Friday, December 28, 2007

Abortion in Spain

A journalist in Spain has gone undercover with a hidden camera and exposed the gruesome nature of abortion in Madrid.

In the video we witness two abortions of about the same gestation: 20 weeks. These second trimester abortions are done intact. Still, not for the faint of heart. (If you don't understand Spanish, just fast forward to the 9 minute mark.)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

100 reasons to not be a feminist

Just push play.

More goofy clergy. Just what the Church needs.

I am not old enough to remember the embarrassments of Archbishop Hunthausen. More a political activist than apostle, His Excellency is remembered for withholding half his income tax to protest Reagan's policies at the height of the Cold War. (The IRS was in no mood for games, and simply garnished his wages.)

In a speech opposing the Trident Missile program, Hunthausen once declared, “Trident is the Auschwitz of Puget Sound.”

Mind you, the work I do here at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard is in direct support of Trident Submarines. I suppose to his mind that makes me something of a concentration camp guard.

In a rare move, the Vatican forced Hunthausen to resign some 16 years ago. Yes, he was that bad. But do not for a moment think we are today spared the foolishness of Hunthausen-esques. A thorn in the side of the Church, these prelates seem to revel in a reputation marked by an air of rebellion. I imagine them something like a spoiled teenager who never ceases to push the envelope, who never responds willingly to correction and at intervals employs good use of the silent treatment.

Take for example Bishop Cappio of Brazil. CWNews relays:

A Brazilian bishop ended a 23-day hunger strike on December 20.
A bishop fasting for 23 days? I don't know I've ever heard of that before in the history of the Church. This must be some noble cause; an end to abortion perhaps, or, or, opposition to legalized euthanasia? What could it be that drives his excellency with such conviction, such passion?

[He] had abstained from food since November 27 to dramatize his opposition to a development project
That's right. Now, if you would simply flip open your Bibles to Matthew chapter five you will find opposition to development projects significantly nearer the top of the beatitudes than you at first thought.
Bishop Cappio had lost nearly 18 pounds since beginning his fast. He was hospitalized on the same day that Brazil's top court overruled a lower court order, and said that construction could proceed on a plan to divert the flow of the Sao Francisco river.

The bishop has argued that the project will cause ecological harm, and provide disproportionate benefits to corporate farmers. The Brazilian government counters that the project will provide irrigation for millions of acres of parched land, bringing benefits to over 10 million Brazilians.

Bishop Cappio vowed to continue his fight against the project, despite ending his hunger strike. Earlier in the week he had received a message from the apostolic nuncio in Brazil, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, who was conveying the Vatican's order to end his fast. The Congregation for Bishops had sent Bishop Cappio a similar message in October 2005, when he was engaged in an earlier hunger strike against the same development project. The Brazilian bishop has never given any public response to the Vatican's orders.
Perhaps Cardinal Biffi was right when he warned the Holy Father of an Antichrist who "presents himself as a pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist."

"Today, in fact, we run the risk of having a Christianity that puts Jesus with his cross and resurrection into parentheses," Biffi said.

There are "absolute values such as the good, the true and the beautiful. One who perceives them and loves them also loves Christ, even if he does not know it, because Christ is the truth, beauty and justice."

But there are also "relative values such as solidarity, love for peace and respect for nature. If these are given an absolute value or uprooted from or placed in opposition to the proclamation of the fact of salvation, then they become the basis for idolatry and are obstacles on the path to salvation."

Bishop Cappio wasn't listening. I think he may have been too busy trying to give Rome the silent treatment.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Living...only not really living

The black hole in which my time is swallowed up.

"Right. They [scientists] just determine what's alive and a human being and what is not." -Tom

"Once more, they determine what's "alive" biologically; they don't determine what's alive in terms of the societal value placed upon life." -Brad

Okay. Let's recap.

We both agree that at the moment of conception we have a new human being. No question there. I side with embryologists and biologists who say it is alive; you argue that it may be "biologically alive" but since there is no brain activity in the first 12 weeks or so, it can't really be said to be "a living human being." You base your argument on the Uniform Determination Of Death Act, which defines death as the "irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem." A six week old fetus has no brain activity, therefore it should have the same moral worth (read: none) as a brain-dead human being.

Let me know if you feel I've mis-stated your position here.

And I'll start off by saying that, on the surface of it, your position seems both consistent and plausible. But I also think that upon closer scrutiny it quickly falls apart.

First of all, the UDDA has made sure to use the word "irreversible" in its description of the loss of brain function. To my mind, this is key because were a patient able to reverse his state of brain-death (or, more likely, if we were able to reverse it for him), I think you and I would agree he was never really dead to begin with. I don't know if any such case exists, but in the hypothetical thought experiment it would look much like the real-world case of a man whose heart stops beating. Once upon a time total heart failure meant certain death. That's not necessarily the case anymore, and we've had to modify our definition of death because of it.

Now, what of the 6 week fetus? We know that under normal circumstances he will develop a fully functioning brain within a matter of weeks. His condition is most definitely not "irreversible," and for this reason alone I think any argument appealing to the UDDA collapses and it wrong to declare him "not alive".

Secondly, I think it is important to understand the purpose behind the Uniform Determination of Death Act. Its name is clear enough: to determine death. But it's a fairly modern Act (circa 1980). Why should we need such a definition at all? I mean, haven't societies prior to 1980 been getting along just fine -- knowing full well who among them is alive and who is dead? Yes, but with modern science we're finding that even when someone *appears* dead, there may be a chance he isn't. We might still save him from death. How do we know who is save-able, and who is lost? Today, the best indicator is brain activity.

But the whole *purpose* of the Act is to determine whether or not a person who was once living and breathing on his own has any hope of recovery. It's purpose was not to determine whether or not a 12 week old fetus was a "living" human being. I think you're trying to fit a square block into a round hole here in questioning whether the unborn meet the standards of an Act whose express purpose was wholly different from how you are now choosing to apply it.

It would be something like NASA discovering a Martian -- a creature who for the sake of argument uses something else in place of brainwaves to live and move and breathe -- and declaring, "Nope, he's not alive because he doesn't have a brain stem, and the UDDA says if you don't have a functioning brain stem you're not alive." That's not why the UDDA was drawn up. And we shouldn't be forcing its application onto circumstances for which it was never intended, be that the case of a Martian or of an unborn child.

Thirdly, I've never heard any philosopher, any MD, any professor of biology, any surgeon, or any text remind us that a fetus is a living human being only in the sense that he/she is "biologically alive", and should not be confused with what is otherwise commonly known as "a living human". You are the first person I've met to make the distinction.

Lastly, in the quote above I think you are conflating two separate ideas which, tangled together only make a mess of the argument. We have to untangle them, and keep them that way. The first consideration is whether or not a human being is alive (brain dead patients would not qualify according to medical science; a growing embryo would). And the second idea is the value judgment which society chooses to pass on a particular group of living human beings. With regard to the first point, science is unequivocal. A zygote is a living human being. Period. (I hope, but have serious doubts, that I've convinced you there ought to be no distinction between "a living human being" i.e. a fetus, and "a living human being" i.e. a toddler. They're both "living human beings" -- a phrase which has but one meaning -- and the criteria found in the UDDA should not be applied to the fetus per the three reasons listed above.)

Now, with that in mind we can move forward and address the second notion. Namely, what sort of value society should place on particular living human beings. As for the unborn, our modern American society says "not much". And I see the value-judgment as fundamentally the same mistake made 200 years ago with regard to blacks. In those days we discriminated against human beings based on skin color. Today we do it based on level of development. But discriminating between any two groups of innocent human beings and then declaring one group expendable strikes me as the height of injustice. And the basis on which you choose to discriminate is entirely irrelevant as human rights ought not be reserved for select human beings only. All human beings should qualify.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Panis Angelicus

St. Thomas expresses what I have always sensed interiorly:

"Because out of reverence towards this sacrament, nothing touches it, but what is consecrated; hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest's hands, for touching this sacrament." - St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Just an acorn

From an ongoing debate about abortion in Facebook that some of you might find interesting. My screen name is Quo Vadis...

