New at Live Action – Joe Biden’s Selective Separation of Church and State

My latest Live Action post:
In a rather spectacular display of irony earlier this week, Vice President Joe Biden blasted the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), which seeks to dramatically reduce federal spending, as a “contrary to the social doctrine” taught by the Catholic Church to which he belongs.
That’s a gross oversimplification – you can see Ryan (who is also Catholic) defend his budget’s Catholic principles here, but the short version is that the faith’s call to care for the needy is not a mandate to support any specific government method of delivering aid. True Christian charity is giving your own time and money to a cause, not just casting a vote to have someone else handle it.
But the real kicker, as Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey notes, is that this lecture on how to be a good Catholic politician is coming from someone who rejects his church’s call to recognize and protect life in the womb – an imperative which is far less ambiguous than Biden’s conception of social justice. Catholicism requires believers to support federal funding for specific government programs, but not legal protection for the most defenseless of God’s children?
Read the rest at Live Action.

ALL Alert: Catholics vs. Catholic Health Association

This just in, from Michael Hichborn at American Life League:


Washington, DC (9 February 2011) – American Life League is urging the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to dissolve its relationship with the Catholic Health Association, following a series of reports linking CHA to support for abortion.

American Life League cited the following reasons for the USCCB to end its ties with CHA:

• CHA fully endorsed pro-abortion Obamacare, in direct opposition to the U.S. bishops
• CHA member Catholic Healthcare West gives millions of dollars to pro-abortion, pro-same-sex marriage organizations
• CHA’s recent Chairman of the Board was a “co-architect” in the creation of Healthy San Francisco, which covers birth control and abortion on demand
• CHA president, Sr. Carol Keehan, maintains a duplicitous position in claiming that local bishops have the authority to interpret the U.S. bishops’ ethical and religious directives (ERD), while maintaining that St. Joseph’s Hospital properly applied the ERDs in approving and performing an abortion in 2009.

“It’s clear that CHA is more interested in politics and money than maintaining Catholic teaching,” said Michael Hichborn, director of American Life League’s project, Defend the Faith.

Last month, in an online video report entitled, “Nun-Catholic Healthcare,” ALL revealed that CHA spends one fourth of its annual budget to pay its six highest paid employees, including Sr. Keehan’s $900,000 salary.

“When one considers that the mission of the USCCB is to ‘support the ministry of bishops with an emphasis on evangelization,’ maintaining a relationship with a group like CHA can only hinder that mission,” said Hichborn.

American Life League was cofounded in 1979 by Judie Brown. It is the largest grassroots Catholic pro-life organization in the United States and is committed to the protection of all innocent human beings from the moment of creation to natural death. For more information or press inquiries, please contact Jim Sedlak at 540.659.7685.

Another Catholic Leader for Amnesty

Among the unpleasant truths more conservatives need to confront is the fact that organized religion isn’t always on our side. In particular, the Catholic Church has allowed itself to be hijacked by the Left, particularly on health care, the Middle East, and illegal immigration.

Now, Archbishop Charles Chaput has endorsed the deeply-flawed DREAM Act:

Archbishop Chaput said the bill “is about fairness to high school graduates who were brought to this country unlawfully through no fault of their own, since they came with their parents.”

He added that those who would benefit from the act are “talented, intelligent and dedicated young persons who know only the United States as their home.”

He called the bill “a practical, fair and compassionate solution for thousands of young persons in our nation who simply want to reach their God-given potential and contribute to the well-being of our nation.”

“This important piece of legislation is critical for the lives and hopes of thousands of young people across America,” the Denver archbishop said, urging people to contact their federal senators and representatives. Voting in favor of the act “is the right and just thing to do,” he said.

First, methinks the archbishop should familiarize himself with the bill a little more; the requirements for qualification are extremely lax, people are eligible until they’re thirty-five, and those who’ve made it can use their status to bring in more relatives – making the DREAM Act hardly practical, and about rather more than “fairness to high school graduates.”

Second, someone needs to explain to me how Catholic principles – heck, how any flavor of Christianity – requires us to look the other way as our immigration laws are violated, or how it’s inhumane to treat the citizens of other countries as, er, the citizens of other countries.

Fortunately, the DREAM Act is dead for now. But the Catholic Church shows no signs of waking up from its nightmare any time soon.

