George Tiller, the foremost practitioner of late term abortions in this country, was shot to death this morning as he was acting as an usher at Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita Kansas. This is of course a terrible crime, and whoever committed it must pay the full penalty exacted by the law. What George Tiller did for a living was also a terrible crime, even though it was legal. May God have mercy on his soul. The type of violence that took the life of Tiller is just as opposed to the pro-life movement as is the violence that he perpetrated on the innocent.
Update I: Press conference by police video here.
Update II: Suspect in custody.
Update III: More information about the suspect and the crime.
Update IV: The name of the man in custody is Scott Roeder.
Regular readers of this blog will recall back in March when I posted on the situation in Connecticut where an attempt was made by anti-Catholic bigots in the state legislature to unconstitutionally interfere with the governance of the Catholic Church in that state. Massive outrage in Connecticut and around the nation caused the anti-Catholic bigots to retreat and cancel the proposed hearing on their bill.
Now, Bishop William Lori of the Diocese of Bridgeport is reporting that the State of Connecticut has advised him that the efforts of the Diocese to publicize and fight the anti-Catholic and unconstitutional bill constituted “lobbying” and that the Diocese may be subject to civil penalties. Let us be very clear on this point. This is obviously an attempt by anti-Catholic bigots in Connecticut to continue their war against the Church. Speaking out against bad legislation goes to the heart of why this country was founded. An attack on this right is an attack on our ability to take part in how we are governed. This attack on the Diocese of Bridgeport is an attack on every American who believes in the principles enunciated in the Declaration of Independence. As the Bishop notes, the Diocese has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against this attempt by Connecticut to muzzle free speech. This is absolutely outrageous conduct by the powers-that-be in Connecticut and should alarm not only every Catholic in this nation, but every American who cherishes freedom.
You knew I’d find some way to post about Star Trek again didn’t you?
As I prepare for some surgery this coming week to dig out some melanoma or pre-melanoma (docs still aren’t sure) from my back, I caught the last Tonight Show with Jay Leno. I haven’t watched late night talk shows regularly since Letterman back in the 80’s- but I like watching end of an era type programs because everyone seems to be in a more profound mood.
Jay Leno apparently caught that spirit. In his final moments in thinking of his legacy, he said his first reaction was something like- hey I tell jokes, make people laugh- what more do you say. But then he related how one of the band member’s had a child born shortly after he began as the Tonight Show host- and the child was featured briefly on the show. He then brought out the child who was now 17, and this led to his end game. He pulled back the curtain after describing how so many of his crew members met, married and had kids while being part of his show. The curtain revealed 68 kids and young adults, and Jay was beaming at how his show had a big part in bringing people together and making these children a reality.
I am quite certain that there was no political message embedded in this curtain call and speech about legacy- but it was hard to miss that what is of ultimate value is not all the temporary laughter over the years, it is the eternally significant lives of human beings, who may be mysteriously connecting in even the most insignificant of settings. If Jay Leno gets that, then God bless. I think God is always hiding in the most natural and normal of circumstances- the natural family is the greatest supernatural boost to many people’s spiritual growth. Maybe Leno missed out on that while focusing on his career, with no children of his own- or adopted- he and his wife apparently thought they were fine without children at home. But now he seemed to be finding his larger purpose in the children of his employees- which is a good development I think.
Christopher West came in for some criticism recently, much of it deserved, for his appearance on Nightline. In one sense, I sympathize with the critics. I have heard West speak, and found the simplification (bordering on sensationalization) of certain aspects of Theology of the Body somewhat off-putting. In a perfect world, people would read the writings of John Paull II and others to acquire a sophisticated, nuanced grasp of the subject matter. Nevertheless, that is not the world in which we live. That being the case I think, on balance, West’s work is valuable, difficult, and necessary.
And so I was somewhat surprised to see Dr. Schindler take the recent brouhaha as an opportunity to rather harshly criticize all of West’s work. The tension between academics and popularizers is nothing new (even writers as brilliant as C.S. Lewis and Chesterton had and have their academic detractors); but one would hope for a more restrained and sympathetic treatment given the difficulty of presenting the Catholic understanding of sexuality in the modern United States. I think the following defenses by Dr. Janet Smith and Dr. Michael Waldstein help provide a better context for understanding West and his work:
UCLA professor Peter Baldwin pens an interesting priece for the UK’s Prospect in which he argues that the differences between the US and Europe are not as great as is often claimed. Baldwin’s point of view strikes me as left of center, but his argument (mainly a comparison of statistics to see how the US really measures up to various EU countries on questions like poverty, education, environmentalism, etc.) is fairly non-ideological and the overall result is interesting.
