Monday, April 27, 2009

A Profile In Moral Courage: Mary Ann Glendon Refuses Notre Dame's Laetare Medal

The following is a letter to Fr. Jenkins from Mary Ann Glendon - professor of law at Harvard Law school, bioethics consultant to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, who in December 2008 was announced as the recipient of Notre Laetare Medal during the 2009 commencement exercises - to Notre Dame President Fr. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. She is an avid pro-life activist and was the lone bright spot in the entire Barack Obama commencement scandal. Due to concerns over the university's presentation of her appearance as a justification for the Obama invitation, she has decided to decline the honor and cancel her appearance at the Notre Dame commencement.

It is a scandal in its own right that the arrogance and obstinacy of Fr. Jenkins and the Notre Dame administration has forced a worthy honoree to decline the honor given to her. However, as the letter will show, Mary Ann Glendon puts her Catholic faith and her commitment to the truth ahead of prestige. The other major players in this whole sorry episode could stand to learn from her very Catholic example.

God bless you, Professor Glendon. May others have the moral courage to follow your example, and may that example serve as a stark reminder that the Church exists to help us attain a treasure that is not of this earth. Any goal short of attaining that treasure - and leading others to that treasure - is not a goal inspired by God.

In Jesus and Mary,

Dear Father Jenkins,

When you informed me in December 2008 that I had been selected to receive Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, I was profoundly moved. I treasure the memory of receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame in 1996, and I have always felt honored that the commencement speech I gave that year was included in the anthology of Notre Dame’s most memorable commencement speeches. So I immediately began working on an acceptance speech that I hoped would be worthy of the occasion, of the honor of the medal, and of your students and faculty.

Last month, when you called to tell me that the commencement speech was to be given by President Obama, I mentioned to you that I would have to rewrite my speech. Over the ensuing weeks, the task that once seemed so delightful has been complicated by a number of factors.

First, as a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree. This, as you must know, was in disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” and that such persons “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” That request, which in no way seeks to control or interfere with an institution’s freedom to invite and engage in serious debate with whomever it wishes, seems to me so reasonable that I am at a loss to understand why a Catholic university should disrespect it.

Then I learned that “talking points” issued by Notre Dame in response to widespread criticism of its decision included two statements implying that my acceptance speech would somehow balance the event:

• “President Obama won’t be doing all the talking. Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, will be speaking as the recipient of the Laetare Medal.”

• “We think having the president come to Notre Dame, see our graduates, meet our leaders, and hear a talk from Mary Ann Glendon is a good thing for the president and for the causes we care about.”

A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.

Finally, with recent news reports that other Catholic schools are similarly choosing to disregard the bishops’ guidelines, I am concerned that Notre Dame’s example could have an unfortunate ripple effect.

It is with great sadness, therefore, that I have concluded that I cannot accept the Laetare Medal or participate in the May 17 graduation ceremony.

In order to avoid the inevitable speculation about the reasons for my decision, I will release this letter to the press, but I do not plan to make any further comment on the matter at this time.

Yours Very Truly,

Mary Ann Glendon

Friday, April 24, 2009

Musings On Stem Cell Research, Artificial Fertility, And Artificial Contraception

As I begin writing this, I am listening to one of my old Steubenville professors, Dr. Patrick Lee, talk to Raymond Arroyo on EWTN's The World Over. The topic of discussion deals, among other things, with new Obama administration guidelines concerning embryonic stem cell research. In keeping with his anti-Catholic moral views, one of Barack Obama's first executive orders as President was to overturn George W. Bush's ban of government funding for researching new lines of embryonic stem cells, which are acquired through a variety of ways, including the purchase of eggs from women (to fertilize in a lab) and the acquisition of "leftover" fertilized eggs that resulted from in vitro fertilization and other artificial fertility methods.

Something Raymond Arroyo joked about in passing was the Obama administration's tendency to release to the public details about morally controversial administration decisions on Friday evenings and how this always results in Arroyo having all the latest news during the Friday night broadcasts of The World Over. Of course, "the most transparent administration in U.S. history" hardly does this to accommodate EWTN. The timing is usually in anticipation of the weekend news cycle, when such stories are most likely to pass unnoticed (and during which time they can be more easily buried by an obliging media). I thought I'd pass that detail along to those who like to keep up with the President's morally dubious policies, as it does indeed seem that Friday evenings are the time to learn about them.

It defies all logic for researchers to continue to insist on pursuing embryonic stem cell research as a way of curing diseases. To date, not one single cure has ever been derived from such research, which always requires the destruction of the embryo involved (and thus the destruction of a human life), whereas dozens of cures have been derived from the much more fruitful - and much more morally sound - adult line of stem cell research. And it cannot be argued that lack of progress in embryonic stem cell research can be blamed on Bush, as a) he made the unfortunate decision to allow government funding of lines of embryonic stem cell research already in existence at the time of his announcement in 2001, and b) Bush's funding ban applied to government funds only, and not to private funding, which is how most scientific breakthroughs are achieved. And make no mistake about it: private funds continued to be poured into what many scientists assured us was the most promising line of medical research for the cures of many horrible diseases. However, as Bush's term progressed, those private lines of funding slowly began to dry up, which was indicative of the fact that the research was not bearing any worthwhile fruit for investors.

It begs the question, then, of why the culture of death seems so hell-bent on pursuing stem cell research that destroys human life when a non-lethal and much more fruitful method of research (with adult stem cells) is readily available and constantly in need of funding?

Many scientists make the claim that embryonic stem cells are non-differentiated, meaning that in the embryonic phase these cells have not yet grown into the specialized cells that characterized the various organs and vital systems of the human body. As such, these embryonic stem cells are supposed to contain more "potential" for a wider variety of cures, whereas adult stem cells are already specialized and are therefore limited in the types of afflictions they can help cure. This is a disturbing line of thought, as it completely disregards the humanity of the embryo and is born of a "Brave New World" mentality. Far too many scientists are unconcerned with the ethical ramifications of their work, and to paraphrase the late Michael Crichton's fictional mathematician Ian Malcolm, such scientists spend so much time wondering if they can do something that they rarely if ever stop to think about whether or not they should.

While embryonic stem cells are a more unpredictable and less known commodity - and thus a more "appealing" subject of research for ethically oblivious scientists - adult stem cells are readily more available, as they can be obtained from living human beings. Our bodies constantly create these cells, providing a virtually unlimited supply. Embryonic stem cells, of course, destroy their source, making the need for new embryos constant. One has to be completely ignorant of the humanity of these embryos - or else truly intending to do evil - to go to great lengths to harvest mass quantities of them when adult stem cells can be so easily obtained.

While specific kinds of adult stem cells are more limited in the types of diseases they can cure, the variety of adult stem cells easily covers all fields of medicine. This fact all but negates the "potential" argument that supposedly favors embryonic stem cells. One is thus left to wonder if scientists who clamor for funding for embryonic stem cell research are more concerned with the research itself - the proverbial thrill of discovery - than they are with the practical applications of their research.

