Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

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Don’t Be Fooled

February 10th, 2012, Promulgated by Nerina

As you may have already heard, President Obama is expected to announce a “compromise” regarding the contraception mandate. From everything I’ve heard and read, this is no compromise, but another way of forcing Catholic institutions into providing coverage for services they find inherently evil.

As the mandate currently stands, employers would be required to cover all “FDA approved” methods of sterilization and contraception including those methods that can act as an abortifacient. While a very narrow exemption exists (Archbishop Dolan says that Jesus and his disciples wouldn’t qualify) for religious groups, most have recognized this mandate for the attack on religious liberty that it is.

The proposed accommodation does not change anything. It will still require employers to provide for these services, just not directly if they have an “objection.” Employers will still be required to have their respective insurers offer these services to women. Yuval Levin, from National Review states it this way:

The only difference is that the access to those contraceptive and abortifacient drugs would not technically be listed as one of the benefits the employer was paying for directly but would be listed as a benefit the insurer was paying for (with the money the employer paid for the broader insurance policy, of course).

President Obama is clearly placating his base of ardent feminists who recently flexed their collective muscle against the Komen Foundation. Komen made the decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood stating that it had decided giving money to organizations under Congressional investigation was not ideal. It also noted that it would rather fund groups in the business of directly providing breast care. PP does not, despite Cecile Richards claims to the contrary. Once PP and NARAL got done with their attacks on Komen (e.g. hijacking Komen’s website, spamming the Facebook page, and vilifying it in the press), the breast cancer foundation apologized and appeared to be reconsidering its initial decision. That’s politics, Chicago-style, as they say.

All I need to know about this “accommodation” is that Planned Parenthood supports it. The aforementioned Richards released the following:

“In the face of a misleading and outrageous assault on women’s health, the Obama administration has reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring all women will have access to birth control coverage, with no costly co-pays, no additional hurdles, and no matter where they work.

“We believe the compliance mechanism does not compromise a woman’s ability to access these critical birth control benefits.

I’d say it’s analagous to the Executive Order compromise offered in the final days of Obamacare. I hope Catholics won’t get fooled again.

Penn State’s “Long Lent”

November 11th, 2011, Promulgated by Nerina

Football is a big deal in our house.  My 12 year old son loves all-things “sports,” but is particularly enthralled with football (especially of the Green Bay variety), so the story about former Penn State coach arrested and charged this week for several accounts of sexual abuse has been discussed a great deal.  As a Catholic, it has also called to mind the on-going abuse scandal in the Church.  I’ve been looking at the parallels between the situation at Penn State and the Church and there are similarities.  Both reveal an institutional cover up.  Both reveal the exploitation of young people (all boys in the case of Penn State and mostly adolescent boys in the case of the Church).  And both speak to a wider culture that continues to push the boundaries of what is seen as “normal” when it comes to sexuality.

Like the Church, Penn State will likely go through a lengthy self-examination and recovery.  I suspect the institution will find that ridding itself of the cancer of sexual abuse will be painful and get worse before things get better (in fact, there is speculation that this story is about to get much worse).  It will likely find that the institutional “chemotherapies” and “radiation” applied to the problem will slowly address the problem, but not address the environmental cause of the problem – a toxic culture that increasingly sexualizes young children.   How else do we explain a troupe of 7 year-olds doing a provocative dance routine to Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies?”   Why do we accept companies promoting push up binkinis to young, pre-pubescent girls?  And don’t even get me started on “Toddlers and Tiaras,” the repulsive reality show that focuses on the  toddler pageant industry.

Yet, it seems our culture wants it both ways.  Aggressive, liberal sex-education agendas want to give out more and more information to younger and younger children, espousing the view that children are “sexual beings,” but the same people pushing these agendas refuse to acknowledge the role these programs play in scandals like those seen in our own Church and at Penn State (and let’s not kid ourselves, the sexual abuse of children is rampant in public schools, organizations and even homes).  Thankfully, people continue to be outraged when sex abuse scandals are revealed (and the day that we no longer react to them will be the day our culture dies), but I have to wonder, why?  Why are we outraged?  Why do we recoil?  Why, when we read the grand jury indictment(PDF), does  our stomach churn and our head bend in prayer to a merciful God for forgiveness of our sins?  We have told children that they are sexual objects.  We have deluded ourselves into thinking that sexual freedom is the ultimate good and that restrictions on this behavior is oppressive and antiquated.  Somehow, though, we know, that we are not free.  We are, instead, enslaved to sin and our children are the ultimate victims.

God, have mercy on us.

10 Years

September 10th, 2011, Promulgated by Nerina

There are so many thoughtful and passionate reflections on September 11th available in the blogosphere.  The Anchoress has been writing about a stubborn Mayor Bloomberg in NYC who continues to refuse to allow first responders and clergy to attend commemoration ceremonies.  In part, she writes:

I thought public outcry might move the mule, but without any push from mainstream media, he is comfortably sticking to his guns.

