Pull up a chair in my domestic church and let's chat!

I have worn many labels (Not in any particular order): Catholic, Wife, Mom,Gramma, Doctor, Major, Soccer Mom, Military Wife, Professor, Fellow.

All of these filter my views of the world. I hope that like St. Monica, I can through prayer, words and example, lead my children and others to Faith.
"The important thing is that we do not let a single day go by in vain without putting it to good use for eternity"--Blessed Franz Jägerstätter

Monday, September 29, 2008

What's for dinner?

In honor of the Feast of the Archangels, we are having angel hair pasta tonight. If you have already made your dinner plans for tonight but would still like to honor the angels, have angel hair pasta this Thursday night, October 2. It is the feast of the Guardian Angels. One of the best ways to keep our family focused on Heaven is to live the Liturgical Calendar.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fr. Reese (et al) and Natural Law

I want to expound a bit on my objections to Fr. Thomas Reese’s commentary in yesterday’s Washington Post. Fr. Reese suggests that reducing the number of abortions is the ultimate goal. Therefore, if he can find a way to reduce the number of abortions yet keep abortion legal, he calls the action successful. This is extremely misguided. The issue is more than just reducing the number of abortions. The issue is to acknowledge the inviolable human dignity of every human person from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. To reduce the demand for abortion without clearly asserting the intrinsic evil of abortion still denies the unborn have intrinsic human dignity. Once we accept one class of citizens as disposable, we are all vulnerable to the whims of those with more power than we have. This is not a matter of religious ideology. This is a matter of natural law.

I am very happy to say that this morning’s homily given by our newly ordained priest was one of the best homilies on this topic I have every heard. He pointed to this quote from John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Christefideles Laici.

38. In effect the acknowledgment of the personal dignity of every human being demands the respect, the defence and the promotion of therights of the human person. It is a question of inherent, universal and inviolable rights. No one, no individual, no group, no authority, no State, can change-let alone eliminate-them because such rights find their source in God himself.

The inviolability of the person which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, fínds its primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life. Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights-for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.

This week my class in Catholic Bioethics focused on the Principles of Medical Ethics. To study the Principle of the Right to Life, I was directed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s “Declaration on Procured Abortion

10. In regard to the mutual rights and duties of the person and of society, it belongs to moral teaching to enlighten consciences; it belongs to the law to specify and organize external behavior. There is precisely a certain number of rights which society is not in a position to grant since these rights precede society; but society has the function to preserve and to enforce them. These are the greater part of those which are today called "human rights" and which our age boasts of having formulated.

11. The first right of the human person is his life. He has other goods and some are more precious, but this one is fundamental - the condition of all the others. Hence it must be protected above all others. It does not belong to society, nor does it belong to public authority in any form to recognize this right for some and not for others: all discrimination is evil, whether it be founded on race, sex, color or religion. It is not recognition by another that constitutes this right. This right is antecedent to its recognition; it demands recognition and it is strictly unjust to refuse it.

12. Any discrimination based on the various stages of life is no more justified than any other discrimination. The right to life remains complete in an old person, even one greatly weakened; it is not lost by one who is incurably sick. The right to life is no less to be respected in the small infant just born than in the mature person. In reality, respect for human life is called for from the time that the process of generation begins. From the time that the ovum is fertilized, a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor of the mother, it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth. It would never be made human if it were not human already.

13. To this perpetual evidence - perfectly independent of the discussions on the moment of animation[19] - modern genetic science brings valuable confirmation. It has demonstrated that, from the first instant, there is established the program of what this living being will be: a man, this individual man with his characteristic aspects already well determined. Right from fertilization is begun the adventure of a human life, and each of its capacities requires time- a rather lengthy time- to find its place and to be in a position to act. The least that can be said is that present science, in its most evolved state, does not give any substantial support to those who defend abortion. Moreover, it is not up to biological sciences to make a definitive judgment on questions which are properly philosophical and moral such as the moment when a human person is constituted or the legitimacy of abortion. From a moral point of view this is certain: even if a doubt existed concerning whether the fruit of conception is already a human person, it is objectively a grave sin to dare to risk murder. "The one who will be a man is already one."[20]

Please note that paragraph (13) is the perfect refutation to the remarks of both Speaker Pelosi and Senator Biden. There has never been a question about the morality of abortion even when there has been a question about “animation” (ensoulment). The Church has always taught that abortion is unacceptable. There is no equivocation. The right to life is paramount and fundamental. It is the foundation for all other rights. It is futile to speak of preserving other human rights if the right to life is not defended as Pope John Paul II states, “with maximum determination”. That maximum determination includes but is not limited to the societal statement made through legal statutes that ensures the human person is accorded inviolable dignity from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Catholic Carnival 191

I know I am a bit late at posting this, but why don't you use your day of rest to peruse a great variety of Catholic writing. This That and the Other Think is hosting Catholic Carnival 191. It goes great with Sunday morning coffee!