Nor can it be overlooked that advocacy of embryonic stem cell research tends to overlap quite nicely with advocacy of the evil of abortion. Now to be fair, there are many who as a policy oppose abortion but support embryonic stem cell research - John McCain and former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist are two very prominent examples - but this is more a testament to their moral confusion than it is to the merits of embryonic stem cell research. If you recognize that life begins at conception, there is no logical basis for you to support embryonic stem cell research (a contradiction John McCain has repeatedly made in public - have I mentioned how unfortunate I think it is that he of all people was chosen to oppose Barack Obama?).

Nor does the argument that "these embryos will never be born, so why not put them to good use serving others?" hold water. That opens up a whole new line of immoral reasoning, whereby individuals will deliberately create embryos that will never be born with the intention of using that very argument to proceed with their destruction for scientific research purposes. This is the harvesting of human beings - plain and simple.

One often-overlooked aspect of the Church's teaching of the sanctity and inviolability of human life deals with the relationship between the gift of life and the gift of human sexuality. The sexual gift serves the twofold purpose of being love giving - and therefore is to be restricted to a man and a woman who have made the public, lifelong commitment and complete gift of self to one another that is sanctified through the sacrament of holy matrimony - as well as life-giving. An important aspect of this teaching is that the conception of new life is reserved to the conjugal act alone.

In view of this teaching, it is no coincidence that the Church opposes artificial contraception, as it is the deliberate suppression of the life giving aspect of the sexual gift and reduces the sexual gift to a mere recreational tool for gratification (need I elaborate on how the secular world has proven this point, with extreme prejudice?).

It also follows that the Church opposes any kind of sexual gratification that exists outside the sexual act, including adultery, fornication, pornography, homosexual acts, and masturbation, as these undermine the love-giving aspect of the sexual gift (again, need I elaborate how these acts lead to a warped view of human sexuality among their practitioners?).

Moreover, it follows that the Church also opposes sexual acts between married couples that result in the individuals involved climaxing outside of the conjugal act. Indeed, such acts have been condemned by the Judeo-Christian tradition since Old Testament times, and even warrants mention in the Bible. They are given the name of coitus interruptus. It is the sin that is committed by Onan in Genesis 38:9-10. This act manifests itself in various ways that need not be described here, but it is important to understand that coitus interruptus is a necessary action in allowing artificial fertility methods to take place. However much people try to justify the "good" that can come about from this, one simply cannot commit evil in order to bring about a good, even if that good happens to be the creation of new life.

The Church teachings previously described have become well-known to Catholics, especially in light of events in the last few decades. What is less known but just as relevant to Catholic teaching on human sexuality and the gift of life is the Church's constant teaching that children are a gift from God, and never a right (as mentioned in a previous post, pregnancy is not a thing that man can fully control or fully separate from sexual activity, despite the dogged determination of many who seek to do just that). In vitro fertilization and other fertility methods are a perversion not only because they result in the conception of children outside the conjugal act - the conception of children being reserved by God for the conjugal act alone - but also because it is an example of man trying to take control of the creation of new life that is properly the domain of God.

The evidence that such actions are contrary to the will of God are legion. Not only are these methods directly linked to the harvesting of embryos for later use in life-destroying research, but they also lead to the practice of selective breeding. More and more, would-be parents are given the options for which kinds of genes they want from donors (in cases where one or the other spouse is incapable of conception) or from the petri dish (as the lab process of fertilizing eggs becomes more advanced, the suppression of certain genes inevitably gains momentum). This leads to a natural erosion of the appreciation of the intrinsic worth of individuals with "less desirable" traits - especially those born with physical and mental disabilities. It is precisely this depreciation of the intrinsic worth of the human person that is the end envisioned by the eugenics movement; and there are no words to describe what an egregious affront this is to the dignity of the human person. Artificial fertility methods are but another tool in realizing the demonic eugenicist ideal envisioned by the likes of Friedrich Nietzche, Margaret Sanger, and Adolf Hitler.

The ramifications of artificial contraception and artificial fertility - along with other artificial perversions of human sexuality, the inviolability of the gift of human life, and the dignity of the human person - lead to extremes even far more ominous than I have described. By understanding how these different issues relate to one another, we gain a much deeper understanding of why the Church opposes them. There are those in the world - many among them unwittingly - who are trying to involuntarily drag us into a reality reminiscent of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World or Ayn Rand's Anthem. There are limits to what science can accomplish as far as perverting the gifts of life and sexuality bestowed upon us by God, but that does not mean that we are not in danger of losing sight of our place relative to God. Let us, then, continue to remember who the real Author of creation is, and abide by the rules He has set forth to keep that creation going. To do otherwise is to lose sight not only of His divinity, but also of our own humanity. God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

Trustee of the 2009 Cannonball Awards (For Catholic Blogs) Now Accepting Nominations

This is the first I've heard of them, to be honest. Guess that's a testament to my relative ignorance of the increasingly more massive Catholic blogosphere. However, there are some very entertaining categories in the mix, such as "Best Potpourri of Popery," "Best Hifreakinlarious Blog," and "Best Armchair Theologian Blog," just to name a few. I doubt I'd qualify for anything other than "Most Diligent Blogger For A Readership Of Half A Dozen," but it seems like an entertaining venture.

Anyway, here's the link. Enjoy, and God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

It's Not Just Notre Dame, By The Way: Georgetown University Honors Pro-Abortion VP Joe Biden

As far as universities with Catholic charters go, Georgetown University has long ranked among the most embarrassing. I made mention of the university's disgraceful treatment of 2003 commencement speaker Francis Cardinal Arinze - a man who should be invited to many, many more commencements - in a previous post. When it comes to orthodoxy, Georgetown's theology department merits little more than a punchline. As with any school, there are bright spots in the university, but they are not to be found within the administration.

The latest stunt by the university? Honoring VP and latae sententiae excommunicate Joe Biden. Only in this case the Georgetown Journal of Gender and Law (don't names like that just make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end?) not only violated the directives of the USCCB, it also acted in formal cooperation with a secular pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage group, Legal Momentum.

I haven't really commented on this one as much as the Notre Dame scandal. This is not because it is any less egregious in its level of outrage, but because I have become so jaded by Georgetown that I expect no better from them; and since Georgetown's reputation has been considerably more tarnished among Catholics than Notre Dame's, there is less potential there for widespread deception of the faithful. That said, this scandal is every bit as meritorious of denunciation.

Amazing that the oldest Catholic university in the United States, founded by Fr. John Carroll, the first Bishop of the United States, could have sunk this low. Yet that is inevitably what happens when one seeks the approval of the princes of this world ahead of the approval of the King of Heaven. God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

Fr. Tom Euteneuer, HLI President and Notre Dame Graduate, Weighs In On The Obama Commencement Scandal

The wonderful priest and head of the pro-life group Human Life International is bound to have an opinion on his alma mater inviting the best friend Planned Parenthood has ever had in the Oval Office to speak at its commencement ceremonies. This is another very worthwhile read, as Fr. Euteneuer goes beyond criticism of Fr. Jenkins and the Notre Dame Board of Trustees and calls out Fr. Jenkins' superior among the Holy Cross Fathers, Fr. Hugh Cleary, who neglected his moral obligation to call for Fr. Jenkins' resignation as President of Notre Dame and instead issued a non-committal statement reminiscent of Pontius Pilate. The text of Fr. Euteneuer's statement can be found below. Happy reading, and God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

Human Life International e-Newsletter
Volume 04, Number 16 | Friday, April 24, 2009
Shake Down the Thunder on Notre Dame

"Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame! Wake up the echoes cheering her name. Send a volley cheer on high; shake down the thunder from the sky. What though the odds be great or small, old Notre Dame will win over all, while her loyal sons go marching onward to victory."
(Notre Dame Fight Song)

I used to sing these words with tremendous zeal while a student at Notre Dame (ND) in the '80s and especially as a member of the ND Glee Club for a year. How proud we were to belt out this most famous of college fight songs and rally the troops for battle on the gridiron - and elsewhere! ND alumni do not need to be reminded how deeply embedded in our hearts this tune and these words are; we only need to be assured that they still mean what they indicate: namely, that Notre Dame's loyal sons are still "marching onward to victory" (of Catholic orthodoxy, that is.)

