Examiner.com: CatholicVote.org Pro-Life videos

14 05 2009

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Before the presidential election in 2008, Catholic Vote (a project of Fidelis Center for Law and Policy) released a well-made video which urged Catholics to consider the most important issues which are facing our culture: the recognition of the dignity of every human life (from conception to natural death) and the strengthening of the family (“the building block of society,” following the teaching of John Paul II). Although this video was well-made and moving, I was left a little dumbstruck at how the ending statement had seemingly deflated what had been built up in the previous three minutes. It is, after all, imperative to vote using one’s conscience; however, the ambiguity of the word “conscience” in our society and the consequent ease with which the phrase can be misconstrued left me wondering about its appropriateness in this particular video.

Since the release of this video, Catholic Vote has released two more: one shortly following Obama’s installation as President and the other within the last week. In contrast to the possible ambiguity of their first release, both of these videos have pro-life messages which are very well thought out and presented. They are able, I believe, to reach to people on both sides of the debate with presentations which are realistic and enlightening.

On many occasions, they tried to air their first video on national television, but were unsuccessful. They had hoped to present it during the last Super Bowl (on CBS) and during President Obama’s first State of the Union address (on CNN). It would have been a very compelling message to hear during the President’s address, but it was rejected because the networks did not want to entangle themselves in an issue as weighty as abortion. It’s an odd thing to hear from a TV network, as they seem all-too-comfortable presenting controversial material – including abortion – every day.*

The second video has no parallel event which would make it as apropos as the first, but it is also very beautifully made and very convincingly argued. They are, as far as I am aware, trying to have this one aired during the American Idol finale and are currently raising funds in order to make the ad go live.

Give ’em a peek and let me know what you think.



* I wouldn’t think it a far stretch of the imagination to say that the video didn’t align with the agenda of the networks. For example, according to mainstream sources (even Fox) there are about 50,000 people who participate in the annual March for Life in Washington D.C. (This is not to mention that there is next to no mainsteam media coverage of this event.) To nearly any source outside of the mainstream, there are approximately 400,000 to 500,000 people.


Examiner.com: Notre Dame and Obama: Why is this an issue?

12 05 2009

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Although this will be considered by some to be “old news,” there still seems to be a confusion amongst the general public as to why Notre Dame’s decision to give President Obama an honorary doctorate and allowing him to be the commencement speaker is an issue, much less newsworthy. After all, he is the President, right? For this, he could just as well be given an honorary doctorate at any university. So, why is this an issue at the nation’s best known Catholic university?

The mission of Catholic schools, first and foremost, is to spread the Gospel through its environment, its curriculum, its decisions (both public and private), etc. This does not mean that everyone who attends must be Catholic, nor that every class (in whatever subject) will be used as an opportunity for captive-audience-proselytization. Rather, it means that through its various classes and other works, it will retain (and be faithful to) its Catholic identity. That is, it should remain a faithful Catholic. This, I think, is to be expected of any institution, that it remain faithful to its identity and roots in order to continue to identify itself with said group. When a living thing dies, it is no longer “alive,” but “dead.” It no longer belongs to the “institution” of living things.

Unfortunately, as will be readily attested by many faithful Catholics, just because a university (or other institution) was begun as a Catholic institution, does not mean that it remains so. As a matter of fact, the list of “steadily” Catholic institutions of higher education (as compiled by the Cardinal Newman Society) is rather small. (There is the possibility that there should be more – or less – schools on that list, but that is besides the point.) The granting of an honorary doctorate and the opportunity to deliver the commencement speech at a university is, well, an honor. And this honor is bestowed on an individual in order to recognize some accomplishment(s) of the recipient. One would assume that the commencement speaker sought would not be found in contradiction to the school or its principles. For example, I cannot imagine that Auburn University (which has a strong agricultural program) would honor Pamela Anderson (a loyal and outspoken PETA supporter) with a degree, nor an opportunity to deliver the commencement speech. In a similar, but more serious way, the (Catholic) University of Notre Dame has invited a man, regardless of which office he holds, of whom it is well-known that he stands in direct opposition to fundamental teachings and beliefs which it should hold proudly and joyfully as a Catholic institution (and would certainly be justified in being humored by such a proposition). I mean, would a Jewish institution invite Mel Gibson’s father, who has denied that the Holocaust ever happened, to receive such an honor (or any honor, for that matter)? Would Islamic jihadistsinvite George Bush over to congratulate him for a “job well done”? Why would an institution whose name means “Our Lady” invite a man who has consistently promoted agendas which are in direct opposition to many of its most sincere and foundational beliefs to their ceremony to grant this honor to him? They (being Father Jenkins and the supporting staff) have honored a man who, in action, hates what they (should) hold most dearly.

