Tuesday, March 28, 2006

An important distinction to make in the immigration debate

Patricia Zapor of Catholic News Service has done the immigration debate a great service with the story she wrote, "In immigration law, distinctions of 'legal,' 'illegal' fairly recent."

This is the opening line of her piece: "Here's a little-understood fact about immigration law: Until well into the 20th century, pretty much anyone who showed up at a port of entry or walked across a border got to stay in the United States." It wasn't until 1924, she explains, that the U.S. started requiring visas to be obtained before coming here. And that was only after a massive influx of Italians, Russians and Austro-Hungarians in the previous years -- all of whom entered the country legally since there were no requirements for documentation.

That means my ancestors and my wife's -- and those of the vast majority of Americans today -- made it here legally. But that's no great feat and no great act of virtue since there were no laws on the books for them to break.

So, while I respect most of what you write, I'm sorry Peggy Noonan, but your grandmother was here four years before there were laws requiring her to have a visa to leave Ireland to come to this country. That makes her first night on that Manhattan park bench not as much of a virtuous act as you made it out to be.

This little revelation makes me now wonder -- why are our laws as restrictive as they are? Is it because now that WASPs and their equivalents are settled in and have taken over a land that wasn't ours to begin with, we're simply wanting to keep something so good to ourselves? And are we also not just the slightest bit racist? Just a couple of questions to ask ourselves.

Monday, March 27, 2006

From Harry to the devil

There are people who have commented that Father Gabriele Armoth, the exorcist for the Diocese of Rome, is off his rocker. He stated that it takes very little for one to go from Harry Potter to the worship or service of the devil because the books contain "the signature of the Prince of Darkness."

I, for one, am not willing to dismiss these comments out of hand. Yes, sometimes being an expert in a field makes one find that field in everything one sees. However, I don't think that can be said for a man of Father Armoth's stature.

Read for yourself the two stories below and see what you make of it. Notice the hightlighted part of the second story. Doubtless, someone will say that Wicca and Satan worship are two different things. Sorry, but anyone who worships and serves the creature rather than the Creator is, when all is said and done, worshiping and serving God's ultimate enemy.

From news.com.au
Harry Potter then Devil: Vatican
From correspondents in The Vatican

March 02, 2006

THE Vatican's chief exorcist yesterday claimed the Harry Potter stories could lead children into Satanism.

Father Gabriele Amorth said: "You start off with Harry Potter, who comes across as a likeable wizard, but you end up with the Devil.

"There is no doubt that the signature of the Prince of Darkness is clearly within these books."

Father Amorth, 80, who has carried out more than 3000 exorcisms since 1986, said: "By reading Harry Potter, a young child will be drawn into magic and from there it is a simple step to Satanism and the Devil."

The series of books, whose popularity with children has made millions for author JK Rowling, has already been criticised by Pope Benedict XVI.

Three years ago, before becoming Pope, he said the character was a bad influence because the stories contained "seductions which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly".

From the Battle Creek (Mich.) Enquirer
Man became Wiccan after leaving Episcopal church

Name: Wayne Haney, 41.

Residence: "I was raised in Plainwell and graduated from Olivet College in 1987, with degrees in music education and French. I now live in Lapeer."

Family: Wife, Ellen; two children, 13 and 11.

Profession: High school history teacher.

Raised in: "I was not raised in any church, but began attending and eventually joined St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Plainwell in my senior year in high school. I later joined St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Battle Creek while I was a student at Olivet College. Then I went to seminary at Virginia Theological Seminary to become an Episcopal priest and served for almost five years in New Hampshire and Michigan."

Now a member of: "I now serve as the minister of the Sacred Birch Society, a legally incorporated Wiccan group of nearly 40 men, women and children in the Lapeer area. I say 'minister' because that is a term people can relate to, but any Wiccan is his or her own priest. I am often the group's 'ritual leader' — maybe that's a better name for my role. I have had several teachers and have been ordained by the people of Sacred Birch. As a result, I can legally marry people and conduct funerals. And I can get into hospitals more easily to visit the sick."

Q: Have you performed any marriages yet? "Yes, two couples. One wedding took place in a woods, and the other was in the Long Way Planetarium in Flint."