She goes on to note that Victim 0001 on that day was recorded as Fr. Mychal Judge, chaplain of the FDNY.  He was killed while ministering to victims in the North Tower when debris from the collapsed South Tower flew into the lobby and killed and injured many there.  He was one of the first people on the scene to provide pastoral and physical care to victims.  Yet, clergy are not allowed to be present at this year’s ceremonies?  There is something fundamentally wrong with Mayor Bloomberg’s decision.  While he tries to justify it by saying “there isn’t enough room,” would anyone have said that on that horrific day?  “Sorry, Father.  Not enough room for you and your praying and your giving succor to people completely adrift in the most traumatic event of their lives.”  It is truly infuriating.  Oh, and let’s remember that the majority of the 343 firefighters killed that dreadful day were members of the Roman Catholic Church.  But, sorry.  No clergy and no First Responders allowed.

Mark Steyn, never one to mince words, decimates Mayor Bloomberg and his “no room” defense:

As Mayor Bloomberg’s office has patiently explained, there’s “not enough room” at the official Ground Zero commemoration to accommodate any firemen. “Which is kind of weird,” wrote the Canadian blogger Kathy Shaidle, “since 343 of them managed to fit into the exact same space ten years ago.” On a day when all the fancypants money-no-object federal acronyms comprehensively failed — CIA, FBI, FAA, INS — the only bit of government that worked was the low-level unglamorous municipal government represented by the Fire Department of New York.

I mean, can we ever give the firefighters too much credit for the bravery displayed on that day?  While others ran out of those burning towers, they ran in.  Peggy Noonan writes eloquently:

And there were the firemen. They were the heart of it all, the guys who went up the stairs with 50 to 75 pounds of gear and tools on their back. The other people who were there in the towers, they were innocent victims, they went to work that morning and wound up in the middle of a disaster. But the firemen saw the disaster before they went into it, they knew what they were getting into, they made a decision. And a lot of them were scared, you can see it on their faces on the pictures people took in the stairwells. The firemen would be going up one side of the stairs, and the fleeing workers would be going down on the other, right next to them, and they’d call out, “Good luck, son,” and, “Thank you, boys.”

And they weren’t the only ones.  Peggy Noonan also talks about a man who wouldn’t leave his wheelchair bound coworker stranded in the tower and so, they left this world together hopefully clinging to God as they clung to each other.  Can any of us imagine that moment?

And it is not just in New York City that the gods of political correctness have worked their magic.  At the 9/11 ceremony hosted by the Episcopalian National Cathedral, the “prayer service will include the President of the Islamic Society of North America, a Buddhist nun, and a Hindu, evangelicals and conservative Protestants were omitted, though they represent 30-40 percent of Americans.  No Catholic is listed on the event website.  So liberal Episcopal clergy apparently will represent Christianity.  On Thursday, a cathedral spokesman told The New York Times that a Baptist may be invited.

Apparently, the aversion to Christianity extends to what is popularly referred to as the “Cross at Ground Zero.”  The Association of American Atheists has filed suit in the New York State Supreme Court asking for the removal of the cross from any publicly funded memorial museum.  It doesn’t matter that over 85 percent of Americans identify with Christianity (which uniformly identifies with the Cross), the Atheists insist “it would diminish the civil rights of atheists, agnostics, Jews, Muslims and all other non-Christians, in so far as the cross promotes Christianity above all other religions.”  Frankly, when I read statements like this, I am left speechless.

Johann Christoph Arnold, from the Catholic Planet, gives the best response to the atheists saying:

Amid the smoke and rubble at Ground Zero, rescue workers came across a twisted steel cross that became a landmark of hope for firefighters, police officers and other emergency workers. As if in answer to the question burning in so many minds–Where was God on 9/11?–this cross reminded us again of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection. The cross was God’s answer to the world’s sin and suffering; it remains the only answer. (emphasis mine)

Finally, there’s been a lot of discussion about how people will remember 9/11.  At our house, we will hang the flag.  We will talk about that awful day and my husband and I will share our memories with our children.  We will go to church.  We will pray for the victims of 9/11 and their families and we will turn to the Cross on bended knee because it remains the only answer.


It’s that time of year again…

September 6th, 2011, Promulgated by Nerina

Fall has arrived and you know that can mean only one thing.  No, not the start of another school year, but the reappearance of the Catholic Ministries Appeal.  This year the theme is: “The Power of Many…Stronger as One.”  On the diocesan brochure, found here, the Gilooly family says:

Through the support of the CMA, our children, and thousands of other children and young adults across our Diocese, will be well-prepared for a life with Christ through faith formation and the sacraments.

Now, I am not picking on the Gilooly family, but I really want to know how they define “well-prepared.”  Based on my personal experience with faith formation and Sacramental preparation at my local church, I can confidently say that there is no way my children have been well-prepared for a life with Christ by the educators at our church.  No, that has been, and should, as the first and primary educator of my children, be my job.    But if we are going to have church-based programs they better be more instructive than the awful “Blest Are We” catechism series used by my church!  Also, Sacramental prep programs need to be more than felt banners and making pretzels (to represent a “hug”) out of bread dough to convey the “source and summit” of our Christian life in the Eucharist.

Hopefully, not every parish is stuck using lackluster catechetical programs.  I understand that both the “Faith and Life” and “Image of God” series are very well done with beautiful artwork, but more importantly with orthodox and serious content.  I’d be interested in hearing about our readers experience in this regard.  In the end, when I read comments like the one above, I am reassured that my money is better spent on other teaching apostolates (like Catholic radio or EWTN or Catholic Answers) than on the CMA.

