Category Archives: Abortion

Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood

Girl Scouts OK Pro-Abortion Planned Parenthood Sex Guide at United Nations Mtg

by Terrence McKeegan, J.D.
March 11
, 2010

LifeNews.com Note: Terrence McKeegan writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Friday Fax publication and is used with permission.

New York, NY (LifeNews.com/CFAM) — The World Association of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides hosted a no-adults-welcome panel at the United Nations this week where Planned Parenthood was allowed to distribute a brochure entitled “Healthy, Happy and Hot.” The event was part of the annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) which concludes this week.

The brochure, aimed at young people living with HIV, contains explicit and graphic details on sex, as well as the promotion of casual sex in many forms. The brochure claims, “Many people think sex is just about vaginal or anal intercourse… But, there are lots of different ways to have sex and lots of different types of sex. There is no right or wrong way to have sex. Just have fun, explore and be yourself!”

The brochure goes on to encourage young people to “Improve your sex life by getting to know your own body. Play with yourself! Masturbation is a great way to find out more about your body and what you find sexually stimulating. Mix things up by using different kinds of touch from very soft to hard. Talk about or act out your fantasies. Talk dirty to them.”

The brochure also tells students that national laws requiring HIV-positive people to reveal their status to their partner(s) “violate the rights of people living with HIV” and calls for advocacy to “change laws that violate your rights.” It explains, “There are many reasons that people do not share their HIV status. … They may worry that people will find out something else they have kept secret, like they are using injecting drugs, having sex outside of a marriage or having sex with people of the same gender.”

The Girl Scouts, along with the YMCA have been co-moderating a young women’s caucus that included an “Intergenerational Conversation” side event on “universal access” and “reproductive health.” One recent Girl Scout project “aims at securing the right of women, men and adolescents aged between ten and twenty-five, to better reproductive and sexual health.”??

Also at CSW last week, the heads of various powerful UN agencies including the UN Population Fund, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), UN Children’s Fund and the World Health Organization released a “UN Joint Statement” under the name of the “UN Adolescent Girls Task Force,” which calls for their agencies to promote and support programs “that empower … adolescent girls, particularly those aged 10 to 14 years.”

One of the chief priorities for empowerment is ensuring access to “life-skills based sexuality education, HIV prevention, and sexual and reproductive health.”

The New York Times recently reported that UN Population Fund had co-sponsored a very controversial curriculum with UNESCO, that included teaching children as young as five to be sexually active and training adolescents to advocate for abortion.

Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women of America told the Friday Fax, “Governments and NGOs should be aware of Planned Parenthood’s insidious plan to work with UN agencies and girls’ organizations in order to profit from encouraging kids to be sexually active.”

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Abortion and the Kennedy Clan, Part III

How Support for Abortion Became Kennedy Dogma

By ANNE HENDERSHOTT

For faithful Roman Catholics, the thought of yet another pro-choice Kennedy positioned to campaign for the unlimited right to abortion is discouraging. Yet if Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of Catholics John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, is appointed to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Hillary Clinton, abortion-rights advocates will have just such a champion.

Ms. Kennedy was so concerned to assure pro-abortion leaders in New York, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported on Dec. 18, that on the same day Ms. Kennedy telephoned New York Gov. David Patterson to declare interest in the Senate seat, “one of her first calls was to an abortion rights group, indicating she will be strongly pro-choice.”

Within the first week of her candidacy, Ms. Kennedy promised to work for several causes, including same-sex marriage and abortion rights. In responding to a series of 15 questions posed by the New York Times on Dec. 21, Ms. Kennedy said that, while she believes “young women facing unwanted pregnancies should have the advice of caring adults,” she would oppose legislation that would require minors to notify a parent before obtaining an abortion. On the crucial question of whether she supports any state or federal restrictions on late-term abortions, Ms. Kennedy chose to say only that she “supports Roe v. Wade, which prohibits third trimester abortions except when the life or health of the mother is at risk.” Presumably Ms. Kennedy knows that this effectively means an unlimited right to abortion — including late-stage abortion — because the “health of the mother” can be so broadly defined that it includes the psychological distress that can accompany an unintended pregnancy.