O Father Reese, Ye of Little Faith

Why is it the Washington Post always turns to dissidents to give the Catholic viewpoint? Today’s edition offers this essay by Fr. Thomas J. Reese, SJ. You may remember Fr. Reese was pressured to resign as editor of America magazine because of concerns about his faithfulness to Catholic teaching. In any case, Fr. Reese’s current comments about Roe v Wade just made me sick:

Support for keeping abortion legal in all or most cases has fluctuated between 49% and 61% while support for making abortion illegal in all or most cases has fluctuated between 36% and 48%. Currently the numbers are 54% for keeping it legal; 41% for making it illegal. Neither side is convincing the other.

Opponents of abortion argue that morality is not based on public opinion. That is true, but law is often based on public opinion. Certainly laws cannot be enforced without the support of public opinion. The inability of the United States successfully to enforce laws against illegal immigration, drugs, prostitution and gambling shows how difficult it is to enforce laws that significant numbers of citizens, even a significant minority, do not support.

In many countries where abortion is illegal, the laws are simply ignored. For example, in Argentina abortion is against the law but state hospitals perform abortions and the state pays for them. They have a much more flexible attitude toward law than Americans do. We believe laws should be enforced.

For years, Republicans have been courting the pro-life public by arguing that the Supreme Court is only one vote away from overturning Roe v. Wade. Vote for a Republican president, they say, and he will appoint pro-life justices. In fact, Republican presidents have appointed a majority of the justices since 1973 and the decision is still in place. The reluctance of justices to reverse earlier decisions (stare decisis) makes the hurdle very high even for a conservative justice.

Let me be clear. I think Roe v. Wade was a bad decision. It was bad law. It was a classic case of judicial activism. At the same time, to think that reversing Roe v. Wade will solve the abortion problem is naive. It will simply return the issue to the states and most states will keep abortion legal. And in states where abortion is made illegal, those seeking abortions will simply drive to another state.

What Fr. Reese seems to forget is that we have a moral obligation to be a voice for the unborn and all those who are vulnerable. It is not just a matter of reducing the number of abortions. It is taking a stand that abortion is an intrinsic evil and cannot be supported in any way, shape or form. To say that not enough people agree with us to make our stand efficacious is cowardly. With God, all things are possible. I am glad the Apostles did not have such a defeatist attitude.

UPDATE: Please see this post for more thought on this.

Friday, September 26, 2008

More than a Human vs Animal Issue

I had the opportunity to speak with my son’s English teacher about his concerns. It was a cordial and pleasant conversation. In fairness to her, I do not think she was trying to intentionally promote a radical PETA style agenda when she called into question my son’s view. Her intent in asking for the support of other students was more to stimulate discussion than to show by majority rules that his position was in error.

I also don’t think she realized how much she put her stamp of approval on the position that animal and human life are of equal value. She was trying to show the evolution of the main character from a position of total disregard for animal life to a position of valuing animal life. She presented two positions: human life is more valuable than animal life or human life is equal to animal life. The first position is the bad position of the main character in the beginning of the book and the second is the good position he learned as the story progresses. From our discussion, I gleaned that she did not want to delve into the more nuanced position that animal life can be respected but that does not make it of equal value to human life. She said the class is too chatty and easily distracted so she wanted to keep things focused and productive. It was really a matter of classroom expediency to offer just two choices of thought. She wanted the students to concentrate on the story and not bring in all these religious or philosophical viewpoints.