"Can you answer one simply question for me Quo?" -Robin M.

I 'simply' shall try. ;)

"Can you explain to me how an acorn is an oak tree and why I should be held to the same laws against cutting down an oak tree for destroying an oak acorn?" -Robin M.

Ah. The old, "acorn = potential oak tree (no value), and fetus = potential human being (.: no value)" argument.

Problem #1: You are equating oak trees to human beings. To do so is dehumanizing and misleading.

Problem #2: The analogy breaks down the minute we contrast our view of the oak with our view of the human being.

An oak tree -- for a number of valid reasons -- increases in value over time. One reason would be the utilitarian aspect of it. A little oak sprout (let's say 0.5 inches above ground) doesn't do us much good. It isn't worth much at all, and if you trample over it, well, there's really no harm done and no lawsuit will be filed. Yet a one hundred foot oak tree has tremendous value to us from a practical standpoint, and even more so from a cultural standpoint.

Much like an old coin, we place astronomic value in a 400 year old oak. A nostalgic sort of value which increases with each passing year.

But this is not the case with man. We do not say, "The 85 year old man is more valuable to us than the 2 month old newborn, and next year, on his 86th birthday he will be more valuable still." We say their lives are equal in dignity and worth, irrespective of age -- and, if forced to make a choice, would probably spare the infant over the old man. This is anything but analogous to your oak tree example.

Problem #3: The physical remains after an abortion indicate the end not of a potential life but of an actual life.

And problem #4: Even if the analogy were valid (which it isn't, as I have just shown), scientifically speaking an acorn is simply a little oak tree, just as an embryo is a little human being.

The acorn is of the oak family. It has an oak nature. It simply hasn’t yet matured into a large oak tree. Philosopher Norman Geisler observes the following:

"It is a misunderstanding of botany to say an acorn is a potential oak tree. An acorn is a tiny living oak tree inside a shell. Its dormant life does not grow until properly nourished by planting and watering, but it is a tiny living oak tree nonetheless."

Your argument would be accurate if phrased like this: “An acorn has the potential to become a large oak tree but isn’t one yet. The fetus has the potential to become a 5-year-old but isn’t one yet.” The fetus is of the human family. The fetus has a human nature. It simply hasn’t matured into a child or an adult yet. So what? That statement only reveals the unborn to be less developed than born people; it does nothing to reveal that the unborn are not human.

The fetus has the potential to become an adult. It does not, however, have the potential to become a human because it already is a human. In the same way, the acorn has the potential to become a large oak tree. But it does not have the potential to be an oak because it already is an oak.

[Many thanks to CCBR and Randy Alcorn for aiding so much in my own understanding, and the sections of this post which have been stolen wholesale.]

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

200 Reasons Why the Election Matters

Terry Eastland has just written a nice overview in The Weekly Standard on the future of the federal judiciary; a judiciary which hangs precariously in the balance of November 2008.

The other day, at the annual meeting of the Federalist Society in Washington, D.C., Rudy Giuliani observed that there are "200 reasons why the next election is really important." Which 200, you ask? "The 200 federal judges that the next President of the United States will likely appoint over four years in the White House. That's roughly the average that a president gets to appoint." Actually, the average is something under 190. (Ronald Reagan appointed 379 judges in his two terms, and George Bush 192 in his one term. Bill Clinton appointed 372 judges in eight years, and George W. Bush has named 292 in his almost seven years.) But Giuliani is right about the stakes.


Right now the Supreme Court is closely divided, with four judicial liberals (John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer) and four judicial conservatives (Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito) and Anthony Kennedy, whose vote in the most controversial cases often determines which side prevails. No one can say for sure, of course, whether any vacancies will occur during the next president's term, but the most likely justice to depart the Court is John Paul Stevens. At 87, he is by far the oldest justice and with 32 years on the Court has now exceeded the average number of years served by justices appointed since 1970, which is 26. He's said to be in fine health, but if he were to leave the Court, a Republican president could create a conservative majority by picking someone on the order of the candidates' professed models--Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito--while a Democratic president could preserve the status quo, jurisprudentially speaking, by naming a judicial liberal.

Now, the great majority of the judges the next president will appoint will sit on district courts. They are important to the parties before them, and to the people and institutions in their jurisdiction. They, too, are "reasons why the next election is really important." But district judges can be overruled by the courts above--ultimately the Supreme Court, if the case ever gets there. Most don't. The Supreme Court decides many fewer cases than it used to--75 to 80 each term--and the twelve regular circuit courts, which decide 30,000 cases annually, effectively function as courts of final appeal. Which means their rulings in most criminal and civil cases, including those raising constitutional questions, are the law in their jurisdictions. There are 167 judges distributed among the 12 regular circuits, and the judges appointed to these courts from 2009 to 2013 are indeed very important "reasons why the next election is really important."


Of course, in any discussion of judicial selection it is necessary to point out that if a president faces a Senate controlled by the opposite party, it may be harder for him (or her) to appoint the most compelling exponent of his (or her) judicial philosophy. Imagine the no doubt affirmative confirmation vote that would have occurred had Robert Bork been nominated in 1981 or 1986, when Republicans held the Senate. Or imagine how Roberts or Alito might have fared in the Senate had the Republicans not controlled it by a wide margin. The future of the judiciary is also at stake in the 34 Senate elections next year. And there it is not looking so good for the GOP, which, having to defend 22 seats to the Democrats' 12, could lose seats in Colorado, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Virginia. That would reduce the number of Republican senators to 45 and make it relatively easy for a Democratic president to populate the courts with living Constitution judges.


Giuliani is right. The future of the federal judiciary is at stake on November 4, 2008. This is not an issue that divides the Republican candidates. It is an issue that divides the two parties. It is also an issue that voters, distracted by the horse-race aspect of the long campaign, may have to be reminded about, and often.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Kreeft on abortion

Boston College philosophy professor Peter Kreeft (pictured here) has an outstanding essay on abortion titled Human Personhood Begins at Conception. I would strongly encourage you to give it a read, or if you are limited on time, at least skim through it allowing the sections that catch your eye to keep it.

He makes compelling arguments throughout, but I am particularly pleased with how he ends it:

Suppose I was wrong in my very first point, that abortion is a clear evil. Suppose abortion is a difficult, obscure, uncertain issue. Even if you take this “softest pro-choice” position, which we can call “abortion agnosticism,” you stand refuted by the following quadrilemma.

Either the fetus is a person, or not; and either we know what it is, or not. Thus there are four and only four possibilities:

that it is not a person and we know that, that it is a person and we know that, that it is a person but we do not know that, and that it is not a person and we do not know that.

Now what is abortion in each of these four cases?

In case (1), abortion is perfectly permissible. We do no wrong if we kill what is not a person and we know it is not a person-e.g., if we fry a fish. But no one has ever proved with certainty that a fetus is not a person. If there exists anywhere such a proof, please show it to me and I shall convert to pro-choice on the spot if I cannot refute it. If we do not have case (1) we have either (2) or (3) or (4). What is abortion in each of these cases? It is either murder, or manslaughter, or criminal negligence.

In case (2), where the fetus is a person and we know that, abortion is murder. For killing an innocent person knowing it is an innocent person is murder.

In case (3), abortion is manslaughter, for it is killing an innocent person not knowing and intending the full, deliberate extent of murder. It is like driving over a man-shaped overcoat in the street, which may be a drunk or may only be an old coat. It is like shooting at a sudden movement in a bush which may be your hunting companion or may be only a pheasant. It is like fumigating an apartment building with a highly toxic chemical not knowing whether everyone is safely evacuated. If the victim is a person, you have committed manslaughter. And if not?

