Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chastity

This piece is directed to young people, but it's such a concise explanation of chastity that it's good reading for any age group.
Here are a couple quotes:    
Sexual intercourse, despite what the media would indicate, is not an indoor sport. It is the ULTIMATE expression of love between a husband and wife. Sexual intercourse, despite what the media would indicate, is not merely a physical act.   
Because of the sacredness of marriage, because of the sacredness of our bodies, and because of the sacredness of our sexuality, any misuse of sex is tragic and detrimental to our spiritual lives. As Catholics we are called to be an example to others in the world.
This is essentially the message of the Generation Life missionaries, some of whom are now in the diocese of New York.

A related article is this one by John Garvey president of Catholic University of America in which he reiterates the reasons for his decision to institute single sex dorms on CUA's campus

Christians Most Persecuted Religious Group

That's what Zenit reports in this article.   According to participants at the International Conference on the Freedom of Religion and Discrimination Against Christians, there are two reasons for this:  "the loss of Christian roots and European secularism where secular authorities are increasingly marginalizing religion from public life; and Islamic radicalism, exacerbated by aggressive missionary work by representatives of different non-Christian sects, and distortions of Christian teaching."
The Obama administration is signalling that it is not much interested in protecting Christians around the world because the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom does not have the support of the Obama administration and will likely not exist past this week.  The article explains: 
The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission. Its Commissioners are appointed by the U.S. president and the leadership of both political parties in the Senate and the House of Representatives. USCIRF's principal responsibilities are to review the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally and to make policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress.
But despite its irreplaceable value, the organization may well be shut down on Dec. 16. Two continuing congressional resolutions had temporarily extended its life which had been threatened by budget cuts. But now a re-authorization bill has had a "hold" placed on it by Senate majority whip, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), according to CNS News.
As the Archbishop of Miami points out here, pro-life Catholics have most certainly "been played" by Obama, but I think that goes for all Catholics and Christian denominations as well.  Obama must be not only our most pro-abortion president, but also our most doggedly anti-Christian secular president.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sister Valsa John

This article appeared several days ago in Zenit.  The murder of this nun didn't happen in some long ago time.  It was just last week in India that she was "hacked to death."  Maoist extremists have been targeted as possibly responsible or, alternatively, a 'mafia' that controls the coal mining interests. Rest in peace.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Being Human In An Age of Unbelief"

Here is a great lecture given at the University of Pennsylvania by the new archbishop of Philadelphia, Archbishop Charles Chaput.  He pretty much leaves no stone unturned.  Basically, he's talking about what it means to create a culture of life in the broadest sense of that phrase and not just with respect to the lives of the unborn. Chaput's lecture helps to understand why the battle is so pitched at this point in time and why the stakes are so high. The battle comes down to the nuts and bolts of what we believe the human person is, where he came from and what we believe to be true about him.   That's why BOTH sides --the culture of life vs. the culture of death, the moral relativists vs. the believers in objective Truth, the culture of belief vs. the "culture of unbelief" (Chaput's phrase, see below)--  are in full battle mode.

So, to arms!  Here are a few quotes: 
When Christians and other people of good will talk about "the dignity of the human person" and "the sanctity of human life," they're putting into words what we all instinctively know – and have known for a very long time. Something elevated and sacred in men and women demands our special respect. When we violate that human dignity, we do evil. When we serve it, we do good. And therein lies one of many ironies. We live in a society that speaks persuasively about protecting the environment and rescuing species on the brink of extinction. But then it tolerates the killing of unborn children and the abuse of human fetal tissue as lab material. 
There's a proverb worth remembering here: "To a man with a hammer, every problem is a nail." If modern man is scientific man, technology is his hammer. But every problem isn't a nail. Knowledge without the virtues of wisdom, prudence, and, above all, humility to guide it is not just unhelpful. It's dangerous.
Science involves the study of the material world. But human beings are more than the sum of their material processes. Trying to explain the human person with thinking that excludes the reality of the spiritual, the dignity of the religious, and the possibility of God simply cripples both the scientist and the subject being studied – man himself. To put it another way, we can destroy what we mean by humanity while claiming, and even intending, to serve it.
Most of us here tonight believe that we have basic rights that come with the special dignity of being human. These rights are inherent to human nature. They're part of who we are. Nobody can take them away. But if there is no Creator, and nothing fundamental and unchangeable about human nature, and if "nature's God" is kicked out of the conversation, then our rights become the product of social convention. And social conventions can change. So can the definition of who is and who isn't "human." 
The irony is that modern liberal democracy needs religion more than religion needs modern liberal democracy. American public life needs a framework friendly to religious belief because it can't support its moral claims about freedom and rights with secular arguments alone. In fact, to the degree that it encourages a culture of unbelief, liberal democracy undermines its own grounding. It causes its own decline by destroying the public square's moral coherence.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Christophobia

This article is a good follow-up to the previous one.  It's about Tim Tebow and the controversy about his public displays of faith.  I've been hearing about it on sports radio, but George Weigl does a much better job of sorting out the issue.