I fully expected to be writing a follow-up post to my son’s English class experience. However, I expected it to be an expository piece on the Catholic teaching about the relationship between man and animals. While that is an interesting topic, I think there are other points worthy of contemplation. First of all, I think there is something intrinsically flawed with a curriculum that must reduce everything to black and white and doesn’t have time for a sophisticated discussion of the gray. I am not blaming any one teacher for this. This is a systemic problem with our educational system. Specifically, the teaching of English has gone from teaching the skills of English communication and the appreciation of the artistry of the written word to indoctrination into approved ideas. My daughter experienced this last year with her AP literature class. The current trend in English class is to appreciate the political message of the literature. But great literature is not about politics. Literature becomes timeless when it touches the core themes of our humanity: love, loss, fear, good and evil. We can provide context to the writing of Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Jane Austen by knowing something of the politics and culture of their times. But their politics is not the point of their writing. The staying power of their writing is that it speaks to some element of the universal human experience. The focus on a contemporary message makes Oprah book club choices more useful than Jane Austen or Louisa May Alcott. It teaches the essence of propaganda, not literature.

Secondly, isn’t it sad that a teacher is surprised when a student brings his religious principles into the classroom? She fully expects students to compartmentalize their values and stow them away for English class. Of course, in a society that sees no contradiction when someone says, “I am personally opposed, but…” it is not surprising that students are expected to be able to expound a view totally at odds with their faith for the sake of the English class curriculum.

The problem is we are not compartmentalized beings. We are integrated body and spirit. We are called to let our faith permeate and influence every nook and cranny of our lives. This may put us out of sync with current trends in education, but it keeps us in sync with God.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Please Contact HHS Today!

This was just posted at Mirror of Justice:

The US Dept. of Health and Human Services has announced a rule that would protect the ability of healthcare providers to refuse to participate in those things that they believe are immoral, such as abortion, the morning after pill, and emergency contraception. It is important that all citizens who support such protection contact DHHS in the next 48 hours and express that support. Page 2 of the announcement provides the following instructions:

1. Electronically. You may submit electronic comments on this regulation to or via e-mail to To submit electronic comments to, go to the Web site and click on the link "Comment or Submission" and enter the keywords "provider conscience". (Attachments should be in Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, or Excel; however, we prefer Microsoft Word.)

2. By regular mail. You may mail written comments (one original and two copies) to the following address only: Office of Public Health and Science, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: Brenda Destro, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue, S.W., Room 728E, Washington, DC, 20201.

3. By express or overnight mail. You may send written comments (one original and two copies) to the following address only: Office of Public Health and Science, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: Brenda Destro, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue, S.W., Room 728E, Washington, DC, 20201.

4. By hand or courier. If you prefer, you may deliver (by hand or courier) your written comments (one original and two copies) before the close of the comment period to the following address: Room 728E, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20201. (Because access to the interior of the Hubert H. Humphrey Building is not readily available to persons without Federal Government Identification, commenters are encouraged to leave their comments in the mail drop slots located in the main lobby of the building. A stamp-in clock is available for persons wishing to retain proof of filing by stamping in and retaining and extra copy of the documents being filed.)

Comments mailed to the addresses indicated as appropriate for hand or courier delivery may be delayed and received after the comment period.

Please write to HHS and ask your prolife contacts to do so as well.

An Ample Supply of Insanity

In light of my son's experience yesterday, take a look at this article!

(H/T Karen

UPDATE: A different sort of insanity, but insanity nonetheless.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Would Paying Teachers More Prevent This?

Once again I am thinking we need to pay teachers more money because we are definitely not attracting enough of the best and the brightest to this critical profession. Consider the following:

My son’s ninth grade English class is reading the short story The Most Dangerous Game. His teacher asserts as fact that the view that human life is more valuable than animal life is erroneous. In fact, this is the view of the villain of the story so it must be wrong. My son objects stating that he believes human life is more valuable than animal life. He told me he didn’t want to get in to the fact that humans have a soul and animals don’t so he just put forth that humans have an intellect and can choose right from wrong (free will) and animals do not. His teacher then put this idea up to a class vote. Of course, since she had already said this position was in error, not a single student agreed with my son. She then pointed to this lack of support as evidence that my son must be wrong. My son stood firm and told her that his faith taught that human life is more valuable than animal life. She then dismissed him with a “Fine. Believe what you want. I don’t want your parents emailing me to complain.”