P.S. For parents looking for a good program to do at home with kids, I really like the website  It is a lectionary based program that covers a wide range of subjects from the Mass, to the Ten Commandments, to the Mysteries of the Rosary.  It is quite flexible and affordable.  It also offers prayers in Latin and refers to the Baltimore Catechism in addition to the newer catechism.

PSA for Life

September 6th, 2011, Promulgated by Nerina

I’ve been informed that there will be a Mass offered at the Focus Pregnancy Center by newly ordained Fr. Scott Caton on Wednesday, October 5th at 6:00PM.  The center is located at 86 University Avenue in Rochester.  Mass will be followed by a pot luck supper and attendees are invited to bring a dish to pass.

Mary Jost, director of Focus said the following:

This Mass is another blessing for us at Focus. The intentions for this Mass will be:
In Thanksgiving to God for all His blessings & for our clients, benefactors & staff & for the end
to abortion & for the conversion of sinners & for all priests & for the Holy Father & for your
intentions too, for what is in your heart. God bless!

Also, October is “Respect Life” month and a National Life Chain will take place on Sunday, October 2nd.  Interested parties can meet at the Focus Pregnancy Center at 2PM to receive signs and instructions.

As always, pray for an end to abortion.

And Two Shall Become One

August 16th, 2011, Promulgated by Nerina

No, I’m not talking about marriage, here, but about the practice of “selective reduction” especially in regards to twin pregnancies.  I found an incredibly disturbing article at the New York Times discussing this morally problematic practice which has seen an increase in use.  It is a lengthy article, but it raises many of the moral and ethical points that the Church, in Her wisdom, cautions the faithful about regarding reproductive technologies.

The article begins by sharing the story of “Jenny,” (all of the subjects requested anonymity in the article) a 45 year old woman 14 weeks pregnant with twins who chose pregnancy reduction.  She spent 6 years pursuing various fertility options and says:

Things would have been different if we were 15 years younger or if we hadn’t had children already or if we were more financially secure, (keep in mind that Jenny pursued fertility treatment for years which I’m sure stressed the family finances mightily, she already has two children and she is 45 years old.  What motivated her to pursue this pregnancy given these conditions?)

She goes on to add:

If I had conceived these twins naturally, I wouldn’t have reduced this pregnancy, because you feel like if there’s a natural order, then you don’t want to disturb it. But we created this child in such an artificial manner — in a test tube, choosing an egg donor, having the embryo placed in me — and somehow, making a decision about how many to carry seemed to be just another choice. The pregnancy was all so consumerish to begin with(emphasis mine), and this became yet another thing we could control. (At least with this comment she is being honest about how children are now viewed as a commodity – to be obtained on a person’s schedule, at his or her convenience and according to his or her plan.  Also note that she is, in essence, killing another person’s baby, not her own, since an egg donor was used).

In 2004, the Pontifical Academy for Life published a final communique summarizing the symposium  “The Dignity of Human Procreation and Reproductive Technologies.  Anthropological and Ethical Aspects.”  In it, the Academy noted the following points:

  • over 1 million children are believed to have been conceived through IVF technology since the birth of the first IVF baby in 1978;
  • despite the economic and medical resources committed to increasing the effectiveness rates of ART (assisted reproductive technology), little progress has been made.  The Academy further suggests that if the same rates of success were applied to other medical technologies, they would be deemed “technical failures.”
  • many couples, placing their hope in such technologies, despite the low success rates, often suffer greatly when ART fails (not to mention the moral dilemmas faced and the financial impact of pursuing ART)
  • many human lives are lost to ART because of the excessive numbers of embryos created and ultimately lost in pursuit of a successful implantation
  • ART does nothing to address the underlying issue of sterility among western couples but rather touts itself as a the answer to infertility
  • a new mentality has developed leading some to believe that  ” ART constitutes a preferential route – compared to the “natural” route – to bring a child into this world, because it is possible through these techniques to exercise a more effective “control” over the quality of the conceived child in line with the wishes of those who ask for such a child.”  The Academy further noted: ” All this works in favour of seeing the child obtained through the use of ART as being on the same level as a “product” whose value in reality depends in large measure on its “good quality”, which for its part is subjected to severe controls and careful selection.(which brings us back to the NYT article)

Returning to Jenny’s story:

Jenny’s decision to reduce twins to a single fetus was never really in doubt. The idea of managing two infants at this point in her life terrified her. (Got that?  Terrified her.  Was she really so naive to have thought twins was not a possible outcome given the increased incidence of multiples with ART and IVF?  Or did she anticipate pursuing reduction as part of the pregnancy plan?  Did the fact that she was carrying another woman’s children make it an easier decision?  Now, as a 44 year old woman myself with 5 children, I can definitely appreciate how daunting raising twins at this time in my life would be but I also know that I am not in control of this situation.  God is.  Children are a gift.  We have to view them this way or we end up casting off the inconvenient or imperfect ones.)

Jenny basically goes on to justify killing one of the babies because she wants to make sure she has enough energy, attention and material things for her existing children and the remaining child in the pregnancy.   The author of the article writes:

Even the twins would be robbed, because, at best, she could give each one only half of her attention and, she feared, only half of her love. Jenny desperately wanted another child, but not at the risk of becoming a second-rate parent. (Since Jenny is already a parent I don’t know how she deceived herself with this reasoning.  As any parent I’ve ever talked to will say, love doesn’t divide, it multiplies.  I know I was amazed each time a new child was welcomed into our home by how much love I had not only for the new baby, but for my other children as well.)

