nancy Pelosi made her outrageous claims on Meet the Press - she pushed the American bishops so close to the brink that they finally took a stand and fought back. She had pushed too far, and had left her flank open for a counter-attack. Seeing their opening, a few brave bishops led the charge, and as these leaders emerged, others were quick to join them.
    Like any rally, it gained strength and inertia, so that when Joe Biden attempted to re-draw the line and re-establish the boundaries (boundaries that had been secure and familiar to John Kerry), the American bishops didn't stop.
    Want to see what I mean? Look at what John Kerry was saying unchallenged several years ago, and compare it to what Joe Biden said on Sunday. They're not so different. The difference is that the US Bishops, because of Pelosi, were already engaged actively in the debate when a pro-abort Catholic politician made the "I can't impose my personal belief" argument.
    With the publication of yesterday's statement by the USCCB, the American Bishops, for the first time in years, are waging an offensive (as opposed to defensive) war on behalf of unborn children in this country.
    May they be commended, and the Holy Spirit thanked.

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    Tuesday, September 09, 2008

    Welcome, Huffington Post readers

    I was quoted extensively today for an article by Diane Tucker in the Huffington Post, "Palin Winning Over Twenty-Something Catholics." She looks at the results of a recent AmP Poll, and excerpts recent comments made about Palin's selection by you folks, my faithful papist readers. So go take a gander and comment if you wish.

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    Monday, September 08, 2008

    Timer: How long before Pelosi meets with Niederauer?

    Here are the facts:

    So ... she will be in the same city as Niederauer very soon, in all likelihood. What a perfect opportunity this will be to take him up on his public offer, which she publicly accepted!

    And surely if her Catholic faith is as important to her as she says, she will not leave the bishop waiting for her, after her comments have provoked the response of so many bishops and have gained so much attention.

    With that said, I've started a timer which will track how long it has been since she said yes:



    tick, tock, tick, tock ...

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    Deja Vu: Biden-Gate has begun ... complete coverage

    Just when the furor over Nancy Pelosi's comments on Meet the Press had subsided...
    Obama's running mate Joe Biden has today been asked the same question, in the same forum, and has given essentially the same answer.
    (for regular coverage, scroll down or return to the homepage)

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    Breaking: Chaput responds to Biden

    Today on the Archdiocese of Denver website, the following news item:

    Denver bishops release letter to faithful, stress importance of accurate moral reasoning by public servants

    Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. and Auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley have released a new letter to the Catholics of northern Colorado, titled “Public Servants and Moral Reasoning.” In the letter, they reaffirm the importance of informed moral reasoning when discerning public action, especially in regard to Catholics who serve their country on the national stage. Click here to read the full letter (PDF file)

    The last two paragraphs sum-up Archbishop Chaput's position:

    In his Meet the Press interview, Sen. Biden used a morally exhausted argument that American Catholics have been hearing for 40 years: i.e., that Catholics can't "impose" their religiously based views on the rest of the country. But resistance to abortion is a matter of human rights, not religious opinion. And the senator knows very well as a lawmaker that all law involves the imposition of some people's convictions on everyone else. That is the nature of the law. American Catholics have allowed themselves to be bullied into accepting the destruction of more than a million developing unborn children a year. Other people have imposed their "pro-choice" beliefs on American society without any remorse for decades.

    If we claim to be Catholic, then American Catholics, including public officials who describe themselves as Catholic, need to act accordingly. We need to put an end to Roe and the industry of permissive abortion it enables. Otherwise all of us - from senators and members of Congress, to Catholic laypeople in the pews - fail not only as believers and disciples, but also as citizens.

    Bishops who have responded to Biden so far: 3.

    update: Fr. Z notes...
    "Hugh Hewitt today read Archbp. Chaput’s entire response to Sen. Joe Biden. He concluded that if you are a devout Catholic, you cannot vote for Sen. Biden, because you would be cooperating in evil. No mincing words from him. He just laid it out in stark terms."
    There, that wasn't too hard, was it?

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    Sunday, September 07, 2008

    Sen. Joe Biden follows in Pelosi's footsteps

    On today's Meet the Press, Barack Obama's Catholic running mate Joe Biden is confronted with the same question asked of Nancy Pelosi two weeks ago.