Left open ended (though he provides a few thoughts on the matter) is the question of why both Americans and Europeans like to perceive such strong differences between themselves, and what exactly that means about the two cultures.
Miguel Diaz, Obama’s nominee as ambassador to the Vatican, claims to be pro-life. What evidence exists to support this contention? I find it hard to take this claim seriously, because of his activities in helping to elect the most pro-abortion President in our nation’s history, including serving on his Catholic Advisory Council during the campaign. This from his faculty listing at Saint John’s School of Theology:
“Member of Barack Obama’s Catholic advisory group during the 2008 presidential campaign. In recognition of his participation in the advisory council, Dr. Díaz and his wife Marian received an invitation to the inaugural events. Dr. Díaz’s involvement in the campaign and participation in the inaugural events were both covered extensively in a variety of media.”
I can find no listings for any pro-life activities. I have attempted to research any pro-life activities by him and thus far I have come up with zilch. I would appreciate it if any of our readers could provide me with answers to the following questions.
“Is There a Common Ground on Life Issues?” — A discussion with Robert P. George and Doug Kmiec, moderated by Mary Ann GlendonFriday, May 29, 2009 \AM\.\Fri\.
Robert P. George and Doug Kmiec engaged in a discussion of the topic, “The Obama Administration and the Sanctity of Human Life: Is There a Common Ground on Life Issues? What is the Right Response by ‘Pro-Life” Citizens?” at Washington, D.C.’s National Press Club, Thursday, May 28, 2009. The discussion was moderated by Mary Ann Glendon.
Nat Hentoff’s characteristically blunt and ‘no b.s.’ columns used to be one of chief attractions of the Village Voice, before they made the foolish mistake of letting him go. Politically he’s not one you can apply a label to — in 2003 he supported the removal of Saddam Hussein’s murderous dictatorship on humanitarian grounds, but as a supporter of the First Amendment and civil liberties, harshly criticized the more excessive measures taken by the Bush administration.
Unapologetically pro-life, he is a staunch opponent of the death penalty and abortion (the latter apparently causing some tension with his liberal colleagues at the Voice) and vigorously opposed the court-ordered murder of Terry Schiavo.
Not surprisingly, he established a rapport with the feisty John Cardinal O’Connor, about whom he wrote an appreciative biography.
A self-described “member of the Proud and Ancient Order of Stiff-Necked Jewish Atheists,” he is also one who might merit the attribution: “on the side of the angels.”
Now, he takes aim at President Obama’s faux-support for “dialogue” at Notre Dame:
Father Alberto Cutié has abruptly left the Catholic Church and has joined the Episcopal church today. Father Cutié was recently caught in a scandal involving a woman in a two year affair and asked and received an indefinite leave of absence from Archbishop John C. Favalora. This has come as sudden and unexpected news to the Church. Archbishop Favalora of Miami has not spoken with Alberto Cutié since his request and has expressed shock at the news.
“I am genuinely disappointed by the announcement made earlier this afternoon by Father Alberto Cutié that he is joining the Episcopal Church,”
[quoting a pro-choice advocate covering Obama’s Notre Dame address]
Good, I thought. It will be from the parent of the mentally retarded high school student who was gang raped, the doctor of an 11 year old incest victim, or possibly a woman with four kids already whose husband has just lost his job and medical benefits along with it.
Boy, was I wrong.”
The above desired examples of women (or girls) seeking abortion are precisely the kind of examples that do nothing whatsoever to further the purpose of honest debate about abortion in this country. Women (or girls) in such circumstances are chosen as examples because theirs are the stories most likely to evoke sympathy from most people (even if they do not sway the edicts of the Holy See). That Ms. Burk would cherry-pick them is not surprising, but nor does it speak to her desire to see abortion honestly discussed.
My trouble with her examples stems from my own experience as a doctor in New York City. For a few years, I worked in a clinic that provided free care to adolescents and young adults. I saw many, many young women who had become pregnant unintentionally. Many of them went on to deliver and parent their babies. Many opted to abort. (Before moving forward, I should clarify that our clinic did not provide abortions, but did serve as a point of referral.)
