No disturbing images here, just an excellent educational video on how life begins at conception and should be protected at all stages of development. According to polling data from 2003 (these numbers have fallen since then) cited in the video, 66% of American believe abortion should be legal in the first trimester, while only 10% believe it should be legal in the third trimester. What’s the difference?…watch the video
H/T The hermeneutic of continuity
The President’s Speech; Why I Wasn’t Impressed
Since that deadly day nearly two weeks ago, the story has dominated the news; we’ve learned many details about the deranged shooter and his innocent victims; we’ve debated the causes and consequences of the event; and we’ve prayed for all those who have suffered so much from the violence.
President Obama traveled to Tucson and did his level best to offer his sympathy and support, to encourage a city and a nation, and to invite us all to a better future marked especially by more civility in public discourse. In asking us to learn from and move beyond the terrible moment, the president appealed to Holy Scripture and to the better instincts of the human family. Noble sentiments all. As some have said, and I agree, it was his best moment as president.
As I watched Mr. Obama, though, and later reflected on his speech, I sensed there was something missing; there was something that left me cold, unimpressed and unmoved.
And suddenly it became clear. The problem, at least for me, is that President Obama’s persistent and willful promotion of abortion renders his compassionate gestures and soaring rhetoric completely disingenuous. “O come on, Bishop Tobin,” I hear you say. “Abortion’s not the only moral issue in the world.” Correct, I respond. Abortion’s not the only moral issue in the world but it is the most important. And, I confess, abortion policy is the prism through which I view everything this president says and does.
Is there any longer any doubt that Barack Obama is the most pro-abortion president we’ve ever had?
President Obama has enthusiastically supported the Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade that has allowed virtually unrestricted access to abortion in our nation and has resulted in approximately 50 million deaths since 1973.
President Obama has consistently surrounded himself with pro-abortion advisors, and has appointed pro-abortion politicians to key positions in the federal government, including his two nominees for the Supreme Court.
President Obama has promulgated policies, including the overturn of the Mexico City Policy (within the first few hours of his presidency) that requires taxpayer monies to provide abortions around the world. Similarly he signed an executive order that forces taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research; he signed a bill that overturned the 13-year-long ban of abortion funding in the nation’s capital; and he directed the passage of health care legislation that opens the door to federal funding of abortions and could eventually limit the freedom of religion for individuals and institutions who find abortion morally repugnant.
President Obama has made abortion a key foreign policy issue, pressuring nations to accept abortion policies; he’s supported several pro-abortion initiatives of the United Nations; and he’s appointed Hillary Clinton as the Secretary of State. Secretary Clinton has had a consistent pro-abortion record and in her international travels has promoted abortion as a human right.
The full accounting of President Obama’s track record on abortion goes on for eight typed pages, a very sad and discouraging litany. The net effect, though, is that President Obama’s shameful record on abortion leaves his touching tribute and appeal to goodness in Tucson – and other expressions of compassion – sterile and meaningless. As he stood on the stage in Tucson, he was a prophet without credentials; his speech, a song without a soul.
Perhaps the president’s most moving rhetoric was that about Christina Taylor Green, the precious nine-year-old slain in the barrage of bullets. As a father of two beautiful daughters himself, the president’s words were surely personal and sincere. Of this child he said: “In Christina we see all of our children. So curious, so trusting, so energetic and full of magic . . . So deserving of our love.”
But I can’t help but ask, respectfully, “Mr. President, why can’t you see our other children – so curious, so trusting, so energetic and full of magic, and so deserving of our love – in all of the unborn children who didn’t live because of our nation’s embrace of the abortion option?”
And in one of the most dramatic moments of his speech, Mr. Obama announced that the wounded congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, opened her eyes for the first time just after he’d completed his visit to her. “A miracle” some proclaimed, and certainly a welcome sign of recovery at which we all rejoice.
But I can’t help but wonder how many tiny eyes will never open, will never see the light of day, because of this president’s shortsighted and zealous promotion of abortion.
It’s truly tragic that our president – for whose safety and well-being we pray all the time and who has demonstrated an impressive ability to inspire other people – is unable to see the deadly consequences of his abortion agenda. Perhaps we need another miracle, to open his eyes, that he might see and understand how wrong abortion is, how sinful it is, how violent it is, and how it’s destroying the life of our nation.
Remember the story back in October 2009 when a Texas Planned Parenthood clinic director quit her job and joined the pro-life cause? Her name is Abbey Johnson and after witnessing an ultrasound guided abortion procedure she left her career and joined the pro-life supporters who prayed outside the clinic she used to manage.
Planned Parenthood sued her and placed an injunction to prevent her from revealing the “behind the scenes” of the abortion biz. The lawsuit was recently dropped and she is releasing her new tell-all book of her story and how Planned Parenthood distorts the truth in order to promote their abortion business model. The first chapter of her book details the event which precipitated her life-changing change of heart. I think it’s a pretty gripping read…click here to buy.
CHERYL POKED HER HEAD INTO MY OFFICE. “Abby, they need an extra person back in the exam room. Are you free?”
I looked up from my paperwork, surprised. “Sure.”
Though I’d been with Planned Parenthood for eight years, I had never been called into the exam room to help the medical team during an abortion, and I had no idea why I was needed now. Nurse-practitioners were the ones who assisted in abortions, not the other clinic staff. As director of this clinic in Bryan, Texas, I was able to fill in for any position in a pinch, except, of course, for doctors or nurses performing medical procedures. I had, on a few occasions, agreed at a patient’s request to stay with her and even hold her hand during the procedure, but only when I’d been the counselor who’d worked with her during intake and counseling. That was not the case today. So why did they need me?
Today’s visiting abortionist had been here at the Bryan clinic only two or three times before. He had a private abortion practice about 100 miles away. When I’d talked with him about the job several weeks before, he had explained that at his own facility he did only ultrasound-guided abortions — the abortion procedure with the least risk of complications for the woman. Because this method allows the doctor to see exactly what is going on inside the uterus, there is less chance of perforating the uterine wall, one of the risks of abortion. I respected that about him. The more that could be done to keep women safe and healthy, the better, as far as I was concerned. However, I’d explained to him that this practice wasn’t the protocol at our clinic. He understood and said he’d follow our typical procedures, though we agreed he’d be free to use ultrasound if he felt a particular situation warranted it.
To my knowledge, we’d never done ultrasound-guided abortions at our facility. We did abortions only every other Saturday, and the assigned goal from our Planned Parenthood affiliate was to perform 25 to 35 procedures on those days. We liked to wrap them up by around 2 p.m. Our typical procedure took about 10 minutes, but an ultrasound added about five minutes, and when you’re trying to schedule up to 35 abortions in a day, those extra minutes add up.
I felt a moment’s reluctance outside the exam room. I never liked entering this room during an abortion procedure — never welcomed what happened behind this door. But since we all had to be ready at any time to pitch in and get the job done, I pushed the door open and stepped in.
Continue reading here
don’t miss this read: http://www.lifenews.com/2010/12/31/mtv-call-it-what-you-want-its-still-abortion/
The MTV program No Easy Decision has received much attention and ink since it aired last Tuesday. Despite all the euphemisms and efforts to rationalize and diminish the reality that abortion ends a human life…none of them really worked. Thus the most disturbing element of the program…this fact didn’t really matter. There was a surprisingly good op-ed piece in the NYT juxtaposing the reality of abortion with the fact that some go through heroic (though also often immoral) measures to have children of their own.
