Monday, October 28, 2002

Another Target for my Errant Catholic Correction Method!

Or ECCM for short. As my three devoted readers know, ECCM is a form of "repentence therapy" for morally obtuse Catholic clergy, whereby I "confront and chase [them] around the parish complex, brandishing a hockey stick and singing the Welsh war anthem 'Men of Harlech', all the while calling upon them to repent."

Looks like I'll have to extend repentance therapy to the laity now. Meet Anne Doyle, budding Unitarian, Granholm supporter, and the moral equivalent of anthrax for St. John Fisher Catholic Church in Auburn Hills. Ms. Doyle is another member of the legion of quasi-Catholic pew warmers who shriek like shrill hairdressers at the use of gender-specific language, but happily endorse the torn-limb-from-limb dismemberment of unborn or partially-born children. Ah, yes: the "Sixties People"TM, continuing to spread the gospel of unfettered self-determination, worshipping at the Church of Me and leaving a legacy of carnage and ruin in their wake.

The good news? The article indicates that Granholm had an 18 point lead over Posthumus among Catholic women in mid-October. That lead is now just 7 points. It's a start.

Meanwhile, it's been eight days without a public response from the Archdiocese to the Detroit 4.

The Boston Bunch.

To the tune of you-know-what:

Here's the story/
Of some lousy bishops/
Who were too busy covering up priestly faults/
They all were unconcerned/
'Bout being shepherds/
They had to save the vaults.

Here's the story/
Of a man named Bernard/
Who was supposed to watch over
This deeply sinful crew/
But he could not recall/
A single foul-up/
T'was nothing he could do.

Till the one day the ordained
Met all the lawyers/
And they learned "ain't no such
thing as a free lunch"/
In truth, they'd now have to pay the piper/
That's the way they all became the Boston Bunch.

The Boston Bunch/The Boston Bunch/
That's the way they became the Boston Bunch.
Interesting series on Iraq by the Detroit News.

Today's installment is about the Chaldean (Iraqi Catholic) community, focusing on a town in the no-fly zone. Emigration to southeastern Michigan has been steady since the 1960s. A worthwhile read.

Friday, October 25, 2002

A Memo to Our Consistently Uncurious Media re: James E. Carter.

Have any of you asked Mr. Carter (former President, current Nobel Peace Prize winner, and Victim of Rodent Harassment) his views lately? I haven't seen any recent interviews of him. Perhaps he is indisposed, having been accosted by a flying marmoset, harangued by a rappelling armadillo or otherwise aggrieved by some other kind of rogue mammal. If so, then your discretion is understandable.

Speaking of rogue mammals--once he recovers, could you please ask him whether he has any cause to believe that his 1994 "Habitat for Stalinists" program was, in hindsight, perhaps, ill-considered? Any regrets on his part? Even one?

I mean, just because the leadership of North Korea generally looks and dresses like unbalanced homeless people does not mean they will react with the same gratitude once you build them something. Even something as impressive as a nuclear reactor. And could you ask him to explain why we built a rogue nation two nuclear reactors as part of an overall plan to keep said nation from obtaining, um...nuclear weapons? Isn't that a little like building a would-be arsonist an oil refinery as part of therapy intended to keep him from burning down his neighbor's house?

Finally, could you ask him one more question: What the hell were you thinking? Maybe a little redundant, but essential.

Many thanks.
Move on, people, move on: No terror connection to see here.

Hmmm. John Allen Muhammad travelled a lot and flashed wads of cash while living out of a shelter. Sounds like the Hamburg cell living off German welfare and travelling to America, paying cash all the while, doesn't it?

Plus, the fact he's on the unstable side also fits the pattern: think Massaoui and Reid.

Meanwhile, our reliably uncurious media focuses on his army background (omitting the complete lack of sniper training) and can barely bring itself to mention his religious background and sympathy for the 9/11 attacks. Or the fascinating facts revealed by the local paper in Alabama.

There's a story here. But will anyone investigate it?

The Iraq-Al Qaeda Connection.

And those who are straining to deny it.

You know, the usual suspects, the guys with an unblemished record of failure in every major foreign policy issue during the past decade.

A salute.

A fine tribute to Paul Wellstone by Peggy Noonan.

It's good to see that civility in politics is not quite dead.

I didn't know the New Testament had an expiration date.

Or, "So that's the problem with the Reflections document."

From Leon Podles' contribution to today's Touchstone blog: [Savor the section in bold, why don't you?]

