Monthly Archives: February 2010
By Brenda Steele
Catholic Charities of D.C. is closing down its foster care and public adoption program after 80 years of service to the community. They were informed by the local city government that they are “no longer eligible” to provide foster care and adoption services. It seems that in order to remain “eligible” Catholic Charities would have to abandon Church teaching on marriage in favor of the more popular view of marriage between any two consenting adults, even if they happen to be of the same gender.
This move by city officials in D.C. has effectively put an end to Catholic Charities’ ministry to the most vulnerable of it’s citizens, the children. Instead, both the foster care and adoption programs have been turned over to the National Center for Children and Families. Let us pray that these families in crisis will receive the same high level of care as before.
Catholic Charities had no alternative than to put an end to the foster care and adoption programs they administered. They could not, in good conscience, allow children in their care to be placed with same-sex couples. They were put in an untenable situation; one that possessed a single possible outcome.
Bill Donohue had this to say about the D.C. lawmakers:
“Surely they knew that Archbishop Wuerl was not going to negotiate Catholic Church teachings on marriage, yet that hardly mattered to them. The real losers are the children who were served by the Catholic Church.”
So, what kind of discrimination are we seeing today — the kind that prohibits a religious organization, working for the good of the community, and adhering to the tenets of its faith, to be forced to shut down a worthy ministry. No doubt other Catholic Charities throughout the nation will be faced with this same ultimatum: either include same-sex couples in your programs, or shut down. If so, the outcome is guaranteed.
By Deal Hudson
The fight over net neutrality has been dwarfed in the public square by the struggling economy, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the health-care debate. But if the FCC acts to hand control of the Internet over to the Obama administration, there will be one more populist explosion, which this White House and Congress don’t need.
The groups backing net neutrality, such as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, are opposed to companies like Verizon creating different levels of service by charging a higher cost for faster service. Other religious groups, such as the Christian Coalition, have argued that this kind of tiered service could also lead to “discrimination” against religious content for two reasons: Verizon executives may decide to filter religious content they find objectionable, and religious organizations may not be able to afford the faster service.
Other groups are opposed to net neutrality. An assembly of religious and conservative leaders representing twelve organizations wrote a letter to the House Judiciary Committee, arguing that an Internet kept “open” by government regulation puts families at risk:
It is critically important for parents and broadband service providers to continue to have these tools available to them because despite what network neutrality proponents may say, all content on the web is not equal and should not be treated equally. Network management is not some insidious method of stifling voices on the Internet; network management is critical to stop pornographers and pedophiles from having unfettered access to consumers’ Internet connections.
Why would religious organizations, like the new version of the Christian Coalition and the USCCB, back a policy forcing broadband service providers to treat pornography the same as content welcomed by families?
Net neutrality, in addition to adding to government power and control, would mean that every decision to block pornography, or any kind of security threat, would have to be approved by the government.
By Brenda Steele
If you happen to live in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, or Virginia give yourselves a pat on the back. You will be proud to know that your state received a grade of “F” on passing or promoting pro-abortion legislation according to NARAL’s nationwide report.
Nancy Keenan, NARAL’s president, not only applauds President Obama for staffing key positions in his administration with pro-choice advocates, but the report also pays homage to deceased abortionist, Dr. George Tiller, for “compassionately and heroically serving women from all across the country in order to ensure their right to reproductive health services.”
And Catholics, be proud, the NARAL report is dedicated to our own Teddy Kennedy who turned from the nonnegotiable teaching of the Church on the sanctity of life, to become a staunch supporter of abortion. I’ve always wondered what his mother, Rose, would have had to say about that.
So, while you would normally feel some real angst about any “bad” grade, consider your “F” (if you are lucky enough to live in one of the 19 states fighting and winning for pro-life legislation) to be a badge of honor. Now there are 15 “other” states who received “As” for promoting abortion measures. Read here to see if you live in one of those states.
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com)— The pro-abortion group NARAL has issued a new nationwide report grading the country and each state on its promotion of abortion. Since President Barack Obama took over the White House, NARAL says the nation’s pro-abortion grade has improved from a “D-” to a “D.”
