Archive for the “Politics and Faith” Category

This article is about a very interesting appointment by Pope Benedict of Archbishop Raymond Burke to the Vatican’s Supreme Tribunal.  Burke, the orthodox bishop of St Louis is one of America’s leading Canon lawyers and has been an outspoken leader in the Church on the controversy of distribution of Eucharist to political supporters of abortion rights.

Additional stories can be found at Catholic News Service and the St Louis Beacon.

Archbishop Raymond BurkeVATICAN CITY — St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke was named Friday (June 27) to head the Catholic Church’s highest court, a move that places an outspoken conservative in an important if not highly visible post.

Burke, 59, will be the first American to serve as prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. The job usually comes with a cardinal’s red hat, which would add another American to the conclaves that elect popes.

Burke has led the charge among a handful of U.S. bishops to discipline Catholic politicians who stray from church teaching. In 2004, he told Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry he could not receive Communion in St. Louis because of his support of abortion rights.

The new post will allow Burke to leave his conservative imprint on the wider church, leading a court that has final say on administrative disputes but also marriage annulments and church closings.

“The appointment should make pro-choice Catholic politicians very nervous,” warned the Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.

Burke’s five-year tenure in St. Louis has been brief but fiery. After publicly rebuking Kerry and other prominent Democrats, last year he said ministers who distribute Communion are “held, under pain of mortal sin, to deny the sacraments to the unworthy.”

Earlier this year, he excommunicated three women who were ordained as priests against church rules, and also said he would deny Communion to the basketball coach at St. Louis University for his support of abortion rights and stem cell research.

He also forbade Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., from speaking at her daughter’s graduation ceremony at a Catholic high school because of her record on abortion, and resigned from a Catholic children’s charity after the group featured singer Sheryl Crow, who supports abortion rights, at a fundraiser.

Burke becomes the second American to take on a prominent Vatican post. Cardinal William Levada, the former archbishop of San Francisco, now heads the church’s doctrinal office, a post he inherited from Pope Benedict XVI.

Burke replaces Italian Cardinal Agostino Vallini, who was named Friday as the pope’s vicar general for the Diocese of Rome — effectively, the city’s acting bishop.

The Signatura hears appeals of decisions by lower church courts and administrative bodies, and settles jurisdictional disputes. According to Reese’s book “Inside the Vatican,” “Only about half a dozen cases a year are heard by the panel of cardinals and bishops, and these cases take about three years to be processed.”

Burke has been a member of the tribunal since July 2006.

If Burke is named a cardinal as expected, he will join 20 other U.S. cardinals, 14 of whom are currently under the age of 80 and thus eligible to vote for the next pope.

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This article by former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, from the Philadelphia Inquirer is a few week’s old, but give a view on Catholic higher education that I find important.

By Rick Santorum
Is Pope Benedict XVI coming to America to drop the hammer on the president for the Iraq war? You might think so if your gospel comes courtesy of the mainstream media.

It’s more likely that the pope will speak about the war at the United Nations as he has in the past – as a church leader addressing the challenges of finding a pathway for dialogue between two faiths in conflict.

The pope’s only official church meeting is with all 213 presidents of Catholic undergraduate colleges and universities. Given the traditional and orthodox educational philosophy of this former university professor, as well as the sad recent history of Catholic higher education in America, one might well expect fireworks.

Since Vatican II, most Catholic colleges have sought to reduce their relationship with Catholicism and the church to a one-word marketing pitch – Catholic. On most Catholic campuses across the country, you might be surprised to learn that most professors are not Catholic and that the Catholics are often nonpracticing. These Catholic colleges routinely host speakers and artistic productions that oppose core Catholic teaching when they’re not blatantly anti-Catholic, and I’m not just talking about Barack Obama’s appearance at Mercyhurst or Hillary Clinton’s at King’s College. Even the gold standard of Catholic colleges, the University of Notre Dame, will soon drop below 50 percent Catholics on its faculty and have on-campus performances of The Vagina Monologues.

Most core curricula, if that exists, provide little exposure to the Catholic intellectual tradition. Even in the theology departments, which are supposed to be certified as authentically Catholic by the local diocese, students have to search long and hard to find a professor who will provide faithful Catholic teaching.

As for campus life, most Catholic colleges have abandoned their mission and duty to help shape the moral and spiritual formation of its students. In loco parentis has been reduced to facilitating loco behavior. It is nearly impossible to distinguish a list of authorized student organizations at Georgetown from those at Penn.

Yes, there are some orthodox Catholic universities. The Cardinal Newman Society recently surveyed all Catholic colleges for its recent book Choosing a Catholic College and recommended only colleges that provided a quality education and “gave priority to their Catholic identity in most, if not all, aspects of campus life.”