The problem which arises from this is that this is a source of tremendous scandal, especially so amidst the confusion which already exists amongst both Catholics and non-Catholics alike. What message is this sending to the world? It would surely seem as if everyone knew that the Catholic Church is opposed to many of President Obama’s actions (an understanding ofwhy this is so is a different issue), yet here is a Catholic institution honoring him with a doctorate. This can be easily interpreted (especially for the estimated 50-plus percent of Catholics who voted for Obama), as a stamp of approval on a man who has continuously fought against beliefs which are (and should be) foundational for all Catholics. For whatever reason they have decided to honor him (more than likely because of some falsely perceived “social justice” platform), those responsible have simultaneously honored a man who has supported abortion at all stages of pregnancy (and, in Illinois, even for the killing of those babies who weren’t “successfully” aborted), sent millions of dollars to other countries in order to facilitate abortions in the middle of an economic crisis, intends to allow funding for the destruction of human embryos in order to harvest unstable stem cells which have never cured anything (while shunning adult stem cells which have already cured many), not to mention his apparent inclination to socialism (to which the Church is strongly opposed), and his general attitude of moral relativism (“I personally ‘believe’ this is wrong, but who am I to force my ‘beliefs’ on others?”, which Pope Benedict has repeatedly called “the major evil facing the church.“). This is not a man whom the Church (in any of her institutions) should honor because of his actions, thereby presenting the message that “This man is one whom we should uphold as a model to be followed,” because his actions are (intentionally or not) violent to the beliefs and teachings of Catholicism (especially those which are foundational to the teachings on social justice). I am not advocating that Catholics should write him off as intrinsically evil and condemn him outright, nor that the Church should close the possibility of open dialog with him, but I do not believe that providing an environment whereby his actions could be perceived as “acceptable” is in the realm of right judgment.

In closing, I would like to thank the 350,000-plus people who have petitioned Fr. Jenkins of Notre Dame to rescind his invitation to President Obama, as well as all of those who have protested, and the unfortunate few (including Dr. Alan Keyes) who have been arrested thus far because of their protest. Because of their actions, the murkiness of this event has been clarified some and the public was exposed to the dichotomy which has presented itself in light of the university’s decision.

Retaining current conscience regulations

8 04 2009

Ever since the threat of rescission of the conscience regulations instituted by the Bush administration (which protect the rights of health care workers), many of the U.S. bishops (including my own) have spoken out in order to protect the regulations which are currently in place. (The call of Cardinal Francis George may be seen here and the USCCB’s page dedicated to this effort is here.) We, as U.S. citizens, and especially as Catholics, are being asked to speak out to our leaders in order to prevent the government from attempting to intrude an aspect of humans which should be revered as fundamental to individual and, consequently, societal flourishing: our consciences. Granted, our consciences as a society (often enough) aren’t properly formed, but to have the ability to say “no” (without a penalty) removed for those who would refrain from doing something which they consider to be inherently evil, is, frankly, scary. In order to attempt to protect those who are affected by these regulations, we have been asked to contact those in charge. This may be done in several ways (n.b.: a sample statement to send may be found below these options):

  1. e-mail proposedrescission@hhs.gov,
  2. sending your comments via NCHLA – sponsored by the USCCB (also, it has a generic message which you may edit before sending),
  3. visiting the U.S. Government Regulations website and enter “0991-AB49” in the search box (via Word, Wordperfect, or Excel),
  4. mailing one original and two copies via snail mail to: Office of Public Health and Science, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: Rescission Proposal Comments, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue SW, Room 716G, Washington, D.C. 20201.

Here is an argument against the proposed rescission, which you may use in contacting them, if you so choose:

I am writing today to ask those who are in charge to retain the conscience regulations which are in place to protect health care workers from providing services which they regard as morally offensive. I find that this destroys the freedom and autonomy of the individual to act according to his or her conscience, which I find, in itself, to be morally offensive. Removing this protection would prevent citizens from acting freely, according to their most deeply held convictions (which shape who we are), forcing them either to be penalized, resign, or act as “robots” of the State’s bidding, none of which respect the dignity and autonomy of the human person to act on his or her own free will according to the formation of their conscience. It would also seem that, were this regulation be eliminated, the problem would then be prepared to spread itself throughout the rest of the institutions of our country. And then, are we all to bow before the will of the State (read: those few who are in control and want their will obeyed through the power of the State), regardless of the things which we believe and especially those which believe to be duties higher than those of the State? The consequences of eliminating these regulations would be the beginning (continuing?) of the removal of the ability of the person to act according to his own mind and will, rendering him (for all practical purposes) less than human and nothing more than a blind instrument of the State: consequences which have nothing to do with “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for all citizens of the United States.

Name, Address, etc.
Thanks in particular to my bishop, Robert Baker, and CatholicVote.org for raising awareness of this issue.