By Deal W. Hudson
My recent articles on the problems at the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, for example, “Is It Time for a Catholic Tea Party” elicited some strong words about me from four different “Catholic” journalists in the last two weeks. Some used words stronger than others, but what they all had in common was a complete avoidance of the arguments and evidence about the problems at CCHD.
Three of the four dismissed my arguments on the grounds I am a Republican — how silly! If arguments could be dismissed on those grounds, only bona fide independents could be trusted.
I ask for your prayers as we at Catholic Advocate, and others, push ahead with the effort to keep Catholic money from being spent on organizations who support or advocate abortion or same-sex marriage. Please take a moment to sign the petition to Reform CCHD NOW!
By Brenda Steele
Lent is all about baptism. During Lent you are either preparing for baptism or you are preparing for the renewal of baptismal commitment. Tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, Catholics (and many Protestant denominations) will receive ashes on their foreheads to commemorate death, the sorrow of our sins, and the hope for a renewal of a life devoid of sin.
Ashes, a symbol of repentance, remind us of our mortality. Genesis 3:19 King James version of the Bible states:
“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”
Thus, we begin Lent by receiving from our priest a cross of ashes, those from the previous year’s palm fronds, on our foreheads to remind us of the need to “die to sin and to be reborn to life in Christ.”
The 40 days of Lent connote to the faithful the need for a deeper conversion, one that will loosen the believer from the bonds of sin to embrace a new life in Christ. In order to have a meaningful conversion during Lent we need to adhere to the following:
Prayer – Longer daily time spent in prayer brings us closer to Christ.
Fasting – As well as an aid to prayer, fasting instills in us a hunger for God and a deeper sense of the plight of those who live in poverty.
Almsgiving – We give so that the poor might have; we give out of gratitude for the blessings we have received.
I remember as a Candidate 13 years ago experiencing the Stations of the Cross for the first time. I was reduced to tears as I made the journey through the passion and death of Christ. Never before, under any circumstances as a Protestant, had I felt the depth of suffering He endured on our behalf as I did on that night in a small suburban Catholic Church in Georgia. It remains with me still.
We observe the Stations of the Cross on Fridays during Lent. They recall to us the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection and challenge us to offer our own lives for the good of others.
Then there are the palm fronds we wave on Palm Sunday as we celebrate Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. The faithful removed their cloaks and laid them on the path as Jesus made his triumphal entry into the city. As a symbol of victory they festooned his way with palm branches.
The Triduum, beginning at dusk on Holy Thursday, begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. It’s three days of celebrating the mystery of our faith. During this time there will be foot washing to signify that we are to be servants rather than to be served; veneration of the cross showing that we accept the cross as the way to resurrection; and then on the eve of Easter Sunday there is the Easter Vigil. The Elect will exude their joy at being united with the true Church while the faithful will rejoice in the renewal of their own baptismal promises.
As a convert, I remember every minute of the Easter Vigil when I, too, could at long last, partake in the sacrament of the eucharist for the very first time. If you are a convert, and you’re reading this, you know exactly what I felt, because you felt it too. After almost a year of RCIA, leaving for instruction during Sunday Mass, and having the eucharist withheld, there was an insatiable hunger to receive the body and blood of Christ.
Tomorrow begins our journey through the days of Lent as we lead up to the passion and resurrection of our Lord on Easter Sunday. Let us be mindful of His sacrifice and of our need to make this Lenten season a time of repentance, reflection, prayer, and renewal of our own baptismal vows.
Dear Catholic Advocate Community,
Catholic Advocate has just discovered a mistake in our Catholic Scorecard. Bart Stupak is listed as having “not” voted with the Catholic vote on item #3 for the 110th Congress, “The Smith-Stupak Amendment to Protect the Mexico City Policy.” Obviously, this is an error, and for this slight to Bart Stupak we are most regretful.
We are currently updating and revising the Catholic Scorecard (you will like it!) as it will be much more user friendly and interactive.
This change in Congressman Stupak’s voting record gives him a 71 percent pro-life score rather than the 57 percent as noted on the scorecard.