The decision of Notre Dame President, Fr. John Jenkins, to invite our nation's abortion-promoter-in-chief to speak at the May 17th commencement is such an egregious violation of our loyalty to our alma mater that it's hard to see how these words actually to Notre Dame apply any more. Who wants to "wake up the echoes cheering her name" now? Fr. Jenkins has just shaken down a sort of spiritual thunder on what used to be the country's premier Catholic university, and woe to him and the rest of the ND leadership for their decision to put Notre Dame definitively outside the scope of Catholic orthodoxy. It's worse than that, of course, because Fr. Jenkins and his team have reaffirmed time and again, in the face of massive protests, their commitment to having President Obama speak at graduation and to receiving an honorary doctorate. It just doesn't get more tragic than that.

Let's be honest: all the hand wringing and justification for Fr. Jenkins' decision is just fluff. Despite the unprecedented tour de force of close to fifty US bishops objecting to this travesty, Fr. Jenkins's claim that his decision is "consistent" with the bishops' 2004 directive on speakers at Catholic colleges - simply because Barack Obama is not a Catholic - is, well, absurd on its face. No person in his right mind buys it.

And that's the point - Notre Dame leadership is not "in its right mind" any more. The ones who made or endorsed this decision are not thinking with the mind of the Church let alone the Mind of Christ. This doesn't just apply to Fr. Jenkins either. It also applies to his superior, Fr. Hugh Cleary, who has an obligation to demand Jenkins' immediate resignation from his post to end this scandal but who chose instead to make a sappy, glowing, politically-correct statement which dares call this hurtful fiasco a "teachable moment."

No, Father Cleary - a "teachable moment" would be your removing Fr. Jenkins from office to show the world that the Church really means what she says in calling abortion an "abominable crime." (Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, 51)

As far as I am concerned, a thunder of judgment has just been shaken down on Notre Dame, its Board of Directors and any faculty, students or alumni who endorse the decision to bring Barack Obama to Notre Dame's campus to sully Our Lady's good name and our deepest loyalties.

Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,
President, Human Life International

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

As Long As We're On The Subject Of Notre Dame And Fr. Jenkins...

A group of alumni have finally taken the bold step of withholding donations to the University of Notre Dame until such a time as Fr. John I. Jenkins is removed from the office of President of the university, and are inviting other alumni not only to make the same pledge, but to announce how much they are withholding so the Board of Trustees has a clear idea of the negative financial impact to the university so as long as Fr. Jenkins remains. As I have become a very vocal advocate for Fr. Jenkins' removal, I wholeheartedly support this effort.

You can go to their website by clicking here.

And now, I bid you adieu. I have decided to take up my pillow's invitation. Good night, and God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

Bishop D'Arcy Of Fort Wayne-South Bend Issues Correction To Fr. Jenkins' Severely Flawed Justifications For Obama Commencement Invite

The text of Bishop D'Arcy's response can be found here, courtesy of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocesan website.

I must say, I found this statement especially gratifying. I can understand why the Bishop's heart was heavy as he wrote this, but this is one of the finer examples of a pastoral correction I've come across recently. Kudos to His Excellency for faithfully carrying out his duty as a shepherd!

By the way, I thought it would be nice to mention the current headcounts for two petition drives related to this scandal. As of this posting, they are as follows:

Cardinal Newman Society petition (opposing Obama's invitation), of which I am a proud signatory: 331,125

"We Support Notre Dame" petition (supporting Obama's invitation), begun by Catholics United and its affiliates: 34,383

My brothers and sisters, continue to make your voices heard. If you haven't already, please sign the petition opposing the scandal perpetrated by the University of Notre Dame administration. And please continue to give your support to Notre Dame Response (whose efforts to meet with Fr. Jenkins in person to discuss their concerns have thus far been rejected). God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

Monday, April 20, 2009

Catholics United Reasserts Primary Allegiance To Caesar, Describes Censorship Of Sacred Catholic Symbols As Mere "Stage Decorating"

All right, let's take it from the top.

I've previously commented on Catholics United here, here, and here. I trust that by now regular readers of my blog harbor no illusions that Catholics United is anything other than a radically leftist political front group.

The most recent thing to stir them to action involves a recent controversy at Georgetown University, which hosted Barack Obama for an April 14 speech on the economy. Though it is the oldest university in the United States with a Catholic charter, any resemblance between the Hoyas and orthodox Catholicism is purely coincidental, and generally frowned upon by the powers-that-be at Georgetown University. It came as no surprise, therefore, that when Obama requested that the university cover up all non-American symbols on the stage where he was to speak, the university readily agreed, even going so far as to cover up the initials IHS - symbolic of Jesus Christ Himself - per Obama's specifications. Obama apologists have been trying to argue that there was no offense meant to Catholics by this, as Obama requested all non-American symbols be removed from the stage where he spoke. The argument, of course, rings hollow because in a Catholic setting, virtually all symbols are religious and meant to remind those present that Jesus Christ takes a backseat to no man. It is not acceptable, therefore, to suppress religious symbols to accommodate secular authorities, a fact that was almost certainly considered and discarded as irrelevant by the Obama camp.

This outrageous accommodation, though it came from an institution well accustomed to such outrages, nevertheless merited scathing denunciation. It was with this in mind that on Thursday, April 16, The Catholic League issued the following statement:

"When President Barack Obama spoke at Georgetown University on April 14, the White House requested that all religious symbols and signage that might appear as a backdrop to where the president was to speak be covered up. Georgetown acceded to the request and made sure that the symbol “IHS,” a monogram of the name Jesus Christ, was not in sight.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue spoke to this issue today:

“The cowardice of Georgetown to stand fast on principle tells us more than we need to know about what is going on there, but the bigger story is the audacity of the Obama administration to ask a religious school to neuter itself before the president speaks there. No bishop who might speak at the White House would ever request that a crucifix be displayed behind him. Moreover, the same church and state fanatics who go nuts every time a polling place is set up in the basement of a Catholic school have been noticeably silent over this incident.

“Obama will be speaking at Notre Dame, and receiving an honorary award, on May 17. Will his advance team ask Notre Dame to scrub the campus clean of religious symbols? Or just the ones that might appear behind the podium? Obama is in enough trouble with Catholics—over his pro-abortion executive orders and appointees, his position on embryonic stem cell research and his war on the conscience rights of healthcare workers—that it seems almost suicidal for his administration to push the envelope one more time. This is getting old fast.”"


