Month: October 2004

John Allen, Jr. on the demonization of Opus Dei and Cardinal Ratzinger

Journalist John Allen, Jr. participated in a symposium sponsored by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in San Atonio, Texas this past month, the subject of which was “evangelizing secularity” — that is to say, the new pagans found “in the shopping malls and soccer fields of the First World.” At the conclusion of the conference, Mr. Allen spoke on three themes — secularity, dialogue, and communion. He posts a summary of his address to this week’s Word From Rome, good thoughts worth reading. Here’s a snippet:

. . . Repeatedly over the weekend, participants referred to the need for dialogue — with secularity, with the young, with different cultures. But dialogue, like charity, I said, begins at home. The Catholic church is complex and polyphonic, and I wonder if we are ready to embrace what a spirit of dialogue inside the church would entail.

Are we prepared, for example, to step outside our prejudices to sympathetically consider the other? I noted that I heard during the weekend negative references to the Catholic TV network EWTN, and descriptions of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican’s top doctrinal official, as if he were Genghis Kahn. In Schreiter’s session, he happened to mention that a new bishop in Austria comes from Opus Dei, and the gasps were audible, as if he had said the bishop was a member of the Nazi party or the Klu Klux Klan. Of course, this was a conversation among friends, and some of these comments were just blowing off steam. Still, what does this suggest about our capacity for dialogue? (The same question could be put to some conservative Catholics who scorn, for example, Voice of the Faithful, the staff of the U.S. bishops’ conference, and any number of bishops they regard as “soft” on dissent).

Can we desist from patterns of speech and thought that are destructive of dialogue? For example, can we stop pretending there’s an animal out there called “the bishops” that has only one way of thinking and acting? In the United States, the Catholic bishops run from Tom Gumbleton to Fabian Bruskewitz and every point of the compass in between. There’s little sense in sweeping jeremiads about “the bishops.” Similarly, it’s a myth that there’s such a thing as “the Vatican” in the sense in which we normally invoke the term, as in, “the Vatican thinks …” or “the Vatican is afraid that …” For every official of the Holy See who fits the stereotype, there are others who don’t. Can we set aside generalizations and treat people as individuals?

Also in his column, Mr. Allen includes an exchange from a public dialogue between Cardinal Ratzinger and a lay Italian intellectual named Ernesto Galli della Loggia at Rome’s Palazzo Colonna (in which the Cardinal recognized the need for common cause between religious believers and secularists against “cultural homogenization” brought about by globalization and technological change), and more news on the recently-published Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.


Watch Stolen Honor (online, at no cost).

The entire film “Stolen Honor” about Senator Kerry’s betrayal of United States P.O.W.’s in Vietnam, together with the mini-documentaries by the Swift Boat Veterans who served with Senator Kerry, can be downloaded and seen for free.

You can read about the background behind the film Stolen Honor here. Stolen Honor features interviews with 17 Vietnam POWs, whose time in prison amounted to 109 years and three months. 

It’s not likely you will have the opportunity to see them share their experiences and perspective on John Kerry on any of the mainstream media stations, so watch it while you can, and preferably before the election — for as much as Senator Kerry is making his military service a plank of his campaign and claiming the support of veterans across the nation, these men deserve a chance to be heard as well.

Snubbing Governor Casey and What It Means Today

. . . my object here is not to declare between Republicans and Democrats but to highlight the cleavage between the Democratic party whose mission Hubert Humphrey defined as standing for “those in the dawn of life, those in the shadows of life, and those in the twilight of life” and the Democratic party of this platform, whose first sentence thumps for the most extreme of all abortion positions: abortion on demand with taxpayer funding. Thumps for it clearly and without apology.

The political consequence of this position is evident every day in our headlines: war on anything that threatens this absolutist stance, whether it be restrictions on federal funding or partial birth abortions, to the maligning and political destruction of judicial nominees deemed to show insufficient piety for the view that Roe is sacrosanct while at the same time every other precedent is for grabs depending on the social or political exigencies of the moment.

John Kerry did not create the abortion test that is today operates to push faithful Catholics off the public square on the grounds that their Catholicity may be deeply held. But John Kerry, like all national Democratic contenders, must be defined by it or become, a la Governor Casey, a stranger in his own land.

From Life of the Party, the first Bob Casey lecture delivered by William McGurn in the Catholic archdiocese of Denver. McGurn spoke of the deliberate and malicious snubbing of pro-life Democratic Governor Bob Casey at the 1992 Democratic National Convention.

A very good address — one Democrats ought to listen to (but probably won’t).

Greg Sisk: "All of us as Catholics are responsible for John Kerry."

