Category Archives: Recent Articles
By Deal Hudson
In a severe setback to the Obama administration’s push for “net neutrality,” a federal appeals court ruled the Federal Communications Commission did not have the authority to issue a 2008 citation against Comcast Corporation for inhibiting some Internet traffic from high-bandwidth file-sharing services.
In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned the citation. The court ruled that the FCC had not been legally empowered by the Congress to regulate the network-management practices of an Internet service provider.
The appeals court decision will also be good news to Americans who, in the wake of the health care bill, are fearful of more government take-over of private enterprise. As I wrote at InsideCatholic.com last February:
“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.”
The White House and its allies in Congress will be considering their options to counter the court’s opinion that undermines the FCC’s authority to impose rules on the use of the Internet. The Hill reported the ruling as a “significant blow” against the FCC, a “setback” for the backers of net neutrality in the Congress, as well as a “major defeat” for President Obama. Others viewing this decision as bad news, according to The Hill, include, “Google, Skype, Amazon.com and other Internet firms that have been huge proponents of rules that would mandate open Internet.”
The major providers of broadband services – AT&T and Verizon – have opposed net neutrality and will continue litigation if the FCC continues to impose net neutrality standards without a legal mandate.
The FCC’s reaction to the decision appeared to promise continued activism on behalf of net neutrality. As reported on Wired blog, FCC spokesperson, Jen Howard, issued a statement saying, “The court in no way disagreed with the importance of preserving a free and open Internet. Nor did it close the door to other methods for achieving this important end.”
Now led by Obama appointee Julius Genachowski, the FCC is clearly not giving up the fight. One option the FCC might pursue, as reported in the New York Times, “would be to reclassify broadband service as a sort of basic utility subject to strict regulation, like telephone service. Telephone companies and broadband providers have already indicated that they would vigorously oppose such a move.”
Congress will also assist the FCC. For example, Edward Markey (D-MA), in response to the court’s decision, called upon Congress to “provide the commission any additional authority it may need to ensure the openness of the Internet.”
Let’s hope that the Internet stays in the hands of the privately-owned market forces that led to its creation and its flourishing.
By Deal Hudson
“The President is not pro-abortion, the President is pro-choice. I think they are two very different things.” This is a mantra we often hear from Catholics who support pro-abortion politicians, but this time they were uttered in support of President Obama.
The words came from Sr. Anita Baird, the founding director of the Office of Racial Justice at the Archdiocese of Chicago. She was being interviewed by Kathleen Gilbert of LifeSiteNews.com on the upcoming event honoring Chicago priest, Fr. Michael Pfleger, who publicly announced Obama was “the best thing to come across the political scene since Bobby Kennedy.” He was serving, at the time, as a volunteer adviser to the Obama campaign and a member of the Catholics for Obama Committee.
Cardinal George, Pfleger’s ordinary in Chicago, suspended him from his parish for two weeks after his outburst praising Obama. Sr. Baird told LifeSiteNews.com Fr. Pfleger’s public support for Obama was “not an issue here,” since he had served a two-week suspension from his parish, St. Sabina’s.
One wonders whether Fr. Pfleger’s fondness for Obama “is not an issue” in the Archdiocese of Chicago simply because he accepted his punishment for endorsing a candidate publicly in violation of the Church’s non-profit status.
Kathleen Gilbert asked Sr. Baird to explain the difference between being pro-abortion and being pro-choice:
“To be pro-abortion is that you believe in abortion and you support it. And, I don’t think you’ll find that the President has ever said that.”
So you have to say you support abortion to be judged pro-abortion? What about Obama’s advocacy of infanticide as a state senator in Illinois, his termination of the Mexico City Policy on the first day of his presidency, his signing of a health care bill providing billions of federal dollars for abortion funding, and on and on?
Sr. Baird didn’t bring up anything Obama has done, only what he has said, for example, in his Notre Dame speech where he claimed, “his challenge was that we find ways to ensure that women – that would be their last choice, and that they would choose life.”
But then Sr. Baird says the most startling thing of all to Gilbert:
“I just think we need to be clear with our language.”
I’m sure, I am not the only one who will hear this and immediately think of Matthew 23:24, where Jesus says to the Pharisees, “You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” In other words, Sr. Baird wants to make sure we are “clear with our language” describing Obama’s stated view of abortion, but she ignores, completely, his actions as a politician. (This is not completely accurate since Sr. Baird is apparently not familiar with Obama’s speech in the Illinois state legislature justifying his support for partial-birth abortion.)