How many made the list? Only 20, including just one in Pennsylvania, DeSales University in Allentown.

The pope recognizes the importance of Catholic education in forming the next generation spiritually, morally and intellectually. He no doubt understands that Catholic universities in America have been at the intellectual center of dissent from the teaching of the magisterium. It is one thing for college professors from a secular university to offer moral arguments supporting abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, cloning, and same-sex marriage. It is another when these arguments are coming from theology professors at Notre Dame, St. Joseph’s, Marquette and, until a few years ago, Catholic University.

The sad fact is that, during the last 40 years, Catholic higher education has not only failed to counter the forces of cultural decay across America, but has added to the rot as well.

Pope Benedict’s speech is unlikely to break new ground next Thursday. His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, in his 1990 encyclical Ex Corde Ecclesiae, gave the bishops the mandate and the tools to bring colleges back into the intellectual fold with Rome. Since then, of course, other crises have made calls on their attention and, alas, cut into their credibility. Pope Benedict will remind them of the work that remains.

He’s also unlikely to break any china. As he did in his seminal speech on faith and reason at the University of Regensburg, he’ll elevate, not scold.

I am no stranger to sounding the warning sirens of cultural decay in America. Catholic higher education as well as primary and secondary education over the last 40 years could have been a healthy antidote to this trend. They were not. And at times, they contributed to it.

The Catholic Church has struggled and triumphed for more than 2,000 years. In good seasons and bad, however, it has made a rich and distinctive contribution to the intellectual foundations of Western civilization. That reality, the deep wisdom of scholars from Saints Jerome and Augustine to Aquinas and Catherine of Siena, who’ve brought intellectual, spiritual and moral guidance to generations upon generations, is being lost. America and the West are poorer from it.

Academic freedom and diversity have taken center stage on American campuses today. I believe Pope Benedict will encourage the 90 percent of the four-year colleges in this country to give students the ultimate in academic freedom, the pursuit of truth by providing something truly diverse in American higher education – an authentic Catholic education.

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Just over a week ago, a California court handed down a decision against homeschoolers and homeschooling. Information on this case available at the Homeschool Legal Defense Association’s site:

On February 28, 2008, the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District in Los Angeles handed down a very bad decision regarding a case involving a homeschool family.

HSLDA was not involved with this case, and the family are not members.

The opinion holds that homeschooling is not a legal option in California. HSLDA strongly disputes this interpretation of California law. We believe that the court made a mistake when it relied on a decision from 1953 in order to show that homeschooling is not a legal option.

If the opinion is followed then California will have the most regressive law in the nation and homeschooling will be effectively banned because the only legal way to homeschool will be for the parent to hold a teaching certificate. Parents should not have to attend a four year college education program just to teach their own children.

California is now on the path to being the only state to deny the vast majority of homeschooling parents their fundamental right to teach their own children at home.

In response, HSLDA believes that the best course of action is to petition the California Supreme Court to depublish the opinion. If the opinion is depublished then this ruling can not be used against every homeschooling family in California.

This case has far-reaching implications that can affect not only homeschoolers but all families, and it MUST NOT STAND. At the root of the decision is a view supportive of a nanny state, where in the eyes of the these judges, parents and children are effectively equals (or more like siblings) and the state – and by extension the public schools – must take on the primary role in the formation of our children. What the 3 judge appellate court suggests is that unless a parent is certified by the state, they are not in a position to appropriately lead their child’s education. It is a chink in the armor of government for the people and with another very important election this year for this country, people need to be aware that it is through moves like this that democracy dies and socialism takes hold.

We must take up this fight, shine a light on this unconstitutional decision and see that it is defeated! Also, we must pray for the people of California and all Americans that our rights be protected from the state as much as they should be by the state. This case may seem small and insignificant to some outside of homeschool circles, but much like the Terri Schiavo case, this kind of ruling from an activist bench can set the Constitution backwards for years to come, and recovery from that is usually far more difficult, slow and expensive that stopping it early.

So what can you do? The primary thing is to make people aware of it and the implications. Blog about it. Post here and on other sites. Talk about the case and the implications in your church and with your friends. Also, consider how this kind of judicial action (and potential similar legislative and executive actions) should affect your vote.

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That’s a question raised in last Sunday’s Washington Post. The article by Joe Feuerherd is titled “I voted for Obama. Will I go straight to …? In his article, Mr. F. (sorry that name’s going to be too tough to type repeatedly) raises an interesting question on the politics of abortion and the Catholic faithful. Unfortunately, his arguments showed little but disdain for the the teachings or leadership of the Catholic Church on issues where it makes him uncomfortable.