The Unborn Paradox
By ROSS DOUTHAT
Last night MTV aired a special Pregnant and 16 episode in which a teenager, Markai, decided to abort her second child. This was very difficult to watch. Not surprising is how the subject was treated. I first heard about this by a Salon article this morning and proceeded to watch the video of the episode. LifeNews.com has a story here as well. I was heartbroken, astonished, and saddened at how tragic this is in many different ways. It is worth viewing simply to see the decision making process of this young couple and the kind of support and information they receive.
The most tragic was to see a very nice girl in a poor situation receiving little or no support, receiving appallingly unscientific and false information, and ultimately rationalizing a decision clearly against her conscience which she admits will haunt her forever. This could have been avoided with simple financial assistance. Period.
Lack of support. She first discusses the dilemma with the father who says they have to make a decision that is best for him, her, and their daughter (what about the baby she is now pregnant with). They don’t want their children to suffer through poverty–admirable. She seeks the advice of her friend who offers to support her decision no matter what she decides. Adoption is not an option because she will feel too attached, “I’m in love with this baby already and this baby not doin’ nothing but making me sick” (I love this baby too much to just give her away, too much to let her suffer in poverty, therefore..). This is irrational.
Appalling information. She calls the local clinic to get information on abortion services. The very friendly woman on the phone instructs her that there is a medication abortion where the “pregnancy tissue is expelled”, and there are surgical abortions in which there is “gentle suction to remove the pregnancy”. She is so upset she needs to end the call. Later at the clinic she is told not to think of 10 fingers and 10 toes and a forehead, just a ball of cells or it will make you depressed (her baby had a heartbeat at this point). The sad reality that euphemisms and dehumanizing rhetoric are employed in order to make the unthinkable thinkable. She seeks the help of her mother and gets the following: “I can’t tell you what to do but this one you’re on your own, Mommy can’t help you.” I really feel for this poor soul.
Contradiction on display. Watching this tragedy unfold is disturbing but an fascinating glimpse into the inner struggle of conscience on vivid display. “Mommy loves you a whole bunch…she’ll do anything and everything for you in the whole wide world”. “I never called that thing a baby because I told you not even to think of it as a baby.” “You hurt my feeling when you called it a thing I know its not a person but it’s still a part of us.” “You will never feel my pain” “A thing can turn out just like that (pointing to her 1 yr old daughter)…nothing but a bunch of cells can be her.” “I wonder if we could have made a better one [decision].” “I don’t think God would have given me something I couldn’t handle”. This is difficult to witness. Tragic.
The episode ends with an interview with two other young women who had abortions. The pain of their decisions is more than evident. Pray for all victims of abortion…this includes so many women who suffer and are in pain.
Youth Pro-life Leaders Respond to MTV’s Abortion Episode
by Bryan Kemper
For weeks we have been hearing about the MTV special that would feature a teen couple contemplating abortion. We were tempted to write about this show last week but decided to wait until the show aired. We know that MTV is no bastion of decency or truth, but we did not think the show would actually go as far as it did. We were wrong.
One very telling feature of the show was that it played without commercial interruption; this is not normal for MTV. This show was obviously funded by some one or some organization with an agenda; a very deadly agenda.
To be honest it felt like this was almost scripted as the perfect pro-abortion propaganda film. The couple was young, poor, and volatile; and they also already had one baby. They talked about God and the father had a Jesus tattoo on one shoulder and was wearing a necklace that looked like a rosary. They could have made it an extreme case, but they kept it simple; I don’t think they could have cast a better couple for this show to make the audience sympathize with their decision to kill their child. Full story at LifeNews.com
Look no further! Cecile Richards, the director of the largest abortion-for-profit-business in the US, Planned Parenthood, issued an annual fund raising message:
Supporter — It’s almost Mother’s Day … and if you have a mother in your life who’s anything like me or my mom (the late Texas Governor Ann Richards), then you know nothing would make her happier than a gift that represents bold and compassionate values. Like a gift in her honor to Planned Parenthood Federation of America. We’ve made it quick and easy — and we’ve even made it pretty.
It doesn’t get any more outrageous than this! Honor your mother by making another mother childless. It’s nice to know they’ve made donating as “quick and easy” and ” pretty” as they make their abortion services.
If President Obama and the Congressional leadership truly wanted health care reform, they would maintain the 33 year precedent of not forcing those who do not agree with abortion to pay for it with their tax dollars. If they respected the consciences of individuals and truly sought common ground, health care would now be law. But they see an opportunity–perhaps their only one–to expand and solidify into law what they perceive to be an absolute right, abortion. The following article is an excellent analysis:
Throwing the Bathwater Out With the Baby?
by Pat Archbold
In all the discussion about whip counts it is easy to lose sight of what really counts and what the health care debate is really all about. It should come as little surprise that this is all about abortion, or more specifically about the federal funding of abortion.
However, conversely to what the media would have you believe, it is not primarily about Bart Stupak and a handful of pro-life Democrats holding up health-care reform. Rather, it is about the leadership of the Democrat party’s willingness to sacrifice their electoral livelihoods and/or health-care “reform” in order to make sure abortion is covered.
The real truth is that if health-care reform were the true overriding objective of President Obama and the Democrat leadership in Congress, then they could have passed this bill months ago. Instead, Democrats in the Senate refused to compromise on keeping the status quo—an over three decade prohibition on federal funds for abortion. If they had crafted language similar to the Stupak amendment in the House, which merely reflects the status quo, Obamacare would now be the law of the land.
They refused. Now again in the House, Nancy Pelosi has struggled for months to find votes for the bill. Even now, the Democrat leadership would rather risk their careers and blatantly violate the Constitution rather than give in on abortion and the Stupak language. This gives proof to the lie that Obamacare does not change current law on abortion and makes inexplicable the willingness of some Catholics to blindly accept this falsehood.
This bill is all about funding abortion. The Democrats understand that this may be the one chance in the next decade to get this done and they will not sacrifice it. They will sacrifice the Constitution and their own jobs, but not federally funded abortion.
I am not the only one who thinks so. Bart Stupak appeared on Greta Van Susteren’s show last night and stated that the Democrats know this is their opportunity. The Democrats have made clear they intend to throw out the baby, the only question is whether they are willing to throw out the bathwater to do it. It seems the answer is yes.
Now that the dust has seemingly settled over the public debate between Congressman Patrick Kennedy and Bishop Thomas Tobin, several things have become quite clear.
- The cause and nature of the initial debate got lost in a sea of peripheral issues and spin.
- Congressman Kennedy irresponsibly throws bombs, distorts facts and retreats.
- Bishop Tobin is very articulate and goes where most bishops fear to tread.
- US bishops have failed to send a clear, consistent message to the faithful.
- The Church is reaping the fruits of forty years of catechesis devoid of substance.
1. Rep. Kennedy put the ball in motion when he chided the bishops’ “so-called” pro-life position for their insistence on health care reform without public funded abortion or an abortion mandate. The debate evolved when the congressman stated he was no less a Catholic for his pro-choice position or disagreement with the hierarchy. Bishop Tobin was compelled as a faithful pastor to stave off scandal by correcting this erroneous claim. This issue had nothing to do with the separation of Church and State or punishing a politician on his vote on a particular piece of legislation, but everything to do with who defines authentic Catholicism. Roman Catholic Identity.
