Archive for March, 2006


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Here is my new nephew, born on February 20, 2006 to my sister Helen and her husband Patrick Surfus. He came out at 7 pounds and 5 and a half ounces. He was 20 and a forth inches long.

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Constipated People Don’t Give A crap.

If You Can Read This, I’ve Lost My Trailer.

The Earth Is Full – Go Home.

I Have The Body Of A God – Buddha.

So Many Pedestrians – So Little Time.

Cleverly Disguised As A Responsible Adult.

If We Quit Voting, Will They All Go Away?

Eat Right, Exercise, Die Anyway.

Illiterate? Write For Help.

Honk If Anything Falls Off.

Cover Me, I’m Changing Lanes.

He Who Hesitates Is Not Only Lost, But Miles From The Next Exit.

I Refuse To Have A Battle Of Wits With An Unarmed Person.

You! Out Of The Gene Pool – Now!

I Do Whatever My Rice Krispies Tell Me To.

Fight Crime: Shoot Back!

Seen Upside Down On A Jeep–
If You Can Read This, Please Flip Me Back Over…

Remember Folks: Stop Lights Timed For 35 mph Are Also Timed For 70 mph.

Guys: No Shirt, No Service. Gals: No Shirt, No Charge

If Walking Is So Good For You, Then Why Does My Mailman Look Like Jabba The Hut?

Ax Me About Ebonics.

Body! By Nautilus; Brain By Mattel.

Boldly Going Nowhere.

Caution – Driver Legally Blonde.

Heart Attacks … God’s Revenge For Eating His Animal Friends.

Honk If You’ve Never Seen An Uzi Fired From A Car Window.

How Many Roads Must A Man Travel Down Before He Admits He is Lost?


All Men Are Animals; Some Just Make Better Pets.


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The great Paris Painting theft.

Did you hear about the guy in Paris who almost got away with stealing several paintings from the Louvre?

After planning the crime, getting in and out past security, he was captured only two blocks away when his Aerostar van ran out of gas.

When asked how he could mastermind such a crime and then make such an obvious error, he replied, "Monsieur, I had no Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh."

And you thought I lacked De Gaulle to tell a story like that…

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             Today, upon a bus, I saw a girl with golden hair

           I looked at her and sighed and wished I was as fair.

                     When suddenly she rose to leave,

                     I saw her hobble down the aisle.

                     She had one leg and used a crutch

                  But as she passed, she passed a smile.

                     Oh, God, forgive me when I whine

                     I have 2 legs, the world is mine.


                        I stopped to buy some candy

                    The lad who sold it had such charm

             I talked with him a while, he seemed so very glad

                     If I were late, it'd do no harm.

                       And as I left, he said to me,

                    "I thank you, you've been so kind.

                  It's nice to talk with folks like you.

                      You see," he said, "I'm blind."

                     Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.

                     I have 2 eyes, the world is mine.


                   Later while walking down the street,

                      I saw a child with eyes of blue

                   He stood and watched the others play

                        He did not know what to do.

                    I stopped a moment and then I said,

                  "Why don't you join the others, dear?"

                      He looked ahead without a word.

                    And then I knew, he couldn't hear.

                     Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.

                     I have 2 ears, the world is mine.


                    With feet to take me where I'd go.

                    With eyes to see the sunset's glow.

                   With ears to hear what I would know.

                     Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.

               I've been blessed indeed, The world is mine.


                 If this poem makes you feel like I felt,

                   just forward it to all your  friends,

                 after all, it's just a simple reminder….

                We have soooooo  much to be thankful for!!!


                            Sorrow looks back,

                            Worry looks around,

                              Faith looks up.


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Various Comments Made at Laura Walker's:


Please note that the comments of others are not preserved here and you are encouraged to follow the link in reading the complete conversations.

What is Conception?

Father Kish sent me an article on a February 27/28 symposium on the The Human Embryo before Implantation: Scientific Aspects and Bioethical Considerations.  This is particularly interesting to me since I once listened to a biomedical researcher explain that his in vitro embryonic work was not antithetical to his pro-life stance since a human was not ensouled until uterine implantation.  I am curious to see what the Vatican says.



Diane Irving's article linked by Matt Abbott above is on the mark. I have known Diane for many years. She regularly gave talks at St. Ann's in NW DC when I was an associate there in the 1980's. She is right, as is Brian's brief comment, that the Church regards the fertilized embryo as human life requiring protection.

I had a professor once who argued that true personhood and ensoulment was later, after the threshold of celluluar differentiation had passed and twinning was no longer possible. However, even if such was the case, those following St. Thomas would insist that even human life "in potentia" would have to be protected and given the same rights as fully formed human persons.