----Begin Quote------------

"In August 2002 a committee of US Conference of Catholic Bishops, co-chaired by William Cardinal Keeler of Baltimore, issued a report, Reflections on Covenant and Mission. It contained some odd statements about the relationship of Judaism and Christianity, and was attacked by some Catholics. The chief offending sentence stated that “targeting Jews for conversion to Christianity” is “no longer theologically acceptable in the Catholic Church.”

Cardinal Avery Dulles in America (10-21-2002) doesn’t like this sentence either. He does not see how it is consistent with statements in Paul and Hebrews.

Although Cardinal Keeler pointed out that Reflections document was unofficial, such unofficial documents have a way of being presented as official teaching. A draft of a report of a bishops’ committee, All Our Children, is always trotted out as the official teaching of the Catholic Church on homosexuality.

Three members of the Advisory Committee on Catholic-Jewish Relations for the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs (the committee that wrote the controversial report) responded in America to Dulles: Mary Boys, Philip Cunningham, and John Pawlikowski.

Boys, Cunningham, and Pawlikowski claim that “The magisterium can explicitly contradict an idea of an individual New Testament author because the Catholic tradition is one of commentary, not of sola scriptura (Scripture alone).”

The scriptures are a part of the tradition of the church, and must be understood within that tradition. But the doctrines propounded in the New Testament hold a special normative position within it and the tradition is not self-contradictory. Paul and the author of Hebrews are teaching doctrines closely related to the meaning of Christ; to say that the current magisterium can contradict them is to make Christianity an infinitely malleable religion. The opinion or idea in the New Testament that all salvation comes through Christ could also be contradicted by the magisterium; indeed, what idea in the New Testament could not be contradicted and an opposing idea substituted? The magisterium of the Catholic Church does not function like Mormon authority which receives fresh revelations that contradict previous ones.

The basis for the Reflections document is even more disturbing than any of the conclusions that it reaches about the evangelization of the Jews, and that a Roman Cardinal should seemingly accept the fallibility of New Testament doctrines about Christ is alarming."

----------End Quote-------

There's a word for the mentality of Boys, et al., and that word is "heresy." Some wag said the Reflections document isn't heretical--it's just a reflection on heresy. Now we know that the propounders have gone completely over the line into it. Podles' last sentence is dead on, and speaks horrible volumes about the present leadership of the Church (none of whom, it should be noted, publicly criticized the document).

Tragic political news.

Senator Paul Wellstone and his family died today in a plane crash.

He and all of his family and friends have my prayers.

Good political news.

Posthumus has significantly narrowed Granholm's lead.

Pro-lifers are given some credit, too.

Not buying it.

One of the Detroit 4 has apologized. [Thanks to Doug Sirman for the link.]

It's an impressive, thorough apology, but there's just one problem--it makes no sense.

Here's Father's reference to the article:

"There were many points (sentences and paragraphs) removed from the article."

Um, OK. Those must have been all the ones that said NOT! or PSYCH! It's hard to imagine even so liberal a paper as the Detroit Free Press doing an edit job that completely changed the tone of the offending letter. Especially since it was cast as a rebuttal to the commentary critical of Granholm. If it was so badly butchered, then Father should be sending the same letter to the Free Press.

And this response is insufficient in another way. The Archdiocese still hasn't responded to the scandal caused by it. E-mail responses to the disgruntled faithful of the internet does not repair the profound public damage caused by their published work. Public harm, public restitution.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Pius XII, the Shoah, and the "Jack Chick Effect."

An interesting article in the Weekly Standard, preparing for the release of the new Daniel Goldhagen book excoriating the Church for its role in the Holocaust.

The article handily points out a detailed rebuttal by Ronald Rychlak of Goldhagen's lengthy essay on the same subject in The New Republic. Also worthwhile is Rabbi Daniel Dalin's essay defending Pius XII.

What struck me most about the Standard piece is was the argument that Goldhagen's work will give cover to the screeds of Cornwell, Carroll, Wills, et al because they will appear moderate by comparison. This is an excellent point, and reminds me of Karl Keating's comment about the notorious fundamentalist pamphleteer, Jack Chick. Keating said that the real danger posed by Chick was not his laughably lurid Catholic-bashing propaganda. Rather, it was that it allowed other more sophisticated Catholic-haters to disavow Chick and claim the high ground. After all, it doesn't take much to look more dispassionate and objective than Chick--just more frequent breathing into a paper bag. Hence, the Jack Chick Effect. I can think of two examples of this being done by anti-Catholic internet-types, two individuals I simply refer to as the Pharisee and the Jester. [What, you think I'm going to give links?]