2. Congressman Kennedy fanned the flames, escalated and perpetuated this controversy. Let’s see…from his incendiary remarks which prompted this public debate, his erroneous claim to authentic Catholicism despite his contradictory convictions, his accusation that Bishop Tobin betrayed confidences, his ‘private’ meeting with the bishop at a busy ‘public’ restaurant at Noon, his interview indicating he would no longer discuss his private faith in a public forum, to his public disclosure of a two and a half year old letter from the bishop requesting him to refrain from presenting himself for reception of Holy Communion–all prompted Bishop Tobin to respond. Where is he now? It is evident that Rep. Kennedy’s handlers failed him on this latest controversy.
3. On the few occasions I have heard Bishop Tobin speak I have been very impressed and I would even say “inspired”. “Now THAT was a bishop.” The sad fact is that the majority of bishops would have let Congressman Kennedy’s remarks slide without any comment, or perhaps no public comment. Bishop Tobin said he felt an obligation to address the public statements and misinformation for the sake of Kennedy himself, and to prevent others from being led astray. Bishop Tobin’s press releases, public statements, radio interviews, Chris Matthews and Bill O’Reilly appearances all demonstrated his intelligence, poise (even during Matthews’ disrespectful, condescending, lecturing filibuster) and measured approach in articulating the Church’s teachings. There is a small list of the ‘usual suspects’–bishops who respond publicly (Abps. Burke, Dolan, Chaput, Nienstedt) . It was encouraging to see Bishop Tobin join the ranks of bishops not afraid to defend the Faith and use such public scandal as a moment of instruction.
4. Reaction to Bishop Tobin’s response ran the gamut from those who thought he never should have interfered or went too far, to those who shook fists in the air demanding he excommunicate the congressman. There is no episcopal handbook on how to deal with such issues, therefore it is up to the discretion and devices of each individual bishop who has the authority over his diocese. Confusion arises when there are different responses or even public infighting seen among the bishops on how to handle such issues. There are numerous recent public scandals to cite as examples: President Obama at Notre Dame, Nancy Pelosi on Meet the Press, Sen. Ted Kennedy’s funeral, and now Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s scuffle with Bishop Tobin. Is a Catholic politician’s public voting record on abortion cause for public scandal? Remember that scandal is defined as “conduct causing or encouraging a lapse of Faith or religious obedience in another”. Public scandal requires a public correction and a public repentance. The inability of US bishops to reach a consensus on dealing with public scandal is divisive and the inconsistency or lack of response can itself become scandalous.
5. Why do people have the erroneous impression that they can be proponents of abortion and still remain faithful, devout Catholics? Or how is it possible that people don’t see a fundamental flaw in their reasoning when they espouse the “I’m personally against abortion but would not impose my belief on another” argument? Why is the belief so widespread that it is acceptable to compartmentalize one’s religious beliefs from public conduct, or hold Faith as not only personal but also private. And why is that not seen as contrary to the very heart of Catholicism? Why do people mistakenly cite their consciences to justify dissent from central teachings of the Church, and just about everything for that matter? Why wouldn’t faithful Catholics approach personal disagreements with Church teachings from a disposition of humility and a fundamental assumption that “if I find myself at odds with the Church, I must not have a clear understanding of what the Church is teaching”? There is genius and centuries of wisdom in the Church. As Abp. Fulton Sheen once said, “There are only about 100 people that truly hate the Church, but there are millions who hate what they think the Church is”. The answer to all these questions is simple: lack of education (catechesis). Where is the substance in catechetical education for children and young adults? Where is the adult education? Where is the continuing formation for the clergy? Where is the reinforcement from the pulpit?
So, thank you Congressman Kennedy for unwittingly bringing much needed discussions to a national audience. Thank you Bishop Tobin for having the courage and taking this opportunity to instruct the faithful and challenge the unfaithful. Public scandal requires a public response, lest complacent inaction creates scandal itself.
- Unintended pregnancies account for almost half of all pregnancies.
- Four out of ten unintended pregnancies end in abortion.
- Out of the total number of pregnancies (intended and unintended), 24% are terminated by abortion.
- For women ages 15-44, two out of every hundred have an abortion. Of these, 48% have had one or more abortions previously.
- For women choosing abortion, 52% are under 25. Teenagers account for 19%, and women 20-24 account for 33%.
- As compared to white women, black women are almost four times as likely to have an abortion. For Latino women, the number is 2.5 times.
- Women who have never been married account for 2/3 of all abortions.
- The majority of women choosing abortion are already mothers who have had one or more children. They make up over 60% of all abortions.
- Women who have never used any method of birth control account for 8% of all abortions.
- For women having abortions, 43% describe themselves as Protestant and 27% identify as Catholic.
Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States. Guttmacher Institute May 2006
The Left opposes the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion provisions in healthcare reform. So why doesn’t it oppose the YWCA, United Methodist Church, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis for favoring abortion?
Original post by William Donohue
Getting Nancy Pelosi to accept a health care bill that bans federal funds for abortion was the greatest victory scored by U.S. bishops in a generation. It also unleashed an unprecedented attempt to censor them. Their latest enemy is Geoffrey Stone writing in the Huffington Post.
Stone finds it troubling that the bishops are so vocal. He yearns for a time when JFK was president, a time when separation of church and state met his approval. Perhaps the Chicago law professor forgot about Rev. Martin Luther King, the minister who took to the pulpit and lobbied for civil rights in the name of free speech and religious liberty. Should King have been muzzled as well? Or just today’s bishops?
As the following list discloses, Stone is hardly alone in trying to censor the bishops: Rep. Lynn Woolsey, Rep. Diana DeGette, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, Frances Kissling, Planned Parenthood, Feminist Majority, Catholics for Choice, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the National Organization for Women, and many others favor a gag rule. On Nov. 12, Nancy Snyderman of MSNBC spoke for many when she said that “This is going to be a Pollyannaish statement. The Catholic bishops appearing and having a political voice seems to be a most fundamental violation of church and state.” Brilliant.
The following is a partial list of religious groups that want abortion coverage in the health care bill: Rabbinical Assembly, Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, Episcopal Church, Society for Humanistic Judaism, Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, Union for Reform Judaism, Central Conference of American Rabbis, North American Federation of Temple Youth, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Unitarian Universalist, Presbyterian Church (USA), Women of Reform Judaism, Society for Humanistic Judaism, Church of the Brethren Women’s Caucus, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, Lutheran Women’s Caucus, Christian Lesbians Out, YWCA.
So why don’t Stone and company want to gag these groups as well? Let’s face it: they don’t have a principled bone in their collective bodies.
Why am I giving the public ‘dialogue’ between Congressman Kennedy and his Bishop, Thomas Tobin, such attention? This topic has everything to do with our Roman Catholic Identity. More than the public rebuke of dissenting Catholic political figures, the dialogue serves to instruct all Catholics and shed some light on common misapprehensions. There are some real gems here, and it is encouraging to hear a bishop speak with clarity and…spine.
Bishop Tobin appeared as a guest on the WPRO Dan Yorke show this past Wednesday and candidly discussed the public ongoing exchange between himself and Rep. Patrick Kennedy, falling short of calling him an outright liar. But Dan Yorke connected the dots by quoting Kennedy himself in a recap.