The researcher who argued implantation seems to have chosen an arbitrary standard, given long term storage and particularly if the artificial womb should be produced and actual implantation can be avoided altogether. This would be an illicit way for parents to carry their children to term, unless some serious medical emergency or the death of the mother mandated it. In that case, such a futuristic artificial womb would simply be a better alternative than the current incubators used for premature children.

I suspect the researcher simply wanted to justify embryonic research that is really akin to abortion.

Posted by Father Joe at February 21, 2006 05:32 PM

Does He Go Green?

Lou Ferrigno, the former Mr. Universe and star of "The Incredible Hulk" television series, will be sworn in tomorrow as a Los Angeles County reserve deputy sheriff.

Don't make him mad.

Lou's poor hearing always made his speech sound awkward. It made his television, and stunted movie experience, quite an achievement. He is loved by fans for THE INCREDIBLE HULK and is alway courteous and honest at conventions. He is physically quite daunting, although scaled down from his old CBS days, but is quite unassuming in personality one-on-one. (He might sound otherwise given that he speaks with volume, but hey, he cannot hear.) I suspect that his work for the sheriff's department is simply an expression of his desire to keep busy and to be of service to the community. He is committed to give at least 20 hours a month. That is substantial time, especially since he will be working with the special victims (abuse) unit. He has played a hero, I guess maybe he wants to be a real one. I think his father was a policeman.

He and his wife and daughter offer exercise and fitness videos and books. Along with pricey autographed photos, this is how he makes a living these days. He lets them do most of the talking. Because of his hearing handicap, he could hardly follow the route of so many other celebrities in becoming a motivational speaker (although he does something of this at schools for the hearing impaired). He lets Carla and Shanna run that side of things in the fitness training program.

Did you notice his cameo with Stan Lee in the movie version of the HULK?

Posted by Father Joe at February 16, 2006 10:06 AM 

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Cell Phones & Korea

Various Comments Made at Laura Walker's:


Please note that the comments of others are not preserved here and you are encouraged to follow the link in reading the complete conversations.

Treating the Symptoms

So now movie theaters would like permission to silence cell phones. This doesn't come as a surprise, but their rationale made me giggle:  Movie theater owners faced with falling attendance are considering asking federal authorities for permission to jam cell phone reception in an attempt to stop annoying conversations during films, the head of the industry's trade group said on Tuesday.

If people are more interested in conversing on their cell phones than watching the movie, perhaps the industry should do a slightly more focused root cause analysis.

Maybe people on constant call should not go to movies?

We did not have cell phones until recently, and I do not recall things being too bad.

I would favor jamming the phones, just as many churches are starting to do because of constant interruptions. I have told my parishioners that there is a 50 dollar fine for a phone ringing during Mass. You should have seen all the people reaching to shut them off!

The last movie I saw was ruined by a guy using text messaging during a film. The light was very distracting as was his constant tapping. I reported one guy who was talking on the phone at a theater a month ago, and had him removed. The guidelines are very clear, turn the ringer off; but people do not listen.

If the phone has a vibration mode, the person can step out of the theater or church and answer it. But if the theaters and churches must start jamming, the phone addicts only have themselves to blame. I have no sympathy for them.

I know I sound pretty strict about this and I am. If I had my way, those using handheld phones in moving cars would face serious fines. We had a lady killed in front of my rectory because she was distracted by her cell phone and did not pay attention to the road– and the BIG truck. She was killed instantly.

Now, if we could only jam mp3 sets, portable radios, and miniature televisions as well. Yes, those are popping up in theaters and churches, too. Despite earphones you can still hear the pounding beat as it eats through their ear drums and reverberates the popcorn cup out of your hand and the soda into your lap– at movie theaters, not churches, where only the gum jiggles and finds a place under pews.

Pax et Bonum

Posted by Father Joe at March 16, 2006 10:13 PM

Actually, I know several churches, including Catholic ones that jam cell phones right now. There is a written notice posted at the door warning parishioners. The only reason I have not installed one is the cost.

I say Mass twice a week at Coast Guard Headquarters where "camera" phones are banned.

People and organizations can control or regulate electronic communications on their property, if not by edict then at least with additional technology.

Posted by Father Joe at March 17, 2006 09:22 AM

Last night at a church where I help out, two phones rang during the Mass. Since it is not my parish, I cannot ask for a $50 fine.

Instead, at the end of Mass, I am going to have them stand up and tell God and the congregation that they are sorry for the interuption. Maybe a physical cruciform prostration in the center aisle would also be in order, as well?

By the way, picture catalogues are already advertising jammers for phones and guarantee that they neither affect pace-makers nor hearing aids.

But my poor church cannot afford the thousands of dollars to install it. I guess the $50 fine will just have to do– yeah!