Ms. Kennedy’s commitment to abortion rights is shared by other prominent family members, including Kerry Kennedy Cuomo and Maryland’s former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Some may recall the 2000 Democratic Convention when Caroline and her uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy, addressed the convention to reassure all those gathered that the Democratic Party would continue to provide women with the right to choose abortion — even into the ninth month. At that convention, the party’s nominee, Al Gore, formerly a pro-life advocate, pledged his opposition to parental notification and embraced partial-birth abortion. Several of those in attendance, including former President Bill Clinton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, had been pro-life at one time. But by 2000 nearly every delegate in the convention hall was on the pro-choice side — and those who weren’t simply kept quiet about it.

Caroline Kennedy knows that any Kennedy desiring higher office in the Democratic Party must now carry the torch of abortion rights throughout any race. But this was not always the case. Despite Ms. Kennedy’s description of Barack Obama, in a New York Times op-ed, as a “man like my father,” there is no evidence that JFK was pro-choice like Mr. Obama. Abortion-rights issues were in the fledgling stage at the state level in New York and California in the early 1960s. They were not a national concern.

Even Ted Kennedy, who gets a 100% pro-choice rating from the abortion-rights group Naral, was at one time pro-life. In fact, in 1971, a full year after New York had legalized abortion, the Massachusetts senator was still championing the rights of the unborn. In a letter to a constituent dated Aug. 3, 1971, he wrote: “When history looks back to this era it should recognize this generation as one which cared about human beings enough to halt the practice of war, to provide a decent living for every family, and to fulfill its responsibility to its children from the very moment of conception.”

But that all changed in the early ’70s, when Democratic politicians first figured out that the powerful abortion lobby could fill their campaign coffers (and attract new liberal voters). Politicians also began to realize that, despite the Catholic Church’s teachings to the contrary, its bishops and priests had ended their public role of responding negatively to those who promoted a pro-choice agenda.

In some cases, church leaders actually started providing “cover” for Catholic pro-choice politicians who wanted to vote in favor of abortion rights. At a meeting at the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport, Mass., on a hot summer day in 1964, the Kennedy family and its advisers and allies were coached by leading theologians and Catholic college professors on how to accept and promote abortion with a “clear conscience.”

The former Jesuit priest Albert Jonsen, emeritus professor of ethics at the University of Washington, recalls the meeting in his book “The Birth of Bioethics” (Oxford, 2003). He writes about how he joined with the Rev. Joseph Fuchs, a Catholic moral theologian; the Rev. Robert Drinan, then dean of Boston College Law School; and three academic theologians, the Revs. Giles Milhaven, Richard McCormick and Charles Curran, to enable the Kennedy family to redefine support for abortion.

Mr. Jonsen writes that the Hyannisport colloquium was influenced by the position of another Jesuit, the Rev. John Courtney Murray, a position that “distinguished between the moral aspects of an issue and the feasibility of enacting legislation about that issue.” It was the consensus at the Hyannisport conclave that Catholic politicians “might tolerate legislation that would permit abortion under certain circumstances if political efforts to repress this moral error led to greater perils to social peace and order.”

Father Milhaven later recalled the Hyannisport meeting during a 1984 breakfast briefing of Catholics for a Free Choice: “The theologians worked for a day and a half among ourselves at a nearby hotel. In the evening we answered questions from the Kennedys and the Shrivers. Though the theologians disagreed on many a point, they all concurred on certain basics . . . and that was that a Catholic politician could in good conscience vote in favor of abortion.”

But can they now? There are signs today that some of the bishops are beginning to confront the Catholic politicians who consistently vote in favor of legislation to support abortion. Charles J. Chaput, the archbishop of Denver, has been on the front lines in encouraging Catholics to live their faith without compromise in the public square. Most recently in his book “Render Unto Caesar,” Archbishop Chaput has reminded Catholic politicians of their obligation to protect life.