Says Rep. Kennedy:
Whenever I’d choose to discuss with him I would hope that it would remain between us, that’s what I’ve been most concerned with.
I’d initially agreed on a meeting with him and provided that we not debate this in public in terms of my personal faith or things of that sort and, unfortunately, he hasn’t kept to that agreement. And that’s been very disconcerting to me. I don’t think this is something that is open for public debate
As I said from the point of view of having him discuss things that I think are of a more personal nature, I think that that’s unfortunate. But I’m, as I’ve said, I’m not going to engage that any more because, like I’ve said, I’m not. That’s not something I brought up and I’d prefer to keep that between us.
What? Bishop Tobin reiterated the fact that his hand was forced by the unwarranted attack by Kennedy and his continued public comments and letters. There was no ‘agreement’ of confidentiality, especially whe the Congressman sent the Bishop an open letter and sent a copy to the Press. The meeting between them which was subsequently ‘postponed’ was to be held at a busy Providence restaurant at Noon today–at the Congressman’s request. How private could this have been? The bishop noted that within ten minutes every satellite truck in Rhode Island would have been there. The fact that any confidences were violated “is preposterous”.
Bishop Tobin fielded questions concerning broader issues of identity, the fallacy of pro-choice catholics, and denying Communion.
Bishop Tobin on being Catholic, “Darnit, it means something!”:
Nobody is forced to be a Catholic. If you freely choose to be a Catholic it means that you believe certain things, you do certain things, you understand and accept the teachings of the church, you understand the disciplines of the Church, you lead a sacramental life. if you cannot do all that in conscience than you should perhaps feel free to go somewhere else. But thats not what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to invite people into the Church but at the same time saying, “if you are a Catholic, darnit, it means something”.
Bishop Tobin on what it means to be a Catholic:
That whole question “what does it mean to be a catholic?” it means something you cannot say you’re Catholic and be pro abortion, it’s false advertising you cannot have it both ways.
Should pro-choice catholics be taking communion, going to Church in good faith? What should they be doing?
They should be really examining their conscience, praying really hard and try to understand why the church so consistently and unanimously says abortion is a terrible evil. There’s a reason we say those things because we think it is.
But not telling them to stay out?
No, we’re inviting them in but inviting them in to a real, strong and purified union with the Church–and same thing with Congressman Kennedy. Patrick, please, we’re not trying to drive you further away. Patrick, come back. The doors are open, our arms are open, think about what you’re doing. Congressman this is about your spiritual well-being, your spiritual growth and I want to do everything I can to help that.
The Providence Journal Bulletin carried a story today which quoted Congressman Patrick Kennedy saying he was “not going to dignify with an answer” Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas J. Tobin’s public comments that he could not be a good Catholic and still support abortion rights. Kennedy called those comments “unfortunate,” and said, “I’m not going to engage [in] this anymore.”
For deciding “not to engage anymore” he certainly continued to keep “engaging”. Rep. Kennedy finds it “very disconcerting” that Bishop Tobin will not agree to keep private the discussion of his faith, and that is why his scheduled meeting with the bishop Thursday has been postponed. Bishop Tobin’s public letter covered that one, “Since our recent correspondence has been rather public, I hope you don’t mind if I share a few reflections about your practice of the faith in this public forum. I usually wouldn’t do that – that is speak about someone’s faith in a public setting – but in our well-documented exchange of letters about health care and abortion, it has emerged as an issue…your description of your relationship with the Church is now a matter of public record, and it needs to be challenged.”
Responding to Bp. Tobin’s question, “Do you belong to a local Catholic community, a parish? Do you attend Mass on Sundays and receive the sacraments regularly? Do you support the Church, personally, publicly, spiritually and financially?“ Kennedy said yesterday that he has a pastor, and “I have my sacraments through that pastor. I have sought the sacraments of reconciliation and Communion and all the rest.” He said he preferred to keep his pastor’s name private.
About the ‘postponed meeting’, the Congressman said “I had initially agreed to a meeting with him [Thursday], provided we would not debate this in public in terms of my personal faith, but unfortunately, he hasn’t kept to that agreement, and that’s very disconcerting to me.” But he also said he expects to meet with the bishop, if matters of faith will be kept “between us.”
Michael Guilfoyle, spokesman for the diocese, said the meeting was postponed “by mutual agreement,” but noted, “The bishop’s schedule is still free on Thursday if the congressman would like to have that personal and pastoral meeting. The contents between any personal conversation between the bishop and the congressman could certainly remain private. However, the congressman has made this a very public debate, and the bishop is responding to his public comments.”
This letter to the editor of the Providence Journal was submitted by a Rhode Island Pastor and was not printed. It gets press here:
To the editor,
It is easy for a Congressman to make bravura statements. It is much more challenging for a Congressman to make principled statements that not only attend to immediate issues but also reveal a deeper understanding of the true issues that confront our country.
Unfortunately Congressman Kennedy chooses the bravura in making critical statements about the Catholic Church. In doing so he completely overlooks the Catholic Church’s rich tradition of both respecting and championing the rights of all individuals …. from conception until natural death. Few organizations can rival the Catholic Church’s dedication and support for the health needs of all members of our society. And because of the Church’s dedication to the rights of all, it cannot support assistance to a part of society while compromising and overlooking the rights of another group.
Bishop Tobin is quite correct. The Congressman owes us an apology. It is no mark of achievement that one can champion the health needs of some members of our society when the life-needs of the unborn are trivialized.
Congressman Kennedy should know better. After all, he is a Catholic.
Rev. Ronald E. Brassard
Immaculate Conception Church
File this in the “I can’t believe my eyes” category. It is encouraging to see a bishop lead and not mince words. From the Rhode Island Catholic:
Dear Congressman Kennedy
BY BISHOP THOMAS J. TOBIN
Dear Congressman Kennedy:
“The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” (Congressman Patrick Kennedy)
Since our recent correspondence has been rather public, I hope you don’t mind if I share a few reflections about your practice of the faith in this public forum. I usually wouldn’t do that – that is speak about someone’s faith in a public setting – but in our well-documented exchange of letters about health care and abortion, it has emerged as an issue. I also share these words publicly with the thought that they might be instructive to other Catholics, including those in prominent positions of leadership.
For the moment I’d like to set aside the discussion of health care reform, as important and relevant as it is, and focus on one statement contained in your letter of October 29, 2009, in which you write, “The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” That sentence certainly caught my attention and deserves a public response, lest it go unchallenged and lead others to believe it’s true. And it raises an important question: What does it mean to be a Catholic?
“The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” Well, in fact, Congressman, in a way it does. Although I wouldn’t choose those particular words, when someone rejects the teachings of the Church, especially on a grave matter, a life-and-death issue like abortion, it certainly does diminish their ecclesial communion, their unity with the Church. This principle is based on the Sacred Scripture and Tradition of the Church and is made more explicit in recent documents.
For example, the “Code of Canon Law” says, “Lay persons are bound by an obligation and possess the right to acquire a knowledge of Christian doctrine adapted to their capacity and condition so that they can live in accord with that doctrine.” (Canon 229, #1)
The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” says this: “Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles, ‘He who hears you, hears me,’ the faithful receive with docility the teaching and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.” (#87)
Or consider this statement of the Church: “It would be a mistake to confuse the proper autonomy exercised by Catholics in political life with the claim of a principle that prescinds from the moral and social teaching of the Church.” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 2002)
There’s lots of canonical and theological verbiage there, Congressman, but what it means is that if you don’t accept the teachings of the Church your communion with the Church is flawed, or in your own words, makes you “less of a Catholic.”