Our humble apologies are extended to Congressman Bart Stupak for this error and to our community for giving you incorrect information.
By Manuel Miranda
As we face the possibility of filling two Supreme Court vacancies this summer, it is time Republicans consider how best to reinforce a message that has won them Senate seats in midterm elections.
Senate Republicans are not able to mount an abusive “Democratic” filibuster of the next Supreme Court nominee, nor should they want to. Politically speaking, they do not need to. What Senate Republicans need is to learn the lessons of 2006. They, and the McCain campaign, did not evidence any such learning in 2008.
Most frontline conservatives know what GOP operatives and Senate leaders in Washington do not: there is no better opportunity to show sometime-voters and Catholic swing voters that Senate elections matter than Supreme Court confirmation hearings and floor debate. No issue serves better than judicial nominations as a surrogate for so many others that standing alone may scare the horses.
By failing to invest greater Senate time and effort on judicial nominations after the Alito confirmation in January 2006 or Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation last year, Senate Republicans ignored the political lesson of the Harriet Miers debacle: that supporters are forgiving on every issue so long as Republicans are solid on judges. That’s the kind of love GOP candidates need come Election Day. In 2008, the McCain campaign also misunderstood the Miers lesson.
The Miers lesson corresponds to getting out the vote; supporters may be upset on other issues, or may be otherwise unmoved, but they will come out and vote over the judge fight — if the issue is pressed. It does not traduce into large numbers, though it could with a candidate’s greater effort, but it can deliver the small margin of victory.
Prior to the 2004 election, polling showed that efforts to spotlight Democrat obstruction on judges, culminating in a 40-hour Senate debate in November 2003 had significantly grown public support for Republicans, 2 to 1. One study concluded that “a determined effort on the part of congressional leadership can shape public opinion” and that it was “possible for Republicans to use the permanently stalled, half-dozen judicial nominations to impress voters that Democrats are, at best, interested mostly in obstructing.”
And Republicans did just that, converting the judicial fight into a sweep of the South in 2004 and the defeat in South Dakota of Senator Tom Daschle. But even absent such effort, the “judges voter” can mean the margin of difference by which Republican senators win tough mid-term races. That is, if voters are reminded what’s at stake.
In 2002, Republicans won three new Senate seats by the barest margins, giving them control of the Senate. The voter plurality that in 2004 would rank 1st and be called the “moral issues voter” ranked nationwide in 2002 only 4th. In Georgia, Missouri, and Minnesota that year, however, in a midterm election where the President campaigned chiefly on taxes and terror, something unusual happened: self-identified single issue, pro-life voters came out to vote in a non-presidential year, who normally do not.
The margin of their vote was larger than the margin of Republican victory. How? After Democrats blocked a then-obscure judge from Mississippi, Charles Pickering, Senator Rick Santorum (R, PA.) began polling over the judge issue.
He discovered that it impacted poorly on the Democrats’ image. He and the White House then found ways to expose the increasing obstruction, finishing, just two weeks before the 2002 election, with the ultimate spotlight: an East Room speech by the President.
The outcry invited voters to connect Democrat judicial histrionics with other issues over which values voters cared most. And they did. In 2004, they did it again.
In 2006, Republicans failed. Instead of pressing Democrats in debate on blocked judges, Republicans chose to design a Senate “messaging” agenda that appealed to the suburban middle-class voter: to focus on national security, to show that Republicans, better than Democrats, keep us safe, and on health care and the economy. Unfortunately, they locked on this plan early in 2006, when they thought that they would, at most, lose only two Senate seats.
So what happened in 2006 that helps us understand the failings of Senate leadership now?
First, GOP leaders failed to understand that the politics of judicial confirmations had changed; that it was no longer just another wedge issue framed by mind-numbing statistics. Republicans thought they could punch the card by pointing to the confirmation of two Bush Supreme Court justices. Past accomplishment, however, is a poor reminder of what’s still at stake.
Ironically, they did not point to the other two accomplishments for which “judge voters” would have given them credit.
By threatening the “nuclear option” in 2005, Majority Leader Bill Frist (R, TN) removed Democrats’ filibuster threat from President Bush’s consideration in choosing his Supreme Court picks. In Senate terms, it was a major investment of time and credibility.