Indeed, there is a connection between the anti-Catholic Catholics like Cornwell and Company and the professional anti-Catholics like the Pharisee and the Jester. Indeed, the latter greatly enjoy the works of the former. I recall the Garry Wills Papal Sin book getting high praise from one of them, even though the review was very cursory (making me doubt the reviewer read the whole thing), omitting mention of sections which were uncongenial (or worse) to the reviewer's beliefs.

Now all these works are about to get another inadvertent boost from Goldhagen, thanks to the Jack Chick Effect. A regrettable development, indeed. Just don't be surprised if Goldhagen, too, gets respectful citations from the usual suspects. What's a little hyperbole and a bunch of errors among Catholic bashers?

The "Detroit 4", Four Days After.

Still no response from the Detroit Archdiocese to the Frs. Scissorhands.

I sincerely hope it's because a thorough and devastating response is in the works, and the local church doesn't want to rush it. I fear it is otherwise.

Monday, October 21, 2002

Compare and Contrast: Duties and Priorities.

In four parts [all emphasis in bold is mine].

1. From Living the Gospel of Life (1998):
"As bishops, we have the responsibility to call Americans to conversion, including political leaders, and especially those publicly identified as Catholic. As the Holy Father reminds us in The Splendor of the Truth (Veritatis Splendor): ". . . [It] is part of our pastoral ministry to see to it that [the Church's] moral teaching is faithfully handed down, and to have recourse to appropriate measures to ensure that the faithful are guarded from every doctrine and theory contrary to it." As chief teachers in the Church, we must therefore explain, persuade, correct and admonish those in leadership positions who contradict the Gospel of life through their actions and policies. Catholic public officials who disregard Church teaching on the inviolability of the human person indirectly collude in the taking of innocent life. A private call to conversion should always be the first step in dealing with these leaders. Through prayer, through patiently speaking the truth in love, and by the witness of our lives, we must strive always to open their hearts to the God-given dignity of the unborn and of all vulnerable persons. So also we must remind these leaders of their duty to exercise genuine moral leadership in society. They do this not by unthinking adherence to public opinion polls or by repeating empty pro-choice slogans, but by educating and sensitizing themselves and their constituents to the humanity of the unborn child. At the same time we need to redouble our efforts to evangelize and catechize our people on the dignity of life and the wrongness of abortion. Nonetheless, some Catholic officials may exclude themselves from the truth by refusing to open their minds to the Church's witness. In all cases, bishops have the duty and pastoral responsibility to continue to challenge those officials on the issue in question and persistently call them to a change of heart. As bishops we reflect particularly on the words of the Office of Readings:

Let us be neither dogs that do not bark nor silent onlookers nor paid servants who run away before the wolf. Instead, let us be careful shepherds watching over Christ's flock. Let us preach the whole of God's plan to the powerful and the humble, to rich and to poor, to men of every rank and age, as far as God gives us the strength, in season and out of season, as St. Gregory writes in his book of Pastoral Instruction."

2. From the Detroit Free Press, October 7, 2002 [emph. added]:

"He [Adam Cardinal Maida] has met Granholm, the state's attorney general and the Democratic candidate for governor, on a number of occasions during the last several years. Maida said that he found her 'a caring and loving person who tries to be as faithful as she can in her life.'

But they haven't spoken about the abortion issue, he said.

* * *

Granholm said Friday she is in sync with the vast majority of issues important to Catholics, even though she believes abortion is a matter of individual choice.

'A large majority of Catholics believe as I do,' she said Friday. 'This is a matter for a woman to decide in consultation with her spouse and her doctor.'"

3. And this is abortion, as depicted in Justice Kennedy's dissent in Stenberg v. Carhart, 530 U.S. 914 (2000), the ruling that struck down Nebraska's ban on partial-birth abortion:

"As described by Dr. Carhart, the D&E procedure requires the abortionist to use instruments to grasp a portion (such as a foot or hand) of a developed and living fetus and drag the grasped portion out of the uterus into the vagina. Id., at 61. Dr. Carhart uses the traction created by the opening between the uterus and vagina to dismember the fetus, tearing the grasped portion away from the remainder of the body. Ibid. The traction between the uterus and vagina is essential to the procedure because attempting to abort a fetus without using that traction is described by Dr. Carhart as "pulling the cat's tail" or "drag[ging] a string across the floor, you'll just keep dragging it. It's not until something grabs the other end that you are going to develop traction." Id., at 62. The fetus, in many cases, dies just as a human adult or child would: It bleeds to death as it is torn from limb from limb. Id., at 63. The fetus can be alive at the beginning of the dismemberment process and can survive for a time while its limbs are being torn off. Dr. Carhart agreed that "[w]hen you pull out a piece of the fetus, let's say, an arm or a leg and remove that, at the time just prior to removal of the portion of the fetus, ... the fetus [is] alive." Id., at 62. Dr. Carhart has observed fetal heartbeat via ultrasound with "extensive parts of the fetus removed," id., at 64, and testified that mere dismemberment of a limb does not always cause death because he knows of a physician who removed the arm of a fetus only to have the fetus go on to be born "as a living child with one arm." Id., at 63. At the conclusion of a D&E abortion no intact fetus remains. In Dr. Carhart's words, the abortionist is left with "a tray full of pieces." Id., at 125. [Please note that this procedure was NOT outlawed by the Nebraska ban. It remained, and remains, perfectly legal. Pray for Dr. Carhart that he, like Dr. Bernard Nathanson, will see the horror of his ways and repent.]