Even in case (4), even if abortion kills what is not in fact a person, but the killer does not know for sure that it is not a person, we have criminal negligence, as in the above three cases if there happened to be no one in the coat, the bush, or the building, but the driver, the hunter, or the fumigator did not know that, and nevertheless drove, shot or fumigated. Such negligence is instinctively and universally condemned by all reasonable individuals and societies as personally immoral and socially criminal; and cases (2) and (3), murder and manslaughter, are of course condemned even more strongly. We do not argue politely over whether such behavior is right or wrong. We wholeheartedly condemn it, even when we do not know whether there is a person there, because the killer did not know that a person was not there. Why do we not do the same with abortion?

H/T: Andrew St.Hilaire

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bush is right

There's an excellent post by Andrew Hyman over at Confirm Them. I think he's done a pretty good job of making his point, and there's nothing really for me to add. Here it is in full:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont is doing a great job advocating for a judicial pay increase. He recently explained that, "The quality of the judiciary is threatened if judges' salaries are inadequate to attract and retain our best legal minds." Hopefully, the bill he introduced will pass.

And, there's something else that Senator Leahy could do to attract and retain the best legal minds. President Bush explained a few days ago:

Lawyers approached about being nominated will politely decline because of the ugliness, uncertainty, and delay that now characterizes the confirmation process. Some cannot risk putting their law practices -- their livelihoods -- on hold for long months or years while the Senate delays action on their nominations.

At least have the decency to reject nominees promptly in committee or on the Senate floor. Please don't leave them dangling forever. Senators get straightforward decisions from voters every six years, like clockwork. Why not give straightforward and timely decisions to judicial nominees?

Monday, November 19, 2007

40 years in the desert

It's been almost 40 years to the day since the close of Vatican II on December 8, 1965. And the Promised Land is now in view.


* Cardinal Ratzinger, the then-most renowned conservative Prince of the Church has been elected to the Papacy.

* As pope he has stirred global controversy with his infamous Regensburg speech, driving home the unspoken message that Muslims will respond violently to anything, including comments on Muslim violence.

* Summorum Pontificum

* Bishop Skylstad has been replaced by Cardinal George as president of the USCCB

* And, perhaps more exciting even than the last bullet (which is a wonderful change of pace in itself), Bishop Donald Trautman's term as head of the Committee for Liturgy ends.

Trautman (or 'Trautperson' as he is affectionately called among Catholics who still believe in things like an all male priesthood), whom we have to thank for the banal, gender-neutral pablum that is our American Mass, has been replaced by Bishop Arthur Serratelli.

It's hard to envision a more dramatic change of command, as Serratelli is known to be outspoken on both life and liturgical issues, and shares in the rare distinction among his brother bishops of actually having supported Papa Benny during the 'fallout' (read: Muslim violence and MSM anti-Catholic hysteria) from Regensburg.

This, in contrast to Trautperson, who is known for his dedication in making the Gospels more apropos to pew-warming Catholics like myself. Take, for instance, his committee's rendition of Luke 13:6-7,
There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener...
It's extremely important to realize that anyone could have owned that fig tree. A man, a woman -- it doesn't really matter; and Our Lord would have used the gender neutral term "person" if he was here today. That's why he gave us the Church, and bishops like Trautperson. Well, that, and to restrict the unrestricted celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass.

Anyway. Back to Serratelli who writes:

The Liturgy of the Church is a moment where all the dimensions of our lives come before the living God. It is the place where we have an active encounter with God. It is the place, therefore, where we can rediscover the sacred in our lives.


Certain settings demand their own particular etiquette. Dress at a wedding reception differs from dress at a sports event. Conversation in a bar is louder than in a funeral home. The more we realize we are coming into the Presence of God in Church, the more respectful and reverent our whole person becomes. Chewing gum in Church, loud talking, beach attire and immodest dress simply do not belong!

In church, we need to cultivate a sense of God who is present to us. This is why we are called to observe moments of silence. Both before Mass begins and during Mass. Liturgy is much more than our joining together. It is our opening ourselves to God. By our singing and praying, we respond to the God who addresses us in Liturgy. A constant torrent of words and songs filling every empty space in the Liturgy does not leave the heart the space it needs to rest quietly in the Divine Presence.

In the Annunciation, after the angel announces to Mary that she is to be the Mother of the Lord and Mary gives her fiat, there is silence (cf. Lk 1:38). In this pregnant silence, that Word becomes flesh. Mary remains the model of the disciple before the Word of God. She reminds us that we need moments of silence for God to enter our life. We need those moments in our personal prayer and in the Liturgy.


We are not just spirit when we pray. We pray in our total reality as body and spirit. And so, to recapture the sense of the sacred, therefore, we need to express our reverence through our body language. The norms of the Liturgy wisely have us stand in prayer at certain moments, sit in attentive listening to the readings, and kneel in reverent adoration during the solemn prayer of consecration. These norms are not arbitrary nor are they left to the discretion of any individual celebrant.


Observing the norms of the Liturgy helps to create a profound sense of the sacred in each of us at Mass. Celebrating Mass and observing liturgical norms also makes us visibly one with the entire Church to which we belong. “Priests who faithfully celebrate Mass according to the liturgical norms, and communities which conform to those norms, quietly but eloquently demonstrate their love for the Church” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 52).

Today it has become commonplace at the end of the Liturgy to recite a litany of gratitude for all those who, in some way or another, have made the celebration beautiful. No doubt there is a way to express gratitude at the end of Mass. But is it possible that each time applause breaks out in the Liturgy at the end of the Mass for someone’s contribution, we lapse into seeing the Mass as a human achievement? Sometimes even during the Mass after someone has sung a beautiful hymn, there is spontaneous applause. At such a moment, does not the real meaning of Liturgy lapse into some kind human entertainment?

The 40 years of wandering are coming to a close. Deo Gratias.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Balancing act

In reading up on presidential candidates' positions regarding embryonic stem cell research, I came across this July 2006 statement from Hillary Rotten Clinton. It was delivered on the Senate floor calling for passage of a bill that would allow federal funding for research on new embryonic stem cell lines. Thank God our president immediately vetoed the bill which passed through congress. (Another reason we need a solid pro-lifer in the Oval Office come January '09.)

Her Thighness begins:

I welcome this vote on such an important piece of legislation, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act.
Funny how they always forget to specify which type of stem cell research they are talking about. Here the Senator from New York is speaking of the kind that kills innocent human beings.
A broad consensus in New York and across our country has brought us to this debate and vote. There has been an upsurge of demand. It has crossed every line we can imagine, certainly partisan lines, ethnic, racial, geographic lines, people in every corner of our nation demanding that we in Washington open the doors to this promising science.
True. But those aren't the only lines being crossed.

So long, reason and the dictates of the natural law; enter emotional appeal:
You know, my friends Christopher and Dana Reeve, whom we have lost in the last several years, were eloquent, passionate advocates for this research. Christopher, from his wheelchair, performed his greatest role. He may have been Superman in the movies, but he was a super human being after his accident which paralyzed him, consigned him to a wheelchair, to help with his breathing and respiratory functions. But he never gave up. He launched his greatest battle to try to bring our nation to the point where we would take advantage of the most innocent and defenseless among us without the distractions and frustrations of morality and bio-ethics.
Oops. Strike that. Here's what she actually said.
He launched his greatest battle to try to bring our nation to the point where we would take advantage of the science that is there. He worked and struggled on behalf of all who might benefit from stem cell research and other scientific breakthroughs.
All, that is, except those countless thousands who might be forced to give their lives in pursuit of promised breakthroughs.
His brave, beautiful wife, Dana, who passed away just this past March, showed a devotion to her husband and her son that was just inspirational. She, too, continued Christopher's work through the Reeve Foundation, and I know that both of them are looking down upon this debate and so pleased and relieved that this day has come.
How does Mz. Clinton know they're "looking down"? I suspect they might be looking up. But who knows. Continue...
As I travel around New York, I run into constituents every time I'm anywhere who speak to me about this issue. They're living with Type I diabetes or their children are. They're suffering from Parkinson's. They have a relative who is struggling with Alzheimer's. They're paralyzed from an accident, like Christopher was. And they believe that this holds promise for their lives, for their futures, and if not for them in their lifetimes, certainly for their children and their grandchildren.
It goes without saying that Mz. Clinton is unfamiliar with and not interested in Catholic theology which distinguishes between suffering (not intrinsically evil, sometimes good and benefitial -- cf, the Cross) and sin (intrinisically evil). This understanding was perhaps best captured by Cardinal Newman who expressed it thus:

The Catholic Church holds it better for the sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions on it to die of starvation in extremest agony, as far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say, should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one wilful untruth, or should steal one poor farthing without excuse.
We need to have additional stem cell lines in order to pursue the promising avenues for research.
Promising avenues? Oh, those.
But we can't make the progress that we need to make for sake of new treatments, for the sake of new discoveries, for the sake of new hope, for countless millions of people who are alive today, who are suffering, for those who are born with diseases and conditions that could be ameliorated, even cured.
Translation: We can't make the progress that we need to make without breaking a few eggs. No pun intended.
This is a delicate balancing act. I recognize that and acknowledge it. I respect my friends on the other side of the aisle who come to the floor with grave doubts and concerns, but I think we have struck the right balance with the legislation we will vote on this afternoon.
Balancing act indeed.

