Saturday, January 31, 2009

Where to Come up with the Money?

A Republican will say, "Cut wasteful domestic spending, massively cut income and capital gains taxes and eventually return to a gold standard."

A Democrat will say: "Raise taxes on those actually paying them and redistribute the money to those not paying income taxes (and if you're Obama, call this, deceptively, a "tax cut"), print money like there's no tomorrow and, finally, cut the military's budget."
The Obama administration has asked the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff to cut the Pentagon's budget request for the fiscal year 2010 by more than 10 percent -- about $55 billion -- a senior U.S. defense official tells FOX News.

Last year's defense budget was $512 billion. Service chiefs and planners will be spending the weekend "burning the midnight oil" looking at ways to cut the budget -- looking especially at weapons programs, the defense official said.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Defining "Divisive"

Within the worlds of Church and state, accusations of "divisiveness" are routinely tossed back and forth with the aim of undercutting the opposing side. To be sure, there are unwelcome forms of divisiveness. There are some mischievous individuals who like to spawn rifts among people through gossip and/or lies, simply for the sake of fomenting discord. Another type of divisiveness, usually made manifest on a larger scale, is married to contemporary liberalism. This stripe of divisiveness surfaces as a result of the intention on the part of some, guided by ideology and not reason, to uproot time-honored traditions, customs and universal morality and replace them with newfangled trends, all in the name of "progress" and "tolerance." Hence, the culture wars of today.

But there is also a good brand of divisiveness, one that is totally necessary in the fight against the onslaught of relativism. This "divisiveness" means adhering to the truth. It means refusing to bend to the demands of political correctness. It means taking a stand and fighting for the good. It is not the intention of those of us who engage in this battle to be "divisive" per se, it is simply the only option available to us. To be non-divisive in these battles, as modernists define the term, would be tantamount to accommodation and acquiescence, a morally unacceptable alternative. But in a world where lies and deception roam free, why are we surprised when truth itself is branded as "divisive." Do we have the truth to thank for the existence of divisiveness or, rather, is it the obstinacy of those who refuse to accept the truth in their hearts that is to blame?

Simply put, attempts are made, by means of loaded accusations of being "divisive," to marginalize those siding with the truth.

In response to the motu proprio issued by Pope Benedict XVI entitled Summorum Pontificum, a set of instructions to priests regarding the celebration of the extraordinary form of the liturgy was recently circulated in an archdiocese. Here is how the archbishop's "guidelines" read (particular attention to the second "guideline"):

• The request for celebrations in the extraordinary form arises from a stable group who have adhered to this usage over time. The use of the extraordinary form is not used with groups that reject the validity of the ordinary form. The extra-ordinary form is not to be used only at the discretion or personal preference of the pastor/priest without a request from the people.

• The use of the extraordinary form is not to be used if it will create a divisive or elitist spirit in the parish. Prior catechesis for the whole parish, not just to those who are making the request, is required. The extraordinary form is not to be used as a “novelty” or “teaching tool.” (Emphasis Added)

• Since the norms require that the priest celebrating in the extraordinary form be qualified to do so, there needs to be an assessment of readiness for such celebrations. Priests who were not trained in the 1962 Missal, or who have lost touch with the rituals therein, are to demonstrate their qualifications prior to such a celebration. The priests of the Institute of Christ the King (St. Stanislaus Parish) will be delegated to make such assessments and provide assistance as needed.

Now, up to a point, I can understand the concern about "elitism." I attended a traditional Catholic college and it is true that shreds of elitism can at times surface with certain types of people associated with the extraordinary form. This, however, took place at a rather small and provincial college, quite a different milieu than what one can expect to find in a large archdiocese with close to a million Catholics. Is the chance of elitism or divisiveness the fault of the extraordinary form or rather that of the immaturity and narrowness of the believer? Why exclude a definite good simply because the possibility exists that a tangential negative may accompany it. The concern I have is that this "guideline" permits a loophole large enough to drive a truck through. It's no secret, though some may choose to deny it, that many priests are fiercely opposed to the old mass and are happy that for so long it has fallen by the wayside. Couldn't a pastor opposed to the motu proprio use the perceived possibility of a "divisive or elitist spirit" resulting from the old mass to block the inauguration of the extraordinary form at his parish? Who is to define just what constitutes "divisive or elitist?"

Further, how are those requesting the extraordinary form supposed to catechise those parishoners who are not at all interested in it? What if there is resistance by some, even a majority, of the parishoners? Will the pastor defend the request of those, even if only a beleaguered minority, seeking the extraordinary form? Or will this conflict itself be perceived as "divisive" and therefore, ixnay on the Latin mass? The second "guideline" seems rather porous since it leaves the "yea" or "nay" of whether a parish will usher in the old mass entirely in the hands of the pastor. If that is the case, then what was the point of the motu proprio? As I understand it, if there is a demand for the extraordinary form among the parishioners, the pastor must provide it.

An Apology to the Muslim World? For What?

American Hostages in Iran (Released the day Reagan took office)

Charles Krauthammer has a great piece in today's Washington Post. Obama told us in his inaugural address, and the Muslim world in his first television interview as president, that we need to come together, hit the reset button and start our relationship anew, or rather, bring it back to the golden age of "20 or 30 years ago." Hello Jimmy Carter...
Is this accurate?
Is it "new" to acknowledge Muslim interests and show respect to the Muslim world? Obama doesn't just think so, he said so again to millions in his al-Arabiya interview, insisting on the need to "restore" the "same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago."

Astonishing. In these most recent 20 years -- the alleged winter of our disrespect of the Islamic world -- America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for them. It engaged in five military campaigns, every one of which involved -- and resulted in -- the liberation of a Muslim people: Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The two Balkan interventions -- as well as the failed 1992-93 Somalia intervention to feed starving African Muslims (43 Americans were killed) -- were humanitarian exercises of the highest order, there being no significant U.S. strategic interest at stake. In these 20 years, this nation has done more for suffering and oppressed Muslims than any nation, Muslim or non-Muslim, anywhere on Earth. Why are we apologizing?

Seems that if an apology is in order, it should be the other way around.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Is Mormonism Christian?

A controversial question.

A brilliant essay by Fr. John Neuhaus attempts to answer it.