Religious Liberty

I thought this Zenit article contained a good summary of some of the infringements on religious liberty going around.  In particular, the article summarizes six problem areas since June of 2011 as noted by Archbishop Dolan, president of the USCCB.
In his letter, dated Sept. 29, Archbishop Dolan listed six major problems regarding religious liberty in the period since June.
-- Federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations that oblige all private health insurance plans to cover contraception and sterilization. This will oblige church employers to sponsor and pay for services they oppose.
-- The HHS request regarding refugees that Archbishop Gomez referred to.
-- The U.S. Agency for International Development is increasingly requiring condom distribution in HIV prevention programs, as well as requiring contraception within international relief and development programs.
-- The Justice Department's attack on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In July, the Department started filing briefs actively attacking DOMA's constitutionality, claiming that supporters of the law could only have been motivated by bias and prejudice.
-- The Justice Department recently attacked what is known as "ministerial exception," a constitutional doctrine long accepted by courts that allows churches to make employment decisions concerning persons working in a ministerial capacity.
-- A new law in New York State allowing same-sex marriage with only a very narrow religious exemption.
Note also the comments regarding the so-called problem at Catholic University (CUA) regarding a Muslim student being discriminated against.  Even the attorney who's filing charges against CUA on this and the suppposed illegality of single sex dorms admits that no complaint whatsoever was filed by any student!  

Friday, October 21, 2011

Parents' Rights

In light of the new sex education mandate in the New York City public schools, Robert George has written this in an op-ed piece in the New York Times.  (By the way, a middle schooler in New York City is a sixth, seventh or eighth grader.)  Among other problems, this mandate victimizes most those parents who don't want their kids to participate in this so-called 'education,' but who can't afford private school.  Mr. George writes:
But beyond rival moral visions, the new policy raises a deeper issue: Should the government force parents — at least those not rich enough to afford private schooling — to send their children to classes that may contradict their moral and religious values on matters of intimacy and personal conduct?        
The right to parent is rather like the right to exercise one’s religion. Like parental duties, religious duties are serious and highly personal. This is why, absent the most serious reasons, it would be a grave violation of individual rights if the state prevented people from honoring what they regarded as their religious obligations. To subject children to indoctrination in deeply personal matters against their parents’ consciences is no less a violation than forcing Muslim parents to send their children to a Catholic Mass.       

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

More on Same Sex "Marriage" in New York State

Several sources are reporting on the four New York state senators who delivered the vote on same sex 'marriage' for Governor Cuomo here in New York state.  It seems that they're receiving some handsome campaign funding from Republicans who want to send the message that the Republican party supports same-sex 'marriage.'

The four wayward senators are Mark J. Grisanti of Buffalo, James S. Alesi of Rochester, Stephen M. Saland of Poughkeepsie and Roy J. McDonald of Saratoga County.  Their mentors in the Republican party are gay rights activist Tim Gill along with Paul E. Singer,  Daniel S. Loeb and our own Mayor Bloomberg.      

Monday, October 3, 2011

Marriage and Race; Marriage and Prison

I've just read a couple of articles that  mention marriage and its significance in two different contexts.  One of the articles is in the current issue of National Review and the other is an old clipping that I had squirreled away in a folder.  Taking the latter first, the author is George Gilder writing in the Wall Street Journal in 1995.  He's drawing a connection between a book that he wrote, Visible Man:  A True Story of Post Racist America, and a book that Dinesh D'Souza wrote, The End of Racism.  Apparently, both writers come to the conclusion that white racism was not a "significant problem" for blacks in recent American history.  

What Gilder says is a problem for blacks is the fact that young black men are not socialized through marriage.  To quote:  "The key problem of the underclass--the crucible of crime, the source of violence, the root of poverty--is the utter failure of socialization of young men through marriage.  The problem resides in the nexus of men and marriage."  Gilder goes on to point out that attempts to  address the problems of the underclass all focus on the women!  That leaves the men to indulge in being "predators" rather than "providers," and, in many cases to languish in prison.  He gives the statistic that 40% of young black males between ages 17 and 35 are in prison or on probation.  

Writing some 15 years later, Mitch Pearlstein  says that research shows that married men are less likely than single men to break the law.  He isn't concerned with race.  Some of his statistics:



  • Across the country, studies consistently show that more than 40 percent of low-income men who father a child out of wedlock have already been in jail or prison by the time their first son or daughter is born.




  • One in four black men born between 1975 and 1979 had experienced imprisonment by 2009. The comparable ratio for white men was one in 19. The chance of having been imprisoned for black men in this cohort who had not graduated from high school was two in three.




  • As of 2000, about 25 percent of black men between the ages of 22 and 30 were married. Among incarcerated black men, the marriage rate was less than half of that, 11 percent.




  • With praises for the book, he references The Case for Marriage, citing a study which showed that marriage was a significant factor in the lives of those men who "reduced" their criminal activity.   Pearlstein is looking for solutions, especially in the area of hiring and jobs, so that criminals can get back on their feet without being condemned forever by their past  records.  That makes sense--save as many as you can--but we also have to tackle the root of the problem which, whether pertaining to black or white, is a welfare society, a feminized society, a libertine society  that has permitted the so-called wonders and privileges of sexual liberation, secularism and feminism to trump the institution of marriage.

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    SFC Alwyn Cashe

    Along with the more familiar definition of the word "amazing"  as 'very surprising, wonderful, astonishing,  astounding,' my dictionary gives several archaic senses for the word amazement.  They are 'overwhelming fear, bewilderment, stupefaction.'  Put these all together and such is the feeling when reading the account of  SFC Cashe's courage and determination back in 2005 in Iraq.   SFC Cashe died of his burn wounds about a month after being injured.   R.I.P.  What a legacy of bravery to leave behind. 

    Friday, September 23, 2011

    Archbishop Dolan to Barack Obama

    Our archbishop is defending the faith as he again speaks up, this time to Barack Obama regarding his position on DOMA.  Dolan made this defense in his capacity as president of the USCCB.  Some are calling it a "remarkable" letter with a "stepped up" tone of urgency.   Dolan's letter can be read here.   Dolan takes the president to task for his attempt to characterize those who support traditional marriage as bigots.  
    That is why it is particularly upsetting, Mr. President, when your Administration, through the various court documents, pronouncements and policies identified in the attached analysis, attributes to those who support DOMA a motivation rooted in prejudice and bias. It is especially wrong and unfair to equate opposition to redefining marriage with either intentional or willfully ignorant racial discrimination, as your Administration insists on doing. 