Perspectives on Life

H/T to Monica Lynn Snyder.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Uncle Di

Nobody says it better than Diogenes. Here's one of his latest:

if you can't be good, be careful

"Since they're going to do it anyway, they might as well do it safely."

You might not be edified by that argument, but you shouldn't be surprised. It is, essentially, the argument for the distribution of condoms to teenagers, or clean syringes to drug addicts. You can hear similar arguments made for the legalization of marijuana. And now a bishop has advanced the cause, endorsing a proposal to license brothels. He calls it the "pragmatic view," and stresses that he does not approve of prostitution. Which is reassuring.

Now let's see: If the government is licensing prostitutes, there will have to be regulations, and perhaps inspections, and certainly taxes, and... The comic potential here is enormous, but not appropriate for a family-oriented site. But I digress. My main point was the moral argument.

It's true; we're not likely to eradicate prostitution-- or drug abuse or fornication or drunkenness. "Temptations to sin are sure to come," we read in St. Luke's Gospel. It's the rest of the line-- "but woe to him by whom they come!"-- and the next verse-- 17:2-- that makes me question the "pragmatic" approach.

I'll save you the google search.

Luke 17:2, "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, rather than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble."

Monday, November 5, 2007

What's wrong with the Catholic Church?

I think G.K. Chesterton got the answer to this question right. And he used only two words to formulate a comprehensive and compelling response to the ills of the Mystical Body of Christ.

What's wrong with the Church?

"I am."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Cardinal Biffi

The Italian prelate Giacomo Biffi has just released an autobiographical book titled, Memories and Digressions of an Italian Cardinal. Biffi, now 80 years old, is known to speak his mind; and in the 640 page volume he has a few things to share.

Praise God.

If only more bishops were like him. Anyone who claims St. Ambrose as his beloved 'father and teacher' is sure to be a holy and wise man. His Eminence does not fall far from the Ambrosian Tree.

Biffi, hand-picked by His Holiness Benedict XVI to give this year's Lenten Meditations, has warned of an Antichrist who is "a pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist."

He further predicted that the Antichrist "will convoke an ecumenical council and seek the consensus of all the Christian confessions".

The "masses" would follow the Antichrist, "with the exception of small groups of Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants" who would fight to prevent the watering down and ultimate destruction of the faith.

Neither has he been shy in warning of the "invasion" of Muslim immigrants, undermining Europe's Christian values. Hard core; and precisely what the Church needs at a time when so much of the clergy has lost the faith, is lax and even indifferent to the salvation of souls.

Yes, this is the same bishop I blogged about back in February who likened women's ordination to using Coke in lieu of altar wine.

What a riot!

So now his book is hitting the book stands; only I'm afraid it isn't translated to English yet. But if you want to read a few excerpts (excerpts I found fascinating) on John XXIII, the deceptions of Vatican II, the "mea culpas" of JPII, and what he said in the most recent Conclave just click here.

H/T: Diogenes

Saturday, October 27, 2007

G.K. Chesterton

I found some new quotes I'd really like to share.

"When people stop believing in God, the problem is not that thereafter they believe in nothing, it is that thereafter they will believe in anything."

"It is absurd for the Evolutionist to complain that it is unthinkable for...God to make everything out of nothing, and then pretend that it is more thinkable that nothing should turn itself into anything."

"You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink."

"So far as a man may be proud of a religion rooted in humility, I am very proud of my religion; I am especially proud of those parts of it that are most commonly called superstition. I am proud of being fettered by antiquated dogmas and enslaved by dead creeds (as my journalistic friends repeat with so much pertinacity), for I know very well that it is the heretical creeds that are dead, and that it is only the reasonable dogma that lives long enough to be called antiquated."

And a slightly longer one, but no less enjoyable.

"But the new rebel is a Sceptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. Thus he writes one book complaining that imperial oppression insults the purity of women, and then he writes another book (about the sex problem) in which he insults it himself. He curses the Sultan because Christian girls lose their virginity, and then curses Mrs. Grundy because they keep it. As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. A man denounces marriage as a lie, and then denounces aristocratic profligates for treating it as a lie. He calls a flag a bauble, and then blames the oppressors of Poland or Ireland because they take away that bauble. The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite sceptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything."

Friday, October 26, 2007

Washington State Ferries

From the Official Site of Washington State Tourism
Washington is home to the largest ferry fleet in the U.S. and the third largest in the world. Each year millions of passengers travel throughout the Puget Sound and into British Columbia aboard vessels with names like Kaleetan, Elwha and Hyak. Always comfortable, always friendly, and always offering the best views of the city, sound and islands.

All true...except, I don't know that "comfortable" would be your word of choice had you boarded the ferries on October 18th.

Last Thursday we had a wind storm with gusts exceeding 50 MPH. Someone managed to snap these shots:

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

This 'n That

Have you got a minute?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Isaac Jogues

Yesterday, the 19th of October, marked the feast day of one of my favorites: Saint Isaac Jogues, Catholic Priest and missionary to the New World. Father Jogues was an instrument of God who dedicated his entire life to the commision of Our Lord, "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."

Fitting and noble then to recall that it is to men like St. Jogues you and I are indebted. 361 years ago Thursday, Isaac Jogues passed from this life into the next and heard these words addressed to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant...Enter into the joy of your lord." (Mt 25:23)

Condensed from the Catholic Encyclopedia:
[After six years of missionary work in New France] Father Jogues was taken prisoner on 3 August, 1642, and after being tortured was carried to the Indian village of Ossernenon, now Auriesville, on the Mohawk, about forty miles above the present city of Albany. There he remained for thirteen months in slavery. The Dutch Calvinists at Fort Orange (Albany) made constant efforts to free him, and at last, when he was about to be burnt to death, induced him to take refuge in a sailing vessel which carried him to New Amsterdam. From there he was sent across the ocean and landed Christmas morning, 1643, on the coast of Brittany. Thence he found his way to the nearest college of the Society. He was received with great honor at the court of the Queen Regent and was allowed by Pope Urban VII the very exceptional privilege of celebrating Mass, which the mutilated condition of his hands had made canonically impossible; several of his fingers having been eaten or burned off.

In early spring of 1644 he returned to Canada, and in 1646 was sent to negotiate peace with the Iroquois. He followed the same route over which he had been carried as a captive. He was well received by his former captors and the treaty of peace was made. He started for Quebec on 16 June and arrived there 3 July. He immediately asked to be sent back to the Iroquois as a missionary, but only after much hesitation his superiors acceded to his request. The Iroquois met him near Lake George, stripped him naked, slashed him with their knives, beat him and then led him to the village. On 18 October, 1646, when entering a cabin he was struck with a tomahawk and afterwards decapitated. The head was fixed on the Palisades and the body thrown into the Mohawk. Jogues was canonized by Pope Pius XI on June 29, 1930, with seven other North American martyrs.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The View

Jimmy Akin sums up my sentiments exactly.

