Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Get a Load of This!

The Wall Street Journal has been skidding and sliding and, finaly, coasting downhill for several years, but now it has outdone itself in farce.

This morning, in an interview with Father Ted Hesburgh, longtime president of Notre Dame, the journal's twit frames a "balanced" question:

"WSJ: In your day, the Church produced figures such as Bishop Sheen and Father Drinan and Pope John XXIII. Who are the Catholic leaders today of their caliber? Are there any?"

Father Drinan, the proud pro-abortion congressman who had to leave Congress in disgrace (or leave the Jesuits), is sandwiched into a trinity with two giants of the Church. Why, doesn't he come to **everybody's** mind? (oops, we forgot Teddy Kennedy!)

Talk about a loaded question! Or maybe just a load.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dr. Charles E. Rice's ND Observer Column 24 September 2008

Charles E. Rice
Right or Wrong?
September 24, 2008

Are you "pro-life" but tired of the way abortion becomes a political football every four years? The politicians make their points on one side or the other. And then they forget it—for another four years.

If you are looking for a positive and non-political approach, consider the 40 Days for Life, an interfaith initiative which began "right here in River City" on September 24th and will run until November 2nd. The campaign, organized by local residents, is part of a rapidly growing national effort. It includes Notre Dame students, faculty and staff who have joined it.

First, let’s take a look at how the 40 Days for Life campaign works. It has three components. If you can’t do them all, do what you can:

1. Most important: Personal prayer and fasting for an end to abortion. Decide for yourself how to do this. You can pray anywhere, anytime. Fasting can be of the Lenten sort, giving up something for forty days, even something as big as chocolate.

2. Peaceful, lawful witness for life, 24/7, outside the Women’s Pavilion at 2010 Ironwood Circle, South Bend, between Edison and Rte. 23. This constant vigil is neither a demonstration nor a protest. It is primarily a prayer, reminding ourselves and the community that the legalized execution of the innocent is an evil that cannot be overcome by politics as usual but indispensably through the grace of God. You can sign up for a particular time but you don’t have to. Just come when you can, if only for a few minutes. You will make a difference.

3. Community outreach, taking a positive pro-life message to individuals and the community in every constructive way we can.

The national 40 Days for Life began as a local event in 2004 in College Station, home of Texas A & M. It was organized in a few weeks but enlisted over one thousand participants. One result was a 28 percent reduction in abortions in that community. In 2005 and 2006, the campaign spread to a half-dozen other cities, with positive results including the closing of abortuaries or reduction of their "business" hours. In 2007 the program went national and began to take off, with campaigns in the fall of 2007 and spring of 2008 in 139 cities in 43 states. More than 150 thousand participated, with 35 thousand in the prayer vigils at abortuaries. The fall 2008 campaign is the largest yet, with 40 Days for Life in 173 cities in 45 states as well as the national capitals of Washington and Ottowa.

Why take part in this unique testimony for life? Because the stark reality of legalized abortion requires each of us to take a personal stand. Evasions won’t work. When Louise Brown, the first "test-tube baby" was born in 1978, the whole world knew exactly when her life began—at the union of the sperm and the ovum in the in vitro fertilization process. To deny this reality of another human life inside the mother, at every stage from that fertilization, can today be the product only of ignorance or willful denial. "In simplest terms," said Cardinal Edward Egan of New York, "they are human beings with an inalienable right to live."

The new technology of morning-after pills and other early abortifacients is making abortion a private matter beyond the effective reach of the law. Surgical abortions, such as those performed at Ironwood Circle, are decreasing in frequency. The 40 Days for Life vigil at Ironwood is not therefore to infer that the existence of such execution centers is the only problem. Rather, the abortuary on Ironwood is one sign of a malignant culture in which the intentional infliction of death on the innocent is accepted as an optional problem-solving technique. The "greatest destroyer of peace today," said Mother Teresa at the 1994 Prayer Breakfast in Washington, "is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?" We were appalled at the random killings at Columbine, Virginia Tech and elsewhere. But, except for the age and visibility of the victims, how were those murders essentially different from the thousands more that are legally committed each day in abortuaries throughout the land?

The prayer and witness components of the 40 Days for Life are more than a reminder of the reality of every abortion, whether surgical or chemical. Abortion, now moving beyond the reach of the law, is the first sacrament of the militant, agnostic secularism which is our dominant public religion. The only remedy for abortion is the voluntary reconversion of the American people to the conviction that every human life is precious because it is a gift from God. The 40 Days for Life campaign is a positive way of asking for the grace of increasing that conviction in the minds and hearts of all of us.

