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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

    Friday, December 11, 2009

    Commentary: Catholic Politicians Face a Clear Choice in Health Care Debate

    I know it is not up to me to decide these things, but I think this is a very important post, so please bear with me.

    I am involved in the political health care debate every day here in Washington DC, and have been for months.

    The end game for this process is now in sight, so I can write with confidence about something which has been in the back of my mind for some time now.

    If the Democrat health care reform passes, it will pass with three major votes. The first one has already been taken: it was the vote on November 7th when the democrat majority passed health care reform in the House.

    Before that vote was taken, however, the pro-abortion provisions of the bill were fixed by the Stupak amendment. This means that Catholic politicians could claim they were voting for a "pro-life bill."

    But they cannot make the same claim for the next two votes, because this Tuesday Democrat Senators defeated their version of the Stupak amendment (named the Nelson amendment)

    This means future votes to push forward the health care reform are pro-abortion votes, and monumental ones at that.

    The US Bishops, as soon as the Senate pro-life amendment failed, expressed their "deep disappointment" at the news. Cardinal George, the President of the US Bishops, wrote this week:
    "Failure to exclude abortion funding will turn allies into adversaries and require us and others to oppose this bill because it abandons both principle and precedent.”
    It should be remembered that the US bishops have stated on numerous occasions that if the final health care bill does not include Hyde language (represented by the Stupak amendment in the House, and the Nelson amendment in the Senate), then the US Bishops and all serious Catholics must oppose the final bill.

    As I have said, two more votes are required, one in the Senate, and one in the House, before this health care bill goes to President Obama's desk.

    First, as early as Wednesday or Thursday of next week, US Senators will vote to pass their version of health care reform. Second, perhaps before Christmas, the House will vote to confirm the bill passed by the Senate, at which point it will go to President Obama.

    I fully expect the final version of the Senate bill to remain pro-abortion. Furthermore, it is widely being reported that the House will get no chance to address abortion funding in the legislation before it is put to a simple Yes/No vote, which will deliver it to President Obama.

    This means that, in all likelihood, before Christmas, all Catholic members of both the Senate and House will cast a definitive vote for or against the largest single expansion of abortion access and federal funding since Roe v. Wade.

    We have seen isolated cases of brave bishops calling Catholic politicians to task for their support of pro-abortion health care legislation (Bishop Tobin comes first to mind).

    What will be the fallout, I wonder, if Catholics cast the critical votes to authorize this horribly anti-life legislation? Senator Bob Casey in the Senate could be a chief architect in allowing the pro-abortion bill to leave the Senate. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is eager to rubber-stamp that same pro-abortion legislation in the House.

    This scenario leaves three urgent questions:
    • Will Catholic politicians defy the clear moral exhortation of their bishops and pass this anti-life legislation?
    • Will Catholic bishops, who have already bravely defended the interests of unborn children in this debate, continue to take the needed pastoral measures to defend the unborn?
    • Will serious Catholics, who elect these politicians, and wield influence over them, be active in helping them make the right choice and form their consciences objectively?
    It's not up to me to decide these things, but I know where my prayers, hope and actions will be in these next critical weeks. I now I can do three effective things:
    • I can contact my elected representatives through the USCCB action website here.
    • I can also contact my local bishop and (respectfully) ask that he continue to do everything in his power to defend the rights of the unborn through his influence and authority.
    • I can finally - and most importantly - pray and fast for the plight of the unborn this Advent.
    (There is a fourth thing you can do - please help me spread this important message to your Catholic friends via blogs, email, facebook, etc., so we all know what the stakes are as soon as possible.)

    As we prepare to welcome the child Jesus into our hearts this Christmas, let us take concrete and immediate action to see that every unborn child has room at the Inn of the World today.

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    Wednesday, December 09, 2009

    Profiles in Callousness: Senators Feinstein, Boxer and Mikulski

    On Monday, I blogged about two senators (one republican, one democrat) who reached across party lines in an attempt to remove abortion funding from the Senate health care bill (a move that the majority of Americans support, and a move which was defeated yesterday).

    Today I have the regrettable task of talking about a triad of staunch pro-abortion democrats in the Senate: Diane Feinstein, Barbara Boxer and Barbara Mikulski.

    What have they been contributing to the debate over abortion in healthcare? Absolute nonsense.

    Senator Feinsten, when asked, said that it is "morally correct" to force taxpayers to fund abortions:

    Senator Boxer, meanwhile, compared denying women abortion coverage to denying men Viagra. Seriously:
    As abortion took center stage in the Senate's historic debate over health care reform, Sen. Barbara Boxer was right in the middle of the fight, comparing an effort to limit women's access to abortion to restricting men's access to Viagra.

    Her combative stance on the issue was a familiar one for the third-term Democrat, whose support of abortion rights has been central to her political career.

    "Why are women being singled out here? It's so unfair," Boxer said on the Senate floor Tuesday. "We don't tell men that if they want to ... buy insurance coverage through their pharmaceutical plan for Viagra that they can't do it."
    Senator Mikulski, finally, says that it's "morally wrong" to vote against the pro-abortion health care:

    It boggles the mind. But it also makes a point: these Senators won't be convinced. They can only be defeated, politically, and that's up to us. Senators who argue that their pro-abortion position is the moral cause - let alone such stupidity as to setup a moral equivalency between abortion coverage and Viagra coverage - just need to go. 

    And we can help make that happen.

    These three Senators are all in the pocket of the pro-abortion lobby. It's their bread and butter. They actively fight for pro-abortion legislation. Sen. Mikulsi offered an amendment under which abortion could be treated as "preventative medicine." Senator Feinstein actively spoke against the abortion-neutral Nelson amendment. Senator Boxer, from private reports I've heard, was visibly beaming when the Nelson amendment failed. 

    If she's happy, babies are dying. 

    We can change this, too.

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    Thursday, November 12, 2009

    Commentary: Is abortion funding a distraction, or not?

    Back when abortion funding was in the health care reform bill (protestations from the White House to the contrary notwithstanding), President Obama told Katie Couric that the abortion issue was a "distraction" from his larger project to promote health care reform. 

    Rep. Patrick Kennedy later attacked the US Catholic bishops for using the "red herring" of abortion funding to oppose the overarching "pro-life" goals of health care reform (mark my words: it's going to be one of the biggest mistakes of his political career).

    The message of both the White House and Democrat leadership was clear: to get hung up on the abortion issue, they claimed, was to needlessly fritter away precious time at the grave human expense of those without medical insurance. Pro-life Democrats and their Republican allies were holding health care reform "hostage" over abortion, it was said.

    Then, two things happened. First, Rep. Bart Stupak's eleventh-hour abortion-neutrality amendment passed with the support of 64 Democrats. A couple days later, forty Democrats reportedly wrote to Speaker Pelosi threatening to vote "no" on a final bill unless the Stupak amendment is stripped in conference. They are, essentially, threatening to hold health care reform "hostage" over abortion.

    Reporters, pundits and talking heads, meanwhile, are all buzzing about this new battle over abortion funding. It's the talk of the town. Legislation which advances the abortion agenda is evidently a non-starter, but arguments over the legitimacy of attempts to preserve the status quo - now that's something to talk about.

    (Random aside: Chris Matthews in particular spent a lengthy segment on his program Hardball discussing the abortion funding problem with Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards. I had to raise my eyebrows when Matthews, discussing the abortion disagreement, asked Richards: "Can you cut this in half?" Her response was chilling to all King Solomon fans: "Sure.")

    But what does all this new buzz about abortion funding have in common?

    No one is saying this debate about abortion funding is a "distraction" or "red herring."

    I, for one, welcome this newly-discovered common ground.

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    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    Fireworks: Bishop Tobin escalates episcopal correction of Rep. Kennedy

    Congressman Kennedy picked the wrong Bishop to mess with.

    The back-and-forth between Congressman Patrick Kennedy and Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, RI has been interesting to watch, especially because Kennedy has attempted to defend himself with every old, tired argument in the liberal playbook.

    Bishop Tobin's most recent round, however, published in the Rhode Island Catholic newspaper, is a grand slam.

    Because I'm a spoiler, I'm going to quote the last part of Bishop Tobin's public letter to Kennedy - but you should take the time and read the whole thing:
    "Your rejection of the Church’s teaching on abortion falls into a different category – it’s a deliberate and obstinate act of the will; a conscious decision that you’ve re-affirmed on many occasions. Sorry, you can’t chalk it up to an “imperfect humanity.” Your position is unacceptable to the Church and scandalous to many of our members. It absolutely diminishes your communion with the Church.

    Congressman Kennedy, I write these words not to embarrass you or to judge the state of your conscience or soul. That’s ultimately between you and God. But your description of your relationship with the Church is now a matter of public record, and it needs to be challenged. I invite you, as your bishop and brother in Christ, to enter into a sincere process of discernment, conversion and repentance. It’s not too late for you to repair your relationship with the Church, redeem your public image, and emerge as an authentic “profile in courage,” especially by defending the sanctity of human life for all people, including unborn children. And if I can ever be of assistance as you travel the road of faith, I would be honored and happy to do so."
    Next step: official censure or excommunication. Rep. Kennedy has now been publicly rebuked and invited to convert and offer repentance.

    Mr. Kennedy, stop while you're behind. Repent, and be reconciled. You're out of other options.

    Unfortunately, at this point, Mr. Kennedy has broken off his planned meeting with Bishop Tobin. Whatever Kennedy may be thinking, that's not the right way to set things right.

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    Monday, November 09, 2009

    Stupid: Planned Parenthood President calls bishops "ideologues" in NYT

    Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, asked her twitter followers if they agreed with her quote in today's New York Times.

    I'm curious if you agree with her quote:
    On Sunday, some abortion rights advocates lashed out at the bishops. “It was an unconscionable power play,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, accusing the bishops of “interceding to put their own ideology in the national health care plan.”
    Let's be clear: all that the bishops were demanding was the status quo. PelosiCare, as currently amended, represents no immediate expansion in abortion funding. Before it was amended, PelosiCare represented a huge expansion in federal funding for abortions. 

    This was not an issue of ideology - the vast majority of Americans oppose federal funding of abortions. The only ideology being pushed here is that of Cecile Richards and her friends.

    Richard's claim that it's the bishops - not her and her friends - who are pushing an unpopular ideology ties in well with this Politico report which details the behind-the-scenes squabbling that took place between Democrats leading up to the vote on the abortion-neutral Stupak amendment:
    Some of the lawmakers argued that Pelosi was turning her back on a decades-long campaign by female Democratic members in support of abortion rights. [Rep. George] Miller rose to Pelosi’s defense, which resulted in an angry confrontation between him and [Rep. Rosa] DeLauro, said the sources.
    Miller told DeLauro that there were “more pro-life votes in the House than pro-choice” and that abortion-rights advocates had better acknowledge that reality.
    DeLauro is, of course, a vicious pro-abort and one of the top abortion strategists. Her arguments were overcome by the political reality that even more Democrat representatives supported removing federal funding for abortions than supported it.

    I'm happy to see the number of individuals in the Democrat party DeLauro can count upon as allies for unrestricted abortion expansion and funding is decreasing.

    Unfortunately, pro-aborts still have their "strongest weapon" occupying the White House.

    And as for Cecile Richards and her "ideologue" smear, here is my reply. What's yours?

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    Monday, October 19, 2009

    On the radar: NY 23

    Last week I wrote:
    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.
    Let me briefly lay out those "several reasons":
    • NY23 is the only congressional race this election cycle, so everyone is watching it, making the stakes very high.
    • The pro-life republican candidate (Hoffman) is gaining far more grassroots support than the liberal, pro-abortion republican candidate (Scozzafava). He is a classic underdog, come-from-behind candidate. Now he has to beat the pro-abortion democrat (Owens).
    • if Hoffman beats Scozzafava and Owens, it sends a strong message to the Republican Party about what kind of candidate will win in upcoming elections, namely, one who is strong on "social issues" like traditional marriage and pro-life. It says that "RINOs" (Republicans in Name Only) is not the way to go. People are more passionate about issues and the integrity of their representatives than they are about the letter behind a person's name.
    Steve Ertelt at LifeNews is talking about this race, and I'd like to see it garner more Catholic attention.

    If you are in upstate New York and want to help out, please drop me an email. Thanks!

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    Wednesday, September 09, 2009

    "On Satisfying the Requirements for a Catholic Funeral"

    Several folks have asked that I post this commentary by Msgr. Ignacio Barreiro Carámbula, Doctor of Dogmatic Theology and head of the Rome office of Human Life International.

    It is in regards to the Catholic funeral that Ted Kennedy received in Boston.

    My father, Canon Lawyer Ed Peters - no defender of Mr. Kennedy's public record and example - disagrees with Msgr. Ignacio. 

    update: My father doubles-down and *really* disagrees with Msgr. Ignacio.

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    Thursday, September 03, 2009

    Controversy: Cardinal O'Malley defends participation in Kennedy funeral

    This is going to ruffle feathers. 

    The cardinal's blog (mirrored here) is down right now, probably swamped in traffic {update - appears to be working now}.

    Michael Paulson at the Boston Globe:
    Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley last night issued a forceful defense of his decision to participate in the funeral of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, an appearance that has drawn sharp criticism from some conservative Catholics because of Kennedy’s ardent support for abortion rights.

    O’Malley, writing in his blog, also revealed the substance of a conversation he had with President Obama near the altar of the Mission Church as the congregation assembled for Saturday’s funeral. He said he told Obama that the Catholic bishops are “anxious to support a plan for universal health care, but we will not support a plan that will include a provision for abortion or could open the way to abortions in the future.’’

    But the most impassioned part of the cardinal’s blog post - which is at times folksy, at times cerebral, and punctuated by snapshots of the memorial events - is a de facto plea for greater civility among Catholics when discussing divisive issues. He warned against “harsh judgments’’ and attributing “the worst motives’’ to people with whom Catholics have disagreements, saying “these atti tudes and practices do irreparable damage to the communion of the Church.’’
    I did not watch the Kennedy funeral, but I gathered from reports that Cardinal O'Malley attended in choir (instead of concelebrating). I thought this was an acceptable compromise approach to making an appearance but not "endorsing" the proceedings.

    This is something different, however.