I list below posts I have written on this blog about the US debt situation. As pessimistic as I have been, apparently the debt situation for the nation is appreciably worse than even I thought. Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. Tax revenues to the IRS are down 44% from where they were last year. Previous debt projections, as Ed Morrissey points out, were based on the assumption that the loss to GDP this year would be -1.2%. With GDP contracting at -6% during the first quarter on an annual basis, the economy will have to show a lot of growth for the remainder of the year for the target of a -1.2% GDP contraction to be reached. I very much doubt if the GDP contraction will be much better than -2.5% and could easily be far worse.
Miguel H. Diaz has been chosen by President Obama, peace be upon him, as the new ambassador to the Holy See. The secular media and Catholic Left has been hailing Mr. Diaz as a Rahner scholar and “pro-life” Democrat. Jesuit Father James Martin of America magazine, who recently claimed that Obama is not pro-abortion, has praised Mr. Diaz for being a Latino, in addition to being a “faithful” Catholic and for receiving a degree from the University of Notre Dame.
Abbot John Klassen of St. John’s Abbey had this to say about Mr. Diaz’s Latino and theological credentials [emphasis mine]:
“He is a strong proponent of the necessity of the Church to become deeply and broadly multi-cultural [I guess we need priestesses to be more multi-cultural], to recognize and appreciate the role that culture plays in a living faith [sounds too much like a living, breathing constitution]. Born in Havana, Cuba [Being born in Havana, Cuba is a good start in creating his Latino credentials.], he is a leading Hispanic theologian in United States.”
In the same week of his nomination of a Hispanic Catholic for the Supreme Court of the United States, President Obama has finally named Havana-born 45 year old Miguel H. Diaz, an associate professor of theology at St. John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota, to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican. Eric Gorski (Associated Press) reports:
Hattip to Allahpundit at Hot Air. In his never ending effort to bring mirth to the Nation during our time of trial, Veep Biden stepped on some powerful toes today. I am of course referring to Totus (Teleprompter of the United States). Here is the response of Totus to Joe’s comment. Joe, take this from someone who respects your role as national clown, retreat! You are sparring well beyond your weight class!
Professor Douglas Kmiec recently gave a “reflection” over President Obama’s speech at the University of Notre Dame last week. No surprises there. It appears that Kmiec is still campaigning to be Ambassador to the Holy See. But this was not his point here. We might call that a “background fact.”
Still obsessed with statistics and raw data, he noted that the President received the vote of 54% of self-identified Catholics on November 4, 2008 in the presidential election and that more than two-thirds of Catholics supports the Obama Administration. Why? Social justice–which includes a litany of issues that we terribly are far behind on because of “conservative partisans” who wish to keep Catholics in a “one-issue pocket,” which, in turn explains the “neglect” of social justice matters in “far too many parishes.”
Obama at Notre Dame: Incomplete Eloquence by Prof. Douglas Kmiec
The presidents were there in splendid form; the bishops were not.
Three presidents stood upon the stage: Father Jenkins, the embodiment of academic integrity informed by faith; Father Hesburgh, Notre Dame’s president emeritus and civil rights champion, and Barack Obama, whose inauguration just months earlier was greeted with virtual national euphoria, but whose visit to campus was claimed to be “in defiance of church teaching.”
And the bishops? Sadly absent. Some, no doubt, honestly believed the President to be their antagonist. Most were silent. Notwithstanding repeated entreaties, the pastoral shepherds of the Church chose not to extend a simple pastoral blessing upon the graduates of the flagship Catholic university in America and their families.
The protests around Obama’s honorary degree from Notre Dame University had many of the more politically progressive Catholic voices complaining that pro-life advocates had moved into a practice of loudly protesting absolutely everything that seemed vaguely positive for Obama without regard for whether it was an important issue. As someone who cares about the integrity of Catholic education, I think they were wrong in regards to Notre Dame’s decision to give Obama an honorary law degree — it was a big deal and it was appropriate to decry the choice.
However, I think that Jay Anderson and Feddie are right in making the case that the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court is not something that pro-life groups should be knocking themselves out to contest.