The archbishop is not alone. The agenda at November’s assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops included a public discussion of abortion and politics. The bishops’ final statement focused on concern about the possible passage of the “Freedom of Choice Act,” and referred to it as “an evil law that would further divide our country.” The bishops referenced their 2007 document, “Faithful Citizenship,” which maintains that the right to life is the foundation of every other human right. In it, they promised to “persist in the duty to counsel, in the hope that the scandal of their [Catholic congregants’] cooperating in evil can be resolved by the proper formation of their consciences.”

Whether the bishops truly will persist remains to be seen. New York’s Cardinal Edward Egan, for instance, has not publicly challenged Ms. Kennedy’s pro-choice promises. This is unfortunate. Until the clerics begin to counter the pro-choice claims made by high-profile Catholics such as Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and, now, Caroline Kennedy, faithful Catholics will continue to be bewildered by their pastoral silence.

Ms. Hendershott is a professor of urban studies at The King’s College in New York. She is the author of “The Politics of Abortion” (Encounter Books, 2007).
Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page W11

Copyright 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Abortion and the Kennedy Clan, Part II

27 August 2009
The 1964 Hyannisport Conclave: Catholic leaders teaching Catholic pols how to ignore evil
CATEGORY: SESSIUNCULA — Fr. John Zuhlsdorf @ 1:47 pm

Back in January, the Wall Street Journal had an article about how the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, Catholic and staunchy pro-abortion, came to embrace the pro-abortion position he championed for decades in the most public way possible.

The article was sparked from the possibility that Caroline Kennedy would be appointed to fill the senatorial seat opened by Sec. Hilary Clinton’s choice to take a pay check from the Obama Administration.

My emphases and comments.

JANUARY 2, 2009

How Support for Abortion Became Kennedy Dogma

By ANNE HENDERSHOTT

For faithful Roman Catholics, [Ms. Hendershott thinks that the Catholic dimension is important enough to raise here. She leads with it.] the thought of yet another pro-choice Kennedy positioned to campaign for the unlimited right to abortion is discouraging. Yet if Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of Catholics John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, is appointed to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Hillary Clinton, abortion-rights advocates will have just such a champion.

Ms. Kennedy was so concerned to assure pro-abortion leaders in New York, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported on Dec. 18, that on the same day Ms. Kennedy telephoned New York Gov. David Patterson to declare interest in the Senate seat, “one of her first calls was to an abortion rights group, indicating she will be strongly pro-choice.”

Within the first week of her candidacy, Ms. Kennedy promised to work for several causes, including same-sex marriage and abortion rights. In responding to a series of 15 questions posed by the New York Times on Dec. 21, Ms. Kennedy said that, while she believes “young women facing unwanted pregnancies should have the advice of caring adults,” she would oppose legislation that would require minors to notify a parent before obtaining an abortion. On the crucial question of whether she supports any state or federal restrictions on late-term abortions, Ms. Kennedy chose to say only that she “supports Roe v. Wade, which prohibits third trimester abortions except when the life or health of the mother is at risk.” Presumably Ms. Kennedy knows that this effectively means an unlimited right to abortion—including late-stage abortion—because the “health of the mother” can be so broadly defined that it includes the psychological distress that can accompany an unintended pregnancy.

Ms. Kennedy’s commitment to abortion rights is shared by other prominent family members, including Kerry Kennedy Cuomo and Maryland’s former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Some may recall the 2000 Democratic Convention when Caroline and her uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy, addressed the convention to reassure all those gathered that the Democratic Party would continue to provide women with the right to choose abortion—even into the ninth month. [“the ninth month”] At that convention, the party’s nominee, Al Gore, formerly a pro-life advocate, pledged his opposition to parental notification and embraced partial-birth abortion. Several of those in attendance, including former President Bill Clinton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, had been pro-life at one time. But by 2000 nearly every delegate in the convention hall was on the pro-choice side—and those who weren’t simply kept quiet about it.