    As Fr. Roger Landry wrote:
    ".... [here is] one of the most important lessons that pastors in the United States need to draw from the history of the Church’s interactions with Senator Kennedy for its future engagement of other pro-abortion Catholic politicians. Despite the good intentions to try to engage him, teach him, and help bring him to conversion, the strategy failed. There were many words given at the Senator’s exequies about his “private faith,” but private faith is not enough. “Faith without deeds is dead,” as St. James poignantly reminds us. The Church has a responsibility to help bring people from “private faith” to see the consequences of it in public actions, and, in the Senator’s case, we didn’t succeed."

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    Friday, August 28, 2009

    After Kennedy's Death: Silence from the Vatican

    Time Magazine points out the lack of condolences, and fills in Mr. Kennedy's checkered Catholic history.

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    Thursday, August 27, 2009

    Update: A Catholic Funeral for Ted Kennedy?

    My father, Canon Lawyer Ed Peters, answers with a qualified yes:

    "[while] notorius pro-aborts seem to be "manifest sinners who cannot be granted ecclesiastical funerals without public scandal of the faithful."

    [it can happen when] "they gave some sign of repentance before death." And there is at least some evidence that Ted Kennedy did just that. Find out why."

    update: in a related vein, Maureen Fiedler goes ga-ga over Mr. Kennedy's death and Michael Sean Winters runs (lamely) to her defense, after Patrick Madrid from the sidelines starts muttering "oh, please!" a little too loud.

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    Wednesday, August 12, 2009

    Lies: Congresswoman behind "Planned Parenthood Stimulus" shows her true colors

    Steve Ertelt at LifeSite has the goods:
    'Rosa DeLauro has deceived the media and hopes to deceive pro-life advocates into thinking her Congressional bill is an attempt at "common ground" on abortion. But, the House member from Connecticut exposes her hand in a new fundraising email for Emily's List that bashes pro-life advocates.

    DeLauro is the co-sponsor of a new bill along with pro-abortion Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio that is billed as a middle ground in the abortion debate.

    The measure, which provides funding for the Planned Parenthood abortion business and would require direct taxpayer-funding of abortions, has been panned by pro-life advocates as disingenuous.

    Now, DeLauro tips her hand in a Tuesday fundraising pitch for the pro-abortion group Emily's List, and shows how much contempt she has for pro-life advocates."
    [Read on.]
    I wrote at length about the bill she is co-sponsoring with Congressman Tim Ryan, which the USCCB pro-life office calls the "Planned Parenthood Economic Stimulus Package of 2009."

    Don't be fooled: Rosa DeLauro couldn't care less for legitimate pro-life concerns, or people.

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    Tuesday, August 04, 2009

    A very simple way to answer the abortion-in-health-care question

    Even my post of this morning does not quite clear up the question about the degree to which abortion is covered/mandated/funded in the proposed government plan/proposed government regulation of private health care insurance.

    Dan Gilgoff, who tries to look at both sides of this issue, can't find a definitive answer.

    My opinion is that we're making this way too complicated.

    What we have to realize is that proponents of abortion access will not be satisfied until abortion is completely mainstream and commonplace. They have long sought to define access to abortion as a feature of basic health care - no different than having your tonsils out.

    If the new proposals for government-run health care and government regulation of private insurance did not leave the door open to universal abortion access and coverage, the pro-aborts wouldn't be doing their job. The only reason they are actively seeking to keep the health care bills unchanged is because they are happy with what they see. If they were unsatisfied, after all, they would use their tremendous resources to get the bills changed more to their liking.

    Instead, because the new proposals will allow them to sneak in abortion access and funding in some permutation later, they are actively attacking those who are trying to sound the alarm now, notably the Family Research Council.

    To make my point one last time, an abortion-neutral or abortion-restrictive proposal would be a step back for their agenda. And so as long as they are content with what is moving forward, we should be gravely concerned.

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    Saturday, June 27, 2009

    New supreme court nominee worse on abortion than her replacee

    (okay, so "replacee" isn't a word. I admit it ... anyway.)

    Charmaine Yoest and Americans United for Life have really been stepping up their game lately, most recently in exposing supreme court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's stance on abortion:
    In a new editorial column appearing in the Washington Times, Charmaine Yoest, the president of Americans United for Life, makes the case that Sonia Sotomayor is worse on abortion than David Souter, the Supreme Court justice President Barack Obama appointed her to replace.

    "Team Obama knows something most Americans don't. When it comes to the landmark 1973 decision Roe v. Wade and the abortion cases that have since made it to the Supreme Court, Sotomayor is no Souter," Yoest contends.

    .... The pro-life hierophant bases her assessment of Sotomayor on her leadership role with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund where, from 1980 to 1992, she was a governing board member.

    The New York Times notes that Sotomayor "was an involved and ardent supporter of their various legal efforts."

    Yoest points out, "Those efforts included no less than six briefs in five abortion-related cases before the Supreme Court -- pushing aggressively for an interpretation of abortion rights that would eliminate most or all state and federal abortion regulations while requiring state and federal funding of abortion." (LifeNews)
    Now it makes sense why Sotomayor's nomination is being rushed through so quickly - some folks doesn't want her record examined more closely, especially on the foundational life issues. I guess this is why.

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    Tuesday, April 07, 2009

    Report: Vatican has rejected 3 Obama picks for ambassador

    The Washington Times reports on Italian newspaper rumors (underlining mine):
    The Vatican has quietly rejected at least three of President Obama's candidates to serve as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See because they support abortion, and the White House might be running out of time to find an acceptable envoy before Mr. Obama travels to Rome in July, when he hopes to meet Pope Benedict XVI.

    Italian journalist Massimo Franco, who broke the story about the White House attempts to find a suitable ambassador to the Vatican, said papal advisers told Mr. Obama's aides privately that the candidates failed to meet the Vatican's most basic qualification on the abortion issue.

    ... He said the Vatican recognized that a foreign nation is free to appoint the ambassador of its choice but that the pope is free to reject a proposed envoy if he believes the candidate would "fail to improve relations" with the Catholic city-state.

    Mr. Franco, who has close connections at the Vatican, added that the rejection of the Obama candidates "would suggest that, at least so far, none of the potential Democratic diplomats were considered fit to 'improve relations' with the Holy See."
    In tandem, Headline Bistro adds (underlining mine):
    A longtime John Kerry supporter is about to land the prized position of U.S. ambassador to Italy, and Caroline Kennedy may join him nearby as ambassador to the Vatican, an Italian news magazine has claimed.

    In an April 2 article in Panorama, journalist Carlo Rossella predicted that 60-year-old David Thorne, a donor to the Obama campaign and brother-in-law of former presidential candidate John Kerry, will be given the post, per the request of Kerry himself.

    And in a report that will drop like a bombshell among Vatican watchers, Rosella also asserted that Caroline Kennedy – her own hopes to rise to the U.S. Senate dashed for now – has been suggested as the Obama administration’s ambassador to the Holy See.

    It’s an ironic tangle of State Department, campaign and even marriage connections that only adds fuel to speculation over who will represent the United States in two of the State Department’s most high-profile posts.

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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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    Tuesday, March 31, 2009

    Between Wuerl and Burke, who is right on Communion?

    My father Canon Lawyer Ed Peters attempts an adjudication:

    I often tell my students, the answer to a canonical question is seldom found in a single canon.

    Two prominent American prelates, Abp. Donald Wuerl of Washington DC and Abp. Raymond Burke of the Apostolic Signatura, are the lead figures in a significant disagreement over admitting certain pro-abortion Catholic politicians to holy Communion.

    Wuerl basically believes that, under Canon 916, Catholics, including pro-abortion politicians, should determine their own eligibility for reception of Communion.

    Burke argues that, beyond Canon 916, Canon 915 requires ministers of holy Communion to withhold the Eucharist from some pro-abortion politicians if they don't refrain from approaching on their own.

    Both sides can't be right, and I suspect that the more compelling case is made by reading the two canons together instead of reading one to the exclusion of the other.

    He sorts it out here.

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    Monday, March 30, 2009

    Reviewed: DC to remain "green zone" for reception of the Eucharist by pro-aborts?

    An update on the Archbishop Burke saga from last week (here and here):
    [Correction: Bishop of Arlington] Loverde said on Friday that individual Catholics must determine their fitness to receive Communion.

    "If you are Catholic, you have the responsibility to think carefully about what it means to present yourself for Communion," he said. "You should present yourself for Communion when you are in harmony with the church's teaching, free of mortal sin and living your life accordingly, and not receive when you are not."

    Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Washington, said Friday that the U.S. bishops overwhelmingly decided in 2004 to allow individual bishops to determine a Communion policy for their diocese.

    Wuerl's policy is "to respect the pastoral directives and guidance given to a public official by his or her own bishop while the official is working in Washington, D.C.," Gibbs said. "That individual's bishop presumably would know the person and the situation best and, therefore, be in a position to make a judgment about or a request concerning the person's worthiness to receive Holy Communion." (Religion News Service)

    A friend of mine has said that this solution in effect sets up a "Green Zone" for pro-abortion politicians to receive communion while in Washington DC despite what their hometown bishops may have decided.

    Sebellius is coming....

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    Thursday, March 26, 2009

    Picture: Hillary Clinton visitis Our Lady of Guadalupe

    AmP reader Sebastian says: "She prayed for the well being of the people of the USA. I guess she forgot to pray for the unborn Americans, sadly."

    Here is a Spanish-language report of her visit (includes video).

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    Flash: Abp. Burke clarifies he was misled about Communion interview agenda

    I was worried about something like this happening. Looks like Randall Terry lied to Archbishop Burke about how his interview would be used, and Burke has issued a statement today to clarify:
    ROME, Italy - In response to the March 25, 2009 press conference of Mr. Randall Terry in Washington, D.C., the Most Reverend Raymond L. Burke, Archbishop Emeritus of Saint Louis and Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, issued the following statement:

    “Recently, Mr. Randall Terry and some of his associates visited me in Rome and asked to videotape an interview with me to share with pro-life workers for the purpose of their encouragement. The interview was conducted on March 2, 2009.

    “Sadly, Mr. Terry has used the videotape for another purpose which I find most objectionable.

    “First, Mr. Terry issued a media advisory which gave the impression that I would be physically present at the press conference during which he played the videotape, when, in fact, I was in Rome.

    “Second, I was never informed that the videotape would become part of a press conference.

    “Third, I gave the interview as a Bishop from the United States to encourage those engaged in the respect life apostolate, not as the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

    “Fourth, I was never informed that the videotape would be used as part of a campaign of severe criticism of certain fellow bishops regarding the application of Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law.

    “If I had known what the true purpose of the interview was, I would never have agreed to participate in it.

    “I am deeply sorry for the confusion and hurt which the wrong use of the videotape has caused to anyone, particularly, to my brother bishops.”
    Once again, this situation could have been avoided if Abp. Burke's assistants had done their homework. (News flash, people: USE GOOGLE.) After all, Terry advertised this DC press conference several days in advance ... and yet no one in Rome apparently took notice of the things Terry was claiming (Second news flash, people: USE GOOGLE to keep tabs on what the media is saying about your boss). Rome shouldn't be the last one to know.

    I was surprised that Abp. Burke had consented to giving Terry an interview, but I naively presumed that Abp. Burke knew what he was getting into, and was aware of Terry's hardcore approach to pro-life activism.

    That said, Abp. Burke is not taking back his words. He is taking back the way they were used by Terry.

    update: Michael Sean Winters pounces on the opportunity to snipe Abp. Burke: "... the Archbishop does not retract the statements he made in the interview but he does voice regret at the way the interview is being used. That is what passes, in this age of moral relativism, for an apology."

    No sir, yours is what passes, in this age of liberal journalism, for an attack.

    Ph/t: Whispers.

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    Wednesday, March 25, 2009

    Abp. Burke in interview says pro-aborts are to be denied communion

    Flash: Abp. Burke clarifies he was misled about Communion interview agenda

    This is very newsworthy.

    Terry Randall of Operation Rescue went to Rome recently and conducted an interview with Archbishop Burke, who is completely uncompromising in his interpretation and application of Canon 915. He hits the ground running:

    "Mr. Terry: For the umpteenth time, I and the others are asking, under Canon 915 what should or should not be done?

    Archbishop Burke: The Canon is completely clear, it is not subject in my judgment to any other interpretations. When someone is publicly and obstinately in grave sin we may not administer Holy Communion to the person. And that, basically, for two reasons: number one, to prevent the person himself or herself from committing a sacrilege, and secondly, to protect the sanctity of the Holy Eucharist. In other words, to approach, to receive our Lord in Holy Communion, when one insists on remaining in grave sin, is such a violation of the sanctity of the Holy Eucharist, so that Communion must not be given to people who are publicly, obstinately, in grave sin.

    And that's just a start. Read the full transcript here.

    Archbishop Burke will address the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on May 9th.

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    Monday, March 16, 2009

    Pelosi-Watch: enacts Obama's ESCR-decision, calls it "moral opportunity"

    That's right, Pelosi, give the bishops the evidence they need to excommunicate you. In print is fine:

    Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today after President Obama signed an executive order lifting the Bush Administration's restrictions on federally financed human embryonic stem cell research:

    "By lifting the executive ban on federal funding for stem cell research, President Obama has given hope, and potentially health, to millions. Every family in America is just one diagnosis, one phone call, or one accident away from needing the benefits of embryonic stem cell research.
    "Today President Obama has also restored science to its rightful place in our national debates. Scientists must be allowed to pursue the research that they believe has the most promise to cure. And when they do, America remains a world leader in innovation, discovery, and growth.
    "If we have a scientific opportunity to treat and cure disease, we have a moral opportunity to support it. That is why Congress will move to pass legislation to make this executive order the law of the land."

    In other words, Pelosi takes it as a "moral opportunity" that she can help facilitate Obama's federal funding for ESCR, which will result in the widespread creation and destruction of innocent human life.

    OneNationUnderGod posts ways of contacting Pelosi's Archbishop in San Francisco, George Niederauer.

    Charles Krauthammer, meanwhile, completely explodes this "restoring science to its rightful place" canard. I would strongly urge you to read his piece if you have an interest in this and related issues, especially since Krauthammer actually has been an advocate of ESCR, so he can hardly be called biased. On the other hand, if you are looking for something lighter, enjoy some classic - and withering - P.J. O'Rourke.