Catholic Complicity in Abortion

From ALL’s Michael Hichborn:

As you may be aware, American Life League has been covering a scandal in Richmond, VA where four employees of a Catholic Charities actually helped a teenaged Guatemalan immigrant obtain an abortion. What is so terrible about this is that Bishop DiLorenzo actually knew about the abortion that was to take place the following morning, and did nothing to prevent it. Even worse is that it took at least 3 months before these employees were fired. And as if those weren’t enough, the same employees helped the girl implant a birth control device several months before. Who knew about that, and why didn’t it come out until now that this was done?

There are so many questions surrounding this incident that American Life League asked the Commonwealth Attorney to step in and conduct an investigation. Given that this looks so much like a cover-up, we wonder if this has happened before at this or even other Catholic Charities.

For more information:

Washington Post: Antiabortion Group Urges Inquiry

Washington Times: Prosecution of Charity Ruled Out in Abortion Case

CBS-6 Richmond: Abortion Investigation

Your Brain on Drugs: Obama as Pro-Life Standard Bearer

Linked approvingly by the ever-outraged Andrew Sullivan, this has got to be one of the most odious excuses for political thought I’ve read in a good long while: an article by Doug Kmiec, a so-called pro-lifer, as to why he’s supporting Barack Obama.

In the last few weeks, I have been repeatedly asked if my endorsement of Senator Obama stands.

To some of my fellow Catholics, Senator Obama’s answers on abortion make him categorically unacceptable. I understand that view, respect it, but find it prudentially the second-best answer in 2008.

Not because Senator Obama’s position on abortion is mine; it is not. Not because I don’t believe Senator Obama could improve the articulation of his position; he could, but because I believe that my faith calls upon me at this time to focus on new efforts and untried paths to reduce abortion practice in America.

Senator Obama’s emphasis on personal responsibility, rather than legal bickering over potential Supreme Court nominations in my judgment, best moves this issue forward.

First, I’d like Mr. Kmiec to show us where Obama’s “emphasis on personal responsibility,” to the extent that it even exists, has ever taken the form of clearly calling abortion the wrong choice to make. Second, it doesn’t change the fact that
Obama explicitly supports the “right” to abortion on principle, and boasts of his 100% pro-choice ratings from Planned Parenthood and NARAL.

The Republican Party has had a better claim to be pro-life because of words in its platform supporting the overruling of Roe v. Wade. Roe is bad constitutional law, because it’s not based on the Constitution or any tradition or custom implicit within its terms.

No, that’s not all to the GOP’s claim by a long shot.
The platform also says “We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and we endorse legislation to make it clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. Our purpose is to have legislative and judicial protection of that right against those who perform abortions. We oppose using public revenues for abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it.”

Yet overturning the decision does little other than return the issue to the states. Conservative justice and fellow Catholic Antonin Scalia has pointed out that following Roe’s hypothetical demise, if the states want abortion thereafter all they have to do is pass a law in favor of it.

Uh, yeah…that’s why there’s more to the platform than judges. Maybe you should read it sometime.

As a matter of constitutional legal theory, I believe Justice Scalia is entirely wrong and that Roe is flawed not just for its displacement of state authority, but more fundamentally, for its disregard of the natural law presuppositions in the Declaration of Independence. As I see it, the “self-evident truths” of the Declaration have interpretative significance for the meaning of “life” and “person” in the constitutional text—and that meaning makes life unalienable, which means each life from conception is unique and worthy of constitutional protection.

Obviously, I agree that Roe is bad law. I also agree that the Declaration’s invocation of an inalienable, God-given right to life applies from conception on. But even though an abortion-prohibiting interpretation of the Constitution would be far tamer than many of the Supreme Court’s greatest hits, it’s still fairly muddy ground. The
Fourteenth Amendment says a US citizen entitled to the full slate of American privileges and immunities is someone “born or naturalized in the United States,” meaning the preborn don’t qualify as citizens. On the other hand, it prohibits states from “deprive[ing] any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; [or denying] to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” [emphases added]. The question isn’t whether or not the preborn are people; they are. The question is, do the terms “person” and “person within its jurisdiction” in the Constitution simply mean anybody lawfully within the nation’s borders, or do they specifically apply to US citizens?

I don’t presume to have the answer, but this legal ambiguity is one of the reasons why I support ratifying a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution. One wonders why Kmiec is glossing over the HLA, especially since he claims to want to go farther than overturning Roe.

Were Senator McCain to be of the same mind, he would be pro-life. As it is, he and the GOP are pro-federalism, which is not a bad thing, but frankly, at this late date, insufficient.