There is so much wrong on so many levels with this scenario. First of all, declaring that values are voted on to determine their veracity is absurd. Secondly, subjecting a student to this kind of public scrutiny is insensitive at best and cruel at worst. Obviously, this teacher has no interest in diverse opinions and rational discourse. She seems more interested in indoctrination than in education. After seeing the ridicule my son endured, do you think many students will step forward to disagree with her in the future? I do believe she may have sensed that she had crossed the line of propriety because she pointedly told my son she didn’t want to hear from his parents about this.

The incident obviously bothered my son because he brought the subject up with me. I told him I am very proud of him for standing firm in his principles. He told me that he couldn’t believe one thing during English class and something else the rest of the day. I know this test will strengthen him for future trials, but I still think a good teacher would not have created such a situation.

UPDATE: I did follow up with the teacher. You can read about it here.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Insidious Creep of Evil

Trig Palin, son of Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, has elicited many positive responses from those who value human life. However, he has also brought out the worst in those who think it better that children with Downs Syndrome are never born. The executive vice-president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada thinks Sarah Palin set a poor example when she elected to give birth to Trig rather than aborting him:

According to the Globe and Mail, Dr. Andre Lalonde, executive vice-president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC), is worried that Palin's decision to give birth to Trig, despite knowing about his condition, could influence other women in similar situations, but who lack the financial and emotional support that Palin had access to.

"The worry is that this will have an implication for abortion issues in Canada," he said.

Citing his concern for women's "freedom to choose", Lalonde said that popular examples about women like Palin, who choose not to kill their unborn children, could have negative effects on women and their families, reported the Globe.

Then this piece by Nicholas Provenzo is making its way around the blogosphere:

Like many, I am troubled by the implications of Alaska governor and Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin's decision to knowingly give birth to a child disabled with Down syndrome. Given that Palin's decision is being celebrated in some quarters, it is crucial to reaffirm the morality of aborting a fetus diagnosed with Down syndrome (or by extension, any unborn fetus)—a freedom that anti-abortion advocates seek to deny.

A parent has a moral obligation to provide for his or her children until these children are equipped to provide for themselves. Because a person afflicted with Down syndrome is only capable of being marginally productive (if at all) and requires constant care and supervision, unless a parent enjoys the wealth to provide for the lifetime of assistance that their child will require, they are essentially stranding the cost of their child's life upon others.

The sheer degree of arrogance required to put forth these ideas is mind-boggling. It is very easy to cast aspersions upon those who maintain such a utilitarian view of the value of life. Truly the comment boxes of many blogs discussing these views are filled with snide comments and personal insults. Yet such responses do nothing to bring about a conversion of hearts. Therefore, I appreciate Michael Scaperlanda’s response at Mirror of Justice. He links to this extremely powerful address given by Dr. Leon Kass at the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. in 2006:

Practitioners of pre-natal diagnosis, working today with but a fraction of the information soon to be available from the Human Genome Project, already screen for a long list of genetic diseases and abnormalities, from Down’s syndrome to dwarfism. Possession of any one of these defects, they believe, renders a prospective child unworthy of life. Persons who happen still to be born with these conditions, having somehow escaped the spreading net of detection and eugenic abortion, are increasingly regarded as “mistakes,” as inferior human beings who should not have been born. Not long ago, at my own university, a physician making rounds with medical students stood over the bed of an intelligent, otherwise normal ten-year-old boy with spina bifida. “Were he to have been conceived today,” the physician casually informed his entourage, “he would have been aborted.” A woman I know with a child who has Down syndrome is asked by total strangers, “Didn’t you have an amnio?” The eugenic mentality is taking root, and we are subtly learning with the help of science to believe that there really are certain lives unworthy of being born.

This is just a snippet of this insightful discourse by Dr. Kass. Please take the time to read the whole thing. Then share it with someone else. We are being incredibly naive if we think this eugenic mentality will not creep farther and farther into our culture. There is no safe amount of evil.

St. Michael the Archangel,
Defend us this day in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and may thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Power of God, cast into Hell, Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Terrible Twos or Terrible Teens

Our labradinger, Athena, has just turned one. I am not sure if that makes her recent behavior issues the result of terrible twos or terrible teens. She had been very good about staying near me in our unfenced back yard, even when she was not on the leash. Then suddenly, over the last week or so, she has developed a strong sense of independence. After a couple of incidents of her bolting into the woods I decided the off leash activities would be curtailed until we did some intensive training. The last of her forays ended when she found something unidentified but incredibly disgusting and rolled around in it. Upon retrieving her, I had to make a bee line for the bathtub. The stench was overpowering.