    Our federal government should not be presuming ill intent or moral blindness on the part of the overwhelming majority of its citizens, millions of whom have gone to the polls to directly support DOMAs in their states and have thereby endorsed marriage as the union of man and woman. Nor should a policy disagreement over the meaning of marriage be treated by federal officials as a federal offense—but this will happen if the Justice Department‟s latest constitutional theory prevails in court. The Administration‟s failure to change course on this matter will, as the attached analysis indicates, precipitate a national conflict between Church and State of enormous proportions and to the detriment of both institutions.


    Thursday, September 22, 2011

    Thanks, Mrs. Scaraffia

    In the wake of Mayor Bloomberg's misguided push for mandatory sex education in the public schools, an Italian journalist summarizes  the problem nicely.
    "It is not clear why public institutions in the West continue to have such magical trust in the effectiveness of sex education, especially when young people in those countries continue to have precocious, unprotected sex, leading to an increase of disease, pregnancy and abortion." 
    She points out the importance of family and Catholic teaching in the matter of educating about sex.
    "For the Catholic Church, she said, sexual activity is an important part of human and spiritual maturity and properly belongs only to marriage and the formation of a family.  The church teaches respect for one's own body, which means giving importance and weight to the acts that are done with it, not just taking into consideration the possibility of enjoyment or narcissistic gratification."

    Sunday, September 11, 2011

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    More on How Gay "Marriage" Happened in New York state

    Here is another article, [at 4/25/13 this article isn't available but the quotes below are accurate;  here is a link to a similar account] also from New Yorker's Family Research Foundation, that gives more explanation about how the same-sex "marriage" vote in New York was basically bought and sold and passed under questionable (illegal?) conditions.  Republicans were instrumental in passing this bill.  The author mentions the groundwork that was laid by Republican donors in collusion (shall we say) with Andrew Cuomo. 


    The battle really began back some months ago when Steve Cohen and other top staff members from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration met with wealthy Republican financial contributors in New York City. The governor’s staff proposed that they should work with the governor to see that homosexual “marriage” legislation was passed into law. It didn’t take long for those liberal-leaning Republican Wall Street financiers to get on board with the governor. Billionaire Paul Singer (whose son is living in a gay-lifestyle), and hedge fund managers Cliff Asness and Daniel Loeb were influential in passing same-sex “marriage” legislation. They wrote six-figure checks, totaling over one million dollars, to fund the public relations campaign for gay “marriage”. This level of support did not go unnoticed by Republicans who normally sought campaign funding from these same sources. 
    He mentions the "letter of necessity" that Cuomo used to circumvent consideration of the bill in the Assembly. 
    To get a vote this quickly, the governor had to send a letter of necessity to the Assembly, declaring that this legislation was critical to the state, and necessary, such that there was no time for it to go through the normal legislative process. 
     Once the bill was in the Senate, the governor went to work again. 
    The Senate leadership and the governor’s staff made an agreement not to permit the same-sex “marriage” legislation to be laid aside or discussed. This blocked any debate and expedited the process. The governor wanted to have the vote pass in a manner that would allow for maximum coverage in that evening’s 11:00 PM newscasts. His staff was in full force on the Senate floor, working with various leaders, expediting the process to make the 11:00 o’clock deadline. It is highly unethical for the executive branch of government to be involved in the operation of the legislative branch.
    Senators were locked into the chamber and lobbyists were locked out.
    Senators were locked in the chamber so they could not disappear for the vote and be marked absent – or in Albany lingo ‘take a walk’. This is the first time I have seen senators locked in the chamber, forcing them to vote. Again, this seemed to be part of a broader effort to lock down the needed votes, and not let any peel away from taking a difficult vote.
    The author makes clear that Republicans could have stopped this bill.
    The Republican Party controls the state senate, giving them the authority to determine what to do with the legislation. They did not have to bring the legislation to the floor. The Senate Republican Conference could have stopped same-sex “marriage” in New York State, but they failed to do so. Twenty-nine Republicans voted against the bill on the floor, but it is not clear that they did all they could to keep it from coming to the floor in conference. It only takes seventeen senators in conference to hold a bill. 

    How "Gay" Marriage Happened . . .

    Here is a good discussion  [unfortunately not available at 4/25/13]of the vote on same sex "marriage" in New York state this past June 24th.   It's written by the Rev. Jason McGuire of New Yorker's Family Research Foundation.   He singles out a few cowran tim'rous beasties, but to tell the truth, it sounds like all the Republicans had panic in their breasties. 

    The Senate GOP convinced itself that it was in their best interest to bring same-sex “marriage” to the floor for passage. They believe this action will remove the issue from the 2012 elections. Senate leadership, working with their Republican conference, devised a plan whereby they would permit a few votes to peel away causing the measure to ultimately pass, while allowing the majority of Republicans to maintain public positions of opposition. Republicans think this will protect their slim majority and allow their conference to return to power in 2013 and beyond. They are mistaken. 
    Besides the State Republican Chairman, Ed Cox, and Dean Skelos who allowed the vote, there was Mayor Bloomberg.
    When the Republicans were conferencing this issue, they allowed gay “marriage” supporter and major financial donor, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, into the meeting. We now know that other wealthy and liberal GOP donors reached out to the party’s leadership with promises of support in exchange for a vote on homosexual “marriage”. This should be understood as quid pro quo, an illegal action of exchanging one’s vote for some personal gain, but this is just the way corrupt and compromising elected officials get things done on Planet Albany.

