View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pro-life march draws a response

"Hey, Obama, take a stand.
Free abortion on demand."

A telling chant offered up by a small group of pro-choice protesters who gathered outside Planned Parenthood in Rochester February 28. (I have a strong suspicion for whom most of them voted - those who were old enough to vote, anyway.)

The mostly young - and largely male!? - group of about 30 were there to try to counter the more than 100 pro-life marchers who processed from Our Lady of Victory Church to Planned Parenthood through the cold (18-20 degrees) and the light snow of downtown Rochester in relative silence (well, as silent as you can get with a group that included children and people who actively greeted people on the streets). The march came after a Mass that packed the small church, and it ended with people praying the rosary and singing hymns.

There were anti-religion and anti-Catholic type chants and stereotyping in some of the slogans the pro-choicers kept repeating as they tried to drown out praying pro-lifers. I wonder if some of them recognized that they were trying to overcome prayers.

Indeed, one chant from the pro-choicers began, "Tell your church ... " suggesting that they do not view themselves as part of the church and that those involved with church are pro-life. Wonder what pro-abortion Catholics would say to that?

And then there was the ironic little ditty that went "Pro-life, that's a lie, you don't care if women die" yelled at a group that included women who'd had abortions and now regretted it, women and men who help the surviving victims of abortion - the mothers and fathers who had lost their unborn children - people who have taken in and supported pregnant women, people who have supported and volunteered at agencies that help women and children, and so many more.
One pro-lifer commented that this is the first time in recent years that the pro-choice crowd had attempted to respond to praying pro-lifers (many of who are veterans of last fall's 40 Days campaign and of a smaller march last October) here in Rochester. She suggested that we are beginning to worry them.

Worry? They have nothing to fear, unless they are afraid that they might being to see the horror of what they are supporting

As for us, some of our prayers were for them. And they were said with love - not chanted with anger and fear.


Fore - ordained

Taking advantage of a balmy day, three priests swapped their clerical garb for golfing attire and time out on the golf course.

After several really horrible shots, their caddy asked, "You guys wouldn't be priests by any chance?"

"Actually, yes, we are," one cleric replied. "Why?"

"Because," said the caddy, "I've never seen such bad golf and such clean language!"


Obama continues pro-abortion ways

The death march continues at the White House. (Quietly)

President Barack Obama is ready to rescind a policy that protects the conscience rights of American health care workers not to engage in actions they oppose morally, like abortion.

One of the last acts of the Bush administration, the rule went into effect January 20.

The policy protects health care workers from being forced to perform and provide controversial services that conflict with their personal, moral and religious beliefs. Without the policy, doctors, nurses and others could be forced to participate in abortions or to dispense the abortifacient morning after pill, even if to do so would violate their core beliefs.

But pro-abortion groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood - worried about lost profits? - protested the rule, and Obama is a staunch ally of the pro-abortion industry.

The Health and Human Services (HHS) Department on Friday quietly proposed rescinding the rule. Maybe they hoped to avoid flak from pro-lifers of the sort that has stalled the appointment of Governor Sebelius? (Psst, Obama administration officials, pass it on: We're watching everything you do.)

"Today's action by the Obama administration demonstrates that this president is not going to stand by and let women's health be placed in jeopardy," said Cecile Richards, head of the Planned Parenthood Federation, of the decision. (As she pulled Obama's puppet strings?)

Abortion? Health Care???

Tell that to the women in Rachel's Vineyard or Silent No More. And, of course, all those dead babies.

Some of the pro-abortion crowd argue that one of the problems was that the rule was too vague and broad and might even allow some drug store clerks to refuse to sell birth control pills.

What they forget is that birth control pills are against the teachings of the Catholic Church, and many Catholic pharmacists and drug store clerks have a moral/religious reason for not dispensing them.

Will they now be forced to - or be faced with being fired?

There's a history of people of faith facing consequences for following their beliefs. Martyrs come in many forms.

The Obama administration is supposedly planning to write what it describes as a more carefully crafted conscience clause. Given the predominance of officials with ties to the abortion industry and pro-abortion groups, I can imagine what that would look like.

As for me, I'm off to the March for Life to Planned Parenthood this afternoon here in snowy Rochester.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Hello again, Ed Hoch

Back in the early 90s when I was a reporter, I interviewed a Rochester Catholic mystery writer named Ed Hoch.

Ed's specialty was mystery short stories - he published hundreds of them. He was skillful enough to be able to make a living from his writing, and had won numerous awards. (His magic must have rubbed off on me. My article - "Prolific Rochester writer remains a man of mystery" - received an honorable mention for Best Feature Story from the New York Press Association in 1993.)

But though he wrote tales of murder and crime, he was a quiet, gentle, friendly man in real life, living in a modest home with his wife of many years. (Ah, but his collection of books!)

He died last year. I read of his death at that time with sadness.

I was reminded of Ed yesterday when I bought the March/April issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. Ed has the distinction of having had a story published in every single issue of that magazine since 1973 - 36 years! Since his death, they had been printing some of the stories he completed before his death, and reprinting some of his classics.

This issue, they are ending the streak with a reprint of a 1981 story, "The Vorpal Blade" - though they promise they will occasionally republish some of his stories in the future. I read it with pleasure, and remembered his smile and the twinkle in his eye.

Batter up!

I was looking through the sports pages today when I spotted the following under TV listings:

Mets vs. Cardinals

Yes, Spring Training is here!

I am a baseball fan. I divide my loyalties between two teams - the Mets and Boston.

The 1986 World Series was heaven!

And given my loyalties, I am undivided in my antipathy for that other New York team (I think they are called the Yankees, or some such jingoistic name).

Of course, when it comes to my fantasy teams, I take good players from any team.

This year I have three teams - my traditional Geneva Spiders, the Holy Rollers, and this year, in honor of a certain Presidential candidate I actually did support, Huckabee's Hawks.

Let the games begin.


Little Portion Lenten List

I found this wonderful list for Lent over at Little Portion Hermitage.

Give up complaining——focus on gratitude.
Give up pessimism——become an optimist.
Give up harsh judgments——think kindly thoughts.
Give up worry——trust Divine Providence.
Give up discouragement——be full of hope.
Give up bitterness——turn to forgiveness.
Give up hatred——return good for evil.
Give up negativism——be positive.
Give up anger——be more patient.
Give up pettiness——become mature.
Give up gloom——enjoy the beauty that is all around you.
Give up jealousy——pray for trust.
Give up gossiping——control your tongue.
Give up sin——turn to virtue.
Give up giving up——hang in there!

If I could accomplish just a couple of these during Lent I would consider it a Lent well spent.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Obama speaks, listens

President Obama spoke the other night. I was watching the Syracuse basketball game, then walking the dog and going to bed, so I missed it. (We all have our priorities.)

According to news accounts and Obama worshippers in the media, he apparently had some good things to say.

But, which looks at what politicians say and checks the truth of those words, offered these observations:

The president gets facts wrong about oil imports, mortgage aid and the transcontinental railroad, and more.


President Obama's first speech to a joint session of Congress was stuffed with signals about the new direction his budget will take and meant-to-be reassuring words about the economy. But it was also peppered with exaggerations and factual misstatements.

- He said "we import more oil today than ever before." That's untrue. Imports peaked in 2005 and are substantially lower today.
- He claimed his mortgage aid plan would help "responsible" buyers but not those who borrowed beyond their means. But even prominent defenders of the program including Fed Chairman Bernanke and FDIC chief Bair concede foolish borrowers will be aided, too.

- He said the high cost of health care "causes a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds." That's at least double the true figure.

- He flubbed two facts about American history. The U.S. did not invent the automobile, and the transcontinental railroad was not completed until years after the Civil War, not during it.

- He claimed that his stimulus plan "prevented the layoffs" of 57 police officers in Minneapolis. In fact, it's far more complicated than that, and other factors are also helping to save police jobs.