The other procedure implicated today is called "partial-birth abortion" or the D&X. The D&X can be used, as a general matter, after 19 weeks gestation because the fetus has become so developed that it may survive intact partial delivery from the uterus into the vagina. Id., at 61. In the D&X, the abortionist initiates the woman's natural delivery process by causing the cervix of the woman to be dilated, sometimes over a sequence of days. Id., at 492. The fetus' arms and legs are delivered outside the uterus while the fetus is alive; witnesses to the procedure report seeing the body of the fetus moving outside the woman's body. Brief for Petitioners 4. At this point, the abortion procedure has the appearance of a live birth. As stated by one group of physicians, "[a]s the physician manually performs breech extraction of the body of a live fetus, excepting the head, she continues in the apparent role of an obstetrician delivering a child." Brief for Association of American Physicians and Surgeons et al. as Amici Curiae 27. With only the head of the fetus remaining in utero, the abortionist tears open the skull. According to Dr. Martin Haskell, a leading proponent of the procedure, the appropriate instrument to be used at this stage of the abortion is a pair of scissors. M. Haskell, Dilation and Extraction for Late Second Trimester Abortion (1992), in 139 Cong. Rec. 8605 (1993). Witnesses report observing the portion of the fetus outside the woman react to the skull penetration. Brief for Petitioners 4. The abortionist then inserts a suction tube and vacuums out the developing brain and other matter found within the skull. The process of making the size of the fetus' head smaller is given the clinically neutral term "reduction procedure." 11 F. Supp. 2d 1099, 1106 (Neb. 1998). Brain death does not occur until after the skull invasion, and, according to Dr. Carhart, the heart of the fetus may continue to beat for minutes after the contents of the skull are vacuumed out. App. 58. The abortionist next completes the delivery of a dead fetus, intact except for the damage to the head and the missing contents of the skull."

4. Granholm is a supporter of partial-birth abortion ("[W]itnesses to the procedure report seeing the body of the fetus moving outside the woman's body").

Cardinal Maida, you might want to have that abortion talk with Ms. Granholm soon. I don't think she understands "the humanity of the unborn child" yet. Plus, the election's in three weeks.

Saturday, October 19, 2002

Catholic Twits for Granholm has four new members.

And they're clergy, too. Oh, joy.

These guys need to be swiftly and publicly disciplined.

Their invocation of "conscience trumps all" is profoundly deceptive, as is their failure to cite authoritative Church teaching like the Catechism of the Catholic Church or the more recent Living the Gospel of Life, perhaps the best document the U.S. Bishops have ever issued.

After all, I don't think that they would be very comfortable with the proposition that my "well-formed conscience" compels me to disregard church teaching regarding respect for the ordained members of the Body of Christ. Nor would they be particularly comfortable with the notion that my conscience further compels me to confront and chase errant clergy around the parish complex, brandishing a hockey stick and singing the Welsh war anthem "Men of Harlech", all the while calling upon them to repent. But since I have it on their authority that my conscience is my guide, they can't say they haven't been warned.

Here's paragraph 30 of Living the Gospel of Life:

"Priests, religious, catechists, Catholic school teachers, family life ministers and theologians all share, each in their appropriate way, in the Church's task of forming the Catholic faithful in a reverence for the sanctity of life. We call them to a renewed commitment to that task. In their words and example, they should witness loyally and joyfully to the truth that every human life, at every stage of development, is a gift from God."

And here's the truth they are supposed to be teaching, per the CCC:


2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.

2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:

You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.

God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.

2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. "A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae," "by the very commission of the offense," and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law. The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.

2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

"The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being's right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death."

"The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined.... As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child's rights."

Funny how none of that made it into the priests' letter.

Cardinal Maida, the ball's in your court. Meanwhile, my conscience tells me I need to do some shopping today.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Peter Singer: Ethicist. Academic. Card-Carrying Member of the Idiotarian Party.