A Proposal Worth Considering

Rush Limbaugh offers a well-thought out and truly bipartisan stimulus plan in tomorrow's Wall Street Journal. It's unlikely to gain traction in DC (an understatement), but it's worth skimming over.
Keynesian economists believe government spending on "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects -- schools, roads, bridges -- is the best way to stimulate our staggering economy. Supply-side economists make an equally persuasive case that tax cuts are the surest and quickest way to create permanent jobs and cause an economy to rebound. That happened under JFK, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. We know that when tax rates are cut in a recession, it brings an economy back.

Recent polling indicates that the American people are in favor of both approaches.

Notwithstanding the media blitz in support of the Obama stimulus plan, most Americans, according to a new Rasmussen poll, are skeptical. Rasmussen finds that 59% fear that Congress and the president will increase government spending too much. Only 17% worry they will cut taxes too much. Since the American people are not certain that the Obama stimulus plan is the way to go, it seems to me there's an opportunity for genuine compromise. At the same time, we can garner evidence on how to deal with future recessions, so every occurrence will no longer become a matter of partisan debate.

Congress is currently haggling over how to spend $900 billion generated by American taxpayers in the private sector. (It's important to remember that it's the people's money, not Washington's.) In a Jan. 23 meeting between President Obama and Republican leaders, Rep. Eric Cantor (R., Va.) proposed a moderate tax cut plan. President Obama responded, "I won. I'm going to trump you on that."

Yes, elections have consequences. But where's the bipartisanship, Mr. Obama? This does not have to be a divisive issue. My proposal is a genuine compromise.

Fifty-three percent of American voters voted for Barack Obama; 46% voted for John McCain, and 1% voted for wackos. Give that 1% to President Obama. Let's say the vote was 54% to 46%. As a way to bring the country together and at the same time determine the most effective way to deal with recessions, under the Obama-Limbaugh Stimulus Plan of 2009: 54% of the $900 billion -- $486 billion -- will be spent on infrastructure and pork as defined by Mr. Obama and the Democrats; 46% -- $414 billion -- will be directed toward tax cuts, as determined by me.

Read Rush's plan here.

Dear President Ahmadinejad,

A good ol' fashioned letter from the desk of President Obama to Iran's President Ahmadinejad is in the works. We'll see how that works...
Read the story here.

On "Catholic" Schools and Sizable Grants

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Universities team up to help Catholic schools in archdiocese
By Alan J. Borsuk
Posted: Jan. 26, 2009

The five Catholic universities and colleges in the Milwaukee Archdiocese announced Monday they are joining in an effort to boost kindergarten through twelfth-grade Catholic schools in the area.

The Greater Milwaukee Catholic Education Consortium will be "the only instance (nationwide) where all of the Catholic colleges and universities within an archdiocese have banded together to work collaboratively and cooperatively to help the local urban archdiocese," said William Henk, dean of the Marquette University College of Education.

The goal is to provide a major shot of expertise for schools, some of which are struggling. Help will be offered with educational issues, such as improving the quality of teaching, and business issues, such as financial management and recruiting.

A three-year, $600,000 grant from the Stollenwerk Family Foundation will provide key support for the effort, and the colleges and universities will contribute both financially and with their expertise to the effort, according to the announcement.

John Stollenwerk is wealthy Catholic with good intentions in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. I'm sure he sees his sizable grant as a worth-while investment in the formation of young Catholics in southeastern Wisconsin. With all due respect to him however, this story has me frosted because I know, from first hand experience and from discussions with many friends, how destructive and deceptive so-called "Catholic education" is in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and across the nation. Catholic schools in Milwaukee are moral traps and the sad thing is that many well-intentioned parents work extremely hard and make large sacrifices to send their children to such schools in the hope that their kids will receive a better education and sound moral formation. Meanwhile, all the cheerleaders and poobahs for mainstream Catholic schools tell us over and over again about the importance of a Catholic education. I agree with them, but the problem is that the education offered to so many young people, generation after generation in Milwaukee, is simply not truly Catholic. Let me be specific and clear: The reality of the sacramental life is given scant, if any importance, prayer life is dumbed down and Oprahfied, and default relativism hangs in the air. The result is that a true Catholic culture, once considered an essential cornerstone in Catholic institutions of learning, is conspicuously MIA.

I attended Catholic schools in Milwaukee for many years and, looking back, I can say that I never really felt the presence of a distinct Catholic identity. The trappings, to be sure, were all there but these were seen and presented as expendable accessories. We were all just going through the motions. Nothing was explained. Nothing internalized. Nothing gained. The nadir of my dabbling in Catholic "higher education" occurred at Marquette High School. I was only there for a year before enthusiastically jumping ship but even that one year was a nightmare. There wasn't a scintilla of orthodox Catholicism there. It was a bastion of relativism, immorality, heresy and liberalism. (Among the more outlandish anecdotes: theology professors telling students that they didn't need to go to confession, on why women should be priests and how we should read the account of Christ having been pierced in the side with a lance on the cross "symbolically." "It didn't really happen.") Liturgy was made into a joke, professors were colorless, uninspired vulgarians and the theology classes offered were thinly veiled indoctrination sessions in anti-Catholic, liberal drivel. Sounds bitter? Perhaps. But I believe the bitterness is understandable. My bleak assessment may in fact come across as harsh but I distinctly remember thinking back in the day, "Why on earth do they call this place 'Catholic'?'" Again, there were the requisite, lofty overtures to the "Catholic/Jesuit tradition" but these were totally vapid and superficial; in other words, lies. One must ask: What would St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis Xavier have to say about this volte face within their order? When a Jesuit school like Marquette High claims to be Catholic in its marketing but is anything but Catholic in practice, it is guilty of a terrible duplicity, a sinful moral falseness and hypocrisy. I am truly pained when I think of the generations that have passed in and out of inappropriately named "Catholic" schools, my peers among them, having received putrid, erroneous doctrines, inflicting untold damage on thousands. That which should be a secure haven for young souls in search of true enlightenment, culture and time-tested insights into holiness has been surreptitiously hijacked by cretins bent on perverting the noble tradition and aim of the kind of university Cardinal Newman had in mind well over a century ago.