    Meanwhile, Ryan Anderson quotes Fr. Neuaus: "Thousands of medical ethicists and bioethics, as they are called, professionally guide the unthinkable on its passage through the debatable on the way to becoming the justifiable until it is finally established as the unexceptionable."

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    Thursday, March 12, 2009

    Video: Bill Clinton thinks embryos aren't fertilized

    Oh enlightened one, enlighten us!

    (if the video gets taken down, you can also find it on CNN here.)

    ... nevermind.

    It's simply objective science that frozen embryos are fertilized. No one disputes this. What an idiot.

    And why doesn't Dr. Gupta correct him? Some interviewer. Obama offered him Surgeon General.

    Ph/t: Unborn Word of the Day.

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    Oh *come on*, Kmiec!

    Quit dragging your faith into everything (including the mud), stop making interminable excuses for your woefully ill-considered support of Barack Obama as a "pro-life" candidate, and -finally- cease trying to honestly make us believe that forcing taxpayers to fund groups that promote and perform abortions abroad is a pro-life move.

    I've spilt my ink on Kmiec, but at this point, he seems convinced that he can win this debate by talking-over-and-longer-than everyone else. Well, if he wants to respond to the arguments raised against his positions, we'll talk. I'd be happy to debate him, in fact. My email is public.

    In the meantime, however, I've stopped listening. I'm too busy trying to build an authentic culture of life with whatever meager means are at my disposal to patiently defuse another of Kmiec's thought-bombs.

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    Sunday, March 08, 2009

    What are the Knights of Malta Thinking?

    My wager would be "they aren't":
    Former Washington, D.C. mayor Anthony Williams is currently undergoing formation in the order of the Knights of Malta, one of the Catholic Church's oldest and most prestigious organizations, despite his record of supporting unlimited abortion and same-sex "marriage." (LifeSiteNews)
    I am told that the Washington Times will be doing a story on this today. Members of the Knights of Malta aren't happy .... understandably.

    If you wish to (charitably) express your displeasure about this decision, contact:
    Joe Dempsey
    Executive Director
    Sovereign Military Order of Malta
    (202) 331-2494

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    Wednesday, March 04, 2009

    Breaking: Abp. Naumann responds to Sebelius appointment/Brownback endorsement

    John Norton at Our Sunday Visitor has an excellent, timely interview with Abp. Naumann on Kathleen Sebelius and Senator Brownback, etc. Some pull quotes follow.

    On Sebelius' claims of a "pro-life" record:

    Archbishop Naumann: I think that’s very, very dishonest and not at all accurate. It’s true that abortion dropped during her term as governor but I don’t think she really had anything to do with it, although she likes to take credit for it. And in fact, during that time she vetoed measures that could have helped prevent abortion.
    On Obama's choice to pick Sebelius, and Sen Brownback's going along with it:

    I personally find it offensive that he would choose a pro-legalized-abortion Catholic to head this office. I think, as I interpret Sen. [Sam ] Brownback’s and Sen. [Pat] Roberts’ support of sorts for the nomination — it’s simply saying we elected President Obama with the positions he took. We can’t expect that he’s going to appoint someone to these cabinet positions that do not share his views. And in a sense I can understand that. When there is a pro-life president, we resent if there is an effort to try to prevent the president from appointing people who share his vision. So, I can understand why they might acquiesce, I guess, is the best way to put it, to her appointment.

    Finally, as a bonus, what he thinks of the organization Catholics United:

    Archbishop Naumann: I don’t think they have much impact and I don’t pay much attention to them personally. And I think from what you just read, they’re either not very honest or they’re not very competent in the research that they do.
    Actually, they're both: competent and dishonest. They know what they are doing.

    Also, on a related note, Matt Bowman has an excellent article in the American Spectator today:

    But the most intriguing component of Sebelius's nomination is her Catholicism. Not that Catholic abortion supporters are rare -- see Obama's failed nominee to HHS, Tom Daschle. But Sebelius is significant as an attempt by Obama to foment a civil war within Catholicism to neutralize its pro-life efforts.

    Like a shrewd general, Obama is using Catholics themselves as his ground troops.
    Two dozen prominent Obama supporters quickly launched a letter supporting Sebelius, and claiming that they are Catholic and pro-life. The letter's signers are the same liberal Obama Pro-Lifers from his presidential campaign, led by Professor Doug Kmiec and the Soros-funded group "Catholics United."

    The first step to responding to these sorts of attacks is to realize that one is being attacked. Kmiec, Sebelius, et al. are making a concerted effort to destroy the connection between being Catholic and pro-life.

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    Thursday, February 26, 2009

    Report: Kerry didn't receive Communion at Ash Wednesday Mass

    My friend Eric passes along some reliable heresay, which I paraphrase:

    During Ash Wednesday Mass, at St. Joseph's on Capitol Hill, I was sitting two pews behind [Senator John] Kerry. He left before Communion, right after Cardinal McCarick's sermon and getting his ashes.

    There are two reasons I could see for Kerry's choice: 1) He knew he shouldn't present himself for Communion so he didn't, or 2) he had another meeting and just wanted to get his ashes.

    Option 2) Seems very plausible to me. I know when I was at Mass yesterday, I sat next to a young woman who promptly disappeared after recieving her ashes.

    Option 1), on the other hand, sets up an interesting third-way solution to the problem of pro-abortion politicians receiving Communion - just don't try to receive! I mean - sure, by all means, come to Mass - but don't present yourself for Communion.

    Plenty of the rest of us have to do this from time to time.

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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

    Kmiec's epic fail in Time magazine

    When I found out Doug Kmiec had shot out an article for Time magazine in the wake of Pelosi's meeting with Pope Benedict, I geared myself up for yet another point-by-point critique of his flawed arguments.

    This time, however, I don't even need to take the trouble, because the entire premise of Kmiec's latest piece is factually in error. To see why, first I will summarize Kmiec's argument.

    Kmiec says:

    "If you read [the pope's statement to pelosi] carefully, the statement is actually quite radical — perhaps unintentionally so. The brief message — just two short paragraphs — draws no distinction between the moral duties of Catholic policymakers and Catholic judges to work against abortion.

    As a lifelong Catholic, Pelosi could not feign surprise at being called upon by the Church to use her gift for persuasion to restrict abortion legislatively, or at least not to be its advocate. But until now, the Church had not formally instructed judges in a similar fashion. As written, the Pope's statement has the potential, at least theoretically, to empty the U.S. Supreme Court of all five of its Catholic jurists and perhaps all other Catholics who sit on the bench in the lower federal and state courts."

    Kmiec spends the rest of his time flushing out the implications of Pope Benedict's supposed admonition to "jurists" telling them to, in Kmiec's words "undertake an activist, law-changing role."

    Out of this mistaken interpretation, Kmiec tries to create a lose-lose scenario where jurists are stuck between the rock of Peter and the hard place of their judicial oath.

    Kmiec next handily provides a solution to his self-created dilemma, saying the Vatican should renege its statement and re-introduce the distinction between jurists and legislators.

    .... now comes the reality check: the Vatican statement does include the necessary distinction in terminology.

    From an AmP source with extensive experience in Italian legal matters:

    "... giuristia is not the word an Italian author would use when referring to a judge. He would use giudice. A giurista is someone who attends to he law as a matter of profession, most frequently a lawyer, or a professor of law. But a giudice is a magistrate who evaluates the merits of an argument in a case or controversy.

    In American law, distinctions between words carry great significance; and in Vatican press releases, the spokesmen for the Holy See select their words very carefully. In this instance, the press office elected to use the more vague term giuristi rather than the specific term giudici. However, Kmiec misses this critical distinction."

    Kmiec's "missing" of this critical distinction creates his entire argument. Consequently, once it is made clear that the Vatican did use its words right, Kmiec is left out in the cold, actually saying nothing.
    Re-reading Kmiec's piece then becomes comical once you realize his premise is false: the statement is not, in fact, "quite radical - perhaps intentionally so" ... it is actually quite logical -intentionally so. The statement is not a "sharp break with the past." The Church's teaching is aware that the responsibility to defend life ought to be "applied in light of the scope of office."
    Proceeding in the same vein, someone in the Vatican office did not "in the rush of the event [...] mistakenly included the judicial terminology" ... it was Kmiec who, in the rush of trying to publish in Time, didn't bother to double-check his Italian-language comprehension skills.
    (.. and this is the man who hopes to become the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See?!)
    So, if Kmiec hasn't actually illumined a "surprising" and "overlooked" aspect of this recent statement, what can we learn from his writing?
    I'd offer this observation: Kmiec is predisposed to seeing difficulty and crisis whenever one attempts to bring one's Catholic faith into politics. Because of this pessimism, his initial reaction to the Holy See's communique was not to check his translation or try to understand what the Holy See was saying, but instead to criticize it and call on them to change.
    In reality, however, the Church's admonition to public servants is reasonable, is informed, and is livable.
    You just have to give it a chance - and yes, even pull out your English-Italian dictionary once in awhile.

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    Friday, February 20, 2009

    Confirmed: no pope photo-op for pelosi

    It must have been a switch for her.

    Joseph Lawler's reporting for the American Spectator blog confirms that "at the Vatican's request, no photos of Pelosi's Wednesday [meeting] with Pope Benedict XVI will be released."

    Instead, she got a very public, internationally-circulated talking-to. That's a double message, if you ask me.

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    Thursday, February 19, 2009

    Did they? Didn't they?

    This really irks me.

    Yesterday I picked up on reports that Pelosi had managed to fit in her promised meeting with Archbishop Niederauer on Feb. 8th.

    Last night I found someone citing a Feb. 13th email from the Archbishop's spokesman saying the meeting had not taken place. Reliable enough it would seem, right?

    Wrong - because this report was itself corrected today ... Pelosi and Niederauer did actually have the meeting:

    “It went well,” [Pelosi spokesman] Daly said. “They both thought it was productive and agreed they would meet in the future at some point.” Daly said they did not set a date.

    Daly said that the meeting did not sway Pelosi's stance on life issues. “She is not changing her position on abortion,” he said. Daly said Pelosi still goes to Mass and Communion every Sunday at San Francisco's St. Vincent de Paul parish or elsewhere when she is traveling. Why are we hearing of this meeting only ten days later? “It was a private meeting. They didn’t feel the need to publicize it and we didn’t feel the need to publicize it," Daly said.

    It was so private that the archbishop's own press spokesman, Maurice Healy, seemed unaware of it. He told OSV on Friday that no meeting had taken place, despite the archbishop making himself readily available.

    Oooooohhhhhhh boy. Let's go through what's wrong with this picture:
    1. Pelosi's office shouldn't be setting the tone. "They didn’t feel the need to publicize it and we didn’t feel the need to publicize it"?! That doesn't fly with me. Pelosi, after all, likes publicizing everything she does. Abp. Niederauer's invitation to meet with Pelosi was a public invitation, because of public comments she made, causing very public scandal. Was he hoping everyone would just forget? Well, I sure didn't. I know plenty of other Catholics are concerned as well.
    2. Abp. Niederauer's spokesman shouldn't be thrown for a loop by this. Let's face it: the ongoing scandal caused by Pelosi should be near the top of the Archdiocese's concern lists. Or it should at least be on the list. To have the spokesman so unaware of things as to publish a false-negative answer when queried about their meeting ... is simply unprofessional.
    3. Pelosi shouldn't be presenting herself for Communion after meeting with her Archbishop! I hate to be cynical, but if Pelosi is still presenting herself for Communion, if I were her Archbishop, I wouldn't want people to know that I had met with her privately. Here's why: I think it's completely reasonable to say that in their very first meeting the Archbishop was bound to plainly state to Pelosi that her voting record on abortion makes her ineligible to receive Communion, and that in submission to his rightful authority, she ought not to present herself for it, because doing so harms her at this point. That's the teaching of the Church, at least - a teaching the Archbishop is bound to present as her pastor. Pelosi can no longer dodge behind the excuse that she "doesn't know it's wrong".
    4. This can easily appear like Pelosi and Niederauer are in cahoots. I'm sorry, but to quietly "get this meeting over with", with no amendment of ways on Pelosi's part, and seemingly no effort to embrace the opportunity on the Archbishop's part, this has all the earmarks of "oh my, the little people are up in arms - here, let's go have dinner and talk about something important so they'll get off our backs." Now, I'm not saying this is what happened ... but it's not hard to read it that way, given Pelosi's long-standing obstinacy on this issue, and Abp. Niederauer's long-standing reticence to challenge her.

    It's not a perfect world. In a perfect world, after Pope Benedict was put in the hot seat by having to meet with Pelosi, the Holy Father would have gone back to his desk, and picked up the phone:


    Abp. Niederauer: "Heeeeeeee-llo!"

    Pope Benedict XVI: "George! I thought we talked about this! You said you were going to meet with Pelosi last week! What gives? Nothing's changed! She's just as clueless as ever!"

    Abp. Niederauer: "Umm...."

    Like I said, it's not a perfect world.

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    Picture: Meet your new Catholic pro-abort Health Secretary

    Sure seems that way:
    "While House officials say President Barack Obama will name pro-abortion Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who has been criticized for refusing to limit late-term abortions, as the Secretary of the Health and Human Services Department.

    Once official, her selection would add to Obama's growing pro-abortion record as president.

    Obama advisors notified the media late Wednesday that the president has settled on Sebelius as his top choice for the position, though her has not made his decision official." (LifeNews)
    Kathleen "I'm-so-incredibly-pro-abortion-my-own-archbishop-came-out-and-told-me-to-quit-receiving-Communion" Sebelius.

    Kathleen "I-took-almost-$40,000-in-political-funding-from-criminally-charged-late-term-abortion-provider-George-Tiller" Sebelius.

    I'm not looking forward to the next nickname.

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    Monday, February 16, 2009

    Update: Pelosi will meet Pope Benedict on Wednesday

    Monday, February 09, 2009

    After Daschle's defeat, pro-abort Sebelius floats to the top

    Out of the frying pan, into the fire.

    After nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Daschle (a Catholic) was forced to withdraw his name because he failed to pay his taxes, Obama's second choice is even-more-radically-pro-abortion Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius (also Catholic).