Q: How long have you been a part of Wicca? "I left the Episcopal priesthood in 1997. My sense is that the strain of leading a Christian flock while not fully being able to believe the message I was preaching finally dropped me into what might be called a very early mid-life crisis. I went through a couple of years of therapy and soul-searching — one of those times when a person really asks what she/he is about, what she/he believes, what life holds. I had always been interested in spiritualities of most any kind.

"During that time I read the Harry Potter books along with my children. My curiosity about the world of Harry Potter led me to do an Internet search on magic, which led me to Wicca. Online, I became acquainted with people from a Wiccan group in Flint. Eventually my wife and I went there and immediately felt we had finally found our spiritual home."

Q: In what ways do you prefer to express your faith? "We celebrate eight major feasts (called Sabbats), which are based on the natural cycles of the solar year (the seasons). Sacred Birch celebrates those as a group. Wiccans also celebrate the lunar cycles and especially the full moons.

"But we are also active in the local community. We volunteer for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, we support a local domestic violence shelter and we have adopted a nearby section of the Michigan forest for patrolling and cleanup. We also make up what we call 'ritual kits' for soldiers. Wicca is now listed as one of the religions of people in the armed services.

"The impulse for us to do such things comes from our abiding sense of thanksgiving for all we have been given, not from a sense of spiritual duty as part of a life that leads to heavenly rewards."

Q: What are your sources of inspiration, your role models? "We draw on many sources. For storytelling, we got back to Greek and Roman and Egyptian mythology, as well as ancient Chinese, Hindu, Buddhist, Norse, Irish, Scottish and other traditions.

"Most Wiccans do not shun technology or attempt to leave society. Quite the opposite — we are very much part of the world and of our communities, quietly living our lives and practicing our religion. We strive to model our lives on the lessons of nature herself."

Q: How open are you about your newfound spirituality? "I am not a closeted Wiccan, but like most Wiccans, I don't make it a point to advertise my spirituality or attempt to proselytize. Our main goal is to simply be a resource for others who are seeking a community to be with while they explore their own spiritual journey."

Originally published March 4, 2006

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Levada -- the Pope's man

This paragraph came from the L.A. Times story about yesterday's consistory:
Levada, a close ally of the pope, went first. He kissed Benedict's hand, and then the pope rose unexpectedly, placed his hands on each of Levada's shoulders and kissed each cheek.
I think that's a sign to those of us who call ourselves orthodox. Pope Benedict has made something very clear to us -- "This is my man on whom my favor rests."

Benedict does not have the same media savvy of his predecessor. But that's what makes such a move extraordinary and why we who consider ourselves orthodox should take good note of it and act appropriately.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Catechisms and big business

There is some controversy surrounding the recent purchase of Saxon Math by Harcourt since Harcourt is a supporter of Planned Parenthood. In September 2004, Catholic World Report published an article I wrote on the review process the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has of catechetical texts. What I found in researching this article was the amount of influence these big companies have over the context of the books.

This article was on the Catholic World News site, but since Phil Lawler took over CWNews.com completely and is no longer editor of CWR, the article is off the web, so I thought I would post it here. I don't remember what the article was titled and what you see here is not exactly what was published since I have the unedited version.

Parents, do you know what catechism your children are reading?

That question has concerned many people since the end of the Second Vatican Council. It is well-known that after the Council catechetical texts were drastically revised to reflect “the spirit of the Council.” Those revisions meant out with doctrine and in with fuzzy concepts of community, self-esteem, “God made me special,” and even sex education.

Finally, a year after the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 1993, the then-National Conference of Catholic Bishops started a Committee to Oversee the Use of the Catechism. One of the tasks the committee assigned itself early on, according to Msgr. Daniel Kutys, a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia who is deputy secretary for catechesis at the USCCB, was that of reviewing catechetical texts to see how they were doing in passing on the faith.