[First things first. I'll book passage to Oslo later. This has been germinating longer.]

The are two thoughts that come to mind when Peter Singer's name is mentioned. The first is throw mama (and baby) from the train. The second is that, for him, the comment "I hear he loves chicken" is a description of disquieting ambiguity. For those of you who have not heard of him, Singer is the bioethics chair at Princeton University, and is most notorious for having stated that there is no moral problem with the dispatching of newborns and others who lack self-awareness because they do not possess full personhood. Then there's his unconventional views regarding pets... Shocking and indeed infuriating stuff. But...

The most important fact to consider when dealing with Singer is that he is not to be taken seriously. He's the opposite of serious. He's Yahoo Serious, to borrow a figure from his homeland, but he's somehow less (!) funny. His unseriousness is seen in that (as the first link indicates) he does not live by his misnamed "ethics":

"It is not only on the theoretical level that Singer provides a cautionary example about the professional expertise in practical ethics. The concluding paragraphs of the genial profile of Singer in The New Yorker revealed that he has hired, at considerable expense, health care workers to tend to his mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease. He is a good son, and his ideas about morality have made him also a prosperous son; but what makes this otherwise common act of filial piety noteworthy is that it flagrantly violates the son's own moral theory.

After all, Singer's mother has lost her ability to reason, and to remember, and to recognize others. She has ceased to be a person in her son's technical sense of the term. In these circumstances, Singer's principles surely require him to take the substantial sums of money that he uses to maintain her in comfort and in dignity and spend them instead to feed the poor and save the lives of innocent children. And early in Practical Ethics, Singer declares that the true test of an ethics is its ability to guide life: "Ethics is not an ideal system that is noble in theory but no good in practice. The reverse of this is closer to the truth: an ethical judgment that is no good in practice must suffer from a theoretical defect as well, for the whole point of ethical judgment is to guide practice." Although he strenuously denies that from the ethical point of view we ought to treat friends and family differently, Singer's actions seems to proclaim that what is right and what is rigorous applies only to other people's mothers."

Therefore, Singer should be regarded as a shock comic, not a serious scholar. He's the evil clown of academia, the Madonna of the ivory tower, speaking solely to churn up a controversy or ignite a furor. It's performance art with a Ph.D. Were it not for the possible downstream effects of his ideas, he could be ignored like the most recent Madonna bomb.

Now Pete's weighed in on 9/11, smearing himself with feces, like all edgy performance artists, in his effort to make some sort of obscure point.

Here's the slam-bang intro:

"Consider two aspects of globalization: first, planes exploding as they slam into the World Trade Center, and second, the emission of carbon dioxide from the exhaust of gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles. One brought instant death and left unforgettable images that were watched on television screens all over the world; the other makes a contribution to climate change that can be detected only by scientific instruments. Yet both are indications of the way in which we are now one world, and the more subtle changes to which sport-utility-vehicle owners unintentionally contribute will almost certainly kill far more people than the more visible aspect of globalization."

SUVs are worse than 9/11. Let that sink in for a few moments. Singer's saying that Kim Ji-Soo driving her two year-old daughter Christine around in a Ford Expedition is worse than Mohammed Atta driving an airliner into a skyscraper. Well, Singer doesn't have to worry about Kim and Christine (and Peter Hanson, the husband and father) driving around anymore: Atta was flying the plane they were on. Incidentally, they were travelling to Disneyland, and presumably Singer does not approve of that, either.

Now, to fisk the article at length would not be difficult. In addition to the bongload of crapademia noted above, there are respectful citations of Marx, an uncritical paean to the U.N., and the lauding of the farcical Kyoto Treaty. Why, as with all things Singer, there are so many targets that it would be like grenade-fishing in a lake teeming with stupidity. In fact, to display less common sense, Singer would have to be on a ventilator.

But, I don't have the time and interest to wallow around in the sty with the likes of him. Instead, I will conclude with a public service announcement to those inclined to take the evil bozo seriously (i.e., those unable to differentiate their gluteous from a grass divot):

This is a sport utility vehicle.

This is September 11, 2001. [Warning: Very disturbing imagery.]

Any Questions?
I've decided to move the assorted non-family commentary here, away from the old Blog. That page will still be active and updated. You can still use the old e-mail, too:

When I get a chance, I'll be sending my final observations on the Norway argument to the glue factory, and you can find them here.
Let's try this again.

The GOP Garbage Squad.

Nine awful human beings whose views are unworthy of the slightest respect. Especially after caterwauling about spending money on Ukraine, no...