Shockingly, Jenny says “This is bad (referring to the reduction), but it’s not anywhere as bad as neglecting your child or not giving everything you can to the children you have,”  (Again, the human brain can do amazing things to justify any behavior.  As my 14 year old daughter concluded: “so she’s saying that being dead is better than having to wear hand-me downs?)

Interestingly, Jenny and her husband told no one about their decision and plan to keep it that way and this approach is quite common in those couples that pursue pregnancy reduction.  One couple in this article were very divided about the procedure but ended up compromising when the husband said he didn’t want to see ultrasounds of the twins and he didn’t want to be in the room during the reduction procedure.  As long as he didn’t have to “see it” he felt he could handle the intentional death of one of his children.  His wife was happy with his absence because she didn’t “want to have to deal with this feelings.”  (Yikes.  How is that marriage going to weather?)

Several doctors who perform the procedure note that there is a certain stigma attached to it.  Though society seems to be more willing to accept a straightforward abortion, it views couples who pursue reduction as more “selfish.”  Further, women often suffer greatly after reduction with “what if” questions and wondering if they chose the right baby (often times doctors are the ones to choose which baby to kill since couples don’t want the responsibility.  It will be interesting to see if recovery groups like “Silent No More” develop in a few years to help couples deal with the guilt and regret that is likely to come.)

There is a detailed discussion of why some physicians recommend reduction with twin pregnancies and several other anecdotes involving the procedure.    The author also explores some of the ethical quandaries (e.g. sex selection, birth defects, Downs Syndrome) faced by a society that now views pregnancy and parenthood as just another consumer choice.  I’ll finish this  post with this final example of A. and her partner, a lesbian couple, looking to have children.  The author shares their story:

Because both women were 45, they tried to double their already slim chances by both being inseminated. They each tried it three times; nothing took. At their doctor’s suggestion, they chose an egg donor in her mid-20s. Both women went through I.V.F., each with two embryos transferred. Both women got pregnant, but A. quickly miscarried. Her partner (who did not want to be identified, even by an initial) gave birth to a healthy boy, whom they adore. A. did another round of I.V.F. with frozen embryos, hoping to provide their son with a sibling. It didn’t work. So when their boy was nearly a year old, both women underwent I.V.F. again. Given A.’s fertility history, the doctor predicted she had just a 5 percent chance of getting pregnant.

Eventually, both women ended up pregnant with twins.  They debated about pregnancy reduction and concluded that A. would reduce so as to increase the likeliness she would carry the remaining baby to term.  After her reduction procedure, A’s partner miscarried.  Now A. is expecting her baby in December.  When asked about fearing a miscarriage, she reflects on the whole situation in this ironic way:

I’ve come to realize there’s only so much we can control. There’s a point where you just have to let nature take its course.

Rally for Traditional Marriage

July 21st, 2011, Promulgated by Nerina

It’s been a while since I last posted anything on the board, but I was motivated to post the details of an upcoming rally scheduled for this Sunday in support of traditional marriage.  The following is taken from “Let the People Vote” website:

Governor Cuomo and the New York Legislature imposed same-sex marriage on New York with no vote of the people. Voters in 31 other states have been able to decide the definition of marriage for their states, but New Yorkers have been denied that right!

Stand up to protest the redefinition of marriage and demand your right to vote!

If New York is going to change the definition of marriage, it should be the People and not the politicians who make the decision!

Let the People Vote! Join us on July 24 [at 3pm] in NYC, Albany, Rochester and Buffalo to let your voice be heard!

The Rochester rally takes place at the liberty pole on East Avenue (directions can be found on the website).

P.S.  I hope to be blogging on other issues in the near future.

Upcoming Music Events

March 29th, 2011, Promulgated by Nerina

This Spring promises to be a tremendous time for the Diocese of Rochester. Several parishes are going to be hosting events focusing on Gregorian Chant and Renaissance polyphony. Below is a schedule of these upcoming events, as reported by you, the readers.

  • Saturday, April 2, 2011 – 4:30 PM Chant Mass at St. Francis in Geneva.
  • Sunday, April 3, 2011 – 1:30 PM High Mass in the Extraordinary Form at St. Stanislaus.
  • Thursday, April 14, 2011 – 5:00 PM Chant Mass at Mother of Sorrows.
  • Sunday, April 17, 2011 – 1:30 PM Missa Cantata in the EF at St. Stanislaus.
  • Sunday, April 24, 2011 – 1:30 PM Missa Cantata in the EF at St. Stanislaus.
  • Sunday, May 1, 2011 – 1:30 PM High Mass in the EF at St. Stanislaus.
  • Tuesday, May 3, 2011 – 7:30 PM Rosary for Priestly Vocations at St. Anne.
  • Sunday, May 22, 2011 – 5:00 PM Solemn Vespers in the Extraordinary Form at St. Anne.

In the eyes of this humble blogger, it looks as if we’re standing on the edge of a liturgical renaissance in Rochester. Deo gratias!