After reviewing texts for a year, there were 10 areas where catechetical texts were seriously deficient which then-chairman Archbishop Daniel Buechlein, OSB, of Indianapolis found:
* the Trinity and the Trinitarian structure of Catholic beliefs and teachings;
* the centrality of Christ in salvation history and his divinity;
* the ecclesial context of Catholic beliefs and magisterial teachings;
* a distinctively Christian anthropology;
* God 's initiative in the world with a corresponding overemphasis on human action;
* the transforming effects of grace;
* presentation of the sacraments;
* original sin and sin in general;
* the Christian moral life;
* eschatology

In other words, catechetical texts were not handing on the Catholic faith as it has been known over 2,000 years. That report was issued in 1997. Fast forward six years to 2003 and hear what Archbishop Alfred Hughes of New Orleans had to say at the November USCCB meeting about high school catechetical texts:

* “Some of the texts found to be inadequate are relativistic in their approach to the Church and to faith...”
* “Our young people are not learning what we know and believe is based on objective truth revealed to us by God...”
* “The sacramental theology which our young people are being taught is also often seriously flawed...”
* “Moreover, moral teaching, like faith teaching, may be presented using tentative language, implying that morality is a matter of opinion and personal choice...”
* “Other problems which commonly recur include a studied avoidance of revealed proper names or personal pronouns for the Persons in the Blessed Trinity...”
* “The christology in texts may be unbalanced with an overemphasis on the humanity of Jesus at the expense of His divinity. Sometimes the treatment of the Holy Spirit is either missing or flawed...”
* “The interpretation of Sacred Scripture tends to rely almost exclusively on the historical-critical method and does not generally draw on the rich patristic and spiritual interpretation in the Church...”
* “The approach to the Church often overemphasizes the role of the community...”
* “In general, the high school texts are strong in their emphasis on the social mission of the Church and the moral responsibility that Catholics have in this area. The social teaching, however, is not always grounded in the divine initiative of the Holy Spirit related to personal moral teaching or to eschatological realities.”

In other words, high school catechetical texts still are not handing on the Catholic faith as it has been known over 2,000 years.

The review process was developed over four years. In it, a bishop and two others from a pool of theological and pastoral experts review a particular series that is voluntarily submitted by a publisher. The review will generally last three to six months. During that time, the team will evaluate the series from a protocol developed by the USCCB committee primarily based on the “In Brief” sections of the Catechism.

After the review, the texts are given one of three grades: found in conformity; could be found in conformity, but needs changes; and inadequate and must be rewritten.

Of the nearly 130 series and texts that have been submitted thus far, only about 10 have been given the “found in conformity” rating the first time through, according to Msgr. Kutys. The “vast majority” of others, he added, are in the second category. Around 15 percent of the material submitted is found to be completely inadequate and must be re-written.
The grade school publishers, said Archbishop John Myers of Newark, have been “quite cooperative and are anxious to be found in conformity” since many dioceses are strict about what texts are used in their borders.

But “there has been more difficulty in getting publishers of high school series and high school texts on the same wavelength as the committee,” he said.

Voluntary and confidential
The entire process of review, though, is voluntary and marked by confidentiality. Publishers, he said, have the option to submit the material or not. The reason the bishops “wanted it voluntarily submitted is they didn’t want to review material that didn’t have a chance at being changed. The whole philosophy is that the publisher gives it to them and they’re looking for help in making it better if that was necessary.”

Which of those materials are rejected, he added, is confidential, as are the committee’s other proceedings. The only thing that is known publicly is a quarterly update of those texts that have been found to be in conformity, which is listed on the USCCB website.

When material is submitted, a review committee is formed of a volunteer bishop reviewer and two theologians who are familiar with catechesis both theologically and pastorally, Msgr. Kutys said.

Who the reviewers are is also confidential. The practical reason for that, Msgr. Kutys noted, is so publishing companies won’t be tempted to go to the bishops to ask them to evaluate the text before it’s officially submitted.

It also gives the reviewers the freedom to “speak their mind and say what needs to be said,” according to Archbishop Myers.

Additionally, the list of bishop reviewers changes as their own responsibilities change. For example, if a bishop is an auxiliary or has a smaller diocese and then is assigned as an ordinary or to a larger see, he might remove himself from the list of reviewers because of the new responsibilities.

Those texts which were found to be in conformity the first time through are not trumpeted. If a publisher decides to reveal how it received its “found in conformity” status, it must reveal the entire report, Msgr. Kutys said.