Today I headed out to the mailbox with her on a leash. We were just going to drop a couple of letters in the box so I didn't close the front door. I noticed the garage door was open so I returned inside via the garage, forgetting that the front door was open. I took Athena off her leash and as I put the leash away I realized the front door was open. I rushed outside and Athena was nowhere to be seen. I dashed to the back of the house and into the woods, but no dog. It could not have been more than two minutes, but the dog had vanished and I had no idea in what direction she was traveling. I frantically searched up and down the tree line. There was no sign of her.

I headed back to the house and started making phone calls. I called all my kids, my husband and my mother and asked for prayers. I lit a candle and said my own prayers, certainly asking for the intercession of both St. Francis and St. John Bosco. Soon thereafter, I got a phone call from a neighbor on the next street. Athena was happily visiting her labrador and having a grand old time. I drove over and picked up my wayward puppy. I swear she rolled her eyes at me as I fussed about her misbehavior.

I have remembered to say a prayer of thanksgiving for her return. I am not sure what has sparked this change in her behavior. She reminds me of both a defiant two-year-old and a rebellious teen. I hope this phase passes quickly.

Four Priests Run the Race

Four priests from the Diocese of Arlington will be running the Baltimore Marathon as a relay in order to raise funds for Project Rachel and Gabriel project programs.

Come October, Father Searby’s running stamina will yield even more good results, since he has signed on to participate in a marathon relay with three other diocesan priests to raise money for Project Rachel and Gabriel Project, two local pro-life organizations.

The relay will be a part of the Baltimore Marathon Oct. 11. The other priests running are Father Jerome Magat, parochial vicar of St. William of York Parish in Stafford; Father Edward Horkan, parochial vicar of St. Rita Parish in Alexandria; and Father Edward Hathaway, pastor of St. Veronica Parish in Chantilly. Together they call themselves Team Sacerdos, Latin for “Team Priest”.

This takes on a personal note since both Fr. Horkan and Fr. Searby were parochial vicars at my parish right after their ordinations. They have each since moved on to other parishes but they hold a special place in my heart. They were powerful positive influences on my children.

Therefore, if you would like to offer support for their efforts, please say a prayer that they run the race to the best of their abilities and bring Glory to God in their efforts. You can also offer monetary support by sending a check in honor of Team Sancerdos to:

Gabriel Project/Project Rachel

c/o Catholic Diocese of Arlington

P.O. Box 1960

Merrifield, VA 22116-1960.

In addition to making a visible stand for a worthy pro-life cause, I think these priests are also making a great statement for vocations.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Weekend Reflections

In addition to tracking the progress of Hurricane Ike, I spent Friday and Saturday in Philadelphia attending a bioethics conference sponsored by the National Catholic Bioethics Center. It was a tremendously interesting series of lectures and I hope to offer some more specific thoughts about the conference in future posts, but I initially want to share a couple of general reflections.

First of all, the conference site was St. Charles of Borromeo Seminary. We celebrated Mass with the seminarians each morning. It was truly inspiring to be among these young men who have decided to give themselves totally to the service of Christ and His Church. I could feel the holiness and prayers that pervaded the environment. It was such a privilege to be at Mass with them. It made me think of this post. As a parent, it would be very comforting to know that my child is in a setting so infused with the Holy Spirit.

Secondly, while most of the attendants at the conference had health care backgrounds, I realized bioethics is not just for doctors, nurses, pharmacists, pastoral caregivers, and hospital administrators. Experts in the field of bioethics are important. However, this is not a topic that should be limited to experts. The bioethics discussion is for each of us. I strongly recommend going to the NCBC web site and availing yourself of the many resources provided. In this political season, it will certainly help you sort fact from fiction as the various candidates make claims on bioethical issues. Yet, there are many more personal reasons to become better educated in bioethics. We are all getting older along with our parents, spouses, children, etc. There are many bioethical issues to face with the aging process. Understanding advance directives as well as the alternatives is important to each of us. Finding out what the Catholic Church really teaches as opposed to what the media says the Catholic Church teaches is also important as we evangelize.

Let me know if there are specific bioethical issues you would like to hear about and I will try to post on them.