Catholics United, which has remained conspicuously silent on all manner of sacrilegious acts and other anti-Catholic outrages, is never so stoic when it comes to criticism of their beloved Caesar. Predictably, they posted a criticism of Bill Donohue on their own website the very next day. Under a blog post entitled, "Catholics United Challenges Bill Donohue to Debate Catholics Values and the Economy," Director of Organization and communications director James Salt wrote the following (all grammatical errors in the following statement are fully his):

"Asks Donohue for a more substantive debate than criticizing stage decorations.

In response to the far-right’s misleading attack on the White House preparations for Obama’s appearance at Georgetown University on Tuesday, Catholics United communications director James Salt issued the following statement:

“Far-right Catholic groups have become so irrelevant that they’ve reduced themselves to complaining about the stage setting at Obama’s April 14th appearance at Georgetown University. As the new Administration and Congress seek to fight unemployment, rescue the banks and end the senseless conflict in Iraq, all Bill Donohue and his friends at Fox News and the Drudge Report can do is complain about the President’s set decoration?

Americans are tired of this ideologically-driven nonsense. The American people - including Catholics – have made it clear that they want us to move past the political antics of fear and distraction to solve our nation’s urgent problems. Catholics United challenges Bill Donohue to a debate on how Catholic values should influence the economic recovery plan.’"


Allow me to provide a brief lexicon to help decipher Mr. Salt's text:

- "American:" Anyone who supports politically correct interests. All others are lumped in with the "far-right."

- "Catholic:" Anyone who favors a Catholic model in which: women, homosexuals, and those who are married are allowed to become priests; abortion, contraception, homosexual acts, and any other form of sexual gratification outside of marriage is seen as moral; the Pope, the Bishops, and other leaders are democratically elected by an uninformed and easily manipulated electorate; there is no talk of sin unless it is of a corporate nature or in reference to disagreement with politically correct interests; salvation has more to do with this life than the life that is to come, which is preferably never mentioned; and Jesus is seen not as a fully human, fully divine member of the Blessed Trinity, but rather as a hip philosopher who would have felt more at home at the Woodstock festival than in a temple. All self-identified Catholics who do not favor this model are uniformly lumped in with the "far-right".

- "Drudge Report:" A single internet news source that specializes in providing links to news stories that are of particular interest to enemies of politically correct interests and which are generally a source of embarrassment to politically correct interests. Often held up as a reason for why the internet needs to be regulated by politically correct interests.

- "Far-right:" A vague term generally referring to anyone who fails to enthusiastically and uncritically support Barack Obama's and Catholics United's agenda in its entirety. Often used to describe individuals provably to the right of Michael Moore. Deemed domestic terrorists by politically correct interests.

- "Fight unemployment:" To create economic conditions that maximize the number of individuals who depend on the federal government for their primary or sole means of sustenance. Deemed a priority by politically correct interests.

- "FOX News:" The only major news outlet not completely dominated by politically correct interests. The suppression of this rogue news source has been deemed a priority by politically correct interests.

- "Ideologically-driven nonsense:" Any attempts to highlight any affront to Catholicism in the words and actions of individuals with views similar to those held by Catholics United and those of a like mind. Deemed unacceptable use of language by politically correct interests.

- "Irrelevant:" A term used in reference to all those outspoken opponents of politically correct interests. Whenever possible, Catholics United and those of a like mind prefer to take the ignore-them-and-they-will-go-away approach with such individuals rather than answer their arguments. Use of the term "irrelevant" is part of that approach.

- "Misleading:" Any attempts to cast the actions of Catholics United and those of a similar ideology in anything other than a glowingly positive light. Deemed unacceptable use of language by politically correct interests.

- "Our nation's urgent problems:" Any problem that can provide a convenient distraction from "political antics of fear and distraction."

- "Political antics of fear and distraction:" The act of identifying or referencing truths deemed uncomfortable by or incriminating to politically correct interests. Deemed unacceptable use of language by politically correct interests.

- "Rescue the banks:" To impose financially disastrous demands on independently owned and operated banks so as to place said banks in dire financial straights, thus allowing the federal government to step in and regulate them in perpetuity, with no possibility of allowing these banks to return to independent ownership and operative status. Deemed a priority by politically correct interests.

- "Senseless conflict:" Any conflict instigated by opponents of politically correct interests. Deemed especially senseless if it causes those who commit crimes against humanity to be held accountable for their actions.

- "Set decoration:" See "Stage decoration."

- "Stage decoration:" A way of describing the use of items for the purpose of covering up all religious symbols, so as to keep President Obama from having to share the stage with any of his fellow Messiahs.

- "Stage setting:" See "Stage decoration."

There is an added bit of irony to James Salt's statement. Mr. Salt was the previously unnamed member of Catholics United who attempted to silence my criticism of Barack Obama's anti-Catholic agenda. My response to Mr. Salt's unseemly action was to challenge him to a debate on the merits of a Catholic case for and against support of Barack Obama and his agenda. I posted this challenge in several venues. Among them was Facebook, the place where he first accosted me about my criticisms of Obama. His response to my challenge was to drop me as a Facebook friend and to cut off all contact with me. Now that he has issued a challenge to debate Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, I know that there are no involuntary obstacles preventing him from engaging in debates. My original challenge to debate stands; and I will here reissue that challenge, in the hopes that Mr. Salt will break his self-imposed silence (which, as of the time of this posting, has lasted 43 days) and answer my challenge. I await his response...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Habemus Papam!

This Divine Mercy Sunday marks exactly four years since we heard those blessed words that marked the election of Pope Benedict XVI. It was a special day for all of us; and coming as it did after one of the longest papacies in Church history, it was the first papal conclave experienced by an entire generation of Catholics.

It was, for me, technically the third conclave of my life; but since I was only a year and a half old during the two fateful conclaves separated by a month in 1978, it was the first conclave of which I have any memory.

It seems like just yesterday. Here we were, still reeling from the news of the sanctioned murder of Terri Schiavo, only to learn that Pope John Paul II - our Holy Father for more than half a century - was now in the last days of his amazing life. For any Catholic, it was a "Where were you?" moment in history.

I was living in a rented house in Steubenville at the time, and was keeping up with the live broadcasts on FOX News and EWTN from home. In the early afternoon of Friday, April 1, reports circulated that the Pope had breathed his last. It proved to be a false rumor, and for once not an intentional April Fools' joke. The man born Karol Wojtyla would actually live for another day. Then, at approximately 3 PM on Saturday, April 2, after days of round-the-clock vigil, I saw the news bulletin that an official press release had been issued by the Vatican - our Holy Father had gone to his eternal reward.

It was a day of mourning for the entire world as well as the Church. That said, it is difficult to explain to anyone who was not in a similar situation what effect the death of a Pope has in a heavily Catholic environment like Franciscan University and its surrounding community. My roommate and I decided to go to the 4 PM Saturday vigil Mass at St. Peter's Catholic Church in downtown Steubenville. It was painful walking into the Church and seeing the tears flowing on so many faces. The celebrant priest broke the news to those that had not yet heard. It was one of the most solemn occasions I've ever been part of.

