A Dead Horse and All That…

Friday, September 24, 2010 \PM\.\Fri\.

I shouldn’t have, but I did.

Today I read Fr. Richard McBrien’s article on Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the new head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops. As the prefect for this congregation Cardinal Ouellet will play a crucial role in the appointment of the Church’s bishops in the years to come.

In his article McBrien makes the following observation:

When commenting on the greatest crisis to confront the Catholic Church since the Reformation of the 16th century, Ouellet seemed to blame the scandal of sexual abuse in the priesthood on the weakening of moral standards in society — a common explanation given by those who are reluctant to address the internal problems of the church, including obligatory clerical celibacy, the role of women, and the declining quality of pastoral leadership.

While there might be some who see the clergy sex scandal as the greatest crisis for the Church since the Reformation, I am certainly not one of them. But what I found completely absurd — again, I should’ve avoided the article to begin with, because it was to be expected — was McBrien’s reference to the role of women in this context. How, exactly, would priestesses have prevented the abuse of children by clergy?

Father McBrien: your vision of the Church and of the Second Vatican Council is both erroneous and dying. Only a tiny fraction of young Catholics in general and those seeking degrees in theology in particular accept that erroneous reading.

Might I propose that you get with the times?


Who’s Gonna Grab the Third Rail?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 \AM\.\Tue\.

That’s a line from a brief but astounding post by Kevin Williamson of NRO, which I’m reproducing in full here:

A little perspective from the debt commission:

“The commission leaders said that, at present, federal revenue is fully consumed by three programs: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. ‘The rest of the federal government, including fighting two wars, homeland security, education, art, culture, you name it, veterans — the whole rest of the discretionary budget is being financed by China and other countries,’ [Alan] Simpson said.”

Three programs — Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — consume 100 percent of federal revenue, and everything else is paid for with borrowed money.  This is why we cannot balance the budget by cutting military spending, foreign aid, food stamps, etc. There is not going to be a serious project to address our deficit/debt problem without deep, painful entitlement reform, and the longer we wait to admit that fact and get going on it, the worse it is going to be.

So, who’s gonna grab that third rail? George W. Bush tried and got hammered — an example that few if any in Washington are eager to follow.

Indeed. I think if this is going to happen, it’s going to have to come from the people (tea parties, perhaps?), because it seems suicidal for any politician to take it on without considerable popular support.


It’s About the Children. Seriously.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 \PM\.\Wed\.

I must confess that today’s judicial ruling out of California which overturned Proposition 8 has riled me up, suprisingly so. I heard about the ruling while listening to the livestream of a tech podcast in which one of the three podcasters is a lesbian (previously “married” in CA) and the other two (middle-aged married men) evidently supported the decision. The ease with which they threw out bromides (“finally, equality!”) bothered me, primarily because it revealed two things: 1. a group of intelligent people couldn’t grasp that there might be real objections to same sex “marriage”, and 2. as I’ve noted previously, too many (probably most) Americans simply don’t understand the essential nature of marriage. Simply put, the state’s interest isn’t strong feelings or commitment… it’s children. And — to state the obvious — a homosexual relationship isn’t structured towards procreation the way marriage is.

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Healthcare Reform & the Magisterium

Saturday, June 19, 2010 \PM\.\Sat\.

In this spring’s debate over the healthcare bill, one of the disagreements that raised eyebrows most in Catholic circles was that between the US bishops conference and the Catholic Healthcare Association and other similar groups. The bishops claimed that the healthcare bill would lead to federal funding of abortions, while CHA et al. concluded that it would not.

In my opinion and that of numerous observers (including most of my fellow contributors here at TAC), the bishops were correct and CHA was horribly, terribly wrong.

There is another question, though… was CHA disobedient? That is, were they obliged as Catholics to accept the conclusions of the bishops conference? Was the activity of the bishops conference an act of their teaching charism which American Catholics were obliged to give their assent to?

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If You Repeat a Lie a Thousand Times…

Friday, April 9, 2010 \PM\.\Fri\.

Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul-Minneapolis has defended Pope Benedict in his column in the archdiocesan weekly newspaper.

In reporting on the column, the Associated Press closed their story with this:

Critics of the church’s handling of abuse cases are citing Benedict’s tenure as head of the Vatican office charged with disciplining clergy. The office halted a mid-1990s investigation into a Wisconsin priest accused of molesting some 200 deaf boys.

Dear Associated Press: the CDF did not stop the investigation. If you’d actually do some journalism you’d know that.

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Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 16

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 \AM\.\Tue\.

In light of the fascinating discussion of personal and social sin kicked off most recently by Darwin here (make sure and read the comments) and followed up by Joe here, I thought it would be worth posting article 16 of John Paul the Great’s post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, entitled “Personal and Social Sin”. It’s obviously very pertinent, yet unless I missed it, no one has referenced it yet. The actual text is below the break. As the reader will note, one point relevant to the discussion here is that sin properly speaking is an act on the part of an individual person. Yet while social sin is such only in an analogous sense, JPII makes clear that it does describe something real. Now, on to the text.

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Miracles, “Skeptics” and Logic

Sunday, April 4, 2010 \AM\.\Sun\.

Tonight we celebrate what many describe as the greatest miracle in the history of the universe: the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead. But as we know, God continues to work in miraculous ways throughout history, even in our own time. An episode of ABC’s 20/20 on Good Friday featured a number of alleged modern miracles, and all in all, they did a nice job.

Unfortunately, the man they brought on to give “the other side of the story” — Dr. Michael Shermer, Executive Director of the Skeptics Society — managed to commit a basic logical fallacy, and in so doing, gave a poor showing for those who see themselves as better practitioners of logic than those of us who rely on both faith and reason.

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This is Unconscionable.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010 \PM\.\Wed\.

From the Anchoress:

MSNBC ran a headline on their website:

“Pope Describes Touching Boys: I Went Too Far.”

NBC has apologized (the linked story had absolutely nothing to do with the headline, or with the pope, for that matter).

Really? Will heads roll, too? They should, but I doubt they will.


Hollywood Angelology

Friday, January 15, 2010 \PM\.\Fri\.

I probably shouldn’t be surprised, but I am.

Last fall I saw a trailer for a new movie that’s coming out next week called Legion, in which Michael the archangel defends humanity against the armies of (good?) angels which God has sent to wipe out humanity. Here’s the plot summary from Wikipedia:

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Mother Earth Strikes Back

Friday, January 15, 2010 \AM\.\Fri\.

Noted thinker Danny Glover one-ups Pat Robertson by claiming that “when we see what we did at the climate summit in Copenhagen, this [the Haiti earthquake] is the response, this is what happens, you know what I’m sayin’?”

Video in the link.


Thank you, Mister President!

Friday, January 8, 2010 \PM\.\Fri\.

For not scheduling your State of the Union address on February 2nd, feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the night of the season premiere of the final season of Lost, the greatest television show in broadcast network history.  🙂


God is Here, Not “Out There”!

Monday, January 4, 2010 \PM\.\Mon\.

Here in the midst of the Christmas season our awareness of the meaning of the Incarnation is particularly heightened. In reflecting on this mystery, we commonly speak about Jesus “leaving Heaven” or “leaving the Father” to become one of us, to take on human nature. I submit that while there is certainly some truth in such formulas, they are potentially more dangerous than they are useful, in that they unintentionally reinforce erroneous understandings of Heaven and of God’s transcendence, understandings which unwittingly lead us towards a deistic conception of God “out there” which is manifestly false and contrary to Christianity.
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For the record…

Thursday, December 31, 2009 \PM\.\Thu\.

We’re beginning the last year of a decade now, not starting a new one.

While we’re at it, I might as well revisit an oldie… the third millennium began on January 1st, 2001.

Sigh.  🙂

Blessed Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, the Octave of Christmas, and Happy New Year!



You keep using that word… I do not think it means what you think it means.

Friday, November 6, 2009 \PM\.\Fri\.