    His response is not a surprise to those who know Joe Biden's record on abortion and his attempts to reconcile it with his Catholic faith.
    But it is a surprise that he still tries to mount this defense after Pelosi-Gate. You would think he might have paused.
    The video of his response (transcript and commentary below):



    You can find the full transcript here.

    Before we take a look at Biden's defense, I must note this important point:
    This is developing into perfect storm. Rocco reports via the Deleware News-Journal, that tomorrow Joe Biden's new bishop Fran Malooly will be installed, and Joe Biden plans to attend the Mass.
    (Malooly knows it is coming, too:

    Malooly said he won't be surprised if the media ask him about the best-known member of his new diocese -- Sen. Joe Biden, who is running for vice president.

    Biden, a 35-year member of the Senate, has said he believes in Catholic teachings on the sanctity of life but has often voted in favor of abortion rights.

    "I'm anxious to have a chance to speak with him as I would any politician," Malooly said at a farewell reception in Parkville, Md., last Sunday.

    He'll seek to understand Biden's point of view, much as he did with Maryland politicians. And Malooly said that he will share the scope of Catholic pro-life teachings with Biden.

    A sizable number of Catholics hold beliefs that go against church teachings, the bishop said.

    "I have to work on everybody, not just Joe Biden," Malooly said.

    Biden has been invited to the installation, but as of late Friday, Biden's staff still was trying to work out the candidate's schedule so he could attend.

    I see nothing in Malooly's comments which would lead me to believe he intends to use his installation Mass as an opportunity to begin publicly defending the teachings of the Church on this topic.
    Abp. Chaput, it should be remembered, has told the Associated Press that Joe Biden, because of his support for abortion, should refrain from taking Communion.
    Archbishop Sambi, as the apostolic nuncio, would also have an opportunity to say something officially.)
    Now let's take a look at the content of Joe Biden's argument.

    (In answer to the question: "As a Roman Catholic, when does life begin?")

    "I'd say, "Look, I know when it begins for me." It's a personal and private issue. For me, as a Roman Catholic, I'm prepared to accept the teachings of my church."

    The old mantra: "I personally believe..." Being "prepared to accept" is a reluctant phrasing.

    "But let me tell you. There are an awful lot of people of great confessional faiths--Protestants, Jews, Muslims and others--who have a different view. They believe in God as strongly as I do. They're intensely as religious as I am religious. They believe in their faith and they believe in human life, and they have differing views as to when life--I'm prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception. But that is my judgment. For me to impose that judgment on everyone else who is equally and maybe even more devout than I am seems to me is inappropriate in a pluralistic society."

    Same argument: "I believe one thing. Other people believe another thing." Joe Biden is willing to sacrifice what he believes are human lives because other people believe they are not human lives (or believe they may kill them). That's really his position, in essence. And look at the example he uses to defend it next:

    "And I know you get the push back, "Well, what about fascism?" Everybody, you know, you going to say fascism's all right? Fascism isn't a matter of faith. No decent religious person thinks fascism is a good idea."

    This is the most incredible part of his defense. He claims that "Fascism isn't a matter of faith" but claims that abortion is a matter of faith! But this is the truth: the evil of abortion is not a matter of faith. It is a matter of reason. This is what must be taught him, publicly. (I further expand my commentary on his "fascism argument" below.)

    Tom Brokaw, to his credit, goes for the throat with his next question:

    Brokaw: "But if you, you believe that life begins at conception, and you've also voted for abortion rights..."

    Biden: "No, what a voted against curtailing the right, criminalizing abortion. I voted against telling everyone else in the country that they have to accept my religiously based view that it's a moment of conception. There is a debate in our church, as Cardinal Egan would acknowledge, that's existed. Back in "Summa Theologia," when Thomas Aquinas wrote "Summa Theologia," he said there was no--it didn't occur until quickening, 40 days after conception."

    Brokaw is right to point out that Biden has admitted to allowing the killing of lives he believes in faith are human. Biden's Augustine is Aquinas. But both theologians were working with an equally antiquated biology, and both men equally, constantly condemned the evil of abortion. This is a red herring that Biden offers.

    Back to the core of Biden's argument:

    "How am I going out and tell you, if you or anyone else that you must insist upon my view that is based on a matter of faith?"