What I have seen and read about the show leads me to the conclusion that it is shallow and bubble-headed and frequently shameful, embarrassing, and even disgusting. In other words, it swings between the two extremes of insipid, inconsequential fluff, often with prurient undertones, to completely idiotic attempts to take on serious subjects by a group of commentators who don't have the first clue what they're talking about.

Be sure to read the rest.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Second Coming

There's more than one way to make a buck in this world...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Another gem of G.K. Chesterton.

Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.

This is taken from his book, Orthodoxy, which I highly recommend.

Monday, September 24, 2007


At the prompting of Jenny Mahler, I've decided to post some revised lyrics to various Catholic ditties. These are all borrowed from the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, or SMMMHDH for short.

I am proud to be an honorary member of this group (my name appears in the roster list) but due to the high volume of applicants, there's been a "moratorium on the moratorium."

Anyway, here are a few of my favorites:

Gather Us In

Here in this place, our comfortable parish,
All of the statues carried away,
See in each face a vacuous visage,
Brought here by guilt or by R.C.I.A.

Gather us in, by Bimmer or Hummer,
Gather us in, so we can feel good,
Come to us now in this barren Zen temple,
With only a shrub and an altar of wood.

We are the young, our morals a mystery,
We are the old, who couldn't care less,
We have been warned throughout all of history,
But we enjoy this liturgical mess.

Gather us in, our radical pastor,
Gather us in, our unveiled nun,
Call to us now, with guitars and bongos,
Hang up your cellphones and join in the fun!

Here we will take some wine and some water,
Whether it changes, we really don't care.
But when the Sign of Peace comes, our pastor,
Jumps from the altar and hugs like a bear.

Gather us in, the privileged and snobby,
Gather us in, the liberal elite,
Help us to form our personal Credo,
Give us a choice between white bread and wheat.

A Ditty to God (after Dan Schutte's The City of God)

Awake from your slumber, arise from your sleep;
The homily's over, it wasn't too deep.
He spoke of a 'journey', well, what else does he say?
We're all part of a 'story' as we go on our way.

So let's sing a ditty to God,
It's a way we can all be together.
And we'll be the City of God
If we tell his story once more.

We're all part of a journey, to 'I-don't-know-where',
But that isn't important, so long as we're here.
Be part of the story of me and of you,
And don't worry asking if the story is true.

No, just sing a ditty to God,
It's a way we can all be together.
It would be a pity for God
If we told his story no more.

So come if you're ready, the meek and the smug,
For God is a Teddy, he'll give you a hug.
And take consolation, till next time we meet,
As you go on your journey, God's in the back seat.

So just sing a ditty to God,
It's a way we can all be together.
It would be a pity for God
If we told his story no more.

Gather Us In

Gather us in, the disheartened faithful,
force fed a watered-down liturgy.
Gone are the hymns that point us toward heaven
- courtesy of the OCP.

If I had pow'rs of telecombustion,
the songbook I hold would burst into flame.
Judging by those around me - not singing,
everyone else here feels just the same.


I envy the deaf who can't hear this music;
I envy the mute who don't have to sing.
I might "sing a new church into being"
if I knew just what the hell that means.


If I must hear this music much longer
I fear that I will surely puke.
Two-thousand years of church music history,
flushed down the john by Haas, Haugen, and Schutte.


Sunday, September 23, 2007


Will someone puh-LEASE get me tickets??

Gerald spreads the word:
The St. Louis Jesuits, considered by many to be the fathers of contemporary American liturgical music...will hold a reunion concert Oct. 19 at St. Joseph Church, 732 18th Ave. E. [Seattle, WA].

The concert, which starts at 8 p.m., will benefit the Ignatian Spirituality Center in Seattle. Tickets are $40 general admission, $125 for patron tickets, which include a pre-concert reception and prime seating. For more information, call (206) 329-4824 or visit the website.

Composers of popular liturgical songs including “Be Not Afraid,” “Here I Am, Lord,” “One Bread, One Body,” “Sing to the Mountains,” “Lift Up Your Hearts,” and “Let Us Build the City of God,” the five men -- Tim Manion, Dan Schutte and Jesuit Fathers Bob Dufford, John Foley and Roc O’Connor – were seminarians at St. Louis University when they came together and began composing. They are credited with combining songs based on Scripture with American culture following the Second Vatican Council.

They are also credited with lacing ditties with heresy, and trading in the Pange Lingua for If God Is For Us.

Oh, and did I mention Dan Schutte used to be Fr. Schutte, but has since left the priesthood and now lives in San Francisco with his partner Mike Gale?

Now there's a pious thought for next Sunday when you've got your OCP Music Issue open to Glory and Praise to Our God. Sing-a-long now! We want full and active participation.

Didn't want to smile

You probably saw this cartoon a couple of weeks ago when I originally posted it.

Well it appears someone didn't care for it. And that's fine...I appreciate all the comments I get on my blog -- positive or negative. But I also appreciate the fact that I can always respond with another post, which is what I'm doing now.

Here's what Anonymous said in the comments section:

The cartoon with the husband handing the gun to his wife is supposed to be funny? Only a misogynist would think so.

And here's my response:

Easy there tiger.

Don't like the cartoon? Then don't laugh.

That seems to be the prevailing method of argumentation we get from the Left, anyway...right? (c.f., the promotion of gay marriage and abortion)

Besides, if masculinity can be routinely strung-up, mocked and whipped by the Hollywood elites, then applauded by feebleminded Americans willing to pay for and religiously watch their appalling sitcoms, then I can certainly post a funny cartoon that neither my friend Angie (link above) nor my wife find offensive in the least.

Now go read a good Ann Coulter book...and start enjoying truly amusing cartoons instead of politicizing them.

Think of all the male characters in the sitcoms on TV today. Are these men intelligent, thoughtful, honest and inspiring? Or are they portrayed as clumsy, immature, arrogant and lazy?

And we wonder why the American family is in collapse. We wonder why your chances of divorce have never been better. We wonder why 40% of kids are born out of wedlock. We wonder why 4,000 women sought abortion today. And why 4,000 more will seek it tomorrow.

And now you know why we don't have television.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Cows, the Constitution, and the Ten Commandments

I only wish I had come up with this:

1. Cows
2. The Constitution
3. The Ten Commandments

COWS: Is it just me, or does anyone else find it amazing that our government can track a single cow born in Canada almost three years ago, right to the stall where she sleeps in the state of Washington? And, they tracked her calves right to their stalls. But they are unable to locate 11 million illegal aliens wandering around our country. Maybe we should give each of them a cow.

THE CONSTITUTION: They keep talking about drafting a Constitution for Iraq. Why don't we just give them ours? It was written by a lot of really smart guys, it has worked for over 200 years, and we're not using it anymore.

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS: The real reason that we can't have the Ten Commandments posted in a courthouse is this: You cannot post "Thou Shalt Not Steal," "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery", and "Thou Shall Not Lie" in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians. It creates a hostile work environment.

Values Voting

Question: What does it say about a presidential candidate's moral character if he fails to show up at an in-house debate on "family values"?

September 19, 2007 ( -The four top Republican presidential candidates skipped Monday's "Values Voter" debate, leaving the forum to several second-tier candidates who lag at single digit levels of poll support.

The debate, which was held at the Broward Center for Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, intended to stimulate debate over religious and moral issues, including those pertaining to human life and family.

Rudolph Giuliani, who shares front runner status with Fred Thompson, claimed he had not been present at the debate because he "didn't know about it", although he was in the Fort Lauderdale area during the debate, and was contradicting a previous statement by his campaign that his schedule wouldn't permit it.
Debate organizers left four empty lecterns to represent the four top candidates who failed to attend the debate: Rudolph Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Fred Thompson. All four have a history of varying levels of inconsistency on human life issues.