For this reason, discerning Catholic parents in Milwaukee have opted to home school their children or to send them to independent Catholic schools committed to authentic, unapologetic Catholic teaching. Places such as these are educational redoubts that could benefit greatly from the support of well meaning Catholics like Mr. Stollenwerk. These are the schools that are committed to passing on the religious and cultural patrimony of our ancestors. These are the schools that seek to form its students according to the timeless principles and truths of our one, holy and apostolic Catholic Church. Marquette High and other misleadingly designated "Catholic" schools that are wholeheartedly committed to the dismantling of the high edifice of Catholic tradition and heritage, brick by brick, should certainly not be receiving the pecuniary support of Catholics, no matter how good their intentions may be. The minds and souls of youth are too valuable.

Reality Check

“Most people believe that Afghanistan is done. Afghanistan is not done; Afghanistan is really in many ways just beginning.” -Defense Secretary Robert Gates

That's news to some, perhaps not to others.

Read the story here.

Catholic Hospitals and FOCA

From CBS News:
The push by Catholic leaders around FOCA and abortion issues comes as abortion rights opponents have grown worried that they will lose ground under a Democratic Congress and president. Some Catholic leaders were harshly critical of Mr. Obama even before he was elected, dubbing him "the abortion president" and warning that he is committed to pushing an abortion rights agenda.

"The pro-abortion agenda is strong, and it has momentum now because of the pro-choice majority in Congress and also the pro-choice president," said McQuade of the U.S. Conference on Catholic Bishops. "There's a lot of momentum now seeking to roll back incremental gains that have been made over the last 36 years."

Read the story here.

The story relates that Obama won the Catholic vote by nine points. I thought it was less than that, something like four points. How sad. What does this statistic say about Catholic catechesis in the schools and about our leadership? By the way, was there any statement at all from a bishop in this country condemning Nancy Pelosi's suggestion last Sunday to introduce a massive wave of contraceptives into the nation via the stimulus package? The plan was dropped for now but it is sure to resurface down the road. Is anyone listening?

Women's "rights" groups, predictably, are already expressing dismay that the birth-control provision was jettisoned by democrats. A day that sees groups like Planned Parenthood, NARAL and NOW express their consternation is a happy day, a small victory for the friends of babies.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Best of Times

I enjoyed this 1935 adaptation of "A Tale of Two Cities;" not as rewarding as the book (of course) but well worth a viewing. It comes in about fourteen parts, each running ten minutes or so.

Opportunity Knocks for the GOP

Principled Opposition: House Republican Leader John Boehner

An opportunity well taken is the only weapon of advantage. -John Udale

It's good to see that the Republican opposition to the Democrats' stimulus package seems to be holding firm, even solidifying as GOPers in congress "find their voice," as the folks at the Politico put it. Obama is not as confident as he appears regarding the long term success his plan to save the economy. Obviously, the president wants to share, not the credit for a success (who doubts he would take it all?), but rather the blame when the law drags us even further into economic turmoil.

If the GOP plays its cards shrewdly and keeps up a unified opposition, all the while presenting its own positive alternative, a repeat of 1994 is not at all unlikely and Obama knows this, hence his high profile overtures to Republicans today to seek "bipartisan" support. The 2010 congressional elections, and by extension those of 2012, are the main concerns on his radar.


Cardinal Rigali wrote a touching reflection on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade and issues a call to arms of sorts in discussing the prospect of FOCA coming up in congress.
This week, however, we recall the anniversary of a very tragic event. We use our memory not to delight in the thought of the blessings that an event has brought to us over the years but to recall with sorrow and shame an infamous day in the history of our country: January 22, 1973. On that tragic day, the United States Supreme Court handed down the Roe v. Wade decision, legalizing abortion in our country.

At that moment, this aspect of our civil law, which was once based upon natural and divine law, divorced itself from those firm foundations. On that day, a human court gave to itself a right which no court can ever possess: the right to make laws that transgress both the divine commandment of “Thou shalt not kill” and the law placed within the heart of every human person telling us that it is wrong to take the life of another unjustly.

There is something in our human nature that does not want to remember what is unpleasant. However, the anniversary of this tragic event cannot be forgotten. This is why for thirty-five years, hundreds of thousands of people have traveled to Washington, D.C., often in the bitter cold, to remember this tragic anniversary, not with joy, but with profound sorrow. This is why the Bishops of the United States have designated this day as one of prayer and penance to make atonement for the events commemorated on this sad anniversary. We do this because the effects of this infamous abuse of law continue to be with us like an open wound on the body politic of our nation.

Since that day in January, 1973, some 50 million children have been denied the most basic right of all: the right to life. Perhaps among those would have been someone who would have discovered a cure for cancer. Perhaps there would have been sons and daughters to console their parents in sickness or old age. Surely there would have been young men and young women who would have been wonderful wives and husbands, mothers and fathers. Surely, among those not permitted to be born there would have been those who, through kindness and generosity, would have brought great joy to the world. For all these reasons, this anniversary is by no means a happy one but one of profound sadness.

Read the rest here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

And Coming in Dead Last...

Sorry Al Gore.

Pew Research Poll

Will Obama Take Down the "Ghetto Culture?"

I've thought, here and there, that one of the few, oh so very few, positive derivatives that just might emerge from the election of Barack Obama is that the "ghetto culture" could possibly be mitigated somewhat by the high profile of the eloquent, dapper president and his haute couture-inclined wife. Deroy Murdock contemplates the same question in his latest piece, President Obama May Reverse Damage of Ghetto Culture.

Recognizing that Murdock may have a good point or two (while certainly not everything, image is something) I think he overlooks the more salient questions, like the ruin and devastation that liberal policies have visited upon the black community.

- the virus-like spread of the welfare/nanny state and the near-total extraction of the father figure within the black community

- liberals having successfully planted the seed of discontent and entitlement among many blacks by manipulating concerns of racism and by fanning of the flames of victimhood

- liberal policies have smothered the value and dignity of work and self-reliance by shamelessly boxing single mothers into total dependency on government aid for child care (Jonah Goldberg touches on this point in his book, Liberal Fascism.)

Unfortunately and somewhat ironically, as an unabashed liberal Democrat, Obama's left-wing positions and policies are a part of the problem. While some of his speeches have offered platitudinous lip service to the concerns mentioned here, he has never ventured out of his ideological prism in an attempt to apply conservative elixirs to the malaise afflicting the black community.