Posted by Father Joe at March 20, 2006 10:37 AM

Not a Neutral Pyongyang

Would it be such a bad thing if the U.S. presence was removed from South KoreaNearly half of South Korean youths who will be old enough to vote in the country's next elections say Seoul should side with North Korea if the United States attacks the communist nation, according to a poll released Wednesday . . . A majority of those surveyed, 54.1 percent, said peaceful reunification was the preferred method for ending the division on the peninsula.

I presume that "reunification" would mean absorption into North Korea. I suppose it would be political disadvantageous for the United States to leave, but perhaps our presence is unnecessary if South Korea no longer cares to be protected from their northern neighbor.

The reunification of the agricultural north with the industrial south would create a much more powerful Korea. Given that the current dictator of the north is a raving madman, I am not sure if we would be the ones, in the long term, to learn a lesson. (Certainly it would make his production of missiles with nuclear warheads a whole lot easier.) Part of the problem, as I see it, is that the leaders who have governed in the south have been oppressive and have violated human rights themselves. Even the Catholic Church must function under intolerable reins and the number of men in the seminary is not allowed to surpass 100. That is why so many Korean seminarians are studying to be priests in the United States. However, if the Communists gain control of the south, I am also worried that what happened in Vietnam could happen there. Ten thousand native born clergy were rounded up and shot. Infiltration of the south by Communist sympathizers has also been a determined campaign that seems to be paying off, finally.

The old Soviet Union is gone, hopefully dead and not just sleeping, but China is florishing. While the Bamboo Curtain is more porous than the defunct Iron Curtain, nevertheless, as the discussion about the Internet censorship revealed, it still seeks the dominion of the hearts and minds of people. This is why even Asian Communism will always be an enemy of the Church, if not to Western Capitalists who prefer Oriental sweatshops to paying homegrown workers a just wage.

I have an old parishioner who fought in World War II (both fronts), Korea and Vietnam. He was wounded multiple times. Although a flight engineer, he tried his hand as a gunner when his buddy beside him was blown in half. They tied him to a boomline and sped him below a helicopter to grab the wounded from the grass in Vietnam and Korea. He would come home covered in blood, his and theirs. He rescued countless men by helicopter in Vietnam and was the flight engineer that all the generals wanted. He is in his late 80's now and he cries when middled-aged men that he knew as boys die in Afghanistan and Iraq. What am I trying to say?

If South Korea should decide to reunite with the North in a Communist government, I hope that God takes John home first. He should not see given away that for which so many of his brothers suffered and died.

We also haver other aliances, notably with Taiwan, the Philippines, and Japan. A reunited Korea under a Communist dictator would pose a real threat to their security. I suspect that it would lead the new Japan to quickly arm themselves again– particularly if confidence in the United States should be lost.

Posted by Father Joe at February 23, 2006 10:10 AM

Up until recently North Korea was one of the largest grain producers in the world. However, they have had serious natural disasters for about a decade that have devastated the country. It has had to import a great deal of food.

Over the last 50 years, the North, with Russian and Chinese assistance and the South, with U.S. help, have both tried to be complete and independent countries. However, political questions aside, they really need each other in terms of resources.

It may be that my comments segregating industry and agriculture no longer apply? Here are the most recent statistics:

Land Area
N Korea – 120,410 sq km
S Korea – 98,190 sq km

N Korea – 22,912,177
S Korea – 48,422,644

Agricultural Work Force
N Korea – 36%
S Korea – 8%

Industrial Work Force
N Korea – 34%
S Korea – 19%

Services Work Force
N Korea – 36%
s Korea – 73%

Arable Land
N Korea – 20.76%
S Korea – 17.18%

Permanent Crops
N Korea – 2.49%
S Korea – 1.95%
Posted by Father Joe at February 24, 2006 12:07 PM

Yes, Japan is taking steps to rebuild a military, largely at the behest of the U.S., given that they have become one of our closest allies. It has also been a heavy price tag over the last half century. This move will allow them to supplement our presence while allowing us to redirect our concentration on Afghanistan and Iraq. Also, while U.N. and American troops can base in South Korea, given bad history and racial bias, I doubt any of the Koreans would sit for a large Japanese military presence based there.

The more difficult question, given the Japanese abhorence of nuclear weapons, will be how far they will take their build up given real threats from North Korea and continued rivalry with China. The Japanese still have a distinct sense of honor that fuels their courage. Given time, they might become as formitable a military power as they are a commercial one.

Posted by Father Joe at February 24, 2006 12:25 PM

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A wealthy old lady decides to go on a photo safari in Africa, taking her faithful aged poodle named Cuddles, along for the company.

One day the poodle starts chasing butterflies and before long, Cuddles discovers that she's lost.  Wandering about, she notices a leopard heading rapidly in her direction with the intention of having lunch.