The president also repeated some strained claims we've critiqued before. ...

See the rest of their analysis at

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Archbishop Chaput steals some of my lines!

Speaking in Toronto this past Monday, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver made some of the same points I've been making ...

“As Catholics, we at least need to be honest with ourselves and each other about the political facts we start with. Unfortunately when it comes to the current administration that will be very hard for Catholics in the United States, and here’s why. A spirit of adulation bordering on servility already exists among some of the same Democratic-friendly Catholic writers, scholars, editors and activists who once accused prolifers of being too cozy with Republicans. It turns out that Caesar is an equal opportunity employer.

"[I]n democracies, we elect public servants, not messiahs. It’s worth recalling that despite two ugly wars, an unpopular Republican president, a fractured Republican party, the support of most of the American news media and massively out-spending his opponent, our new president actually trailed in the election polls the week before the economic meltdown. This subtracts nothing from the legitimacy of his office. It also takes nothing away from our obligation to respect the president’s leadership. But it does place some of today’s talk about a “new American mandate” in perspective. Americans, including many Catholics, elected a gifted man to fix an economic crisis. That’s the mandate. They gave nobody a mandate to retool American culture on the issues of marriage and the family, sexuality, bioethics, religion in public life and abortion. That retooling could easily happen, and it clearly will happen-- but only if Catholics and other religious believers allow it."

"The Church in the United States has done a poor job of forming the faith and conscience of Catholics for more than 40 years. And now we’re harvesting the results-- in the public square, in our families and in the confusion of our personal lives. I could name many good people and programs that seem to disprove what I just said. But I could name many more that do prove it, and some of them work in Washington."

"The problem with mistakes in our past is that they compound themselves geometrically into the future unless we face them and fix them. The truth is, the American electorate is changing, both ethnically and in age. And unless Catholics have a conversion of heart that helps us see what we’ve become -- that we haven’t just “assimilated” to American culture, but that we’ve also been absorbed and bleached and digested by it – then we’ll fail in our duties to a new generation and a new electorate. And a real Catholic presence in American life will continue to weaken and disappear."

"Every new election cycle I hear from unhappy, self-described Catholics who complain that abortion is too much of a litmus test. But isn’t that exactly what it should be? One of the defining things that set early Christians apart from the pagan culture around them was their respect for human life; and specifically their rejection of abortion and infanticide. We can’t be Catholic and be evasive or indulgent about the killing of unborn life. We can’t claim to be “Catholic” and “pro-choice” at the same time without owning the responsibility for where the choice leads – to a dead unborn child. We can’t talk piously about programs to reduce the abortion body count without also working vigorously to change the laws that make the killing possible. If we’re Catholic, then we believe in the sanctity of developing human life. And if we don’t really believe in the humanity of the unborn child from the moment life begins, then we should stop lying to ourselves and others, and even to God, by claiming we’re something we’re not."

I guess I'm not the only pro-life, moralistic Catholic nut out there.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lent begins

Lent is a time for prayer and penance - very Franciscan.

For many people it's a time to give up something. Other people try to do something spiritual. Many combine elements of both.

I'm in the latter camp this year.

I am giving up chocolate - an addiction, and a plague upon my waistline - and I am going to up my rosary reciting from irregular to daily.


Archbishop Dolan: Drawn to the Dark Side

Archbishop Timothy Dolan - by all accounts a good bishop with a solid orthodox and pro-life record - has not yet even been officially installed as the Archbishop of New York, and already he is being adversely affected by that moral cesspool known as Gotham.

In a news account today, Archbishop Dolan reported that as a St. Louis native he had rooted for the Cardinals over the Yankees in 1964.

But as Archbishop of New York, he said, "I will now become a Yankees fan."


As a Boston-born lad, my gorge rose almost to the tip of my Red Sox cap as I read those words.

The Yankees?

I could accept the Mets, but not the evil empire.

We need to start a petition drive to help save him from this fate.

We should also steer him toward the Buffalo Bills - the only true New York-based NFL team - and away from the New Jersey Giants and New Jersey Jets.

We have a moral obligation to act now - before Opening Day!


Civil Rights - Pro-life Parallels

By J.C. Willke, MD

Ever since the Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton decisions on abortion by the US Supreme Court in 1973, spokesmen for the Right-to-Life movement have been comparing the abortion issue to slavery. They have pointed to the core analogy of legal personhood for black Americans then, and of unborn Americans today.

The 1973 decision has been compared to the Dred Scott decision of 1857. Its identical court majority of 7 - 2, its holdings, even the arguments justifying it then, find almost exact echoes today in the abortion decisions.

Dred Scott was decided only three years before Lincoln's election and the onset of the Civil War. It attempted to settle, once and for all, the vexing slavery question. In judging the case of Mr. Dred Scott, a black man from St. Louis, the US Supreme Court certainly did clarify the issue. Black people, it ruled, were not legal persons; they were the property of the slave owner. He could buy, sell or even kill them.

Abolitionists had objected. The ruling was outrageous, they said. It was immoral and discriminated against an entire class of living Americans solely on the basis of skin color. None other than Roger Taney, Chief Justice of the Court, and a chorus of others replied to them. So you folks have a different opinion? You object on moral and religious grounds to slavery? That is all right, they said. You abolitionists don't have to own a slave if you don't want to. No one is forcing you to own one, but don't force your morality on the slave owner. He has the "right to choose" to own slaves if he wishes. The Supreme Court has ruled this is a constitutionally protected right. It has so interpreted the Constitution. Slavery is legal.

The Roe vs. Wade decision has been seen as a direct parallel. It too was a 7 - 2 decision by the Supreme Court. It too tried to settle a very vexing and controversial social issue. It too superseded existing state laws. Unborn people, it ruled, were not legal persons. They had no civil rights, no human rights. They were, henceforth, legally the property of the owner - the mother. She had the absolute legal right to keep or kill her unborn baby.

Pro-life people objected. The ruling was outrageous, they said. It was immoral and discriminated against an entire class of living Americans solely on the basis of age (too young) and place of residence (still living in the womb). None other than Justice Blackman, Roe's author, and a chorus of others replied. So you folks have a different opinion? You object on moral or religious grounds to abortion? That is all right. You Right-to-Lifers don't have to have abortions if you don't want to. No one is forcing you to have one, but don't force your morality on the mother (the owner). She has a "right to choose" to kill her developing baby if she wishes. The Supreme Court has ruled this is now a constitutionally protected right. It has so interpreted the Constitution. Abortion is legal.

Tragically, the high court never did reverse the Dred Scott decision. True, it was effectively demolished by the Civil War. Legally, however, it was only reversed by amendments to the US Constitution. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery. The Fourteenth guaranteed civil rights. Finally, the Fifteenth Amendment tried to lock in that guarantee by giving the vote to black men (women could not yet vote).

The parallel today is the Right-to-Life movement's dedicated push for a constitutional amendment to reverse the abortion decisions. Its original hope for an amendment to abolish abortion and to guarantee civil rights to the unborn in a single amendment has given way to the acceptance of a multi-step approach by all but a small minority of the movement. The first step would be to reverse the abortion decisions.

In investigating the analogy between abortion and slavery is to reacquaint ourselves with the history of the time.

Pro-slavery people were deeply indoctrinated with the defense of slavery as a positive good to both races; and firm in the conviction that it must be protected and perpetuated. Further, they were convinced of the biological inequality and racial inferiority of blacks, and held positions as members of Congress, justices of the Supreme Court, and presidents of the United States. They held prominent positions in churches, colleges and political parties. They exercised authority, within their spheres of influence, over the entire nation and helped to determine its policies, educational philosophy and religious doctrines.