Given how early it is in his presidency and how high his political approval ratings are, Obama could have decided to spend political capital and put a top notch, liberal intellectual ideologue on the court who could work to shift the balance strongly to the left. Instead, he made the fairly bland, identify politics “first” pick which had been conventional wisdom in Democratic circles for some time, despite the doubts of those who wanted to see a more intellectual and ideological pick. As pro-lifers, we certainly don’t need to praise this pick. She is doubtless pro-choice and will work to support Roe and other Culture of Death decisions. But we also don’t need to pick this to raise a stink over. She will be confirmed regardless, given the composition of the senate, and if we can both conserve our political energy and provide Obama with some positive reinforcement that sticking to bland conventional wisdom candidates will be rewarded with a lack of partisan rancor, so much the better.
Again, I’m not saying that pro-lifers need to praise or support Sotomayor, but Obama could have stuck it to us a lot worse — and since kicking a fuss will achieve nothing other than encouraging the administration to play only to their base next time with a strictly ideological pick (and win the pro-life movement more of a reputation for constant shrillness) this would be a good time for us to hold our fire and concentrate on other things, like the next crop of pro-life candidates.
In picking Sonia Sotomayor to fill the Souter seat, Obama knows what he is getting: a reliable liberal vote and someone who will probably be easily confirmed. That she is reliably liberal is obvious from her rulings. That she will be easily confirmed is clear from the fact that she is a Latina and the Republicans do not wish to offend this powerful voting block. She is not shy about playing the race card: ” Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” This was in a lecture given by the judge in 2001, and the full text of the speech is here. Needless to say any wasp male judge who said the reverse would never have been nominated, and also needless to say Judge Sotomayor will pay absolutely no price for claiming that she is a better judge because of her ethnic background and her sex. Hattip to the Volokh Conspiracy.
The California Supreme Court today upheld the gay marriage ban constitutional amendment, proposition 8. Gays married before the ban stay married, but no more gay marriage in California. What this means is that while California is undergoing an economic crisis, it will also be going through a political war waged between supporters and opponents of gay marriage. This war will pit four constituencies of the Democrat party against each other: Most Feminists and Gays against most Hispanics and Blacks. Things will be interesting in the Golden State for the foreseeable future! More details as they become available.
Update I: Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. The vote to uphold the constitutionality of the ban was 6-1.
Update II: The text of the decision is here.
Update III: A good look at Catholic teaching and the family is contained in the document The Family and Human Procreation and released by the Pontifical Council for the Family in 2006 and available here.
Dan Gilgoff of U.S. News & World Report had an interesting exchange with recent Catholic convert Newt Gingrich. The former House speaker who converted last March was on his way to Europe working on a documentary* on Pope John Paul II’s 1979 trip to Poland where Mr. Gilgoff asked if “he expected this trip to be different from previous visits”:
I don’t know that it’s much different. That’s part of what led to my conversion is the first time we [he and Callista**] went to St. Peter’s together. It’s St. Peter’s. I mean, you stand there and you think, this is where St. Peter was crucified. This is where Paul preached. You think to yourself, two thousand years ago the apostles set out to create a worldwide movement by witnessing to the historic truth they had experienced. And there it is. The last time we were there we were allowed to walk in the papal gardens and you get this sense that is almost mystical.
Hattip to the ever reticent lads and lasses at Lair of the Catholic Cavemen. The original V series was a fun, if ludicrous, science fiction invasion of earth tale which ran from 84-85. We were expected to believe that Lizard-like aliens could be made up to look like humans. After it was discovered what they really looked like, and that they planned to make Lizard happy meals out of humanity, they continued, for no discernable reason other than the wardrobe budget, to disguise themselves as human. With the mind parked in neutral it was a lot of fun, especially observing the battles between Lizard-uber vixens, Diana, portrayed by Jane Badler, and Lydia, portrayed by June Chadwick, to see who would be Queen Lizard. Dallas meets the “To Serve Man” episode from the Twilight Zone. One of the more off-beat TV offerings in the 80’s.
The perpetual virginity of Mary has always been reconciled with biblical references to Jesus’ brethren by a proper understanding of the meaning of the term “brethren.” The predominant view in Latin Christianity is the “cousins theory” mentioned by Eusebius of Caesarea as a belief of some Christians, but more widely supported by St. Jerome in De Viris Illustribus in the 4th century, as he sought to defend the doctrine of Mary as Ever-Virgin. This biblical interpretation found favor with the Pope at the time and became widely promulgated, eventually becoming the non-official, but majority view of the Roman church.
With great respect and love of St. Jerome, a celebrated saint and Father of the Church, dare I say, I would like to boldly make a theological argument against his position and that of the majority of Catholics and delineate a just as valid, but arguably more reasonable theological opinion.