The old poodle thinks, "Oh, oh!  I'm in deep doo-doo now!" Noticing some bones on the ground close by, she immediately settles down to chew on the bones with her back to the approaching cat.  Just as the leopard is about to leap, the old poodle exclaims loudly, "Boy, that was one delicious leopard!  I wonder if there are any more around here?"

Hearing this, the young leopard halts his attack in mid-strike, a look of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees.  "Whew!", says the leopard, "That was close!  That old poodle nearly had me!"

Meanwhile, a monkey who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the leopard.  So off he goes, but the old poodle sees him heading after the leopard with great speed, and figures that something must be up.  The monkey soon catches up with the leopard, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the leopard.

The young leopard is furious at being made a fool and says, "Here, monkey, hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine!"

Now, the old poodle sees the leopard coming with the monkey on his back and thinks, "What am I going to do now?" Instead of running, the dog sits down with her back to her attackers, pretending she hasn't seen them. And just when they get close enough to hear, the old poodle says: "Where's that damn monkey?  I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another leopard!"

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Various Comments Made at Laura Walker's:


Please note that the comments of others are not preserved here and you are encouraged to follow the link in reading the complete conversations.

Judicial Hegemony

Be ready for a shocker: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia railed against the era of the "judge-moralist," saying judges are no better qualified than "Joe Sixpack" to decide moral questions such as abortion and gay marriage . . . The 70-year-old justice said the public, through elected Legislatures — not the courts — should decide watershed questions such as the legality of abortion . . . He pointed to the granting of voting rights to women in 1920 through a constitutional amendment as the proper way for a democracy to fundamentally change its laws.

What? Leave the decision to the states? Let the representative republic decide? That's just crazy talk, man! / Jeffersonians simply don't exist in modern America. Clearly, the man is getting dotty in his old age.

Given that activist judges with a leftist bent gave us Roe vs. Wade, reading something into the Constitution that was not there, Justice Scalia has a point. Who is to say that activist judges cannot be just as abusive when they come from the other side of the ideological spectrum? While a few judges like Clarence Thomas have an extensive philosophical and ethical formation; many judges would not consider possible moral absolutes and the natural law. Unfortunately, I am not sure that voters, and least of all elected representatives, would possess the necessary formation and personal integrity to deal coherently with the major questions of the day, either.

Speaking for myself, I like judges who prefer long-standing precedent; who have a vast respect for the inalienable rights of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," and who are somewhat unoriginal and literal in their thinking. Creativity is great in the artist and poet, I am not so sure about judges.

The large Catholic presence on the Supreme Court is quite amazing. Even Judge Bork, denied a place on the Court, was baptized by my dear spiritual father, Msgr. William Awalt, at the Catholic Information Center in DC. He is now a Christian and a Catholic. Justice Clarence Thomas was received back into the Catholic Church through the ministry of another brother priest in Washington.  While Scalia sometimes attends his son's Masses in Virginia, he and Thomas often attend the Tridentine Latin Mass at Old St. Mary's in Chinatown, DC. Pat Buchanon, although a parishioner at Blessed Sacrament, is also a regular there.

Posted by Father Joe at March 19, 2006 12:48 AM

As an aside, you mention gay sex and the law. Certainly, this is an issue that has caused a lot of concern.

I can recall when sodomy was not a "protected right" but a perverse crime. It was that way not too long ago.

(Indeed, any sexual activity, even with a woman, if outside of marriage, was often judged as criminal and there were set penalties.)

Even now the Church cooperates too closely with the American Psychiatric Association which upgraded homosexuality from a mental illness to an acceptable sexual orientation.

One of my favorite television programs was DRAGNET. There is one episode where Jack Webb is railing against the sins of the city. Among them he lists "sodomites". When the episode was repeated recently on television, the sound failed precisely when he moved his lips to say the word that is no longer politically correct.

Today, the "love that dare not speak its name" is proclaimed a civil right and in our faces where ever we look, even in Cowboy movies… I know John Wayne is rolling in his grave!

The Church in Boston had to shut down its adoption services because the government made it illegal to discriminate against gay couples. Catholic Charities in Los Angeles was almost shut down by a law mandating benefits and insurance (analogous to a spouse in marriage) to the bed-partners of homosexual men and lesbians. Renters are being compelled to permit gay men and women to live and commit mortal sin in their premises.

My faith in our society and the legal system is very shaken. I cannot say that I would generally trust judges to make decisions that would please me or others with traditional values.

I concur with the Church that homosexuality is a disorientation and that to live it out is a grevious offense to God and a corruption of others.

Our compassion and love for them should not translate as utter toleration and/or approbation. We should encourage celibacy and where possible proven treatments that have helped thousands to adjust to a heterosexual orientation.

While their penalties are probably too severe, the Arab and African countries that still ban such activity probably have it right.