But let’s get down to a more practical question; let’s approach it this way: What does it mean, really, to be a Catholic? After all, being a Catholic has to mean something, right?
Well, in simple terms – and here I refer only to those more visible, structural elements of Church membership – being a Catholic means that you’re part of a faith community that possesses a clearly defined authority and doctrine, obligations and expectations. It means that you believe and accept the teachings of the Church, especially on essential matters of faith and morals; that you belong to a local Catholic community, a parish; that you attend Mass on Sundays and receive the sacraments regularly; that you support the Church, personally, publicly, spiritually and financially.
Congressman, I’m not sure whether or not you fulfill the basic requirements of being a Catholic, so let me ask: Do you accept the teachings of the Church on essential matters of faith and morals, including our stance on abortion? Do you belong to a local Catholic community, a parish? Do you attend Mass on Sundays and receive the sacraments regularly? Do you support the Church, personally, publicly, spiritually and financially?
In your letter you say that you “embrace your faith.” Terrific. But if you don’t fulfill the basic requirements of membership, what is it exactly that makes you a Catholic? Your baptism as an infant? Your family ties? Your cultural heritage?
Your letter also says that your faith “acknowledges the existence of an imperfect humanity.” Absolutely true. But in confronting your rejection of the Church’s teaching, we’re not dealing just with “an imperfect humanity” – as we do when we wrestle with sins such as anger, pride, greed, impurity or dishonesty. We all struggle with those things, and often fail.
Your rejection of the Church’s teaching on abortion falls into a different category – it’s a deliberate and obstinate act of the will; a conscious decision that you’ve re-affirmed on many occasions. Sorry, you can’t chalk it up to an “imperfect humanity.” Your position is unacceptable to the Church and scandalous to many of our members. It absolutely diminishes your communion with the Church.
Congressman Kennedy, I write these words not to embarrass you or to judge the state of your conscience or soul. That’s ultimately between you and God. But your description of your relationship with the Church is now a matter of public record, and it needs to be challenged. I invite you, as your bishop and brother in Christ, to enter into a sincere process of discernment, conversion and repentance. It’s not too late for you to repair your relationship with the Church, redeem your public image, and emerge as an authentic “profile in courage,” especially by defending the sanctity of human life for all people, including unborn children. And if I can ever be of assistance as you travel the road of faith, I would be honored and happy to do so.
Thomas J. Tobin
Bishop of Providence
It has been reported that the meeting between Bishop Tobin and Congressman Patrick Kennedy, which was scheduled to take place this Thursday, has been ‘mutually’ postponed. No rescheduling has been announced, though Bishop Tobin has published a public letter in response to Rep. Kennedy’s October 29 letter.
“If someone is clearly and consistently and obstinately opposed to the church on something as serious as abortion — which again is a grave and intrinsic evil — then they really have to question their membership in the church and their participation in the life of the church.” So says Bishop Tobin directed at Lawmakers. Bam!…there it is!
In an interview two weeks ago Rep. Kennedy attacked the church’s opposition to current health care legislation and accused the bishops of ‘fanning flames of dissent and discord’: “I can’t understand for the life of me how the Catholic Church could be against the biggest social justice issue of our time…You mean to tell me the Catholic Church is going to be denying those people life saving health care? I thought they were pro-life. If the church is pro-life, then they ought to be for health care reform because it’s going to provide health care that are [sic] going to keep people alive.”
Bishop Tobin responded: “Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s statement about the Catholic Church’s position on health care reform is irresponsible and ignorant of the facts. But the Congressman is correct in stating that “he can’t understand.” He got that part right.”Congressman Kennedy continues to be a disappointment to the Catholic Church and to the citizens of the State of Rhode Island. I believe the Congressman owes us an apology for his irresponsible comments. It is my fervent hope and prayer that he will find a way to provide more effective and morally responsible leadership for our state.”
After Bishop Tobin extended an invitation to meet and discuss the “Catholic Church’s longtime support of comprehensive health care legislation and measures that protect and defend life”, Rep. Kennedy responded in a letter, falling short of an apology: “[my remarks] were never intended to slight the church…“that the church has always stood for health-care reform.”
Kennedy said he hopes that “our Church will be true to its millennia-old mission of feeding the hungry, clothing the poor and caring for those less fortunate than ourselves. My Catholic faith is based on these foundation principles.” But his disagreement with “the hierarchy of the church on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” “We all have our own morals and religious views, but in the end women have to have their health protected. Back alley abortions and so forth will happen if there isn’t a safe, legal means to have that medical procedure.”
And the hits keep coming. It seems Congressman Patrick Kennedy is feverishly digging himself a deeper hole as he spars with Bishop Tobin of Providence. They plan to meet at 12:30 on November 12th at a yet to be disclosed location.
btw: Chirothecœ = episcopal gloves
Comment: “I’m against abortion, but I still think it’s something that must be decided between a doctor and patient. You never know if because some poor women couldn’t afford an abortion her and the baby died. I think the focus should be and should’ve always been the forming of conscience, not the forcing. Even if it is an objective evil I believe the antidotes we create, most of the time is worse than the poison.”
Response: “True we need to form consciences – in the dignity of the human person from the moment of conception until natural death. Consciences need to be formed so as to understand that human life is a gift from God and that any doctor or woman has no right to destroy the life of another human being. There is no “forcing”. Abortion destroys and is one of the greatest injustices we have seen in our own day – any law which allows it to take place (or forces others to pay for it in the case of the proposed Health Care bill) is unjust. Laws must protect the baby and help the mother.
Unfortunately the law of the land becomes the morality of the “little” ones, those who are unable to make the right decisions by not having help from the right people or any religion/faith. We might think this to not be significant, but it is HUGE when we consider the number of people who have no direction for their lives in regard to such a monumental decision (like destroying the life of your own child!) – the law becomes their morality.
At the very foundation of all laws there must be the dignity of the human person – without which there is no justice. Many people have been duped into such thinking that it all comes down to a personal choice. How about the choice of the child?
I believe one way to resolve such poor reasoning is to have an “all out” effort to help women to understand the love and the mercy of Jesus in their lives after an abortion. The more this is made known to post-abortive women (and men), the more the Good News of Christ will spread and the truth of abortion (and faulty thinking) will be made known.”
1. I have difficulty understanding the argument “I’m personally against, but support your right to decide for yourself”, unless the debate is for vanilla or chocolate ice cream. Take the following statement: “I am personally opposed to sticking a needle in my wife’s eye, but I respect your right to make that decision for yourself”. Hopefully we are in agreement that this is absurd.
2. Any law that omits an entire class (unborn in this instance), even if the intention and foreseen outcome produces a good, is an unjust law. How can you be against health care? This is the Patrick Kennedy argument. Suppose such legislation provided the finest of comprehensive care for all…except African Americans. The vast majority of Americans would be covered and the law would accomplish a tremendous good. How could you not be in favor of health care reform? Quite easily. How are the examples different? They are not. Such a law is unjust and cannot be supported.
I cannot recall an historic precedent for this. The USCCB launched a sudden campaign to rally all Catholics to contact their representatives in an effort to prevent the passage of present health care legislation which funds abortion. (The vote in the House may occur this Wednesday or Thursday.) The campaign provided pulpit “talking points” and a bulletin insert. Unfortunately, by the results of some polling in the blogosphere, word didn’t get out to the country’s 19,000 parishes. The vast majority neither made any mention of the issue nor provided the bulletin insert.