    Like Pelosi did at this point, Biden now falls back to his talking points. You can stop listening at this point:

    "How am I going out and tell you, if you or anyone else that you must insist upon my view that is based on a matter of faith? And that's the reason I haven't. But then again, I also don't support a lot of other things. I don't support public, public funding. I don't, because that flips the burden. That's then telling me I have to accept a different view. This is a matter between a person's God, however they believe in God, their doctor and themselves in what is always a--and what we're going to be spending our time doing is making sure that we reduce considerably the amount of abortions that take place by providing the care, the assistance and the encouragement for people to be able to carry to term and to raise their children."

    My general observations:

    • Despite the notable differences, it's uncanny how similar are Biden and Pelosi's statements
    • Biden has claimed that the evil of abortion is a matter of faith, not reason (science, logic, biology, etc)
    • Biden has claimed a Catholic can believe life begins at conception and yet allow (and promote) abortion
    • Biden has claimed it is better to respect the opinions of the majority than to prohibit them from killing human life. To avoid violating a conscience, he will take a life. He must be answered.
    • Biden has claimed that "no decent religious person thinks fascism is a good idea." He has arbitrarily created a tautology that claims no decent religious person thought fascism was a good idea, but chooses not to also propose that "no decent religious person thinks abortion is a good idea." Essentially, Biden re-writes the historical record as he sees fit, and the fact that some people may claim to be faithful and pro-abortion means they must be correct, while others who claimed to be faithful and pro-fascism must be wrong. His explanation, with some extraction, is that people could condemn fascism for reasons besides those of faith.

    And I think, perhaps most importantly...

    • Biden has claimed, "There is a debate in our church, as Cardinal Egan would acknowledge, that's existed."

    This is not a true statement, if Biden is referring to a debate about the evil of abortion. There has never been a debate about the serious evil of abortion. Cardinal Egan would not acknowledge Biden's claim in this sense. Besides, debate does not authorize dissent. Nor does debate mean there is any ambiguity in what a faithful Catholic must actually believe and how a faithful Catholic must act. If Pelosi was wrong about this, so is Biden.

    By my count, twenty-seven bishops have now responded up Pelosi's denial of Church teaching.

    How many will come forward and correct Biden's equally-lethal separation of faith from reason and action?

    [Photo Credit: NBC's Meet the Press]
    update - other places to find good commentary on this story:

    update 2 - 9:30pm: Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, WI already devoted today's Sunday homily to this topic. You can hear the audio here (MP3 file) and read Rocco's short intro here. Jeff Miller transcribed a segment of it - truly the flood gates are opening.

    I'll be giving a Theology on Tap talk on the topic of "Faith in the Ballot Box" at the Cathedral parish of Madison, WI on Septebmer 18th. It looks like the Bishop is going to help me with talking points.

    update 3 - 8:30am, Sep. 8th: The New York Times takes note:

    Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee for vice president, departed Sunday from party doctrine on abortion rights, declaring that as a Catholic, he believes life begins at conception. Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee for vice president, departed Sunday from party doctrine on abortion rights, declaring that as a Catholic, he believes life begins at conception.

    While Mr. Biden’s views may not be new to Democrats in his circle, his comments, in an interview on “Meet the Press” on NBC, came at a time when his party is confronted with a new face: Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, whose anti-abortion stance and decision to give birth just five months ago to a baby with Down syndrome have revved up the conservative base of her party.

    update 4 - 3:30pm, Sep. 8th: Archbishop Chaput of Denver has responded, learn more here.

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    Saturday, September 06, 2008

    "Archbishop Chaput’s book makes NYT Best Seller List"

    And he beats Joe Biden's book:
    Just three weeks into the publication of “Render Unto Caesar,” Archbishop Charles Chaput’s new book has made the New York Times Best Seller list. The archbishop’s book is currently one place ahead of “Promises to Keep,” written by Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden. (CNA)
    I see that having Render Unto Caesar as my AmP book of the month is making a difference! :)

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    Flash: Pelosi *accepts* the Niederauer invitation {updated}

    {updated 1:00pm - see below}
    This comes as a surprise to me.
    The Associated Press reports (and so far only they are covering it):

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, under fire from U.S. bishops for comments she made about abortion, accepted on Friday an invitation from the Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco for a private talk.

    Pelosi said in a letter to Archbishop George Niederauer that she'd "welcome the opportunity for our personal conversation and to go beyond our earlier most cordial exchange about immigration and needs of the poor to Church teaching on other significant matters."