Posted by Father Joe at March 20, 2006 10:15 AM  

Never Mind Your Wishes, We Know Better

In England, doctors would like to make the choice between life and deathA High Court judge on Wednesday refused a request from doctors to turn off a ventilator keeping alive an 18-month-old boy with incurable spinal muscular atrophy.  The boy's parents had opposed their request, arguing that although he was severely physically disabled, the boy could still enjoy spending time with his family . . . The case was believed to be the first in which doctors had asked to allow a patient who is not in a persistent vegative state to die.

Under England's NHS, I imagine the doctors were trying to protect their financial interests. It's certainly not cost effective to pay for the care of the severely disabled. (Never mind that the funding comes from the sky-high taxes of their very own patients!)

In this case, the request was denied, but the fact that the doctors felt themselves within their medical right to make such a request has far-reaching and grotesque implications. How can anyone in England feel safe in the hands of these arrogant holier-than-thous?

Not much of a leap from abortion to infanticide, the slippery slope has already been realized in our own country.

Remember the newborn child with an obstruction in the throat that prevented feeding? Because the child also suffered from Downs Syndrome and most likely retarded, an easy surgery to correct the feeding problem was dismissed. The baby starved to death.

There have been several similar cases since, and of course, we always have Partial Birth Abortion which is really a form of Infanticide.

The ethicist Singer suggests that infanticide should be allowed at least until about three years of age– arguing that they are not viable without assistance and not "full" persons.

The brave new world resembles the old world more and more every day. The ancient Romans allowed babies to die from exposure and abandonment. If any of you ever saw the old movie HAWAII dealing with early colonization and missionary work, you may remember the scene where the girl baby is thrown off a cliff. I wonder if it would still shock audiences today?

Posted by Father Joe at March 16, 2006 09:54 PM

"And the slope between abortion and infanticide is only slippery if you accept that fertilized egg or a partially-developed fetus is in fact a human being. As most abortion-rights supporters claim the opposite, I fail to see the threat."

Actually, most abortion-rights supporters in the vast crowd make no "explicit" claim at all about the unborn, avoiding the discussion about the beginning of human life and personhood– with the possible exception of Bloggers and paid advocates. However, particularly given modern tools for viewing the child in the womb, some die-hard promoters of abortion are admitting "it" is human, but not a person with rights. Others are arguing that the rights of the mother would outweigh even the rights of another person, should that person be unborn and parasitical.

Many deal with their pro-abortion stand with an avoidance of the biological truth, the real reason why plastic imitation fetuses are forbidden on network TV news. Obviously, the implication is that they do not "recognize" a life having value there; but many people remain pro-abortion no matter whether the child is in the embryonic or late term stages. The slippery slope is not a theory. It has been realized.

Fetal development occurs much faster than people appreciate and is so often misunderstood. There are no partial human beings. There is a child who grows, just as he would grow outside the womb. Certainly the growth changes in the womb are unmatched by anything after birth; but even a newborn infant only vaguely resembles a mature man or woman. They cannot talk, see properly, or walk. Without constant maintenance they would most certainly expire within a very short period.

The late Pope spoke about this at length when he talked about a culture of death versus one of life. Concern about the "slippery slope" pervades the encyclical EVANGELIUM VITAE. Indeed, one of the reasons Pope John Paul II objected to the death penalty was because he believed a comprehensive and generous response in the cause for life had to be made against the current climate of death. In other words, a society that murders its own innocent children does not have the moral standing to judge over the mortal lives of convicted felons. We become desensitized to the taking of human life.

I should say that the "slippery slope" applies even if one should think there is only life "in potency". Embryonic human life has all the components necessary for the formation of "fully developed" human beings. The Church insists that once the soul is infused, the subject is a human person with an eternal destiny. But, even more, the slipping and sliding goes back further to the issue of contraception.

While we certainly do not see the person in the sperm and the woman simply as a recepticle, as did St. Thomas Aquinas, nevertheless, a contraceptive mentality is inherently anti-life. If contraception fails, people will now say, "Well, there is always abortion." Next, maybe they will say, "Well, the doctor says he has a thirty percent chance of heart disease based upon DNA sampling. Why don't we just get rid of this one and try again, with the doctor's help?"

Obviously, even the most hardened pro-abortion advocate has trouble with infanticide, once they SEE and HOLD a child. This was the case in Roe versus Wade when Norma held her baby that previously she had tried to abort. That is why many curse GE for their new viewer that shows the child, or fetus, with great clarity. It makes avoidance of the real question increasingly difficult. But what if women should give birth while unconscious? Then doctors or husbands or significant others or just prior standing instructions could order the termination of a new born. As in Partial Birth Abortion, once allowed, what does a few inches in the womb or out of the womb matter? The fact that there were as many as 4,000 Partial Birth Infanticides last year (full term babies) is ample evidence of where things have been sliding.