Waitasec—it’s because the alternative is insufficiently pro-life that pro-lifers should support a pro-choice extremist?! Does not compute…
Thus, as I see it, it is a choice between two less than sufficient courses:
(a) the continuation of an effort to appoint men and women to the Court who are thought willing to overturn Roe through divisive confirmation proceedings that undermine respect for law and understate the significance of non-abortion issues in a judicial candidate’s evaluation; or

News flash, pal: anything worth fighting for is going to be “divisive,” and how does fighting for judicial originalists “undermine respect for law”? As for understating other issues’ importance, I’d say somebody’s view of Roe v. Wade is a pretty good window into his legal credentials. His complaint implies there’s been a confirmation battle where a judge’s anti-Roe stance has distracted from his flaws in other areas—and begs the question, what else Kmiec looks for in a judge.
(b) working with a new president who honestly concedes the abortion decision poses serious moral issues which he argues can only be fully and successfully resolved by the mother facing it with the primary obligation of the community seeing to it that she is as well informed as possible in the making of it.

We’re supposed to be impressed by the fact that Obama admits there’s a good-faith reason for people to oppose abortion? Geez, it’s like anyone to the right of Peter Singer is pro-life enough for Doug Kmiec. In the next breath, Kmiec cites Obama’s belief that only the mother can decide on killing her child. To be frank, how the hell does he expect to advance his self-professed belief in the preborn’s inalienable rights with this as his candidate’s philosophical starting point?

Oh, I see: because Obama will work toward making mothers as “well informed as possible.” But where’s the support for this claim? Can we take it to mean Obama would support, for instance, the
Ultrasound Informed Consent Act or the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act? Somehow, I doubt it.

It is a prudential judgment which course is more protective of life. Had three Republican presidents over 20 years in office not tried course (a), it might be a close question. As it is, we know that following course (a) has met with little success, and again, even if fully successful will do little more than bolster the possibility that some number of states will make abortion legally less available.

All it takes is one challenge to Roe, or to the partial-birth abortion ban, or a case about parental notification/consent, to make it not just to the Supreme Court, but to any of the lower courts to which presidents appoint judges, and those “divisive confirmation proceedings” become plenty important, and again, the pro-life movement doesn’t end with Roe’s fall. Furthermore, where does Kmiec get off framing this as an either-or decision? Since when does supporting originalist judges or overturning Roe presuppose an opposition to cultivating individual responsibility or educating people about sexual consequences and about the unborn? This is utterly nonsensical.

I do not understand Senator Obama to be pro-abortion…

Then you haven’t been paying attention, Doug. See above and educate yourself. Not only is he pro-abortion, he’s an extremist about it. His
US Senate voting record is bad enough—he supports embryonic stem cell research, opposes parental consent and notification, and federal funding for abortion. Partial-birth abortion is just dandy. Most despicably, Obama has a history of opposing the most basic protection and compassion for babies who survive abortion. Yet Kmiec thinks this man “best moves this issue forward.” For NARAL, maybe; for babies in the womb…not so much.

…though if we had an extended conversation on this topic, I would ask him to more carefully parse the topic. Asked at the recent faith forum at Messiah College whether he believed life began at conception, Obama said he has not “come to a firm resolution” on the question. That’s a mistake that any geneticist could clear up for him. Openly, he posited that he thought it is “very hard to know . . . when life begins. Is it when a cell separates? Is it when the soul stirs? So I don’t presume to know the answer to that question.”

Assuming Obama’s uncertainty is sincere (a generous assumption), it begs two questions: first, he wants to be leader of the free world, yet he hasn’t taken the time or effort to find a “firm resolution” to when life begins? To seek out “any geneticist?” Second, if Obama concedes the slightest possibility that his votes could lead to extinguishing innocent lives, then how the hell can he possibly justify taking that chance? Of course, none of this should surprise us coming from the Left. We should, however, ask why it didn’t raise any of these red flags for a supposed pro-lifer like Kmiec.

There’s some humility in this answer, but it also mixes science and theology and tangles up life and personhood to boot. In fairness, however, it typifies the larger public confusion. Most importantly, it is an answer free of guile or political calculation. “What I [do] know,” said the Senator, “is that there is something extraordinarily powerful about potential life and that has a moral weight to it . . . .” Indeed, it does, and he accompanied his candid observation with a critique of himself and his party. It is a “mistake,” Obama said “to try to tamp down the moral dimension to abortion,” for do to so understates that it is “a wrenching choice for anybody to think about.” On Meet the Press some time ago, he stressed the importance of involving the clergy in the counsel of a mother.

Au contraire: his answer is entirely political calculation. All Democrats try to create an air of ambiguity about when life begins. They all pay lip service to the ideas that abortion shouldn’t be considered a casual choice, that it would be a good thing if the number of abortions would go down. It’s nothing more than rhetorical cover for how deeply heinous their actual position is. These cut-&-paste answers have been in the playbook for years; does Kmiec even pay attention to American politics?