Okay, that’s a heckuva long title for a blog post, but it also happens to be almost perfect for the subject of this particular entry at The American Catholic.

On Tuesday, the voters of the state of Maine — surprisingly — rejected same sex marriage (SSM) and reaffirmed that marriage in Maine is between a man and a woman. Naturally, SSM supporters were shocked and outraged (the Catholic Church appears to be the early target), while supporters of traditional marriage were overjoyed with the results; Maine, after all, isn’t exactly in the Bible Belt.

Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America (CWA), was typical of the latter: “Every time Americans vote on marriage, traditional marriage wins.” And she’s right: when it comes to ballot initiatives, SSM is 0-31.

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Let’s find the fallacy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009 \PM\.\Tue\.

Yesterday The Nation‘s John Nichols wrote a rather scathing piece about President Obama: the piece is entitled “Whiner-in-Chief” and the first line reads, “The Obama administration really needs to get over itself.”

Of course, I tend to agree with perspectives like that. 🙂  But near the end of the piece Nichols tries to argue that the country isn’t as divided as the White House thinks, and along the way, he makes a heckuva non sequitur:

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A Public Option: the Left’s Waterloo?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 \AM\.\Wed\.

Blackadder has had a couple very interesting posts lately arguing that a public health insurance program wouldn’t sound the death-knell to private insurance companies (and hence competition for the consumer) which many have been arguing it would.

What I find interesting is the vehemence of the left regarding a public option… consider this quote from a WaPo story today: Read the rest of this entry »


The Loss of Limits… the End of Art

Sunday, August 16, 2009 \PM\.\Sun\.

A priest friend and I are reading through Fr. Richard John Neuhaus’ posthumously-published work, American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile, and it’s been an enjoyable read thus far, even in the places where I disagree with the author.

For the purposes of this post, I wanted to share a citation which I found very intriguing regarding the impact on art of modernity’s flight from anything which might be remotely conceived of as limitation.

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Tea Parties, Principles and their Application

Thursday, April 16, 2009 \AM\.\Thu\.

I’m a big fan of the personal finance speaker & author Dave Ramsey… when our oldest was born nearly five years ago and my wife prepared to stay home to take care of her and her siblings-to-come, I didn’t know how we were going to manage on my income alone; Ramsey’s book and radio show provided us with a straightforward, systematic approach to managing our finances, and for that, I am grateful… his is the talk radio show that I still listen to most.

But when it comes to politics, Dave is far too typical of many mainstream conservatives: he confuses principles for their application, just like Limbaugh, Hannity, et al.

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Dr. Patrick Lee on the Nature of Marriage

Friday, December 19, 2008 \PM\.\Fri\.

Pat Lee — professor of bioethics at Franciscan University of Steubenville — has an article up at The Public Discourse on the nature of marriage and why it is inherently heterosexual.

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Dignitas Personae

Friday, December 12, 2008 \AM\.\Fri\.

Today the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released a new Instruction entitled Dignitas Personae, On Certain Bioethical Questions. You can find it along with a Vatican summary as well as a Q&A and press release from the USCCB here.


Ross Douthat: Not Backing Down

Monday, November 10, 2008 \AM\.\Mon\.

Today, regarding Kmiec (et al.):

But to claim that a candidate who seems primed to begin disbursing taxpayer dollars in support of abortion and embryo-destructive research as soon as he enters the White House somehow represented the better choice for anti-abortion Americans on anti-abortion grounds is an argument that deserves to met, not with engagement, but with contempt.

He echoes my weekend frustration.


Let’s Get Started!

Sunday, November 9, 2008 \PM\.\Sun\.

Great: President-elect Obama is planning to quickly change President Bush’s ban on federal funding for research that creates & kills human beings to get their precious embryonic stem cells.

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The Case For Not Voting?

Sunday, November 2, 2008 \PM\.\Sun\.

Peter Suderman has another provocative essay at Culture 11 bearing the above title, with the more interesting (and in the case of his actual essay, accurate) subtitle, “Why we care too much about politics”, in which he echoes some themes found in Ryan’s previous post on slippery slopes.

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