    Sebelius' home bishop - Archbishop Joseph Naumann - has already said Sebelius should not recieve Communion because of her support for abortion (as I reported last May).

    More information from LifeNews and the Associated Press.

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    Tuesday, February 03, 2009

    Pro-abort Daschle out as HHS possibility

    I blogged about this situation earlier this week. Today's news:
    Tom Daschle has withdrawn his nomination to be Health and Human Services secretary.

    That's according to a joint White House statement from President Barack Obama and his former nominee.

    Obama said Tuesday he accepted the withdrawal "with sadness and regret."

    Daschle has been battling for his nomination since it was disclosed he failed to pay more than $120,000 in taxes.

    He said he's withdrawing because he's not a leader who has the full faith of Congress and will be a distraction. (AP)

    I wonder who Obama will pick next? Any speculation?

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    Majority of Americans disapprove of Obama decision to fund overseas abortions

    Way down there at the bottom of the chart:

    Here is the Gallup poll page and here is pro-life analysis from the Susan B. Anthony list.

    This poll supports the point I and others have made: Obama's position on life issues - particularly abortion - is not in line with the majority of Americans, but rather represents an extreme position on the issue. He is even, I think it can be argued, farther from the center than people who would consider themselves "pro-life."

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    Monday, February 02, 2009

    Obama's HHS pick Tom Daschle in hot water for failing to pay taxes

    I've already stated my strong reservations about Tom Daschle being appointed head of Health and Human Services by Barack Obama.

    Now it appears he failed to pay more than $120,000 in back taxes:

    Trying to salvage his nomination, Tom Daschle apologized Monday for delinquent tax payments as President Barack Obama and a top Senate chairman stood by him as the choice to lead the Health and Human Services Department.

    Following a weekend of revelations about taxes and potential ethical conflicts, Daschle expressed remorse to the Senate Finance Committee, the panel that will decide his fate, saying he was "deeply embarrassed and disappointed" about failing to pay more than $120,000 in back taxes. (AP)

    Of course, should Daschle's name be withdrawn, it is practically guaranteed that someone as problematic will be nominated in his stead, namely, another pro-abortion politician. It's just hard to catch a break these days.
    update: oh, and on a completely superficial note - what is up with Daschle's red party glasses?!

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    Monday, November 24, 2008

    "Biden experiencing troubled conscience over abortion, says Bishop Aquila"


    Following the Fall meeting of the U.S. Catholic bishops in Baltimore, where they pledged not to yield ground to the incoming Obama administration on the issue of abortion, Bishop Samuel Aquila has revealed that vice president-elect Joe Biden is struggling with his conscience over his support for abortion.

    ... “The nice thing about Biden, at least he says his conscience bothers him, which is good,” Aquila said. (CNA)

    I don't know what Bp. Aquila is referring to exactly, but I certainly haven't seen anything recently from Biden that would cause me to think he's suddenly experiencing a conversion on the issue. I mean, he's been in politics how long?
    Absolutely, it's a good thing to have your conscience bother you when you are involved in doing something gravely wrong, but we've all seen politician after politician say "well, you know, I'm troubled ... but I'm going to do it anyway."
    Some consolation, that.

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    Thursday, November 13, 2008

    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 05, 2008

    First update: Biden, Pelosi ... Kerry

    There will be at least two, and possibly three prominent pro-choice Catholics in the Democratic establishment:

    Sounds like a full house to me.

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    Joe Biden: the first Catholic VP ... so what?

    Paul Moses at Commonweal is happy about the forgotten "first" of the campaign, the first Catholic VP.

    I find this "first" meaningless except in the most basic sense.

    Think about it - if Joe Biden followed his Church's teachings he probably would not be where he is today. Can you imagine, for instance, a pro-life democratic vice-presidential candidate or nominee these days?

    So congratulations, Joe Biden, when given a choice between your Catholic principles and being elected to the second highest office in the land, you made your choice. Some Catholic example he's set for us.

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    Thursday, October 30, 2008

    Bishop Finn on becoming the "Church militant" again

    You know when you see a column titled "Warriors with Our Eyes Fixed on Heaven" you're in for some good stuff:

    I am sometimes amazed at the casual manner with which Christians, Catholics included, take up our life within what Pope John Paul II rightly called the "culture of death."

    The Church, by comparison, reminds us that we are engaged - by reason of our Baptism and Confirmation - in a battle, "not with flesh and blood, but with the principalities and powers, with the rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in heaven." (Eph 6:12)

    Jesus Christ has won the ultimate battle, but we, in the course of our human life must make our choice, determining on whose side we will live and die. Whose side will you choose?!

    What is at stake in this battle is our immortal soul, our salvation. My responsibility as bishop is with the eternal destiny of those entrusted to my care. My total energies must be directed to the well being of those who otherwise may come under the spell of a radically flawed and fundamentally distorted moral sense, at odds with what our Mother the Church teaches.

    There are objective and transcendent truths. There is such a thing as right and wrong. There is a legitimate hierarchy of moral evils, and the direct willful destruction of human life can never be justified; it can never be supported. Do you believe this firm teaching of the Church?

    How does Bishop Finn take his coffee?

    Extra bold.

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    Wednesday, October 29, 2008

    Time perpetuates "Biden = Catholic Vote" meme

    Tucked into this Time magazine story about Joe Biden being hidden away from reporters (even more than Sarah Palin) in the final days before November 4th, an explanation for his selection:
    "Whereas McCain's pick of a running mate was a big move aimed at jolting the race, Obama had hoped instead to bolster his foreign policy credentials, give him a second chance with white Catholics and, above all, do no harm."
    On the ground, one Catholic reacts at a Joe Biden rally:
    "Mr. Biden calls himself Catholic, and he's causing a scandal in the Catholic Church because he's saying the Catholic Church doesn't know what it's talking about," Haskell said. "And he's pro-abortion."

    "The Catholic Church has always said that life begins at conception. ... God's pro-life."
    One of the signs the women were waving read, "Bishops excommunicate Biden!!!" One had what appeared to be a photo of an aborted fetus. Another read, "Real Catholics are pro-life." (Ocala)

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    Cartoon: Joe Biden at Mass

    For full-size version, click here or click on the cartoon:

    By John Francis Borra, SFO. Used with permission.

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    Catholic Gov. Granholm claims her faith inspires her to destroy embryos

    I know. It's a shocking line when you put it that way.

    Here's how she actually put it:

    "As a Catholic, I can say to be pro-cure is to be pro-life." (MLive)

    Well geez - that's not much better, is it?

    By "Pro-cure," of course, she is actually describing "pro-embryonic creation and destruction" as laid out in Proposal 2.

    I'll make no secret of the fact that I was very happy to leave radical pro-abortion, pro-ESCR Catholic Governor Jennifer Granholm back in Michigan when I moved to Washington DC last year.
    I was up until last year forced to deal with her as best I could when she was more of a local problem, like when she bought ads in three Catholic newspapers in advance of election day.

    One thing has changed since I left Michigan, however: Bishop Earl Boyea, who has published a letter entitled "How shall I cast my vote?" (where he opposes Prop 2 by name), who has added a section to the diocesan website called "2 goes 2 far - vote no on 2" and ... when he heard about Granholm's outrageous statement quoted above, responded as follows:

    "Of course Catholics and all other responsible citizens will continue to seek cures for disease and injury, but to imply that proposal two is a valid expression of Catholic principles is shocking. Nothing could be further from the truth. Saint Paul reminds us that we must preach the truth in season and out of season. The truth will never go unspoken. To be in favor of proposal two is not to be pro life. A well formed Catholic conscience would never lead a person to support proposal two as a Catholic."

    That makes me wish I was back in Michigan, because Proposal 2 is in the lead among voters.

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    Monday, October 27, 2008

    Joe Biden's new bishop not letting him get away with it, or is he?


    In response to Senator Joe Biden's comments on abortion in a recently-unearthed 2007 interview with his hometown paper [I discuss it here - AmP], the Democratic VP nominee's bishop -- Wilmington's Fran Malooly -- penned a letter to the editor run in this morning's News-Journal.

    ... Biden's name will appear twice on the First State's ballot next week, both as part of the Democratic ticket and for re-election to the Senate seat he's held since 1972.

    The beginning of Bishop Malooly's letter:

    In his interview with The News Journal published Oct. 19, Sen. Joe Biden presents a seriously erroneous picture of Catholic teaching on abortion. He said, “I know that my church has wrestled with this for 2,000 years,” and claimed repeatedly that the Church has a nuanced view of the subject that leaves a great deal of room for uncertainty and debate.

    This is simply incorrect. The teaching of the Church is clear and not open to debate.

    Biden famously tried to call himself a "John XXIII sort of guy" (as opposed to a "John Paul sort of guy" - seriously) ... well, here's what bishop Malooly has to say about that claim:

    The Didache, probably the earliest Christian writing apart from the New Testament, explicitly condemns abortion without exceptions. It tells us there is a “way of life” and a “way of death” and abortion is a part of the way of death. This has been the consistent teaching of the Church ever since.

    ... It was the teaching of Pope John XXIII as well as Pope John Paul II. It is the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI and the bishops of the Church, including me as shepherd of this diocese. (underlining mine)

    The bishop's conclusion:

    We hope Sen. Biden will carefully listen to the Church’s 2,000 years of testimony on abortion and that he will join in the defense and promotion of the sanctity of life.

    This is good stuff. It also raises a question in my mind: is this the most he can do? Is the Bishop already "firing on all cylinders", or is this (necessary) preparation and groundwork prior to imposing a canonical penalty? What more would Biden have to do (or could do) to deserve such a recourse?
    update: Rocco pursues this line of questioning:
    As for refusing the Eucharist to the potential vice-president, Malooly told the diocesan Dialog in an interview on his September arrival that "I do not intend to get drawn into partisan politics nor do I intend to politicize the Eucharist as a way of communicating Catholic Church teaching.
    "It is critical to keep the lines of communication open if the church is going to make her teachings understood and, please God, accepted. It is my belief that Catholics of all occupations have the same duty to examine their own consciences before determining their worthiness for the reception of communion.
    "I think I will get a lot more mileage out of a conversation trying to change the mind and heart than I would out of a public confrontation. That might not make some people happy who feel there ought to be a confrontation but I have to follow my own conscience and try to do what I can for the long term."
    I disagree with this approach. Denial of the Eucharist is not a decision dictated by "partisan politics", it is prompted by very sound theology which teaches that receiving the Eucharist in a state of grave sin is harmful to the person receiving it, and also represents a sacrilege of the Eucharistic presence, as Abp. Raymond Burke has persuasively demonstrated.

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    Friday, October 24, 2008

    The evangelicals are scratching their heads, too

    Dr. Tony Beam:
    Why So Many Christians are Confused about the Election

    One Web site that claims to be Christian declares Barack Obama to be the most pro-life candidate in the race. Another declares Obama is the only real Christian in the race. Yet another proclaims that life under an Obama presidency will mean the restoration of true justice in America. Yet another claims Obama would never fully support the Lesbian, Bisexual Gay, Transgender (LBGT) agenda. How can well-meaning, good intentioned people who claim to be speaking as representatives of Jesus Christ be so deceived? There is one indisputable fact in this election and that is Barack Obama is the most pro-choice, pro-homosexual rights candidate to ever receive a major political party’s endorsement for president. From his stand against the Illinois Born Alive Infants Protection Act, which would have simply protected the life of a baby who managed to survive a botched abortion, to his 100 percent pro-choice Senate rating, Barack Obama has never met an abortion he didn’t like.

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    Thursday, October 23, 2008

    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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    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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    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    Breaking: US Bishops set the record straight in today's statement

    This is a breaking story - check back for updates.

    Thank God for our bishops. They have just released a press release on the USCCB website:

    Legal Protection for Unborn, Support for Mothers Both Needed, Say Cardinal Rigali and Bishop Murphy

    WASHINGTON—"Our faith requires us to oppose abortion on demand and to provide help to mothers facing challenging pregnancies," Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia and Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., said in an October 21 statement. The bishops urged Catholics to study the teaching of the Church, rather than rely on statements and materials from outside groups and individuals.

    [Read it here in PDF] [Summary here.]

    I had just finished writing this essay in which I sounded the call for an organized response to the recent arguments put forward by pro-Obama Catholics when I discovered the above press release from the US bishops waiting in my inbox, doing exactly what I was hoping for. Now it's up to us to spread their message.
    Okay, what are they saying?
    • Catholics are not to blindly follow the advice of "outside groups and individuals."

    Okay, what are these outside groups and individuals saying?

    • The argument that "the Church should accept the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision on abortion as a 'permanent fixture of constitutional law' and should concede that the only way to reduce abortions is to provide more government support for pregnant women is wrong.

    Also wrong:

    • "The Church's efforts against abortion should focus solely on restoring recognition for unborn children's human rights and that proposals to provide social and economic support for pregnant women distract from that effort."

    The first argument is one used by Democrats, the second argument is a straw man constructed by Democrats about those who refuse to vote for Barack Obama and other pro-choice politicians.

    I fully agree with the bishops that the second error is to be rejected - will Democrat Catholics now fully agree that the first argument is in error? Are you listening, Nicholas Cafardi? Doug Kmiec? Catholics United? Lisa Sowle Cahill? Because these are the Catholics who have been pushing this argument. By stark contrast, I have not seen anyone seriously claim that the legislative solution is the only one to be pursued. (Okay folks, I'm waiting.)

    The Catholic argument for voting Democrat (or, specifically, for a pro-choice politician) has boiled down to "get over Roe" and "pursue alternatives like funding health care". The bishops respond:

    The bishops added that legalizing abortion had greatly increased annual abortions in the United States. "The law is a teacher, and Roe taught many women, physicians and others that abortion is an acceptable answer to a wide range of problems."

    Clarification 2: FOCA is on the horizon.