For more information contact ndjusvitae[at]gmail[dot]com or www.40daysforlife.com/southben. Or call Dr. Tom Akre and Mary Akre at 574-933-1835.

Charles E. Rice is Professor Emeritus at the law school. He may be reached at (574) 633-4415 or rice.1[at]nd[dot]edu.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tom Monaghan is a Madman Who Must be Shunned

Here's the latest from AveWatch and another post at Fumare.

This saga has been going on for quite awhile now. No time here to recount the specifics. (Check the archives of AveWatch and Fumare for the details.)

Suffice it to say, "Friends don't let friends go to Ave Maria [University] [School of Law] [Town]." Even more, "Friends don't let friends take ANYTHING from Tom Monaghan."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Good Bishop

Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn delivered an excellent homily for the Red Mass in his diocese. (hat tip to Fr. Z)

It is good to see the return of real men to the episcopacy in the United States.

The Pope's Political Vision: Natural Law

The always insightful Sandro Magister of Chiesa comments on the politics of Papa Ratzinger. Magister nails it with the following insight into the foundation of the Holy Father's political vision:

A political theorist might object that the pope's ideas stray from the field of politics properly understood. But that's not how Benedict XVI sees it. He is convinced that societies, states, and the international community must rest on solid foundations. One of his intentions as pope is to preach a universal "grammar" founded on natural law, on the inviolable rights engraved on the conscience of every man, whatever his creed.

In his address to the United Nations on April 18, 2008, Benedict XVI emphasized part of this "grammar," "the principle of the responsibility to protect," meaning that "every state has the primary duty to protect its own population from grave and sustained violations of human rights." And he added that "If states are unable to guarantee such protection, the international community must intervene." But Pope Ratzinger did not stop there. He went to the foundation of this principle, without which the responsibility to protect would be at the mercy of conflicting interests. And he identified this ultimate foundation as the "the idea of the person as image of the Creator," with his innate "desire for the absolute and the essence of freedom."

Benedict XVI knows well that not everyone accepts this anchoring to transcendence. And it is rejected precisely by a culture that has its origin in the West. But he maintains that it is necessary to proclaim ceaselessly to world powers that "when God is eclipsed, our ability to recognize the natural order, purpose, and the 'good' begins to wane." Pope Ratzinger maintains that the "secular" formula proposed by Grotius on the basis of the coexistence of peoples is outdated: to live "etsi Deus non daretur," as if God did not exist. He proposes to all, including those who do not accept transcendence, the opposite wager: that of acting "etsi Deus daretur," as if God does exist. Because it is only in this way that the dignity of the person finds an unshakable foundation.

Magister also notes that the Holy Father's esteem for the United States derives from her founding principles which pay homage to the natural law. It is interesting that Holy Father speaks with more clarity regarding the foundation of our Republic than do our own politicians.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ratzinger on Utopianism as a Threat to Law

This insightful post from Fumare highlighting the continuing idiocy of Constitutional Law scholar and Catholic, Douglas Kmiec, brought to mind some reflections of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1999. Entitled "Crises of Law," Ratzinger delievered this address upon the occasion of being conferred the degree of Doctor honoris causa by the Faculty of Juriprudence at Libera Università Maria SS. Assunta in Rome. In his address, Ratzinger speaks of two "current risks" to law: positivism and utopianism. His remarks on utopianism bear repeating, especially in light of the candidacy of Obama and the elite-driven aura of Messianism that surrounds him. It is also useful as an antidote to the muddled thinking of Prof. Kmiec and other Catholics like him who, as apologists for Obama, are, at best, acting with great imprudence.

Quoth Ratzinger in 1999:

There is also a second threat to law, which today seems to be less present than it was 10 years ago, but it can re-emerge at any moment and find a link with the theory of consensus. I am referring to the dissolution of law through the spirit of utopia, just as it assumed a systematic and practical form in Marxist thought. The point of departure was the conviction that the present world is evil--a world of oppression and lack of liberty; which must be substituted by a better way of planning and working. In this case, the real and ultimate source of law becomes the idea of the new society: which is moral, of juridical importance and useful to the advent of the future world. Based on this criteria, terrorism was articulated as a totally moral plan: killings and violence appeared like moral actions, because they were at the service of the great revolution, of the destruction of the present evil world and of the great ideal of the new society. Even here, the end of metaphysics is a given, whose place is taken in this case not by the consensus of contemporaries, but by the ideal model of the future world.