After the Mass, my roommate and I remained in prayer for some time. I finished my prayers first, and as I rose from my knees and looked around the Church I spotted a young lady in the back of the Church who was obviously trying to get my attention. Leaving my roommate to his prayers, I walked towards the vestibule to meet her. It turned out she was a photographer for the local newspaper, the Steubenville Herald Star. She had come to the Church to get some images for the story that would be in the paper the next day concerning the Pope's death, and had taken some photos of us as we knelt in prayer. She asked for permission to use the photos. After speaking with my roommate, I agreed, and thought nothing more of the matter. She had, after all, taken a number of photos, and I imagined she had more photogenic images than the back side of an overweight balding man kneeling in prayer. At worst, I figured it would end up as a grainy black and white photo on page 8 of the metro section of the paper. Imagine my surprise, then, when our neighbor showed up at our doorstep the next afternoon with a copy of the Sunday paper. There, in a gigantic color photo that took up half of the front page of the paper, where my roommate and I, kneeling in prayer after Mass the day before. On the one hand, it is humbling to be forever associated with such an important piece of history in such a manner. On the other hand, there were a number of lovelier images to which I would much more gladly have subjected the readers of the Herald Star in relation to such a memorable event.

The next few weeks were a somber affair on campus. Masses, Vespers, prayer services, and a large number of other activities all featured prominent images of our dearly departed Holy Father in the prime of his papacy, with a bouquet of flowers next to the image and votive candles and kneelers available for those who wanted to offer up prayers for the repose of the Holy Father's soul. Classes went on as usual, with the occasional speculation of who the next Pope might be, but largely focusing on the theological issues at hand. One morning, Dr. Mark Miravalle walked into our Christian Spirituality class, and prefaced the lecture with a rendering of the interview he'd had that morning on the FOX News program Fox and Friends with Steve Doocy and Kiran Chetry. On live national television he was asked, among other things, if the new Pope might "soften" the Church's stance on the use of condoms in Africa to "combat" the AIDS epidemic (reminding us that, despite FOX News' clear superiority as a news source relative to its sorry competitors in the cable news business, it is still very much owned and operated by secular interests).

The conclave to elect a new Pope began on Monday, April 18. Everyone expected a long, drawn out affair, what with all the apparent political intrigue going on among the members of the Church's hierarchy (seriously, non-Catholic news sources - and many self-professed Catholic news sources, for that matter - are absolutely worthless when it comes to learning anything worthwhile about Catholic matters not already addressed by the Vatican).

That Tuesday, I went to class as usual, and the first two classes of the day came and went without incident. As I was getting ready to leave Dr. Miravalle's Christian Spirituality class, I spied my friend Mikhail in the hallway, and he motioned at me to get my attention. I stepped into the hallway, only to have him mouth something incoherent at me. I asked him to speak up, and he said in a quiet voice, "We have a Pope!" From that moment on, the campus of Franciscan University was in an absolute state of chaos. I rushed back into my classroom, told the 15-20 students still lingering that an as-yet unnamed man had been elected Pope, waited for the seconds it took for the classroom to clear, collected my friend Bob (blind since birth and celebrating his birthday on that fateful day - Happy Birthday, Bob!), and made for the nearest source of cable, the J.C. Williams center, as quickly as possible.

The half-walk, half-run from the classroom building to the Williams Center is something I will never forget. There was an absolute stampede of bodies rushing from our direction and from the direction of the dorms to the Center. Clearly, no one wanted to be late for the announcement. Even Bob, who usually let me lead the way any time we walked anywhere together, was urging me to go faster down a relatively steep hill so we could be there on time. The scene reminded me of those old Gateway computer commercials where all the deliverymen, computer boxes in tow, were running in an open grass field to their respective destinations. This sort of thing only happens in places like Steubenville, and I imagine that only the scene in Rome - where people were getting out of their stalled cars in rush hour traffic to make it to the Vatican in time for the announcement - was more chaotic.

When we made it into the center, there were easily 500+ people crowded around 3 medium-sized TVs, intently watching the images of white smoke coming from the chimney and the empty balcony from which the announcement would be made. The conversation level was what you would expect for a relatively small room containing so many people. It continued that way for about 10-15 minutes, until Cardinal Protodeacon Jorge Medina Estevez appeared on the balcony, at which point the entire room became deathly quiet. The Cardinal recited the usual lines associated with the election of a new Pope, and spoke in Italian for the benefit of the masses gathered in St. Peter's Square. The moment he uttered the words "Habemus Papam!" the room quickly went berserk, and then just as quickly went quiet to hear the rest of the announcement. I wouldn't have believed it possible had I not been there myself.

I had, for my part, hoped to hear the name of Francis Cardinal Arinze, thinking that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, at the age of 78, would be deemed too old to be a candidate. I'm not sure why I thought that, exactly; but I know I wasn't the only one. Nevertheless, when Cardinal Estevez uttered the name "Josephum", I raised my hand in glee. When the name "Ratzinger" was uttered shortly thereafter, that tiny room of 500 people nearly caused me permanent hearing loss. Uncontrolled jubilation, absolute pandemonium, unrestrained joy...none of these things can do justice to the mood in that room at that moment. I will forever be glad that I was there to raise voice in union with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in joyful celebration at having a Holy Father once again.

The deafening volume lowered just enough to allow us to hear the name "Benedictum" to be heard. I saw some people jogging their memories, then whispers of "Benedict XVI" went around, and then the onslaught of joyous noise resumed. I would be very surprised if anyone in that room was able to speak above a conversational tone for the rest of the day. The only concern I had that day was whether or not I would still have enough of a voice to deliver my presentation in Dr. Alan Schreck's Historical Foundations class the following Thursday.

I left the J.C. William center that day about as giddy as I have ever felt (Bob went home with another friend who lived nearby. On my birthdays I get a few phone calls and a few cards. On Bob's birthday, he gets a new Pope. Ah well, you can't begrudge a man the accident of his birth :-). As I was walking back in the general direction of the classrooms, I ran into my friend and classmate Alan, one of the finest Englishmen I have ever known (a fact that I doubt will change if and when I get to meet very many Englishmen). I think my giddy Daffy Duck impersonation (hoo hoo! hoo hoo! hoo hoo!) entertained him immensely. Or maybe it was the suddenly jubilant mood of the day. Hard to say. Few of us had room at that moment for anything resembling rational thought.

I wondered if classes would be taught the rest of the day in light of the new cause for celebration. It turned out that they were. My only remaining class that day was Theological Foundations, taught by none other than Dr. Scott Hahn (I promise, no more name-dropping for the remainder of this post. It was a joy to see him again yesterday at the Catholic Men's Conference, by the way). I am eternally grateful that class was not cancelled that day. Dr. Hahn was no more in the mood for a lecture than any of the rest of us. Instead, he asked us for our reactions to the day's events, then proceeded to tell us the story of the two times he got to meet Cardinal Ratzinger in person. At the time, Dr. Hahn had written the forewords to the English translations to two of Cardinal Ratzinger's books. Each time one of those books was published, Dr. Hahn happened to take his personal copy with him to Rome (where he always went during Franciscan University's spring break to teach a week-long course). In both cases, Dr. Hahn had been assigned the same liaison. In both cases, he and his liaison were dining in the same restaurant during a relatively slow hour for business. In both cases, Cardinal Ratzinger came into the same restaurant with an entourage. In both cases, Dr. Hahn's liaison - who knew Cardinal Ratzinger personally - introduced them (the second time, Kimberly Hahn was present for the introductions). And in both cases, the future Pope signed copies of the books he wrote and which contained Dr. Hahn's forewords.