Caroline Kennedy knows that any Kennedy desiring higher office in the Democratic Party must now carry the torch of abortion rights throughout any race. [This is liberal dogma, to be sure. Sadly it is nearly liberal Catholic dogma.] But this was not always the case. Despite Ms. Kennedy’s description of Barack Obama, in a New York Times op-ed, as a “man like my father,” there is no evidence that JFK was pro-choice like Mr. Obama. Abortion-rights issues were in the fledgling stage at the state level in New York and California in the early 1960s. They were not a national concern.

Even Ted Kennedy, who gets a 100% pro-choice rating from the abortion-rights group Naral, was at one time pro-life. In fact, in 1971, a full year after New York had legalized abortion, the Massachusetts senator was still championing the rights of the unborn. In a letter to a constituent dated Aug. 3, 1971, he wrote: “When history looks back to this era it should recognize this generation as one which cared about human beings enough to halt the practice of war, to provide a decent living for every family, and to fulfill its responsibility to its children from the very moment of conception.”

But that all changed in the early ‘70s, when Democratic politicians first figured out that the powerful abortion lobby could fill their campaign coffers (and attract new liberal voters). Politicians also began to realize that, [wait for it] despite the Catholic Church’s teachings to the contrary, its bishops and priests had ended their public role of responding negatively to those who promoted a pro-choice agenda. [Bishops and priests at the time failed in their duty. However, consider also the horrific damage done by enablers such as the late Fr. Robert Drinan, SJ. Men like Drinan gave the Kennedy’s and others their instructions on how to dodge the abortion issue, how to relegate faith (at least concerning abortion) to the sphere of the private so that it would not impinge on their public actions.]

In some cases, [as I just said] church leaders actually started providing “cover” for Catholic pro-choice politicians who wanted to vote in favor of abortion rights. At a meeting at the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport, Mass., on a hot summer day in 1964, the Kennedy family and its advisers and allies were coached by leading theologians and Catholic college professors on how to accept and promote abortion with a “clear conscience.”

[READ THIS NEXT PART WITH CARE]

The former Jesuit priest Albert Jonsen, emeritus professor of ethics at the University of Washington, recalls the meeting in his book “The Birth of Bioethics” (Oxford, 2003). He writes about how he joined with the Rev. Joseph Fuchs, a Catholic moral theologian; the Rev. Robert Drinan, then dean of Boston College Law School; and three academic theologians, the Revs. Giles Milhaven, Richard McCormick and Charles Curran, to enable the Kennedy family to redefine support for abortion. [Get that? There was a workshop for them to help them get around the teaching of the Church.]

Mr. Jonsen writes that the Hyannisport colloquium was influenced by the position of another Jesuit, the Rev. John Courtney Murray, a position that [AGAIN… pay attention…] “distinguished between the moral aspects of an issue and the feasibility of enacting legislation about that issue.” It was the consensus at the Hyannisport conclave that Catholic politicians “might tolerate legislation that would permit abortion under certain circumstances if political efforts to repress this moral error led to greater perils to social peace and order.” [And there it is, folks.]

Father Milhaven later recalled the Hyannisport meeting during a [And refresher courses were necessary….]1984 breakfast briefing of Catholics for a Free Choice: “The theologians worked for a day and a half among ourselves at a nearby hotel. In the evening we answered questions from [from who?] the Kennedys and the Shrivers. Though the theologians disagreed on many a point, they all concurred on certain basics . . . and that was that a Catholic politician could in good conscience vote in favor of abortion.” [Have you wondered how Catholic Democrat pols such as Speaker Pelosi and VP Biden, not to mention a score of other Catholic pro-abortion pols, could justify avoiding the evil of their stand on the instrinsic eveil of abortion? This is how it was done. They were given formation by Catholic theologians. They were given a framework whereby they could justify supporting what Catholics know is evil.]

