Category Archives: Featured Articles
By Anne Hendershott
Evangelicals and Catholics have much in common as they share the same basic view of God. Acknowledging these common bonds in 1994, Evangelical and Catholic leaders signed the document, Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT). Since that time, there have been successful ecumenical initiatives—especially in the pro-life arena. The 40-Days for Life Campaign has been a successful alliance of pro-life Evangelical Christians and Catholics to protect the unborn.
The U.S. Senate confirmed U.S. Solicitor General and political activist Elena Kagan by a vote of 63 – 37 to be the next Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Kagan, at 50 years of age, will now hold a lifetime seat on the highest court in the land. Elena Kagan has not served a single day on any federal court. But, there is plenty known about her work in the Clinton White House, as President Obama’s top lawyer before the Supreme Court. Also, Kagan’s answers during her confirmation prompted our community, through Catholic Advocate Voice, to send over 3,000 letters to the U.S. Senate urging opposition to her confirmation. Even though we did not prevail, they made a difference.
By Matt Smith
Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled Wednesday, August 4, 2010, that California’s Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriages in California after the state Supreme Court legalized them, is unconstitutional.
Proposition 8 passed with 52 percent of the vote in November 2008 and has been under siege ever since. The court’s ruling today will certainly green light same-sex marriages to proceed in California and other states will be forced to recognize them.
By Matt Smith
One of the largest pro-life efforts ever in Congress will begin this week. Congressman Chris Smith (R, NJ-04), Chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, will introduce the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” on Thursday, July 29, 2010.
In a letter to his colleagues asking them to become an original co-sponsor of the legislation, Congressman Smith writes:
“For over 30 years, a patchwork of policies has regulated federal funding for abortion. Together these various policies ensure that the American taxpayer is not involved in funding the destruction of innocent human life through abortion on demand.”
By Matt Smith
As a father of two, I often find myself asking my children to be quiet at times when I do not want them to speak during in opportune times. Now, in the wake of the very unpopular pro-abortion health care reform, TARP, failed stimulus, and extremely low approval ratings for the institution, Congress this week is attempting to silence our voices from being heard in this year’s elections.
H.R. 5175, the DISCLOSE Act, was introduced in April to legislatively overrule the recent Citizens United Supreme Court decision and narrowly passed the House of Representatives on June 24, 2010 by 219 – 206. The primary author of the legislation is Representative Chris Van Hollen (D, MD-08) who also serves as Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The Citizens United ruling was a victory on behalf of those who cherish the fundamental freedoms protected by the First Amendment. The proposed legislation will not ensure free, fair, and transparent elections, but rather create a punitive measure for associations of persons who choose to exercise their right to free political speech as guaranteed by the Constitution, and affirmed by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United v. FEC case.
The bill targets corporations and conveniently exempts traditional Democrat campaign supporters, including unions. Disclaimer requirements and limits on foreign corporations and government contractors target only the political speech of corporations, with no effect on unions including foreign-influenced labor unions, public-employee unions, or government grant recipients.
One key casualty will be grassroots organizations such as Catholic Advocate and other pro-life, pro-family organizations.
In May, nine former Federal Election Commission (FEC) members, spanning thirty-five years of service co-signed a letter to the House of Representatives stating:
“Its disclosure provisions are unnecessary – duplicating information that is readily available to the public or providing information of extremely low informational value at a significant cost in terms of complexity and lack of clarity, especially for grassroots political speech.”
On July 22, 2010, Senator Chuck Schumer (D, NY) began working feverishly to have the DISCLOSE Act moved through the Senate before Congress leaves for their August recess later this week, signed by President Obama, and implemented before the November 2nd elections.
The DISCLOSE Act is an acronym for Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act, or in the words of some it should probably be called “Democratic Incumbents Seeking to Contain Losses by Outlawing Speech in Elections”.
The DISCLOSE Act is not about accountability in our elections. This Act is about silencing those who are frustrated with the direction of our country and who want to hold our elected officials accountable for their votes.
Members of the Catholic Advocate community interested in ensuring their voices are not silenced should immediately contact their Senators today.
Matt Smith is Vice President of Catholic Advocate
By Anne Hendershott
During the past decade—beginning with a PBS broadcast in 2000 entitled On Our Own Terms: Moyers on Dying, and culminating with the provisions for “end of life” counseling in the current health care legislation—assisted suicide and euthanasia have become so successfully defined down that even Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) volunteered to co-host a luncheon and fundraiser last year for Compassion and Choices of Northern California—the assisted suicide advocacy organization formerly known as the Hemlock Society.