For change we can believe in, it takes more than a GQ wardrobe and silver tongue to fix this ubiquitous problem.

Read the story here.

Pope Speaks to Journalists

"The more consistent is the witness of your life, the larger your audience will grow. Not a few of your nonbelieving colleagues privately expect from you the silent witness, without ostentation but with substance, of a life inspired by the values of the faith." -Pope Benedict XVI

Read the whole story here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Catholic Grandmother" at It Again

Hoping to match the anti-life weltanschauung of President Barack Obama who, during the campaign, said he wouldn't want his daughter to be "punished with a child," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today proposed boosting funds in the inchoate stimulus package for birth control as a way of helping along the economy.

Once again, fed-up Catholics wait with bated breath to see how the bishops will respond to this latest display of flummery emanating from a freewheeling, non-thinking Catholic politico. This issue isn't so much about Pelosi per se. No one should be surprised by what she said, given her track record. The more pressing question is how the US bishops, particularly San Francisco Archbishop Niederauer, understand their singular role as shepherds of souls and guardians of the integrity of the faith in the nation.

Said Pelosi:
Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children's health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those - one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.

The sad thing, it goes without saying, is that the Obamas, Pelosis and co. are basically advertising, sans reserve, their contempt for "inconvenient" children. They're not even interested in employing coded language anymore. I sense a little arrogance emerging after the '08 victories. This recklessness will cost them down the road.

Follow the story on Drudge.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Prisoners and the Unborn

Make of it what you will:
"It is both sad and infuriating that in the same week President Obama extended new rights to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and began planning to release men whom we know have murdered Americans, he is preparing to sentence innocent children to death through abortion." -Gary Bauer, President, American Values

Vatican Slams "Arrogance" of Obama

"If this is one of President Obama's first acts, I have to say, in all due respect, that we're heading quickly toward disappointment." -Msgr. Rino Fisichella

It didn't take long...
VATICAN CITY – Vatican officials said Saturday they were disappointed by President Barack Obama's decision to end a ban on federal funding for international groups that perform abortions or provide information on them.

Monsignor Rino Fisichella, who heads the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life, urged Obama to listen to all voices in America without "the arrogance of those who, being in power, believe they can decide of life and death."

Fisichella said in an interview published Saturday in Corriere della Sera that "if this is one of President Obama's first acts, I have to say, in all due respect, that we're heading quickly toward disappointment."

Read the whole report here.

Rush Responds to Obama

Here's an email from Rush Limbaugh to Byron York of National Review. York had asked the conservative radio king for a retort to Obama's assertion yesterday that the GOP needs to start tuning out the highly influential Limbaugh. Limbaugh's points are right on the money. I've italicized the observations that I found most thought-provoking. The GOP should take heed:

There are two things going on here. One prong of the Great Unifier's (Obama's) plan is to isolate elected Republicans from their voters and supporters by making the argument about me and not about his plan. He is hoping that these Republicans will also publicly denounce me and thus marginalize me. And who knows? Are ideological and philosophical ties enough to keep the GOP loyal to their voters? Meanwhile, the effort to foist all blame for this mess on the private sector continues unabated when most of the blame for this current debacle can be laid at the feet of the Congress and a couple of former presidents. And there is a strategic reason for this.

Secondly, here is a combo quote from the meeting (between Obama and Congressional leaders):

"If we don't get this done we (the Democrats) could lose seats and I could lose re-election. But we can't let people like Rush Limbaugh stall this. That's how things don't get done in this town."

To make the argument about me instead of his plan makes sense from his perspective. Obama's plan would buy votes for the Democrat Party, in the same way FDR's New Deal established majority power for 50 years of Democrat rule, and it would also simultaneously seriously damage any hope of future tax cuts. It would allow a majority of American voters to guarantee no taxes for themselves going forward. It would burden the private sector and put the public sector in permanent and firm control of the economy. Put simply, I believe his stimulus is aimed at re-establishing "eternal" power for the Democrat Party rather than stimulating the economy because anyone with a brain knows this is NOT how you stimulate the economy. If I can be made to serve as a distraction, then there is that much less time debating the merits of this TRILLION dollar debacle...

600 private jets flown by rich Democrats flew into the Inauguration. That's fine but the auto execs using theirs is a crime?

If I can be made to serve as a distraction, then there is that much less time debating the merits of the trillion dollar debacle.

One more thing, Byron. Your publication and website have documented Obama's ties to the teachings of Saul Alinksy while he was community organizing in Chicago. Here is Rule 13 of Alinksy's Rules for Radicals:

"Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it

Read the whole email from Rush here

More on this unfolding story from the UK's Telegraph:
After the euphoria of his inauguration, Mr Obama's team have been handed a cold dose of political reality. A series of controversial policy decisions, mistakes and unforeseen events has brought home the difficulty of bridging the divisions in Washington.

Click here for the rest of the story.


I'm not sure what to make of this story from the Diocese of Monterey; more specifically the picture that accompanies it.

Two profess to Third Order of St. Francis
Linda Fairbanks, a horse lover from Paso Robles, and Jesus Padilla, a psychologist from Atascadero , lay prostrate on the floor of the Mission San Miguel Sunday, July 6 and dedicated their lives to the Gospel as they made final profession in the Third Order of St. Francis. When asked why she was attracted to the spirit of St. Francis, Linda replied, “I love the spirit of peace and harmony Francis taught and his love of animals.” Jesus added, “I felt I had come home.”

Sunday's Final Profession was celebrated with a mass in Spanish and English as the groups from Greenfield and San Miguel joined together to witness the two friends become Franciscan family. After their profession, Linda and Jesus were given lighted candles, symbols of the light of Christ they will carry through this life. Then they were welcomed into the family with hugs (embrazos) and a pot luck feast in the friars dining room.

First, it's abrazos, not "embrazos." Second, while I applaud Linda and Jesus for their decision to join the Third Order and wish them all the best in their journey, doesn't the picture of the "profession" suggest a simulacrum of an ordination? Kind of peculiar, no? I'm no expert on the rubrics pertaining to initiation into a Third Order, but I doubt that the imposition of the hands on the part of a layman or religious sister is, well, traditional practice.

