Friday, November 19, 2004

Opening the Way for Infanticide Down Under?

A father in New Zealand was acquitted today of charges that he had murdered his brain-damaged daughter.

Although he admitted to smothering "her face with his hand until she stopped breathing", he was cleared of all charges. The jury deliberated for all of 47 minutes.

The incident occurred on the day the father and mother were told by doctors their baby had "the most survivable profound brain dysfunction possible".

The head of the Commissioner for Children's office recognized how the jury could have come to such a verdict: "The jury could only reach the verdict it did because it wasn't able to value the life of the baby."

"Wasn't able to value the life of the baby". The inevitable result of failing to value the life of the human being in the womb is to whittle away at any sense of the value of human life outside the womb.

God have mercy on us.

Specter Likely to Get Judiciary Chairmanship

Over the last week or so pro-lifers have been working to stop Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter from becoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in the wake of his warnings to President Bush against appointing conservative or pro-life judges. Senator Specter has tried to wiggle and spin his way out of this, but Specter's track record and commitment to abortion-on-demand are well documented.

In spite of the outcry of pro-lifers and other conservatives, it now appears that Senate Republicans are preparing to give Specter the Judiciary chairmanship. In fact, one Republican senator, Robert Bennett of Utah, characterized pro-life opposition to Specter as a "tempest in a teapot." Remember that senator's name and his remark, people. We may need to remind that senator, and his Republican colleagues, who put them in office.

Before the election, a number of "Catholics for Kerry" derided pro-life Catholics for supporting President Bush and the Republicans, saying that the Republicans weren't really serious about opposing abortion. While their conclusion that it was therefore OK to vote for "the candidate of the abortion industry itself" was incorrect, the current behavior of the Senate Republicans leads one to believe they may have been right about a lack of seriousness regarding opposition to abortion.

Peggy Noonan, whom I ordinarily admire and respect, suggests in her column yesterday that pro-lifers and other conservatives need to just "shhhhhh!" about Sen. Specter and the judicial appointment issue. Apparently she thinks we need to just sit back quietly and trust the Republicans to do the right thing on pro-life issues.

Sorry, but I won't hush up, and neither will a lot of pro-life Catholics. I trust no earthly powers or authorities, even those with (R) after their name. The only thing I trust is results. The Republicans have been talking a good pro-life game now for over twenty years, and it is time they delivered. If they don't, it's very simple: The next election cycle, I'm done with them. I won't be played.

So, we need to prod these senators once more into remembering their commitment to defense of the unborn. If they want to retain the trust and support of pro-lifers and Catholics, putting a man implacably hostile to our cause in the judiciary committee chairmanship is not the way to do it.

If you haven't called or written Republican senators to express your opposition to Senator Specter, now is a good time to do so. If you have already, do it again! The only thing that will work is to keep up the pressure, to not let this "tempest in a teapot" fade away.

Call these Republican members of the judiciary committee:

Hatch (202) 224-5251
Grassley (202)224.3744
Kyl (202) 224-4521
DeWine (202) 224-2315
Sessions (202) 224-4124
Graham (202) 224-5972
Craig 202/224-2752
Chambliss (202) 224-3521
Cornyn 202-224-2934

You can get more info here, and look up your senator's contact info at

Thanks to Mark Shea and Dom Bettinelli for links and other info.

Article on Fight for Terri's Life Out This Month

In this month's issue of Catholic World Report, my article "The Struggle to Save Terri" is the cover story!

In this article, I relate some of the personal experiences of the Schindler family, and my own experiences in helping them, in their efforts to save Terri's life. I describe the circumstances of how I came to be involved in her case, and my reactions to the inhuman treatment to which she is subjected, such as her husband Michael's denial of a priest's visits:
I had never heard of a patient being denied pastoral care before. I can't even imagine the kind of hardness of heart required to take such a position. Even condemned criminals are given access to clergy! But Terri Schiavo, who was guilty of no crime, was denied something we commonly provide to the most heinous of criminals. It seemed to me that Judge Greer had decided that Terri was so sub-human that she is could be denied even spiritual comfort and consolation. I wrote at the time:

"As a priest, I cannot imagine being in Msgr. Malanowski's position. I simply could not stand for such interference with my ministry. I would be inclined to seek every means possible to disobey the order and visit Terri. An unjust law is no law at all. Similarly, a capricious, inhuman, unjust and gratuitous judge's order is no order at all.