[QUAERITUR] But can they now? There are signs today that some of the bishops are beginning to confront the Catholic politicians who consistently vote in favor of legislation to support abortion. Charles J. Chaput, the archbishop of Denver, has been on the front lines in encouraging Catholics to live their faith without compromise in the public square. Most recently in his book “Render Unto Caesar,” Archbishop Chaput has reminded Catholic politicians of their obligation to protect life.

The archbishop is not alone. The agenda at November’s assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops included a public discussion of abortion and politics. The bishops’ final statement focused on concern about the possible passage of the “Freedom of Choice Act,” and referred to it as “an evil law that would further divide our country.” The bishops referenced their 2007 document, “Faithful Citizenship,” which maintains that the right to life is the foundation of every other human right. In it, they promised to “persist in the duty to counsel, in the hope that the scandal of their [Catholic congregants’] cooperating in evil can be resolved by the proper formation of their consciences.” [Moreover, the Notre Dame Debacle has not been forgotten. For the USCCB, this is not over.]

Whether the bishops truly will persist remains to be seen. New York’s Cardinal Edward Egan, for instance, has not publicly challenged Ms. Kennedy’s pro-choice promises. This is unfortunate. Until the clerics begin to counter the pro-choice claims made by high-profile Catholics such as Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and, now, Caroline Kennedy, faithful Catholics will continue to be bewildered by their pastoral silence.

Ms. Hendershott is a professor of urban studies at The King’s College in New York. She is the author of “The Politics of Abortion” (Encounter Books, 2007).

This was an excellent piece. I remember when it came out.

Do yourselves a favor and memorize those dates and names.

1964 … 1984 … Jonsen… Fuchs… Milhaven… McCormick… Curran… Drinan… Hyannisport

Abortion and the Kennedy Clan

2 March 2010
Archbp. Chaput’s HOMERUN in Houston!
CATEGORY: SESSIUNCULA — Fr. John Zuhlsdorf @ 10:09 am

This will stir controversy… and it should.

For a long time we have known that someone with a MITER on his head should have gone after John F. Kennedy’s speech in Houston? It will be 50 years… think of that.

Archbishop Chaput of Denver has.

Sandro Magister has the entire text with footnotes on his site, also in Italian. The speech was delivered last night. We conclude from this that someone close to Archbp. Chaput in Denver knows what he is doing.

Archbp. Chaput’s speech relies heavily on Augustine of Hippo. Someone really knows what is going on.

Ask yourself this question as you read:

Are the consciences of politicians subject to the Catechesim of the Catholic Church or not?

My emphases:

JFK speech on faith was ‘sincere’ but ‘wrong,’ Archbishop Chaput states

Houston, Texas, Mar 2, 2010 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Monday evening, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver delivered a talk at Houston Baptist University, in which he criticized President John F. Kennedy’s historic campaign speech on his faith impacting his possible presidency as “sincere, compelling, articulate – and wrong.” The archbishop called on his audience to get involved in the Christian “vocation” of being engaged in public service, at a time when religion is being increasingly ignored in the political sphere.

Archbishop Chaput gave his address, “The Vocation of Christians in American Public Life,” on the evening of March 1 at the Houston Baptist University’s Morris Cultural Art center. The lecture was presented in coordination with the Pope John Paul II Forum for the Church in the Modern World at the University of St. Thomas.

After offering caveats about his remarks, Archbishop Chaput emphasized the need for ecumenism and dialogue based on truth as opposed to superficial niceties. He then remarked, “We also urgently owe each other solidarity and support in dealing with a culture that increasingly derides religious faith in general and the Christian faith in particular.”

During his talk, the archbishop noted that there are currently “more Catholics in national public office” than there ever have been in American history.

“But,” he continued, “I wonder if we’ve ever had fewer of them who can coherently explain how their faith informs their work, or who even feel obligated to try. The life of our country is no more ‘Catholic’ or ‘Christian’ than it was 100 years ago. In fact it’s arguably less so.”

One of the reasons why this problem exists, he explained, is that too many Christian individuals, Protestant and Catholic alike, live their faith as if it were “private idiosyncrasy” which they try to prevent from becoming a “public nuisance.”