Read the whole story here.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Caring About Abortion

I touched on this subject a couple posts down but in light of President Obama's decision today to rescind the ban that had restricted federal funding for abortions performed abroad, I thought it would be appropriate to raise it once more. Why are so many people indifferent to the heinous deed of procured abortion? Of course, pro-lifers have asked themselves this question over and over again since Roe vs. Wade. Science, with all its tools for pre-natal observation like the 4D ultrasound, has made the viability of the unborn child rather obvious.

What if a candidate were to advocate abortions only for black women and ban it for all other women? In other words, only black babies should be aborted. Does not this selective application smack of genocide? But if abortion is applied in an egalitarian sense, then we are to celebrate it as a marvelous expression of the freedom to choose and responsibly "plan" a family. Does this make any sense?

We care about health care, about war and peace, about the economy, about the environment and the eggs of endangered eagles. But so many apparently don't give a wit about abortion. Why? Discussions with various friends have highlighted a congeries of possible reasons for the wide-spread disregard for the moral implications of abortion. None have provided a perfect, clear-cut answer but I think they are a good place to start.

- An emphasis on empiricism and utilitarianism in the modern age: If the subject in question cannot be seen directly, then the certainty of its existence is clouded or even placed in doubt. Obviously, the unborn child is cloaked within the womb of the mother from the naked eye. Convincing people accustomed to "seeing and then believing" that a person does in fact occupy the womb is, unfortunately, a tall order to fill. But this explanation doesn't really pass muster for me. As I stated earlier, the scientific method, so-long considered the enemy of religious shamanism, is in fact helping pro-lifers prove their original argument. The pro-life thesis is not about religion per se; it's about biological facts and ethics. In other words, proving the viability of the unborn child does not require religious validation. Thanks to remarkable strides in ultrasound technology, the details of the developing life in the womb are more visible and apparent than ever before. So shouldn't empiricism back us up in this instance?

- Many people have either had abortions or have helped others to obtain one: Such people are going to be very reluctant to indict themselves in any wrongdoing. Admitting that the unborn child is a person would lead them to the logical conclusion that they have committed a reprehensible act. So they will perform the requisite rationalization in order to avoid arriving at the fateful conclusion, i.e., "Abortion is legal, therefore it must be ok." And so on. The feeling of guilt would be overwhelming, so it is easier to live in denial than face reality. Once the process of rationalization is complete and the denial of the personhood of the unborn child crystalizes, John Stuart Mill's utilitarianism blends nicely with the thoroughly modern notion of rights as simply the freedom to do anything one wishes in so far as no one else is harmed in the process. Hence abortion is perceived as merely a medical procedure that should remain "safe, legal and rare."

- Reason and critical thinking have been totally trumped by the era of emotion and good intentions: No matter how rationally we make our case regarding the personhood of the innocent child, people are willing to make exceptions in the face of the often deeply tragic circumstances that surround an unplanned pregnancy. So we'll hear a lot of talk about the plight and fear of the teenage girl who was raped, etc., thus making a rational approach to the debate seem cold and devoid of compassion. Again, back to the popularity of empiricism: It's rather easy to read the fear on the face of a scared teenage girl and want to do whatever one can to "help" her. It's a little more difficult to cultivate a sense of empathy for a hidden, voiceless and faceless unborn child.

As I said, these reasons are perhaps a start but the vexing questions remain?

Why are so many people perfectly content to shelve their critical thinking when it comes to abortion?

How can pro-lifers adjust their tactics to help more people see the truth regarding the unparalleled moral evil of abortion?

Beginning Anew

Summoning First Principles

I’ve spent a good deal of time talking and commiserating with like-minded friends about the implications of the election. To be sure, we’re all disappointed and would have preferred another outcome. Justifiable frustrations aside however, all of us discern a silver lining in the dismal results of Nov. 4 '08. Far too long, Republicans have veered off the well-lit path of authentic conservatism, as formulated best by William F. Buckley Jr., Jeane Kirkpatrick and Ronald Reagan. In its place, we were offered the saccharine blah of “compassionate conservatism,” which emerged from the Bush presidency as a schmaltzy way to justify government intervention in the never-ending quest for the perfect solutions to remedy society’s ills. The implication for conscientious objectors was obvious: those of us who opposed the notion of a hyper-aggressive federal government, believing instead that government intervention actually leaves people worse off in the long run, were portrayed as compassion-less. In other words, traditional conservatives were skewered by fellow Republicans for their so-called lack of heart. We witnessed this again during the debate over “comprehensive immigration reform.” Those opposed to the concession of rank amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants were painted by some Republicans as “nativists,” even “racists,” etc.

While certainly well-intentioned, President Bush’s “compassionate conservative” kick unfortunately did a sly disservice to authentic, Reagan-esque conservatism because it conceded the central liberal thesis that the government, rather than the individual, the community and the private sector, is the answer or in the very least, has a fundamental role in “solving problems.” Said Reagan so memorably: “Government isn’t the solution, government is the problem.” Sadly, the Bush imprimatur, for all its merits, never reached the parchment upon which this unequivocal declaration of conservatism was printed.

McCain, while infinitely better qualified than the alternative, represented an even further deviation from the path of authentic conservatism. Many, including myself, voted for McCain as a purely defensive measure to prevent the calamity of a President Obama and what we knew he would (and now will) do. None of us harbored any lofty expectations for what McCain would do for the conservative cause. His erraticism on policies was and still is a source of great angst to conservatives. It was a Gordian Knot for the convicted conservative: vote for McCain and further the advance of a heretical strain of conservatism or do nothing, thus allowing an arch-liberal, the likes of which this nation has never seen, coast into office.

Now that Obama has the presidency, the Republicans can begin with the “re-pristination” that Mr. Buckley called for not long before his passing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

On Moving Forward

The dawn of a new liberal administration affords those of us on the right a good opportunity to regroup as we contemplate our next step. To be sure, January 20, 2009 is not a particularly festive day for those who value the immortal words enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, in particular, those that speak of certain “self-evident truths” about the “right to life.” I woke up contemplating the near-universal jubilation sweeping the nation and tried to squared that with the stubborn weltschmerz I experienced, so I asked myself, “Am I simply being a sore loser, a grump? Perhaps I should shelve my discontent and the politics for just the day and take in the magnitude of what’s happening.” But the more I thought about it, I arrived at the certainty, the moral conviction, that it is precisely because I am aware of the magnitude of what is happening that I can’t shelve my thoughts, my emotions, even for just one day, to join in the jamboree.