    When the decision was made to bring the bill to the floor for a vote, Republican leadership conspired with Governor Cuomo and Senate Democrats to hold no debate on the bill. They actually shut down Sen. Diaz (D-Bronx), the lone voice defending the family that night, while allowing openly-gay lawmaker Sen. Duane (D-Manhattan) to go on virtually unchecked.

    The timing of the bill’s passage was designed to coincide with the 11 o’clock newscasts allowing Governor Cuomo maximum coverage. 
    Republicans, thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!   Unfortunately, these beasties are taking us down with them. 


    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    From Archbishop Dolan's Blog

    Just to keep current, I wanted to post a few quotes from Archbishop Dolan's "Afterthoughts" about same sex marriage.   Although some might be saying that Dolan should have/could have done more (note here the suggestion that Cuomo be given a "public rebuke" by the bishops of New York), Dolan points out that legalizing same sex relationships has less to do with homosexuals wanting to marry and more to do with the homosexual lobbyists' desire to chip away at religious freedom, challenge the Church (Catholic, of course) and  define away traditional marriage and existing sexual norms (such as they are at this point).  
    If the experience of those few other states and countries where this is already law is any indication, the churches, and believers, will soon be harassed, threatened, and hauled into court for their conviction that marriage is between one man, one woman, forever, bringing children into the world.  
    the problem is not homophobia but theophobia — a hatred by some of God, faith, religion, and the Church. 
    And now we ring the steeple bell again at this latest dilution of the authentic understanding of marriage, worried that the next step will be another redefinition to justify multiple partners and infidelity. If you think I’m exaggerating, within days of the passage of this bill, one major newspaper ran a flattering profile of a proponent of what was called “nonmonogamy.” Apparently, “nonmonogamy” is the idea that society is unrealistic to think that one man and one woman should remain faithful in marriage, and that openness to some infidelity should be the norm!

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    Sexual Liberationist Ideology

    The term is not mine, but it's certainly an accurate and useful one.  Prof. Robert George uses it in this article which discusses the implications of legalizing same-sex marriage in New York state. 
    The vote in New York to redefine marriage advances the cause of loosening norms of sexual ethics, and promoting as innocent — and even “liberating” — forms of sexual conduct that were traditionally regarded in the West and many other places as beneath the dignity of human beings as free and rational creatures.
    Prof. George discusses the meaning of marriage in New York by saying,
    What New York now offers its citizens is “marriage” in name only. In reality, it doesn’t give marriage to same-sex partners — the nature of marriage makes that impossible, just as it makes it impossible to offer marriage to parties of three or more persons in polyamorous sexual partnerships. Rather, it takes away the legal recognition of marriage — a comprehensive union of persons ordered to having and rearing a family. 
    He goes on to explain how sexual norms will erode further.
    Because these domestic partnerships are not actually marriages, despite the appropriation of the label; there is no intelligible basis in them for the norms of monogamy, exclusivity, and the pledge of permanence that structure and help to define marriage as historically understood in our law and culture. 

     
    Prof. George's remarks put in perspective the New York Times article I referenced here
    In fact George cites the article himself and concludes
    On sexual-liberationist premises, there is no reason (apart from the subjective tastes of this or that particular set of partners) for “marriages” to be monogamous and demand sexual fidelity.

    There's much more good reading in this piece.  The culture wars continue.

    Statement of Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn on Same Sex Marriage

    I have been meaning to post this since reading it last week.  Highlights are mine.

    Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature have deconstructed the single most important institution in human history. Republicans and Democrats alike succumbed to powerful political elites and have passed legislation that will undermine our families and as a consequence, our society.


    With this vote, Governor Cuomo has opened a new front in the culture wars that are tearing at the fabric of our nation. At a time when so many New Yorkers are struggling to stay in their homes and find jobs, we should be working together to solve these problems. However, the politicians have curried favor with wealthy donors who are proponents of a divisive agenda in order to advance their own careers and futures.


    What is needed in our state is leadership and not political gamesmanship.


    In light of these disturbing developments and in protest for this decision, I have asked all Catholic schools to refuse any distinction or honors bestowed upon them this year by the governor or any member of the legislature who voted to support this legislation. Furthermore, I have asked all pastors and principals to not invite any state legislator to speak or be present at any parish or school celebration.


    The above request is intended as a protest of the corrupt political process in New York State. More than half of all New Yorkers oppose this legislation. Yet, the governor and the state legislature have demonized people of faith, whether they be Muslims, Jews, or Christians, and identified them as bigots and prejudiced, and voted in favor of same-sex “marriage.” It is mystifying that this bill would be passed on the last day of an extended session under the cover of darkness.


    This issue has been framed as upholding marriage equality. This is not the case since one of the principal purposes of marriage is to bring new life into the world. This cannot happen in same-sex marriage. It is not a civil rights issue, but rather a human rights issue upholding the age-old understanding of marriage. Our political leaders do not believe their own rhetoric. If they did, how in good conscience could they carve out any exemption for institutions that would be proponents of bigotry and prejudice?


    Republicans and Democrats equally share responsibility for this ruinous legislation and we as Catholics should hold all accountable for their actions.

    Tuesday, July 5, 2011

    Beatification for the Ulma Family

    I'm very late with this.  For several years, maybe 7 or 8, I've saved a newspaper clipping about Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma from the village of Markowa in Poland.  They and their seven children, the seventh being Wiktoria's unborn child in the womb, were murdered by the Nazis for harboring Jews.  The clipping I saved was brief in content, no more than a paragraph, but it left such an impression that it's never seemed quite right to throw it away.  

