Month: August 2008

Catholics Against Joe Biden


Archbishop Charles J. Chaput’s "Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life"

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver has published his latest book – Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life, an inquiry into a matter of utmost importance for Catholics in the United States: What is the role of faith in the public square?

Last week, Fr. Robert Imbelli, a Boston College associate professor of Theology, gave readers an insightful and well-written review of the archbishop’s book in L’Osservatore Romano.

The Archbishop himself appears to be on a whirlwind online promotional tour this week, with multiple appearances around the web:

  • “Vote for REAL Hope and Change” First Things‘ “On The Square” Tuesday, August 19, 2008 – reminding Catholic voters of some basic facts:

    First, surrounding a bad social policy or party platform plank—for example, permissive abortion—with religious people doesn’t redeem the bad policy or plank. It merely compromises the religious people who try to excuse it. …

    Second, there’s no way for Catholics to finesse their way around the abortion issue, and if we’re serious about being “Catholic,” we need to stop trying. No such thing as a “right” to kill an unborn child exists. And wriggling past that simple truth by redefining the unborn child as an unperson, a pre-human lump of cells, is the worst sort of Orwellian hypocrisy—especially for Christians. …

    The right to life is foundational. Every other right depends on it. Efforts to reduce abortions, or to create alternatives to abortion, or to foster an environment where more women will choose to keep their unborn child, can have great merit—but not if they serve to cover over or distract from the brutality and fundamental injustice of abortion itself.

    Third and finally, national campaigns—of every political party—always run on the language of hope, change, and the American Dream. This makes sense. Our leaders should inspire us; they should stir our hearts and call us to live the ideals that make America great. But sometimes the answer to the realities we face is not “yes, we can,” but “no, we can’t.”

    Excellent post, read the whole thing.

  • “Don’t Lie”: A shepherd on Catholic citizenship Q&A with Kathryn Jean Lopez. National Review August 20, 2008.

  • Radio Interview with Hugh Hewitt August 20, 2008. (Maximus @ RomanCatholicBlog posts the links to the podcast for those who missed it).

Meanwhile, it seems that Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput was not invited to pray or speak at the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, in what former Boston mayor Ray Flynn called a “serious oversight” and an “insult” to the values of pro-life Catholics. Catholic News Agency has the details.

No doubt after declaring their strong and unequivocal support of Roe v Wade and a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay,” the last thing some Democrats want is the Archbishop throwing some cold water on their party, but perhaps they’ll be gracious enough to rectify their error.

Here & There …

  • A former priest, who once dissented from Catholic teachings on reproduction and abortion, writes Fr. Thomas Euteneuer of Human Life International that he is now reconciled. Spero News. August 3, 2008.
  • More than six thousand young people celebrated WYD in northern Iraq, reports the Catholic News Agency. July 24, 2008:

    Bishop Rabban Al-Qas of Amadiya of the Chaldeans told L’Osservatore Romano that more than one thousand young people carried a cross in procession to the town of Araden, the location of the “monastery of the Sultan Mahdokh, the Iraqi martyr who lived there in the fourth century. From there you could see the entire Sapna Valley as the young people sang the WYD songs. Their spirits were not dampened by fatigue and you could see the emotion in their faces throughout the long day.”

    At the end of the procession, the young people expressed their hope that “the next WYD would be celebrated ‘in the entire country’ and not just in the north, as in this case, ‘without any fear of violence’.”

  • has a story on Eric Liddell, first “Chinese” Olympic champion — He inspired the film “Chariots of Fire”. He was born in Tianjin, China, the son of Scottish Presbyterian missionaries. He is known for his refusal to run his best event — the 100 meter race — on account that it was held on Sunday:

    According to some witnesses, it seems that the king of England himself tried to convince him to compete, in the name of “national pride”, but he declined because “the commandments of God come before national honor. I will not run on Sunday”.