    The American bishops are coming to terms with the reality of an Obama presidency, and a Democrat-controlled Senate and House that could pass the Freedom of Choice Act, which will in one fell swoop erase all the progress that has taken place against Roe since it was passed. Here is what they say:

    By the same token, even the limited pro-life laws allowed by the Court since Roe have been shown to reduce abortions substantially, leading to a steady decline in the abortion rate since 1980. Bans on public funding, laws requiring informed consent for women and parental involvement for minors, and other modest and widely supported laws have saved millions of lives. Laws made possible by reversing Roe would save many more. On the other hand, this progress could be lost through a key pro-abortion proposal, the “Freedom of Choice Act,” which supporters say would knock down hundreds of current pro-life laws and forbid any public program to “discriminate” against abortion in providing services to women.

    This statement challenges the canard which holds that legislative actions have been ineffectual in driving down the incidence of abortion. Of course restrictions act to restrict abortions.

    Who is getting slapped on the wrist more?

    While this statement is a critique of some elements of the republican and democrat solution to the problem of abortion, I submit that it is more a critique of the democrat solution for these reasons:

    • It talks about abortion as a non-negotiable front-and-center moral issue. Part of the argument for voting for democrat/pro-choice politicians seeks to marginalize the importance of this issue. Sorry, you can't ignore abortion and claim to be practicing the social teaching of the Catholic Church.
    • It is issued not only by the chairman of Pro-Life activities, but also the chairman on "Domestic Justice and Human development." One cannot have either true justice or achieve authentic human development without an especial care for the unborn.
    • It spends a lengthy amount of time talking about FOCA, a democrat-sponsored bill that will, following this statement, increase the number of abortions in America and also strike a serious blow to the cause of addressing the social justice issue of our time.

    Finally, and most importantly:

    • Republicans do commit themselves to caring for women experiencing crisis pregnancies. By the same token, the idea that reversing Roe is the only goal of pro-life activity is not a republican position (read their platform). However, democrats do say that Roe is a non-negotiable and do actively attempt to repeal the restrictions that have slowly been put on it through conservative efforts (again, read their platform).

    This statement is a therefore, I submit, confirmation of my thesis that Catholics in the republican party must strive to see that their principles are better translated into practice, but Catholics in the democratic party must seriously address the errors in principle which the democrats have claimed on the issue of unborn human life, while simultaneously addressing the mistaken practices of the party which do not adequately defend unborn human life.

    To put it simply: for Republicans, being Catholic on the issue of abortion involves following through on their rhetoric. For Democrats, being Catholic on the issue of abortion involves reversing their rhetoric and changing course on a whole range of legislative proposals they have planned.

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    With Biden as VP, Deleware comments significant after November

    IF Senator Biden becomes the Vice-President of the United States then his recent comments about his views on abortion as a Catholic will have a bearing on the discussions at the upcoming meeting of the American bishops.

    Just a little observation. The fact that the interview is old does not matter because Biden has never retracted his comments or clarified that they do not coincide with Church teaching. He's on record, out of communion.

    A corroborating view.

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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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    On lying to American Catholics about Obama

    I've reached that moment of feeling powerless to put out all the fires being started by pro-Obama "Catholics." Maybe if I received funding from George Soros like some of these "Catholic" groups do, I'd have the free time to take all of this on. But I don't.

    I will, briefly, however, simply point out the many lies published on the "Catholics For Obama" website, specifically it's "Catholic Case for Obama." Just one example:
    • "Senator Obama and Senator John McCain hold indistinguishable positions on embryonic stem cell research"

    False. Obama wishes to dramatically expand it, while McCain allows for the use of already-created embryos. This leads to very different results, as Robby George points out. CFO also makes the claim that recent technology is acceptable to Catholics. Some of it is - but that's not the kind that Obama supports. He wants to create and then kill (more) embryos. That doesn't stop CFO, however, from quoting an irrelevant statement by Cardinal Rigali. They use the same tactic in their other points: misquote, misrepresent, misapply (oh, and avoid). I sure hope they haven't deluded themselves into thinking they are being objective.

    "Taken all together, Senator Obama is a man who is familiar the Catholic Social Tradition, and has striven throughout his life to work for the common good. He chose a Catholic running mate..."

    The only way one can claim Obama has worked for the common good is if you define unborn human life as not being part of humanity's common good. Catholics refuse to make that admission, so the above statement is false. Furthermore - Obama chose a Catholic running mate? A running mate who has been criticized by his own bishop, and numerous, numerous other bishops for his charecterization of Church teaching, and who remains a continual source of embarassment and scandal to Catholics. Good point, CFO, Obama sure did pick him. Thanks for that.


    "Senator Obama has proposed a new, more constructive approach to solving the abortion problem in a way that brings people together rather than pitting them against one another."

    Parsed another way, Obama's solution is to say to pro-lifers "I respect your position, and now I'm going to repeal every possible restriction on abortion access in this country and make you help pay for it, which was a course of action demanded of me by the very most radical pro-abortion elements in my party, whom I have befriended, and to whom I intend to grant every wish."
    Some solution! I'm sure pro-lifers felt brought together and not in the least pitted against one another.
    I could go on and on in a similar vein, but really there's no point. Regular readers have heard the arguments before, and hopefully understand the deception taking place here. I'm just continually amazed by the power of the dollar to get their false arguments out there. Hopefully people spend some time looking for the truth.

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    Monday, October 20, 2008

    Biden claim: "I'm a John XXIII guy, I'm not a Pope John Paul guy."

    I don't understand how someone can seriously say this about themselves:

    "I was raised as a Catholic, I'm a practicing Catholic, and I'm totally at home with the Catholicism that I was raised in and this whole culture of social responsibility, reaction to abuse of power, the whole notion that there is collective civic responsibility. It's the Catholic consciousness that I'm totally comfortable with."

    ... only to spew this nonsense:

    "It is not choice. It's always a very, very, very difficult, difficult decision. I know that, my church has wrestled with this for 2,000 years.

    We've always believed from the outset that abortion is wrong. But throughout the years, debated the degree to which it is wrong. There are always cases where it is never a first choice. It is always viewed as a dire decision. But throughout the church's history, we've argued between whether or not it is wrong in every circumstance and the degree of wrong. Catholics have this notion, it's almost a gradation.

    We have mortal sins, venial sins, well, up until Pius IX, there were times when we said, 'Look, there are circumstances in which it's wrong but it is not damnation. Along came Pius IX in the 1860s and declared in fine doctrine, this was the first time that it occurred that it was absolute human life and being at the moment of conception. It's always been a debate."

    And then conclude by saying:
    "I take my religion very seriously."
    (... just obviously not enough to study it.)

    Oh well, I guess I'm just no Joe Biden.

    Another jem:
    "I'm a John XXIII guy, I'm not a Pope John Paul guy."
    At least that puts him ahead of John Kerry, who claimed he was a "Pope Pius XXIII" kind of guy.
    Ph/t: Whispers.

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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
    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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    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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    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

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

    Expert canonical commentary over at

    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

    "Give me $5 and I'll argue any position you want!"

    William Donohue proves the point by penning a tongue-in-cheek reply to Nick Cafardi's article, "I'm Catholic, Staunchly Anti-Abortion, and Support Obama." (More on the Cafardi story here.)
    (I think I've officially reached the point in this election cycle where I feel like I'm taking crazy pills, reading through some of these arguments people are coming up with to justify their positions.)

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    Wednesday, October 08, 2008

    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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    Monday, October 06, 2008

    CUA student posts open letter to Professor Doug Kmiec

    I thought this was an excellent summary response. This was written by Therese Cory, a graduate instructor at the Catholic University of America. AmP readers will recall that I have taken issue with Kmiec's arguments, as well as the "Pro Life, Pro Obama" website.

    Dear Prof. Kmiec,

    I wish respectfully to protest against the claims on your new website, "Pro Life, Pro Obama," that pro-life Catholics can in clear conscience vote for Senator Obama.

    As a philosopher myself, I respect the fact that you have clearly given long and serious consideration to the problem of pro-life voting. Nevertheless, it seems that one should consider whether promises to fund programs for pregnant mothers counterbalance the social and moral damage done by the strong pro-abortion positions that Senator Obama and his party support, including universally funding abortions through Medicare, banning state parental consent legislation, etc. (see FOCA) This kind of legislation sends the message that abortion is acceptable and makes it more rather than less easy to get an abortion. I heartily endorse offering support to pregnant mothers to alleviate the social problems which fuel abortion. But it seems that such support will be in vain, if a government also sends the contradictory message that abortion is a morally neutral event, by vastly increasing abortion availability. How can truly support the needs of a pregnant mother, without encouraging her as to the value of the life she bears, and while cementing a culture of increasingly free and easy access to abortion?

    As a Catholic, moreover, I cannot help but find Senator Obama's pro-abortion voting record antagonistic to the goals set out by recently by numerous U.S. bishops on pro-life voting, and I see no indication that his accession to the presidential office would result in a change of direction. You mention that Senator Obama does not support late-term abortions. But what about his support for partial-birth abortion and criticism of the Supreme Court's upholding of the partial-birth ban? This point at least deserves mention on your website, in view of presenting a complete case. Moreover, his voting record on the case of infants born alive deserves closer investigation; his explanation that the bill in question would overturn Roe v. Wade is most questionable, in view of the provisions stated in the bill (see for instance, here).

    In conclusion, Senator Obama's position clearly contravenes the Catholic position on the value of human life. While it may be unrealistic to expect a reversal of Roe v. Wade in the immediate future, Obama's policies would usher in a new era of unprecedented funding for and unrestricted access to abortion. It would consequently solidify the culture of disregard for the value of unborn life. No matter how many mother-friendly programs we support, how can we truly be "pro-mother" when we are constantly sending the contradictory message that her unborn child is of no value?


    Therese Cory
    Please consider sending your own letter to Professor Kmiec here:

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    Wednesday, October 01, 2008

    "Pro-Life, Pro-Obama" website launched

    As proof that "the best lie is a bold lie," I give you the quote of the day:

    "Can you be pro-life and support Senator Obama? The answer - upon even a moment's reflection - is 'unequivocally yes.'" (Doug Kmiec, ProLife-ProObama)

    Kmiec has jumped the shark. He had once crafted perhaps the single best justification argument for a pro-Obama vote, but now this ... this is all-out vote pandering.

    The idea that Catholics can honestly determine that Obama is pro-life "upon even a moment's reflection" is simply absurd beyond argument, looking at the facts. And deciding after a moment's reflection? I'm positive that claim does not even apply to Kmiec himself!

    Kmiec surely took more than a moment's reflection to support Obama. In fact, he took years.

    Kmiec is throwing all of his eggs into the Obama basket to win over the "Catholic vote," including his previous record: "As Ronald Reagan's legal counsel and as a dean and professor at Catholic University and Notre Dame, I have worked to put the law on the side of life where it belongs."

    The point? "Catholic University and Notre Dame hired me! See? I'm Catholic. You can trust me."

    Kmiec is the face of Obama's Catholic support. And I'm exasperated by him using his faith to deceive fellow Catholics and make his (arguable) conclusions obligatory upon the rest of us. He is systematically challenging and making a mockery out of every Catholic voter's guide issued by the American bishops, he also makes a shambles of the process by which Catholics are called to inform their conscience, and frankly ... he demonstrates either a deep ignorance or a pathological inability to admit the shortcomings of his candidate.

    Kmiec is essentially saying that Catholics must vote for a candidate who can only be called "pro-life" despite his own intention to unequivocally support universal access to abortion. If Obama doesn't want to be pro-life in the proper sense, how are we being pro-life in the proper sense by voting for him?

    Let me be very clear: what I take issue with here, specifically, is Kmiec's claim that Obama is somehow a natural or obvious choice for Catholic voters. To say that, one must simply dissent from the Church's teaching that abortion, and the legal support of abortion is gravely wrong.

    If Kmiec claims to be a Catholic in good standing, a Catholic to whom other Catholics can look with confidence, I'd like to see one example where he has read the recent writings of Catholic bishops on this and related topics.

    Endlessly complaining about the persecution one has received from lay Catholics is an empty self-martyrdom if one continues to obstinately avoid dialogue with the shepherds of the Church.

    Catholics know this, and Kmiec should know better. If his position is so obviously the Catholic one, why is he scared to approach the shepherds of the Church - the guardians of what truly is Catholic - with his argument?

    I predict we can expect a well-organized media onslaught of Kmiec-clone arguments in the remaining weeks leading up to the election. Sadly PACs and grassroots political organizations frequently have better access to the Catholic faithful than do our own priests and bishops.

    But don't be fooled, don't just trust the "experts" - listen to what the bishops are saying. I would challenge anyone to find what Doug Kmiec is saying, printed-up in a voting guide issued by the U.S. Bishops this year.

    You won't.

    Right on schedule: Nicholas Cafardi of the Religion News Service in National Catholic Reporter.

    Let's see....

    • Selective reading of Faithful Citizenship while ignoring key passages? Check.
    • Despair at ever overturning Roe and exhortation to get over it? Check.
    • Lying in the claim that McCain and Obama are identical on ESCR? Check.
    • Gross overstatements about the new DNC platform's language re: abortion? Check.
    • Claim that reducing poverty outweighs the DNC plan to liberalize abortion legally? Check.
    • Claim that republicans have more total moral baggage than Democrats? Check.

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    Archbishop calls Catholic Gov's decision to host pro-abortion fundraiser a "scandal"

    Oregon Catholics especially - listen up!
    Your Archbishop is asking you to take action:

    Archbishop John Vlazny is criticizing Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, a Catholic, for playing host to an abortion rights fundraiser Friday night in Portland. Vlazny, head of the Archdiocese of Portland, said it's an embarrassment and a scandal for Catholics that Kulongoski is hosting the event two days before the church conducts its annual "Respect Life" mass in Portland to show opposition to abortion.

    "For a Catholic governor to host an event of this sort seems a deliberate dissent from the teachings of the church," Vlazny said in a statement today. Kulongoski is a longtime supporter of a woman's right to choose an abortion. (AP)

    "deliberate dissent"? Those aren't empty words. Those can be a precursor to canonical penalties.
    You can read the Archbishop's full statement here.
    Back to the AP account - condescension is the response from the governor's spokesperson:

    "The archbishop is the governor's pastor, and he has only respect and admiration for the archbishop," Kulongoski spokeswoman Anna Richter Taylor said. "They obviously disagree on the issue of choice."

    AP boilerplate:

    Kulongoski isn't the first Catholic politician who's taken heat from church leaders over a pro-abortion rights stance.