Obama briefly mentioned adoption as a means of reducing abortions at the faith forum, and I encourage him to speak more at length about that sound, practical affirmation of life. But where he looks for the greatest agreement and greatest opportunity to reduce the number of abortions “is on the idea of reducing unwanted pregnancies because, he reasons, “if we can reduce unwanted pregnancies, then it’s much less likely that people resort to abortion. The way to do that is to encourage young people and older people, people of child-bearing years, to act responsibly. Part of acting responsibly – I’ve got two daughters,” Obama proudly points out – “part of my job as a parent is to communicate to them that sex isn’t casual and that it’s something that “should be treated with reverence.”

I’ll grant that these are good things to say, but they’re also easy things to say. Talk is cheap, and Obama’s record tells a different story.
As a Catholic my instruction to my daughters will likely be different than my Jewish or Protestant or Islamic or non-believing friends. Like Senator Obama, “I’m all for education for our young people, encouraging abstinence until marriage.” Unlike Senator Obama, as a matter of faith, artificial contraception is off my list, and I have carefully discussed with my daughters why a contraceptive practice that the larger culture accepts subtly undermines that which ought not be divided; namely, the unitive and procreative aspects of human love within marriage.

The Catholic Church
seems pretty clear on whether or not a Catholic can support pro-abortion politicians. I guess Doug Kmiec knows better than his church.
Senator Obama supports a wider range of age-appropriate contraceptive information to prevent unmarried, teen pregnancies, and since he would be proposing legislation for the entire community and not merely my household or people of my faith, certainly one can understand that perspective even if one might argue with it or insist upon appropriate religious exemption in a public school setting.

“One can understand” any number of perspectives. That’s not a case for voting for somebody who holds said perspective.
The so-called “95-10” legislative proposal (proposing to reduce abortion by 95% over 10 years largely by educative means) seems well-suited to the Senator’s perspective, and I have encouraged him to embrace it in principle. I hope he does, but it’s not an endorsement breaker so long as he is true to himself and encouraging of personal responsibility, rather than the codification of the abortion mentality which some in the extreme wing of his party advocate.

As described here, the 95-10 proposal sounds flat-out delusional (meaning it really is well-suited to Obama!). Again we see how low Kmiec’s standards are. News flash, Doug: Obama is “the extreme wing of his party.”
This much I know: If it’s a choice between giving a boost to the work of my fellow parishioners who week after week in thinly-funded, crisis pregnancy centers, open their minds and their hearts and often their homes to pregnant women (and Obama has spoken approvingly of faith-based efforts) and a Supreme Court Justice to be named later who may or may not toss the issue back to the states, I think I know which course is more effectively choosing life.

Again, what’s with this either-or fantasy?
As anyone who’s ever had a conversation with a pregnant woman thinking about abortion knows, good, evenhanded information and genuine empathy and love save more children than hypothetical legal limits – which, as best as I can tell, have saved: well, zero.

Of course “hypothetical legal limits” don’t save any children. Actual legal limits, on the other hand…
Of course, there are many more reasons to affirm my original endorsement of the Senator, including his willingness to:
•Transcend the politics of division – so well illustrated on any given day by the unfortunately base tactics of the Clinton or McCain campaigns (see the recent GOP ad in North Carolina once again dredging up Reverend Wright)
•Commit us toward a course of environmental stewardship that will not be dependent upon fossil fuel
•Focus tax and health policy reform in favor of the average working family and the poor
•Reaffirm an American foreign policy respectful of international standard
•And end an unjust, preemptive war – another obvious life issue — that deprives families of some of our most self-sacrificing yet often least advantaged young men and women and drains our economy in a 3 trillion dollar fashion, crippling our practical ability to be the force for human good that Americans want their country to be.

Aha! Now it all makes sense: Doug Kmiec is a cookie-cutter lefty who wants a liberal president. He also wants to look like he isn’t throwing life under the bus, so he churned out this sorry rationalization. With friends like this, who needs enemies?

For more on the matter,
Partial Birth Obama is doing a great job of chronicling Obama’s pro-death record.

Catholics & Abortion? – UPDATED

UPDATE: Good news—St. Thomas has backtracked, and Star Parker is set to speak there after all.
Two extremely disturbing stories regarding American Catholics. First, the University of St. Thomas shunned a planned pro-life speech by Star Parker. Ed Morrissey has the details. Second, the following is a column I just received via email from ALL’s Judie Brown:

Just when I thought there might not be anything worthy of a blog post, two news items came to my attention within the short span of five hours; In each case I was appalled at what the facts exposed.