The participants included pro-life candidates Mike Huckabee, Sam Brownback, Ron Paul, Alan Keyes, Tom Tancredo, and Duncan Hunter. Keyes entered the race very recently, complaining that fundamental values were not being adequately represented
At the conclusion of the debate, Mike Huckabee won the "value voters" straw poll, provoking the New York Times to speculate "whether Christian conservative leaders and voters might be able to coalesce around him as a longshot candidate and propel him to the first tier in the Republican race." Notably, Mitt Romney, who has made a strong pitch to "value voters" in the past, received no votes, the lowest count in the poll.

Worst moment

Take a minute or two and think of some of the worst -- some of the lowest moments in your life.

...Have a few in mind?

Now read about Ellen's:

TORONTO, September 19, 2007 ( - Academy Award winning actress Ellen Burstyn known for her roles in 'Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore' and 'The Exorcist' was interviewed by CFRB radio in Toronto while she was in town promoting her new book - Lessons in Becoming Myself.

CFRB spoke at length about the long and eventful career of the highly acclaimed 74-year-old actress after which the interviewer asked Burstyn "what was the lowest moment" of her life.

After a pause during which the interviewer prompted with her single motherhood, struggles with her son and more, Burstyn said, "You know, I guess, I hate to talk about this on the air, but having an abortion."

Burstyn continued, "You know that was really an extremely painful experience."

"Did you feel you didn't have a choice?," asked the interviewer. "At the time I was just young and dumb, I didn't really want to have a baby then," she replied.

"It was the wrong thing to do and I really didn't understand that till later," said the actress.

"That was very very painful, that was probably the worst."

Having lived for seventy-four years, procuring an abortion was the single worst experience of her life.

How many other 'constitutional rights' can you list which, when exercised, have a good chance of turning out to be your greatest regret?

Small chance

Check out this 57 second video.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Sorry, I had to put this up. :)

H/T: Jonathan Smith

Saturday, September 15, 2007


I have always been intrigued by religious belief of all kinds. As a practicing Roman Catholic I find all other faiths incomplete or deficient, of course, but no less intriguing.

Recently I've had the opportunity to discuss and debate various points of theology and belief with a handful of Latter-Day Saints. In particular, I've had the pleasure of a very thorough (and on-going) discussion with a new friend, Nathaniel. His background in philosophy, logic and math make for a challenging debate, and he certainly keeps me on my toes.

But I've managed to pick up another discussion with a Mormon named Crystal over in the Facebook group called "LDS and RCC Dialogue." You can read all of it here if you like (free membership required).

I'd like to just post two of my comments here, on Ab Opposito, for your own reading -- and hopefully for your benefit, should you find yourself in a discussion of your own with a well-intentioned Mormon Missionary.

Post #1.

The Great Apostasy. This is the crux of our discussion/debate.

Both of our churches hang in the balance. Whether or not there was a Great Apostasy determines whether or not the Catholic Church is right. Clearly, Mormons believe there was a total apostasy some time shortly after Christ's death until God restored his church through Joseph Smith in 1820.

My hope is that in this thread we can discuss reasons to believe or disbelieve in the Great Apostasy.

For starters, I submit this reason to reject the notion of a great apostasy:

Mormonism stands or falls on the premise that Christ was a failure, that his attempts at building a Church flopped. But in Luke 14:28-30 (KJV) Our Lord tells us,

"For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish."

What are we to make of this, but that Christ was a wonderful teacher -- that he had excellent advice to offer -- yet in the end, lacked the ability to take his own advice.

For after laying the foundation of his Church (his apostles), the LDS Church explains that Our Lord was unable to finish it, and the Church immediately devolved into apostasy for eighteen centuries.

"This man (Jesus Christ) began to build, and was not able to finish."

Your thoughts?

Post #2

"My point is that there's no way to documentally prove whether or not there was a Great Apostasy." -Crystal

Crystal, thanks for your patience...But if there's no way to document the Great Apostasy, then I'm afraid there is little to convince me of Mormonism. The Great Apostasy is reduced to merely an assertion on your Church's part.

I could just as well say to you, Crystal, I want you to join my Church -- let's call it the Vadis Church [note to Ab Opposito readers: my screen name on Facebook is Quo Vadis] -- because sometime in the 12th century there was a 'Grand Apostasy' and the Church that Christ had originally established collapsed. Unfortunately, you're just going to have to take my word for it that this collapse did, in fact, take place because there's no way to documentally prove whether or not there ever was a Grand Apostasy in the 12th century.

But it happened...just believe me.

Do you see where this leaves us, Crystal? If there is no evidence of the Great Apostasy, then I'm going to have to take *that* as evidence that there *never was* a Great Apostasy.

As John Robinson once wrote (about something entirely different), "The silence significant as the silence for Sherlock Holmes of the dog that did not bark."

Faith (religion) and reason (science) ought to be complimentary, not contradictory. And scientists tend to be ruthlessly self-critical, rejecting hypotheses that fail to stand up to tests to which they have been subjected. The problem I see with the LDS Church is that it persists in holding to this hypothesis of the Great Apostasy in favor of which solid and satisfactory evidence has never been adduced.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Permission for Latin Mass is a thing of the past

Today is September 14th.

That means the long-awaited Motu Proprio issued in July by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has taken effect. fills us in:

Cardinal Dario Castrillon-Hoyos-- the president of the Ecclesia Dei commission, which supervises Vatican outreach to traditionalist Catholics-- says that "from this point, priests can decide to celebrate the Mass using the old rite, without permission from the Holy See or the bishop."

In an interview with Vatican Radio on September 13, broadcast just before the motu proprio officially took effect, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos explained that Pope Benedict's motu proprio affirms the right of any priest to use the "extraordinary form" of the Latin liturgy. "It is, therefore, unnecessary to ask for any other permission," he said.

Music to this Catholic's ears.

To my knowledge, Holy Family Parish in Seattle is the only church offering a TLM in this diocese starting today. Does anyone know of any others?

Bishop Giovanni Han Dingxian

Here's a thought for my Catholic readers:

If you lived in the People's Republic of China, would you be a practicing Roman Catholic?

In China, you'll remember, Catholicism is outlawed. Oh sure, you can be a member of the Patriotic Church which is as much a government institution as it is a religion. And the relations between the Patriotic Church and the Vatican seem to be improving.

But my question is whether you would be a member of the Underground Church, persecuted by the state. All worship would have to be done in secret and in constant fear of being discovered. And supposing you were's anybody's guess.

To give you an idea, there's news that the Underground bishop of Yongnian, Msgr. Giovanni Han Dingxian passed away on Sunday. No one is quite sure how His Excellency died, for he died where he's spent roughly half of his life: in prison. But the curious thing is that within hours of his death (sometime around 3 A.M. or 4 A.M.), authorities had the body cremated and buried.

Unsympathetic and heartless to family and friends -- no question. But strange too.

Perhaps events of the past can help shed some light on this bizarre behavior of the Chinese government.

Ah yes, here we go:

Years before, in April ’92, there was the case of Msgr. Giuseppe Fan Xueyan, Underground bishop of Baoding, who died in prison. His body was dumped on the doorstep of his home, wrapped in a plastic bag, with signs of torture on his neck (perhaps the mark of a wire string used to choke him) and bruises on his chest and face.

Another case remembered by the Catholics is that of Msgr. Liu Difen, Underground bishop of Anguo (Hebei), who also died in ’92, after a period spent in prison. The police had warned his relatives to visit him in hospital because he was “gravely ill”. Immediately after the visit the bishop died. His body was handed back to his family and as they prepared him for burial they noticed that he had “holes in his back, the depth of a finger: a sign that he had been tortured”.

After spending 35 years of his life in prison, and being cremated within hours of his death, I think it's safe to assume Bishop Han Dingxian was a martyr who suffered a trifle more than torture by choking, bruising and drilling holes in his back.

Which brings me back to my question: If you lived in the People's Republic of China, would you be a practicing Roman Catholic?

Bishop Giovanni Han Dingxian, pray for us.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Good Ol' Rudy

The problem with Rudy's "two pillars" theory is that they contradict each other.