Although conservative voters saw the back room machinations that resulted in the “Gang of 14” deal as a surrender of principle and a failure of leadership, as Republican Gang members Dewine and Chafee would learn the hard way that year in Ohio and Rhode Island, Senate leaders did not think that the effort would reward them in the polls.
And, for understandable reasons, Republicans in 2006 did not tout their greatest single accomplishment: that moment in 2005 when GOP Senators, one by one, examined their constitutional duty and forcefully advised a president of their own party to withdraw an untested nominee to the Supreme Court.
Second, Senate leaders ignored the advice of editorial boards, just about every conservative pundit and columnist, colleagues like John Thune (R-SD), and every conservative grass top leader…everywhere; each of whom warned that Republicans should do more to debate nominations in light of the coming election.
Showing the disconnect between Senate leadership and campaign front-liners, just weeks before the election, GOP Chairman Ken Mehlman listed the judge fight as one of the three reasons he expected voters would vote for Republicans in 2006. Instead, some Senate Republicans thought that the election was all about “jobs, jobs, jobs.”
Senate GOP leaders in 2006 took all the wrong counsel. They placated centrist colleagues who told them that they were tired of the judge issue. They followed conservatives, from red states, who win elections with large margins. They bowed to Northeastern liberals who hear talk about a “base” like most of us hear talk about Mongolians. They heard colleagues who had last run for the Senate in 2000 when the conventional wisdom was still that the nominations were somewhere under campaign finance reform in the voter’s hearts.
And perhaps worst of all, they took counsel from inside-the-box-thinking Senate leadership staff, for whom the judge issue is just a nuisance that takes up time from the work that the “Chamber-right” lobbyists want out of them.
So Republicans, even in the three close Senate races of 2006, failed to remind voters of the judge issue, even while Chuck Schumer (D, NY) guaranteed Democrat supporters that Democrat challengers, like Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey would vote with liberals on Bush judges. .
In last year’s Sotomayor confirmation process Senate GOP leaders got lucky that the National Rifle Association broke their historic silence and not only came out against the nomination, much earlier than thought possible, and scored the Senate confirmation vote, guaranteeing that most Republican Senators rallied to vote against the nomination. But as one high ranking aide put it, “there is nothing we did in the Senate that made it all end well.”
In this summer’s expected Supreme Court confirmation debates, Senate Republicans should not leave the result to luck. While there is always the possibility that a White House will overreach or fail to vet a nominee (several presidents have done each), it is more likely that President Obama’s second and third nominees will get confirmed.
For Republicans, what matters is whether they spotlight the debate to the voters, and the issues at stake in a Senate election. In the past four elections, Republicans did just that when they won, and failed to when they lost Senate seats.
Manuel Miranda is chairman of the Third Branch Conference, a coalition of libertarian and conservative leaders interested in judicial nominations, and previously served as nominations counsel to Majority Leader Bill Frist. In 2006, he received the Ronald Reagan Award for his work on judicial nominations.
By Deal W. Hudson
I’ve been asked why I support the Reform CCHD Now petition requesting that the bishops suspend all Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) grants until a thorough review of the program has been completed. A series of reports by Reform CCHD have revealed clear evidence that grants are being given to organizations supporting abortion and same-sex marriage.
Thus far, only two groups have been defunded by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), though another offending organization, the Center for Community Change (CCC), was scrubbed from their Web site (the section removed described it as being worthy of Catholic support).
After the first reports were published, seven dioceses withdrew their participation from the annual November CCHD collection. That collection normally generates, on average, $7-9 million each year, which means the available pool of money over the last ten years was upwards of $90 million. We know that at least some groups working counter to Church teaching on life and marriage have enjoyed access to that funding: Reform CCHD Now asserts that at least 31 problematic organizations remain.
The petition, launched on Wednesday, was made necessary by the dismissive attitude of the USCCB toward the hard evidence linking CCHD grants to organizations supporting abortion and same-sex marriage. USCCB spokeswoman Sr. Mary Ann Walsh admitted she had read only one of the two reports before she rejected their findings.