Speaking of Obama’s own utterances on the topic of abortion. Why do people like Sr. Baird think his words can be trusted? What about the public lie Obama told the Congress and the American people that there would be no federal funding for abortion in the health care bill?
Even if you judge Obama by his words, if you pay close attention to his promises, you will come to the conclusion his words cannot be trusted. Thus, attempting to be “clear with our language” about the President’s position on abortion is a waste of time.
What do we make of Sr. Baird’s defense of Obama as “pro-choice” rather than “pro-abortion?”
First of all, we should remind ourselves that this distinction has been common among the media and Catholic “progressives” for years, so it is nothing new.
Second, it calls out for some sort of authoritative comment by Cardinal George showing that it is a distinction without a practical difference — both points of view, if they can be really distinguished, result in law and public policy of abortion on demand.
Finally, Sr. Baird’s defense of Fr. Pfleger’s support of Obama is a snapshot of how the Obama advocacy goes on inside the Catholic Church, through chanceries and parishes into the grassroots. Catholics who support Obama and work to convince other Catholics to vote for him, as Fr. Pfleger has done, ignore the myriad of evidence that Obama is pro-abortion. They parrot a handful of Obama speeches filled with promises his never intends to keep.
Whenever Congress is on recess, I always wonder what will catch the media’s eye in Washington, D.C. When there is no drama to cover, sometimes either something lands in their laps or they take something, create the drama, and help blow it out of proportion. The Washington, D.C. media and bobble-head chattering class on the cable shows received two such gifts in the past week allowing them to inflict further pain on two institutions some in the media take joy in beating like a piñata.
The first story was the total lack of judgment used by a Republican National Committee (RNC) staffer to organize (informally or not) a field trip to a Hollywood sex club. This was followed by a second lack of judgment by the RNC for approving the expense report. It must have been a rough week at the RNC because the story would just not go away. Donors are upset. Values Voters who traditionally align themselves with Republicans are upset. Voters are now questioning the values they thought the RNC stood for with another example of Washington, D.C. hypocrisy in a year with a vulnerable Democratic party.
The initial response from the RNC focused on the staffer being fired and promises of better stewardship of money. I am sure the leadership of the RNC is embarrassed by this episode. However, they missed the point that it highlights a larger, more serious cultural problem facing ascending generations – the “if it feels good do it, and if there are consequences blame someone else” philosophy.
The second “story of the week” was another round of sexual abuse news giving the media another opportunity to attack the Church. I was troubled to see the extensive coverage given to the members of SNAP on the local Washington, D.C. affiliate in the news. If your eyes were closed, the lead-in by the local reporter describing a protest held outside St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C. made it sound like hundreds gathered. But, the visual of four angry and hurt individuals told a different story. It was even more troubling to hear the “man on the street” interviews after Easter Vigil Masses where faithful were stating their faith had been shaken. (I am guessing those were the comments chosen to be aired versus those who stood in solidarity with our priests.)
The over-attention the media is paying to the latest chapter in the sex abuse scandal is affecting their already biased credibility, but like sharks in chummed water they smell the blood of the wounded, and the responses have not helped the situation. Leaders in Rome protecting the institution of the Church, instead of recognizing the effect this is having on the faithful, miscommunicate that the Church is not taking these situations seriously.
Families are suffering in their wallets and also from having their values attacked each day. They are looking to institutions to help change these situations, not worsen them. Some are hoping to turn to elected officials; some are hoping to turn to ecclesiastical guidance by appealing to a higher power.
Both of these stories would not have been able to gain so much traction if there were not already credibility issues present. Institutions people have traditionally been able to rally behind have become contributors to a culture lacking self-accountability.
How can these two institutions rebuild credibility?
People are tired of excuses and deflection. They are sophisticated and see through it. People want an acknowledgment of the problem and an attempt at some form of contrition, even if the leadership of an institution is not responsible for the grievance.
RNC chairman Michael Steele, a Catholic, needs to stand up and point out that these activities were inappropriate, highlight them as an indication of greater problems in our society, and say so with contrition to begin rebuilding credibility with supporters.
Likewise, the Church needs to stop focusing its attention on a biased media that will never back off their attacks on the Holy Father. The Church needs to hear the advice from public relations professionals, and take back control of the story. They have an opportunity to make the distinction that things have changed by acknowledging there is still work to be done cleaning up the past, denouncing the unforgivable, and articulating all the Church is doing around the globe to prevent future abuse from occurring.