Let me begin in San Francisco, which is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is also one of the most salacious. It wasn’t too long ago, last October to be exact, that we read about Archbishop George Niederauer giving the body and blood of Christ in Holy Eucharist to two members of the ‘Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.’ After several Catholics expressed outrage, the Archbishop
claimed he didn’t notice the garb these two men were wearing when they approached him for the sacrament during the Mass. While his apology was certainly appropriate, his original action boggles my simple little mind.

I almost believed that he had honestly not noticed the outrageous face makeup and costuming worn by the two gay “nuns.” But that was then and this is now.

Just yesterday I learned that when Catholic Charities hosted its annual banquet this past Friday, the Archbishop was scheduled to
present an award to George Marcus, a real estate investment mogul who is a large supporter of Planned Parenthood.

In selecting George Marcus as a 2008 honoree,
Archbishop Niederauer stated, “Through his passion for philanthropy, interfaith collaboration and insistence on making life more beautiful for all people, George M. Marcus is an example of how a single individual can positively impact the lives of many.”
Are we to suspect that the Archbishop simply didn’t know about Marcus’ involvement with the world’s leading promoter of abortion? I think not.
As if this April 11th news was not enough, I also learned that a coalition of Catholics described as liberals are mobilizing behind the scenes to provide Barack Obama with support for his campaign. As soon as Deal Hudson revealed this story to the media, Alexis Kelley and Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, of Catholics in Alliance responded that Mr. Hudson was mistaken. They wrote that the organization they represent is a “non-partisan, nonprofit organization that promotes the fullness of Catholic social teaching.”
But I would suggest to you that these ladies are protesting too much, and that it is quite certain that Hudson is not far off the mark with his comments.
Now why would I say this? Because these women represent the same organization that issued a call for “civility in politics” last November. While they have subsequently removed the document from their website, due in large part to our exposing the effort for what it truly was—a statement lacking all respect for the sacrament of Holy Eucharist—the fact remains that the group did issue it and that is a recorded fact.
I welcome you to read my commentary on this ridiculous statement and our call for the signers to remove their names. As I wrote in this column:

The first point in their series of bulleted statements reads, “As Catholics we should not enlist the Church’s moral endorsement of our political preferences. We should do this out of respect for our fellow Catholics of equally good will but differing political convictions and our interest in protecting the clergy from being drawn into partisan political to the detriment of the Church’s integrity and objectivity.”

This is the most inane representation of alleged acts of civility that I have ever seen; in fact I dare say it is purely evil in its intent. American Life League has repeatedly called for bishops, priests, deacons and Eucharistic ministers to protect Christ from sacrilege by denying the sacrament to public figures who claim to be Catholic while also supporting abortion. The group’s statement characterizes our actions as somehow exhibiting disrespect for our Church leaders who have been ordained to serve Christ. It is completely irrational to propose that out of respect for those who favor child killing, or as this group puts it, “Catholics of equally good will but differing political convictions,” we would withdraw our campaign to make sure that Christ, truly present in the sacrament of Holy Eucharist, is protected from sacrilege.

In light of these facts I believe that Hudson is right and the women are simply attempting to back down from what in my humble opinion is their political agenda at the current moment.
How can Catholics do such things? Why are such actions tolerated? Well, don’t ask Archbishop Niederauer.
I suppose you may be scratching your head and wondering what in the world is going on with “Catholics” these days? I must tell you that if I knew, perhaps I could sleep better at night. Sadly, it would appear these examples represent a trend that has no end in sight, at least for the foreseeable future. Moral relativism has crept into the statements and actions of even those called to lead Catholics and teach them. Such a situation should sadden each of us beyond description.
The antidote is, of course, total faith in Christ and resolve to defend the Catholic Church and her teaching regardless of the scandalous comments and behavior we see around us. And we should recall those ageless comments of Pope Benedict XVI, who said:

The human race—every one of us—is the sheep lost in the desert which no longer knows the way. The Son of God will not let this happen; he cannot abandon humanity in so wretched a condition. He leaps to his feet and abandons the glory of Heaven, in order to go in search of the sheep and pursue it, all the way to the Cross. He takes it upon his shoulders and carries our humanity; he carries us all—he is the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep.
Inauguration as Pope, April 2005

Let us pray for the Holy Father and be confident that in God’s time all of the chaos within the Church will be exposed, and souls will be healed and brought into full union with Christ, our Shepherd.