One cannot repeat too often that belief in the biologic inequality and racial inferiority of the "Negro" not only sustained slavery, but also determined the attitude of the public, the zeal of law enforcement officials, the reasoning of judicial bodies, the efficiency of administrative functionaries and the definition of policies by legislators. Legalized slavery enshrined this, prevented a practical demonstration of its falsity, and filled public offices and the councils of religious, educational and political institutions with men reared in its atmosphere.

For decades our nation tolerated, indeed stoutly defended, an institution, which embodied the theory that a whole race of people were biologically inferior to others. They formulated ingenious rationalizations for their conduct, devised legal barriers to its correction, and heaped indignities upon those who spoke out in protest. They challenged the right of free inquiry and discussion, and, finally, tragically sent their own men out to kill each other when the political machinery broke down.

But did not a black man bleed if cut? Did not a black woman reproduce if fertilized? Were they not both alive and totally human? Your author is old enough to recall bi-racial blood banks in some states when he was in medical school, even though the pathologist in the laboratory could not tell the blood apart under the microscope.

Is the unborn child not alive? Will he or she not bleed? Is there not a heart beating at three weeks, one that can be heard by us at six to eight weeks? A fully intact tiny human boy or girl from fertilization? Most certainly so! We have no more excuse for calling the unborn child non-human today than our forefathers did for calling a black man non-human then. Yet, today's Supreme Court did just that. Lynn Jackson, great-great granddaughter of Dred Scott, understands abortion's injustice saying, "It is pretty violent, it is a baby and life does begin at conception."

Rightly so, America ultimately came to reject the Supreme Court's flawed Dred Scott decision. Thankfully, mankind, regardless of color, is now protected under our constitution. Not long into the future, America will also ultimately come to reject the Supreme Court's flawed Roe vs. Wade decision. With it will come the constitutional protection of all innocent life from womb to tomb.


I found the above in the newsletter of the New Mexico Right to Life Committee.

The article has at the end -

"For more information on the similarities between abortion and slavery, we recommend Dr. Willke's book, Abortion and Slavery - History Repeats from Hayes Publishing. Contact our office at 513.729.3600 or "

Looks like a book I might want to read.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Archbishop Dolan: Life is a "civil right"

"It bothers me if any politician, Catholic or not, is for abortion. Because in my mind, we're talking about a civil right, we're not talking about a matter of Catholic Church discipline. We can't allow the noble pro-life cause to be reduced to a denominational issue." - Archbishop Timothy Dolan, the next Archbishop of New York.

Life is a "civil right"? Gee, that sounds familiar.


I know decay when I see it

I have been chided for suggesting that there has been a decay in morality.

Now I grant that there have been comparable periods in the past of low morality – and the world has never been all that moral to begin with.

The Church has also had its fluctuations – and certainly has merited a slap on the wrist many times over.

But I believe we are in one of the down cycles right now, and that elements in the Church have failed to provide proper leadership.

Locally, for example, there has been debate over unmarried couple living together, then seeking a Church marriage. Should the Church just go ahead and marry them? Should it require that they move apart before they can begin marriage prep?

Unmarried people living together is nothing new, nor is the issue of how the Church should deal with them entirely new. Yet it has become so “accepted” some priests don’t even bother raising the moral issues in marriage preparation, and people get the message that it’s okay. Gone is the old stigma attached to this immoral behavior. Gone is any sense of shame.

That’s a simple example, but there’s plenty more. Take television. What used to be offensive and was not shown or heard on screen is now standard fare. You can regularly see on a number of channels what used to be considered porn not long ago.

Or take a look at the Academy Awards this year.

I was glad to see Slumdog Millionaire win a number of awards – including Best Picture and Best Director.

Best Actor went to Sean Penn for Milk, a movie that the USCCB rated L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling.

Best Actress went to Kate Winslet in The Reader, another film earning an L.

Best Supporting Actress went to Penelope Cruz in Vicky Christina Barcelona – and other L movie.

Heath Ledger won Best Supporting actor for The Dark Knight – that got an A-III (phew). As did Slumdog. And Frost/Nixon (Good old Ron Howard).

But another movie getting a lot of buzz was The Wrestler. Another L.

In many of these films up for awards as the “best” of the year, there was lots of sexual activity, adultery, nudity, foul language, nihilism, and violence.

At least with Slumdog there was an underlying moral message.

I don’t object to tough, challenging, complex films like Slumdog.

But as a whole, too many films seem to wallow in the gratuitous. Just like too much television. And literature.

And what used to be on the edge, in poor taste, objectionable, frowned-upon, is now deemed mainstream.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

American Saints

I blogged about the news of Blessed Father Damien's canonization being set for October 11. A commenter celebrated the fact that we would have another American saint.

I got to thinking about other potential American saints.

I'm a big fan of Father Solanus Casey - and he is well on the way.

I also support the notion of Dorothy Day being recognized - I am not alone in this.

Who else?

Archbishop Fulton Sheen - who was a Bishop of Rochester at one point - and Father Thomas Merton often get mentioned. People are also promoting the causes of Fathers Nelson Baker and Michael McGivney, and Isaac Hecker.

Are there others out there? More than likely.

And then there are the many good and holy men and women - lay, religious, ordained - who are saints, but who will not be "officially" recognized.

God knows who they are.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Father Damien Canonization Date Set

Blessed Father Damien de Veuster, who served the lepers on Moloki, Hawaii, will be canonized October 11.

Pope Benedict XVI and cardinals meeting in Rome set the date today.

Last July, Pope Benedict approved a miracle attributed to him - a Honolulu woman's recovery in 1999 from terminal lung cancer.

Pope John Paul II had beatified Father Damien in 1995

Belgian born, Father Damien was sent to Hawaii where in the 1870s he began to minister to leprosy patients on Molokai island, where some 8,000 people had been banished amid an epidemic in Hawaii in the 1850s.

He eventually contracted the disease himself, and died in 1889 at age 49.

In 1987, the cure of a nun who had prayed to him was declared his first miracle.

Everything I've read about him makes it clear he is a saint. I've long admired him.

Pro-life Mass thoughts

I went down to the Focus Pregnancy Center - just a heartbeat away from the local headquarters of the billion-dollar abortion business, Planned Parenthood - for a pro-life Mass today. The Mass was a good way to prepare for next Saturday's pro-life march.

Father Joe Cantanise, Pastor of St. Leo's in Hilton and a strong supporter of life and the Secular Franciscans, was the celebrant.

In his homily, he noted that as he was trying to think of what to say in his homily, the words popped into his head "Blessed is the fruit of thy womb." The words were fitting for a day - Saturday - on which we honor Mary. But he noted that it suddenly hit him that this is also a pro-life statement. Every time we pray the Hail Mary we are praying for life.

He also noted that in a number of countries Catholic institutions are coming under attack, being forced to provide for or support things which go against Catholic teachings - like abortion and gay marriage - and suggesting that we might face similar pressures in the U.S.

"We've had it too easy," he said. But even if there is persecution, "We will come out stronger."

He also observed that as angry and frustrated as we might be at some of the things Obama, Pelosi and Biden are doing and saying, we should be praying for them and praying that they will change.

"We are not going to get discouraged. We are not going to give up hope."

I got to thinking about his second point - about our having it too easy.

For so long we coasted along, comfortable in compromising and accommodating so that Catholics often can be barely distinguished from the rest of our secular society.

I wondered what would have happened if the Church - priests, bishops, deacons, religious and lay people - had remained strong and firm in our beliefs all along.

Would we have gotten to this point where the government and society feel free to try to force Catholic institutions and individuals to choose between going against Church teachings or possible legal and financial consequences?

Would we have gotten to the point in which politicians who identify themselves as Catholics openly disagree with and vote against the teachings of the Church?

Would we have as many violations of Church norms in parish life and celebrations?

Would we have as many lay people openly breaking rules of faith and morality?

Would so many Catholics have voted unthinkingly for Obama and other pro-choice politicians?