    ...While Pelosi's letter said she was interested in speaking about "church teaching on other significant matters," it did not mention abortion specifically. Her spokesman has defended her comments, saying in a previous statement that the congresswoman "fully appreciates the sanctity of family."

    (See my commentary on Abp. Niederauer's letter here.)

    Okay, let's examine these scant details. There's no mention of a date, and if there were I'd imagine it would have made it into the story. As the story notes, there is no reference to abortion (why beat around the bush like that?). And we don't have a copy of the actual letter.

    At least she has obligated herself to eventually having the meeting. That's something.

    And in completely unrelated news, the Associated Press also reports:

    A light earthquake has rattled the San Francisco Bay area. The U.S. Geological Survey's preliminary report put the quake at a 4.0 magnitude. The temblor hit just after 9 p.m. and could be felt throughout the region. There were no immediate reports of damage.

    Hmm, I wonder when Abp. Niederauer found out he might actually have to follow through on his offer?

    update: Diogenes also takes a look at what this episode means.

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    Friday, September 05, 2008

    Archbishop Niederauer invites Pelosi to "a conversation" {updated}

    As previously reported and commented upon, Archbishop George Niederauer has released his statement:

    Following is a statement by San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederauer in response to recent comments on abortion, Catholic teaching on the beginning of life, and other life issues made by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi. This statement by Archbishop Niederauer was published in the Sept. 5, 2008 issue of Catholic San Francisco, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

    Click here for the full text.

    The conclusion of his column (underlining mine with my commentary interspersed):

    I conclude that it is my responsibility as Archbishop to discern and decide, prayerfully, how best to approach this question as it may arise in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

    Respectfully, the archbishop has had since the time of his installation to discern and decide how best to approach this question. He's even had twelve solid days since Pelosi made her most recent comments. What conclusion has he arrived at? Or has he already arrived at it, and is telling us, essentially, that he plans to do nothing?

    I regret the necessity of addressing these issues in so public a forum, but the widespread consternation among Catholics made it unavoidable.

    I regret that the Archbishop apparently made no effort to address this matter privately for such a lengthy period of time so that now the only way to address it is publicly. Who's failing is that? The consternation of Catholics, or the archbishop's neglect of his duties?

    Speaker Pelosi has often said how highly she values her Catholic faith, and how much it is a source of joy for her.

    Ah, but *why* does she value it and find in it a source of joy? For expedient reasons? Might those reasons just as reasonably evaporate when the going gets tough?

    Accordingly, as her pastor, I am writing to invite her into a conversation with me about these matters.

    This is his great solution? It provides no timetable, no demands, no expectations. It gives her the opportunity of delaying this conversation for, oh, at least 60 days. But the simple fact of the matter is that she has been invited into conversation with the American bishops and has refused to change her position. One cannot invite someone into a conversation who has made it clear they see no reason to have one.

    It is my obligation to teach forthrightly and to shepherd caringly, and that is my intent. Let us pray together that the Holy Spirit will guide us all toward a more profound understanding and appreciation for human life, and toward a resolution of these differences in truth and charity and peace.

    It's hard for me to hear these lines and believe the Archbishop feels any sense of urgency from the ongoing slaughter of millions of unborn children. The goal of arriving at "a profound understanding and appreciating for human life", let alone a mutual "resolution of differences", might be reasonable if this were a theological/doctrinal dispute. In actuality, this debate is about remedying (or condoning) mass murder.

    This seems like far too comfortable a plan of action for a situation of such grave injustice.
    AmP readers have made some pointed observations in the comment box:
    "It is my obligation to teach forthrightly..." - He's telling us that or trying to convince himself? - Nan
    "We waited a week for this! She punches him in the nose and he invites her to coffee?" - Kelly Asan
    As Diogenes pointed out last week, Archbishop Niederauer demurred in February 2007 that Pelosi's stance on abortion was something he hadn't "had a chance to talk to her about" yet. Eighteen months later, it took a direct misrepresentation of Catholic tradition on global TV, a spokesman's flip-off to the USCCB and half the American bishops coming down on Pelosi to jump-start that long-delayed conversation, or at least to spark an invitation. - SDG
    "Denying someone communion can often be the best "pastoral" move possible. It is a medicinal action, intended to sear the conscience of the person involved. Inviting them to coffee does not have that effect - it makes the person in grave error think she is just wrong about something as trivial as the weather forecast." - Francis
    AmP reader Desiderius asks:
    "Note the Abp's message was printed simultaneously in The Tidings (Los Angeles), obviously [well, reasonably - AmP] a coordinated effort. Might one conclude this suffices as Cardinal Mahony's response to Nancy Pelosi?"
    The Tidings is a weekly newspaper serving Southern California Catholics.