Such was the case with the Faith and Life series which was first produced by Catholics United for the Faith and published by Ignatius Press, but is now entirely owned by Ignatius.
CUF was among the first groups to submit its texts for review, according to Eric Stoutz, the director of information services for the apologetic group based in Steubenville, Ohio. CUF developed the Faith and Life series in 1984, Stoutz said, because the head of the group at the time thought there wasn’t an adequate catechetical text out there.

The conformity review, Stoutz said, “was an excellent exercise they had us go through.”
While the series was one of the few found to be in conformity the first time through, he said, there were suggestions made that they pay some more attention to social justice issues. “We were strong on credal issues,” he recalled, “but there was a suggestion that we work on the social concerns area.”

“They didn’t let us off with a completely free pass,” he commented.

The series has undergone another evaluation since Ignatius Press recently took over the copyright and made revisions to the texts. That new series is on the current conformity list.
The review can also change some companies around, like William H. Sadlier, Inc. This is a family-owned group that has been in the business since the 1930's. When their texts were put through the review process, they were rejected completely, one source said, an action which devastated the family, which is strongly Catholic. In fact, they nearly gave up completely. But Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., a friend of the family, encouraged them to try again. They did and their texts have now almost become the industry standard.

It’s not perfect
The review process has greatly improved catechetical texts, according to professional catechists who are considered orthodox Catholics. But two things need to be remembered, said a diocesan catechetical director who requested anonymity. First is that the review is rather “narrow” and focuses only on “if anything is against the Catechism” and does not look at age-appropriateness or methodology. No consideration is taken into account, for example, of the document from the Pontifical Council on the Family called The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality.

This comes into play, for instance, with what should be chastity education materials but what end up being sex education materials. Two series are notorious for this – Growing in Love from Harcourt Religion Publishers and the Benziger Family Life series. Both of these series teach the mechanics of sexual activity in fifth and seventh grades. But the bishops refused to review anything that had to do with physiology, biology, sociology or psychology, said Msgr. Kutys, since it has nothing to do with doctrine. So to respond to this, Harcourt and Benziger pulled their sex education stuff out of the old books and made them into separate books. That way the books dealing with doctrine got the approval, but not the sex education materials.

The second thing, the director said, is that a text found in conformity does not necessarily mean that it is an endorsement of the text, though some publishers have presented it as such. So while the text may conform, that doesn’t automatically make it a good text.

There are other issues as well. For instance, while there is a vast improvement in texts over what had been in place before, there is no requirement for bishops or pastors to use the newer texts since the review has no particular status in canon law, according to Msgr. Kutys.

Diocesan catechetical directors downplayed how much the old texts might still be getting used. Peter Ries, the director of catechetics in the Diocese of Lansing said publishers revise their series every five years. Those that are currently being marketed on the elementary school level have gone through the review process and been approved.

But not all of the old texts are gone, as one Minnesota parent recently discovered. Brian Gibson has two children in a Catholic school in a Minneapolis suburb. He had to withdraw them both from class because his parish is using the Benziger Family Life series. As he investigated, though, he discovered that the text is older than the text that is currently on the USCCB conformity listing.

What is being used, he said, is what one would expect to come from Planned Parenthood. Gibson should know. He’s the executive director of Pro-Life Action Ministries in St. Paul, whose group pickets in front of the PP abortion clinic in St. Paul everyday.

The real problem
And that is where a real problem comes. Unlike Sadlier, or religious-owned publishing houses like Ignatius Press or Loyola Press, some of the most popular catechetical textbook imprints are owned by huge corporations. Benziger, for instance, is owned by McGraw-Hill, Brown-ROA was purchased by Harcourt and is now Harcourt Religion Publishers, and Silver Burdett Ginn is owned by Pearson Education.

McGraw-Hill is a huge company owning Business Week and Aviation Week magazines, Standard & Poor’s (including the stock tracking indexes of the S&P 500), a construction firm, four ABC-affiliated television stations in Colorado, California and Indiana, a health care publishing group and Platts, which deals with energy information services. This is all in addition to the book publishing end of things.

Harcourt is owned by a British conglomerate, Reed Elsevier Group, plc., which also owns Lexis-Nexis, the legal and media database company. And Pearson Education owns the publishing concern, McMillan.