In what appears to be a final post on the topic (since his moderator’s requesting the group-blog “Mirror of Justice” change the subject), Greg Sisk explains why “We are all responsible [for John Kerry]:

When one of our own, someone who claims to be one of us and in communion with us, rejects the foundation for any good society or concept of social teaching – the preeminent right to life – we have a moral duty to speak up without equivocation or apology. That duty is an inescapable and nondelegable one for each of us. As we have learned so painfully, if a priest abuses one of Christ’s little ones, we all in the Catholic communion are responsible. If the catechism of our children is so ineffective that the sanctity of human life could be misperceived by any congregant as a “doctrine of faith” to be dismissed as unimportant to public life, we all in the Catholic communion are responsible. If a professing Catholic seeks high office while repudiating the Church’s witness to life as the primordial right in any society, we all in the Catholic communion are responsible. All of us as Catholics should be ashamed.

A thoughtful law student who corresponded with me puts the point in this way: How racist would a candidate for President have to be before Catholics, even of the same political party and ideology, abandoned his campaign in disgust? I think we all know the answer to that: not very much. If John Kerry or George W. Bush were to betray even the slightest evidence of racist attitudes, suggesting that one or another ethnic group was less than equally human or lacking in equal dignity and character, good Catholics of conscience from all partisan and ideological perspectives properly would be united in condemnation. Well, then, how pro-abortion would a candidate for President have to be before Catholics similarly would be united in rejection? Sadly, as the essays and op-eds by Catholic apologists for Kerry seem to indicate, that point could never be reached. It is difficult to imagine a candidate for office who has been more addicted to the abortion license as a political issue than John Kerry, or who has served more loyally as a foot-soldier for the abortionists. And yet even he is not without those who would extend to him religious, even Catholic, cover, however much they sincerely may wish and hope they are doing otherwise. All of us as Catholics should be ashamed. . . .

Imagine for a moment what could happen if, instead of justifying a vote for an inexcusably repugnant record, the Catholic apologists were to expend the same energy and eloquence in explaining clearly to John Kerry and the national Democratic Party that while they want desperately to vote for him for so many reasons and because of his position on so many other issues, they simply cannot because he utterly failed the preliminary test of standing up for innocent life. Consider the impact that might follow for political campaigns and for the national culture if we all were to stand on principle and make plain that we will not apologize, we will not equivocate, we will not accommodate to intrinsic evil, we will not condone abandonment, especially by one of our own, of the most vulnerable among us. What if we all were to say, united together as Catholics in giving voice to the voiceless unborn, that we simply cannot countenance voting for anyone who has betrayed communion with our Church by persistently working to expand abortion-on-demand, undermining judicial nominations that might undo the absolute license to abortion, facilitating every request of the abortion industry, and refusing to take a courageous stand on the most fundamental issue of our time. Now that is a message worth hearing, and one that could not be ignored. Until that happens, we all as Catholics should be ashamed.

Read the whole thing, and then thank Greg for lending so eloquent a voice to convey the sentiments of faithful Catholics across the nation.

Novena to Our Lady of Sorrows

Holy Mother of God,
hear the prayers of the Church
for all mothers,
especially those wearied by life
and overcome by the suffering
they bear for their children.

Hail Mary …

O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
intercede for them
from your place in heaven,
that the mercy of your divine Son
might lighten their burden
and give them strength.

Hail Mary …

Glory to the Father …

A Novena to Our Lady of Sorrows

Fr. Neuhaus on the Kerry Scandal and the Bishop’s Conference

Two must-reads: “Communion & Communio, etc.” and “Bishops at a Turning Point” (First Things 145 August/Sept ’04 and 146 October 2004.

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus looks at the Kerry communion scandal and provides an excellent recap of the Bishop’s Conference in Denver in June 2004, including Fr. Neuhaus’ thoughts on Ratzinger’s letter to Cardinal McCarrick and the latter’s failure to disclose the complete contents and intent of the letter to the bishops:

. . . The Ratzinger letter and how McCarrick used it is the subject of lively discussion. No bishop wanted to say that McCarrick “misrepresented” Ratzinger’s message but, as one put it, “The charitable thing to say is that he did not tell us the whole truth.” It appears, although it is not certain, that the letter was sent only to McCarrick and the papal nuncio, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, who was, of course, present at the meeting. At least a few bishops, however, were apprised of the full text and were less than pleased with McCarrick’s presentation of what Ratzinger had to say. When the full text was later made public, first in an Italian newspaper, McCarrick suggested to the press that there were other communications with Ratzinger that put the letter in context, justifying the interpretation he had offered the bishops. Back at the June meeting, the bishops had, despite McCarrick’s resistance, made up their minds. There needed to be a clear and firm statement that unmistakably underscored the utterly distinctive status of abortion and euthanasia in Catholic teaching, and that approved, but did not mandate, specific pastoral approaches, including the denial of Communion to the obdurate.

Fr. Neuhaus also seems to be very impressed with the “new generation” of bishops in the American Catholic Church — among them Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, Archbishop John Myers of Newark, and others who have stood to criticize Senator Kerry’s misrepresentation of the Catholic faith.

Reasons to hope.