And what if the newborn is not attractive? I used to help out at a facility for the mentally retarded (or "challenged" as it is rendered today). Tommy had a cleft face. His parents wanted him destroyed but the doctor said no. He was quickly abandoned. He had pins holding his eyes from falling into the cavities where cheeks should have been. He had no nose and only a rudimentary mouth. Everyone presumed he was retarded. He moaned and growled. No one could make any sense of it. His best friend was a boy with Downs Syndrome called Mike. One day Mike came forward and said that Tommy wanted water. What? It turned out that Tommy was speaking, but so unclearly that only Mike could decipher it. Later, despite the odds, it was suspected that Tommy was not even retarded. When I left, the doctors were taking parts of his body and trying to build him a face. I prepared both of these boys for their first communion. Over and over again, I stressed that the host was Jesus and that Jesus was God. The bishop said that was all they needed to know. They both had value, independent of public opinion, or arguments about the quality of life, or the ramblings of pro-abortion politicians.

I have noticed that sometimes young people fail to appreciate the trail of dominoes we have already knocked over. Maybe age and exposure are important to seeing more of the whole picture?


1930 – Anglicans became first Christian church to permit contraception (condoms)

CASTI CONNUBII is the Pope's strong response

1960 – Introduction of the Pill

The so-called sexual revolution

HUMANAE VITAE is the Pope's strong response

1972 – Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion

Series of cases and incidents have expanded so-called abortion rights, partial birth infanticide, and euthanasia.

EVANGELIUM VITAE is the pope's strong response

The movement against life is not smooth, particularly since pro-life people are fighting such trends. The slipping happens in fits, stops-and-goes.

I have already gone on too long, but I would like to finish with an extended citation from Msgr. Elio Sgreccia of the PONTIFICAL ACADEMY FOR LIFE at the Vatican:

"It is also said that the argument of the slippery slope is a weak one: in my opinion, however, it shows that its perverse efficiency functions unavoidably because it implies the absence of absolute values that are to be upheld and is accompanied by an obvious moral relativism. It functions in the context of euthanasia as in various other fields of public ethics, regardless of whether it is a question of abortion (in this case, one begins with the case of anencephaly and ends up with the case of the child conceived before a holiday), or a matter of procreation (here, the first step is the request for the legalization of the homologous insemination, that ends up with the matter of the authorization of therapeutic cloning). / Once on the slippery slope, not only the logical slant comes into play but also economic interests, and then the slipperiness becomes fatal and inexorable."

I am going to stick with the Church on this point, particularly since it fuels so much of our political urgency. But what else would you think a priest would do?


Posted by Father Joe at March 17, 2006 09:12 AM  

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Fifty-five (out of 71) Catholic House Democrats issued a statement that attempts to make their pro-abortion stance legitmate.  It fails to do anything but to further publicize their break with the Church established by Christ:

As Catholic Democrats in Congress, we are proud to be part of the living Catholic tradition — a tradition that promotes the common good, expresses a consistent moral framework for life and highlights the need to provide a collective safety net to those individuals in society who are most in need. As legislators, in the U.S. House of Representatives, we work every day to advance respect for life and the dignity of every human being. We believe that government has moral purpose.

If only what they wrote was really true.  But when the most vulnerable among us are not safe, no one is safe.  Their support, even for partial birth infanticide, makes their assertion here both non-sensical and the height of hypocrisy.

We are committed to making real the basic principles that are at the heart of Catholic social teaching: helping the poor and disadvantaged, protecting the most vulnerable among us, and ensuring that all Americans of every faith are given meaningful opportunities to share in the blessings of this great country. That commitment is fulfilled in different ways by legislators but includes: reducing the rising rates of poverty; increasing access to education for all; pressing for increased access to health care; and taking seriously the decision to go to war. Each of these issues challenges our obligations as Catholics to community and helping those in need.

Catholic faith and morality is not a menu list from which we can randomly select!  All they are saying is that if you are born and can vote, then they take your life very seriously.  If, however, you are below the radar of their constituencies, then you have little or no value at all.  There is a lot of money in dead babies and dead babies cannot vote.  Like Pilate they wash their hands of innocent blood; like Caliphas they assert that it is better for one, or even millions to die, than for a whole people– at least those supporting a hedonistic society– to be destroyed.  Jesus was silent before Herod, the murderer of John the Baptist; their absurdity also leaves us stunned, if not entirely silent.  Take a child’s life and there are no more issues, and no civil rights either.

We envision a world in which every child belongs to a loving family and agree with the Catholic Church about the value of human life and the undesirability of abortion; we do not celebrate its practice. Each of us is committed to reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies and creating an environment with policies that encourage pregnancies to be carried to term. We believe this includes promoting alternatives to abortion, such as adoption, and improving access to children’s healthcare and child care, as well as policies that encourage paternal and maternal responsibility.