Dr. Hahn credits the man who is now Pope Benedict XVI with being the single greatest influence in his own theological studies. It was evident in his face that day as he told us of the two different chance meetings. The look on Dr. Hahn's face was childlike, just what you would expect from someone telling the story of when he got to meet one of his personal heroes. It added a personal touch to the day's events. Of the many joyous events I had in three years of living in Steubenville, only the joy felt on the day of my graduation can rival the joy that I felt on the day when, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we were given a new Pope.

Thank you for four wonderful years, Papa Benedetto. Your flock loves you. God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

Friday, April 17, 2009


I found this on Mark Shea's blog, and I couldn't resist. It is a nightmare that eventually all religious-minded bloggers have...

In fairness, I should add that the abuse orthodox Catholic bloggers are subjected to should count as redemptive suffering. Please, Lord, let it count as redemptive suffering...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Obama Administration Now Labels Pro-Life Groups As Threats To National Security, Warns Against Unspecified Domestic "Right-Wing Extremist" Violence


Of course, it could just be a coincidence that this report happened to be issued by liberal bureaucrats during the watch of the most radically leftist President in United States history. For my part, though, I sleep a bit better at night knowing that domestic gun sales to law-abiding citizens have skyrocketed since Obama's election.

Not that the Marxist-in-chief would try to impose his will on an unarmed populace or anything. I mean, socialism never tramples on individual liberties, does it?

Monday, April 13, 2009

10 Holy Cross Priests Add Their Voices To The Growing Opposition To Obama's Notre Dame Invite

Read their joint statement here. Hat tip to Mark Shea.

I can only imagine the grief that the member priests of a religious order must feel when one of their own violates the vows they took upon ordination. I have said it before, and I shall say it again: so long as Fr. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., remains President of the University of Notre Dame, the damage done by this commencement debacle to the university's reputation as a flagship American Catholic university will never be fully repaired. More Holy Cross fathers such as the signatories of the above letter must step up and return Notre Dame to its classical liberal arts and orthodox Catholic roots. If Fr. Jenkins, or men of similar measure, continue to run the university into the ground doctrinally and spiritually, then the Obama commencement debacle will prove to be the merely the latest in a long line of past, present, and future scandals of increasingly greater and more vulgar magnitude perpetrated by the university.

Please supports the efforts of Notre Dame Response and other groups who are lining up to combat this scandal. In many ways, the integrity of American Catholic higher education hangs in the balance. God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Take It For What It's Worth, But...

I did a random search of dissident "Catholic" websites (as their names popped into my mind) and looked through the pages of the following 10 groups:

- ARCC (Association for Rights of Catholics in the Church)
- Call to Action
- Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good
- Catholics United
- Dignity USA
- FutureChurch
- National Coalition of American Nuns
- Pax Christ USA
- Voice of the Faithful
- Women's Ordination Conference

(As an aside, you can do a Google search to find the websites for these groups. I have no desire to link to them personally.)

It occurred to me that ministries dedicated to promoting Catholic truth and spirituality would devote at least a portion of their site to messages relating to the Lenten or Easter seasons during the appropriate time of year. My search of the above 10 sites showed only one group (Dignity USA) contained a link to a message relating to the Easter season on their primary page. Catholics in Alliance had 2 posts on their blog that referenced Easter (though linked from the primary page, the link titles do not explicitly state that they are related to Easter), one of them quickly segueing into the "second most important event of the week," the start of the Major League Baseball season (the other essentially quoted a prayer from an ancient liturgical rite). Beyond that, my admittedly superficial search of these sites turned up no references to Lent or Easter. Instead, most of these sites - when not engaging in out-and-out criticism of the Church's hierarchy - focused on secular news and encouraging visitors to engage in politically-related activism.

As I mentioned above, take that for what you will. It just seems to me that any self-identified Catholic ministry would devote at least a portion of Easter Sunday to address the most important feast in the Church's liturgical calendar. God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

The Wage Of Sin Is Death. The Wage Of The Death Of He Who Was Without Sin? Life.

True love never comes without a cross to bear; but it also brings such joy as to make all the suffering worthwhile.

It is only fitting, then, that the greatest love came with the greatest cross to bear. Our Lord suffered, died, and was buried on a Friday afternoon.

It is even more fitting that beyond the greatest cross lay the greatest joy. On Sunday morning, Our Lord proved that death itself could not diminish divine love or divine joy.

When Christ arose, He not only conquered death, He enabled all of creation to enjoy life anew. The new Adam redeemed all that the original Adam had corrupted.

For us, of course, it isn't quite that simple. We lack the power to conquer death on our own. But on this day, the greatest act of love in all of eternity came to final fruition; and He who is love invited us all to embrace Him in the embrace that brings everlasting life. But it is for us to exercise our God-given free will to embrace Him freely; and to pray that on the day death takes us from this life, that we may die in His embrace and be brought before the eternal beatific glory of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ is risen today! Alleluia!!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Please Pray For Persecuted Catholic Journalist Robert Kumpel

The worst part of this story is that Kumpel is being unjustly persecuted by an unforgiving and unrelenting Catholic bureaucracy, and that this bureaucracy apparently has the backing of the local Bishop, who has upheld the measures taken against Kumpel. You can find the details of the story in the following story background blog post from the Roman Catholic blog, a personal testimonial from Mr. Kumpel in a Renew America article, and through a blog post from The Curt Jester blog.

To hold a grudge against someone (though it runs counter to the Christian call to forgive) is one thing. To deny access to daily Mass and the Sacraments to someone who has done nothing to warrant de facto interdict or excommunication is quite a different story. God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

Thursday, April 9, 2009

And Bowing His Head, He Breathed His Last...

Now that it is officially past midnight (and I have been recruited at the last minute to recite the part of Simon of Cyrene during the Living Stations of the Cross), I would like to take a moment to share my thoughts on the importance of this day.

When I was a small child (in terms of age, as I was apparently never actually small) and still living in Puerto Rico, I remember that during each Good Friday, all of the local TV stations became 24/7 broadcasts for movies relating to the Passion of Our Lord. I remember being annoyed by this at the time, since I was deprived of an opportunity to watch my morning shows when I finally had a day off from school (at least it was still called Good Friday back then, and not "Spring Weekend" as secular interests now demand of public schools). My annoyance quickly gave way to curiosity, however, as I saw the same thing over and over again and started to ask questions about the meaning behind such a continuous running of the same story. Of course, I was a small child, and those who bothered to answer my questions were not exactly the best-informed sources (though I still appreciate their efforts); but I can honestly say that I became fascinated by the movies, and often would pass judgment (no pun intended) on which movies looked the best, which actors best looked the part, etc. (again, small child, and not adept at analyzing acting ability, so whoever looked the best was the best).

25 years, a language change, and a master's in theology later, I still find myself asking questions as I watch the Passion-related movies that network and cable stations still bother to broadcast on TV (to my dismay, it is now 6 years and counting with no confirmed sighting of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ on network or cable TV, though I welcome the opportunity to be corrected on that point). Of course, now I have only myself and a few theologically inclined friends to talk to about the really tough questions; and instead of a child-like acceptance of what I am told, I analyze, over-analyze, and then do some more analyzing of every answer I receive. This tendency has proven to be the closest I can come to imitating the sufferings of Our Lord on the long and winding road from Gethsemane to Calvary, as I drive myself absolutely nuts trying to analyze this and that. I am thankful at least that something always happens to make me step back and see the larger picture. And what a picture!