Or would have been a true counter-cultural witness to the world?

Even if we have failed to this point, there's nothing to stop us from being that witness now and henceforth.

Keyes: Does not recognize Obama as President

Alan Keyes, a pro-life Catholic who ran against Barack Obama for the Senate in 2004 and the Presidency in 2008, and who has filed suit saying Obama is not eligible to be President, had some strong words in a recent interview.


Obama campaign fooled some Catholics

Hey, guess what - The Obama campaign manipulated Catholics!

The intrepid reporters at the Diocese of Kansas City- St. Joseph, Missouri's Catholic Key - those guys are good! - have the scoop.

I wonder when Catholics who tried to justify voting for Obama are going to open their eyes?

Hopefully, in time for 2012.


Planned Parenthood - More charges!

The billion dollar abortion business is facing yet more accusations of covering up sexual abuse and rape - and in this case, incest.

A 21-year old known as Denise from Ohio is suing Planned Parenthood for not reporting signs of abuse - as is requited by Ohio law - resulting in her suffering an additional year and a half of abuse at the hands of her father.

Denise was reportedly raped by her father repeatedly between the ages of 13 and 17. When she was 16, she became pregnant by him and was taken by him to Planned Parenthood in Mount Auburn, Ohio, for an abortion..

According to her suit, when when questioned by Planned Parenthood employees, the girl allegedly said "that she had been forced to do things that she did not want to do."

Denise's father was arrested eighteen months after the Planned Parenthood visit, thanks to the intervention of the Denise's basketball coach, and was sentenced to five years in prison in 2006.

The prosecuting attorney in the case, Brain Hurley, told the Cincinnati Enquirer, "She tried to put an end to this abuse by informing a Planned Parenthood employee that she had been forced to have sex and to do things she did not want to do. Tragically for her, Planned Parenthood's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy was in full force."

This is just the latest incident involving Planned Parenthood and accusations of failing to report sex crimes.

UCLA student Lila Rose's "Mona Lisa Project" has involved women going undercover and videotaping Planned Parenthood employees ignoring statutory rape. Three different Planned Parenthoods have been caught covering up rape, which they were required by law to report to the authorities. And there are reportedly others who may face accusations as the Project continues.

When is the government going to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood? Both Republican and Democratic elected officials are guilty of continuing to vote for funds.

Lay Preaching Distortion

The Q & A at the end of this was published in 2004 - Redemitionis Sacramentum was published in March of 2004. It makes it clear that lay preaching is not allowed.

Yet in 2009, Father Joseph Hart, Vicar General of the Diocese of Rochester, is reported to have tried to justify it using an earlier document about "dialogue - a document that referred to children, by the way, and not adults - as a way to wiggle around the rules. (Perhaps Father Hart is suggesting that lay people are children?)

In our parish, when Father Steve does a children's Mass, he will have a Q & A with them as part of his homily. He is acting in accord with the norms for dialogue. But when a priest says a few words for a minute or so, then lets a lay person preach at length at the time reserved for the homily, as Father Hart apparently suggested, that clearly is wrong.

I saw this sort of wiggling going on for years at the diocese - including back when I was a reporter/editor for the diocesan newspaper. I can remember people giving me answers that sounded to me like they were spinning and distorting the rules to get their own way - the same sort of thing I saw at Corpus Christi with Father Callan before he gave up all pretence of following Church rules. (To be honest, although the main reason I left the newspaper was to return to teaching, one of the secondary reasons was I was disenchanted with some of the statements, decisions and actions I saw being made by diocesan officials.)

As the response below notes, before the 2004 document was published, it was possible for a bishop to authorize a lay person to read a prepared text after the homily on rare occasions, but that should not have been a regular thing, and it certainly is no longer permitted.

Having read the documents, I think that if this report is accurate - and based on my experience of Father Hart and the diocese, I suspect it is accurate - Father Hart should cease this practice.

Sadly, I think further that the diocesan administration needs to be shaken up.


From ZENIT -

Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University.

Q: After the Gospel reading, sometimes our priest sits in the congregation and a lay minister gets up to give a reflection. When I questioned this practice with our bishop's office, I was told (not by the bishop) that as long as the priest gives a homily, whose duration could be one minute, the lay ministers can give the "reflection." Is this true? — K.H., Minnesota

A: The recent instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum" has dealt with this point quite clearly and in several places. No. 64 states: "The homily, which is given in the course of the celebration of Holy Mass and is a part of the Liturgy itself, 'should ordinarily be given by the Priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a concelebrating Priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to a Deacon, but never to a layperson.'"

No. 65 continues: "It should be borne in mind that any previous norm that may have admitted non-ordained faithful to give the homily during the eucharistic celebration is to be considered abrogated by the norm of canon 767 §§1. This practice is reprobated, so that it cannot be permitted to attain the force of custom."

No. 66 adds: "The prohibition of the admission of laypersons to preach within the Mass applies also to seminarians, students of theological disciplines, and those who have assumed the function of those known as 'pastoral assistants'; nor is there to be any exception for any other kind of layperson, or group, or community, or association."

This theme is taken up once more in No. 74: "If the need arises for the gathered faithful to be given instruction or testimony by a layperson in a Church concerning the Christian life, it is altogether preferable that this be done outside Mass. Nevertheless, for serious reasons it is permissible that this type of instruction or testimony be given after the Priest has proclaimed the Prayer after Communion. This should not become a regular practice, however. Furthermore, these instructions and testimony should not be of such a nature that they could be confused with the homily, nor is it permissible to dispense with the homily on their account."

And finally in No. 161: "As was already noted above, the homily on account of its importance and its nature is reserved to the Priest or Deacon during Mass. As regards other forms of preaching, if necessity demands it in particular circumstances, or if usefulness suggests it in special cases, lay members of Christ's faithful may be allowed to preach in a church or in an oratory outside Mass in accordance with the norm of law. This may be done only on account of a scarcity of sacred ministers in certain places, in order to meet the need, and it may not be transformed from an exceptional measure into an ordinary practice, nor may it be understood as an authentic form of the advancement of the laity. All must remember besides that the faculty for giving such permission belongs to the local Ordinary and this as regards individual instances; this permission is not the competence of anyone else, even if they are Priests or Deacons."

Therefore it is quite clear that the answer you received from the chancery office (which may have been before the publication of this new instruction) is now quite incorrect. Before this clarification was published it was considered possible that a bishop could authorize a layperson to read a prepared text after the homily on some special occasions. This was always seen as an exception and never a habitual practice.

The reason given in the document for this disposition is that the homily is part of the liturgy itself. As such it is a sacred action and only a sacred minister may carry it out.

Because of this sacred character the Church teaches that the homily is endowed with a special presence of Christ that Pope Paul VI did not hesitate to call a "real presence" on a par with the real presence of Christ in the assembly, in the readings, and in the person of the minister although not on the same level as Christ's substantial presence in the Eucharist.

This special presence, which gives a spiritual efficacy to the homily surpassing the minister's oratorical skills, is possible only if preached by a sacred minister acting as Christ's representative. No "reflection" of any kind may be given by a layperson during Mass except for those brief, prepared commentaries that may introduce some parts of the celebration according to liturgical norms.

On exceptional occasions, such as when a lay missionary makes an appeal, a testimony may be given after the prayer after Communion. But the homily may not be omitted for this purpose, although the priest may give a briefer than usual homily if the time between Masses is rather short.

The priest may sit to listen to a lay testimony after Communion. But he should keep his place at the presidential chair and not sit among the congregation.


Nods to Eugene Michael and Rich Leonardi for point me to this 2004 Q & A.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pelolsi meets Pope, gets a diplomatic finger wag

Pope Benedict XVI reportedly chided Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi - a pro-abortion Catholic - for her support of legal abortion during a February 18 meeting.

