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Nancy Pelosi is at it again…Part III

On Monday, Catholic Advocate alerted our community to an event that took place last week – “The Obama Catholic Coalition Meets in D.C.”

Now, the folks at Cybercast News Service have obtained video of Speaker Nancy Pelosi discussing immigration reform during her remarks to the gathering and elaborating on her directions to the Catholic Hierarchy on the issue.

In the video we are providing for you here as well, she goes into immigration as part of the “dignity and worth of every person.” Pelosi then continues to tell those assembled about how the hierarchy needs to take to the pulpit if immigration reform is going to pass.  Alluding to “whatever the instruction in the pews…” and stumbling over her words.

As a Catholic, Nancy Pelosi doesn’t know what priests do during Mass? Well, we know she confuses feast days and the teachings of the church on the sanctity of life…so maybe she just doesn’t pay attention during Mass.

As a Catholic, Nancy Pelosi thinks it is appropriate for the hierarchy and our priests to advocate for immigration reform from the pulpit, but why not talk about the dignity and worth of the unborn lost from the health care bill, Madame Speaker?

As a Catholic, does Nancy Pelosi think they should also use their homilies to support traditional marriage? Or, would she rather they ignore that non-negotiable issue and hope no one notices the Obama-Pelosi effort to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Let’s just drill down to the basics – I didn’t realize white smoke came from the south side of the Capitol when she was elected Speaker, so what makes Nancy Pelosi think she can give direction to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church?

Watch the video for yourself…

Lobbying for Gay Marriage on Catholic Campuses

By: Anne Hendershott

As the courts continue to be confronted with demands from gay men and lesbian women for access to marriage, and activist lawmakers continue to try and pass same sex marriage laws,  the Church remains steadfast in her teachings that same sex marriage is impossible.  Well, except on Catholic college campuses—where the concept of gay marriage is open for debate—and there are often faculty members who are ready, willing, and able to provide Catholic cover to politicians looking for help in passing same sex marriage laws.

The latest controversy involves Professor W. King Mott, a gay professor of political science at Seton Hall University.  Mott is scheduled to teach a course in gay marriage in the Fall.  And, although he claims that the course is “not about advocacy, but about studying the issue from an academic perspective,” Mott has a history of advocacy for homosexual rights and open criticism of the Church’s teachings on homosexuality.

In 2005, Mott wrote a letter to the editor of the New Jersey Star Ledger arguing that the Catholic Church “attacks gay men as a scapegoat instead of addressing problems of pedophilia within the priesthood.”  As a result of the letter, Mott, who was then  associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Seton Hall, was asked to step down and resume his former tenured faculty position.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the reason for Mott’s demotion was because he signed his letter to the editor as a university official.  According to Thomas White, a university spokesman, the issue was not that Mott was critical of the Church, but that “he was critical of the Church while representing Seton Hall.”

While Mott was quoted in a 2005 issue of The Chronicle as planning to “leave Seton Hall once he finds a new job,” it appears that he has not yet found that job. He continues at Seton Hall as a tenured professor of political science, Chair of the Faculty Senate, and as one of 12 members of the Presidential Search Committee—the committee charged with hiring the highest ranking person on the Seton Hall campus.  He is hardly a marginalized man.

Still, Mott will most likely assume “vulnerable victim status” now that Archbishop of Newark,  John J. Myers, has indicated that Mott’s course will conflict with Church teachings.  Academia loves a victim—and all rallied to his side in 2005 with faculty protests, letter writing campaigns, and angry pleas to the administration when he was returned to his tenured faculty position. In the strange drama that takes place on Catholic college campuses throughout the country, there is nothing that gives a faculty member higher status than when a bishop even questions something that a faculty member does.

Still, the Star Ledger reminds us that at Seton Hall, “The archbishop serves as chairman of Seton Hall’s Board of Trustees and is president of its Board of Regents, the governing body that oversees academic issues.   Archbishop Myers is just doing his job.  But, because so few bishops are willing to take the courageous stand the Newark Archbishop has taken, it is shocking for most of us to see a bishop actually confront a faculty member.

The bishops should know that professors like Mott have tremendous influence both on and off campus.  A recently released Georgetown study shows that Catholic students enrolled in Catholic institutions were less likely to move toward Catholic Church teachings on abortion and gay marriage than those enrolled in non-Catholic institutions. The study indicated that in addition to moving toward increased support for abortion, Catholic students enrolled on Catholic campuses showed dramatic increases in support for gay marriage.