Even the brutal treatment Christ receives in Gibson's Passion cannot come close to doing justice to what Christ really experienced. For our sins, the devil demanded a price that we could not pay. Jesus, fully man and fully God, chose to sacrifice Himself for us - not because the debt had to be paid, not because He was ordered by the Father to do so, but because He so loved us that He could not bear the thought of us not being reconciled to His beloved Father in Heaven. Being fully God, He was infinitely worth more than the price the devil demanded for our sins. Being fully man, He knew He would suffer grievously for us. During the events of the Passion, we must remember that it was not just brutal executioners physically torturing Christ. Christ realized he was fulfilling Simeon's prophecy: He, the King of kings, had become a sign that was rejected by the very people to whom His Father had promised a king. He felt the brutal sting of that rejection, just as keenly as he felt the abuse of the executioners, for He loved them all immeasurably and was dying for them as well.

Christ suffered on all fronts. In the worldly realm, He was subjected to the most brutal tortures then know to man. In the otherworldly realm, He had presented Himself as a sacrifice to the evil one. The devil had one chance - one chance in the whole of eternity - to destroy Christ. And he who hates all, he who hates above all others the One who loves above all others, mustered all of the power of hell to destroy God the Son. Christ alone, among all men, felt the full fury of the devil's wrath. Christ alone, among all men, was not given the divine protection without which the devil would consume us and all of creation with an unquenchable fire of hatred. Christ alone, among all men, learned what it meant to experience the full onslaught of all the evil that has ever existed.

That is the price He paid. That is the agony He underwent, freely and with no obligation to do so. He did it for us. He would have done it just for you. He would have done it just for me. He would have done it just for Caiaphas, the chief earthly architect of his condemnation. He would have done it just for Pilate, who washed his hands and turned a blind eye to the carnage that had already taken place and the carnage that would ensue. He would have done it just for Judas, of whom He had already said that it would have been better for him if he had never been born. Such is the measure of love beyond measure.

We all know what happened on Sunday morning. It was proof that Satan's onslaught failed. It was proof that Satan's acceptance of Jesus' sacrifice cost him souls beyond measure. But on this day, the world groaned, for a Savior was put to death; and it was all inspired by a love that death itself could not extinguish. God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

"We Support Notre Dame" Founders Not As Non-Partisan As They Appear

It turns out that, in response to the growing (and much-deserved) criticism of the University of Notre Dame and its President, Fr. John I. Jenkins, for inviting Barack Obama to speak at Notre Dame's 2009 commencement (and receive an honorary law degree), a support group has arisen to back the university's decision. "We Support Notre Dame" is a collective effort of four groups - Notre Dame Alums in Support of Fr. Jenkins (a Facebook group), Faithful America (a self-described multireligious effort that was essentially created to fan the flames of outrage over the Abu Ghraib prison scandal), Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and - surprise, surprise! - Catholics United. It's really three groups, as Catholics in Alliance and Catholics United are mirror groups founded by the same individuals.

The de facto voice of "We Support Notre Dame" is that of Tom Mattzie, who in television appearances relating to this issue identifies himself only as a Notre Dame graduate. In offering his support for the university's decision to invite Obama, Mattzie offers the usual platitudes: abortion is only one issue among many (the infamous "seamless garment" approach), Obama is in line with Catholic teaching on many issues, his is a historic Presidency, commencement invites should be opportunities for dialogue, etc.

What Mattzie fails to mention in his appearances is his long and storied career as a liberal political operative. His name is linked to several Democrat campaigns, he is a frequent contributor to left-wing blogs such as The Daily Kos and The Huffington Post, and he has been involved with a whole laundry list of notoriously liberal political advocacy and 527 groups, including the above-mentioned Faithful America (which he founded), the short-lived Americans Against Escalation in Iraq (which he also founded), Accountable America (also founded), and - most notoriously - the George Soros-funded (which he ran during the 2004 campaign cycle). Bear that in mind any time his name is linked to a supposedly non-partisan effort.

It turns out, by the way, that Mattzie isn't the only member of "We Support Notre Dame" with connections to George Soros. According to an October 20, 2008 press release, the The Catholic League states that George Soros "is connected to two apologists for abortion rights, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United. In 2006, Soros’ Open Society Institute gave Catholics in Alliance $100,000 (double the amount he gave in 2005), and in the same year Catholics in Alliance listed Catholics United on its 990 as an organization with which it has a formal relationship. John Podesta, who runs the Soros-funded organization, Center for American Progress, admits that he works closely with Catholics in Alliance and Catholics United." (Hat tip once again to The Curt Jester for bringing this to my attention.)

I've detailed in previous blog posts the nature of the group Catholics United. A look at their own website, including their blog, will show their long history of serving as uncritical apologists for left-wing politicians while saving all of their criticism for right-leaning politicians and those who criticize the left. Make no mistake: this is not a group dedicated to promoting the greater glory of God. It and its sister apostate (not a typo), Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, are poorly-disguised political front groups. Their lack of theological insight on even the most basic Catholic moral principles and failure to address matters not related to politics or pet "social justice" projects (through which they urge political activism) speaks to this point. And the facts bear out that the same is true for the conglomerate that is "We Support Notre Dame."

Please understand, I am not saying that everyone who supports Notre Dame's invitation of Barack Obama to speak at commencement is a partisan liberal operative (as opposed to those who really are partisan liberal operatives - such as the component parts of "We Support Notre Dame" - who are chronically incapable of seeing anything other than a right-wing conspiracy when criticism is leveled at them or those they support). However, the more information comes to light, the more it becomes apparent that the most vocal supporters of Obama's Notre Dame invitation have been the most vocal supporters of Obama all along. God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

Amidst Continuing Fallout, Notre Dame President Defends Scandalous Obama Invite And Insults The Intelligence Of Catholics Everywhere

Remember when I said before that my belief that Notre Dame President Fr. John I. Jenkins should either resign or be removed from his post should not be construed as a call to action? Well, inasmuch as I have the right to do so, I now state unequivocally my belief that for the University of Notre Dame to retain any shred of credibility as a Catholic institution in good standing with the Church, the Board of Trustees must see to the removal of Fr. Jenkins in addition to rescinding the Obama invitation.

Fr. Jenkins not only reiterated his conviction to honor the Obama invite, he chose to use Holy Week as a platform to insult the intelligence of Catholics everywhere by stating that he is not, in fact, in violation of the USCCB's 2004 statement, which states in part: "Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions." Fr. Jenkins actually has the temerity to suggest that this does not apply to Obama on the grounds that Obama is not a Catholic, as if to suggest that God only calls on Catholics to follow these moral principles.

I guess in eating human beings the great white shark doesn't really act in defiance of the fundamental human moral principle of man's inherent right to life. After all, the great white shark isn't human.

At least the great white shark has an excuse that neither Obama nor his newly-minted enabler, Fr. Jenkins, can claim: it lacks the free will to engage in or condone the taking of human life, or to honor those who do.