It is not only with the Catholic Church that we seek concurrence, but with the Creator, himself.  They cannot themselves agree with what the Church teaches in that if it were so they could neither vote nor become spokespersons for the abortion industry.  However, each and every one of them has done so and they take money from Planned Parenthood and others who lobby for abortion.  If what they said was true, they could not do this.  They are bought-and-paid-for and they have made membership in the Democrat party increasingly untenuable for practicing and faithful Catholics.  It is somewhat ironic that canon law still forbids membership in organizations deemed incompatible with itself like the Masons, who seem mild and harmless by comparison, when the Democrat party has an explicit platform that conflicts with the core of Church teaching.  The Good News, as Pope John Paul II wrote, is precisely the GOSPEL OF LIFE.  Abortion attacks at the very heart of the Christian kerygma!  You cannot be a Catholic, indeed not any kind of true Christian and disciple of Jesus Christ, while being pro-abortion, in any way.  If I had my way, membership in the Democrat party, and in pro-abortion groups like the NAACP, NARAL, Planned parenthood, Catholics for Choice, etc. would be forbidden under pain of mortal sin and excommunication.  If and when they disavowed the murder of children, the sanctions could be lifted; but I guess, we will never see churchmen going as far as this… unfortunately.

In all these issues, we seek the Church’s guidance and assistance but believe also in the primacy of conscience. In recognizing the Church’s role in providing moral leadership, we acknowledge and accept the tension that comes with being in disagreement with the Church in some areas. Yet we believe we can speak to the fundamental issues that unite us as Catholics and lend our voices to changing the political debate — a debate that often fails to reflect and encompass the depth and complexity of these issues.

The Church’s guidance is spurned and when we seek to intervene, her tax exemption status is threatened.  The “primacy of conscience” does not mean that we can do whatever we like.  If my conscience told me that it was okay to blow up abortion clinics, I am sure that someone would put me into restraints and lock me away. 

The American Bishops have responded, “As the Church carries out its central responsibility to teach clearly and help form consciences, and as Catholic legislators seek to act in accord with their own consciences, it is essential to remember that conscience must be consistent with fundamental moral principles. As members of the Church, all Catholics are obliged to shape our consciences in accord with the moral teaching of the Church.”

The Christian conscience must be informed by the teaching Church and must abide by certain moral principles.  The case made here is further evidence of ecclesiological dissent on their part; and no matter whether they are credentialed or not, they are seeking to convert fellow Catholics to their false understanding.  I would submit that they are in heresy about conscience, about the sanctity of human life, and about the core meaning of the Gospel itself.  We can work with men and women of good faith outside the Church; however, we should not abandon those elements that constitute the essentials of our identity.  They admit to creating tension with the Church in certain matters; but despite their protestation, they do not have the divine authorization to declare these matters insignificant or not part of core teaching.  By not admitting the sanctity of human life as a fundamental issue, they seek to maintain the pretense of their Catholicity.  We do them no justice in allowing this cherade to continue unchallenged.  They are accurate that the “depth” and “complexity” of the issues are not well addressed in public debate; however, they are frequently the ones who seek the shut down discussion about matters like “the beginning of human life,” “the arbitrary delineation for rights in the womb established by Roe versus Wade,” and “the meaning of human personhood.”  They will even use language, not to amplify but to blur the important distinctions that should be made– partial birth is not called “infanticide”, pro-choice is not labeled as “pro-abortion” (the real issue here), and the unborn child is never called a baby, even after nine months, but only the non-discript “fetus”.  Before they should start preaching to the bishops; they would do best to get their own house in order.

As legislators, we are charged with preserving the Constitution, which guarantees religious freedom for all Americans. In doing so, we guarantee our right to live our own lives as Catholics, but also foster an America with a rich diversity of faiths. We believe the separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties.

But even if a society should be utterly anti-life, the Catholic politician’s first allegiance is not to his constituency, but to his faith in God and the values given to us as believers.  It is not for the Catholic politician to vote against his basic beliefs, and I doubt this is really the case anyway, but for him to maintain and fight for them.  If his constituents remain unconvinced of his positions, then our system gives them the opportunity to vote him out of office.  It would be better to maintain one’s personal integrity and lose an election, then to win an election and forfeit one’s immortal soul.  Voting for things in which one does not believe shows just how morally bankrupt these men and women are; they would seek to make the bishops and the rest of the Church into clones of themselves.  Further, it is wrong to minimize the right to life position as only a religious stance.

As Catholic Democrats who embrace the vocation and mission of the laity as expressed by Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles Laici, we believe that the Church is the “people of God,” called to be a moral force in the broadest sense. We believe the Church as a community is called to be in the vanguard of creating a more just America and world. And as such, we have a claim on the Church’s hearing as it does on ours.