Thirty-nine percent of Catholic students enrolled in Catholic colleges and universities claim to have moved further away from the Church’s definition of marriage as a union of one woman and one man.  This movement away from the Church has repercussions far beyond the campus as both faculty and alumni have become activists in favor of same-sex marriage.

A few years ago, Boston College graduate Kara Suffredini, a legislative attorney for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, told an alumni gathering of the Lambda Law Students, “I want to begin by saying that everything I know about queer activism, I learned at Boston College….put that in your admissions brochure.”

The Jesuit University of San Francisco recently announced that their Public Interest Law Foundation is honoring California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno for his support for gay marriage in his dissent in the Proposition 8 decision.  Moreno’s award follows a similar award in 2008 when USF honored Therese Stewart and Shannon Minter for their “courageous” work in gaining rights to same sex marriage for gay men and lesbian women. USF Professor Julie Nice was recently interviewed on KCBS radio where she denigrated the “whim of the voters” who voted against same sex marriage and claimed confidence that the voters’ will would be overturned by the California courts.

Providing platforms and awards to gay marriage supporters on Catholic campuses creates confusion—not just for students, but for lawmakers and voters—far beyond the campus.  Professors like Mott can capitalize on that confusion by continuing to convince others that social justice demands that gay men and lesbian women have access to marriage.

Putting an Activist on the Supreme Court

Do not be fooled by some on the Left claiming President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court is not to their satisfaction. The questions being raised by the Left are nothing more than a Washington red herring. Liberal Activists have been wanting Elena Kagan on a federal court for the past twelve years, and today they begin to have their chance.

Elena Kagan might not have served a single day on any federal court. But, there is plenty known about her from working in the West Wing for Bill Clinton, who even tried to nominate her for a position on the D.C. court eventually occupied by John Roberts, to now serving as President Obama’s Solicitor General. Some on the Left are calling her the Souter nomination, trying to imply that people don’t know where she stands on issues. However, just as there probably were about David Souter, there are some clues.

Even though she recently went through the confirmation process to become Solicitor General, here are a few of the items senators on the Judiciary Committee should ask about before confirming her to a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.

1. Elena Kagan needs to be asked about her willingness to look at international law when deciding domestic cases.

Under questioning by Senator Specter during her Solicitor General confirmation she responded:

“At least some members of the Court find foreign law relevant in at least some contexts. When this is the case, I think the Solicitor General’s office should offer reasonable foreign law arguments to attract these Justices’ support for the positions that the office is taking.”

There are many Americans that believe we need a Supreme Court Justice who interprets the U.S. Constitution and does not look to other countries for input.

2. Elena Kagan needs to explain her tendency toward anti-religious bias.

In Bowen v. Kendrick, the Supreme Court disagreed with Kagan that federal grants to religious organizations violated the Establishment Clause. She argued, “It would be difficult for any religious organization to participate in such projects without injecting some kind of religious teaching. … [A]ll religious organizations should be off limits.” She later recanted.

Faith-based organizations, such as those run by the Catholic Church, offer some of the best solutions to dealing with society’s ills and should not be discriminated against. From the above logic used in Bowen v. Kendrick, it is not a stretch that Kagan would also agree with the Massachusetts ruling striking down the Department of Health and Human Services executive order providing funding to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to combat human trafficking.

3. Elena Kagan needs to be asked point blank about her position on federal funding for abortion, her work in the Clinton White House on abortion policy, and any legal work done on behalf of Planned Parenthood.

4. Elena Kagan needs to be asked about her position on extending benefits to same-sex couples.

The national news frenzy has already picked up on her opposition to the military recruiting occurring on the Harvard Law School campus while she was dean. Catholics need to pay attention to the reason why – her opposition to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – a policy compromise reached by her previous boss Bill Clinton but now being overturned by President Obama. There is anticipation that positions she took at Harvard reflect the institution and not how she would side in a potential ruling, however, she was the dean and set the tone for leadership.

In the coming month, the Senate will begin the confirmation theatrics. Elena Kagan has commented about the “confirmation process” – in a 1995 book review of “The Confirmation Mess” by Stephen Carter.

“The real ‘confirmation mess’” she wrote, “is the gap that has opened between the Bork hearings and all others.”

“Not since Bork,” she said, “has any nominee candidly discussed, or felt a need to discuss, his or her views and philosophy.”

“The debate focused not on trivialities,” she wrote, but on essentials: “the understanding of the Constitution that the nominee would carry with him to the Court.”