What attracts many dioceses and parishes to these companies, say catechetical directors, is the fact that they have the money to service their clients very well by having all kinds of supplementary materials in video and DVD, giving workshops on using the curriculum and other such perks.

But what is repulsive about them is that their companies support lifestyles that are the antithesis of Gospel teachings. McGraw-Hill, for instance, pays “benefits to people in sexual immorality,” said Tom Strobhar, chairman of Life Decisions International. What he finds ironic is that the investment guidelines the USCCB publishes do not even include looking at these kinds of benefits when an investor is evaluating a particular company. Nor do they warn against companies involved in pornography, Stobhar said.

McGraw-Hill also publishes college textbooks for women’s studies programs which invariably promote Planned Parenthood.

Perhaps, though, Harcourt is even more dangerous in this area. In 1994, Harcourt bought catechetical textbook publisher Brown-ROA. It was an era, said Sr. M. Johanna Paruch, FSGM, a catechetics professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville, when small companies were being bought by larger ones for the sake of survival.

Brown-ROA was already controversial for their New Creation sex education series, she said. But since then, Harcourt has published Growing in Love. Its use has stirred controversy particularly in upstate New York and some have even requested that Archbishop Jerome Hanus, OSB, of Dubuque, Iowa, remove his imprimatur from it.

Harcourt also does a large business with Catholic schools on regular school textbooks, said spokesman Rick Blake, something they’ve been doing for years.

But beyond this, Harcourt also published in 1999 A Clinician's Guide to Medical and Surgical Abortion, “the first clinical reference on abortion practice to be published in the United States in over fifteen years,” according to the New England Journal of Medicine. In addition to this, other Harcourt imprints have published such titles as Contraception: Your Questions Answered; Handbook of Contraception and Family Planning; Contraception and Office Gynecology, and The Lives of Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals as a college textbook for use in homosexual studies programs.

And to make matters worse, Harcourt has a matching grant program which contributes to Planned Parenthood, though Blake was quick to point out that the contributions were minimal and did not come from the religion division. Some pro-life organizations have said that Harcourt has given significantly to Planned Parenthood in the past, but Blake was unable to confirm that.
Archbishop Myers said that to his knowledge these connections have not been looked at, but he said, “I would find it offensive and I think it should be looked at.”

This issue will become even more pressing as the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People gets further adopted, the archbishop said. The Charter calls for children to be sensitized to inappropriate activity. He has told the USCCB offices “that the right of parents must be respected in this regard. Because it is the natural right of parents to train their children in such intimate matters. I’m saying that rather simply insist that children go through programs in our schools or in our religious education programs, there should be a form created where parents can say, ‘I have taken care of this formation for my child on my own and I find that he or she is properly prepared in this regard.’ And that would be part of the audit, rather than force every single child to go through a certain program which the parent might not want.”

Msgr. Kutys told CWR that the bishops have never really looked at the issue of who owns what and the issue has never been raised in this way before. Whenever the USCCB has gotten together with the publishers, which is an annual meeting, they have always presented themselves as being at the service of the Magisterium, not at the service of their bottom line, he added.

That bottom line might be a good thing, said Sr. Johanna. When a large company is more concerned about the bottom line rather than a particular ideology, they’ll be more willing to do, for instance, what the bishops ask them to do so the books will sell.

But Msgr. Kutys has been told that those religious education divisions do not have the same kind of pressure to produce a profit as do other portions of the companies, and that the companies view those divisions as having some particular value beyond their minimal money-making capacity.

What that value is is hard to say. Perhaps it has to do with the fact of how much these companies sell to Catholic schools, something which is disturbing to Archbishop Myers. “One of the things which has occurred across the field of Catholic primary and secondary education, especially in the United States,” he said, “is that you used to be able to get a series for primary school that included substantial reference to Catholic history. You can’t do that anymore. The examples in the math books or sociology would be Catholic. And the phenomenon which you describe with the mega-corporations moving in has really homogenized the textbooks, homogenized the teaching, and I think resulted in a less Catholic identity of our Catholic education and that’s really too bad.”