Does it make any sense to be personally opposed to slavery (Pillar #1) but believe that slavery should be a choice that somebody else gets to make (Pillar #2)?

Does it make any sense to be personally opposed to rape (Pillar #1) but believe that rape should be a choice that somebody else gets to make (Pillar #2)?

Then neither does it make any sense to be personally opposed to abortion (Pillar #1) but believe that abortion should be a choice that somebody else gets to make (Pillar #2).

If Rudy wins the primaries, Republicans can kiss this vote goodbye. For that matter, they can kiss the office of president goodbye as well. There can be no question, without the pro-life vote Republicans will lose in 2008. Any GOP strategist, or politician, who thinks otherwise is in for a rude awakening.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Clare Marie Herring

Just a cross-link with the family blog.

Will resume my running politico-religious commentary shortly.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Summorum Pontificum Contact Search

Through Jimmy Akin I found this website which is putting together a global list of Catholics interested in the Traditional Latin Mass. What's great about it is you can see interest in a particlar region, or state.

For instance, there are currently 45 Catholics in the State of Washington who have expressed a desire for the 1962 Mass through this website.

Check it out...and add your own name to the list! (Then spread the word.)

Summorum Pontificum Contact Search


So I just figured out another neat feature of the website. If you look at the list of anonymous contacts for a given area (say, Washington State), you can email any one of them by clicking on their contact ID number. For example, there are currently four people listed in the City of Tacoma. If I lived in Tacoma I could email each of them (the LumenGentleman website emails them directly; it does not give out their email address) and find out who my Trad-Friends are. :)

Pretty cool. (Now if only there were more than just myself and my wife listed in Port Orchard...)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Death Penalty

This is an interesting topic, and I've commented on it in the past.

But compare and contrast these two voices from the Supreme Court. From Congressional Quarterly Researcher, March 10, 1995 Volume 5, No. 9.

Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun, from an opinion dissenting from the Supreme Court's decision denying review in a Texas death penalty case, Callins v. Collins, Feb. 22, 1994.

"Bruce Edwin Callins will be executed [tomorrow] by the state of Texas. Intravenous tubes attached to his arms will carry the instrument of death, a toxic fluid designed specifically for the purpose of killing human beings. The witnesses...will behold Callins...strapped to a gurney, seconds away from extinction. Within days, or perhaps hours, the memory of Callins will begin to fade. The wheels of justice will churn again, and somewhere, another jury or another judge will have the...task of determining whether some human being is to live or die.

We hope...that the defendant whose life is at risk will be represented by...someone who is inspired by the awareness that a less-than-vigorous defense...could have fatal consequences for the defendant. We hope that the attorney will investigate all aspects of the case, follow all evidentiary and procedural rules, and appear before a judge...committed to the protection of defendants' rights...

But even if we can feel confident that these actors will fulfill their roles...our collective conscience will remain uneasy. Twenty years have passed since this court declared that the death penalty must be imposed fairly and with reasonable consistency or not at all, and despite the effort of the states and courts to devise legal formulas and procedural rules to meet this...challenge, the death penalty remains fraught with arbitrariness, discrimination...and mistake...

From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death. For more than 20 years I have develop...rules that would lend more than the mere appearance of fairness to the death penalty endeavor...Rather than continue to coddle the court's delusion that the desired level of fairness has been achieved...I feel...obligated simply to concede that the death penalty experiment has failed. It is virtually self-evident to me now that no combination of procedural rules or substantive regulations ever can save the death penalty from its inherent constitutional deficiencies... Perhaps one day this court will develop procedural rules or verbal formulas that actually will provide consistency, fairness and reliability in a capital-sentencing scheme. I am not optimistic that such a day will come. I am more optimistic, though, that this court eventually will conclude that the effort to eliminate arbitrariness while preserving fairness 'in the infliction of [death] is so plainly doomed to failure that it and the death penalty must be abandoned altogether.' (Godfrey v. Georgia, 1980) I may not live to see that day, but I have faith that eventually it will arrive. The path the court has chosen lessen us all."
I would like to point out to readers that Blackmun (the now deceased author of Roe vs. Wade) makes an appeal not to the words of the Constitution which he is paid to uphold, but almost exclusively to emotion.

Now read Scalia.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, from an opinion concurring in the Supreme Court's decision denying review in a Texas death penalty case, Callins v. Collins, Feb. 22, 1994.

"The Fifth Amendment provides that '[n]o persons shall be held to answer for a capital...crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury...nor be deprived of life...without the due process of law.' This clearly permits the death penalty to be imposed, and establishes beyond doubt that the death penalty is not one of the 'cruel and unusual punishments' prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. [H] owever, over the years since 1972 this court has attached to the imposition of the death penalty two quite incompatible sets of commands: the sentencer's discretion to impose death must be closely confined (see Furman v. Georgia, 1972), but the sentencer's discretion not to impose death (to extend mercy) must be unlimited (Eddings v. Oklahoma, 1982; Lockett v. Ohio, 1978). These commands were invented without benefit of any textual or historical support; they are the product of just such 'intellectual, moral, and personal' perceptions as Justice Blackmun expresses today, some of which...have been made part of what is called 'the court's Eighth Amendment jurisprudence.'

Though Justice Blackmun joins those of us who have acknowledged the incompatibility of the court's Furman and Lockett-Eddings lines of jurisprudence...he unfortunately draws the wrong conclusion from the acknowledgment... Surely a different conclusion commends itself, to wit, that at least one of these judicially announced irreconcilable commands which cause the Constitution to prohibit what its text explicitly permits must be wrong. Convictions in opposition to the death penalty are often passionate and deeply held. That would be no excuse for reading them into a Constitution that does not contain them, even if they represented the convictions of a majority of Americans. Much less is there any excuse for using that course to thrust a minority's views upon the people.

Justice Blackmun begins his statement by describing with poignancy the death of a convicted murderer by lethal injection. He chooses, as the case in which to make that statement, one of the less brutal of the murders that regularly come before us, the murder of a man ripped by a bullet suddenly and unexpectedly, with no opportunity to prepare himself and his affairs, and left to bleed to death on the floor of a tavern. The death-by-injection which Justice Blackmun describes looks pretty desirable next to that. It looks even better next to some of the other cases currently before us, which Justice Blackmun did not select as the vehicle for his announcement that the death penalty is always unconstitutional, for example, the case of the 11-year-old girl raped by four men and then killed by stuffing her panties down her throat. How enviable a quiet death by lethal injection compared with that!"

Monday, August 27, 2007


Sorry, two goofies in a row...

Dear Mom & Dad,

Our Scoutmaster told us to write to our parents in case you saw the flood on TV and are worried. We are okay. Only one of our tents and 2 sleeping bags got washed away. Luckily, none of us got drowned because we were all up on the mountain looking for Adam when it happened. Oh yes, please call Adam's mother and tell her he is okay. He can't write because of the cast.

I got to ride in one of the search and rescue jeeps. It was neat. We never would have found Adam in the dark if it hadn't been for the lightning.

Scoutmaster Keith got mad at Adam for going on a hike alone without telling anyone. Adam said he did tell him, but it was during the fire so he probably didn't hear him. Did you know that if you put gas on a fire, the gas will blow up? The wet wood didn't burn, but one of the tents did and also some of our clothes. Matthew is going to look weird until his hair grows back.

We will be home on Saturday if Scoutmaster Keith gets the bus fixed. It wasn't his fault about the wreck. The brakes worked okay when we left. Scoutmaster Keith said that with a bus that old you have to expect something to break down; that's probably why he can't get insurance.

We think it's a neat bus. He doesn't care if we get it dirty and if it's hot, sometimes he lets us ride on the fenders. It gets pretty hot with 45 people in a bus made for 24. He let us take turns riding in the trailer until the highway patrol man stopped and talked to us.

Scoutmaster Keith is a neat guy. Don't worry, he is a good driver. In fact, he is teaching Jessie how to drive on the mountain roads where there isn't a NY cops. All we ever see up there are logging trucks.