[CNY Onine] I wish I could tell you that Church leaders were brave, countercultural and prophetic,” I can still hear him say, “but that would not be the truth.”
“With very few exceptions,” he went on, “Catholics in the United States did little or nothing to condemn the dramatically moral evil of slavery, and demand its end. And that is to our shame to this day.”
Those words came from my mentor, friend and teacher, Msgr. John Tracy Ellis, the legendary professor of the history of the Catholic Church in the United States, during his sobering lecture on the Church and slavery, when I was a graduate student at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Perhaps we have learned our lesson, for Catholic leaders—committed laity, religious sisters and brothers, clergy, bishops—have been on the front lines of the premier civil rights issue today, the right to life. And that is to our credit. And that’s good to ponder during October, Respect Life Month.
The comparison of abortion to slavery is an apt one. The right of a citizen to “own” another human being as property—to control him/her, use him/her, sell him or decide her fate—was, prior to 1865, constitutional, sad to say.
That “right” to own a slave was even upheld by a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court (whose Chief Justice at the time, Roger Brooke Taney, was a Catholic, “personally opposed” to slavery!) in the infamous 1857 Dred Scott Decision, declaring that a slave who had escaped and claimed freedom had to be returned to his “master,” because he had no rights at all.
Tragically, in 1973, in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court also strangely found in the constitution the right to abortion, thus declaring an entire class of human beings— now not African-Americans, but pre-born infants—to be slaves, whose futures, whose destinies, whose very right to life —can be decided by another “master.” These fragile, frail babies have no civil rights at all.
Our faces blush with shame as we Catholics admit we did so little to end slavery; but we can smile and thank God that the Church has indeed been prophetic, courageous and counter cultural in the right to life movement. As an evangelical pastor recently commented to me, “We may criticize you Catholics for some things, but we have sure been inspired by your early and courageous leadership in the pro-life movement.”
A few years ago, I met with a prominent philanthropist, who described himself—and I always know I’m in for trouble when I hear this—as a “former Catholic.” Now, he went on to say, he was a “progressive,” and would consider a large gift to the Catholic Church “if you changed your position on abortion.”
I must admit I’m afraid I made no headway at all when I patiently tried to explain to him that this was hardly a “position” of the Church that could change, but a conviction grounded in natural law, shared by most other world religions, and, for that matter, dramatically obvious in our American normative principles, which hold that certain rights are “inalienable”—part of the inherent human makeup—the first being the right to life itself.
Many issues and concerns in addition to protecting the baby in the womb fall under the rubric of the right to life—child care, poverty, racism, war and peace, capital punishment, health care, the environment, euthanasia—in what has come to be called the consistent ethic of life. All those issues, and even more, demand our careful attention and promotion.
But the most pressing life issue today is abortion. If we’re wrong on that one, we’re just plain wrong.
When our critics—and their name is legion—criticize us for being passionate, stubborn, almost obsessed with protecting the human rights of the baby in the womb, they intend it as an insult. I take it as a compliment.
I’d give anything if I could claim that Catholics in America prior to the Civil War were “passionate, stubborn, almost obsessed” with protecting the human rights of the slave. To claim such would be a fib. But, decades from now, at least our children and grandchildren can look back with pride and gratitude for the conviction of those who courageously defend the life of the pre-born baby.
I well remember being in Baltimore two years ago for the installation of their new archbishop, Edwin F. O’Brien, a native son of this archdiocese in whom we are very proud. He gave a stirring homily, recounting how his predecessors had often been on the forefront of promoting issues of justice in our country: Cardinal James Gibbons came up, of course, for his defense of the rights of labor back in the 1880s; Cardinal Lawrence Sheehan, who was jeered at a City Council meeting in 1965 for speaking on behalf of open housing for African-Americans; Cardinal William Keeler, criticized for advocating the rights of immigrants. And now, the new archbishop concluded, the tradition has to continue, as the Church must be on the front lines of the premier justice issue of the day: the protection of the right to life of the baby in the womb.
It’s October, Respect Life Month.
The sophistry employed by Catholic politicians is nothing short of astonishing at times. When asked to respond to the Catholic Bishops’ letter to Congress withholding support from any health care legislation funding abortion, Representative Kennedy, a Providence College alumnus, went on the attack.
Here is a transcript of the exchange between Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D.-R.I.) and CNSNews.com:
Nicholas Ballasy: “There’s a letter written by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to Congress saying that they believe all of the health care proposals right now – the one in the House and the ones in the Senate – they all fund abortion as it stands and unless there’s an amendment or a change to those bills that specifically prohibits it, they’re not going to support it. Do you agree with them or is there something – “
Patrick Kennedy: “I can’t understand for the life of me how the Catholic Church could be against the biggest social justice issue of our time where the very dignity of the human person is being respected by the fact that we’re caring and giving health care to the human person – that right now we have 50 million people who are uninsured. You mean to tell me the Catholic Church is going to be denying those people life saving health care? I thought they were pro-life. If the church is pro-life, then they ought to be for health care reform because it’s going to provide health care that are going to keep people alive. So this is an absolute red herring and I don’t think that it does anything but to fan the flames of dissent and discord and I don’t think it’s productive at all.”
Rep. Kennedy accused the bishops of fanning flames of dissent and of not being pro-life? A red herring is a deliberate attempt to change the subject or divert attention or an argument. It is evident to me that the red herring is Kennedy’s attempt to divert attention from the fact that current legislation will fund abortion…the biggest social injustice of our time where the very dignity of the human person is not being respected. How does a health care bill which allows tax payer funded abortion provide health care that is going to keep people alive?
Statement of Bishop Tobin in Response to Congressman Kennedy’s Attack on Catholic Church
(PROVIDENCE, R.I.)-The Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, today issued the following statement in response to a Cybercast News Service article that reported:
Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I) told CNSNews.com that the Catholic Church is doing nothing but fanning “the flames of dissent and discord” by taking the position that it will oppose the health-care reform bill under consideration in Congress unless it is amended to explicitly prohibit funding of abortion.
“Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s statement about the Catholic Church’s position on health care reform is irresponsible and ignorant of the facts. But the Congressman is correct in stating that “he can’t understand.” He got that part right.
As I wrote to Congressman Kennedy and other members of the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation recently, the Bishops of the United States are indeed in favor of comprehensive health care reform and have been for many years. But we are adamantly opposed to health care legislation that threatens the life of unborn children, requires taxpayers to pay for abortion, rations health care, or compromises the conscience of individuals.
“Congressman Kennedy continues to be a disappointment to the Catholic Church and to
the citizens of the State of Rhode Island. I believe the Congressman owes us an apology for his irresponsible comments. It is my fervent hope and prayer that he will find a way to provide more effective and morally responsible leadership for our state.
