Thursday, August 13, 2009

Nuns for Planned Parenthood?

In a time when a proposed healthcare overhaul will use taxpayer funds for abortions (as Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-CA, asserted- see, Catholics must do all they can to present a united front on life issues. Those Catholics who describe themselves as faithful while supporting pro-abortion leaders or laws pose the greatest threat to such cooperation.

According to an article on The Catholic Key blog, the National Catholic Coalition of American Nuns has endorsed the "Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act." Sponsored by former pro-life Representative Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the bill would significantly increase access to birth control while masquerading as a "common ground" approach to the feud over abortion. The USCCB Pro-life Office has appropriately dubbed it the "Planned Parenthood Economic Stimulus Package of 2009."

Sister Simone Campbell, Sister of Social Service and the executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobbying group, said of the bill, "This legislation gives me hope that we can finally begin to move beyond using pregnancy as a political wedge issue and to focus instead on providing women and families with the resources they need for healthy pregnancies and babies...It is time to work together to eliminate political posturing on this issue.”

To be a nun is to be a bride of Christ. I'd be interested in hearing Sister Campbell repeat those words when she comes face to face with her husband.

Article reference:

Shedding Light on Healthcare

To those of you who are, like me, woefully uninformed about the intricacies of federal legislation, this article may be of valuable assistance.

James Capretta is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, home to the famed George Weigel. He is also a Fightin' Irish alum (with a stopover at Duke, but "blessed are the merciful"). His son, Tom, is a rising Senior, former Manorite, and, reportedly, a ROTC machine.

On to the article:

Obamacare: It's Even Worse Than You Think

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Love and Marriage

We question our culture's attitude towards sex -- but how many of us have thought through the way in which our society views marriage? There's a lot more to question besides easy divorces, argues this piece.

The theology is off (speaking of covenants instead of sacraments), but the way it explores the general expectation that marriage happens when you're in your late 20s, financially stable, and fully emotionally independent makes the piece very much worth reading. A snippet:

"For all the heated talk and contested referendums about defending marriage against attempts to legally redefine it, the church has already ceded plenty of intellectual ground in its marriage-mindedness. Christian practical ethics about marriage—not the ones expounded on in books, but the ones we actually exhibit—have become a nebulous hodgepodge of pragmatic norms and romantic imperatives, few of which resemble anything biblical."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Reinventing Popes

Double-posted to The DC Writeup:

Liberal American Catholics love to reinvent dead Popes. When John Paul II was alive, liberal Catholics ignored his teaching on a whole host of issues, from the all-male priesthood to liberation theology. But after Pope Benedict XVI’s election, they have attempted to contrast the suddenly “moderate” and “beloved” John Paul with his “conservative” and “hard-line” successor. John Paul is not the only one to be subject to this historical revisionism. Almost every Pope from Leo XIII to Paul VI has been recast to appear more or less liberal or conservative than he really was, so as to fit some leftist template of “liberal = good, traditionalist = bad.”

The principle is simple: Liberals despise Popes who oppose them and pretend to like Popes whom they can portray as supporting their agenda.

Liberal Catholics are now (at least momentarily) changing their tune on Pope Benedict to justify their support for the fiercely pro-choice Barack Obama. Though Josef Ratzinger was derided before and after his election with such epithets as “God’s Rottweiler,” “the Grand Inquisitor,” and “a Nazi” (no joke), his meeting with President Obama this month, along with his new encyclical Caritas in Veritate, are being hailed by the left as proof that the Church is over her silly fixation on abortion, and is now equally concerned with peace, “social justice™,” universal government health care, rainbows, ponies, and the Socialist Utopia.

Some context for those who don’t know what’s going on with the Catholic Church in America would be useful. The Church in the U.S. has been rocked by two closely-related events: the 2008 election and the University of Notre Dame’s 2009 commencement address by President Obama.

An emerging new Catholic Left, led by such thinkers as U.S. Ambassador to Malta Doug Kmiec and such groups as Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, put forward a significant case in favor of supporting Obama’s candidacy in 2008. They based their support in Obama’s commitment to bringing about peace in Iraq, protecting the environment, providing health care for the uninsured, and reducing abortions by improving the social conditions of the usually-poor women who choose it.
As great as that all sounds, more traditional and conservative Catholics attempted to point out two inconvenient facts. First, these goals expressed by Obama as priorities for his presidency were also shared by John McCain. The two differed in terms of how to accomplish them, but, though the Catholic Left acted like Obama had the Catholic market cornered on these issues, McCain’s approaches to them were not inherently immoral or opposed to Church teaching.