Pelosi, who with no sense of shame (or understanding?) describes herself as an "ardent Catholic," met briefly with the Pope. After the meeting, the Vatican took the unusual step of releasing a statement about the meeting:

His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in co-operation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.

Given the normal diplomatic tone of such meetings, that's a kind of papal slap on the wrist.

Given her track record, though, I suspect she will only hear what she wants to hear, and misinterpret even that.

Abortion IS a Civil Rights issue

Pro-lifers have been arguing that abortion is a civil rights issue - the rights of the pre-born are being denied.

In Birmingham, Alabama, with its checkered history of civil rights abuses of African Americans, some pro-lifers are contending that just being pro-life can make you target of civil rights abuses.

From Lifesite News:

By Kathleen Gilbert

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama, February 16, 2009 ( - Members of a pro-life protest group have accused Birmingham police of violating their civil rights by bullying and arresting the group for peacefully spread their message on a public sidewalk.

According to a press release issued by the group, nine members of the Survivors Campus Life Tour were holding signs, dialoguing and distributing literature to students on a public sidewalk at Birmingham's Parker High School Thursday when police arrived in over a dozen squad cars and began to threaten the group with arrest unless they leave.

The group says they contacted their attorney, who assured them that their location on the public sidewalk and their free speech activity was legal, and so they continued their activities until police began arresting the members without explanation.

Members reported being treated with contempt both by police officers and jail guards. Kortney Blythe, 26, Director of the Survivors Campus Life Tours, claimed she was videotaping the event when an officer approached her from behind, pulled her arm behind her back, and escorted Blythe without explanation into a squad car. She joined Shara Guengerich, 18, whom the group says had also been detained without explanation while distributing literature. They said Guengerich was handcuffed so tightly that she was crying from the pain, but arresting officers ignored her requests for relief.

Survivors member Rev. Henry "Bud" Shaver, 30, said he was informed during the arrest that the sidewalk was not public property for "non-citizens of Birmingham".

Members claim that they were placed in holding cells for 6 hours without water or access to a phone despite requests, and that at least one member was shackled painfully at the ankles for hours despite his attorney's pleas for their removal. Rev. Shaver said he and the other male detainees learned that several of the jail guards also serve as security guards at a local abortion clinic.

The members were held overnight in the Birmingham City Jail and released early the next morning. Daniell Versluys, the Survivors' Director of Special Events, told (LSN) that the members were given no paper citations, only bond forms stating "Charge of Trespassing" with no penal code listed. Versluys also said that the group plans to publish their video footage of the incident on Youtube. It is uncertain whether either the police department or the Survivors will press charges.

A request to Birmingham police by LSN for information about the incident was declined.

Survivors Campus Life decried the civil rights violations suffered by their members at the hands of Birmingham police.

"We were arrested yesterday because of the content of our message," stated Blythe. "It's clear from the attitudes and actions of the police officers that our message of life is not welcome in Birmingham, and prejudice is alive and well in this city." Blythe called upon the Chief of Police to investigate the "horrifying civil rights abuses."

"I am in shock and disbelief that a person can be arrested for simply standing on a public sidewalk and handing out literature," said Allison Aranda of Life Legal Defense, the Survivors' legal counsel. "If there is any principle that is so deeply rooted in this nation's history it is the right of free speech, and it is shameful that those charged with upholding the law are in fact the ones that violated the Highest Law of the land today."

"The police officers of Birmingham have demonstrated a total disregard for both local laws and the Constitution," remarked Rev. Jeff White, founder of the Survivors. "It is ironic that young people participating in a project named after Dr. King's letter sit in the very jail he penned it from. Ironic and sad. ... Throughout their entire ordeal, these youths' first and foremost concern was to draw attention to the ultimate civil rights abuse - the murder of pre-born children."

To contact:
Mayor Larry P. Langford
Birmingham City Hall
710 20th Street North
Birmingham, Alabama 35203-2216
Phone: 205-254-2277
FAX: 205-254-2926

Charles Long
Executive Administrative Assistant to the Mayor
(205) 254-2609

To contact all Birmingham city councillors

To contact the governor of Alabama
Governor's Office Telephone Numbers
Switchboard:(334) 242-7100


I do not know this pro-life group - and I was not a witness to what happened. Perhaps the police have an explanation for the arrests - I know that protests near schools are often subject to restrictions. As for the treatment in the jail - that sounds like the treatment other groups and individuals have received in other jails. Abuse? A matter of perception? SOP?

I hope someone from the police department will step forward and give a clear and reasonable explantion of this incident - if there is one.

Or maybe an apology.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ah, sweet mystery of life ...

With all that has been going on lately, I've been feeling a bit like that Monty Python character complaining in a strained voice, "My brain hurts."

Reading is normally my standard treatment in moments such as this, but I was "hurting" too much for heavier fare - Mother Theresa, theology, Dante, poetry, even my beloved Chesterton.

So while at the library I grabbed a Father Dowling mystery.

Ah. Popcorn for the mind and soul.

Enjoyable - but I've always liked mysteries. Especially ones with a subtext of morality and faith.

Maybe some Hillerman next?

Or more Ralph McInerny?

Or perhaps Father Brown? Got to sneak in some Chesterton!

Monday, February 16, 2009

12-Year-Old-Girl speaks against abortion.

Amazing video. Smart girl - she counters so many of the pro-choice excuses.

Pope urges use of Confession

Pope Benedict speaks of lepers - the "unclean" - and points out that leprosy can be a symbol for sin. Confession helps sinners to to reconcile - with God, and the community of faith.

I treasure the gift of Confession. It has helped to lift so many burdens from my soul.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Best - and Worst - Presidents

A group of British experts at The Times have ranked the U.S. Presidents.

Fans of Bush (junior) and Clinton will likely not be happy.

George W. ranked 37th - tied with Nixon.

Hey, at least he wasn't ranked the worst. That dishonor belongs to number 42, James Buchanan.

And to be honest, I rank Bush II down near the bottom myself. I don't think the passage of time will vindicate him.

As for only the second President ever impeached, Clinton came out in the middle at 23rd - just ahead of the only other President impeached, Andrew Johnson.

I have never been a big fan of Clinton, so his ranking does not surprise me. He was a middling President.

George H. W. Bush, by the way, came in at 20th.

The top 10 according to this Times group are:

1. Lincoln
2. Washington
3. Franklin Roosevelt
4. Jefferson
5. Theodore Roosevelt
6. Eisenhower
7. Truman
8. Reagan
9. Polk
10. Wilson.

Hmm. I am a big fan of Lincoln, so I am pleased at their ranking him at the best President. I always thought people underestimated Eisenhower, so I'm also pleased to see him high up. I always put both Roosevelts high on my list. As a history teacher, I understand Polk's ranking. I have no major arguments against Washington, Jefferson, Truman or Wilson making the top 10.

Reagan? Sigh. Personally, I am not a fan of his and some of his policies. But objectively, I can see him on this list - though I would have ranked him in the second tier with folks like Kennedy (11 - too high?), John Adams (13), Lyndon Johnson (12) or Andrew Jackson (14).

Again, to be honest, I would have bumped Jackson, Johnson or maybe even Adams above Reagan into the top 10.

The bottom boys are Buchanan (42), Pierce (41), Van Buren (40), William Harrison (39) Nixon and George W. Bush (37), Hoover (36), Harding and Garfield in a tie (34), and Fillmore at 33.
I have no major arguments with these bottom listings - though I have tended to rank Nixon - much as I loathed his actions - a bit higher. But Watergate and some of his actions in Vietnam certainly undermined much of what he did accomplish.

Their rankings of President during my lifetime (I'm going to date myself!) are:

Eisenhower (6)
Reagan (8)
Kennedy (11)
Johnson (12)
Bush I (20)
Clinton (23)
Ford (25)
Carter (32)
Nixon/Bush II (37)

I'd rank this crew thusly:

Bush I
Ford - Clinton - tie
Bush II

Since this Times list is not a U.S. ranking, and is presumably a bit more objective and less political, it is interesting. It gives us an idea of what "outsiders" think of our Presidents - though I don't know the credentials of the rankers. Still, their rankings seem reasonable.