“And too many just don’t really believe,” he added.

Recounting the historical context that led to the current state of affairs, Archbishop Chaput referred to a speech that the late John F. Kennedy made while running for president in 1960 which greatly effected the modern relationship between religion and American politics. At his speech almost fifty years ago, President Kennedy had the arduous task of convincing 300 uneasy Protestant ministers in a Houston address that his Catholic faith would not impede his ability to lead the country. Successful in his attempt, “Kennedy convinced the country, if not the ministers, and went on to be elected,” he recalled.

“And his speech left a lasting mark on American politics,” the prelate added.

“It was sincere, compelling, articulate – and wrong. Not wrong about the patriotism of Catholics, but wrong about American history and very wrong about the role of religious faith in our nation’s life.”

“And he wasn’t merely ‘wrong,’” the archbishop continued. “His Houston remarks profoundly undermined the place not just of Catholics, but of all religious believers, in America’s public life and political conversation. Today, half a century later, we’re paying for the damage.”

“To his credit,” he noted, “Kennedy said that if his duties as President should ‘ever require me to violate my conscience or violate the national interest, I would resign the office.’ He also warned that he would not ‘disavow my views or my church in order to win this election.’”

“But in its effect, the Houston speech did exactly that. It began the project of walling religion away from the process of governance in a new and aggressive way. It also divided a person’s private beliefs from his or her public duties. And it set ‘the national interest’ over and against ‘outside religious pressures or dictates.’”

Archbishop Chaput then clarified that although “John Kennedy didn’t create the trends in American life that I’ve described,” his speech “clearly fed them.”

In light of this separation of religion from the public sphere, “What would a proper Christian approach to politics look like?” the archbishop queried.

Drawing on St. Augustine [In this section he quotes the work, by name, of a scholar of of Augustine, Fr. Robert Dodaro, OSA, who is my thesis director. His book Christ and the Just Society is really hard, but worth time for the scholar. I have had it on the side bar for a long time! The average reader will find this book to be tooo haaard. Really.] and several theologians, Archbishop Chaput answered, “Christianity is not mainly – or even significantly – about politics. It’s about living and sharing the love of God. And Christian political engagement, when it happens, is never mainly the task of the clergy.”

“That work belongs to lay believers who live most intensely in the world,” he asserted.

“Christian faith is not a set of ethics or doctrines. It’s not a group of theories about social and economic justice. All these things have their place. All of them can be important. But a Christian life begins in a relationship with Jesus Christ; and it bears fruit in the justice, mercy and love we show to others because of that relationship.” This fundamental relationship then informs how we involve ourselves in public life, he explained.

“As I was preparing these comments for tonight,” he added, “I listed all the urgent issues that demand our attention as believers: abortion; immigration; our obligations to the poor, the elderly and the disabled; questions of war and peace; our national confusion about sexual identity and human nature, and the attacks on marriage and family life that flow from this confusion; the growing disconnection of our science and technology from real moral reflection; the erosion of freedom of conscience in our national health-care debates; the content and quality of the schools that form our children.”

Because of the immensity of these issues, the Denver archbishop stressed that Christians need to united in their societal involvement. “The vocation of Christians in American public life does not have a Baptist or Catholic or Greek Orthodox or any other brand-specific label. Our job is to love God, preach Jesus Christ, serve and defend God’s people, and sanctify the world as his agents. To do that work, we need to be one. Not ‘one’ in pious words or good intentions, but really one, perfectly one, in mind and heart and action, as Christ intended,” he said.

Archbishop Chaput concluded his remarks by saying that “We live in a country that was once – despite its sins and flaws – deeply shaped by Christian faith. It can be so again. But we will do that together, or we won’t do it at all.”

“We need to remember the words of St. Hilary from so long ago: Unum sunt, qui invicem sunt. ‘They are one, who are wholly for each other.’ May God grant us the grace to love each other, support each other and live wholly for each other in Jesus Christ – so that we might work together in renewing the nation that has served human freedom so well.”