What can you do?
In regards to the Church…I remember being in an airport during the height of the Boston sexual abuse cases. A young gentleman sat down next to me at the gate, and I noticed his reading material. I asked him if he was a seminarian because he was in street clothing. He answered that he was a recently ordained priest returning to his parish from visiting his family. On his way to see his family, wearing his collar, he was attacked in the airport and thus made the move to street clothes. I was saddened to hear his account of the attack. We spent the next hour discussing his feelings of isolation. There are priests out there who have engaged in reprehensible behavior. On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of our priests work hard every day ministering to those in need. During this Year for the Priest and these latest revelations, we need to do more to let faithful priests know their vocation is appreciated and they are supported. We need to speak in their defense and not let those who want to attack what the Church truly stands for be the only public voice.
In regards to political parties…some Democrats are disenfranchised because of their party’s stance on abortion and same-sex marriage. Republicans are upset with their party’s spending and values hypocrisy. The modern day political parties are supposed to be an organizing entity to turn out the vote. To those that are disenfranchised, I encourage you to find your own voice or some organizations who you agree with to speak for you in Washington. There is no substitute for you being able to join in the debate and let your voice be heard.
When people begin to realize that their own efficacy is the true genesis to change, our Church, our country, and our culture will begin to reflect our values.
By Matt Smith, Catholic Advocate Vice President
By Deal Hudson
Regular readers may be taken aback by my headline. But I didn’t raise the question in jest – I am repeating a question put to Cardinal George by a reporter for the Catholic News Service.
A March 23 story from CNS, written by Nancy Frazier O’Brien, featured an interview with Cardinal George, president of the USCCB, in the aftermath of the health care bill being passed by the House. Cardinal George registered his concern about the abortion funding in the bill and the inadequacy of an Executive Order to remove that funding.
O’Brien proposed a question to the cardinal about the USCCB’s motives with regards to the health care debate:
“Cardinal George also rejected claims by some that the USCCB had allied itself in the health reform debate with groups that were primarily interested in advancing the Republican agenda.”
Before we continue, it should be noted there was no parallel suggestion regarding the possibility the USCCB was trying to advance a Democratic Party agenda, given the visibility of support for universal coverage.
Indeed, given the visibility of the bishops’ overall support for the bill, I can only come to the conclusion that those who accuse the USCCB of advancing a “Republican agenda” must have abortion in mind. Why? The only parts of the bill they objected to were abortion funding and the lack of conscience protection for medical workers.
It’s ironic when it’s implied that the pro-life cause is being lead by the Republican Party rather than the Catholic bishops. Isn’t someone putting the cart before the horse?
Other than stifling a laugh when I read that question in the CNS story, my only other reaction was to recall the many times I warned people not to trust the GOP to make the life issue a priority – any political party should know it has “to earn your vote.”
I shouldn’t have been surprised by the question to Cardinal George. During the 2008 election a number of bishops who questioned the pro-life claims made by Obama and his Catholic surrogates were accused of being “partisan” or Republican.
This points to one aspect of the tragedy of Bart Stupak. Stupak could have carved out a proud place in the history of American politics as the man who broke the strangle hold of abortion advocates on the Democratic Party.
America would have once again had a two-party system, from a pro-life point of view.
But to return to how Cardinal George answered the question of purported support for the GOP’s agenda.
“I really don’t think that’s true,” he said. “The principles are twofold — everybody’s taken care of, nobody killed. And I think that moral voice, while it doesn’t correspond politically to either party, has been consistent.”
True, the principles don’t correspond to either political party, but the two principles are not equal in moral weight. The aim of universal health care does carry with it a non-negotiable obligation for Catholics — the protection of innocent life – both Cardinal George and the USCCB have been pointing to this throughout the health care debate.
As implied by the question posed by the reporter, the pro-life principle has become so identified with the Republican Party that some regard the bishops’ own pro-life effort as partisan rather than, simply, Christian.
The sad state of affairs seems to be this: When Catholics object to abortion funding in health care they are accused of being Republican shills. But, when Catholics ignore the presence of abortion funding in health care they are applauded for their commitment to universal coverage.
Nicholas Dunn, a student at The King’s College in Manhattan, will be coming into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil Saturday night. Nick has written a thoughtful piece on what the Church really stands for, and why, he, during this time of scandal, has not been deterred from continuing his journey to Rome. We at Catholic Advocate thought it a most appropriate reflection during this Holy Week.