    Most bishops who have spoken about Communion and the responsibility of Catholic politicians have done so in general terms without naming names.

    That's been the case in Oregon, where Vlazny has, without naming any specific politicians, said that Catholic officeholders who disagree with church teachings should refrain from receiving Communion.

    The archbishop hasn't refused Kulongoski permission to receive communion, archdiocese spokesman Bud Bunce said.

    .... because once you already vote for state funding of abortion, how much worse is it really to personally show up at the fundraisers? Kulongoski is already supporting a grave moral evil publically, now he is also doing so personally.
    Lack of public reaction? Maybe we can change that....

    However, Vlazny today called abortion a "grave evil," and urged Catholics to contact Kulongoski's office about Friday's fundraiser "to remind him of the demands of personal integrity as a member of our faith community in the exercise of his office."

    The governor's office hadn't gotten any phone calls as of this afternoon, Richter Taylor said.

    The number is 503.378.4582. *hint hint*.
    Local Catholics are also encouraged to attend Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral at 5:30PM the evening of this event (Friday, October 3rd).

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    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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    Tuesday, September 30, 2008

    Obama v. Catholics

    Monday, September 29, 2008

    Arcbishop Burke: Democrats becoming "party of death"

    Archbishop "Pulls-No-Punches," well, doesn't:

    The Democratic Party in the United States "risks transforming itself definitively into a 'party of death,'" said U.S. Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, prefect of the Vatican's highest court.

    An interview with the former archbishop of St. Louis was published in the Sept. 27 edition of Avvenire, a daily Catholic newspaper sponsored by the Italian bishops' conference.

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

    Archbishop Burke said the Democratic Party once was "the party that helped our immigrant parents and grandparents better integrate and prosper in American society. But it is not the same anymore."

    Pro-life Democrats are "rare, unfortunately," he said.
    On denying communion to pro-abortion politicians:

    Archbishop Burke also was asked about being one of a few U.S. bishops to publicly ban Catholic politicians who hold positions contrary to church teaching from receiving Communion.

    "Mine was not an isolated position," the archbishop said. "It was shared by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver, by Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte (N.C.) and by others."

    "But it is true that the bishops' conference has not taken this position, leaving each bishop free to act as he believes best. For my part, I always have maintained that there must be a united position in order to demonstrate the unity of the church in facing this serious question," he said.

    "Recently, I have noticed that other bishops are coming to this position," he said, especially after Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., "while presenting themselves as good Catholics, have represented church teaching on abortion in a false and tendentious manner."
    update: for those who are interested, the book Archbishop Burke mentions: "The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard for Human Life"
    For those interested in finding the bishops to whom Archbishop Burke is referring, see: "Joe Biden" in recent AmP posts.
    Also, I have cross-posted this to, which is doing well.
    Photo credit: "Geerlingguy"

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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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    Wednesday, September 24, 2008

    Breaking: Pelosi meeting with Abp. Niederauer?

    I'm hearing that FOX News just reported that.

    If it's true, than Pelosi only took about 20 days to get it done.

    Stay tuned...

    update: I'm hearing ambiguous reports as to whether a) the meeting actually happened, b) the meeting has been scheduled or c) nothing has happened and FOX just noticed the story late.

    Meanwhile, the Pelosi counter keeps ticking away....

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    Not giving an inch to reporters who err about church teaching

    When I read this NYT article last week ("Abortion Issue Again Dividing Catholic Votes"), I remember this paragraph being particularly lacking:
    "After the 2004 election, progressive Catholics started to organize and appeared to win some victories. In 2006, the bishops’ conference all but banned outside voter guides from parishes. And last fall, the bishops revised their official statement on voting priorities to explicitly allow Catholics to vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights if they do so for other reasons. And it also allowed for differences of opinion about how to apply church principles. The statement appeared to leave room for Democrats to argue that social programs were an effective way to reduce abortion rates, an idea the party recently incorporated into its platform." (underlining mine)
    That Catholics may vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights simply "for other reasons" is simply untrue. In fact, they may only do so under certain circumstances, for truly grave moral reasons. In fact, the clear move in recent voting guides has been towards placing a greater emphasis on the gravity with which one must decide to vote for a pro-abort politician, not the reverse (as the article claims).

    Today the NYT published a letter to the editor penned by Bishops William Murphy and Nicholas DiMarzio:

    Actually, the bishops said candidates who promote fundamental moral evils such as abortion are cooperating in a grave evil, and Catholics may never vote for them to advance those evils.

    A Catholic voter’s decision to support a candidate despite that gravely immoral position “would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.”

    This standard of “grave moral reasons” is a very high standard to meet. The bishops added that “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.”

    Keep it up. Keep. It. Up!

    Ph/t: Whispers.

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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

    Video: Born Alive Truth (+ links/commentary) is trying to spread awareness about Obama's record of voting (four times) against the Illinois Born Alive Infants Protection Act. BornAliveTruth just released a $350,000-funded TV spot:

    I thought it interesting that the partial-birth abortion survivor's name is Gianna. Saint Gianna Beretta Molla is perhaps the most famous pro-life saint of the 20th century. I wonder if there is a connection.
    Jill Stanek, who is deeply involved in this issue, updates us on the initial Obama-camp response:

    "We're hearing from the media Obama's people are telling them they have no comment on the Gianna ad, that Obama didn't vote for Born Alive because it would undermine Roe. Even if that were true, which it is not, am I hearing Obama admit he supports infanticide if it would otherwise interfere with legalized abortion."

    By way of comparison, note this observation by the TV spot's accompanying press release:

    "Legislation identical to the proposed Illinois law was passed by the U.S. Senate (before Obama became a US Senator) by a vote of 98-0. This included even the most adamant pro-choice Senators."

    Obama has tried to claim that the Senate legislation was not "identical", but the facts simply do not support his claim, as I blogged previously. In fact, he went so far as to call those who disagree with him about this factual matter "liars." Calling truth-tellers "liars" never wins points in my book.

    Jill Stanek isn't letting Obama's media team confuse the issue, and says "Stick to the Obama/Born Alive talking points." Until they respond to those forthrightly they simply haven't got a case. We're still waiting on that one.

    Now, in the interest of fairness - because I do believe the facts are on BornAliveTruth's side when it comes to this contested issue - Reproductive Health Reality Check mounts the best defense it can. (RHRC is ultra-liberal in its promotion of abortion, contraception, etc.)

    I contend, however, that all RHRC succeeds in doing is to demonstrate that Obama vigilantly safeguards abortion rights in any and all circumstances. The supreme "right" to abortion-on-demand is a core value of his that trumps all other human rights issues, and it is, moreover, an issue intimately wrapped-up in the "politics as usual" of the Democrat party that he constantly claims to have moved beyond.

    Either way, BornAliveTruth makes an important point.

    update: thanks to a reader who notes that also vetted this controversy extensively. From my reading, it seems to me an unfair claim to say that Obama "supports infanticide." I do think, however, that it is clear he is prepared and committed to defending abortion to its extreme limit (e.g., you can kill a child as long as it has not yet taken a breath outside its mother's womb).

    Moreover, does point out that Obama and his surrogates have essentially switched their explanation in regards to the motivations and details surrounding Obama's votes.

    What happened? My take: A junior state senator played local Democrat party politics to the advantage of the moment and is now trying to retroactively gloss-over his decisions when appearing in a national spotlight, with a national election at stake.

    Again, either way, BornAliveTruth makes an important point.

    update 2: Stanek responds:

    "... if you listen to the audio recently released [link includes transcript] of Obama's 2002 SenateFloor speech on Born Alive, you can come to no other conclusion than that he supports infanticide.

    In the clip he admits babies may survive abortions but a 2nd physician shouldn't be called to assess and resuscitate the baby because it would place a "burden" on the "original decision" of the mother to abort. What else is that if not supporting infanticide?"

    Obama's point is this (and it takes some effort to glean what he is saying): providing a safety net of a second doctor to ensure that children accidentally born alive during partial-birth abortions would "burden" the women's decision to abort her child ("how?" one might ask). What Obama is worried about preserving is the absolute "right" of the woman to not have a live child on her hands, one way or the other, once she has decided to have an abortion.

    The darker insinuation one could make is that in fact Obama does not want a second doctor around keeping a watchful eye out to ensure that the original doctor does not break the law by withholding life-sustaining treatment from a live-born infant.

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    4:15PM EST: Hudson v. Kmiec?

    {update - 4:21pm ... it's happening!}
    I've been burned by promoting these sorts of appearances before, but from what I know about Doug Kmiec, he won't back down after promising to appear. I hope to listen-in as it should be extremely interesting:

    In March of this year, Catholic legal scholar Doug Kmiec shocked the Catholic world by endorsing Barak Obama for President. This longtime pro-life, pro-family leader has gone on to advise on the Democratic Party platform, conduct numerous interviews in support of Obama, and has even released a book today on the Catholic case for Obama. He joins Al Kresta this afternoon in his first debate with a fellow Catholic since his endorsement. He will face off with long-time Catholic leader and McCain supporter Deal Hudson, on whether a Catholic can, in good conscience, cast a vote for Barak Obama.

    Kmiec / Hudson, only on Kresta in the Afternoon. 4:15 – 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

    Live audio stream at

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    Friday, September 12, 2008

    Updated: 12 (14) bishops have responded to Sen. Joe Biden

    Here is the updated list of bishops who have responded to Sen. Joe Biden (in somewhat chronological order):

    1. (Bishop Joseph Martino) of Scranton (Biden's hometown) in a local newspaper interview, before Biden made his Meet the Press comments, re-stating his earlier-held position
    2. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, CO
    3. Bishop James Conley, his auxiliary, joined him
    4. Bishop Robeert Morlino of Madison devoted his Sunday homily to it (mp3 here)
    5. Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC
    6. Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa, OK
    7. Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, PA
    8. Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, CT
    9. Bishop Fran Malooly of Wilmington, DL (Biden's diocese)
    10. Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, ND
    11. (Bishop Gregory Aymond of Austin, TX linked to the USCCB in his Friday E-pistle)
    12. Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City, IA
    13. Bishop Paul Coakley of Salina, KS in his newsletter
    14. Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, MA on his blog

    {Last updated - September 14th. Please send me tips & corrections! Try checking your diocesan website.}

    The number of bishops who have responded to Speaker Nancy Pelosi's comments is currently at 26.

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    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

    Flash: USCCB to "discuss the practical and pastoral implications of political support for abortion"

    That's the good news.

    The bad news is that the discussion has been scheduled for November 10th-13th, one week after election day.

    The announcement text, via Whispers (underlining mine):
    "In light of recent comments by Catholic politicians misrepresenting Catholic teaching, the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops affirms the statements that have been issued by Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Doctrine. We confirm the Catholic Church's constant teaching about the sanctity of all human life from the moment of conception and the intrinsic evil of abortion. As the teachers of the faith, we also point out the connectedness between the evil of abortion and political support for abortion. We plan to discuss the practical and pastoral implications of these serious matters at the U.S. bishops' November 10-13, 2008 general meeting in Baltimore."
    "Political support for abortion is evil."

    That gives us something to think about as we go into the voting booths on November 4th.

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    Noted: four reasons Biden might have talked

    Fr. Thomas Williams:
    "I have come up with only four possible reasons that Sen. Biden or his advisers would have thought this was somehow a good idea, assuming that they did think about it before accepting the invitation."
    Read the four reasons, and his responses to them, here at NRO.

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    Media ignoring US Bishops' statement on Biden?

    Here's a hypothetical:

    The leadership of the single largest religious denomination in America publishes a statement saying the democractic vice-presidential nominee was in serious error when he claimed a major policy position of his party could be reconciled with his religious beliefs... and only the AP mentioned the situation.

    Oh wait, that's not a hypothetical so far.

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    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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    Text: USCCB responds to Joe Biden

    As I predicted last night, the US Bishops have published a response to Senator Joe Biden.
    {update: the text is now available on the homepage of the USCCB website.}
    Here it is (underlining mine):


    WASHINGTON - Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William E. Lori, chairman, U.S. Bishops Committee on Doctrine, issued the following statement:

    Recently we had a duty to clarify the Catholic Church’s constant teaching against abortion, to correct misrepresentations of that teaching by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on “Meet the Press” (see: here). On September 7, again on “Meet the Press,” Senator Joseph Biden made some statements about that teaching that also deserve a response.

    Senator Biden did not claim that Catholic teaching allows or has ever allowed abortion. He said rightly that human life begins “at the moment of conception,” and that Catholics and others who recognize this should not be required by others to pay for abortions with their taxes.

    However, the Senator’s claim that the beginning of human life is a “personal and private” matter of religious faith, one which cannot be “imposed” on others, does not reflect Catholic teaching. The Church teaches that the obligation to protect unborn human life rests on the answer to two questions, neither of which is private or specifically religious.

    The first is a biological question: When does a new human life begin? When is there a new living organism of the human species, distinct from mother and father and ready to develop and mature if given a nurturing environment? While ancient thinkers had little verifiable knowledge to help them answer this question, today embryology textbooks confirm that a new human life begins at conception (see The Catholic Church does not teach this as a matter of faith; it acknowledges it as a matter of objective fact.

    The second is a moral question, with legal and political consequences: Which living members of the human species should be seen as having fundamental human rights, such as a right not to be killed? The Catholic Church’s answer is: Everybody. No human being should be treated as lacking human rights, and we have no business dividing humanity into those who are valuable enough to warrant protection and those who are not. Even this is not solely a Catholic teaching, but a principle of natural law accessible to all people of good will. The framers of the Declaration of Independence pointed to the same basic truth by speaking of inalienable rights, bestowed on all members of the human race not by any human power, but by their Creator. Those who hold a narrower and more exclusionary view have the burden of explaining why we should divide humanity into the moral “haves” and “have-nots,” and why their particular choice of where to draw that line can be sustained in a pluralistic society. Such views pose a serious threat to the dignity and rights of other poor and vulnerable members of the human family who need and deserve our respect and protection.

    While in past centuries biological knowledge was often inaccurate, modern science leaves no excuse for anyone to deny the humanity of the unborn child. Protection of innocent human life is not an imposition of personal religious conviction but a demand of justice.

    Masterful. My comments wouldn't really add anything.