    It would have been bad enough for the husband and wife to have been shot, but seven young children from ages 7 to 18 months?  How can one even begin to understand what it means to do that?    The unspeakably inhumane actions of the Germans are spelled out further in this Zenit article from earlier this year.   The beatification of the Ulma Family was, I believe, carried out in May of this year.

    Same Sex Marriage

    In another mind-twisting game to convince us that black is really white, this article wants us to accept the "finding" that gay promiscuity is healthy for relationships and "some gay men and lesbians argue that, as a result, they have stronger, longer-lasting and more honest relationships.  And while that may sound counterintuitive, some experts say boundary-challenging gay relationships represent an evolution in marriage — one that might point the way for the survival of the institution."

    If you're still reading after that, the article goes on to say that while straight people might call having various partners "cheating," gays view this kind of activity in a positive light.  The thinking seems to be that traditional marriage is in trouble (can't imagine why) and the more evolved thinking of gay people can help provide a cure.  This sounds like some variation of the Stockholm Syndrome where victims begin to identify their persecutors as their saviors.  Gays and lesbians, so deeply involved in the negativity and counter-intuitiveness of promiscuous relationships begin to define them as positive in order to survive.  An indication of all this openess has to offer is reflected in the fact that no one interviewed for the article would give their name!  


    None of this is news in the gay community, but few will speak publicly about it. Of the dozen people in open relationships contacted for this column, no one would agree to use his or her full name, citing privacy concerns. They also worried that discussing the subject could undermine the legal fight for same-sex marriage. 
    A good antidote is to read "A New Movement For Marriage" and Maggie Gallagher's article following the passage of same sex marriage in New York.

    Friday, July 1, 2011

    This was sent out last week by Catholic Advocacy Network


    A Message to Catholic New Yorkers from the Bishops of New York State
    We bishops share with so many of you deep disappointment in the presumption of our state’s elected officials in the radical redefinition of marriage. Yet we are heartened by the vigor with which so many faithful Catholic New Yorkers fought to preserve the true meaning of marriage.
    Many surely believed that Catholics would simply shrug their shoulders and go along with this radical act of social engineering. Yet you did not do that. Together with people of other faith traditions, you spoke out. Thousands of you, by phone, email, letter or in-person visits to your legislators, and through social media like Facebook and Twitter, as well as hand-signed petitions in the back of your church, let you convictions be known.
    We are grateful to you, as we are to the many legislators in the state Senate and Assembly who voted to reject this bill. We know the pressure that was brought to bear on them, and we admire their courage and yours in attempting to defend marriage and protect religious freedom. Their integrity and yours was called into question by many. Both you and they were accused of bigotry for simply defending the timeless understanding of marriage.
    The proponents of so-called “same-sex marriage” portrayed their cause as a matter of “civil rights.” Redefining marriage has nothing to do with civil rights. The Catholic Church has a proud history in this country’s civil rights movement for African-Americans. However, this situation is in no way analogous. In the first case, a race of people was shamefully made to endure hundreds of years of slavery and systemic persecution and discrimination. Today’s debate focuses on a small group of persons, whose human rights must always be respected and defended by us all, but who claim a civil right to redefine marriage for all of society based on a private and personal preference.
    As so many of you have let us know, this is not just a “Catholic issue.” Yet for us Catholics, there is particular disappointment with those elected officials who publicly profess fidelity to our Catholic religion but whose public stance is at odds with a fundamental teaching of that faith. The definition of marriage resides in the plan of God for humankind. It is at the very least presumptuous for the state to attempt to redefine it.
    From this sad moment in our state’s history, let it be our prayer that we witness a new appreciation for authentic marriage as understood by our Catholic faith and revealed to us by God through nature. We have seen so many threats to marriage in recent years, from widespread cohabitation, to infidelity, to exploding out-of-wedlock birth rates, to pornography and other addictions that undermine family and married life. Sadly, we have even seen rates of Catholic marriages plunge over the last four decades by nearly 60 percent. And now we see the state presume to alter what God already has defined and common sense can recognize as right and true.
    While our culture seems to have lost a basic understanding of marriage, we Catholics must not. We must be models of what is good, holy and sacred about authentic sacramental marriage. Let this moment where marriage is being attacked from without become a moment of renewal from within – in our Church, in our communities and in our families – where marriage is indelibly marked by fidelity, sacrifice and the mutual love of husband and wife leading to children.
    The Church does not seek to be at odds with the society and culture. The Church welcomes the opportunity to be part of the public dialogue and listens respectfully to all positions. But the Church cannot do otherwise than stand against the claims of any culture and any society that attempts to define a relationship into being what it is not. To that extent we members of the Catholic Church are called to be in opposition to the prevailing culture. And sadly we are called to do so again. We know well that marriage always has been, is now and always will be the life-long, life-giving union of one man and one woman. No act of government can change that reality. With respect for the dignity of every person, we proclaim this truth and we will be faithful to its meaning and to its observance in all that we say and do.


    --The Catholic Bishops of New York State

    June 24, 2011

    Feast of the Birthday of St. John the Baptist

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Same Sex Marriage in New York

    What was supposed to be decided on Monday is still undecided.  The battle to pass a same sex marriage bill is just that, a battle.  Here are comments from Ed Mechmann's blog about what's happening in Albany.  He is referring to the saints JohnFisher and Thomas More when he mentions the "great witnesses for truth."  