By Nick Dunn
Asked “why are you a Catholic?” Walker Percy answered, “The reason I am a Catholic is that I believe that what the Catholic Church proposes is true.” Likewise, at this Saturday’s Easter Vigil, where I will be received into the Catholic Church, I will say that “I believe and profess all that the Holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.”
But joining the Catholic Church is much more than just affirming its doctrine—it’s accepting the invitation to fulfill one’s baptismal vows in a community of both saints and sinners. After my priest asks the Holy Spirit to strengthen and anoint me “to be more like Christ, the Son of God,” I will celebrate the Eucharist with my brothers and sisters together for the first time. This sacrament of unity is a reminder that we cannot go it alone; we need help, as a fellowship of sinners striving to become saints.
Among my evangelical family and friends, my decision to join the Catholic Church has caused confusion and provoked criticism. While most of the objection is theological in nature, the current sex abuse crisis seems to be just one more reason to reconsider. For the Catholic Church is perceived by many as corrupt—deliberately covering up the sexual abuse of priests, choosing not to protect children, and caring more about shielding themselves from bad publicity than caring for people’s souls.
The reality of sin reminds us that, while the Church is holy, it is made up of human and sinful people. On earth, the Church will never be what Christ intended it to be. In his Palm Sunday homily, Pope Benedict XVI reminded us that “being a Christian is a journey. It is a pilgrimage, it is a going with Jesus Christ.” We are pilgrims on the road to holiness, but we often veer off course.
Lumen Gentium affirms this profound paradox: “The Church, embracing sinners to her bosom, is at the same time holy and always in need of being purified, and incessantly pursues the path of penance and renewal.” As Christ’s Body, the Church has the Holy Spirit as a helper, to live in each member and accomplish God’s will in the world. Sacred Scripture is given as a guide, and the sacraments for our nourishment.
In preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, Pope John Paul II declared that: “The joy of every Jubilee is above all a joy based upon the forgiveness of sins.” Thus, he said, “it is appropriate…that the Church should become more fully conscious of the sinfulness of her children, recalling those times in history when they departed from the spirit of Christ and his Gospel.”
Right now, as the Church faces the crisis of sexual abuse and scandal, it must repent for its misdeeds. Abusive priests and negligent bishops must show contrition to the victims, their families, and all the faithful for the trust they have betrayed and the hurt that they have caused. For only after having been purified by penance can the Church be a witness to the truth and goodness of God.
We do not belong to the Church because we are good or holy, but rather because we are sinners. We are needy, weak and imperfect. Jesus reminds us that it isn’t healthy people who need a doctor, but sick people (Matthew 9:12-13). As Morton Kelsey wrote, “The Church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners.”
At the Great Vigil of Easter, we celebrate Christ’s resurrection—victory over sin and death. As it is proclaimed in the Exsultet: “This is night, when Christians everywhere, washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement, are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.”
By Deal Hudson
It’s sad to watch the New York Times and the Washington Post, along with MSNBC, attack Benedict XVI. The story they concocted over the past few weeks, with the help of retired Bishop Rembert Weakland about Rev. Joseph Murphy, is risibly tenuous.
These once-great newspapers trivialize themselves by publishing front-page stories making obvious their chronic disregard of the Catholic Church and, especially, the Pope. Nothing else but a kind of seething hatred explains their willingness to ignore the canons of credible reporting and comment.
The Church’s staunchest defender in this country is Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, who has been countering this latest attack from the first blow. Donohue calls the New York Times story on Father Murphy the “last straw,” but no doubt there will be more straw to ignite Donohue’s flaming pen. (And it won’t be from the pages of the Summa Theologiae, which its author deemed as “so much straw” in the hours before his death.)
I asked Donohue, and a number of other experts, the question, “Why does media like the New York Times and the Washington Post hate the Church and the Pope – what’s the source of the animus?”
Donohue replied, “As I said in today’s New York Times op-ed page ad, it stems from three issues: abortion, gay marriage, and women’s ordination. So, when they can nail the Church on promiscuity, they love it. The goal is to weaken the moral authority of the Church so it won’t be as persuasive on issues like health care.”
Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard, agrees the media wants to weaken the Church. He echoes what his friend the late Bob Novak used to tell me about the mainstream media; it is “the most secular, liberal group in the country. The Catholic Church stands for everything you and I believe (though I’m not a Catholic) and for practically nothing the media likes. But the media cannot ignore the Catholic Church because it is so strong, popular, and enduring. That leaves the media one avenue of attack: Jump on any mistakes or scandals involving the Church and don’t let go.”
Another Evangelical friend of Catholics, Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, wrote to me that the “lamestream media hates the Pope because he exemplifies the vibrancy and relevance of orthodox faith in today’s society, which many in the press find either alien or deeply troubling.” Reed also views the media as alarmed that for the “once divided Evangelicals and devout Roman Catholics, the Pope is a symbol of a faith-based constituency the media views as hostile to modernity and values-neutral ‘tolerance.’”
Some responses to my question were brief and to the point. Bishop Robert F. Vasa of Baker, OR wrote saying, “Deal, Jesus told us it would happen: John 15:18-19. Looking the passage up I found: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (NIV translation).
Another quotation from Scripture came from the founder of Wallbuilders, David Barton, who cited Romans 1: 28-30 to describe what happens to those who directly reject belief in God. “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil. . . . (NIV translation).
The philosopher Francis Beckwith, a recent convert to the Catholic faith, located the source of the media’s hatred in “the narrative of secular liberalism.” “The media doesn’t want to acknowledge that Catholics even have an “intelligent” point of view,” he explained. “This is why they don’t assess arguments, they seek out scandal in order to demoralize opposition. Given its status as an unquestioned first principle, secular liberalism can not allow a divine foot in the door.”
Russell Shaw, who used to deal with the press on a daily basis as communication’s director of the bishops’ conference, also thinks, “The people in charge in those places are secularist ideologues who believe they possess the right answers.” Shaw is not particularly sanguine about the outcome of the struggle: “It would be nice to think there’s a happy ending to this story, but I doubt it. Somebody’s got to win in the end.”
The recurring theme in the answers I received was that of two powers, two opposing moral viewpoints, competing for influence. The secular power of the media detests the traditional moral teachings of the Church but does not confront it directly, preferring coverage of scandal to argument. As Jim Bopp, Jr., general counsel to National Right to Life, wrote to me, “The Pope and the Church are the strongest force making people accountable to traditional moral requirements. It therefore must be destroyed by any means necessary, even though liberals are soft on pedophilia, they are prepared to condemn the Catholic Church for not dealing harshly with them.”
The poet Matthew Arnold wrote in “Dover Beach” about loss of faith that left us on a “darkling plain/Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight.” In this round of attacks on Benedict XVI we are witness to just such a scene. But, as Francis Beckwith reminded me, the Pope knows how to defend his faith. “This scares the crap out of the mainstream media, since it upsets the narrative: only dumb, ill-informed, people disagree with us. The narrative must be sustained at all costs, even if it means engaging in wicked defamation.”
By Anne Hendershott
President Obama Loves Catholics…
Well, maybe it would be more accurate to say that President Obama loves some Catholics more than others. He loves Catholics like Sr. Carol Keehan, President of the Catholic Health Association because she successfully deflected the bishops’ concerns about funding for abortion by convincing the members of the House of Representatives that they should support the bill. She was so good at convincing lawmakers that the bill was one that Catholics could support, Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL ) told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday last week that the bill had the support of the Catholic Church. And, when advised by Paul Ryan( R-WI) that the bishops were against the bill, Schultz responded that the nuns were in favor of it and asked Ryan why he believed that women could not speak for the Church.
Sr. Keehan has been a good soldier in the health care wars. In fact, President Obama loves Sr. Keehan so much that he awarded her 30 pieces of silver at the bill signing ceremony. Sorry, I meant to say he awarded her one of the 20 silver signing pens—the coveted souvenir pens that he gave only to his most faithful helpers in shepherding health care reform.
President Obama also loves Alexia Kelley, his pick to be the director of the Federal Center for Faith Based and Community Initiatives. Kelley is a special kind of Catholic because she couples an ability to talk the Catholic talk with phrases like “seeking common ground” but then applies them to abortion at the same time she is heading a group called “Catholics for (the pro-abortion) Sebelius.”