Pray for a softening of Fr. Jenkins' heart, but also pray that he no longer be given a platform that affords him the chance to further debase the Catholic character of Our Lady's school.

The article has been reprinted in its entirety below. You can also find the original article by clicking here. Pay special attention to the action alert at the end of the article. God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

Notre Dame President Defends Pro-Abortion Obama Invite Despite Bishops' Rules

by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 9, 2009

South Bend, IN ( -- The president of the University of Notre Dame is again defending his decision to invite pro-abortion President Barack Obama to give the college's commencement address. In a new statement, Rev. John Jenkins refuses to back down in the face of a document from the nation's Catholic bishops.

In June 2004, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement that makes it clear that Catholic colleges should not allow abortion advocates to have a platform to speak to students or be honored with special awards and degrees.

"Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions,' the bishops say.

But Jenkins, in a letter to the Board of Trustees at the University of Notre Dame, says his decision to invite and honor Obama with a degree doesn't violate the bishops' guidelines.

Noting how numerous bishops and pro-life groups have cited the document to criticize his decision, Jenkins writes, "Our interpretation of this document is different from the one that has been imposed by those criticizing us."

Jenkins calls the document "provisional" but claims he and other Notre Dame officials "have tried to follow both the letter and the spirit of its recommendations."

The Notre Dame president claims the college's invitation to Obama doesn't apply because Obama is not Catholic.

"Because the title of the document is 'Catholics in Political Life,' we understood this to refer to honoring Catholics whose actions are not in accord with our moral principles," Jenkins writes. "This interpretation was supported by canon lawyers we consulted, who advised us that, by definition, only Catholics who implicitly recognize the authority of Church teaching can act in 'defiance' of it."

"Moreover, fellow university presidents have told me that their bishops have told them that in fact it is only Catholic politicians who are referred to in this document," he adds.

Jenkins also says he is within the guidelines because he has repeatedly condemned Obama's pro-abortion record.

Patrick Reilly, president of Cardinal Newman Society, which has secured the signatures of 255,000 people who are opposed to Notre Dame's decision, says Jenkins' interpretation is wrong.

He points to the fact that most of the 29 Catholic bishops who have publicly criticized Notre Dame for honoring President Obama have cited “Catholics in Political Life” as foundational to their arguments.

“How can Father Jenkins maintain that his interpretation of the Bishops’ statement is correct when so many of the bishops themselves, including Notre Dame’s own bishop, have given the exact opposite interpretation?” Reilly asked.

“Who is he to reinterpret the bishops’ own statement?” he told

“In his statement, Father Jenkins once again attempts to argue that Notre Dame is not suggesting support for the president’s abysmal record on life issues,” said Reilly. “And yet it is plainly clear to more than two dozen bishops, thousands of students and alumni and the more than a quarter million petition signers that Notre Dame has betrayed Catholic values.”

ACTION: Contact Fr. John Jenkins, President of Notre Dame, at 574-631-5000, fax 574-631-2770, email, or mail to 317 Main Building, Notre Dame, IN 46556. You can call Notre Dame at (574) 631-5000 or use the email form at

Saturday, April 4, 2009

"How I Found The Superman," 100 Years Later: Chesteron Still Rings True

One of my favorite G.K. Chesterton essays was published in 1909, and is entitled "How I Found The Superman." It is a wonderful spoof on modernist belief in general and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzche in particular. Neither modernists (in the general sense of the term), socialists, nor eugenicists are spared Chesterton's biting wit as he manages in a few short paragraphs to expose fatal flaws in many of the modernist stances of his contemporaries. It also shows what foolishness can result from allowing man to be the arbiter of his own truth (which I think was ultimately the point of the essay). It should also not be lost on the reader that Chesterton cites the mental illness of the alleged Superman's parents as being directly linked to the beliefs they choose to embrace. The full text of the essay can be found here, and it is a very short and highly entertaining read. I would advise, however, that you have an online dictionary handy to help out with some of the terminology unless you happen to be British or are familiar with the colloquiallisms of early 20th century England.

As an aside, I have to admit that this essay holds a special place in my heart because it played a key role in preventing me from having to retake a philosophy class my first semester at Franciscan University. It took some time to adjust to viewing things from a philosophical perspective, and my grades suffered accordingly. My paper for the course was the last chance I had to salvage a decent grade from the class. I chose to write about the stark contrasts between Nietzche's concept of the Superman - the very model of the modern eugenicist - and the comic book hero who was the polar opposite of Nietzche's ideal. I used Chesteron's essay to illustrate the irony that arises from the fact that while Nietzche himself lays out objective criteria to define the "Superman," his very opposition to objective truth would make it impossible for him to offer any honest opposition to the notion that the wretched creature in Chesterton's essay could itself be the "Superman." The professor liked the paper enough to pull my grade in the class up to a B, which allowed me to count the class towards my prerequisites for the MA Theology program. End of aside.

In fairness, I should mention that there is a good deal of compelling evidence to suggest that several of Nietzche's later works - such as "The Will to Power" - may have been altered in subtle ways by Nietzche's sister after the onset of his mental illness and may not necessarily reflect the messages that Nietzche himself intended to convey. There is, however, a large body of work from before the onset of Nietzche's illness that attests to his rampant opposition to the moral tenets of Christianity (which he derided as a "slave-morality"), his fierce opposition to the notion that such a thing as objective truth existed, and his disturbing views on the need for the wealthy and powerful to exert their superiority over the rest of mankind for the betterment of the human race (and which is, in large part, the basis for his views on the "Superman"). It is also known that Nietzche was a great admirer and defender of both Thucydides and Niccolo Machiavelli, and believed their pragmatism to be a more ideal model for human morality. The influence of theories of human evolution are also very evident in his writings (though it is not the evolutionary theories of Darwin, but rather those of the late 18th and early 19th century biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, that influenced him), as is Nietzche's own influence on later schools of thought (such as existentialism, the eugenicist tendencies of Margaret Sanger and her ideological progeny, and the rampant amorality of Alfred Kinsey and his ideological progeny).

Speaking of Nietzche, I came across a video on Youtube showing footage from what is either the summer before Nietzche's death or the last few days of his life, which would date the footage as either 1899 or 1900. Nietzche died on August 25, 1900 after an 11 year bout with mental illness. Many plausible theories have arisen that cite physical factors as the cause for his mental breakdown, though there are numerous individuals - myself included - who believe it was at least in part influenced by the psychological ill effects of adhering to his own philosophy.

I found these images to be haunting; but then, I have a tendency to feel a sense of eeriness anytime I look at images from the early days of photography and full motion video. The first motion picture did not come out until 1888 (entitled Roundhay Garden Scene), and though motion film had become a well-known phenomenon by the turn of the century, film footage from 1900 and before is still very rare. Live soundtracks would not appear until the late 1920's, so don't bother trying to adjust the audio settings. These are silent shots from the very early days of motion pictures:

One hopes that, sometime during those torturous 11 years, Nietzche may have found a way to reconcile himself with the God he so brazenly denied and the Christianity he so brazenly assailed for most of his life, as Oscar Wilde reportedly did on his deathbed. Alas, the hearts of the dead are not revealed to us except through their own words, so that shall remain a mystery until the life that is to come. Anyway, I hope my brief dabbling in parody and philosophy has left you with some food for thought. God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,