Prayers Answered

My heartfelt thanks go out to all who offered prayers as Hurricane Ike roared through Texas. That little jog to the east that the Hurricane took at the last minute certainly made the devastation a bit less. However, many are still suffering so prayers as well as donations to Catholic Relief Services or the Red Cross are still appreciated.

My own family members in Houston fared pretty well. My two children at Rice hunkered down with their schoolmates in the cafeteria during the worst of the storm. They never lost power. The campus had some minor flooding, downed trees, and lots of other debris but nothing too major. My parents made it through in similarly good shape. My in-laws are part of the 75% of Houston households that do not have power, but there was no major damage to their home so there are inconveniences but not catastrophes. All in all, it could have been much worse, so we are grateful.

Thank you again for your prayers.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Humble Request for Prayers

This storm could get ugly so I ask that everyone offer a few prayers for those in its path. If I may humbly ask for a few personal intentions as well, my parents, in-laws, and two children in college will be riding out the storm in Houston. May all be safe and well. Thank you.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Their Number One Issue

Biden and Pelosi get their facts all twisted as they try to say support for abortion is consistent with Catholic principles. Obama puts out an ad attacking John McCain for his pro-life anti-abortion stance. The Democratic party platform removes the plank calling for abortions to be rare. Now the head of the Democratic party in South Carolina mocks Sarah Palin for not having an abortion:

South Carolina Democratic chairwoman Carol Fowler sharply attacked Sarah Palin today, saying John McCain had chosen a running mate " whose primary qualification seems to be that she hasn’t had an abortion.”

Any question about what is the most important issue for the Democrats?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Who will give you justice?

When one of you has a grievance against a brother, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?
Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, matters pertaining to this life! If then you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who are least esteemed by the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no man among you wise enough to decide between members of the brotherhood, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? (1 Cor 6: 1-7)

I think today’s First Reading offers an interesting insight about religion and the law. St. Paul suggests those whom we trust with our civil law must act in accordance with our Christian principles. That is the only way to obtain true justice.

This is becoming more evident daily as the election cycle draws to its climax. Following the Republican convention, Senator Obama’s first new political advertisement was an attack on Senator McCain for his pro-life stance. This ad reinforced Obama’s commitment to support abortion on demand. Vice-Presidential candidate, Senator Biden, followed in fellow Catholic-in-name-only Nancy Pelosi’s footsteps and erroneously asserted Catholic teaching on abortion is muddled. He stated he cannot impose his Catholic beliefs on others by opposing abortion. He then went on to attack Republicans for not supporting stem cell research.

“I hear all this talk about how the Republicans are going to work in dealing with parents who have … the joy and the difficulty of raising a child who has a developmental disability,” said Biden, who’s wife is a teacher. “Well guess what folks? If you care about it, why don't you support stem cell research?”

Actually, adult stem cells or umbilical cord blood stem cells are great. It is only embryonic stem cells that are morally objectionable.

Fortunately, bishops are getting very good at quickly responding to these scandalous claims.


WASHINGTON - Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William E. Lori, chairman, U.S. Bishops Committee on Doctrine, issued the following statement:

Recently we had a duty to clarify the Catholic Church’s constant teaching against abortion, to correct misrepresentations of that teaching by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on “Meet the Press” (see: here). On September 7, again on “Meet the Press,” Senator Joseph Biden made some statements about that teaching that also deserve a response.

Senator Biden did not claim that Catholic teaching allows or has ever allowed abortion. He said rightly that human life begins “at the moment of conception,” and that Catholics and others who recognize this should not be required by others to pay for abortions with their taxes.

However, the Senator’s claim that the beginning of human life is a “personal and private” matter of religious faith, one which cannot be “imposed” on others, does not reflect Catholic teaching. The Church teaches that the obligation to protect unborn human life rests on the answer to two questions, neither of which is private or specifically religious.

The first is a biological question: When does a new human life begin? When is there a new living organism of the human species, distinct from mother and father and ready to develop and mature if given a nurturing environment? While ancient thinkers had little verifiable knowledge to help them answer this question, today embryology textbooks confirm that a new human life begins at conception (see The Catholic Church does not teach this as a matter of faith; it acknowledges it as a matter of objective fact.