Remember Ratzinger to McCarrick… USCCB letters about voting… the Pelosi and Bidens of the world… the Card. Cottier nonesense… Notre Shame.

And do you remember the 2006 letter written by 55 Democrat Catholics in the House of Representatives who wrote to Card. McCarrick claiming, based on a twisting of Christifideles laici, that they can shape social doctrine from their role as laypeople because of their expertise, etc?

It goes all the way back to the hellish 1964 conclave in Hyannisport…. and before.

The rot set in and it began with John F. Kennedy.

This will stir controversy. And it should.

This is Abortion- what the Obamacare plan

Catholic San Francisco

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via Catholic San Francisco.

Archbishop’s Journal – Free Will, Conscience and Moral Choice: What Catholics believe

January 13th, 2010
By Archbishop George H. Niederauer

In a recent interview with Eleanor Clift in Newsweek magazine (Dec. 21, 2009), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked about her disagreements with the United States Catholic bishops concerning Church teaching. Speaker Pelosi replied, in part: “I practically mourn this difference of opinion because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And that women should have the opportunity to exercise their free will.”


Embodied in that statement are some fundamental misconceptions about Catholic teaching on human freedom. These misconceptions are widespread both within the Catholic community and beyond. For this reason I believe it is important for me as Archbishop of San Francisco to make clear what the Catholic Church teaches about free will, conscience, and moral choice.


Catholic teaching on free will recognizes that God has given men and women the capacity to choose good or evil in their lives. The bishops at the Second Vatican Council declared that the human person, endowed with freedom, is “an outstanding manifestation of the divine image.” (Gaudium et Spes, No. 17) As the parable of the Grand Inquisitor in Dostoevsky’s novel, The Brothers Karamazov, makes so beautifully clear, God did not want humanity to be mere automatons, but to have the dignity of freedom, even recognizing that with that freedom comes the cost of many evil choices.


However, human freedom does not legitimate bad moral choices, nor does it justify a stance that all moral choices are good if they are free: “The exercise of freedom does not imply a right to say or do everything.” (The Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1740) Christian belief in human freedom recognizes that we are called but not compelled by God to choose constantly the values of the Gospel—faith, hope, love, mercy, justice, forgiveness, integrity and compassion.


It is entirely incompatible with Catholic teaching to conclude that our freedom of will justifies choices that are radically contrary to the Gospel—racism, infidelity, abortion, theft. Freedom of will is the capacity to act with moral responsibility; it is not the ability to determine arbitrarily what constitutes moral right.


What, then, is to guide the children of God in the use of their freedom? Again, the bishops at the Council provide the answer—conscience: “Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment . . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God . . . . His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.” (GS, No. 16) Conscience, then, is the judgment of reason whereby the human person, guided by God’s grace, recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act. In all we say and do, we are obliged to follow faithfully what we know to be just and right.


How do we form and guide our consciences? While the Church teaches that each of us is called to judge and direct his or her own actions, it also teaches that, like any good judge, each conscience masters the law and listens to expert testimony about the law. This process is called the education and formation of conscience.


Catholics believe that “the education of conscience is a lifelong task.” (CCC, No. 1784) Where do we go for this education of our consciences? Our living tradition teaches us that “In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path; we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord’s Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church.” (CCC, No. 1785)


Our Catholic beliefs about free will, conscience and moral choice are rooted in the Good News of Jesus Christ’s teaching and his redemptive life, death and resurrection: “For freedom Christ has set us free” (Gal. 5:1); “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2Cor. 3:17); we glory “in the liberty of the children of God.” (Rom. 8:17). Common caricatures of Christian morality portray believers as living in fear of punishment or concerned only with an eternal reward. Long ago, however, St. Basil the Great, a fourth-century bishop and theologian, taught that the Christian, in living a moral life according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, “does not stand before God as a slave in servile fear, nor a mercenary looking for wages, but obeys for the sake of the good itself and out of love for God as his child.” (CCC, No. 1828)


As participants in the life of the civil community, we Catholic citizens try to follow our consciences, guided, as described above, by reason and the grace of God. While we deeply respect the freedom of our fellow citizens, we nevertheless are profoundly convinced that free will cannot be cited as justification for society to allow moral choices that strike at the most fundamental rights of others. Such a choice is abortion, which constitutes the taking of innocent human life, and cannot be justified by any Catholic notion of freedom. Because of these convictions we commit ourselves to a continuing witness to, and dialogue about, the Gospel values that underlie our understanding of freedom, conscience, and moral choice.