Indeed, for Progressive Democrats like Feinstein and other liberal lawmakers, the movement for assisted suicide and euthanasia has become the new frontier for the freedom to choose. And, like abortion advocacy organizations, powerful pro-death advocacy organizations—some with annual budgets of more than a million dollars—have emerged with generous funding from leftist foundations like the Tides Foundation.
According to Wesley Smith, a Senior Fellow in Human Rights and Bioethics at the Discovery Institute and author of Culture of Death, “Compassion and Choices clearly wants to become the Planned Parenthood of assisted suicide, no doubt hoping one day to receive public funds and medical referrals for end-of-life counseling, and to facilitate assisted suicide.” (more…)
By Stephen Phelan
Just when faithful Catholics thought they’d heard the last of the troubled Patrick Kennedy, we find that he had one more curious public spectacle up his sleeve. As we have come to expect from the lame-duck congressman from Rhode Island, the occasion is one last attempt to make himself relevant to his family’s party by opposing pro-life Christians.
Kennedy is joining the chorus of supposedly “objective” Democrats who are traveling to Kenya and weighing in on the upcoming congressional referendum. Like Vice President Biden and a handful of other Democrat congressmen, Kennedy doesn’t see a problem with telling Kenyans how Washington thinks they should vote. But Kennedy has taken the rhetoric up a notch in both tone and absurdity, threatening to use the Congressional Oversight Committee (COC) to expose Western pro-life organizations that finance the opposition to the new pro-abortion constitution.
This threat is just crazy for several reasons. First, the efforts he is threatening to expose are in no way illegal. Human rights organizations on a daily basis do exactly what Kennedy apparently finds so nefarious – working with Kenyans to keep their country the way they want it – abortion-free. Along with the majority of Kenyans who are pro-life, these groups are right to be concerned by the proposed constitution, which essentially opens the door for a complete reversal of Kenya’s prohibitions against abortion. (more…)
Thursday, July 8, 2010, Federal District Judge Joseph L. Tauro ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the Constitutional right of married same-sex couples to equal protection under the law and upends the federal government’s long history of allowing states to set their own marriage laws.
The Catholic Advocate community might remember we previously alerted you to this campaign to repeal DOMA legislatively.
We predicted back on January 4, 2010:
“Advocates of same-sex marriage are working overtime to have H.R. 3567 reach the floor of the House this year and repeal a 13 year-old law previously supported by 85 percent of Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton. If they succeed in passing the bill, and it is signed by President Obama, 40 states will be forced to recognize same-sex marriages making the successes in Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont that much more relevant. Democrats will have learned nothing from the current health care debate or the voices of the voters in the states that have repealed gay marriage initiatives. Democrats in Congress are nearing desperation from their low-approval ratings. The base of the Democrat party dealt with a year of disappointment when campaign promises did not translate into actions. Democrats will be looking for ways to re-energize their disappointed base leading into the November 2, 2010 mid-term elections. The unfortunate casualty will be the sanctity of marriage.”
President Obama is still committed to his campaign promise to repeal DOMA calling it “discriminatory.” The case in Massachusetts was brought by state Attorney General Martha Coakley (D), the Kennedy-clan hand-picked candidate who lost to now Senator Scott Brown. Since the suit was filed against the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regarding a federal law, it was defended in court by the U.S. Justice Department, specifically the Office of the Solicitor General led by now Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.
This case will no doubt now move to a higher court where once again the Obama Justice Department will need to “defend” DOMA.
Check back with Catholic Advocate to learn how you can lend your voice to oppose this latest attempt to redefine marriage through judicial activism.
By: Anne Hendershott
While support for President Obama remains strong among African Americans, it is difficult to understand why so many seem to overlook the fact that the expansion of abortion rights under this President and the current Democrat Congress continues to contribute to a daily death toll of nearly 1,500 black children lost to abortion.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, more than one-third of all African American women end their pregnancy with abortion. Since 1973, the number of abortions by African American women has totaled more than thirteen million. Although African Americans represent only 12 percent of the American population they account for more than 35 percent of all abortions. As a result, the abortion rate (number of abortions per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 per year) for African American women is nearly 3 times that of white women.
In some localities, including Mississippi, Louisiana, Maryland, and Georgia, more than half of all abortions are performed on black women. Black women in New York City receive nearly half of all abortions performed there. This national disparity in death toll for African Americans is likely to increase as President Obama recently signed legislation which will provide public funding for abortion for those living in Washington, DC—a city with a majority population of African Americans. Legislation is pending that will provide federally funded abortion on military bases—and soon we will be confronted with the new legislation on health care reform–replete with funding for abortion.