I can engage in lively debate about issues like war and peace, the economy, health care, just wage and education. Heated back and forth rages even within the conservative milieu about the particulars of the aforementioned issues. But there is one issue about which there is nearly total agreement on the conservative side and that is abortion. For conservatives, the unborn child, from the moment of conception is a person. That assertion does not require a venture into the “above my pay grade” realm; it is something we know with certitude. Even if the unborn child has not yet acquired the full physical or psychological capabilities of a child or an adult, he nevertheless instantiates those potentialities by his very existence. Personhood is not limited in any sense by an imperfect or incomplete degree of reason and self-awareness within a particular person. So, as I see it, the intentional act of terminating the life of a person via procured abortion is rightly considered a grave moral evil.

Often, the primacy given by conservatives to the goal of ending legalized abortion is described unflatteringly by proponents of abortion and those on the fence as “single-issue voting.” The aim is to depict pro-life voters as narrow, small-minded ideologues who fail to give significant attention to the other important issues of the day, like those mentioned earlier. Abortion, we are condescendingly lectured, is only one of many issues “out there” and we must learn to balance them accordingly on the scale of the practical. It’s deeply impractical and somewhat odd to focus so narrowly on abortion. “Get over it.” Unfortunately, many Catholics also ascribe to this specious “seamless garment” theory, which states, more or less, that all moral issues carry equal weight in the social setting and that in some scenarios it may be perfectly legitimate, even courageous, to pull the lever for a candidate who supports abortion if he is committed to ending poverty, or this or that social ill. And so on.

To help bring the issue out of the clouds and back down to earth, I like to use the hypothetical example of candidate X who supports the reintroduction of slavery in the United States but on every other issue, he is right on the money. Would any rational voter say to himself, “Well, his views on slavery don’t jibe with mine but he’s got a great healthcare plan and he’s so eloquent. I’m onboard!” I don’t think so. Most sane voters, I’m fairly confident, would emerge as “single-issue voters” in this case, judging the approbation of slavery as a position meriting instant disqualification for serious consideration and voters would rightly make sure that candidate X never made it through the first round of voting in the primaries. I doubt, with such an example, that many folks across the fruited plain would lambaste the average American voter for his narrow adherence to the principle of single-issue voting.

With that in mind, my unwillingness, along with many others, to join in today’s festive mise en scène surrounding the Obama inauguration will hopefully seem more understandable. For we view the approbation of abortion as a “right” as utterly heinous, incomprehensible and thoroughly contrary to the most basic laws of nature. President Obama’s long record of support for the so-called “right to abortion” disqualified him long ago as a serious contender for our vote. Opposing his candidacy was a moral obligation for the convicted pro-life voter. Much like the issue of slavery, there is no middle road, no third way, on the subject of abortion. How, in good conscience, could I celebrate the elevation of a man whose principles clash so mightily with mine on the basic question of the right to life of the most defenseless among us, the unborn?

Pro-lifers have their work cut out for them. For whatever reason, many of our fellow citizens and, even more vexing, many fellow Catholics, don’t seem to care about the gravity of abortion and its implications. We need to boldly rethink our strategy and methods, our grammar and vocabulary for addressing this issue in the years ahead because, apparently, what we’re used to doing is not working all too well in the age of Obama. He has considerable talents for employing rhetoric and subtle nuances to massage and direct the dialogue wherever he wants to take it, all along defining the terms of the argument and placing the opposition on the defense. We should study this carefully so as to retake the PR advantage. Millions of unborn are counting on us.

Making the Point

Obama as an unborn child:

Monday, January 19, 2009

On the Last Eight Years

As the sun sets on the last full day of the Bush presidency, reflective Americans can ask: What have we to be thankful for regarding President Bush’s eight-year term?

Indeed, it would be difficult to say which is more ubiquitous: the criticism of Bush from the press and acidulous doyens of pop-culture or the unparalleled, gushing encomiums for Obama from those very same quarters. With all the distractions, perhaps it’s difficult to cut through the noise and static to come away with facts that are not diluted with venom and ad hominen.

It cannot be denied that President Bush kept our nation secure from terrorist attacks in the post-9-11 world. After those incidents, I was rather certain that a plain fact of life was that we were going to enter a new phase of domestic existence much akin to life faced by the Israelis, where terror and death on a yearly, if not daily basis is virtually de rigueur. But somehow, the nation has remained inviolate for eight years. Is this merely a felicitous coincidence? Did those seeking our destruction simply give up after the towers came crashing down? “Ok boys, we made our point. Let’s hang up the bombs, box cutters and guns and go have some couscous.” Hardly. Rather, our lingering stretch of perfect safety was, and is, thanks to, among other things, brilliant initiatives like the Patriot Act. Since its passage, this essential piece of legislation has kept us on the offense and, as a consequence, represents to the left one of the prime examples of sheer malevolency emanating from the Bush Administration, vigorously opposed from day one of its inception as a diabolical Orwellian scheme of the far right. Characteristic of the left, their enduring cries of foul over the Patriot Act are nothing but unwarranted hyperbole.

Along a similar vein, we can look at the proven successes of the Treasury Department and CIA’s use of SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Finacial Telecommunication), which allowed the United States to track the financial ins and outs of terrorist networks. Again, here was another powerful, non-martial, “weapon” that struck at the heart of terrorist networks' machinations. How nice it would have been had The New York Times heeded the pleas of the Secretary of the Treasury and wisely decided not to divulge the intricacies of the program’s top-secret details within its pages! Democrats in congress, not surprisingly, didn’t seem to care a wit about this journalistic indiscretion. Singularly focused on embarrassing President Bush year after year, they batted not an eye at the national security solecism perpetrated the Times.

(Of course, the two wars that have wiped out most of al-Qaeda's leadership and decimated their complex infrastructure have played their own "small" part in keeping us safe. But in-depth discussion of these elements would keep me up until noon tomorrow.)