Check out your favorites at The Times.

Let's see, where's Benjamin Harrison, the last bearded President ...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day - at the abbey

It's Valentine's Day, so that means the good-looking-one and I went off ... to a church.

In this case, Our Lady of the Genesee Abbey - Trappist, and the home of Monks Bread.

We went into the chapel to pray for a while.

abbey chapel -
lingering incense
and silence

Well, there was silence until ...

a sprightly tune
echoes through the chapel -
someone's cell phone

The phone wasn't really a bother. Later, a woman brought in her children, and they were very quiet and respectful - nice to see.

After, we bought some bread (of course), and the good-looking-one visited with Mary for a few moments.

Then off to lunch and home.

Maybe that's not everyone's idea of Valentine's Day, but for us, it was quite nice.

FAN - and Fr. Groeschel

Father Groeschel wants to meet with us! (more on that below)

At our Secular Franciscan meeting last night, Marty handed me an information sheet about the Franciscan Action Network (FAN) - figuring, I suspect, that I'd be interested given my social justice orientation.

The particular notice he gave me was from January. It concerned the Franciscan Life Campaign targeting the Freedom Of Choice Act (FOCA). Although that campaign was specifically for January 21-31 and while FOCA has supposedly been put on hold, the fight against it goes on as the dark forces of will continue to push for it, or will try to sneak it through piecemeal or by the back door.

I went to the site to see what other things they are about.

In addition to abortion, they are concerned with war, poverty, immigration, economic recovery, the environment, and more. The Consistent Ethic of Life. My cup of tea.

They say of themselves:

FAN is a grassroots, faith-based legislative advocacy organization with a growing national base of organizations and persons who are inspired by the witness and example of St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi. FAN's work is presently supported by 41 Franciscan organizations throughout the United States as it works to build a base of persons who can propel this movement forward. FAN's mission to bring a coordinated and effective voice to matters of justice, peace and care for creation to Washington, D.C., throughout the U.S., and beyond is achievable, but we need committed people to make this vision a reality.

Ah, a recruitment pitch!

They have written about economic recovery, elections in Africa, and of course, FOCA. There's more at the site. I need to do some more reading of it. But definitely interesting.

Anyone else had time to look into this group?

The other bit of news is that Father Benedict Groeschel is coming to Rochester to do a Lenten Mission at St. Lawrence Church, and he specifically asked to meet with the two local Secular Franciscan groups. We will be meet with him March 23 at 1 p.m. - a day I just happen to have off from school (Catholic karma?), so I can make it.

I find it interesting that, according to the our group's newsletter, he "requested a special meeting."

By the way, I'm still listed in the group's report to the regional as an "aspirant." There are several people in formation - they will make their profession next August - but I joined the group too late to be a part of them. And since I am the only new person, they have not started a "class" with me. One will start eventually, but for now I remain on the bottom rung of formation. A lesson in patience - and humility.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bad Haiku Friday: Dog Show

watching the dog show
out of chips, pretzels, popcorn -
dog shares her biscuits


A joke for Friday

A hillbilly family took a vacation to New York City. One day, the father took his son into a large building. They were amazed by everything they saw, especially the elevator at one end ofthe lobby. The boy asked, "What's this, Paw?"

The father responded, "Son, I have never seen anything like this in my life. I don't know what it is!"

While the boy and his father were watching in wide-eyed astonishment, an old lady in a wheelchair rolled up to the moving walls and pressed a button. The walls opened and the lady rolled between them into a small room. The walls closed and the boy and his father watched small circles of lights above the walls light up. They continued to watch the circles light up in the reverse direction. The walls opened again, and a beautiful twenty-four-year old woman stepped out.

The father turned to his son and said, "Go get your maw!"


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Red Envelope Project - Mail one to Obama

The Red Envelope/pro-life idea I mentioned a couple of days ago has apparently evolved beyond just a Valentine's Day project.

There are now two sites dedicated to it: and The Red Envelope Project. Organizers are calling for the project to extend beyond Valentine's Day with the goal of sending 50 million envelopes - one for each aborted child - to President Obama over the next month. Some activists are actually calling for mass mailings around February 28 to flood the White House with this pro-life message.

I've already mailed one in time for Valentine's Day. I might just mail a few more!

Padre Pio Service for Wounded Officer

The St. Padre Pio Chapel in Gates will host a prayer service March 2 for Rochester Police Officer Anthony Di Ponzio.

Officer Di Ponzio was seriously injured after being shot in the back of the head January 31. A 14-year-old youth with a troubled past has been accused of the crime.

The 7 p.m. service will be led by Deacon Angelo Coccia of St. Theodore's Church, and will include the Father Beatini Choir.

The Chapel is at 141 Frank DiMino Way.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Rock of Faith - Give us Clean Hands

One of the songs Rock of Faith will be doing at the March 1 Mass. (This is Chris Tomlin's version of Charlie Hall's "Give us Clean Hands".)


Catholic Rock! Critical Mass

We almost called our band Critical Mass. Rock of Faith won the vote. Good thing. Soon after I discovered these guys out of Canada.

Springsteen Grammy

2009 Grammy Winner: Rock Song: "Girls in their Summer Clothes", Bruce Springsteen, songwriter (Bruce Springsteen), track from "Magic" (Columbia; Publisher: Bruce Springsteen) - His 19th Grammy, I believe.

Yeah, I know he pushed for Obama, but, well, he's the Boss.

A live version (go to YouTube for the music video with a smoother vocal).

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Send the President a Pro-Life Valentine

Barb, over at SFOmom, shared an interesting idea: A Valentine for Obama with a pro-life message.

She says the idea has been floating around the internet.

The basic plan is to get a red envelope and to address it to

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Then on the back you write: This envelope represents one child who died in abortion.
It is empty because that life was unable to offer anything to the world. Responsibility begins with conception.

Then mail it and encourage as many people as possible to do likewise.

Now it is unlikely that getting a few envelopes - or a few 10,000? - would do much to get President Obama to change his thinking (though that it always possible), but it might help him to remember that there are many pro-lifers out there and might make him more hesitant to force some extreme abortion measures on the nation.

There's a variation on this envelope idea that Barb picked up from Esther at A Catholic Mom in Hawaii.

Esther suggests putting a small card in the envelope with these words: OPEN your heart to the lives of your unborn CITIZENS. Be a President to ALL Americans!

And you can add a few prayer cards as well.


I think we can take this idea even further: Why not send similar envelopes and cards to our pro-choice elected officials - especially the "Catholic" ones like New York Senator Kirsten Gillbrand.

Silly? Not effective?

What the heck. It might get some people's attention. It might make some people think. It might eventually lead to a few saved souls and saved lives.

Being a Franciscan, I'm willing to be a fool for Christ - and for Life.

It's the economy, stupid

This economic situation is beginning to hit home.

My good-looking-one and I are safe for now. But this morning at Mass the bass player in Rock of Faith, our liturgical "rock" band, said his employer was asking his employees to take a week off without pay. His company provides parts of General Motors, and GM is hurting now. Ripple effect.

I also know a friend of one of my daughters who had her hours cut back at work.

I wonder how many other out there are losing jobs, getting hours cut back, having to take unpaid time off, etc. How many of us are cutting back on spending? I am. Or are putting aside money. I had coffee with one daughter after Mass this morning, and suggested only half jokingly that she and her husband bank as much as possible just in case.

I hope this stimulus package offers some help with things like unemployment and COBRAs , which are so expensive and impossible for people on unemployment to keep up for long. But without health insurance, things can get even worse. (An argument for some sort national health care.)