There is a long standing tradition in the Church of defying Caesar when he trespasses beyond his rightful authority. There is a well-established tradition of resisting Caesar when he attempts to deprive the Church of her legitimate prerogatives. And so, I reiterate the suggestion I made a couple of weeks ago: It is time to consider civil disobedience."

It seemed to me that this deprivation of Terri's right to spiritual care was the final indignity. If this wasn't sufficient motivation to condemn Terri's treatment and mobilize opposition, nothing would be.

The article isn't available on line yet, but if you don't get Catholic World Report, now would be a good time to start!

Hooray For Me!

Sometime in the last week, my blog turned over the 200,000 mark on my hit counter!

Thanks for your faithful readership and support!

Where Have I Been?

I've received several e-mails from concerned readers in the last week or so, wondering where I've been. Have no fear! I've just been really busy with parish reponsibilities, and have had to devote some time to dealing with a couple of personal issues (nothing to be worried about). But, obviously, I'm back to blogging. Thanks to those who expressed their concern.

The US Bishops: Leading Us Boldly Forward to 1978

Well, the Bishops had their meeting in Washington this week, and in their deliberations showed more of the bold thinking and outspoken witness to the Truth that has made the Church in the US the "Shining Light on a Hill" which we've known it to be in the last couple of decades.

Some have suggested that some of the decisions taken by the bishops at their meeting indicate that they are seriously beginning to re-think how the USCCB does business, and how the bishops can more effectively witness to the Gospel. I'd like to believe that, but the elections of Bishop William Skylstad as USCCB President and Bishop Donald Trautman as chair of the Bishops' Committee on Liturgy make the suggestion of "rethinking" on the part of the bishops seem a bit counter-intuitive.

Bishop Skylstad is, perhaps, emblematic of the problem of the American bishops: he is mired chest-deep in the priest-abuse scandal, unable to account for his failure to heed warnings about a pedophile priest assigned to work under him as pastor, and about whose conduct he was also aware as a member of the diocese's personnel board. Furthermore, he is leading his diocese of Spokane, Washington, into bankruptcy, the result of mounting lawsuits against the diocese for sexual abuse by priests. Finally, in a meandering column earlier this year, Bishop Skylstad indicated that, in his concern for the common good, he would take no action to publicly hold accountable Catholic officials who support abortion.

So, the US Bishops elected as their president a man who was, at the very least, ineffective in dealing with sexual predators in the clergy, a bishop whose temporal stewardship of his diocese has led to bankruptcy, and a cleric who will not stand up to witness against those who advance the Culture of Death.

And why was Bishop Skylstad elected? Why, because it's his turn, don't you know? It's a strange way to signal that they're "re-thinking" anything.

The election of Bishop Trautman as chair of the liturgy committee is a signal that many bishops want to return us to the heady halcyon days of 1978, and the "flexible" liturgy that Bp. Trautman has championed. For Bishop Trautman is one of the principal architects of the trivialized, banalized, insipid liturgy which is the norm in most American parishes.

In a 2001 article published in America magazine, the Bishop dismissed concern for accurate liturgical translations as Vatican "micro-management", and chafed at Rome's insistence that it have oversight of liturgical translations. Bishop Trautman also seems to think the current ICEL translations we have are just fine, and sees no need for the ongoing work of Vox Clara for truly faithful translation. He asks rhetorically, "Are we to tell our people now that the bishops’ approval of these texts 30 years ago and Rome’s confirmation of that approval was flawed?" In a word, Your Excellency, "Yes". Honesty, a trait which has been in short supply in our episcopate, would demand as much. Anyone with a couple of years of high school Latin can see that the ICEL translation we currently use is flawed from beginning to end. And those with real expertise in Latin and familiarity with the Tradition find it shockingly bad. A whole generation of Catholics has been given watered-down liturgy and has been deprived of our Church's full liturgical patrimony thanks to ICEL. The whole ICEL structure, it's architects and apologists, needs to be jettisoned. Bishop Trautman will be an obstacle to true reform of the liturgy, and his election is lamentable.

There is one glimmer of light in this mess, though. Cardinal George was elected the vice-president of the USCCB, and thus will probably take over the presidency in three years. Perhaps he can resume the work of reform which will in all likelihood be stalled for the near future.

I have predicted that things would get worse before they got better. In this case, I'd rather have been proven wrong.