Tertullian said, “To forbid birth is only quicker murder. He is a man who is to be a man; the fruit is always present in the seed.” President Bush has also been a great advocate for the most vulnerable in society, i.e., the unborn. I reckon that his firm pro-life stance is one of the paramount reasons why so many on the left utterly loathe him, at least those who fancy themselves convicted feminists. Another heavy irony buried deep in the conventional wisdom is the suggestion that the Democrats magnanimously stand up for the “little guy,” the “downtrodden” and the down-and-outs of society. Yeah, sure. All the while, it is precisely Democratic apparatchiks who sit idly by as the lives of millions of unborn children are snuffed out every year in the name of “choice.” This is a fact. The so-called “right to choose,” a clever euphemism for the unjust sanctioning of terminating an innocent life, has been the left’s chief cause célèbre for the past thirty years. Will there ever be a time in America when we look back at the macabre age of legalized abortion with the same revulsion and shame we presently and justifiably feel when we look back at the dark age of slavery, discrimination and racism? Hopefully so. I believe one day we will. But how many more lives will be cut short, denied even a chance at life, in the interim? The abortion industry was inhibited and weakened significantly during the Bush Administration, especially with the addition of two stellar judges to the nation’s highest court; both of whom, lest we forget, were vigorously opposed by then-Senator Obama for lacking, as he put it, “empathy.” Sadly though, the incoming president is committed to dilating the anti-life cause, infusing it with renewed vitality and only a united Republican front in the senate will be able to do much, if anything, to abort his aggressive advances.

The apologia pro Bush I have outlined in rough form here could go on and on, to be sure. However these are the most significant achievements of his term as I see them. There is ample room for criticism, especially in the area of the economy and Bush’s jettisoning of free-market principles in favor of corporatism, etc., but that will come later. Now is just a time to say THANKS Mr. President! History will vindicate Bush and those of us who voted for him.

The Bishops Speak

Cardinal George, writing on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, addressed the following to President-elect Obama:
Most fundamentally, we will work to protect the lives of the most vulnerable and voiceless members of the human family, especially unborn children and those who are disabled or terminally ill. We will consistently defend the fundamental right to life from conception to natural death. Opposed to abortion as the direct killing of innocent human life, we will encourage one and all to seek common ground that will reduce the number of abortions in morally sound ways that affirm the dignity of pregnant women and their unborn children. We will oppose legislative and other measures to expand abortion. We will work to retain essential, widely supported policies which show respect for unborn life, protect the conscience rights of health care providers and other Americans, and prevent government funding and promotion of abortion. The Hyde amendment and other provisions which for many years have prevented federal funding of abortion have a proven record of reducing abortions. Efforts to force Americans to fund abortions with their tax dollars would pose a serious moral challenge and jeopardize the passage of essential health care reform.

Read the rest of the letter here.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

As Obama begins a gimmicky choo-choo ride to D.C. for his inauguration, he has taken to parroting and praising the founding fathers and, of all people, the Republican president, Abraham Lincoln. If I really believed for a second that Obama and his liberal cohorts cared a wit about the founding fathers and those ideas that inspired them, i.e., life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, etc., I'd be his most ardent supporter. Alas, he doesn't. Obama's "new declaration of independence" as he calls it, should read something like "the right to abortion, oppressive taxes and the pursuit of entitlements."

Friday, January 16, 2009

St. Louis: Rome of the West

Saint Louis is arguably one of America's most historically Catholic cities. Long called "The Rome of the West," St. Louis boasts a vast array of soaring gothic churches piercing the skyline, with the stunningly beautiful and heavily byzantine-influenced Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis serving as the crown jewel of the archdiocese.

When I first arrived here, I was informed that if one is a native to the city, he is typically asked two questions by locals: First, "What high school did you attend?" and second, "What parish are you from?" The a priori position is that you are Catholic. How nice! The city is generously saturated with rich shades of culture from the old-world. As already noted, St. Louis has some incredibly beautiful churches, not to mention diverse ethnic communities from Europe that are still largely intact and, of course, great restaurants, pubs, wine bars, etc. The various pockets of superb places to pass the time with friends over a bottle of pinot noir are situated in quaint districts that show off beautiful architecture, rich history and character, again much like European cities and in stark, refreshing contrast to newer cities and suburbs spanning the US, where spit-polished, sparkling new and thoroughly culture-less strip malls sport their kitschy, faux ethnic chain restaurants. Spare me! I avoid these places like the plague.

I am told that Forest Park, St. Louis' enormous backyard, is larger than New York's Central Park. Forest Park has an impressive network of paths and trials for walking or running, tennis courts, an art gallery, a man-made river, fountains, a zoo, an outdoor theatre and a boat house restaurant. Shakespeare is performed for free in the balmy summer months. Locals turn out in the hundreds, bringing with them lawn chairs, wine and cheese, sandwiches, etc., and, just as they finish snacking and the sun begins to set, the timeless play commences. Marvelous!

St. Louis has its drawbacks: crime in certain isolated parts is alarmingly high, development in some historic areas is lagging, leaving many buildings to decay. Geographically speaking, although the city is sliced by the Mississippi River, it nevertheless feels landlocked, which can leave me a little claustrophobic at times. Milwaukee is tucked on the shore of a Great Lake and Rome was close to the ocean. It's hard to make up for this deficit. But all in all, St. Louis is a great city.

Rome of the West is a unique blog by St. Louis native Mark Scott Abeln. He gives the visitor a unique overview of St. Louis' Catholic heritage, with exceptional pictures of its churches.

Is the Bailout Constitutional?

It's about time we ask this all-important question. (I think the answer to it is quite obvious.) It will be interesting to see if the Supreme Court hears the case and, if so, how the conservatives on the bench will settle the controversy. I take note of the thick irony that conservatives, looking ahead, may have to rely on our sempiternal enemy, the omnipotent Supreme Court, now that a tenuous and lonely conservative majority reigns there. One could argue with good reason that the addition of Roberts and especially Alito to the Supreme Court represent Bush's greatest accomplishment as president. Alas, we couldn't squeak in one more for a foolproof conservative firewall! The milquetoast Republican, Justice Kennedy will be the one to watch.