Secondly, Obama (unlike McCain) wholeheartedly endorses the legal status of on-demand abortion, federal funding for embryo-destructive stem cell research, repealing the Mexico City Policy to allow federal funding for abortion overseas, a publicly-funded health care plan that covers abortions, and appointing Supreme Court justices who will protect Roe v. Wade. Oops. Many American bishops, led by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, were forceful in asserting to their flocks the logical priority that Catholics had to give to the abortion question in their vote.

For these same reasons, approximately eighty American bishops publicly opposed the decision of the University of Notre Dame to honor President Obama by naming him their 2009 commencement speaker and by giving an honorary doctorate. The bishops thought it was scandalous for a Catholic school to honor someone whose positions and actions are antithetical to the most important social issue the Church faces today. Liberal Catholics howled in protest to the bishops, saying that the Church needs to engage the broader culture (by kissing its ass, apparently) and accusing bishops of wanting to put us back into the “Catholic ghetto.”

So, you can see that the Catholic Left position, under assault from the hierarchy, really could use a bit of magisterial help. Well, along came two P.R. godsends from no less authority than the Pope himself.

First, President Obama met the Pope for the first time on July 17 at the Vatican. With their uncanny gift for ignoring important distinctions, liberals gleefully shrieked, “See! See! The Pope met with him, that must mean the American bishops are just a bunch of reactionary partisan frauds!” Of course, the Pope just met and talked with Obama, as he meets and talks with almost every world leader with whom he has diplomatic relations. He did not render Obama any conspicuous honors or hold him up as someone to model—as Notre Dame did.

Secondly, the Pope’s magnificent teaching letter (or “encyclical”), Caritas in Veritate, was publicly released on July 7. The encyclical was broad, providing a summary of a huge swathe of the Church’s social doctrine, including certain more particular comments about the recent financial crisis. Statements indicating the importance of protecting the environment, of the rights of workers to unionize, of rejecting motives of excessive greed in business, of preserving some social welfare programs, and one particular paragraph that seemed to recommend an expanded role to the United Nations were hailed by liberals as a sign that the Pope was now a progressive who joined them in an utter rejection of capitalism.

However, none of these “liberal” ideas were exactly new sentiments coming from the Papacy, and I don’t think I can find many conservatives who would object in principle to anything the Pope suggested. As for his statement on the United Nations (the one novelty in the document), who would oppose giving the UN authority over some limited aspects of international trade, so long as it were first reformed so as “to be regulated by law, to observe consistently the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, to seek to establish the common good, and to make a commitment to securing authentic integral human development inspired by the values of charity in truth,” as the Pope stated?

And, by the way, what is “authentic integral human development” in the Pope’s mind? He said earlier in the encyclical, “Openness to life is at the centre of true development.” He decried the spread of abortion, euthanasia, and the sterilization of women in developing countries, specifically criticizing the NGOs that provide these services to women (CoughMexicoCityPolicyCough!). It is clear that defending the dignity of human life is the central, foundational concern of the Pope in this encyclical, and that it is at the heart of the Church’s social teaching in the modern era.

And this is the problem with the Catholic Left. They care about abortion, but apparently not enough to, you know, try to make it illegal or anything. Maybe they should try to take in the words Benedict quotes from John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae: “…a society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized.”

Monday, August 10, 2009

Job Opening!

A good friend of mine, Megan Miller, is the Managing Editor of the Superior Catholic Herald. She's very talented and a great person, and she's hiring a staff writer! She tells me that recently graduated Rovers are especially encouraged to apply.

In a rough job market for journalists, seriously, this is good news. Here's the blurb:

Outstanding opportunity for professional Catholic to serve as reporter at the Superior Catholic Herald. As part of a three-person staff, you will write a variety of feature stories about the Catholic community in northern Wisconsin. Qualifications include feature writing experience, photography skills and familiarity with newspaper design. Understanding of Catholicism a must. Send letter of interest – including salary expectations, resume and three writing samples to Megan C. Miller Inquiries can be directed to 715.394.0213. Deadline ASAP.

Hypocrisy: Sanford Edition

Mark Sanford (R), current governor of South Carolina, continues to have an amazing year. In addition to vacationing in Argentina with a woman not his wife (or was it hiking in the mountains?), it appears that Mark Sanford has been getting quality travel for quite a while.

Essentially, while in office, Governor Sanford decided that in addition to being morally conservative (like respecting marriage) he should also be fiscally conservative. So he got a budget haircut.

That cost nearly $1300 to fly to. Nice.