As founder and director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Kelley somehow convinced people like George Soros, and a long list of labor unions, that they should love Catholics too. In 2008, Kelley was paid $110,000 a year to direct Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good—but, it was money well spent because her Catholic organization received $100,000 from George Soros’ Open Society; $25,000 from the AFL-CIO; $75,000 from the ARCA Foundation; $50,000 from the PBL Fund; $50,000 from the American Federation of Teachers; $25,000 from AFSCME; $25,000 from IBEW; and $10,000 from IUPAT. Who would ever have guessed that labor unions loved Catholic teaching so much that they would spend thousands of dollars in 2008 to help Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good fulfill their stated mission of “promoting Catholic social teaching through media.”
When one looks closely at the funding streams for Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, it is hard to believe it when their leaders claim that they are non-partisan. Funders like the ARCA Foundation have funded leftist causes for years including Planned Parenthood and People for the American Way. And, neither George Soros nor the long list of labor unions are known to be contributors to conservative causes.
Still, President Obama must have been really grateful for the role that Catholics in Alliance played in allaying fears about the health care plan among Catholics. Teaming with Jim Wallis’ Sojourners and the Catholic Campaign funded Pacific Institute for Community Organizations, Catholics in Alliance provided Catholic congregations with a “Health Care Tool Kit.” While the kit’s brochure never denied that the proposed health care reform would fund elective abortion with public money, it stated rather neutrally: “How Congress applies current policy on federal funding for abortion to new systems created through health reform will be an important issue for the faith community.” It also reassured readers that conscience protections would remain in place—even though no such assurance was ever promised.
But, President Obama must love Chris Korzen’s Catholics United best of all because Korzen was so good at neutralizing the voices of the bishops. Formerly employed as an organizer for SEIU, and a master at messaging (he was one of the leaders of Catholics for Sebelius), Korzen once said in an interview that Catholics United does the “edgier” work. He’s right about that. Implying recently in a radio interview that the Catholic bishops are just not smart enough to understand the complexities of health care reform, Korzen enlisted 47 theologians who were willing to sign a statement on his website decrying the interference of the bishops in the debate over health care reform. Advising the bishops to stay out of the conversation on health care reform (unless of course they wanted to support it), the letter that the theologians signed stated that, “It is troubling to see some bishops sending messages that give spiritual sanction to narrow partisan agendas promoted by staunch opponents of reform.”
Once the health care reform bill was signed, Korzen dismissed the authority of the bishops on healthcare reform by stating on Kresta, an Ave Maria radio program that, “ It’s important to remember that they (the bishops) really don’t speak with authority on this, and as Catholics, we are free to disagree with them…they don’t have any particular charism in that field.” Rather than trusting their bishops, Korzen advises Catholics that, “When I want to know what’s in a piece of legislation, I don’t consult folks who are experts in ecclesiology, I consult folks who are experts in health care. The Catholic Hospital Association is one of those organizations…”
It seems that Korzen might trust some Catholics whose expertise is in ecclesiology and theology though, when he invited those 47 theologians to speak with authority on health care reform. But then again, by enlisting the theologians in advising Catholics on what Catholic teaching “really says” about health care reform, Korzen places the theologians in the position of providing a kind of Alternative Magisterium—a role that many of them have already assumed. I think lawyers call that venue shopping.
Regardless of their motivations, the reality is that Keehan and Korzen have diminished the authority of the bishops in the health care debate. They have attempted to silence the voices of those Catholics who are concerned about public funding for abortion. And, they have provided permission to Catholic lawmakers to support a bill that will dramatically expand abortion. President Obama must really love these Catholics.
By Deal Hudson
There are only two facts Catholics need to know about the health care bill to decide it must be repealed. The bill signed by the President includes federal funding for abortion, and the Executive Order does nothing to remove that funding.
You don’t have to accept those facts on my authority – they have both been expressly asserted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
For those who have been led astray by the false and misleading statements of Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), the Catholic Health Association, Catholics United, and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, here is why the health care bill funds abortion (according to the USCCB):
Federal funds can be used for elective abortions in community health centers; federal funds will subsidize health care plans that cover abortions; and Americans are forced to pay for other people’s abortions even if they disagree morally.
Obama’s Executive Order, that gave Stupak comfort in supporting the bill – after months of stating his opposition – cannot, according to Cardinal George, president of the USCCB, serve as a “substitute for statutory provisions.”
Richard Doerflinger, from the USCCB pro-life office, explained it was the “unanimous view of our legal advisors and of the experts” that present laws concerning abortion as “construed by the courts would override any Executive Order or regulation.”
Given the unaltered abortion funding, the only recourse for Catholics is to work for a repeal of the legislation. What good is contained in the bill is far outweighed by the abortion funding and the lack of conscience protection.