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    Thursday, September 04, 2008

    Poll: Catholics and the 2008 Presidential Election

    (This poll was conducted pre-Palin:)

    These are the head-to-head ballot questions"

    • Among religiously-active Catholics likely to vote, McCain has 49%, Obama has 42%, 9% are undecided. Bush ultimately won this cohort in 2004 56%-43%.
      Among Evangelical or Born-Again Christians likely to vote, McCain leads Obama 61% - 34%, with 5% undecided. Bush won this cohort in 2004 66% - 32%.
    • While McCain currently edges out Obama with religiously active Catholics, he is still well short of the mark accomplished by Bush in 2004. McCain’s margin among Evangelical or Born-Again Christians is still significant if a bit lower than Bush’s final totals.

    There are four issues which have the potential to significantly impact the current voting intentions of voters of faith. [Read them here.]

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    Quebec priest picks church over politics following 2 years in office

    Off the American beat, but generally related to recent topics:
    Bloc Québécois MP Raymond Gravel has decided not to run in the next federal election after the Vatican forced him to choose between Parliament and the Catholic Church.

    Gravel, an ordained Roman Catholic priest, was granted special permission by the Vatican to run for federal office in 2006.

    He indicated on Tuesday that the Vatican requested he choose between politics and the priesthood in light of Canada's impending federal election. (CBC)
    Ph/t: AmP reader Blaise.

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    Tuesday, September 02, 2008

    In Philadelphia, McCain meets with Cardinal Regali

    I received this tip the day it happened, but for some reason forgot to post it. Now the media knows:

    Republican presidential candidate John McCain is in Philadelphia, but his campaign staff is saying little about what he is doing.

    McCain met with Cardinal Justin Rigali at the Catholic leader's home on Monday afternoon. (source)

    The meeting was about 25-30 minutes. Cardinal Rigali recently made the AmP radar for his involvement in Pelosi-Gate where, as the chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, he helped issue the initial response to Pelosi on behalf of the American bishops.

    So what did he and McCain talk about? It's anyone's guess.

    McCain also took time to privately meet with Archbishop Charles Chaput about a month ago.

    (How many bishops has Obama met with privately so far...? None, to my knowledge.)

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    Thursday, August 28, 2008

    Video: Abp. Chaput appears on Fox News

    update ... video:

    Thanks to the readers who sent me links to the YouTube video.

    Fr. Z has the audio, and summarizes:

    Neil Cavuto of Fox News just interview[ed] the Archbishop of Denver, His Excellency Most Reverend Charles Chaput. He spoke about Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s serious errors about the beginning of human life made last Sunday on Meet The Press. He also clarified why pro-abortion Catholics are in serious error and should not receive Holy Communion.

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    Abp. Chaput continues to steal spotlight from DNC

    The Washington Times reports:
    In retrospect, maybe the Democrats should have included Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput in their convention activities after all.

    The party was accused of deliberately snubbing the outspoken archbishop by failing to invite him to lead prayers or participate on its religion panels. Archbishop Chaput is the leader of Denver´s estimated 385,000 Catholics, the area´s largest religious denomination.

    But Archbishop Chaput may have gotten the last laugh. Democrats are doing a slow burn over the archbishop´s headline-grabbing criticism of party bigwigs and his decision to schedule major events this week during the convention´s prime-time speeches.

    Gosh, the DNC organizers must be so annoyed.

    Here's what Abp. Chaput has been up to ...

    • The DNC schedules Clinton and Biden to speak on Wednesday night?

    On the same night: "Archbishop Chaput drew hundreds to a signing of his newest book, “Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life,” at a bookstore about 15 miles from the Pepsi Center."

    • How about three nights ago, the debut night of the DNC rally?

    "Archbishop Chaput led a pro-life rally and prayer march outside a Planned Parenthood office in north Denver that started at 7:30 MST, about the same time as Michelle Obama, wife of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, was speaking to the convention."

    Now that's guts, and brains.

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