In addition to misusing the SC Government Jet for budget haircuts, he used to ferry himself and family around, and visit partisan GOP conventions. Yet another example of the extreme hypocrisy evident among politicians.

Rover Film Review: The Ugly Truth

Film Review: The Ugly Truth (Rated R for sexual content and language.)

Cast: Katherine Heigl (Knocked Up), Gerard Butler (300).
Director: Robert Luketic (Legally Blond, Monster-In-Law, 21)

Rotten Tomatoes: 16%

The Ugly Truth purports to showcase 'the ugly truth' of relationships and love, mainly sex. And in this, the film rivals a Judd Apatow flick - full of sexual references and crude humour (an interesting move for Katherine Heigl after her remarks regarding Apatow's raunchy Knocked Up).

In pursuing a romantic comedy angle and populating this 96 minute long film with sexual innuendo galore, the film strives to follow in Apatow's steps, but falls well short - lacking in humor, morality, and, frankly, story.

For example, Gerard Butler's Mike is portrayed as a likable-everyman rogue, who - used and deserted by women in the past - turns to becoming a crass womanizer himself. But, by the end, the audience is supposed to accept his complete devotion to someone who embodies all the qualities he rails against for the first sixty minutes, all while suddenly being likable because he cares for his nephew.

My second biggest peeve, besides the overall unlikeableness of the film, is the portrayal of the perfect man 'Colin'. Yes, he is imbued with qualities to make any lady swoon, but by the end, he is seen as shallow and like, Mike (and Heigl's Abby) obsessed with sex. Is this what relationships are about in Hollywood? Sex?

The Ugly Truth ends up fulfilling half its title, being quite 'ugly' - lacking in many qualities which would make this film watchable. The complete lack of moral integrity shown in the film, similarly epitomizes a view of culture and society that is becoming all too common in the media today.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Get Money, Get Paid

The following is a response to the recent announcement that Eli Manning signed a $97 million contract with Pepsi products to be a company spokesperson: In these times of economic desperation with so many unemployed being unable to feed, clothe and shelter themselves and/or their families it is an absolute outrage that something like this can still occur in the United States of America. One of the most disturbing facts about our capitalist nation is the misappropriation of funds directed to the salaries of entertainers. Everyone should agree that the value an athlete, movie star, talk-show host, team-owner, etc. brings to the average citizen is very small. Granted, they do offer a minuscule of diversion from our daily trials and tribulations, as did the jesters in the king's court during the middle ages. But to allow these entertainers to horde such great amounts of wealth at the expense of more benevolent societal programs is unacceptable.

Our society is also subjected to the "profound wisdom" of these people because it equates wealth with influence. Perhaps a solution to this problem and an alternative to defeated school levies and crumbling infrastructures, as well as all the programs established to help feed, clothe and shelter those who cannot help themselves, would be to tax this undeserved wealth. Entertainers could keep 1 percent of the gross earnings reaped from their endeavor and 99 percent could be deposited into the public coffers.

As Congress considers limiting the amount of pay given to Corporate Executives they should decide instead to raise the taxes on these Banksters and the so-called entertainment industry.

The old ideas of the redistribution of wealth have failed, and it is time to adapt to modern-day preferences. Does anyone think this will reduce the quality of entertainment? It seems to me that when entertainers received less income, the quality was much higher.

-J. Bialek

The above is a letter to the editor, received on Friday, August 7th, 2009. It might not say anything that many have not already thought or even spoken to those around them, however it doesn't hurt to hear it again. Though I do believe that a $97 million paycheck is grossly disproportionate to the services being rendered, I admit that I am not in entire agreement with Mr Bialek's suggestion of singling out "Banksters and the so-called entertainment industry" in lieu of setting limits on corporate executive compensation (of which I am not entirely in favor either) in the government's effort to gain some control of the economy.

Fortunately or unfortunately, if I may speak from my ivory tower, I believe that the truest way for the current economic debacle to begin to be solved is for each of us to humbly admit how deeply our modern culture has sunk into the many forms of greed. Although the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Courage, Self-Control, and Justice have not been all together stamped out, these nonetheless are not cultivated or even encouraged. From what I can see of it, I can only think that the only way that America can hope for a change in the direction that we are now going is for us to go back to the basics of virtue, to rediscover virtue. I do think that there are those who have begun to rediscover virtue and who seek to share this with others. However, this news often falls on deaf ears. It is not until we can accept and admit to the root problems of our economic system (or any problematic system for that matter) and then virtuously seek to amend them that we will be able to rightfully call our American nation "great."