Tolerance for all, except Christians

March 7th, 2011, Promulgated by Nerina

A Christian couple in England has been advised to not appeal a court decision that prevents them from being foster parents.  The couple, Eunice and Owen Johns (aged 62 and 65 respectively), were told that their Christian view of sexuality is “inimical to the interests of children” by two judges in the Nottingham Crown Court.

What did they say that got them into trouble?  When asked what they would do if one of their foster children was homosexual, they replied “well, we’d try to gently turn him around, but we’d always love him.”  Apparently newly instituted foster care guidelines now contain a “valuing diversity” clause which the couple’s lawyer described as “suitably vague clause that requires people to engage in ‘tolerance’ and ‘goodwill.’”  Because of their statement, the judges felt their views would be potentially damaging to children.

The couple’s lawyer warns that the United States could be faced with similar situations sooner than Americans think.  He says,

“Things can change very rapidly. If a few key things happen in America, and a few judicial appointments should be made, you will find that there can be very swift and rapid changes in your basic assumptions of what your rights are.”

“It’s got very little to do with the law,” he observed. “You have to see these decisions as political acts. One set of ‘rights’ is triumphing over another. It’s simply masked by this language of ‘tolerance’ and ‘diversity.’”

Andrea Minchiello Williams, a lawyer from the Christian Legal Centre who also defended the couple adds:

“What we’ve got is the imposition of a new political orthodoxy,” Williams explained. “If you don’t think or act in a certain way, you will find yourself barred from public office. It’s very frightening, and it’s very real. We have plenty of cases here at the Christian Legal Centre to prove it.”

Anyone care to guess who the Prime Minister was when these these laws were introduced?  That’s right.  Tony Blair – convert to Catholicism.

Priest eliminates EMHCs!

February 15th, 2011, Promulgated by Nerina

Since liturgy seems to be a hot topic on the blog today, I thought I’d include this item found over at Fr. Z’s place (What Does the Prayer Really Say).  Can you imagine if EMHCs were no longer used in our diocese?

Money quote:

This weekend we made the move to refrain from the use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.  Thanks to this internet age in  which we live, the appropriate teaching on this was hard to escape. Up to now, I hid behind my “ignorance”, but once I received the truth, the culpability of my dissent became more grave. I could no longer cower behind my lack of knowledge. My conscience got the better of me as I realized my dissent would now be direct.

The priest goes on to note that some of his parishioners were instantly supportive while others announced they were leaving the parish.  How sad.   I appreciate his honesty regarding his ignorance and attempts to remain so in order to avoid conflict.  Fortunately, God had other plans.  It reminds me of when I first heard about the Church’s teaching on birth control.  Like this priest, I could no longer cower behind my lack of knowledge.  As the saying goes: “Ignorance is bliss.”

By the way, the teaching regarding EMHCs can be found here (refer to article 8).

For the sake of His sorrowful passion….

January 22nd, 2011, Promulgated by Nerina

have mercy on us and on the whole world.

For those who have the stomach for it, here is the Grand Jury Report in the Dr. Kermit Gosnell case mentioned in my post below. In short, this is the case of a Pennsylvania doctor who has been performing abortions for twenty years under the most squalid conditions and in violation of countless health care regulations and laws.  He has been charged with 8 counts of murder including the killing of babies born alive in  the late stages of pregnancy by “snipping the spinal cord” of these babies.  Horrifically, one worker commented that she played with and admired one of the babies before she then killed it.  Lord, have mercy!  It makes me sick to even contemplate.

And babies were not the only ones to suffer in this house of horrors.  As the report notes:

The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels – and on two occasions, caused two of their deaths.

This report should shake all of our consciences.  Fact after fact reveals the monstrosity of this man’s actions and the actions of his employees.  But then, why am I or anyone else surprised?  This is the culture we live in.  Our law protects the “right” to kill children and we have protected it for over 30 years to the tune of 50 million dead children.  Already we have pro-abortion apologists saying this story isn’t really about abortion, but about regulatory oversight.  Yet the Grand Jury report acknowledges:

Instead, the Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all.   The politics in question were not anti-abortion, but pro.  With the change of administration from Governor Casey to Governor Ridge, officials concluded that inspections would be “putting a barrier up to women” seeking abortions.

Got that?  They didn’t want to put up any barriers to abortion so they decided to forgo any inspections!  They couldn’t have any infractions found because they might impede access to this heinous procedure.  There is plenty of blame to go around in this case as the report reveals.  The State regulatory agencies received complaint after complaint about this so-called “physician” but each time the department of health dismissed them as “meaningless” and found no “pattern of misconduct.”  It didn’t matter that Gosnell had paid out millions of dollars to women damaged by one of his abortion procedures, the department turned a blind eye all to ensure that access to abortion was maintained.

The examples in this report are simply mind-numbing.   At one point the department of  public health received a complaint about the storage of dead babies in the employees’ lunch refrigerator.  Even though the inspector found numerous public health violations, no further actions were taken and Gosnell’s clinic was allowed to continue its horrific slaughter of babies.  One public health employee filed several reports outlining the horrible conditions of the clinic yet they somehow disappeared “into a blackhole.”  More evidence that the State was more interested in facilitating abortion than in protecting the women the clinic was serving.

The report concludes the following:

Bureaucratic inertia is not exactly news.  We understand that.  But we think this was something more.  We think the reason no one acted is because the women in question were poor and of color, because the victims were infants without identities and because the subject was the political football of abortion.