Elena Kagan thinks nominees should candidly discuss their opinions. Catholic Advocate AGREES and hopes the Senate gives her the opportunity.

By Matt Smith, Catholic Advocate Vice President

The White House and the Congress Are Hurting the Church, and We Must Stop It

By: Deal W. Hudson

The present White House is having a huge impact on the Church in America.  It’s typical to hear talk about the influence of the Church on politics, but at the present moment the influence is definitely in the other direction.

The pro-abortion forces in this country and the “social justice/seamless garment” crowd in the Church have been empowered by the new Congress and presidency. The reason the Church is so weak right now is the sudden power of groups like the Catholic Health Association, Catholics United, and Catholics In Alliance for the Common Good.

These groups, and their leadership, have straight lines of communication throughout the Church, through the USCCB, chanceries, parishes, and various Catholic associations.  This is the network that drove the twisted interpretation of “Faithful Citizenship” through parishes nationwide in 2008.

They plan to do an even better job in 2012, unless we do something about it, unless we stop them.

Obama’s leadership, along with that of Pelosi, has strengthened the hand of the most anti-Catholic, anti-life elements of our culture, both here and in Europe, at the EU and the UN.

The threat of arresting our Holy Father on his upcoming trip to the UK should be a huge wake-up call for what we are up against.

The Church will eventually exert its influence, but for the present moment it is up to independent groups, like Catholic Advocate, to minimize the influence of the fake Catholic groups, especially the psuedo-Catholic groups funded by George Soros, liberal foundations, and labor unions. The media must be forced to describe them for what they are, as we did with Voice of the Faithful.

If we claim the role of Catholic lay expertise in politics then we can’t constantly be looking to the bishops to solve our problems. We should resist the impulse to ask the bishops to do all this work for us.

If we’ve made any mistake since the election it has been focusing on the bishops rather than training Catholics to be politically active and building a coalition of Catholics with other like-minded people of faith.

The only thing we should ask of the bishops is to rewrite the “Faithful Citizenship” document, which caused so much confusion in 2008.

We should not allow the defense of life to be treated as anything other than a Catholic effort, rather than a partisan one. Not only you and I are accused of being “shills” for one party as a result of our emphasis on life and marriage, but several of the more visible bishops as well.

We cannot wait for the Church to reform itself from within so that it assumes a commanding role in shaping our culture and politics. Instead, we must win targeted victories against the kind of leadership that strengthens the hand of the left-wing in the Church and the culture.

If we have another election like 2008, Church reform will be put off for many years to come.

A Catholic Mom Who Will Take Her Faith to Congress

By: Deal W. Hudson

Karen Diebel is a pro-life, pro-family Catholic hoping to win the GOP nomination to run for Congress in Orlando, Florida’s 24th District.  Diebel represents a very different kind of Catholic politician from Speaker Nancy Pelosi who led the charge for pro-abortion funding as part of the health care reform.

Topping the list of Diebel’s political priorities are the defense of life and family:

“It is critically important to have a strong pro-life, pro-family voice in this district. There is such danger right now, with both the incumbent and the administration. All the decision-making on economic and social issues is in opposition to the values that reinforce and support strong families.”

Seven years ago a run for Congress would have seemed impossible, when her husband, an obstetrician, was killed while helping a stranger on the side of a highway. “My life crumbled in an instant, into a million pieces.”

That was June 2002. Now Karen Diebel is 43 years old, her three boys are ages 10, 12, and 13, and she is feeling “older and wiser . . . suffering gives you a clearer perspective.”  She thanks a priest in her parish, Rev. Richard Walsh, who baptized all her boys, for helping her survive the loss of her husband.  When she once complained to him of being left alone, Father Walsh told her:

“The Lord has given you many gifts.  Think of that as you are sad – how you have been blessed with many things.  You have to use them.”

“Then I thought to myself, ‘I will not be tired anymore.’”

She was already working full-time for Verizon, as director of Global Solutions, to provide for herself and her children. As director, Diebel became an expert at solving business and technological problems for Fortune 100 companies.

“Thank God I had a job at the time, and I could pay the bills. Because I kept waking up thinking I am the only parent left, I’ve got to figure it out — I was 35.”

But, after the comment from Father Walsh, Diebel got more involved in her community, co-founding a health care clinic in memoriam of her late husband, providing health care to East Orlando’s uninsured. “The best way I knew how to give back was to help others.” She also entered local politics and became Vice Mayor and a City Commissioner of Winter Park, a suburb of Orlando.