This morning all of the guys were diving off the rocks and swimming out to the rapids. Scoutmaster Keith wouldn't let me because I can't swim, and Adam was afraid he would sink because of his cast, it's concrete because we didn't have any plaster, so he let us take the canoe out. It was great. You can still see some of the trees under the water from the flood.

Guess what? We have all passed our first aid merit badges. When Andrew dived into the lake and cut his arm, we got to see how a tourniquet works. Steven and I threw up, but Scoutmaster Keith said it probably was just food poisoning from the leftover chicken. He said they got sick that way with food they ate in prison. I'm so glad he got out and became our scoutmaster. He said he sure figured out how to get things done better while he was doing his time. By the way, what is a pedal-file?

I have to go now. We are going to town to mail our letters & buy some more beer and ammo. Don't worry about anything. We are fine and tonight it's my turn to sleep in the Scoutmaster's tent.

Love, Billy, your favorite son.

Grizzly Bear

(Click on image to enlarge.)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Praying to Saints

Having a blog as well as a Facebook account has its pros...and its cons.

The main "con" being time spent on either means less time for the other. And so it has been the past few weeks, where most of my Internet time is spent debating folks on Facebook, and squeezing in fewer posts on the blog. My apologies to those of you who visit Ab Opposito daily.

Anyhow, I figured you might be interested in some of the more recent conversations in a discussion on Catholicism and Protestantism. Here is my most recent post to a good-natured Evangelical named Reece:

Reece, praying to the saints seems to be a major hang-up for you. Seeing as how your interpretation is quite different from the Catholic interpretation, that is understandable.

Here again, then, is the Catholic response to your argument against praying to the angels and saints.

Let's go through this step by step, and you can respond to whatever you see as an error on my end.


Protestants often level the charge that asking the saints for their intercession violates the sole mediatorship of Christ, which Paul discusses: "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2:5).

But asking one person to pray for you in no way violates Christ’s mediatorship, as can be seen from considering the way in which Christ is a mediator. First, Christ is a unique mediator between man and God because he is the only person who is both God and man. He is the only bridge between the two, the only God-man. But that role as mediator is not compromised in the least by the fact that others intercede for us. Furthermore, Christ is a unique mediator between God and man because he is the Mediator of the New Covenant (Heb. 9:15, 12:24), just as Moses was the mediator (Greek mesitas) of the Old Covenant (Gal. 3:19–20).

The intercession of fellow Christians—which is what the saints in heaven are—also clearly does not interfere with Christ’s unique mediatorship because in the four verses immediately preceding 1 Timothy 2:5, Paul says that Christians should interceed: "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and pleasing to God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:1–4). Clearly, then, intercessory prayers offered by Christians on behalf of others is something "good and pleasing to God," not something infringing on Christ’s role as mediator.


You yourself have raised the complaint that Christians on earth are to have no contact with the dead. You equate praying to the saints with necromancy, sorcery, magic, etc., as God forbid us to do in Deuteronomy 18:10–11.

But this is a mistake on your part.

God has indicated that one is not to conjure the dead for purposes of gaining information; one is to look to God’s prophets instead. Thus one is not to hold a seance. But anyone with an ounce of common sense can discern the vast qualitative difference between holding a seance to have the dead speak through you and a son humbly saying at his mother’s grave, "Mom, please pray to Jesus for me; I’m having a real problem right now." The difference between the two is the difference between night and day. One is an occult practice bent on getting secret information; the other is a humble request for a loved one to pray to God on one’s behalf.

In Jeremiah 15:1, we read: Then the Lord said to me, "Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people." Here it appears that God receives the prayers of the dead saints as a matter of course. Moses and Samuel were both known as intercessors, and Jeremiah lived centuries after both men.

Another problem you will run into following this particular argument, is the fact that Jesus did the same "abomination" of contacting the dead on the Mount of Transfiguration, when He talked to Moses and Elijah: men who had been dead for hundreds of years (Matt 17:1-3).

And just to clarify, as Christians we do not consider members in heaven to be in a state of "death." Either these folks are alive or they are not. Clearly, they are alive (more than we are). Jesus alludes to this fact when He speaks of "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacb," stating that "He is not God of the dead, but of the living" (Mt 22:32). Hebrews 12:1 mentions that we are surrounded by a "cloud of witnesses" -- which commentators have compared to a picture of spectators in a sports arena observing. Further proof is unnecessary.

Asking saints in heaven or angels or the Blessed Virgin Mary to pray for us is not different in essence from asking each other (those of us on earth) to pray. Mary is a lot more righteous than we are, and more alive, and with God. Angels never did sin, so they are untainted with that stain. Therefore, we can ask them to pray for us, according to the clear dictum in James 5:16.

We are not relying on the power of some "medium" (many of whom are fake to begin with, as Houdini, the Amazing Randi, and others have shown), but on the power of God. The saints can see us, hear us, and pray for us, because they are with God, out of time, and accorded the remarkable abilities that those in such situations receive as a matter of course.


You also object to the practice of praying to saints because, as you put it, "The problem is asking [angels and saints] to do something rather than asking God to do something. If God so chooses to use angels to do his bidding, great, but God isn't one of those times where you should cut out the middle man."

Now this gets back to my answer in Step 1 because you seem to have a problem with intercessory prayer in general, not just in particular with saints in heaven. If our relationship with God is one where the middle man ought to be "cut out," as you suggest, then you must *necessarily* be against praying for others (you would be a middle man) or having anyone else pray for you (they would be a middle man).

But then you run into all kinds of problems, not the least of which is 1 Tim 2:1-4 (quoted again)

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and pleasing to God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth"

Of course, this is closely followed by Rom. 15:30–32, Eph. 6:18–20, Col. 4:3, 1 Thess. 5:25 and 2 Thess. 3:1 where Saint Paul directly asks others to pray for him.

So, hopefully you are now convinced your problem is not one of there being a "middle man."

You say part of the problem is asking a saint to do something rather than asking God.

Here you provide a list of Catholic prayers to various saints with the question, "What is Saint _____ asked to do?"

But I think the misunderstanding is simply a distinction Catholics make when invoking the aid of angels and saints between a "primary cause" and a "secondary cause" -- something which has probably never been explained to you.

Let me take a shot at it.

What’s a primary cause? Just that: a first—but not a sole—cause of something else. Ultimately, God is the primary cause of everything. But he sovereignly prefers to involve his creatures in his work to various degrees, which makes them secondary causes.

So what’s a secondary cause? It is a dependent but real cause. It didn’t cause the thing all by itself, but without it, the thing wouldn’t have come to be.

Think of it this way: Michelangelo is the primary cause of the Pietà in St. Peter’s Basilica. His chisel is the secondary cause. When Michelangelo carves the statue, is it he or his chisel that does the carving? The answer is both. Similarly (though with a significant difference), Michelangelo’s mom and dad were the secondary causes of Michelangelo (God, of course, being the primary cause). When Michelangelo was brought into the world, was it God or his parents that caused him to be born? Again, the answer is both.

When this relationship between primary and secondary causes is pointed out, it seems fairly obvious. Most Evangelicals, for instance, would not balk at the statement that "the apostle Paul wrote the epistle to the Romans," even though they affirm (as do Catholics) that God is the true author of Scripture. Like Catholics, Evangelicals understand that God, the primary cause of the epistle to the Romans, made Paul a secondary cause of the epistle. Yet, curiously, the idea of primary and secondary causes often gets ignored when the topic of conversation turns to the intercessory actions of the angels and saints.

Catholics recognize God is the primary cause of any and all grace or assistance we receive. But the fact that you, Reece, might pray for me and God grant me grace because of your prayer, in no way reduces Him or His action. It makes you a cooperator, a "secondary cause," of His divine assistance.

In the same way, his angels and saints in heaven.

Hope that helps.

Disclaimer: Most of what you see here was stolen from Catholic Answers, Mark Shea, or Dave Armstrong. Thanks guys! :)