Many talk about the two lost generations since Vatican II. What is worse to think about though is that the Catholic Church has been paying to lose them. The major publishers have been dominated by secularist thinkers and publishing textbooks to reflect that thinking and Catholic parishes and schools around the country have been paying to buy them so that the faith and morals of the Church’s teaching can be undermined in our children.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Finally, someone gets it!

Here are portions of an article from, of all places, Business First for Buffalo. Notice the parts I have bolded:

The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has identified 10 schools that will participate in the pilot phase of a program designed to strengthen enrollment and fundraising...

Enrollment in Catholic grammar schools has been dropping for a couple of decades. In 1984, the diocese had 28,080 students enrolled in 125 elementary schools. By 2004, the diocese had 17,218 students enrolled in 76 schools.

The number of baptisms in the diocese has dropped 51 percent during the same period.

Why is it that it took a secular publication concerned with business to figure out that if we're not producing children, we're not going to have students to keep schools open?

Of course, Business First of Buffalo won't go into the reasons we're not having children since that's not their pervue. However, that should be abundantly obvious to anyone who can add two and two to get four: because we're ignoring Humanae vitae and contracepting and aborting ourselves out of existence.

Yet I don't expect to hear Bishop Edward Kmiec -- or, for that matter, any of his brethren -- coming out to tell his subjects, "Folks, you've got to stop contracepting, because if you don't, there won't be anyone left to send to schools or parishes. Pretty soon, we're not going to have a diocese left if you don't have more children." There's a saying about fiddling while a particular city burns that comes to mind.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Sam Alito part of Opus Dei?

The link is over to the radically left site of CounterPunch. I know next to nothing about them. But I do know that they are typical in their attack on the Church being made in complete ignorance of fact.

I have my problems with Opus Dei, as I do with many of the Church's new renewal movements. However, they are not comparable to Nazi soldiers (the analogy is so overused that it is in danger of becoming trivial), nor are they any kind of elite shock troops. Yes, they do tend to reach out to the wealthy and privileged more than to the poor. But the Gospel must be preached to all, not only to the poor. And besides, as Mother Teresa constantly pointed out, there is poverty in far more ways than the lack of money.

If Justice Alito is part of Opus Dei, so what? The issue for the American people isn't his religious affiliations -- the issue is the fairness of his rulings.

As for all the other things Mr. Carmichael talks about, they're all a bunch of nonsense. What Samuel Alito's supposed membership in Opus Dei has to do with the priestly sex abuse scandal or with Cardinal Ratzinger's letter on Communion for politicians is beyond me. To be sure, the former Cardinal's letter had as much to do with Bush winning the White House as did the phase of the moon and the number of tea leaves that were raised in China that year. Such stupidity should probably be ignored, but sometimes stupidty can have the look of intelligence and it is that look that has to be defended against.

Double standards

It's another one of those double-standard things that just kind of gradually hits you in the face. You're reading along in the Chicago Tribune in a two-author byline story about why there's been so much of an uproar over the cartoons satirizing Muhammad. All of a sudden you realize something -- these ladies keep referring to Muhammad as "the Prophet," complete with a capital "P."

Now isn't that something? The Chicago Tribune is making a statement of faith and no one bats an eyelash about it. "A statement of faith?" you ask. Yes, a statement of faith. Ask any believing Christian and he or she will tell you that Muhammad was not a prophet, never mind The Prophet. Ask a Buddhist or Hindu and they're more than likely to say something similar. It's only Muslims who believe this.

Now when was the last time you read an article about Jesus in the paper that used the word "Christ" after His Name or referred to Him by the title Christians ascribe to Him on a routine basis, "the Lord"? You can't remember it, can you? I thought not since it never happens.

So I wrote a letter to the editor, not of the Tribune, but of Editor & Publisher, the magazine of the newspaper business. Here's what I said:
As I was reading a Chicago Tribune story, "Why cartoons sparked furor," by Margaret Ramirez and Manya A. Brachear and published on Feb. 7, 2006, I was struck by the number of times Muhammad was called "the Prophet" in the story. Six times in this 1,250 word piece the writers refer to him as "the Prophet" with an extra two references coming from direct quotes.