Her experience in municipal government coupled with the direction of the country led her to run for Congress. “In government, both here and in D.C., there are too many competing agendas, rather than a clear focus on solving problems.”

Diebel also observed that those involved in local politics often had great intentions but lacked the needed skills. “I had the advantage of having leadership skills, not just the ability to redistribute money and collect more taxes. We need to get more efficient, ensure personal freedoms, and not waver on first principles.”

A graduate of the University of Notre Dame (Class of ‘89), Karen Diebel is well versed in the teachings of the Church and applies them to her views on public policy.

Diebel is the granddaughter of Irish immigrants: Her father, a McGuigan from Belfast, met her mother, a Reilly from County Mayo, in Chicago where most of her family still lives.  Her brother, Michael McGuigan, just returned from his second tour in Iraq.

When asked how she would raise three boys while being a member of Congress Diebel said, “I am already doing it — we are a very, very tight knit family. My boys are fun and they are strong because they’ve had to be along the way. Even today, professionally, I have to travel, but we often go as a family. They can understand and learn along the way.”

If elected to Congress, Karen Diebel will not leave her faith at home, as so many seem to have done.  “My faith gives me strength, a faith that is very clear on the values I need to carry forward in my personal life. We have to make time to do the things we believe in.”

The Legislative War on the Church Continues in Connecticut

By Anne Hendershott

Despite the fact that under current Connecticut law, sexual abuse victims have 30 years past their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit, a new bill introduced in Connecticut’s legislature will completely remove the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse cases.  Connecticut bishops have responded by warning parishioners that the proposed change to the law will put “all Church institutions, including your parish at risk.”

And, although there is precedence for removing the statute of limitations in cases of allegations of priestly abuse (when California lawmakers removed their state’s statute of limitations, more than 800 lawsuits were filed against the Church in a single year), this latest legislative initiative follows an attempted Catholic Church takeover last March when State Senator Andrew J. McDonald and State Representative Michael Lawlor, both Democrats, introduced Bill 1098.  If it had passed, this CT bill would have allowed the state of Connecticut to control individual parishes’ governance and financial affairs—relegating the pastors and bishops to an advisory role in their own parishes.

And, although Bridgeport Diocese Bishop Lori was successful in mobilizing parishioners to lobby the lawmakers to withdraw the controversial bill just a week after they proposed it, it is likely that the attempt to pass this type of legislation will continue in Connecticut and elsewhere—not because of a perceived need by most Catholics for state oversight, but rather because there are so many within the Church who can gain so much by keeping this issue alive.

Indeed, it is clear that in the attempted state takeover of the Catholic Church, the real force behind this bill was a small but well-organized group of Catholics—unhappy with Church teachings on moral and governance issues—attempting to enlist the state as a partner in radically transforming the Church from within.

To understand the real story behind the proposed legislation, one only has to look closely at some of those promoting the state takeover.  Fairfield University Catholic Studies Professor Paul Lakeland, a former Jesuit priest, has been on the front lines in leading the charge for the legislation.  As a spokesman for the bill, Lakeland has long lobbied for an end to what he calls the “structural oppression of the laity” by the clergy. Lakeland is a frequent presenter at conferences sponsored by organizations like Voice of the Faithful and CORPUS, which dissent from magisterial teachings.

Lakeland has been a longtime critic of the Catholic Church.  At a recent Annual Meeting for CORPUS, an organization of former priests—mostly married—who are still angry over the Church’s priestly celibacy requirement, Lakeland promised to “help our sisters and brothers exercise their baptismal priesthood.”  Claiming that his newest book identifies the task of the laity as working “to build a non-clerical church,”  Lakeland’s hour long speech (available as an audio file on the CORPUS website) is replete with his oft-used phrases including his stated desire to “overcome the lay-clerical division” and address the “structural oppression of the laity” within the Catholic Church.

Criticism of the privileged status of priests and bishops in leading the faithful is at the basis of the Connecticut legislation.  Marginalizing the bishops’ teaching authority in favor of dissenting theologians and removing the distinction between the ordained and the followers are the real goals of organizations like CORPUS and Voice of the Faithful.  Even the role of the deacon in the Catholic Church has come in for criticism by Lakeland.  In his CORPUS speech he scathingly referred to the “monster species” of the deacon.