The case is most definitely and primarily about abortion –  and the lengths our culture goes to to protect it.

Wesley J. Smith’s take.

The Anchoress chimes in with some very good questions particularly about the media coverage of the case.

William Saletan talks about “pro-choice absolutism” and how no abortion is a bad abortion to some (even 2nd and 3rd trimester ones)!

Michelle Malkin minces no words.

“Safe, legal and rare”

January 19th, 2011, Promulgated by Nerina

I know not all of our readers share the Church’s view of abortion, but this story is repulsive.

Lord, have mercy!

More thoughts on marriage

January 3rd, 2011, Promulgated by Nerina

photo credit: TIME 11/18/2010

WARNING: a long, but information-filled post.

Piggybacking on Ben’s earlier post about defending conjugal marriage, I thought I’d add my own thoughts about the current state of the marriage as an institution in society and as a Sacrament of the Church.  Unfortunately, the landscape is changing rapidly and I believe the Church, especially at the local level, is not prepared to defend marriage either as a societal  institution or as a Sacrament.  I’m not saying that the official teaching of the Church is somehow deficient, but, rather, that no one seems willing to proclaim the teaching in full.   I am also, at this time, personally affected by a divorce in my immediate family, so I find myself particularly concerned about the state of marriage.

Marriage is “Obsolete”

About a month back, TIME Magazine offered a hit piece on marriage entitled: “Who Needs Marriage? A Changing Institution.”  In it, the author informs the reader:

The Pew survey reveals that nearly 40% of us think marriage is obsolete. This doesn’t mean, though, that we’re pessimistic about the future of the American family; we have more faith in the family than we do in the nation’s education system or its economy. We’re just more flexible about how family gets defined. (emphasis mine)

I’d say that’s just about right given the simultaneous attacks on marriage and the traditional family carried out by a persistent and aggressive homosexual lobby and entertainment industry.  Consider this story applauding the new birth of a child to Elton John and his partner in which a surrogate was used to produce a baby boy for the couple.  Popular television shows, too,  portray almost every family situation imaginable from traditional to two-daddy to polygamous as do movies (see here and here – please note, my references here are not necessarily recommendations.  The movie, “American Beauty,” is especially offensive on many levels).  Simply put, more and more people are willing to define “family” very loosely with the traditional family becoming almost anathema.

In a similar vein, People Magazine abounds with celebratory stories of couples newly engaged over the Christmas holiday even though many of them recently left marriages.  Now,  I understand that we are talking about Hollywood here, and that the moral rules are different, but Hollywood elites are not the only people leaving marriages only to enter into new ones.

An article in the New York Times highlighting the new marriage of a middle age couple where both people left former spouses and their families because “they were deeply in love”  caused quite a stir.   It didn’t matter that their spouses and children were “devastated,”  they had found their “soulmates” and the consequences be damned.

Enter the “Soul Mate”

In the report, “When Marriage Disappears: The Retreat from Marriage in Middle America” issued by the University of Virginia National Marriage Project and the Institute of American Values, the authors describe an emerging marriage model called “the Soul Mate” model.  They describe the model as such:

Over the last four decades, many Americans have moved away from identifying with an “institutional” model of marriage, which seeks to integrate sex, parenthood, economic cooperation, and emotional intimacy in a permanent union. This model has been overwritten by the “soul mate” model, which sees marriage as primarily a couple-centered vehicle for personal growth, emotional intimacy, and shared consumption that depends for its survival on the happiness of both spouses.

Setting aside whether one believes in “soul mates,” I have heard this concept invoked to justify divorce.  In fact, my sister is claiming the “soul mate” defense for separating from her husband.  Now, my sister is hardly cognizant of Christian theology or the Church’s view of marriage, but even those who should know better fall in this trap.  Popular culture does little to dissuade the idea that 1) soul mates exist and 2)a person should settle for nothing less.  My 40 year old sister, married for 12 years with two small children is breaking up her marriage because she feels that “maybe my soul mate is still out there.”

The Rejection of Marriage by Middle America

Marriage is not only suffering among the barely educated (no high school degree) and poor, but also among the formerly socially conservative “working class” of  middle America.  The above mentioned report from the UVA National Marriage Project offers a sobering prediction about the future of America if marriage is further eroded in Middle America (defined as moderately educated, working middle-class):

The retreat from marriage in Middle America cuts deeply into the nation’s hopes and dreams as well. For if marriage is increasingly unachievable for our moderately educated citizens—a group that represents 58 percent of the adult population (age 25–60)[4]—then it is likely that we will witness the emergence of a new society. For a substantial share of the United States, economic mobility will be out of reach, their children’s life chances will diminish, and large numbers of young men will live apart from the civilizing power of married life.

Interestingly, like the TIME article referenced above, this report notes that a large percentage of the population values marriage and believes it is a desirable thing.  Unfortunately, cultural factors are powerfully changing the reality of marriage especially among the less educated and working class.  The authors argue:

In their attitudes as well as in their behavior, Middle Americans are shifting toward a culture that still honors the ideal of marriage but increasingly accepts departures from that ideal.