From January 15, 2010 issue of
Catholic San Francisco.


In Memoriam – Erick’s blog – RedState

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via In Memoriam – Erick’s blog – RedState.

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“We renew our pledge … to work to support candidates who will do everything in their power to someday bring about the day when Roe v. Wade joins Scott v. Sandford as an aberrant footnote to our nation’s great history.

On this day 37 years ago, seven unelected lawyers (all male) spat on centuries of Western tradition, the plain text of the Constitution, and decades of precedent and declared that there existed in the Constitution a heretofore undiscovered right for women to kill their children in utero. In one fell swoop, one of society’s burning moral questions was removed completely from the democratic process and placed in the hands of a black-robed oligarchy, jealous of protecting its own prerogative and manifestly afraid of “appearing weak” above all things; on at least one occasion it would refuse to reverse itself in order to teach the lowly population to be “tested by following” so that they might know the truth of the unelected Court above all other pedestrian concerns.

Almost four decades later, somewhere around 50 million unborn children have been victimized by the breathtaking arrogance of the Court. They committed no crimes, were afforded no due process or trials at all, and every appeal made on their behalf has fallen on deaf ears. They have been killed in the most brutal ways imaginable, unceremoniously sucked from their mother’s wombs, and carelessly discarded without even the dignity of an unmarked grave. Every reasonable effort to curb the abuses of the system that has produced these gruesome results has been summarily rejected by society’s robed masters. And so the carnage marches on.

The truth that these children are biologically human and biologically distinct from their mothers is beyond question to anyone who believes in the most basic tenets of science. Why, then, are they declared so totally bereft of rights in our society? The fact that a woman can, with the protection of the law, kill her child on the day of its planned full-term delivery, indicates clearly that the only answer to this question is “physical location within their mother’s womb.” If a child is in this place, it may be killed with impunity; if it is in another, to kill it is murder. Even the more generous (but less accurate) characterization of the Court’s jurisprudence as respecting “stages of development” rather than physical location provides us no more satisfactory answer. If a child can be kllled with impunity because it has not reached 24 weeks’ gestational age, why may it not be killed because it hasn’t reached its first birthday? Or puberty? Logic and reason provide no defensible answer to these questions, because in the legalized abortion regime, logic and reason – like science and law – have been sacrificed on the altar of self-aggrandizement and convenience at any cost.

The evil Roe v. Wade has wrought has cheapened and weakened our society. It has decimated minority population growth, especially among African-Americans. It has caused us to devalue the handicapped and less fortunate, as mothers who carry these precious children to full term are now somehow thought to be less responsible for the decision. The damage to the fabric of the family itself – the most basic building block of our society – has been incalculable.

And so today, hundreds of thousands of Americans will march on our nation’s capital to continue our peaceful protest against this policy which has been foisted upon us. And though most of us cannot be physically present with them, we stand with them in solidarity and in spirit, saying a silent prayer together on behalf of the fallen, and in the hope that the guilt of the blood spilt on our land might somehow be purged.

At RedState, we stand in solidarity with them. The question does not and should not divide us along conservative/libertarian lines, for even the most libertarian among us must recognize the right of the state to prevent and punish the killing of innocent humans. And we renew our pledge today and every day to work to support candidates who will do everything in their power to someday bring about the day when Roe v. Wade joins Scott v. Sandford as an aberrant footnote to our nation’s great history.

On this day, we remember the nameless and the forgotten, and we lament our inability to even grasp the sorrow or the extent of their loss. Requiescat in pace.