Furthermore, no subsequent comment by any bishop or USCCB official has addressed the substance of the findings. This is made all the more strange by the fact that the USCCB acted responsively after the first round of Reform CCHD Now reports last August, when they defunded two grantees.
Unfortunately, the USCCB quickly slammed the door shut on any further investigations. That didn’t stop the reform efforts, and the second round of research uncovered troubling new evidence while reconfirming the findings of the original reports.
Some have questioned the petition in light of a statement made by Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, in which he attests to the pro-life convictions of John Carr, executive director of the USCCB’s Office of Justice, Peace, and Human Development. But none of the reports contain anything about Carr’s personal convictions, only his associations.
The USCCB chose to address the portion of the reports having to do with Carr, responding to an allegation that nobody made. Thus, Father Pavone’s statement has no bearing on the Reform CCHD reports or their subsequent petition. No one is a greater defender of unborn life than Father Pavone, and no one doubts whether he would oppose the USCCB’s spending of Church money to support groups promoting abortion.
When the bishops’ conference attempted to reframe the reports’ findings around the pro-life convictions of Carr, it obscured the real issue. The discussion should be about the actions of the USCCB and the CCHD, not about the convictions of its personnel. These actions are primarily the grants that have been made for many years to groups subversive to Church teaching, but also the pattern of associations maintained by the CCHD in their efforts to address poverty.
Thus far, the research into the CCHD has uncovered enough questionable grantees in recent years to raise a red flag. As the research goes forward, more troubling evidence will very likely come to light. Why not simply step back from the grant-making, find out what went wrong, fix it, and get back to work? That’s all the petition asks, and I support it.
By Brenda Steele
Today is the day of love and the day for love. The history of Valentine’s Day remains varied, but the most widely accepted story is of a Roman priest named Valentinus.
In 270 A.D. Valentinus went against a decree by Emperor Claudius forbidding young men to marry. Claudius was convinced that young, married men made poor soldiers, and his intent was to build a mighty Roman army. Valentinus continued to perform marriages between young lovers despite Claudius’ proclamation. Eventually, this led to Valentinus’ arrest. While imprisoned, awaiting beheading, it it believed he fell in love with his jailer’s daughter, and on the eve of his execution, sent her a note which he signed “from your Valentine.”
In 496 A.D. Pope Gelasius I declared the first St. Valentine’s Day to be celebrated each year on February 14 in memory of the martyred priest or priests (there were at least 2 other martyred third century priests with the name of Valentinus.) Though celebrated for centuries as a symbol of sacrificial love, today it has become entirely associated with romantic love, as we all know.
Children decorate elaborate “former” shoe boxes to take to school where they exchange Valentine’s cards with their classmates. Teachers (my vocation) receive boxes upon boxes of chocolate covered cherries and single red roses or carnations. Everyone is assailed by varied shades of pink and red whenever shopping at “Wally World” or elsewhere. Sugar cookies, cupcakes, cakes, and even innocent brownies have to be festooned with pink and red frosting for the occasion.
Husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends all jam the card aisles looking for just the right card that expresses the love they feel for their “other.” Whitman’s, Hallmark, and Hershey’s glory in this day above all others! So do the restaurants, and of course, the florists.
Even with all the hype, it’s still good to set aside a day to show others, friends and loved ones, that we care enough to spend the time and effort to buy that special card, or bouquet of flowers, or even the sometimes gaudily wrapped heart-shaped box of chocolates.
I’m thinking today, sadly, of those unborn babies who will never have the opportunity to have someone hold them, tell them they are loved, and to be cherished, as is their due. They will never make their own, special Valentine’s box, eat too many pink and red Valentine’s cookies, or down a box of chocolates in no time flat.
Too many young pregnant women will not make the right choice, and will abort these precious beings, denying them all the Valentine’s Days of their lives.
Let us offer a prayer on this day of love, that those young women contemplating abortion, will have a change of heart. And will, through an act of love, allow that young life within to be born, or as an act of sacrificial love, to offer their new born child into the loving arms of adoptive parents.