To grasp the origins of the Connecticut legislative attacks on the Church, it is important to understand the genesis of Voice of the Faithful and some of its angriest members.  Capitalizing on a “crisis” in the state when Fr. Jude Fay, a now deceased Darien priest, was convicted of stealing more than 1.4 million in parishioner donations to lead a luxurious lifestyle with his gay partner, Voice of the Faithful’s Bridgeport, CT chapter created a proposal which advanced the idea of open elections of bishops, priests, and finance councils, and the ownership of church property by the people of the parish.  The VOTF document supported its proposals with historical notations and argued that this was the model of the early Church.

While we cannot claim that the Connecticut VOTF members had a hand in writing the actual legislation that was promoted in the state, it must be acknowledged that many of the tenets in the now-withdrawn Connecticut bill mirror those promoted by VOTF’s Bridgeport affiliate on their website.

And, there was a willing partner from the state—eager to diminish the authority of the Catholic Church.  Democratic State Senator McDonald and Democratic State Representative Lawler, sponsors of the Church takeover bill, are both openly gay men and outspoken same-sex marriage advocates.  Both have been tireless in their efforts to usher in gay marriage, and both have been critical of the Catholic Church’s opposition to laws dismantling the current definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Bishop Lori told a reporter for a local newspaper that he believed that the proposed Church governance bill was “an effort to silence the Church on important issues of the day—especially with regard to marriage.”  This is most likely true as the governance bill was proposed the day before the same-sex marriage bill was to be heard.

The attacks on the Church will continue. But, courageous bishops like Bishop Lori are rising to the challenge.  Unfortunately, there is little help from the Catholic colleges and universities. While parishioners have mobilized to fight the state takeover, Catholic college professors like Paul Lakeland are fighting for the other side.  And, for organizations like Voice of the Faithful, which desire that the Church become a democratic institution, there will continue to be an attempt to enlist the state as a partner in trying to create an egalitarian Church that reflects the will of the people rather than that of the Magisterium.

Catholic Fecklessness in the Public Square

By Lawrence P. Grayson

Catholics currently occupy more positions of influence in every sector of American society than at any time in the history of our country.  Today, 25 U.S. Senators and 130 of the 435 members of the House of Representatives identify themselves as Catholics.  A Catholic serves as Vice President, another as Speaker of the House of Representatives, six of the nine Justices of the Supreme Court are Catholic, and several Cabinet members claim Catholicism as their religion.

Coupled with these attainments in the political arena are the gains 68 million Catholic Americans have achieved in business, the professions, the media, education, and other areas of national life.  With the degree of influence that follows from this preeminence, one would expect a national temperament that is compatible with Catholic teaching.  Yet, our society is more anti-religious in its policies and laws, its views and attitudes, its behavior and inclinations than it has ever been.

America is plagued with abominations of abortion, cohabitation, same-sex marriage, dissolution of family life, destruction of embryonic stem cells, contraception, pornography, and a growing acceptance of assisted suicide and euthanasia.  If professed Catholics truly practiced their faith, this would not be.

Archbishop John Ireland, a leading prelate of his day, in 1899, warned: “[I]f great things are not done by Catholics in America, the fault lies surely with themselves – not the republic.”  Today, it is clear that Catholics are failing both the republic and themselves.  They are forsaking the nation in not bringing the virtues taught by their religion to bear on issues of public concern.  They are faithless to themselves because in their consuming drive for material success they are abandoning fundamental precepts of their religion.

Too many Catholics do not truly live according to their faith, even if they abide by obligatory devotions.  Their professed beliefs do not affect their ideas, attitudes, decisions and actions, whether related to matters of public affairs, their drive for monetary success, tastes in entertainment, or the way they set priorities for living.  In each of these instances, Catholics as a body are indistinguishable from the general populace.  Only by ignoring what they say they believe could 54 percent of the Catholics who voted in the last Presidential election have cast their ballots for a candidate whose positions on abortion, gay marriage, and embryonic stem cell research are in direct opposition to that of the Catholic Church.  Nor would the health care bill, which allows federal funding for elective abortion, have passed – symbolically, on Passion Sunday — if Catholic members of Congress had not ignored their bishops.

These people may attend an occasional Mass – only 23 percent attend weekly – but the rest of the time they live as if God does not exist.  In pursuit of worldly prosperity, acclaim, or social acceptability, their behavior ceases to be regulated by the principles of their faith.  They ignore and even deny the Church’s teachings, and have so compartmentalized their minds that they can say that they are personally opposed to an intrinsic evil, such as abortion, but would not deny others from engaging in it.