Still, Catholics must be encouraged that their bishops are not silent on what Bishop Joseph N. Perry, Chicago’s Auxilary Bishop recently called “the decimation of the black community.” Bishop Perry has taken the lead in addressing what many in the pro-life community believe is the targeting of the black community for abortion.
Bishop Perry, an African American, published a statement on his home archdiocesan website entitled “Abortion and Its Impact on the Black Community.” In the statement he encouraged parish pro-life activities to “raise awareness about alternatives to abortion, particularly, to let women in trouble be aware that they have other options.”
Unfortunately, some of Bishop Perry’s own co-workers in the Archdiocesan Office of Racial Justice have been working against his pro-life goals. Last Spring, the Archdiocese honored Fr. Michael Pfleger, one of President Obama’s strongest supporters, with the Racial Justice Lifetime Achievement Award. Fr. Pfleger, a member of the “Catholics for Obama” advisory board, has a long history of using his parish to host various pro-abortion figures including the Rev. Al Sharpton. In 2003 Lifesite News reported that Pfleger violated archdiocesan rules forbidding pro-abortion individuals to speak at the pulpit by inviting the singer and political activist, Harry Belafonte to speak at Sunday Mass at St. Sabina. At the Mass—from the pulpit—Belafonte criticized President Bush for “threatening a woman’s right to choose.”
Sr. Anita Baird, who is African American and the founding director of the Office for Racial Justice in the Chicago Archdiocese, denies that President Obama is “pro-abortion” and told a Lifesite News reporter that “to be pro-abortion is that you believe in abortion and you support it. I don’t think you will find that the president has ever said that…the president is not pro-abortion, he is pro-choice. I think they are two very different things.”
Until Bishop Perry begins to address the pro-abortion politicians promoted by those within his own Archdiocesan staff , it will be difficult for him to make a difference in addressing the real racial injustice—the racial disparities in abortion rates.
Anne Hendershott is head of the Politics, Philosophy, and Economics Program at The King’s College in Manhattan.
By Matt Smith
During questioning from Senator Tom Coburn (R, OK), Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan responded, “I said in my opening statement that I was only going to make a single pledge, the pledge that I made in my opening statement, but I’ll make you another: I’ll re-read The Federalist Papers.”
The Federalist Papers were written after the Constitutional Convention as part of what today would be considered a massive intellectual public relations campaign for state ratification. What Senator Coburn might have thought to press Elena Kagan on was whether she had recently re-read the key document of America written before the Constitution.
On Sunday, America commemorates the 234th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. A document signed by fifty-six patriots who believed:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
As you examine the writings of the time, the Founding Fathers in their drafting of what has been dubbed “The Charters of Freedom” viewed the documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, held 1774-1789, as a continuous philosophical formation of our country.
However, on January 22, 1973, seven justices on the Supreme Court inserted words into the Constitution under the guise of privacy and forgetting the “unalieanable” right to life written in the Declaration of Independence, our country’s first founding document.
Since 1973, averaging estimates from both the pro-abortion Alan Guttmacher Institute and Centers for Disease Control brings us to 3,804 abortions per day or roughly 51,373,020 children who never had the chance to invoke their unalienable rights.
Instead of asking if Elena Kagan has read The Federalist Papers – ask her how she is going to interpret the document they are about from the highest court in the land. Does she think the Constitution is a living document? Does she think the Constitution should be modernized? Does she think international law should be consulted as she has written? Since President Obama publicly said he would nominate someone who shared his world view, how is she going to use such a view in her approach to rulings?
President Obama decided on March 18, 2008 to open his major address on race during the 2008 presidential campaign by highlighting that the drafters and signers of the Declaration wanted “to form a more perfect union.” The speech is filled with a history lesson and rhetoric on important issues such as race relations and civil rights. It is clear though, he chose to pick and choose which sections of the Declaration to highlight.
Unfortunately, the one civil right omitted from the speech delivered by the man who broke down the very barriers he talked about that day was the right to life. The omission is one seen time and again by certain Members of Congress. They can be seen on C-SPAN standing in the well of the House of Representatives or Senate speaking with all their oratory abilities on the rights of citizens but not once mentioning the unborn.
The Founding Fathers had a “world view” for our country and the principles to uphold it. We would be served well and placed once again down the path to becoming a shining city on the hill if elected officials referenced our Charters of Freedom instead of trying to constantly re-write them.
So on this July 4th, maybe President Obama, his Supreme Court nominee, and those in Congress who repeatedly vote for pro-abortion policies can take a moment to read the Declaration of Independence and be reminded of the rights that were written down by the Founders not inserted by the Court 197 years later.
Matt Smith is Vice President of Catholic Advocate