This is rather curious. Do not the Tribune and all other secular media outlets realize that they are making a statement of faith about who Muhammad was when they use the phrase "the Prophet"? That is Muslim belief, not secular fact. Nowhere that I have seen does a secular newspaper ever refer to Jesus Christ as "the Lord," though that is the common parlance for Christians. In fact, most won't even use the word "Christ" since that is the Greek word for "Messiah" meaning anointed one, hence a statement of faith.

Granted, it gets rather tiresome to use "Muhammad" throughout a story. But using the title accorded to him by his followers immerses the secular press into an area it should not go -- the endorsement of a particular religion. In other words, if secular outlets are going to give equal coverage to religions, either they should refer to Muhammad simply as "Muhammad," or they should start referring to all other deities by the titles claimed by the adherents of those particular religions.

Michael Schiavo and his 'bishop'

Who would've thunk it? Michael Schiavo gets married 10 months after his wife dies? Nah! You gotta be kidding me! And in a Catholic church, too?

Ah, there's the rub. Canon lawyer Ed Peters raises some good points in this posting on his blog. As another canon lawyer suggested, get in touch with His Eminence, Cardinal Francis Arinze and tell him what you think about it.

Francis Cardinal Arinze
Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
Palazzo delle Congregazioni
Piazza Pio XII, 10

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A Democrat for Life who really is

You know that Statement of Principles from 55 Catholic Democrats that was initiated by Connecticut congresswoman Rosa DeLauro who at one time was a member of Emily's List? The one where 35 of the signers voted in opposition to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act? Well, for some reason which I cannot comprehend, Democrats for Life, an organization about which I favorably wrote in Our Sunday Visitor in May of 2004, has lent their support to the writers of that letter.

One person who is more than a little upset with Dems for Life over this is New York State Senator Ruben Diaz. Senator Diaz is a remarkable man. Besides being a senator representing the Bronx, he is also a Pentecostal minister. He is pro-life and, in the NY State Senate, has actually been the clearest voice defending the Catholic Church on the floor.

Senator Diaz is also a Democrat, one of those rare Democrats who do not compromise when it comes to life. So when Senator Diaz gets upset that Dems for Life is happy with the 55-Dem salute to Catholic principles, you know there's good reason to be upset. Here's a copy of the letter he wrote to Kristen Day, head of Democrats for Life:

March 7, 2006

Ms. Kristen Day
Democrats for Life
601 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
South Building – Suite 900
Washington, DC 20004
Sent by fax to 202/638-6957

Dear Ms. Day:

As a pro-life Democrat and elected official in one of the most liberal cities in the United States, I was shocked and dismayed to read your recent press release supporting a letter written by Rep. Rosa DeLauro and cosigned by mostly pro-abortion Democrats members of Congress. I found it to be deceptive and something I could never embrace.

Most of the letter’s signers support unrestricted abortion and have a total disregard for the grave moral disorder in our society. And to me it is obvious that no child could enjoy the programs and policies mentioned in this letter if he or she fell victim to abortion.

As a Board Member for Democrats for Life of New York, I cannot comprehend how you can officially share the goals of Representative DeLauro’s letter. Our goal, as pro-lifers, is to promote a culture of life. Their letter has been written to attack the President and promote a pro-abortion, liberal agenda, and its candidates, which includes the most of the signees. It has not been written to promote respect for the dignity of each human person at all stages of development. It has been signed by too many elected officials who choose to disregard some human life.

As a pro-life Democrat, I endure great pain, tribulation and agony by pro-abortion officials and political activists who refuse to promote the sacredness of all human life. Because of my Christian faith and its core beliefs – which include the need to respect all human life – I am the recipient of sharp and constant criticism. However, I am proud of my efforts and ask God to continue to give me the fortitude to continue.

I respectfully ask that you reconsider your support for this Congressional letter and its hidden agenda.

Fighting for a good educational system, good health services, job creation, affordable housing, and other important social services equally available to all human beings, are some of the reasons that I am a public servant, however, as I said before, an aborted baby will never be able to enjoy these services. Therefore, it is the duty and responsibility of every good Christian, good Catholic and any pro-lifer to defend the sanctity of life and not allow the sagacity of these signees to distance us from our goals.


Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz
32nd Senatorial District
1750 Westchester Avenue
The Bronx, New York 10472
Phone: 718/892-7513