    Total number of bishops who have spoken (counting Abp. Wuerl's comments to his priests and Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa's statement - in both cases scroll down the page): 7:

    • Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver
    • Bishop James Conley of Denver
    • Bishop Fran Malooly of Wilmington, DL (Biden's diocese)
    • Cardinal Justin Rigali
    • Bishop William Lori
    • Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC
    • Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa

    update: The AP picked up the story, and Drudge linked to it.

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    Tuesday, September 09, 2008

    Update: Biden skips Mass where new Bishop speak out against him

    Once again, my low expectations are wonderfully surpassed.

    Reader John V notes that Biden, as I predicted, skipped town:
    "Looks like you were right. [Biden] was in Wilmington yesterday, but had to go to Green Bay today."
    And it's a good thing, too. I wouldn't have wanted to present myself for communion after this homily by Bishop Malooly:

    ... Mary’s mother, St. Anne, carried a very special life in her womb which serves as a vivid reminder that every life is special. We will continue to stress the constant teaching of the Church that each person must respect every life from conception to natural death. And we will continue to seek the intercession of Saint Thomas More for Statesmen, Politicians, Supreme Court Justices, Judges and Lawyers—that they may be courageous and effective in defending and promoting the sanctity of human life, the foundation of every human right, the foundation of our love for the poor.

    While Bishop Fran Malooly does not name Joe Biden (or Nancy Pelosi) by name, anyone who has been keeping up on this story knows what's being said quite plainly.
    Nor is the St. Thomas More reference a throw-away line, I would argue. In his new book on Catholic voting, Abp. Charles Chaput spends an entire section talking about the example of St. Thomas More.
    Coincidence? Perhaps. But lest we forget, St. Thomas summed up his witness in one line before his martyrdom:
    "I die the King's good servant - but God's first."

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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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    Commentary: Abortion and the New Democratic Platform

    Michael Sean Winters of the America Magazine election blog has an interesting post today entitled "Note to Dems: Shut Up!"

    I agree in substance with his first part:

    First, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi demonstrated that she wasn’t paying attention during theology classes when she matriculated at Trinity College. Now, Sen. Joe Biden has managed to wade into the treacherous waters of making pronouncements on what the Church does, and does not, teach about when human life begins. The Democrats’ vice-presidential candidate, who has a mixed record on pro-life issues, went further than he needed to go on "Meet the Press" yesterday, mentioning Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica as if he were an expert, but quickly demonstrating that he is no theologian.

    Note to Democratic candidates: You are not running to become theologian-in-chief.

    I want to believe, but remain wary, of his next claim:

    And, in the event, the platform you just adopted has something genuinely new and important to say about abortion, and theological speculation is just going to step on that platform.

    The Democrats, for the first time, called for policies that will reduce the number of abortions by preventing crisis pregnancies in the first place and by providing assistance to women facing crisis pregnancies so that they can carry their child to term. The GOP removed similar language from their platform, keeping their traditional but so far unsuccessful call for overturning Roe v. Wade.

    Winters' sets out perhaps the best argument the DNC has going for them right now when it comes to attacting pro-life voters (otherwise known as "practicing Catholics"). But let's follow the strands.

    Steve Waldman, editor-in-chief of Beliefnet, agrees and disagrees with Winters:

    The Obama campaign had been arguing that the candidate was charting a third-way approach to abortion: supporting abortion rights but promoting policies that would reduce the number of abortions.

    Pro-life liberals were therefore deeply disappointed to hear that after the Palin announcement, the Democrats started running a radio ad [MP3 file] about abortion that made no mention of abortion reduction, instead just stating the Democrats' support for abortion rights. "Unless the Obama campaign will stop emphasizing abortion rights and strongly address the major common cause issues with a spirited vision and practical details, the Republicans can continue to scoop up a ton of votes," said Joel Hunter, a moderate evangelical who gave a benediction at the Democratic convention.

    Waldman goes on to claim that Biden and Obama are both re-adjusting their language:

    This Sunday, the Democratic ticket seemed to emphasize a new approach. On Meet the Press, Joe Biden went farther than the platform or Obama had gone before: "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."

    A Democratic candidate pledging to "reduce considerably the amount of abortions" -- that's the phrase that pro-life liberals have been yearning for.

    On This Week with George Stephanopolous, Obama returned to talking about abortion reduction (and also clarified his above-my-paygrade gaffe [watch video]). He said his paygrade line was "too flip" and that "as a Christian I have a lot of humility about understanding about when does the soul enter. All I meant to communicate was that I don't presume to be able to answer these kinds of theological questions."

    Now I wish these words could be taken at their face value (would that the democrat party did become truly pro-life!), but the simple fact of the matter is that Biden receives a 0% rating from the National Right to Life Committee, and Obama was "Rated 100% by NARAL on pro-choice votes in 2005, 2006 & 2007." Have they had a change of heart since they earned these ratings?

    In 2007, Obama promised NARAL that his first act as President would be to "sign the Freedom of Choice Act." On the 35th Anniversary of Roe V. Wade, Barack Obama on his campaign website still says:

    "Thirty-five years after the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, it's never been more important to protect a woman's right to choose...With one more vacancy on the Supreme Court, we could be looking at a majority hostile to a women's fundamental right to choose for the first time since Roe v. Wade. The next president may be asked to nominate that Supreme Court justice. That is what is at stake in this election."

    "Throughout my career, I've been a consistent and strong supporter of reproductive justice, and have consistently had a 100% pro-choice rating with Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

    "When South Dakota passed a law banning all abortions in a direct effort to have Roe overruled, I was the only candidate for President to raise money to help the citizens of South Dakota repeal that law. When anti-choice protesters blocked the opening of an Illinois Planned Parenthood clinic in a community where affordable health care is in short supply, I was the only candidate for President who spoke out against it. And I will continue to defend this right by passing the Freedom of Choice Act as president."

    And where does Joe Biden stand on this issue? He co-sponsored the Freedom of Choice Act in the 102nd and 103rd congresses. "FOCA would overturn hundreds of state laws on the books that limit abortion."

    Here's what I'm seeing: when Obama or Biden (or Pelosi, for that matter) are addressing a general audience, they talk about wishing to bring down the number of abortions, provide alternatives, etc. They also "helpfully" suggest expanding access to contraceptives, but we'll leave that aside for now.

    When, however, Obama or Biden have a pro-choice audience, they are unabashed in their support for abortion-on-demand. (Can you imagine, for instance, Barack Obama or Joe Biden telling Planned Parenthood - which receives huge amounts of federal funding - that they should begin encouraging their patients to carry their children to term?)

    Nor is this double-talk confined to the democrat higher ups (though even their practice of it should give us pause), the specter of Roe v. Wade being repealed is regularly used, up and down the party line, to intimidate people - and women especially - into voting for a democratic candidate. I showcased a classic example of these scare tactics a week or so ago at the DNC convention itself.

    Back to my main point: in order to truly make a case before the entire American people that the DNC has changed its views on abortion, their Presidential candidate must be willing to repudiate the support of radical pro-abortion lobbies and interests. If he cannot do that, then this change in the DNC platform remains a classical case of politicians and political party wanting to have it both ways.

    Sadly, it's all the same for the present and future victims of abortion.

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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

    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

    AP summarizes Niederauer's statement to Pelosi

    The Associated Press has a bland summary. A few observations/corrections:

    ... Archbishop George Niederauer isn't going as far as suggesting that the Catholic lawmaker stop taking Holy Communion because of her support for abortion rights.
    At least it's clear to third parties that Niederauer doesn't plan on taking any action.

    Several U.S. bishops condemned Pelosi last week after her appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."
    Actually, by my count, twenty-four bishops have spoken-up. And I'm sure there are others.

    The congresswoman from San Francisco defended her support for abortion by saying that church leaders throughout history haven't been able to define when life begins.

    But Niederauer and other bishops say that the church from its earliest days has considered abortion evil.
    Why is it so hard for the reporter to add one more line? "Pelosi is wrong."

    As I've said before, this is a debate about historical fact, not opinion or interpretation. Reporters in other instances feel free to quote people claiming one thing, and then the reporter will follow-up with a line that reads "but records show...[that the person is wrong]."

    In other words, the truth of the claim made by the bishops is not solely dependant on their having said it. External corroborating evidence exists, and overwhelmingly favors them, not Pelosi.

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    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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    Wednesday, September 03, 2008

    Obama ad "slams McCain on abortion rights"

    A not-so-surprising move, even though the Obama campaign is denying a causal connection between pro-life Sarah Palin's selection and these new pro-abortion ads:

    Barack Obama has launched a broadside against John McCain’s opposition to abortion rights and moved one of the most divisive issues in modern American politics to the airwaves on a large scale for the first time in this presidential campaign.

    Obama’s new radio ad, airing widely in at least seven swing states, tells voters McCain “will make abortion illegal.” It’s airing as McCain courts female voters with the addition of the staunchly anti-abortion governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, to his ticket. (Politico)

    This is a sadly typical scare tactic used against women voters when an election starts to get heated. It is, however, very interesting to see Obama bringing up the abortion issue himself. Previously the topic has been somewhat of an embarrassment for him because of his well-known extreme views on the issue
    Obama appears to campaign in a careful, planned manner, therefore it would not surprise me that because of his decision to not select Hillary as his running mate (and before it was known that McCain would pick Sarah Palin), he is now attempting to re-attract Hillary supporters by reminding them that the democratic party remains the party for abortion-on-demand.
    So much for all that talk we've been hearing from certain front groups about the democratic party moderating their position on abortion to attract values voters.

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    Tuesday, September 02, 2008

    Stevens-Arroyo's inexplicably flippant - and uninformed - Pelosi commentary

    Anthony Stevens-Arroyo, contributing to the Washington Post/Newsweek blog On Faith today, demonstrates an extraordinary ability to gravely miss the point of Pelosi's comments, and do so glibly.

    First, the glib:

    "After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke about the abortion issue in a television interview, Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington issued a clarifying statement.

    Rather than a put-down as some had expected, however, the Archbishop did a dance with her."

    Oh, isn't that cute. They're doing a little dance together. One problem: they're dancing around the issue of abortion.
    Next, missing-the-point:

    In the interview, Pelosi had said that the Democratic Party's position reflected the religious pluralism of the country.

    Wrong. Pelosi did not make claims about the Democratic Party's position on abortion. She made claims about the Catholic Church's teaching on abortion. If she had made claims about the Democrat Party's position on abortion, there would have been nothing to talk about. In fact, she went beyond that and made (erroneous) claims about the Catholic Church.

    That's why the bishops responded. This is a fundamental point, and Stevens-Arroyo completely misses it.

    More missing-the-point by Stevens-Arroyo:

    The House Speaker had talked about the scientific dimension of the issue: the Archbishop emphasized the theological (or metaphysical) definition. They were moving in lock-step but in different directions - just like partners in a dance.

    Wrong again. In regards to abortion and the question of when life begins, part of the theological point is that scientifically one can know that human life begins at conception. They aren't moving in "different directions" - they are approaching the same truth from different perspectives.

    Even more missing-the-point by Stevens-Arroyo:

    Other bishops continue to repeat the theological opinion, which of course they should do. However, while theologians can speak authoritatively about the need to respect the moment of conception, it is "above their pay grade" to put on a biologist cap and define scientifically when that moment occurs.

    First of all, using Obama's infamous "above my pay grade" line isn't going to win you any friends among rational, informed Christians. Second, wrong: this was exactly the point of Cardinal Egan - being Catholic doesn't make you automatically incapable of doing science, no matter that Pelosi tried to claim a disingenuous scientific agnosticism about the time when life begins at the same time as proposing a false theological relativism when confronted with the question of when this life deserves protection. (Honorable-mention third point: Pelosi didn't limit herself to defending early abortions, she also brought in second, and third-trimester abortions.)

    Now, not just missing-the-point, but being actively wrong, by Stevens-Arroyo:

    Fertility doctors, who are the experts on this matter, distinguish between a "fertilized egg" and "conception." Only when the embryo is implanted in the womb does it achieve conception, they say.

    Notice, first, how the opinion of fertility doctors is supposed to be some sort of trump card. Second, this is not a grammatical question of what one considers a "conceptus." The Church defines conception as the moment of fertilization. And Stevens-Arroyo would be hard pressed to argue that the conceptus undergoes some sort of radical change simply by merit of being physically in the womb as opposed to the fallopian tube.

    Now, on top of being wrong, being wrong about what the Church teaches, by Stevens-Arroyo:

    Now, Catholic teaching instructs us that even if an embryo is not yet conceived, it has that potential.

    Show me where the Church teaches that a "conceptus" is not an embryo. You can't. I'll put it another way, more clearly: embryos do not have the potential to be conceived, they are the result of being conceived.

    Back to simply missing-the-point, by Stevens-Arroyo:

    Unfortunately, this avoids the real issue for bishops and politicians alike: Does Catholic teaching bind non-Catholics?

    That, actually, is a separate question. If Pelosi had kept herself to that sort of discussion, no correction would have been immediately and urgently required. Instead, she decided to claim that Catholic teaching does not bind Catholics. (Seriously, how hard is this?)

    More missing-the-point, by even wider margins:

    Are Catholic voters obliged by their bishops to take away the right of Protestants (or Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc.) to practice their religion (or atheists to be atheists) in the U.S.?

    Honestly, this is so far off topic that it's not even worth chasing.

    The rest of the essay trails off along these confused lines, but a couple further line do deserve a highlight:

    However, so as long as the bishops give theological answers to political questions, they expose our faith to confused charges of infidelity to the American way.

    Stevens-Arroyo is here guilty of the tired separation of church-and-state dualism which claims a question can only be theological or political, and never both (i.e., informed by both). In fact it was Pelosi who trespassed into theological territory when she claimed to present the teaching of the church. She was the one who exposed "our" faith to ridicule and dissemination.

    Finally, as a laughable conclusion to this travesty of a commentary:

    Speaker Pelosi is no dummy: she spoke correctly from her perspective, just as the Archbishop did from his. It would be a service to Catholics everywhere if the bishops articulated more clearly the need to distinguish between theological teaching and political decision-making.

    It's like we're talking about a different person, and reading different words uttered by that person. She did not speak correctly from her perspective - because she spoke as a Catholic. How one can possibly take Pelosi-Gate as an example of bishops failing to make distinctions is simply beyond me. It was they who re-established the destinction after Pelosi had made a mess of it all.