It is the Church herself that speaks in broad strokes.  The role of the laity to be a positive moral force has no “broadest sense” apart from that which is realized in the innumerable practical acts of charity and mercy that we perform.  There is always a human face to the moral life of believers.  You cannot claim to care for the multitude or for general principles, unless you are also willing to help the beggar at your door, the frightened girl who has visited the local Pregnancy Crisis center, and the child who cannot yet voice his needs and dreams.  The politicians write, “…we have a claim on the Church’s hearing as it does ours.”  There is some truth to this, but the fact remains that dissenting politicians and others do not constitute the Magisterium.  They must distinguish their role as not an authoritative one in the Church.  The Church would leave to the laity any political work necessary to achieve a better and more moral society.  However, the teaching authority of the Church, and the truths of Christ, are not open to any kind of political or judicial review.  The fact is, many so-called Catholic politicians have made themselves into adversaries of the Church on numerous important matters– homosexual behavior and unions, abortion, capital punishment (to a lesser extent), euthanasia, various lines of medical research, etc.  

Here are the names signed to the document.  It would have been better for them to seek the inclusion of their names in the apocalyptic Book of Life.

The members who signed the statement and how they voted on some of non-negotiable issues for Catholics follow:

Rosa L. DeLauro (Against Partial-birth abortion-NO ; Funding for ESCR-YES; Direction to reconsider Terri Schiavo case-Not Voting)
David R. Obey (PBA-Yes ; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV )
Wm. Lacy Clay (PBA- NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NO)
Hilda L. Solis (PBA- NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
James R. Langevin (PBA-Yes ; ESCR- YES ; Schiavo-Yes)
Bart Stupak (PBA-Yes; ESCR-No; Schiavo-Yes)
Anna Eshoo (PBA-NO; ESCR-NO; Schiavo-NV)
Bill Pascrell (PBA-Yes; ESCR-NO; Schiavo-NO)
Betty McCollum (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Gene Taylor (PBA-Yes; ESCR-No; Schiavo-Yes)
Raul M. Grijalva (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Carolyn McCarthy(PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
John B. Larson (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NO)
Ed Pastor (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Joe Baca (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES ; Schiavo-Yes)
William Delahunt (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Tim Ryan (PBA-Yes; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Silvestre Reyes (PBA-Yes; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Mike Thompson (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Linda T. Sanchez (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Charles A. Gonzalez (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Xavier Becerra (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Diane Watson (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Michael H. Michaud (PBA-Yes; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-Yes)
Nydia Velazquez (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Jim Marshall (PBA-Yes; ESCR-No; Schiavo-Yes)
Frank Pallone (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NO)
John T. Salazar (ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
James P. McGovern (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
George Miller (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Tim Holden (PBA-Yes; ESCR-No; Schiavo-Yes)
James L. Oberstar (PBA-Yes; ESCR-No; Schiavo-Yes)
Dale E. Kildee (PBA-Yes; ESCR-No; Schiavo-Yes)
Patrick J. Kennedy (PBA-Yes; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NO)
Cynthia McKinney (ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NO)
James P. Moran (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NO)
Michael Capuano (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NO)
Richard E. Neal (PBA-Yes; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Mike Doyle (PBA-Yes; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NO)
Peter A. DeFazio (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Maurice Hinchey (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Dennis A. Cardoza (PBA-NO; ESCR- YES; Schiavo-NV)
Joseph Crowley (PBA-Yes; ESCR-YES ; Schiavo-NV)
Jim Costa (ESCR-YES; Schiavo-NV)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (PBA-NO; ESCR-YES; Schiavo-NV)
Loretta Sanchez (PBA-NO; ESCR-YES; Schiavo-NV)
Robert Brady (PBA-NO; ESCR-YES; Schiavo-Yes)
Marty Meehan (PBA-NO; ESCR-YES; Schiavo-NV)
Grace Napolitano (PBA-NO; ESCR-YES; Schiavo-NV)
Luis V. Gutierrez (PBA-NO; ESCR-YES; Schiavo-NO)
Jose Serrano (PBA-NO; ESCR-YES; Schiavo-NV)
Stephen Lynch (PBA-Yes; ESCR-YES; Schiavo-Yes)
Edward J. Markey (PBA-NO; ESCR-YES; Schiavo-NV)
Nancy Pelosi (PBA-NO; ESCR-YES; Schiavo-NV)
Lane Evans (PBA-NO; ESCR-YES; Schiavo-NO)

Maybe those of us who know better, should include all of these names to our prayer lists?  The response of the American bishops says clearly, “While it is always necessary to work to reduce the number of abortions by providing alternatives and help to vulnerable parents and children, Catholic teaching calls all Catholics to work actively to restrain, restrict and bring to an end the destruction of unborn human life.”  

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