Saturday, February 07, 2009

Nuts to you

There are certain staples in my daily diet.

Oatmeal. A bowl for breakfast most days (and a running joke among my students about boring Mr. Strong).

Coffee. Many cups. Ready for my second one at 7:27 a.m. in fact.

Peanut butter. Standard lunch fare.

Now there's this salmonella scare, with at least 8 people dead. The brand I use is not on the recall list ... yet.

It's bad enough when someone makes a mistake and releases tainted foods. But the latest reports are that the company at the center of this had shipped tainted peanuts AFTER they had tested positive. They chose to risk people's lives and health.

That's contemptible. Their actions led to death - all in the name of profits. Sort of like the tobacco industry. (Or, for that matter, the abortion industry).

Now I don't believe in the death penalty. But maybe a just punishment would be to imprison the executives of the company and put them on a peanut butter diet. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. All made with products from their company.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Bishop Martino to Senator Casey

Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton has released the following letter addressed to Senator Robert Casey correcting him for voting against the Martinez amendment to restore the Mexico City Policy:

January 30, 2009

Dear Senator Casey:

I wish to thank you for voting in favor of the Hatch Amendment to the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reorganization Act of 2009 which would have made unborn children eligible for child health assistance had it passed. I am grateful for what you have done on behalf of children in America who are without health care.

It is with deep regret, however, that I learned of your vote against the amendment offered by Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) to the same Children’s Health Insurance Act. Senator Martinez’s amendment would have reinstated the Mexico City Policy. That policy, instituted in 1984, required foreign non-governmental organizations “to agree as a condition of their receipt of [U.S.] federal funds” that they would “neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning . . . .” It also prohibited them from lobbying governments to make abortion legal. In effect, the reversal of the Mexico City policy will mean that over 450 million dollars of American foreign aid will go to organizations that are militant in promoting abortion as a method of population control, particularly in countries that find abortion objectionable on moral grounds. Senator, is not this vote a contradiction of your repeated claim that you support the protection of unborn life?

Contrary to a release issued by your office yesterday, the 1973 Helms Amendment does not provide the same restrictions as the Mexico City Policy. The Helms Amendment prohibits only U.S. funds from being used to pay for abortions or to motivate or coerce anyone to practice abortions. It in no way keeps U.S. federal funds from organizations which use their own money to pay for or support abortions. Nor does it place restrictions on organizations that lobby foreign governments to reverse anti-abortion laws. While I understand that the Helms Amendment is still in place, it does not have the same effect in limiting abortions abroad.

On Respect Life Sunday, October 5, I addressed the faithful of the Diocese of Scranton. In keeping with the obligations of my episcopal office, I called upon my brothers and sisters in faith to be vigilant against the objections to the Church’s teaching on life so prevalent in current political discourse. I vowed to be vigilant in correcting Catholics who are in error with regard to the sanctity of life. Your vote against the Mexico City Policy will mean the deaths of thousands of unborn children. This is an offense against life and a denial of our Catholic teaching on the dignity of every human being. This action is worthy of condemnation by all moral men and women.

Your release also says that you support “family planning . . . specifically because reducing unintended pregnancies reduces the number of abortions.” I remind you that it is never permissible to use immoral means (e.g., artificial contraception) to achieve a good end.

As I have done on several occasions, Senator, I urge you to consider that Church documents speak clearly and compellingly on the special responsibility that falls to you as a lawmaker to oppose abortion and other clear evils, including contraception, infanticide, euthanasia and embryonic stem-cell research. To that end, I refer you to two documents:

1. Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life. It says, “Catholics . . . have the right and the duty to recall society to a deeper understanding of human life and to the responsibility of everyone in this regard. John Paul II, continuing the constant teaching of the Church, has reiterated many times that those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a ‘grave and clear obligation to oppose’ any law that attacks human life.”

2. Christifideles Laici. It states, “If, indeed everyone has the mission and responsibility of acknowledging the personal dignity of every human being and of defending the right to life, some lay faithful are given a particular title to this task: such as parents, teachers, health workers and those who hold economic and political power.”

I remind you further that when he was Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger sent a memo to the bishops of the United States advising them that advocacy of, or participation in, abortion and euthanasia can never be justified by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits or requires it. He said there can be no diversity of opinion among Catholics regarding abortion and euthanasia.

It is my deepest wish, Senator, to convince you of the necessity of rescinding your vote on the Martinez Amendment. It is the height of irony that this amendment was defeated while the Senate passed legislation to provide health insurance for children who would otherwise be without it. What hypocrisy offers health insurance to children in one part of the world when children in another part will be deprived, by the stroke of the same pen, of their first breath?

I recognize and respect the burdens that you bear as a United States Senator; however, I remind you that your responsibilities as a Catholic bound by the faith of the Church exceed even those of your office. Your failure to reverse this vote will regrettably mean that you persist formally in cooperating with the evil brought about by this hideous and unnecessary policy.

As I have done several times before, I offer to make myself available to you to discuss the grave concerns that I raise here.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Joseph F. Martino, D.D., Hist. E.D.
Bishop of Scranton

--- Another Bishop not afraid to speak out. We need more like him. Maybe a New York one to write a letter to our new Senator Kirsten "I'm a Catholic" Gillibrand for voting for abortion.

Abortion and the Demonic - Part 2

"Lawsuit Filed for Baby Born Alive at Abortion Clinic then Killed and Hidden from Police"

That's the headline from a story of the "alleged" murder of a Shanice Denise Osbourne in 2006 - an "alleged" murder that the legal system did nothing about until a lawsuit was filed this January. (I say "alleged" for legal reasons. The facts speak for themselves.)

The story was also picked up by the AP - the headline in the Buffalo News for that story was "Fla. doctor investigated in badly botched abortion" .

The mother, Sycloria Williams, had gone to get an abortion (at 22 weeks) here's some of the gruesome details from the lifesite story abut what happened on July 20, 2006:

Williams arrived at the Hialeah clinic on the morning of July 20, 2006, feeling ill and in severe pain from the medication the night before. Despite the fact that the doctor nor any other licensed health practitioners were present, the abortion center’s receptionist gave Williams Cytotec, which induces labor and also dilates the cervix. Williams, however, began to feel even worse with nausea and cramping. According to testimony, the staff had her sit in the clinic’s recovery room area where she waited for hours in severe and increasing abdominal pain without medical staff available.

At one point, unable to remain seated, Williams braced herself with the arms of the recliner chair she was sitting on. As she lifted herself, her water broke and she delivered a live baby girl onto the seat of the recliner. The baby writhed and gasped for air, still connected to Williams by the umbilical cord.

Immobilized by shock, Williams watched Gonzalez run into the room, cut the umbilical cord with a pair of orange-handled shears, stuff the baby into a red biohazard bag and throw the bag into a garbage can. Shortly thereafter, the doctor arrived at the clinic and sedated Williams. The doctor’s medical records failed to indicate that Williams had delivered a live baby that was killed by the clinic.

Anonymous callers notified police at least three times about the live birth and murder, and when police executed a search warrant on July 22, 2006, they found medical records but couldn’t locate the baby’s remains. Six days later, another anonymous caller told police the baby’s body had been hidden on the roof. Police responded but didn’t find the baby’s body on the roof. After another anonymous tip police got another search warrant and found the decomposing baby in a cardboard box in a closet at the clinic. DNA linked the baby’s remains to Williams.

The Miami-Dade County medical examiner performed an autopsy which showed that the baby’s lungs had been filled with air before her killing, proving it was a live birth. But the examiner blamed the death on “extreme prematurity,” ignoring eyewitness testimony that the baby had been murdered.