Life News reports that a Pro-Life watch group has researched the new Swine Flu vaccine and found it was not created using cells from aborted fetuses–a method used in creating many vaccines available today. Yes, that is correct, many vaccines are manufactured using cell lines harvested from aborted babies. Here is a chart of vaccines manufactured using such fetal cells. Doctors would ask the parent if their child had an allergy to eggs before administering measles and chicken pox vaccines. Why? Because the vaccines were created using a chicken egg cell derivative. How did the pharmaceutical companies address this? They used cells from aborted fetuses. Problem solved.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a statement on this very subject in response to a letter seeking clarification on the morality of immunizing children with such vaccines where no alternative exists. This horror came to my attention several months as I was researching vaccines that my children were required to receive. I became aware of an entire industry based on the sale of baby parts. Read here. Who would have thought that something as ‘routine’ or elemental as a vaccinating your child would be a moral issue?
God our Father, you lovingly knit us in our mothers’ womb. Grant that each human embryo will be respected as a human being, and not dismissed as a product to be manipulated or destroyed. Grant us the courage and conviction to be your voice for our sisters and brothers at the very earliest stages of their development, and for all defenseless unborn children.
Jesus, Divine Healer, foster in those conducting medical research a commitment to finding cures in ways that respect these little ones and all your vulnerable children.
Holy Spirit, grant us the wisdom to develop morally sound treatments for conditions now thought to be incurable. Help us persevere in defending human life while alleviating suffering.
Show mercy to all who have cooperated in killing our tiniest brothers and sisters. Bring them and all who support destructive embryo research to true conversion. Grant them the ability to see the immeasurable dignity of all human beings even in the first days of life.
Father, we ask this in Jesus’ name, through the Holy Spirit. Amen.
In an interview published yesterday by The Washington Post, readers got a glimpse into how pro-abortion Catholic politician, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, justifies her position on this most fundamental issue concerning the sanctity of human life.
Recall that Sebelius publicly professes to be a faithful Catholic yet is one of the most strident abortion rights advocates in government. In May of 2008, due to the public scandal her abortion advocacy created, she was asked to refrain from receiving Communion by her local bishop, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas.
Following is an excerpt from the interview:
MS. ROMANO: You are pro-choice.
SECRETARY SEBELIUS: Yes.
MS. ROMANO: Do you think that the federal government should do some federal funding of abortions, personally?
SECRETARY SEBELIUS: Well, the President has made it pretty clear that Congress and the new health insurance plan will not provide federal funds for abortions.
MS. ROMANO: Well, I know that. I was asking you what you thought.
SECRETARY SEBELIUS: I am the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and I will support the President’s proposal moving forward.
MS. ROMANO: You are also a pro-choice Catholic, and I was reading some stories out of your home state recently where one of the bishops took an action. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
SECRETARY SEBELIUS: Well, the Archbishop in the Kansas City area did not approve of my conduct as a public official and asked that I not present myself for communion.
MS. ROMANO: What did you think about that?
SECRETARY SEBELIUS: Well, it was one of the most painful things I have ever experienced in my life, and I am a firm believer in the separation of church and state, and I feel that my actions as a parishioner are different than my actions as a public official and that the people who elected me in Kansas had a right to expect me to uphold their rights and their beliefs even if they did not have the same religious beliefs that I had. And that’s what I did: I took an oath of office and I have taken an oath of office in this job and will uphold the law.
MS. ROMANO: Do you continue to take communion?
SECRETARY SEBELIUS: I really would prefer not to discuss with you. That’s really a personal—thank you.
We’ve seen this argument before and I’d like to parse it more thoroughly in the future. But for now, notice how her claim to uphold the rights and beliefs of her constituents fails to include the rights and beliefs of those opposed to abortion and the unborn themselves. Equally disturbing is the understanding of the right to life as a religious belief, where she feels in good conscience she cannot impose her religious belief on non-believers. But we are not talking about legislating the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we are talking about the most fundamental of human rights–the human right of life itself.
Regarding the notion of separation of church and state as pertaining to actions as parishioner versus politician, I cite an address by Archbishop Charles Chaput given to ENDOW in Denver, Colorado, OCT. 17, 2008:
The “separation of Church and state” does not mean — and it can never mean — separating our Catholic faith from our public witness, our political choices and our political actions. That kind of separation would require Christians to deny who we are; to repudiate Jesus when he commands us to be “leaven in the world” and to “make disciples of all nations.” That kind of separation steals the moral content of a society. It’s the equivalent of telling a married man that he can’t act married in public. Of course, he can certainly do that, but he won’t stay married for long.
There has been much “flap” about the funeral of Senator Kennedy, some justified but most ridiculous. Aside from the ‘strange’ liturgy, recited Mass parts, abominable prayers of petition, what follows represents the most measured analysis of the whole affair, By Cardinal O’Malley of Boston.
From Cardinal Sean’s Blog
Saturday was the 39th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood, at St. Augustine’s Church in Pittsburgh by Bishop John B. McDowell, who is still going strong today. In the Church’s calendar, the feast day for August 29 is the Beheading of John the Baptist. People usually take note when I tell them that I was professed to religious life on Bastille Day, July 14, and ordained on the feast of the Beheading. Not that I am superstitious.
On Saturday morning I attended the funeral Mass for Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Father Donald Monan, S.J., former president of Boston College, celebrated the Mass and Father Mark Hession, pastor of Our Lady of Victories in Centerville, preached the homily.
The music was outstanding with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus enriching the liturgy along with mezzo-soprano Susan Graham who later sang an absolutely striking rendition of Schubert’s “Ave Maria.” Cellist Yo-Yo Ma graced us with his beautiful solo performance of Bach and later joined Placido Domingo, who sang the “Panis Angelicus.” Placido has a superb voice. I told him how much I like the Zarzuela, the Spanish classical musical theater productions. His family had a troupe that presented Zarzuelas in Mexico and he promised to arrange a performance.
The venue for the funeral Mass was Mission Church, the magnificent Redemptorist Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Senator Kennedy prayed often in this church when his daughter, Kara, was stricken with cancer. It is a church where countless faithful have gone to pray and ask for healing, grace and forgiveness.
In light of these themes, I wish to address our Catholic faithful who have voiced both support and disappointment at my having presided at the Senator’s funeral Mass.
Needless to say, the Senator’s wake and Catholic funeral were controversial because of the fact that he did not publically support Catholic teaching and advocacy on behalf of the unborn. Given the profound effect of Catholic social teaching on so many of the programs and policies espoused by Senator Kennedy and the millions who benefitted from them, there is a tragic sense of lost opportunity in his lack of support for the unborn. To me and many Catholics it was a great disappointment because, had he placed the issue of life at the centerpiece of the Social Gospel where it belongs, he could have multiplied the immensely valuable work he accomplished.
The thousands of people who lined the roads as the late Senator’s motorcade travelled from Cape Cod to Boston and the throngs that crowded the Kennedy Library for two days during the lying in repose, I believe, were there to pay tribute to these many accomplishments rather than as an endorsement of the Senator’s voting record on abortion.
The crowds also were there to pay tribute to the Kennedy family as a whole. On the national political landscape, if Barack Obama broke the glass ceiling of the presidency for African Americans, Jack Kennedy broke it for American Catholics.
As a young lad, I saw photographs of both Pope John XXIII and President John Kennedy hanging in the thatched cottages of County Mayo and heard the Gaelic greeting, “God and Mary be with you.” Three of the Kennedy brothers died in service of our country in the prime of life. And Eunice Shriver, who died just a few weeks ago, was an outspoken defender of the unborn and an apostle of the Gospel of Life. She taught us all how to love special children and to make room for everyone at the table of life. In 1992, Eunice petitioned her party’s convention to consider “a new understanding” of the issue, “one that does not pit mother against child,” but instead seeks “policies that responsibly protect and advance the interest of mothers and their children, both before and after birth.”