    As we recall the memory of these great witnesses for the truth, powerful men are in Albany redefining marriage, and threatening the liberty of the Church. They sit behind closed doors, making a mockery of democracy with their secret political deals, not disclosing even the language of the bill they will soon foist upon us. That bill will certainly threaten the liberty of the Church to fulfill her apostolic mission, even as it redefines the family and the nature of every marriage. A few people stand in their way. A few brave legislators have resisted the inducements, threats and pressures, and are defending the truth. Ordinary people of all faiths have sacrificed to go to Albany to give witness to their belief in the sanctity of authentic marriage, and to their fears of religious persecution. They were met with derisory anti-religious chants.


    This calls to mind the way Obama, Pelosi and Reid forced the health care bill through.   Andrew Cuomo, another Faux Catholic, is following in their example.    Here is Archbishop Dolan's blog with his message about marriage.

    Book Review--Unnatural Selection

    This review of the book Unnatural Selection covers some unpleasant territory and shows the cruel irony of what the ill-fated feminist movement has delivered to women and girls, namely, more ways to be an oppressed group.   To quote:


    In the mid-1970s, amniocentesis, which reveals the sex of a baby in utero, became available in developing countries. Originally meant to test for fetal abnormalities, by the 1980s it was known as the "sex test" in India and other places where parents put a premium on sons. When amnio was replaced by the cheaper and less invasive ultrasound, it meant that most couples who wanted a baby boy could know ahead of time if they were going to have one and, if they were not, do something about it. 

    The book explores how sex selection, by means of abortion, has skewed the male-female ratio in some countries, especially India and China. The resulting shortage of women not only fuels the practice of abortion but also turns women into a commodity to be bought and sold.   Again, from the review:


    The economist Gary Becker has noted that when women become scarce, their value increases, and he sees this as a positive development. But as Ms. Hvistendahl demonstrates, "this assessment is true only in the crudest sense." A 17-year-old girl in a developing country is in no position to capture her own value. Instead, a young woman may well become chattel, providing income either for their families or for pimps. As Columbia economics professor Lena Edlund observes: "The greatest danger associated with prenatal sex determination is the propagation of a female underclass," that a small but still significant group of the world's women will end up being stolen or sold from their homes and forced into prostitution or marriage. 


    In a screwy twist of logic, the author of the book (a woman, no surprise) worries that this shortage of women might endanger the sacred cow of  abortion that feminists champion. 

    This is a very interesting review and makes a number of good points, most all of which were accounted for and predicted in Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae.

    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    Single Sex Dorms at CUA

    Having a special interest in what goes on at The Catholic University of America (CUA), it was especially exciting to read that CUA will be phasing in single sex dormitories this fall.   President Garvey laid out his thinking on the matter in this op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal. 

    One sassy coed, a CUA alum, bragged that she had hooked up to her heart's content,  that single sex dorms won't change a thing.  A coed from some other university lapsed into political correctness saying that  "choice" is important.   Fortunately, what these girls think doesn't matter.  President Garvey did not say that a questionnaire will be sent around to see how students like the new arrangement.  No university-wide study is being planned to ask for feedback.  No one is suggesting that input from students will help Mr. Garvey decide how he'll implement the phasing-in process.    The grown-ups are in charge of the university as they should be.  

    I don’t believe any parent honestly wants to send their high school senior off to four years of partying and casual sex, but with little support from the popular culture, and far too little from our churches, parents acquiesce to the culture’s insistence that sex and alcohol are obligatory rites of passage for college students. When the president of a university--and how fitting that it should be The Catholic University of America--steps forward with  real leadership, the message resonates.   

    You can read more here about President Garvey's idea of a university and the relation between intellect and virtue that he discusses briefly in the Wall Street Journal article.

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    Friendship

    I've read bits and pieces of what Pope Benedict has been saying about the digital age, but here is a more complete statement that I ran across.  He talks about a " . . . .   fundamental desire of people to communicate and to relate to each other. This desire for communication and friendship is rooted in our very nature as human beings and cannot be adequately understood as a response to technical innovations."        

    On the subject of friendship, here are a couple excerpts:  
    The concept of friendship has enjoyed a renewed prominence in the vocabulary of the new digital social networks that have emerged in the last few years. The concept is one of the noblest achievements of human culture. It is in and through our friendships that we grow and develop as humans. For this reason, true friendship has always been seen as one of the greatest goods any human person can experience. We should be careful, therefore, never to trivialize the concept or the experience of friendship. 
    Friendship is a great human good, but it would be emptied of its ultimate value if it were to be understood as an end in itself. Friends should support and encourage each other in developing their gifts and talents and in putting them at the service of the human community.
    The Pope is never trivial, even when talking about Facebook or Twitter. He manages to go from cyberspace to the early Church and pull it all together.

    Friday, May 27, 2011

    Remembering on Memorial Day

    Here is a good article from Blackfive for Memorial Day reading.  It's from 2004. Note the quote from the fallen Major's letters where he says how much he "loved serving under George Bush."  Note also how the reporters following turned tail and ran without covering the story.  

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    Priest Abuse Scandal and John Jay College Study, II

    Others agree with me about homosexuality being among the root causes of the scandal despite what the John Jay report says. As Bill Donohue comments,   The report “says that 81 percent of the victims were male and 78 percent were post-pubescent,” he reiterated. “Since 100 percent of the abusers were male, that's called homosexuality, not pedophilia or heterosexuality.”

    Here is an article from Catholic New York with some additional points from the study.

    A Faux Catholic

    Just a brief  thought on the newly-resigned, fired really, ambassador to Malta, Doug Kmiec.   He's crazy!
    Despite the fact that he was sent packing for spending too much time writing about inter-faith concerns and that he was told to leave and not let the door hit him on the way out, Kmiec still waxes poetic about Obama.   
    “The President’s open affirmation of the significance of Divine grace in our hectic, information-overloaded existence is reminiscent of the message of hope and social justice that brought me to his side in 2008 to help him win the Catholic vote,” Kmiec observed. 
    Affirmation of Divine grace?  Obama doesn't even go to church (except on Easter during the years when he's President). What could possibly make a seemingly sane, self-proclaimed pro-life Catholic attorney and professor like Kmiec make such a ridiculous remark? 