There is even a crypto-theological origin for this negation of law. Because of this, it can be understood why vast currents of theology--especially the various forms of liberation theology--were subject to these temptations. It is not possible for me to present these connections here because of their extent. I shall content myself with pointing out that a mistaken Pauline idea has rapidly given way to radical and even anarchic interpretations of Christianity. Not to speak of the Gnostic movements, in which these tendencies were initially developed, which together with the "no" to God the Creator included also a "no" to metaphysics, to a law of creatures and Natural Law.

Sounds like Ratzinger's warning about the "re-emergence" of this second threat to law has proved to be the candidacy of the Junior Senator from Illinois. If only Prof. Kmiec would recognize this.

Read the whole address here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Catholics for War?

Fumare has an excellent post today about the "wedging" of the Catholic vote, brought about by the Catholic neoocons who have replaced the Prince of Peace with the dogs of war.

It contains some very good insights, so sad but so true. The trouble with Weigel and Novak, both of whom i consider friends, might be the rush of adrenaline that comes with an invitation to the Oval Office, and the gushing of adulation, if not idolatry, that follows. The record shows that, once infected, it's very difficult to recover.

Superbia Vitae is the greatest sin of concupiscence because, unlike lust of the flesh or lust of the eyes (1 John 2:16), the lust for power is completely insatiable because it lusts after the infinite power of God Himself.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tom Vander Woude's Funeral

A glimpse into the family man whose family -- including his spiritual family, of course -- always came first. His son, pastor in the Diocese of Arlington, gave the homily.

In Tom we truly have a brother in Christ.

A Real Catholic Hero

Tom Vander Woude, father of seven fine sons, died last week saving his youngest, who was drowning.

Tom was our volunteer athletic director and basketball coach at Christendom, and coached at Seton School for years as well. Here's the inspiring story.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Was Jesus a Communiy Organizer

Christ is the head of the Mystical Body, and is inseparable from His Church. Now **there's** a community!

Worldly "community organizers" -- and Obama foremost among them -- agitate people to steal from the government, the taxpayer, their employer (if they work for a living, which is often not the case), and the Church (usually through coercion in South Chicago. It's a tradition maxed out by Jesse Jackson, who was a shakedown artist of the first order.

Both Hillary and Obama are scions of Saul Alinsky, who drove Mayor Daley (Sr.) nuts when i lived in Chicago forty years ago. Alinksy was a master provocateur, and his "Rules For Radicals" should be at the bedside of every traditional Catholic (as St. Ignatius says, "know the enemy better than he knows himself.") He was filled with hatred and a thoroughgoing leftist, but, like Lenin, he knew how to "organize":

Witness Lenin's tirades sent as telegrams to commissars in the towns he was visiting on the railroad line: "If I don't see a bourgeois hanging from every telegraph pole when I arrive, you will be hanging there when I leave."

That's Obama's "experience." Oh, that, plus twenty years of Reverend Wright's hatred of America -- which Michelle Obama managed to pick up in the pews, although Obama was apparently too fixated on maximizing his self-esteem to soak it all in.

Friday, September 12, 2008

This Week’s Wanderer ...

... has a great retrospective on the GOP convention by Peggy Moen. It includes interviews with Wanderer-reader/delegates, with nuggets like this from Dr. John Willke, a founder of the pro- life movement and president of the Life Issues Institute, about Sarah Palin: “On a scale of one to ten, she’s a 20.”

Also check out Tom Roeser on how Sarah might actually help McCain climb the mountain, and Paul Likoudis’s fascinating history of the conflict in France between the revolutionaries and the Church – on the occasion of the visit today by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.

Likoudis’s article indicates how insightful was the question of Otto von Habsburg of Chou En-Lai in 1934:

“What do you think of the French Revolution?” (asked von Habsburg, the heir to the throne of the Holy Roman Empire).

“It’s too soon to tell,” replied Chou En-Lai, Mao’s intellectual henchman – who, like von Habsburg, had studied in Paris.

(If the story sounds familiar, it’s because Henry Kissinger stole it and told it of himself, in his memoirs).

Lots of other good stuff – and my memories of the 1988 GOP vice-presidential selection, which augurs not so well for Sarah.

Peeling The Onion

Our friends at goodjesuitbadjesuit.com have a very interesting story regarding how the bishops dealt with the abuse issue’s national review board after they fired Frank Keating for refusing to cover up for the bad apples. Looks like Judge Burke, Keating’s successor, didn’t want to either.