Much of what is noble in the politics and work of the Kennedys had its origins in the bedrock of the faith of Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. As a young woman she had a profound experience of God’s love that transformed her life. She strove to communicate that faith to her large clan. Since the time of her funeral Mass I have kept her memorial prayer card, inscribed with Rose Kennedy’s own words:
“If God were to take away all His blessings, health, physical fitness, wealth, intelligence, and leave me but one gift, I would ask for faith – for with faith in Him and His goodness, mercy, love for me, and belief in everlasting life, I believe I could suffer the loss of my other gifts and still be happy – trustful, leaving all to His inscrutable Providence.”
There are those who objected, in some cases vociferously, to the Church’s providing a Catholic funeral for the Senator. In the strongest terms I disagree with that position. At the Senator’s interment on Saturday evening, with his family’s permission, we learned of details of his recent personal correspondence with Pope Benedict XVI. It was very moving to hear the Senator acknowledging his failing to always be a faithful Catholic, and his request for prayers as he faced the end of his life. The Holy Father’s expression of gratitude for the Senator’s pledge of prayer for the Church, his commendation of the Senator and his family to the intercession of the Blessed Mother, and his imparting the Apostolic Blessing, spoke of His Holiness’ role as the Vicar of Christ, the Good Shepherd who leaves none of the flock behind.
As Archbishop of Boston, I considered it appropriate to represent the Church at this liturgy out of respect for the Senator, his family, those who attended the Mass and all those who were praying for the Senator and his family at this difficult time. We are people of faith and we believe in a loving and forgiving God from whom we seek mercy.
Advocating for the dignity of life is central to my role as a priest and a bishop. One of my greatest satisfactions in my ministry thus far was helping to overturn the abortion laws in Honduras. The person who answered my call for help with that effort was Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who had been a prominent leader in NARAL and the abortion rights movement. His own change of heart led Dr. Nathanson from a practice of providing abortions to becoming one of the most eloquent exponents of the pro-life movement.
Helen Alvaré, who is one of the most outstanding pro-life jurists, a former Director of the Bishops´ Pro-life Office and a long standing consultant to the USCCB Committee for Pro-Life Activities, has always said that the pro-life movement is best characterized by what it is for, not against. We are for the precious gift of life, and our task is to build a civilization of love. We must show those who do not share our belief about life that we care about them. We will stop the practice of abortion by changing the law, and we will be successful in changing the law if we change people’s hearts. We will not change hearts by turning away from people in their time of need and when they are experiencing grief and loss.
At times, even in the Church, zeal can lead people to issue harsh judgments and impute the worst motives to one another. These attitudes and practices do irreparable damage to the communion of the Church. If any cause is motivated by judgment, anger or vindictiveness, it will be doomed to marginalization and failure. Jesus’ words to us were that we must love one another as He loves us. Jesus loves us while we are still in sin. He loves each of us first, and He loves us to the end. Our ability to change people’s hearts and help them to grasp the dignity of each and every life, from the first moment of conception to the last moment of natural death, is directly related to our ability to increase love and unity in the Church, for our proclamation of the Truth is hindered when we are divided and fighting with each other.
President Obama and three former presidents attended Senator Kennedy’s funeral. I had the opportunity to speak briefly with President Obama, to welcome him to the Basilica and to share with him that the bishops of the Catholic Church are anxious to support a plan for universal health care, but we will not support a plan that will include a provision for abortion or could open the way to abortions in the future. The President was gracious in the short time we spoke, he listened intently to what I was saying.
Democrats and Republicans sat side by side in the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, praying for Senator Kennedy and his family. It is my sincere hope that all people who long to promote the cause of life will pray and work together to change hearts, to bring about an increased respect for life, and to change laws so as to make America a safe place for all, including the unborn.
Good thing we don’t mix religion and politics anymore.
By Mona Charen
Well, thank Heaven George W. Bush is no longer president! Gosh, all of that mixing of religion and politics darn near subverted our Constitution — which, as all good liberals know enshrines the “wall of separation” between church and state.
What? That phrase doesn’t appear in the Constitution? No matter. Democrats know that conservative Republicans, particularly Christians, are dangerous religious fanatics.
When Democrats invoke the Almighty, though, it’s altogether different. Religion in a Democrat is evidence of deep moral commitment, even of greatness. Many of the eulogies to Teddy Kennedy mentioned his “quiet Catholic faith.” His self-identified favorite parts of Scripture, we were told, were “Matthew 25 through 35: ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat, and thirsty and you gave me to drink.’”
The Democrats, perhaps as a political Hail Mary pass in light of the resistance health-care reform has encountered, are now hitting the religion angle pretty hard. At a Tennessee fundraiser over the weekend (at which Bill Clinton arrived early — a modern miracle if you’re looking for one), the reunited team of Clinton and Al Gore pushed health-care reform as a “moral imperative.” Playing off the Kennedy eulogies, Gore invoked the Christian obligation to care for “the least of these” as the force behind H.R. 3200.
President Obama too has donned the preacher’s mantle. Speaking to a coalition of 30 faith-based groups, he thundered that opponents of health-care reform were “frankly, bearing false witness.” He then offered a religious justification for his policy preference that somehow failed to make liberal Democrats uncomfortable about church/state entanglement: “These are all fabrications that have been put out there in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation: that is, that we look out for one another; that is, I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper. And in the wealthiest nation in the world right now we are neglecting to live up to that call.”
But the president really hit his stride when he spoke by conference call to about a thousand mostly Reform rabbis, asking for their support of health-care reform when they address their congregations at the upcoming High Holiday services. As Tevi Troy blogged on National Review Online, the Jewish New Year observance features a prayer called U’netana tokef which reads, in part, “On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed how many will pass from the Earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die . . . but repentance, prayer, and charity can remove the evil of the decree.”
According to Rabbi Jack Moline of Alexandria, Va., who Twittered the event but later removed his Tweets from the Internet, President Obama referenced this prayer and then told the rabbis that “I am going to need your help” in getting health-care reform passed. “We are God’s partners in matters of life and death,” the president added.
One cannot even fathom the sort of media firestorm that would have erupted if someone like Sarah Palin had said that. But beyond the blazing double standard, does President Obama really want to venture this deep into moralizing? This is treacherous ground for him. For one thing, a man who is already known for his messiah complex ought to choose his words more carefully. Religious people may think of themselves as striving to do God’s will, but declaring yourself God’s partner is a just a tad presumptuous. Besides, there are very good reasons to believe that Obama’s health reform would lead to worse outcomes, not improved care. More particularly, the administration has recently been drawn into controversy (rightly or wrongly) over “death panels” and also over the Veterans Affairs department’s endorsement of a pamphlet that seemed to encourage the elderly and frail to consider whether their lives were really worth extending and/or whether they were “a burden” to their families. In light of that, some may hear a degree of menace in the phrase “God’s partners.”
But above all, President Obama has previously told us that questions about life were “above his pay grade.” He has now pivoted to claim that his health-care reform is a matter of life and death. If he is now going to invoke religious authority, his opponents are entitled to recall not only that Barack Obama has a perfect pro-abortion voting record, but also that just a few years ago he spearheaded opposition to legislation that would have simply required that an infant who accidentally survived an abortion be given medical attention.