This attitude of misguided toleration treats religion as a matter of individual opinion.  Nothing is held sacred, resulting in a national culture based on the lowest communal set of morals, made functional through laws and regulations.  Religious beliefs are adapted to secular aims, rather than being used to shape societal practices.  This frame of mind is appealing because it imposes no obligation on the individual to publicly live the faith, and does not interfere with one’s drive for material success.

The consequence is a divergence between what people profess to believe and how they act.  While there are numerous examples of this aberration, it was vividly illustrated in a recent public exchange between Rep. Patrick Kennedy and his bishop, the Most Rev. Thomas Tobin of Providence, RI.  The congressman, who has been a consistent and public supporter of abortion, stated, “The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.”  Bishop Tobin responded, “[W]hen someone rejects the teachings of the Church, especially on a grave matter, a life-and-death issue like abortion, it certainly does diminish their ecclesial communion, their unity with the Church.”

If one does not live by the fixed, unchanging beliefs about God, man’s purpose in the world, how he should live his life, and his ultimate end that the Church has been teaching for over two thousand years, a claim to be Catholic is hollow.

T.S. Eliot, in The Idea of a Christian Society, wrote, “one cannot but suspect that many who call themselves Christians do not understand what the word means.”  This certainly is true of Catholics today.

If people do not understand what the term Catholic, or even Christian, implies, how can they be expected to lead their lives by its precepts?  What is required is a reinvigoration of the faith, a re-evangelization of the laity.  They must be taught what it means to be Catholic, to understand the timeless truth of its doctrines, to develop the moral values and commitment to live in accord with the faith.

Clearly, the clergy have a primary role in this effort.  The bishops as stewards of the faith must assure that the laity are appropriately educated and form proper consciences, so that they can lead lives in conformity with the faith.  But the responsibility goes beyond the ordained clergy.  It is the family that is the first and foremost teacher of the young.  Parents must take this obligation seriously, improving their own knowledge and behavior so they can pass the faith to their children.  And it is the duty of all of us as laity to take action, in our public and private lives, to change society for the better.  It is only when Catholics – indeed all Christians — become well-informed in their faith and fully live by its beliefs that they can hope to change the secular world.

Will we, as a society and as individuals, fulfill our responsibilities?  We must!  If left unaddressed, the ignorance of the faith among the laity and their laxity in living it will continue to grow, and lead to an increasing exclusion of religion from public affairs and to a decline in the values that underlie this nation.

Lawrence P. Grayson is a Visiting Scholar in the School of Philosophy at The Catholic University of America, and writes a monthly column for the Knights of Columbus in Maryland.

Pro-Life, Pro-Family Catholic Mari Hamlin Fink Sets Out To Replace Susan Davis in San Diego

Establishment political observers are calling the congressional race in California’s 53rd district “David vs. Goliath” – and that’s alright with Mari Hamlin Fink because she knows that outcome.

Mari is a ninth-generation San Diegan. Her San Diego ancestry can be traced back to the 1700s with Don Jose Francisco Ortega, who arrived on one of the Portola expeditions and helped Father Junipero Serra build the California missions.

Mari has spent the last thirty years serving in numerous leadership positions throughout her community. Mari says her Catholic upbringing is responsible for a lifetime of service in the non-profit sector. “I bring an ethic of service taught to me by my faith all my life. Serving and working for one’s fellow man is the highest and greatest act of charity we can give.” Mari’s experience finding successful solutions at the community level is why she opposes the intrusive over-reaching big government agenda of the Obama administration.

In January, Mari Hamlin Fink announced her candidacy for California’s 53rd district in the heart of San Diego. Should Mari win the June five-way Republican primary she will face ten year veteran Congresswoman Susan Davis, a Democrat born in Massachusetts.

Fink cites the business as usual in Congress with complete disregard for the will of the people as motivation to enter the race. “Elected officials need to remember they serve at the pleasure of their constituents,” said Fink. “Too much time in Washington following party leadership that serves special interest groups and ignores what people back home want has led to a real disconnect,” she added.

Mari shares the sentiment of thousands of frustrated Americans as Congress continues its reckless spending and increases the deficit to dangerous, unprecedented levels. “Congress’ spending represents a fundamentally flawed welfare state mentality,” said Fink, “the Pelosi-Davis model creating new entitlement programs will bankrupt this country.”

San Diego Catholics should pay close attention not only to Davis’ support for “government as usual” but her votes against non-negotiable teachings of the Church.