The basic premise (and apparent source of distaste for Mr. F.) seems to be that the Catholic leadership is in lock-step support for the Republican party and that the lack of support they have shown for pro-abortion politicians is somehow a sign of corruption in the Church leadership. He seems to believe that the Catholic leadership under Popes Jon Paul II and Benedict XVI are spending too much time trying to get the bishops and other clergy to follow Catholic Doctrine and teachings. (more…)

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Pope Benedict addressed a conference this weekend titled “Woman and Man, the ‘Humanum’ in Its Entirety,” sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. Below are excerpts from his speech. Emphasis was added by me. The Holy Father’s simple language underscores so much of the struggle for what in political terms we call “family values.”

“There are certain places and cultures where women are discriminated against and undervalued just for the fact that they are women, where recourse is even had to religious arguments and family, social and cultural pressures to support the disparity between the sexes, where there is consumption of acts of violence against women, making them into objects of abuse and exploitation in advertising and in the consumer and entertainment industries. In the face of such grave and persistent phenomena the commitment of Christians appears all the more urgent, so that they become everywhere the promoters of a culture that recognizes the dignity that belongs to women in law and in reality.

“God entrusts to women and to men, according to the characteristics that are proper to each, a specific vocation in the mission of the Church and in the world. I think here of the family, community of love, open to life, fundamental cell of society. In it, woman and man, thanks to the gift of maternity and paternity, together play an irreplaceable role in regard to life. From the moment of their conception, children have a right to count on a father and a mother who care for them and accompany them in their growth. The state, for its part, must sustain with adequate social policies all that which promotes the stability of matrimony, the dignity and the responsibility of the husband and wife, their rights and irreplaceable duty to educate their children. Moreover, it is necessary that it be made possible for the woman to cooperate in the building-up of society, appreciating her typical ‘feminine genius.’ “

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This is really an ubelievable story. You can’t make stuff like this up.

The chairman of a British parliamentary committee on education is calling for an investigation of religious schools for being too religious. In a county where there are religious institutions that outwardly support Islamic terrorism with impunity, lawmakers are suggesting that the government investigate Catholic Schools who are refusing to teach safe-sex.

Barry Sheerman, the Labor party lawmaker who chairs a committee on schools, actually said It seems to me that faith education works all right as long as people are not that serious about their faith. But as soon as there is a more doctrinaire attitude questions have to be asked.

Statements like this can seem more comical than serious, but this is a candid view of how many politicians think, and not just in the UK.

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Cardinal Agustin Garcia-Gasco, archbishop of Valencia, Spain has written about the importance of family in society (see story here). Cardinal Garcia-Gasco, who was made cardinal just three months ago says “A society without families, or with confused or weakened families, is a society continually exposed to violence,” and therefore “investing in healthy family life is the best bet for stable and lasting peace.”

With the traditional family under attack by society – and make no mistake that it is – it is important to have clarity on how the tearing down the family is a key ingredient in societal decay. Here in the U.S., as we have begun the selection process for our next president, the Cardinal’s words remind us of the importance of the so-called family values issues or social issues. Many of the plans we hear about undermine the traditional family and faith. He reminds us of what really brings the kind of peace that society needs when he say “With God as the origin and goal of the lives of individuals and nations, the consequences for all human beings to live in peace and dignity are decisively favorable.” “To forget about God or silence Him from the lives of people does nothing to bring about the peace that we all long for,” he added.

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Here is an eye opening article about Heisman Trophy Winner Tim Tebow and his parents’ decision to give birth to him, despite a doctor’s recommendation to abort the pregnancy.  The pro-life movement has for years used rhetorical arguments about the abortions of future artists, presidents, professional athletes, etc. .  Tebow’s story is a factual one that underscores one of the great sadnesses of abortion – that the victim is never given a chance to show what they can do with their lives.

Mr. and Mrs. Tebow, and the millions of other parents who have accepted similar challenges in the face of pressure from society or from the medical community are heroes in the abortion fight.

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Along with many other items buried deep in the 2008 Appropriations Bill signed by President Bush on Wednesday is a provision requiring the US Mint to put “In God We Trust” onto the face of all US Coins. In 2007, the Mint began circulation of the $1 President coin collection without the prominent display of the National Motto on either face.

Under a lot of pressure, Congress led by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) has now required a correction to this.

“Since the colonial beginnings of the United States, citizens of this nation have officially acknowledged their dependence on God,” said Brownback in a news statement reported by Baptist Press. “It is important that our national motto, ‘In God We Trust,’ is prominently displayed on all of our currency. We should not relegate our heritage to the side.”

Hat tip to Spirit Daily for the story.

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