It’s a sad commentary because Cardinal George, whom Burke accuses outright of dishonesty, is the president of the USCCB, and his likely successor is also knee-deep in the abuse mire. That means that Phil Lawler is right – only a tiny minority of priests were guilty of abuse, but a vastly larger percentage of bishops covered up for them – and are running scared even today.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Dr. Charles E. Rice's September 8, 2008 ND Observer Column

Charles E. Rice

Right or Wrong?

September 8, 2008

Since 1982, Kennesaw, an Atlanta suburb, has required every head of a household to own a gun and ammunition, with an exemption for those who conscientiously object. One effect of the enactment was the appearance of yard signs: "Never Mind the Dog—Beware of Owner." Another was that the Kennesaw crime rate dropped and remains well below the national average.

What brings Kennesaw to mind is District of Columbia v. Heller, decided last June, the Supreme Court's first in-depth examination of the Second Amendment. That amendment provides: "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." The Court held, 5-4, that the District of Columbia's "ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense." The Heller ruling was hailed by many as a decisive victory for "gun rights." First impressions, however, can be misleading.

One lesson here is that saying too much can get you into trouble. The Second Amendment is the only one in the Bill of Rights with a prefatory clause stating its purpose. That "militia" clause, over the years, gave rise to endless debate, which the Court settled in Heller. In the majority opinion, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court held that the amendment "protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home." The dissenters argued that the Amendment protects only the right to possess and carry a firearm in connection with militia service. The ruling, however, did not settle much beyond that point.

"[T]he Second Amendment," said the Court, "codified a pre-existing right" which developed in England as a protection against government. "[T]he Stuart Kings Charles II and James II," said Scalia, suppressed political dissent "in part by disarming their opponents. .... [T]he Catholic James II had ordered... disarmaments of [Protestant] regions." The English Bill of Rights of 1689, the predecessor of the Second Amendment, reacted by providing "That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defense suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law." This was, said the Court, "clearly an individual right, having nothing whatever to do with service in a militia."

When the Second Amendment was adopted, the "militia," said the Court, consisted of "those who were male, able-bodied, and within a certain age range." The Amendment, wrote Scalia, "helped to secure the ideal of a citizen militia, which might be necessary to oppose an oppressive military force if the constitutional order broke down…. [T]he… prefatory clause announces the purpose for which the right was codified: to prevent elimination of the militia. [It] does not suggest that preserving the militia was the only reason Americans valued the ancient right; most undoubtedly thought it even more important for self-defense and hunting. But the threat that the new Federal Government would destroy the citizens’ militia by taking away their arms was the reason that right—unlike some other English rights—was codified in a written Constitution."

The law struck down in Heller totally forbade handgun possession in the home. It also required that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled, or disabled by a trigger lock, at all times. But the ruling left the door open for restrictive regulation rather than prohibition. The Court said the Second Amendment "does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns." The Court also noted approvingly the "longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms."

The gun issue is far from settled. The District of Columbia reacted to Heller by imposing a regulation practically as restrictive as the one the Court struck down. A new appeal is underway. The Supreme Court has held that most of the protections in the Bill of Rights are binding on the states and local governments as well as on the federal government. But in Heller the Court interpreted earlier cases to establish that “the Second Amendment applies only to the Federal Government.” Future litigation may turn on provisions in state constitutions comparable to that amendment. Justice Breyer’s dissent in Heller highlighted also the uncertainty that still surrounds the level of judicial scrutiny that must be applied in Second Amendment cases.

So what can we learn from Heller? It is far from a mandate that every American community become a Dodge City or even a Kennesaw. On Supreme Court decisions, and everything else, don’t jump to conclusions without reading the fine print.

Prof. Emeritus Rice is on the Law School faculty. He may be reached at 633-4415 or rice.1@nd.edu.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Mr. Alexander Gives a Not-So-Subtle Kick in the Seat of the Pants

Thank you Mr. Alexander for your remarks (see the prior post's comments) which I will take in the most positive light and with the same charity that impelled you to make them. We are still getting the hang of this whole blog thing and we are doing our best to "keep up." Speaking for myself, I usually have a scotch on hand for my writing and as I have been out now for about 2 weeks, my offerings are not as frequent and certainly lacking the robustness that is usually found in the analysis. Chris is always on and doesn't need the Muse in the bottle as I do. In any event, we have been properly reprimanded.