Since entering Congress ten years ago she has consistently voted against pro-life legislation. Susan Davis joined Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic, voting against two major pro-life laws – the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (February 26, 2004 – roll call vote 31) also known as ‘Laci and Conner’s law’ and the Partial Birth Abortion Ban (June 4, 2003 – roll call vote 242). Davis also recently voted against Michigan Democrat Congressman Bart Stupak’s amendment to the health care reform legislation to prevent federal money being spent on abortions (November 7, 2009 – roll call vote 884).

The mother of three sons, Mari Fink believes in the sanctity of life. She feels all life needs to be protected and will work to safeguard the dignity of all, especially the disabled, terminally ill, elderly and unborn.

Fink also believes in protecting the institution of marriage because it is in the best interest of all our children. Susan Davis is an original H.R. 3567 co-sponsor, a bill “To repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and ensure respect for State regulation of marriage.” Davis has joined with advocates of same-sex marriage working overtime to have H.R. 3567 reach the floor of the House of Representatives 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.

In 1996, the Catholic bishops in the U.S. expressed the Church’s teaching this way:

“[W]e oppose attempts to grant the legal status of marriage to a relationship between persons of the same sex. No same-sex union can realize the unique and full potential which the marital relationship expresses. For this reason, our opposition to ‘same-sex marriage’ is not an instance of unjust discrimination or animosity toward homosexual persons.”

Democrat Party leaders in Washington have grown comfortable with the 53rd district’s decade-long support for their pro-abortion candidates such as President Obama, John Kerry, and Susan Davis who have all received over sixty percent of the vote. Fink feels Davis is vulnerable. “The people in this district are independent thinking and want a common sense approach to today’s important issues. They believe in main street values. Susan Davis has not legislated consistent with these values.”

Those who know her work in the community believe she is the most viable primary candidate because of her years of living and working in the district. In addition Mari has a secret weapon; her pastor and official campaign chaplain, Fr. William Kernan, loaned her a relic of St. Ann for campaign headquarters.

Mari has placed her campaign under the protection of St. Ann, the same saint her mother dedicated all her children. The devotion to St. Ann began in the U.S. when the Passionist Priests and Brothers built a monastery in Scranton, Pennsylvania over a mine. They called on St. Ann numerous times over the years when foundational damage threatened their magnificent structure. Mari believes as the Passionist monks replied in the midst of their challenges, “Saint Ann will take care of her own.”

By Matt Smith, Catholic Advocate Vice President, who, when he is in San Diego visiting family, attends St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish in San Diego.

Catholic Politicians Shouldn't be Jekylls and Hydes

By Brenda Steele

Was President John F. Kennedy instrumental in “privatizing” religion? Russ Shaw, writing for thinks that is the case. In his piece titled “Privatizing Religion” Shaw recalls that JKF’s assurance that his religious views were his “own private affair” has allowed future Catholic politicians to  pick up his mantra.

Case in point, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. We all recall her Newsweek interview when she whined that she “mourned” a “difference of opinion” but that her own free will allowed her this. Pelosi is hardly the only Catholic politician to exercise this idea of separating faith from the public square. Others come to mind, such as John Kerry and Ted Kennedy. The list is long, and you know who to add.

So, the question begs to be asked, “How does one proclaim to be a faithful Catholic and yet “separate” the teachings of their faith from day to day decisions, whether these be concerned with family issues, work issues, or political ones? It is not enough to be a “good” Catholic by attending, at a minimum, Sunday Mass and, perhaps, participating in the life of the Church, and then dismiss Church teachings on Monday in favor of a “separatist” attitude.

This insistence of “my faith is personal,” subscribed to by far too many Catholic politicians, makes me wonder if they have split personalities! Can you have a movie without popcorn, an Oreo without a glass of milk? No, of course not, just as you cannot be one person in church and another outside of church. Our beliefs determine “who” we are at all times, whether in the public square, in church, or within our families.

I say to all Catholic politicians, let the beliefs of your True Catholic faith shine through, guide all you do and say, and give glory and honor to our Lord. Don’t be a Jekyll and Hyde.

It is Time to Start Answering the Questions about the Catholic Campaign for Human Development

By Matt Smith

On February 2, 2010 Catholic Advocate reported to our community about the latest research into grant recipients of the USCCB Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) program.

The issue we, along with others, are raising is simple. Money donated by an “official” entity of the Church should not be used to work against the teachings of the Church.

When will the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) stop diverting attention from the issue and begin to answer the questions at hand?

As of February 2010, research conducted by American Life League (ALL) and Bellarmine Veritas Ministry (BVM) has revealed USCCB CCHD money being granted to 18 organizations supporting pro-abortion and/or same-sex marriage policies and advocacy, and an additional 31 organizations that should be investigated. The organizations are separated into three sections: A) Groups Recently Defunded by CCHD; B) Groups Recommended for Defunding by CCHD; and C) Groups Recommended for Independent Investigation.