The second is a moral question, with legal and political consequences: Which living members of the human species should be seen as having fundamental human rights, such as a right not to be killed? The Catholic Church’s answer is: Everybody. No human being should be treated as lacking human rights, and we have no business dividing humanity into those who are valuable enough to warrant protection and those who are not. Even this is not solely a Catholic teaching, but a principle of natural law accessible to all people of good will. The framers of the Declaration of Independence pointed to the same basic truth by speaking of inalienable rights, bestowed on all members of the human race not by any human power, but by their Creator. Those who hold a narrower and more exclusionary view have the burden of explaining why we should divide humanity into the moral “haves” and “have-nots,” and why their particular choice of where to draw that line can be sustained in a pluralistic society. Such views pose a serious threat to the dignity and rights of other poor and vulnerable members of the human family who need and deserve our respect and protection.

While in past centuries biological knowledge was often inaccurate, modern science leaves no excuse for anyone to deny the humanity of the unborn child. Protection of innocent human life is not an imposition of personal religious conviction but a demand of justice.

Neither Senator McCain nor Governor Palin are Catholic. But they are the two candidates who best understand Catholic Christian principles. If you believe St. Paul, they are the candidates most likely to offer true justice.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Intentional Parents

Yesterday I posted about wanting parents to assume a more intentional role as their children’s catechists. Today I may expand my wish to include parents taking a more intentional role as parents. Our school district has a curriculum euphemistically called Family Life Education (FLE) to cover all those topics that parents should be covering at home but are probably not. This is where children are given formal lessons on being nice to others, avoiding drugs and alcohol, avoiding gangs, and everything the school district thinks they need to know about sex. Tonight my child’s school held a preview session where parents can preview the materials that will be taught and elect whether or not to opt their child out of these lessons. My child attends one of the largest schools in the county. There are close to 2500 students in grades seven through ten. These are the years the curriculum delves more deeply into the sex education aspects of the curriculum. How many parents do you think were there to preview what the school district is teaching their child about sex? Six! Roughly 0.24% of the students had a parent there to see for themselves what the school is teaching about sex. I would like to know where the other 99.76% of the parents are.

After reviewing the material, I opted to keep my ninth grader in the FLE lessons. They are taught in the biology class and deal with the scientific facts about reproduction. However, I will definitely supplement the lesson on contraception. This is a great teachable moment to discuss the Church’s teaching about marital love, contraception as well as Humanae Vitae. As I have said many times, it is my job to teach my children about sex. The tenth grade curriculum is another matter. This is all about the cultural and social aspects of sexual relationships. They pay lip service to abstinence but then go on to present all sorts of sexual behaviors as viable and reasonable alternatives if one rejects the virtue of chastity. I will definitely opt my child out of that one. He will spend that quarter in a study hall doing a couple of alternative lessons. Rest assured I will give him the same facts the school wants to give him but I will present them in the context of our Catholic faith.

I appreciate that the school respects the role of parents and offers parents the opportunity to review the FLE curriculum. I am sorry more parents did not take advantage of this.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Catholic Carnival 188

Sarah has done an absolutely wonderful job with this week's Catholic Carnival 188. She used the theme of a growing child to group the various posts. Brilliant!

Intentional Catechists

I had a little bit of an epiphany this morning. I am getting ready to begin teaching 7th grade religious education again this year. As always, I am mulling over in my head just exactly how I am going to draw parents into the program. I kept thinking, “How do I make these parents into the primary catechists?” Bzzzzzzz…. Wrong question! Like it or not—whether they know it or not—these parents are the primary catechists. They are the most important teachers of the faith.

My goal should be to help these parents become intentional catechists. They need to see that their attitudes towards the Church, towards Mass, towards prayer, towards religious education and towards vocations are their lesson plans. If they dismiss any of these, most likely their children will as well.

If parents only attend Mass when Grandmother is in town, should they be surprised when their children see going to church as a social obligation rather than an act of faith? If children do not see their parents pray, will they learn to pray? If children do not see their parents developing a deeper faith through religious education, will they aspire to know more about their faith? If children see parents eschew Church teachings, will they stand firm in these teachings when the popular culture advocates otherwise? In most cases, the answer to each of these questions is “no”.

My job as a parish catechist is to help parents make a conscious, intentional effort to instruct their children in their faith. They are going to teach their children. I need to help them make sure they are teaching what they want them to learn.