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    Priest Abuse Scandal and John Jay College Study

    Regarding the John Jay College study , Archbishop Dolan made the point up front in his statement that the Catholic Church is the only professional agency to commission a study that looks into the whys and wherefores of sexual abuse of minors.   The prevalence of sexual abuse in families, schools and other institutions of our society certainly doesn't absolve priests of their wrongdoing, but the fact that the media continually points the finger at the Catholic Church suggests they are overlooking the log in their own eye.  Dolan seems to be unflagging in his reminders to the public at large that the Church has dealt with and is dealing with the abuse scandal.

    Back in 2004,  the equally unflagging Catholic League reported that less than 2% of priests have been accused of abusing minors while 2% of athletic coaches nationwide have records of sexual abuse.  The rate of sexual abuse among Protestant clergy is 2%-3%.   This report also cites the 2004 Hofstra University study on sexual abuse by Carol Shakeshaft who comments that sexual abuse is 100 times more likely in the public schools than in the Church.   Why don't we ever hear about that? This article and this one point out the media bias in reporting.  

    The John Jay College study (this is apparently the second part, the first having been released in 2004) concludes that there was no one specific cause of abuse in the Catholic Church, not celibacy, not homosexuality.  Rather, the social changes of the 60s and 70s affected priests in much the same way the rest of society was afffected.  Seems to me that begs the question, doesn't it? 

    The sexual revolution of the 60s certainly didn't advocate celibacy so that can't be considered a factor, but the 60s did promote a libertine lifestyle and a sexual freedom that, with very little stretch of the imagination, could easily have influenced the acceptance of homosexuals into the seminaries.  Reading the report might disabuse me of my own conviction that homosexuality, as endorsed and promoted by the social revolution of the 60s and then adopted by liberal factions within the Church in the post-Vatican II days, lies somewhere at the bottom of the priest abuse scandal.  By the way, most studies report that 80%-90% of victims in the case of the Church were adolescent boys, not girls, not young children. 

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    The College Racket

    I can find almost nothing positive to say about the modern-day state of affairs concerning going to college except that I think our family will, mercifully, emerge relatively unscathed from the whole business.  If I had it to do over again, I might have tried harder to buck the system and suggest to my kids that they look for a job or apply to one of the local city colleges and be done with it.  I might even have caved in to the idea of the "gap year," that prerogative of the upper-middle class whereby parents pay--not as much as they've been paying for private school and not as much as they would be paying for college--so that their young 'uns can go out into the world and have an "experience." 

    I read somewhere that America's love affair with college will end when parents and kids begin to see that four years of higher education doesn't pay off economically.  Maybe that's beginning to happen.  In this Pew Research Center study, 57% of those surveyed say that higher education doesn't provide good value for the money.  Then again, 94% of parents surveyed  say they "expect" their children to go to college.    Of course that begs the question of whether or not they want their kids to go to college (as well as whether or not the kids want to go).  Among those surveyed who have not gone on to college, 57% say they prefer to be working and making money.  Makes sense.  Surprisingly, this study claims that most Americans do not go to college.  Obviously, there are many angles and avenues to explore on the subject and the aforementioned study probes more deeply than I've done here.

    Though most parents expect their children to attend college, colleges are now scrambling to adjust to the coming decline in applicants.  We parents who went through the boom (when the children of us baby-boomers applied to college) are now to witness the bust that we've been promised.   The number of high school graduates is going to slump beginning about now until the year 2019.  Just as they did back in the 70s, colleges are thinking up new ways to fill their classrooms and dormitories.  This time around,  the targeted populations will be transfer students from community colleges, international students and the newly-invented minority that has become popular in the last few years, the first-generation college student.    What next.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Catholics at Commencement

    Fortunately Bill Donohue refuted the charges made by certain Catholic professors that House Speaker John Boehner was not Catholic enough to deliver the commencement address at Catholic University of America's (CUA) Saturday graduation.  Victor Nakas was the CUA spokesman who,  in my opinion, gave too mild of a statement regarding the selection of Boehner to give the address.  Pooh on diversity in the Catholic community!  CUA  is supposed to be shoring up its Catholic identity and standing up for Catholic orthodoxy in higher education.  Why not just let these pseudo-Catholics have it?! 

    Naturally, some of these faux Catholics who protested Boehner's presence are affiliated in various ways with Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, a group that could more accurately be named Catholics-In-Name-Only in Alliance for the Good of Liberals and Progessives!   (Funny, no?)

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Do You Do the Dougie?

    If she's not digging up the White House lawn or dreaming up new dietary requirements for families across the country, Michelle is doin' the Dougie! She loves Beyonce, her favorite performer on the entire planet! And she loves "moving." I wonder why Jackie Kennedy, of whom our current First Lady is supposedly the reincarnation, never got down with America's kids and did the frug or the Wah Watusi in one of her Oleg Cassini dresses. Can you imagine? Watching Michelle pander to pop culture makes me long for the days of Laura Bush in a sensible suit.




    Saturday, May 7, 2011

    O death, where is thy sting?

    A little late, perhaps, but it is Easter for another five weeks or so. This is an Easter sermon of St. John Chrysostom (chrysostomos meaning 'golden-mouthed'), Archbishop of Constantinople in the 4th C.


    Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God? Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival! Is there anyone who is a grateful servant? Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

    Are there any weary with fasting? Let them now receive their wages! If any have toiled from the first hour, let them receive their due reward; if any have come after the third hour, let him with gratitude join in the Feast! And he that arrived after the sixth hour, let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss. And if any delayed until the ninth hour, let him not hesitate; but let him come too. And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour, let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

    For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, as well as to him that toiled from the first. To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows. He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor. The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

    Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord! First and last alike receive your reward; rich and poor, rejoice together! Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

    You that have kept the fast, and you that have not, rejoice today for the Table is richly laden! Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one. Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith. Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

    Let no one grieve at his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Death of Our Saviour has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it. He destroyed Hades when He descended into it. He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh. Isaiah foretold this when he said, “You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below.”

    Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with. It was in an uproar because it is mocked. It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed. It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated. It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive. Hell took a body, and discovered God. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
    O death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory?

    Christ is Risen, and you, O death, are annihilated! Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down! Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is Risen, and life is liberated! Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead; for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

    To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

    Monday, April 18, 2011

    Catholic Ambassador Resigns

    I've wondered from time to time whatever happened to Doug Kmiec, the supposedly pro-life Catholic Pepperdine law professor who campaigned hard back in 2008 to convince Catholics and Americans in general that Obama's presidency would be consistent with the Catholic Church's position on abortion. It's hard to believe that a scholar of Kmiec's stature would be gullible enough to be such a useful idiot. Yet, that's what Kmiec did, fawning over Obama in the process and receiving for his efforts, the ambassadorship to the very Catholic country of Malta, a position from which Kmiec has just resigned. Apparently, Barack has had his fill of Kmiec who must no longer be of any use to the administration on rounding up Catholics for Obama. American Papist blog has a thorough account of the matter.

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    Catholics Address Spiritual Roots of Overeating

    With all the hand-wringing in the White House over obesity and diet, here is one diet solution that makes sense. The program is called Light Weigh.

    I view it as vindication of my own views which are based on limited information, anecdotal evidence and scant background knowledge, none of which have stopped me from long being a proponent of the view that, in general, weight problems can usually be traced to eating problems, or, in a word, gluttony.

    Gluttony has, might we say, two possible sources, the first one stemming from a lack of interest in and awareness about food (as in what's a fat vs. a carbohydrate or what sausages are made of) and the other stemming from a desire for food that has nothing to do with being hungry. It's this latter type of gluttony that a parishoner in Eagle River, Alaska addresses in Light Weigh. Among other things, her program helps people identify "stomach hunger versus heart hunger" and the program incorporates the teachings of St. Ignatius and St. Therese of Lisieux. Moderation and prayer are important and no foods are denied.

    This second type of gluttony is one that I think we all struggle with, whether we happen to be fatties or not. Think about any one of those open houses you've attended where refreshments were served. Ever notice the rush to the food table? I do it myself precisely to see what's there and to make sure that I get what I want. (I am not, however, a hard-core glutton who stands and eats at the serving table.) At an all-you-can-eat buffet, watch diners load up their plates with every kind of meat, potato and vegetable, a jumbled heap of protein, fat and carbs that common sense tells us will be sickening.

    I still remember being bitterly taken to task by my older sister for taking the last pork chop at dinner one night. She called out to the table, but really to my parents, that I had already gotten two pork chops and now I was going after more than my share! I ate the third, escaping the justice that my sister expected to be meted out to me by my parents showing that their love for us was equal, that I was no more deserving than she. Sounds silly, but it really isn't. That's why I always had to count out the strawberries for my kids, in front of them, so that there were no arguments over who got more. Or, more to the point, who mom loved more and so gave the greater portion to.

    I'm not suggesting, nor do I necessarily think the Light Weigh program is suggesting, that if we take three pork chops or race to the dessert buffet we have lost faith in God. I think it just means that, in that moment when we reach for too much, we're responding to our baser instincts and we are, for that moment, reducing ourselves to mere material beings who have lost sight about the sort of happiness we'll get from a piece of chocolate cake.

    Monday, January 31, 2011

    First Things

    Five years of a magazine subscription means that it's time to cull through all the back issues, re-read the favorites, toss the unwanteds and pass along the ones worth-reading all in order to create a few inches of shelf space for the new magazine subscriptions.

    First Things is the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus's creation that deals with religion in public life. It's difficult to throw the magazine away since every issue is chock full of pithy, cerebral articles by heavy-weight thinkers in theology, economics, literature, Judaic studies, jurisprudence and more. There are articles by Nobel prize winners and judges and of course, there was the entertaining (and easier to read) "The Public Square" by Fr. Neuhaus in the back of every issue. However, the purging must be done, and, it's done with some relief as I confess to a certain impatience with the publication, a certain difficulty with it and even a feeling of opprobrium when each issue shows up in the mailbox. To put it bluntly, the fact is that I can't understand the majority of the articles. I get a good start with something like, "Theology After Isaac Newton", thinking that it should be really engaging, but by the third paragraph, I'm lost. Nonetheless, there are several articles that I did actually read from beginning to end--and understood ---so here's a compendium of First Things Articles To Be Remembered.

    China's Catholic Moment 2009

    An Apology For Democratic Capitalism 2009

    The Sixties, Again and Again 2008

    Children's Books, Lost and Found 2008

    How Pedophilia Lost Its Cool 2008

    The Vindication of Humanae Vitae 2008

    What Marriage Is --And What It Isn't

    What Really Happened At Vatican II 2008

    December 2007 (Review of Marriage and Caste in America by Kay Hymowitz)

    October 2007 (Review of The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier)

    As I cull through a few more stacks, the compendium may grow.