Enter the Church

And it seems even within the Church we are willing to accept “departures” from the ideal.  People in positions of leadership and authority publicly suggest that the Church is “out of step” with the times and that there is a need for recognizing long-term, committed homosexual relationships.  These same people suggest that divorce and remarriage should not be a hindrance to full participation in the Church and Her Sacraments (I am thinking specifically of Sr. Patricia Schoelles, Fr. Charles Curran and Fr. Richard McBride among others.  Our own Bishop is very sympathetic to homosexuals and is a something of a hero in the gay community).  In 1997 at a New Ways Ministry celebration, Bishop Clark remarked:

I do think with growing conviction, based on my own pastoral experience that the Church really needs to engage in an intentional, corporate and systemic reflection on human sexuality.

He responded to a question about public blessings for homosexuals in this way:

My concern with the practice is not so much a concern with the practice, but the practice as it communicates to the wider community, that that issue is settled, that it is in exactly the same place as the Sacrament of Marriage is in the faith and understanding of the people at large.  And I simply ask that any practice of blessing or validation, whatever it is called – and I know it’s called different things in different places -my concern is that it’s carried out in such a fashion that there is visible equation made to the Sacrament of Marriage in the sense that I just described, as that is understood and commonly held by the Christian assembly. (see the book AmChurch Comes Out, p. 55-66 by Paul Likoudis)

His statement is a bit convoluted, but if I’m understanding it correctly, it appears that Bishop Clark is hoping for homosexual unions to be on par with traditional marriage.  I find it unsettling, to say the least.

I must admit to a certain sympathy when I hear the argument that gay marriage won’t erode marriage because heterosexuals have done a fantastic job already.  No-fault divorce laws and even the annulment process in the Church sends the message that marriage is temporary.  Last year, in fact, Pope Benedict cautioned church tribunals against allowing the growing civil divorce rate to dictate the number of annulments they grant (Did you know that while US Catholics comprise 6% of the total global Catholic population, 60% of annulments are granted to Americans?).  Recognizing that many divorced Catholics seek annulments so as to pursue a second marriage within the Church, our Holy Father argued that the desire to be married and receive the Eucharist should not come at the expense of marriage, adding:

Both justice and charity require love for truth, and essentially involve the search for what is true.  Without truth, charity slides into sentimentalism. Love becomes an empty shell to be filled arbitrarily. This is the fatal risk of love in a culture without truth. (As Fr. Z would say, can I get an “AMEN”?!)

Of course the fact that straight couples are unable to keep vows doesn’t change the reality of marriage nor take away from its basic purpose as so well stated by the authors Ben mentions in his recent post.  They define marriage as thus:

marriage is the union of a man and a woman who make a permanent and exclusive commitment to each other of the type that is naturally fulfilled by bearing and rearing children together, and renewed by acts that constitute the behavioral part of the process of reproduction.

I think it really is that simple.

Sometimes, I am left speechless – UPDATED

November 19th, 2010, Promulgated by Nerina

Update 11/22/10:

Regular commenter Louis notes that this poll is actually some type of “pro-life” hoax.  I’m not sure what the couple hopes to achieve with it, but tireless pro-life advocate Jill Stanek has this to say:

Reading more closely what the couple writes, I’ve come to agree this is a pro-life stunt. A pro-abort, unless a real sicko, would not go into this sort of detail about the development of the 16-wk-old baby she may abort:

… now approximately the size of an avocado with an average crown to rump measurement of 4.6 inches.  This week bones are forming in baby’s ears so that they can start to pick up noises outside the womb.  The hair, eyebrows, and lashes are filling in and taste buds are forming.

Original post:

In a perverse demonstration of “majority rules,” a couple from Minnesota has sponsored an on-line poll to have the public weigh in on their decision to have an abortion or give birth.  The article states:

A suburban Twin Cities couple touched off an Internet frenzy Thursday with their “birth or not” website — an online poll on asking whether the woman, who is 17 weeks pregnant, should have an abortion.

The married couple has apparently endured three miscarriages and is now 17 weeks pregnant.  The woman doesn’t know if she’s ready to have a baby right now since she is “living a healthier lifestyle and [had been] losing weight.”  Also, they are both software engineers, so it would seem finances are not an issue.

Thankfully, the “public” has voted overwhelmingly in favor of birth.  Thank God for small mercies.

File this under “Outrageous”

November 11th, 2010, Promulgated by Nerina

I recently subscribed to the Stations of the Cross, “The Twelve,” which delivers the top twelve religion-related headlines from around the world each day to my e-mail box.  Today I found this article.  Not surprisingly, this incident took place in England.  The article opens:

Two schoolboys were given detention after refusing to kneel down and ‘pray to Allah’ during a religious education lesson.

Parents were outraged that the two boys from year seven (11 to 12-year-olds) were punished for not wanting to take part in the practical demonstration of how Allah is worshipped.

Apparently the children were required to wear appropriate head dress, watch a film about Islam and then practice praying to Allah.  The parents quoted in the article didn’t object to their children learning about different religions, but rather objected to children being punished for not participating in the prayer.  As one parent said, “But if Muslims were asked to go to church on Sunday and take Holy Communion there would be war.” (I assume this parent is talking about an Anglican church).

In the school’s defense, the following statement was issued by the Cheshire County Council:

A statement from Cheshire County Council on behalf of the school read: “The headteacher David Black contacted this authority immediately complaints were received.