The Reform CCHD Now Coalition believes the evidence demonstrates the CCHD grant approval process is flawed and errantly diverting funds from its original intent to groups supporting policies in conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church. The Coalition has called for an independent review followed by reform, transparency, and improved stewardship of the money donated to the CCHD program.

Why should this matter to the faithful American Catholics in the pews on Sunday?

Catholic Advocate has been consistent with comments that the CCHD program is a well-intentioned effort in need of redirection. The CCHD grant program is funded by one of the thirteen “National Collections” facilitated each year by Dioceses for the USCCB. For some, it is an extra envelope in which to place a contribution, and in other parishes it might be the ushers passing around the baskets a second time.

CCHD donations range from $7 – $9 million each year which means, with 18,280 parishes in the U.S., the average parish contribution ranges from $382 – $492 each year.

The pro-abortion and same-sex marriage Chinese Progressive Association, one of only two organizations the USCCB has defunded, received a $25,000 grant in 2008 which amounts to the contributions of 65 parishes. Another organization, the Southwest Organizing Project in Illinois promotes abortifacient birth control and has yet to be investigated or defunded. They received $80,000 over the past two years which amounts to the contributions of 104 parishes.

The basic fact that ANY money is going to groups working against the teachings of the Church should be a source of concern. To date, solid evidence has shown $2,306,500 in grants has gone to groups advocating for issues contrary to the teachings of the Church. This represents the annual contributions of almost 6037 parishes – or nearly 1/3 of Catholic parishes in the United States.

Following ALL and BVM revealing information about the CCHD grant program, questions have been raised about participation by USCCB officials on the board of an organization where member groups received grants. This same umbrella group is involved with, among other activities, the America Votes project which is in clear violation of the USCCB’s own CCHD Policies.

Instead of answering the questions about their work on the board or knowledge of these groups and their activities, the USCCB staff and two bishops circled the wagons around one individual. They declared these questions were personal attacks and defended his support for Church teachings. No one, at any point, has questioned this individual’s dedication to the Church. In fact, ALL’s report goes out of its way to not question individual pro-life beliefs.

Additionally, it has been claimed the researchers should have met with USCCB staff to discuss their findings. Unfortunately, this is another falsehood, since meetings with members of the Reform CCHD Now coalition were either declined or canceled by USCCB staff.

In the course of defending their colleague against mythical personal attacks, the surrogates for these officials have now, in turn, done the very thing they condemned by attacking my colleague Deal Hudson. Nothing Deal Hudson has written attacked the convictions of USCCB staff. However, they have chosen to engage in a merciless attack of their own. I have known Deal Hudson for over 10 years. I have witnessed firsthand his strength as a husband and father. We are all human and make mistakes. He made one nearly 16 years ago, sought redemption, and I know the pain it caused is something he regrets. The USCCB surrogates are not attacking a side of a debate – they are attacking a family.

The surrogates, coming to the defense of the USCCB, have also labeled those raising these questions as “conservative,” “right-wing,” “Republican” Catholics. So, following the logic of these surrogates makes supporting the sanctity of life or working to preserve marriage as a union between one man and one woman (both non-negotiable teachings of the church) now something they are going to attempt to tag with political labels.

It is one thing to question the work of individuals or how an entity distributes funds, it is another to support surrogates making personal attacks. If the USCCB is truly non-partisan and believes both sides should be engaging in a civil debate on this issue, then they should immediately and publicly condemn these divisive political labels and the truly personal attacks on Deal Hudson.

What have we asked our bishops to consider?

  1. Suspend CCHD grants.
  2. Conduct an independent audit and review of all the organizations that have received CCHD grants during the past ten years to ensure programs, support for public policies, and affiliations are consistent with the teachings of the Church.
  3. Develop and publicly distribute new policy guidelines to Diocesan offices for the vetting and approval of CCHD grant proposals.
  4. Review the participation by USCCB staff in outside organizations and develop a conflict of interest policy that prevents such participation from supporting groups that work against the teachings of the Church.

Perpetuating perceived personal attacks and the five public attacks by USCCB surrogates against Deal Hudson are a distraction that needs to stop. It is time the USCCB and the CCHD start addressing the issues raised by ALL and BVM research. We should begin working together to prevent money donated by hard working Catholics to be  used against teachings of the Church.