    The author's flippant sign-off:

    Keep Catholic political leaders and bishops on the dance floor of the public square, I say! The public needs to see the careful intricacy we undergo in living within our shared Catholic conviction. I think the two concerns of theology and democracy can make beautiful music together.

    It's one thing to be wrong. It's another, worse thing to be flippantly wrong about issues as grave as abortion, the malicious deceits of Catholic pro-abort politicians, and the response of lay people and Catholic bishops who are trying to instruct the Catholic faithful in this atmosphere of ignorance, self-interest and ... joking.
    I've refrained from doing much research into Stevens-Arroyo's other published commentaries. This isn't a hit piece, after all. It's simply a point-by-point illustration of the errors in this piece of his writing.
    I do have to add, however, that his June 17th column is titled "When Popes Go To Far" and argues for women priests against the 1994 teaching of Pope John Paul II. So maybe he makes a habit of missing the point when it comes to Catholic teaching.
    ... can someone explain to me again why Newsweek/Washington Post goes to him for "Catholic commentary"?
    update: my counter-points are well-supported by today's press release by the U.S. Bishops.

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    Commentary: Pelosi visits Hiroshima memorial

    Today Nancy Pelosi visited a Hiroshima memorial in Japan and laid flowers.

    When asked how she justified the decision to drop the nuclear bomb, she responded:

    Pelosi: "I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition. And Senator--St. Augustine said only when you need to. We don't know. The point is, is that it shouldn't have an impact on the President's right to nuclear bomb. The UN talks about very clear definitions of when you can nuclear bomb, certain considerations; long-term war; not so shorter war. There's very clear distinctions. This isn't about nuclear bombing on demand, it's about a careful, careful consideration of all factors and--to--that the President has to make with his military advisors and his god. And so I don't think anybody can tell you when you can nuclear bomb. As I say, the Catholic Church for centuries has been discussing this, and there are those who've decided..."

    Interviewer: "The Catholic Church at the moment feels very strongly that it..."

    Pelosi: "I understand that."

    Interviewer: "... nuclear bombs are never to be used..."

    REP. PELOSI: "I understand. And this is like maybe 50 years or something like that."

    Oh wait, she actually didn't attempt to defend that mass murder.

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    Monday, September 01, 2008

    Update: Tom Brokaw revives Pelosi-Gate

    As noted by Fr. Z, in yesterday's Meet the Press, Tom Brokaw keeps the story in the spotlight:

    GOV. PAWLENTY: I would also say on that, Tom, if I could, you never hear Barack Obama getting asked whether he would pick a pro-life candidate for his ticket ...or whether it was important to have a pro-choice candidate on the Democratic side. You notice that question never gets asked of the Democrats.

    MR. BROKAW: In the governors race—as a matter of fact, Nancy Pelosi and I talked about this just last week, and she got in a lot of trouble with the Catholic Church because [s]he refused to say when life begins, and when I asked her about it, she then had her own explanation based on what she thought was church doctrine, and the church came after her. So we have put that on the table, I just want to get that on the record if I can.

    Poor Mrs. Pelosi.

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    Report: Biden risks refusal of Holy Communion

    An important historical note. It remains to be see if the point becomes contemporized (underlining mine):

    Scranton native Sen. Joe Biden would likely feel at home any day of the week in Northeast Pennsylvania. Well, any day except possibly Sunday.

    The Most Rev. Joseph F. Martino, bishop of Scranton, has strongly supported refusal of Holy Communion for politicians who campaign for or vote in favor of abortion rights.

    When asked whether the Democratic vice presidential candidate would be refused Communion should he tour the region, the diocese held firm to its past statements.

    “I will not tolerate any politician who claims to be a faithful Catholic who is not genuinely pro-life,” Bishop Martino said in a pastoral letter Sept. 15, 2005, and reiterated this week.

    “No Catholic politician who supports the culture of death should approach Holy Communion,” Bishop Martino said. “I will be truly vigilant on this point.”(Scranton Times)

    Also, Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United, makes an unwelcome appearance in the article:
    Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United, said Mr. Biden’s leadership on issues like health care and economic justice “constitute a policy that’s consistent with human life.”

    He said ending abortion is an important theological issue for Catholics, but he questioned whether criminalizing abortion was the correct public policy to achieve that. “I think we need to start asking different questions,” Mr. Korzen said.
    Who, exactly, in this debate has ever claimed that criminalizing abortion is the Catholic position? Removing the legal right to abortion-on-demand is not equivalent to prosecuting everyone who procures an abortion.

    But of course, one shouldn't expect Chris Korzen to stay on topic.

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    Friday, August 29, 2008

    Follow-up: Two good editorials on Pelosi-Gate

    Not to be forgotton amidst today's big story, here aretwo good follow-up's to Pelosi-Gate. First, the Family Research Council blog asks a very valid question, regarding her use of Augustine to defend herself:

    I'm now curious to know if Pelosi ascribes to all of Augustine's positions, or merely those that appear to be convenient to her. Is it wrong to cry over sad love stories? Must sex always have a reproductive intent? What's the moral status of concubinage? Is slavery always wrong?

    Apparently Pelosi would rather base her political opinions on the natural philosophy of ancient Romans than on modern science. What's next, a Medicare Prescription Leach Bill? A Congressional task force ensuring that the American people have their humors in proper balance?

    We can thank Pelosi for placing us in such anachronistic conundrums.

    Also, Stephen Barr wants to see the correction take the next step:

    To all appearances, Pelosi has publicly and pointedly denied a “truth of Catholic doctrine” that is “definitively to be held” (“definitive tenenda”) by “all believers”, and the denial of which renders them “no longer . . . in full communion with the Catholic Church.” Moreover, Pelosi simultaneously proclaims her right to do so because “many Catholics” agree with her. Clearly, this is a scandal in the original sense of the term.

    What can the bishops do? There is something very simple they can do that would have an enormously salutary effect.

    They can, in a public statement, explain the doctrinal situation and require Pelosi to respond to the following question: “Do you assent to the teaching of the Church that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being at any stage after conception is gravely immoral?”

    Her previous public statement makes it presumable that her answer is no. This presumption can only be removed by a clear affirmative answer. In light of the public nature and scandal caused by her earlier statement, she should be required to make a public assent to this Catholic teaching.

    This is no longer a question of a politician claiming some kind of rights or leeway as a politician. It is a well-known Catholic very publicly explicitly rejecting a “truth of Catholic doctrine.”

    Plenty to discuss here.

    update: I really need to stop limiting myself to specific numbers ... Father Thomas Williams:

    The most disturbing element of Speaker Pelosi’s comments, however, was not her historical fudging, her disingenuous misrepresentation of Catholic moral teaching or her implicit adoption of cafeteria Catholicism. It was her insouciant dismissal of the moral significance of abortion. She said that in the end, it didn’t matter when life begins anyway. Her exact words were: “The point is, is that it [when life begins] shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose.” No matter when human life begins, a mother’s right trumps a baby’s, and that right includes the choice to destroy the child. This is irreconcilable not only with Catholic morality, but with the most basic natural ethics.

    Pundits and liberal commentators have predictably accused the bishops of playing politics and using Speaker Pelosi’s comments to further the agenda of the Republican party. Any objective observer knows this is not the case. If Speaker Pelosi didn’t want a response, she should not have forced the bishops’ hands. And if the Democrats’ star running back steps out of bounds, it’s not the referees’ fault for calling it.

    Speaker Pelosi can campaign for abortion all she likes, but to do so as an “ardent, practicing Catholic” is to invite a stiff correction. Americans still value truth in advertising, and know that words have meanings. “Catholic” means pro-life.

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    A little window into pro-abortion scare tactics

    And how they are being used by national-level figures in the democratic party:

    Attacking presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Sen. Barbara Boxer said that McCain has a rating of zero percent from NARAL and zero from Planned Parenthood.

    “Now you have to be pretty radical to have a zero rating,” she claimed.

    The California Senator then attacked McCain’s pledge to appoint Supreme Court justices similar to Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, who are considered hostile to Roe v. Wade.

    “They want to, essentially, make it illegal for us to have a right to choose, and to make us criminals, and to make doctors criminals!” she exclaimed.

    Noting Barack Obama’s 100 percent rating from pro-abortion groups NARAL and Planned Parenthood, Boxer emphasized the slogan “He’s a hero, John McCain’s a zero!”

    She received a standing ovation for the remark.

    Boxer also claimed that McCain had voted against a program to help children who witness domestic violence.

    Later in the caucus meeting, New York U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter warned the audience “we are in as much danger today… as we were almost when we first started here. There is so much at stake for women on this one issue, and it’s critical that we elect Barack Obama.” (CNA)

    Stop Slaughter.

    update: Carl adds his comments.

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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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    AP publishes amazingly objective Pelosi article

    Again, an incredible development: the Associated Press has issued a surprisingly objective and balanced take on Pelosi-Gate, and the story has been picked up by the Drudge Report, so everyone will read it:

    Pelosi gets unwanted lesson in Catholic theology

    Politics can be treacherous. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi walked on even riskier ground in a recent TV interview when she attempted a theological defense of her support for abortion rights.

    Roman Catholic bishops consider her arguments on St. Augustine and free will so far out of line with church teaching that they have issued a steady stream of statements to correct her.

    Look how the AP author, Rachel Zoll, refuses to let Pelosi contradict the historical record (underlining mine):

    Brendan Daly, a spokesman for Pelosi, said in a statement defending her remarks that she "fully appreciates the sanctity of family" and based her views on conception on the "views of Saint Augustine, who said, 'The law does not provide that the act (abortion) pertains to homicide, for there cannot yet be said to be a live soul in a body that lacks sensation.'"

    But whether or not parishioners choose to accept it, the theology on the procedure is clear. From its earliest days, Christianity has considered abortion evil.

    "This teaching has remained unchanged and remains unchangeable," according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. "Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law."

    Quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church to prove a point? How radically theologically-competent is that?

    On Pelosi's prevaricating about free will, Zoll says:

    Regarding individual decision-making, the church teaches that Catholics are obliged to use their conscience in considering moral issues. However, that doesn't mean parishioners can pick and choose what to believe and still be in line with the church.

    Lisa Sowle Cahill, a theologian at Boston College, said conscience must be formed by Catholic teaching and philosophical insights. "It's not just a personal opinion that you came up with randomly," she said.

    Catholic theologians today overwhelmingly consider debate over the morality of abortion settled. Thinkers and activists who attempt to challenge the theology are often considered on the fringes of church life.

    I almost can't beleive I'm reading lines and quotes like this in the AP. What a refreshing denial of relativism. Even Cahill comes through with a solid statement.

    But that isn't even the greatest part:

    However, there is a rigorous debate over how the teaching should guide voters and public officials. Are Catholics required to choose the candidate who opposes abortion? Or can they back a politician based on his or her policies on reducing, not outlawing, the procedure?

    The U.S. bishops addressed this question in their election-year public policy guide, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship."

    They said that voting for a candidate specifically because he or she supports "an intrinsic evil" such as abortion amounts to "formal cooperation in grave evil."

    In some cases, Catholics may vote for a candidate with a position contrary to church teaching, but only for "truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences," according to the document.

    ... I can never remember reading anything so clear and objective in a mainstream reporting article. I'm going to try to do some research to figure out how something this good made it out underneath the editorial radar, but in the meantime, I post it now so that it might be widely read and distributed.
    Suffice it to say, whoever was advising Zoll sure set her far along the straight and narrow.

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    Wednesday, August 27, 2008

    Bishops of Colorado Springs & Pittsburgh respond to Pelosi

    First, Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh:
    "On Sunday, August 24, on “Meet the Press,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stepped out of her political role and completely misrepresented the teaching of the Catholic Church in regard to abortion. She said that Church teaching condemning procured abortion is somehow new and therefore unsettled. She could not have been more wrong." [More.]
    Second, Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs:
    In light of recent confusing statements by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi suggesting that Catholic teaching allows for procured abortion in certain circumstances, it is important for all Catholics to understand the teaching of the Church regarding abortion. [More as PDF file.]
    Add them to the honor roll... (update, by which I mean this complete list of bishops who have spoken out).

    update 2: Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo has also released a statement.

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    Pelosi-Gate: Decision Day

    Today is a critical juncture in the struggle between Nancy Pelosi et al. and the American bishops over what it means to be a Catholic in America today.

    Pelosi-Gate has been covered in the last 24 hours by the Associated Press, Reuters, Drudge, Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh & Bill O'Reilly. People already know where the debate stands, and are waiting to see what happens next.

    This is a unique situation for two reasons: a) Pelosi's comments are absurd enough that they bring several long-simmering issues to a boiling-point and b) so far, Pelosi has received public correction from the American bishops. In other words, the bishops have every reason to continue taking advantage of this unprecedented teaching opportunity. They have the stage, an attentive audience, and a winning position.

    Furthermore, in authorizing her spokesman to release a statement defending her position, Pelosi has tossed the ball back into the American bishops' court. She has said, in essence: "No, I was right, and you were therefore wrong to correct me."

    The next few days (and honestly, given today's news cycle, the next 24 hours) will determine whether her bluff is called, or if she and her ilk are permitted to continue deceiving Americans about what their Catholic faith actually means in the American public forum.

    The bishops have already made the most difficult step: they have started a public conversation with Pelosi on a critically-important topic. They now benefit from a different type of inertia than the one they are perhaps used to - namely, the positive inertia of already being in the debate as opposed to the negative inertia of not having said anything at all.

    Their actions, of course, have already drawn fierce criticism from exactly the sort of people who we counted on raising the alarm. But the bold words of the bishops have also drawn vocal, immediate support and praise from sincere ardent, practicing Catholics. Backing down now would be a greater victory for Pelosi's deceits than allowing her comments to go unopposed in the first place.

    So please, don't stop while you're ahead. After all, we are so rarely ahead.

    update: Phil Lawler brilliantly outlines the ways in which Pelosi has (unintentionally) performed a huge favor for the cause of respecting unborn life in America. There is also at least one possible sign that the American bishops do not intend to let this conversation end with this unsatisfactory conclusion.

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