Any justification of why this bill should not be repealed will necessarily involve proportionalist reasoning. One such argument being used by Catholic “progressives” is that the benefit of the universal coverage contained in the bill outweighs the impact of the abortion funding. As John Paul II explained in Veritatis Splendor (75), the proportionalist thinks in terms of the “greater good” or “lesser evil” which makes all moral norms “always relative and open to exceptions.”
The bishops’ explicit rejection of this specious reasoning is found in their explanation of why they opposed passing the bill in the first place. The USCCB statement of March 23 contained the following passage (emphasis added):
“Nevertheless, for whatever good this law achieves or intends, we as Catholic bishops have opposed its passage because there is compelling evidence that it would expand the role of the federal government in funding and facilitating abortion and plans that cover abortion. . . . If this new law is intended to prevent people from being complicit in the abortions of others, it is at war with itself.”
The moral argument for repealing the health care bill is no different. If Catholics in the U.S. support the implementation of this bill, rather than calling for its repeal, they will become, just as the bishops point out, complicit in millions of abortions.
A so-called “Repeal It” pledge has already been signed by 64 members of Congress. Some GOP leaders such as the senators from South Carolina, Lindsay Graham and Jim De Mint, are proposing a “repeal and replace” strategy.
The question of repeal necessarily reaches out toward the 2010 election. No doubt, the fate of health care will be determined by the outcome of many congressional races, perhaps leading to a Congress whose first item of business will be a repeal. Catholics will have a powerful reason – the protection of unborn life — to cast their votes behind candidates who promise to end abortion funding by repealing the legislation.
By Brenda Steele
In his Diocese of Madison, WI, Catholic Herald column, Bishop Robert Morlino answers the question, “Who is called to lead the people in faith?” He states unequivocally that it is NOT the Catholic Health Association nor the nuns who are members of NETWORK.
Bishop Morlino stated in his letter that the bishops are called to “teach, sanctify, and govern.” Even though they, like the rest of us, are sinners, the bishops are the successors to the Apostles, and, as such, have authority to “teach the word of Christ.” It is up to the faithful to accept their authority on Church teaching rather than view it as “opinion.”
The disobedience of the Catholic Health Association and NETWORK nuns to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ efforts to stop passage of the health care bill as long as it contained federal funding for abortion was a direct slap in their faces. Since when does a trade organization or a group of liberal nuns, not representing by the way, 59,000 nuns in America, hold more authority over Church teaching than our own bishops?
We can certainly disagree as to whether or not the bishops pushed soon enough or hard enough to ensure federal funding of abortion was removed from the health care bill. But, for organizations like the CHA and NETWORK, who call themselves Catholic, to call the shots is a travesty pure and simple. It was they who opened the door for “pro-life” Catholic Democrats to turn aside from true Church teaching to follow the “falseness” of their own disobedience.
Jack Smith at the Catholic Key Blog has more on Bishop Morlino’s letter.
From Jack Smith at the Catholic Key Blog comes an important report on a story from the diocesan newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Remember this is Nancy Pelosi’s diocese and one of the most “progressive” in the country.
Smith writes about a former friend and colleague, George Wesolek, who serves as Director of the Office of Public Policy and Social Concerns for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Wesolek, Smith explains, “is no conservative, but rather that type of thoroughgoing pro-life, Catholic social justice advocate that is much talked about but rarely evidenced.”
Wesolek wrote a column in Catholic San Francisco that Smith describes as dropping “a bomb.” Wesolek writes:
So now we have some nuns accusing the bishops of lying about abortion. Are you shocked? Don’t be because this has been going on for a long time.
For years, most of the leadership of the LCWR and the Catholic hospitals (most of which are owned by these very same LCWR leaders) have been advancing a view of Catholic social teaching that reflects a vision that they learned in the 60s and 70s – a tired feminism that distorts the role of women and has at its center the freedom of women to “choose” to kill the infants in their womb if they so desire.
This view rightly offers deep concern for justice for the poor and vulnerable, but like so many in this age-group, minimizes or trivializes the unborn. “Network,” the Washington, D.C. lobbying arm of the LCWR does not include pro-life legislation as part of its work. If it does at all, it distorts the term “pro-life” to be so ambiguous and far-reaching that it includes everything. Thus, the sisters can say with a straight face that the current health care legislation is “life-affirming.”
Read the rest here.