From the New York Times:

The bailout’s sheer size, the memorandum states, takes it beyond the realm of other Congressional delegations of authority that have been found constitutional. “As far as we can tell, Congress has never delegated so much power to an executive agency with so little to constrain the agency’s discretion,” the memorandum concluded, calling the result “a classic violation of the nondelegation principle.”

click here for the story

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Where the hell is the GOP leadership? "We want you (Obama) to succeed." said President Bush a week or so ago to the boyish pres-elect. Politically, no "we" don't. Most conservatives don't want socialism to "succeed" in this nation because the derivative of that achievement would mean the destruction of America as the founders created it. Senators McCain and Graham, among others in the Republican intelligentsia are echoing the same thing as W. Republicans are lining up like giddy bobby-soxers to coo over Obama. Revolting.

H.L. Mencken was right when he said that a politician is someone who has "tasted the boot polish." Has the Party learned nothing from the '08 disaster? Apparently so, as we continue along the path of McCainism. Fear dominates the Republican establishment in DC.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Revisiting the Greats

First Buckley, then Dulles and now Neuhaus. A constellation of outstanding conservatives left us over the past year. I posted this video last April in remembrance of William F. Buckley. I do so again in honor of Fr. Richard John Neuhaus.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Flannery O'Connor in Rome

The Pontifical University of the Holy Cross will host a convegno this April on the life and works of American writer Flannery O'Connor. The working title for the event is: "Reason, Fiction and Faith: An International Flannery O'Connor Conference".

Here are some highlights:

The international conference, Reason, Fiction and Faith, to be held in Rome, 20-22 April 2009, forms part of the biennial "Poetics and Christianity Project" series at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.

The Conference will provide an occasion for scholars, academics and artists to reflect not only on Flannery O'Connor and her work but also on the issues that both raise, such as

• violence and the grotesque,
• the artistic use of humor,
• moral vision in narrative art,
• the relationship of reason to art and faith, and
• the various ways that Christian faith illuminates and is reflected in literature, music, film, sculpture and painting.

The rich combination of keen intelligence, literary art and Christian faith was central to the work of American short-story writer and novelist Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964).

Her stories and novels reveal a penetrating grasp of the human condition, an uncompromising moral vision, and craftsmanship of the highest order. Her posthumously-published letters, The Habit of Being, reveal a life that - in the face of sickness, suffering and death - was lived with both a deep, sophisticated faith and a remarkable grace. And in her essays, Mystery and Manners, O'Connor is a "hilly-billy Thomist" with a keen critical mind and a fresh, coherent vision of her vocation as an artist and a Christian.

A Roman Catholic woman writing in and about the Protestant American South, she managed to balance a rational, unsentimental approach to art and faith with a respectful appreciation of the mystery at the heart of each, in a way that offers a model for what can be accomplished when reason, artistry and faith come together in a single writer.

The goal of this international conference on Reason, Fiction and Faith is to analyze and appreciate this remarkable convergence and the art that it can produce.

Those interested in attending or to read about more about the conference can click here.


Curious...these are the flattering images used by msnbc and abcnews for the story on President Bush's last press conference. Now, W. may not be GQ cover material like Obama but I think the press could have found better photos if they had tried.

And here we go...

CONCORD, N.H. – The first openly gay Episcopal bishop will offer a prayer at the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural event for President-elect Barack Obama.

The selection of New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson for Sunday's event follows weeks of criticism from gay-rights groups over Obama's decision to have the Rev. Rick Warren give the invocation at his Jan. 20 inauguration.

read the story here

Here we have the characteristic Obama quid pro quo. The "conservative" pastor Rick Warren is tapped to offer the invocation at Obama's inauguration and the liberals are outraged, so to assuage their ire, the "liberal" Gene Robinson will offer an oration of his own. A little for you, a little for me. Obama calls this "coming together" but he just ends up enraging both sides.

Of course, Lincoln was not a founding father, but I wonder if Mr. Robinson has read what the founders of this nation thought regarding homosexual acts. Students of history should pick up Richard Brookhiser's excellent book What Would the Founders Do? Our Questions, Their Answers and read the chapter entitled Liberty and Law. It's unlikely that Lincoln would veer from the founding fathers' way of dealing with sodomy. But who cares about history, much less our founders, anymore? Obama is the president-elect.

Obesity Revisited

You know there's an obesity problem in the nation when you come across stories like this one:

Top Army recruiter weighs fat camp for recruits

The Army has been dismissing so many overweight applicants that its top recruiter, trying to keep troop numbers up in wartime, is considering starting a fat farm to transform chubby trainees into svelte soldiers.

Maj. Gen. Thomas Bostick, head of the Army Recruiting Command, said he wants to see a formal diet and fitness regimen running alongside a new school at Fort Jackson that helps aspiring troops earn their GEDs.

click here for more

Blame is placed in the piece on "a lack of physical education in high schools." I have argued for some time however that the endemic problem of obesity has far more to do with diet than with a lack of exercise. Portions of food in this nation are outrageous. Combine this with a ubiquitous fast-food culture that downplays discipline and self-control, rewards laziness and stokes an entitlement mentality and you have the perfect recipe for an obese nation. Last week it was revealed that there are more obese people in America than merely overweight.

The findings of a study done by Loyola University Health System back up the assertion that diet is more helpful in losing weight than exercising.

click here to read the report

Here's an interesting table from the AP that charts weight problems in the military.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, R.I.P.

Here's to a good man and an exceptional priest who saw an opportunity to spread the Truth and, rather than opting to stand on the sidelines, chose to act.

Taken from First Things:

Our great, good friend is gone.

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus slipped away today, January 8, shortly before 10 o’clock, at the age of seventy-two. He never recovered from the weakness that sent him to the hospital the day after Christmas, caused by a series of side effects from the cancer he was suffering. He lost consciousness Tuesday evening after a collapse in his heart rate, and soon after, in the company of friends, he died.

My tears are not for him—for he knew, all his life, that his Redeemer lives, and he has now been gathered by the Lord in whom he trusted.

I weep, rather for all the rest of us. As a priest, as a writer, as a public leader in so many struggles, and as a friend, no one can take his place. The fabric of life has been torn by his death, and it will not be repaired, for those of us who knew him, until that time when everything is mended and all our tears are wiped away.

Funeral arrangements are still being planned; information about the funeral will be made public shortly. Please accept our thanks for all your prayers and good wishes.

In Deepest Sorrow,

Joseph Bottum
First Things