“Enquiries are being made into the circumstances as a matter of urgency and all parents will be informed accordingly.

“Educating children in the beliefs of different faith is part of the diversity curriculum on the basis that knowledge is essential to understanding.

It should give us little comfort that this incident took place in England.  In fact, children in the U.S. have been brought to mosques and required to participate in prayer services without parental knowledge or permission.  You can see a video at this link.  As always, parents must be vigilant.

Papa in the U.K.

September 16th, 2010, Promulgated by Nerina

At Bellahouston, Glasgow

It has begun.  Our Holy Father has celebrated his first Mass in his U.K. tour at Bellahouston Park, Scotland.  The entire text of his homily can be found here.

A few highlights:

The evangelization of culture is all the more important in our times, when a “dictatorship of relativism” threatens to obscure the unchanging truth about man’s nature, his destiny and his ultimate good. There are some who now seek to exclude religious belief from public discourse, to privatize it or even to paint it as a threat to equality and liberty. Yet religion is in fact a guarantee of authentic liberty and respect, leading us to look upon every person as a brother or sister.

Dear priests of Scotland, you are called to holiness and to serve God’s people by modelling your lives on the mystery of the Lord’s cross. Preach the Gospel with a pure heart and a clear conscience. Dedicate yourselves to God alone and you will become shining examples to young men of a holy, simple and joyful life: they, in their turn, will surely wish to join you in your single-minded service of God’s people.

There is only one thing which lasts: the love of Jesus Christ personally for each one of you. Search for him, know him and love him, and he will set you free from slavery to the glittering but superficial existence frequently proposed by today’s society. Put aside what is worthless and learn of your own dignity as children of God.

Fr. Z has highlights and comments at his blog.

For an amazing overhead shot of the Mass at Bellahouston park, go here.

In Memoriam

September 11th, 2010, Promulgated by Nerina

Dumb Move

September 8th, 2010, Promulgated by Nerina

As with the GZ Mosque controversy, I think this news story falls under “they have the right to do it, but is it the right thing to do?”

Universal Latin

September 7th, 2010, Promulgated by Nerina

As many may know, Pope Benedict will make his way to the U.K. soon.  This trip is not without controversy as some atheists have called for the arrest of our Holy Father for his alleged role in the abuse scandal and for “crimes against humanity.”  Of course, there is little chance this will actually happen, but in a post-Christian Europe nothing is ever guaranteed.

Putting that aspect of the trip aside, it was announced that the pope will celebrate the Prefaces and Canons of all his Masses in Latin while in the U.K. “to emphasise the universality of the faith and the continuity of the Church”.  Damian Thompson, writing for the U.K. Telegraph has more details about the upcoming trip and the infighting that is taking place (especially in Scotland) over the celebration of the Mass:

There’s particular fury among the diehard modernisers of Scotland, I gather, who have waged a sneaky battle to banish traditional worship from the Bellahouston Mass. They are now reduced to quibbling about the number of candles on the Glasgow altar, protesting at the Pope’s wish for six or seven on the grounds that… actually, I don’t know. Too Popish, perhaps?

Damian Thompson has a wicked sense of humor and is a great source of all things Catholic in the U.K.

We should all keep our Holy Father in our prayers as this trip may be one of the most challenging he has taken so far.  God bless him for his actions in restoring mystery and sacredness to the Mass!

Park 51/Cordoba House/GZ mosque and the Crusades

September 1st, 2010, Promulgated by Nerina

With so much ASCII being spilled about the controversy over the proposed building of an “Islamic center” near the site of Ground Zero in NYC, a recurring theme is being used by those in the liberal media – namely, that people can’t possibly cite acts of violence done in the name of Islam without first recognizing the acts of violence done in the name of Christianity.  To cite one and not the other makes one a hypocrite.

Dennis Prager, in this article at National Review talks about this “moral equivalence” argument.  He cites three recent examples of its use occurring on PBS, ABC, and NPR.  Tavis Smiley of PBS argues with Ayaan Hirsi Ali (an ex-Muslim Somali writer particularly concerned with women’s rights under Islamic law) that Christians commit horrible acts of violence every day in America and that there is no difference between those acts and the ones perpetrated by Islamic extremists in the name of God (never mind  that these violent individuals rarely, if ever, claim they are acting under the influence of said religion).  On NPR, Michael Martin invoked the left’s favorite fanatic Timothy McVeigh asking:

Did anybody move a Christian church after Timothy McVeigh, who adhered to a cultic white supremacist cultic version of Christianity, bombed [the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City]?”(Again, let’s ignore the fact that McVeigh self-identified as an agnostic stating “Science is my religion.”)

And finally, Chris Cuomo on ABC tweeted the following message to his 1 million followers:

“To all my christian brothers and sisters, especially catholics – before u condemn muslims for violence, remember the crusades . . . . study them.”

You just knew the Crusades would be brought up!  Guess what, Mr. Cuomo, some people have actually studied them – a lot.  People like Thomas Madden and Johnathan Riley-Smith.  And despite what Mr. Cuomo may think he knows about the Crusades, he is most likely parroting the long-accepted progressive talking points.  Dennis Prager does a good job of dismantling the comparison in his brief article, but I suggest if you don’t know much about the Crusades, find out more.  It is fascinating reading and I have a feeling we’ll be dealing with the issue more in the coming days.