The Thomas More Society has filed the suit on behalf of Shanice Denise Osbourne, the dead girl. The suit claims that she was born alive and then murdered by abortion clinic owner, Belkis Gonzalez. Thirteen defendants (including Gonzalez, abortionist Dr. Pierre Jean-Jacques Renelique and their conglomerate of four South Florida abortion clinics) have been sued for unlicensed and unauthorized medical practice, botched abortions, evasive tactics, false medical records and the killing, hiding and disposing of the baby.

Good for the Thomas More Society.

Sadly, I'm not shocked that nothing was done at the time - given the complicity of so many parts of our society and our government in the demonic practice of abortion. To pursue justice in a case like this would mean to raise doubts about what is being done to these children.

Even our our President has opposed legislation requiring medical treatment for babies born alive during an abortion. President Obama would also have permitted Shanice to be killed.

[[LATER - The doctor has just been stripped of his medical license. Too bad it took two years and negative media to finally get the state to do something. That's why we have to keep watching and keep writing.]]

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The nut doesn't fall far ...

Yesterday I was called upon to don my official "Principal's" hat.

One of the younger primary students - who had a history of aggressive behavior - had hit a girl over the head with a book, then locked himself in the boys' bathroom. The female teachers could not get him to open the door, and they were nervous about popping the lock and going into the bathroom.

I asked him to open the door. He asked why. I repeated my request. He asked why again. I used my dad voice.

He unlocked the door.

I kept the door propped open - don't want any accusations lodged -and squatted down to his level, leaning on the wall opposite him. I asked him a few times to tell me what had happened. He refused to talk.

After a few minutes I left the bathroom and spoke with the teachers to get more details, then with the girl who had been hit.

By this time the bell had rung, and he had fled to the safety of mom's van, and they quickly departed.

I called the girl's mother to let her know what was going on, then tried calling the boy's mother. Repeatedly. When I could get no answer, I called dad at work. He was too busy to come to the phone (to talk to a mere principal?). I said it was important and that I would be at the school until a certain time. I then tried mom again, finally leaving a message asking her to call me today.

Dad never called. Mom never called. One of the teachers who has dealt with this family before asked if I really expected them to respond. I had to admit that I was not surprised that they had not.

The boy had lunchtime detention with me. No recess. He still refused to talk.

One of the boy's older siblings kept making jokes about school rules and hitting people over the head with books.

Like it was a family joke.

Imagine what it would be like if I wasn't teaching at a Christian school.


Obama said what??

"There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being."

That's what Barack Obama, the most pro-abortion President in the history of this nation, said today at the National Prayer Breakfast.

Could this signal a "change" in his support of abortion given the flak he's been getting over decisions already made?

Could this be him trying to butter up religious folks because he realizes he's estranging many?

Or is it that he thinks he can get away with saying this because knowing when life begins is "above his pay grade," so he still has wiggle room?

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Abortion and the demonic

I heard about this article in The Bulletin (Philadelphia) on EWTN yesterday, and someone at last night's pro-life meeting had a copy of it.

In it, Father Thomas Euteneuer, president of Human Life International - and an exorcist - spoke bluntly about abortion.

“Abortion is a demonic industry.”

“Abortion is blood sacrifice of innocent blood to the devil. The clinics are like temples, the doctors are like priests, the medical table is like their altar. It’s a ritualized sacrifice. They have a dogma called choice, a hierarchy called Planned Parenthood, and guardian angels in the form of police guards that will arrest you if you try to stop them.”

He said that there have been abortionists who have called abortion “their sacrament.”

“Abortion is a spiritual evil,” he said. “If we are to beat it, we can’t just fight it in the political realm. It derives its power from below. To confront a force this strong, you need a massive amount of prayer. That’s why I like the 40 Days For Life group, because they bring us what we need where we need it.”

Strong stuff. maybe the kind of stuff to shake people out of their complacency and get them stirred up.

Check out the full article.

Pun-gent Humor

I found these over at A Bit of the Blarney. They gave me a much needed chuckle after a rough day at school:

1. The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.

2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

3. She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.

4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because it was a weapon of math disruption.

5. The butcher backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.

6. Now matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

7. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

8. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

9. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

10. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

11. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.

12. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

13. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, 'You stay here, I'll go on a head.'

14. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.

15. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: 'Keep off the Grass.'

16. A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital. When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, a nurse said, 'No change yet.'

17. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.

18. It's not that the man did not know how to juggle, he just didn't have the balls to do it.

19. The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

20. The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.

21. A backward poet writes inverse.

22. In democracy it's your vote that counts. In feudalism it's your count that votes.

23. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.

24. Don't join dangerous cults: practice safe sects!

Poll: Opposition to Obama Abortion Action

While President Obama generally got approval for his actions in a new USA Today/Gallup Poll, his decision to permit U.S. funding to help support oversees abortion was overwhelmingly rejected.

The Jan. 30-Feb. 1 USA Today/Gallup poll asked Americans to say whether they approve or disapprove of seven specific actions Obama has taken as president. 58 percent of those survey said they oppose the decision to reject the Mexico City Policy. Only 35 percent supported it.

The Mexico City Policy says that oversees agencies that receive U.S. funding have to refrain from providing or promoting abortion. If they do either, they do not receive funding.

One of Obama's first acts was to revoke the policy, meaning U.S. taxpayers will now help to pay for abortions in other lands.

It seems likely we will also be called on to pay for more of them here under Obama. But this poll shows when it comes to abortion, the public does not support him.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Rochester pro-life march

The good folks behind the local 40 Days for Life effort had some "bad" news, and some good news.

The bad news is that for a variety of reasons, we will not have a local 40 Days effort during the up coming campaign that begins Feb. 25 - though we will be part of the one in the fall.

The good news is that they are organizing a March for February 28. That march will include at least seven members of Silent No More - women who have had abortions and now speak out against abortion.

There will be a 12:10 Mass at Our Lady of Victory Church, 210 Pleasant Street, then the march will begin in the parking lot at 1:00 with people from various denominations joining us. We will proceed silently through downtown Rochester to Planned Parenthood's headquarters, where we will pray for healing and conversion, and that lives will be spared.

Jose Rivera, who is organizing the effort, is hoping to get the word out to as many churches and pro-life groups as possible, including the Knights of Columbus (of which he is a member). His dream is to draw some 200 people. Maybe that will get some media attention. Only the diocesan newspaper covered us last time we marched - but that was a smaller group.

I will be contacting local media outlets hoping to stir up some interest.


SCHIP gets my okay.

Okay, let's get it out of the way right up front.

I support some form of universal health care - even if it means I have to pay more in taxes.

I welcome the opportunity to help out my less fortunate brothers and sisters. 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' - Matthew 25:40.

So I have no problem with SCHIP. I want to see more people have health care.

We have a mixed system here in the U.S.

In 2000, the World Health Organization ranked the health system in our nation 37th in the world.


We ranked behind such usual suspects as France, Italy, San Marino, Andorra, Spain, Austria, Japan, Norway, United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, Germany, Canada, Finland, Australia and Denmark. But we also such nations as Oman, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Chile and Costa Rica.

Now those figures may have changed since then. And there are different ways to assess health care. But even if we jumped 25 places, we would still not be in the top 10!


For middle class white folks like my family and me, the health care here in the U.S. IS among the best in the world - if not the best. That's because we have insurance and some money. What pulls the U.S. down is that we have lots of low-income people, people who have lost jobs, people whose jobs don't offer health care plans and help to pay for them. People who are covered in many of those other nations.

It's also a economic competition thing. U.S. companies pay for insurance that their competitors don't have to pay for, raising production costs.

So I am all for more programs like SCHIP - though I have mixed feelings about it being paid for with more in cigarette taxes. I'm all for anything that might discourage people from smoking, but given how many of those people who smoke are poor in the first place, it might hit them hard if they can't beat the addiction easily.

As I said, I'd be willing to pay more in taxes to ensure more people get adequate health care.

Besides, if we are going to tell poor women not to abort their babies, this is one way we'd better be ready to help them as they raise those children.