    Liddell instead ran the 400 meter race, which he won with a record time of 47.6 seconds. He went on to receive a degree in science and returned to Tianjin as a missionary-schoolteacher, perishing in a Japanese prison camp in 1941.

  • Benedict XVI is weaving together a mini-catechesis with a medium nearly any young person can relate to — cell phone text messages:

    The Friday morning local time message to Youth Day pilgrims was a call to Christian love. “The spirit impels us 4ward 2wards others; the fire of his love makes us missionaries of God’s charity. See u tomorrow nite – BXVI,” it read. …

    Before the Pope’s boat-a-cade reached Sydney Harbor Thursday afternoon local time for his official arrival to World Youth Day, the Holy Father sent his third text message. That one said, “The Holy Spirit is the principal agent of salvation history: let him write your life-history 2 – BXVI.”

    On Wednesday, after his encounter with typical Australian animals, including a koala bear and a carpet python, the Pontiff sent a text message reading, “The Holy Spirit gave the Apostles & gives u the power boldly 2 proclaim that Christ is risen! – BXVI.”

    Pilgrims received their first text message from the Bishop of Rome on Monday. It said, “Young friend, God and his people expect much from u because u have within you the Fathers supreme gift: the Spirit of Jesus – BXVI.”

    (Via the Cranky Conservative “Pope Benedict 4EVER!!!”, who received it from his friend Eric, “who desperately wants to know that this story is not true.”. (Yes, this is a joke right? … Right?!?)

  • Matthew Archbold (Creative Minority Report predicts the outcome of the forthcoming “Pope Joan” movie:

    And you know that when this trash hits the screens, there’s going to be so many specials, documentaries, and promotional interviews about Pope Joan and female ordination. Fr. Richard McBrien will be quoted in the New York Times saying, “if it’s not true it should be.” Larry King will ask Bill Donahue what the female Pope might say about the Church if she were alive today and Donahue will actually exlode right there in front of the cameras. And Pope Joan will still be seen by many historically ignorant “Entertainment Tonight” watchers, not as a ridiculous movie but as a real biography of one of the first feminists who made it to the top of the all boy’s Catholic Church.

  • Ayn Rand, Crank – Maclin Horton reads Atlas Shrugged, speaks his mind and is set upon by proponents of Randian orthodoxy (“America is slowly dying,” says one. “Only Rand provides the antidote”). UPDATEHere is Maclin with “What Ayn Rand got right”.
  • August 8th was the Feast of St. Dominic – Jay Anderson (Pro Ecclesia) provides an excellent roundup.

  • The Westminster Shorter Catechism, The Baltimore Catechism and Senator Barack Obama, on the meaning of “sin”.

Congratulations, USA!!!

Michael Phelps won his second gold medal of the 2008 Games on Monday, with a victory by the United States in the 4×100 freestyle relay. The U.S. finished first in 3 minutes 8.24 seconds, smashing the world record by nearly 4 seconds, with France taking silver and Australia getting bronze.

Jason Lezak provided an incredible performance in the anchor leg, coming from behind to out-touch France’s Alain Bernard.

The U.S. relay team had felt strong entering the race, after a world-record performance by the B team in the heats on Sunday night. The Americans Nathan Adrian, Cullen Jones, Ben Wildman-Tobriner and Matt Grevers finished the freestyle relay in 3:12.23 seconds, 0.23 seconds faster than the world record set two years ago at the Pan-Pacific Championships by the United States A team.

U.S. 4×100 Wins Gold in Record Time New York Times August 11, 2008; Photo: Reuters.

Also participating: Garrett Weber-Gale (pictured in the photo with Phelps) and Bronx, NY born Cullen Jones.

Alain Bernard previously boasted that the French would “smash the Americans” in the competition. Nothing like a little friendly rivalry between Nation-States. 😉

Fernando Lugo and Leonardo Boff: Liberation Theology in the News

Benedict XVI has granted a reduction to the lay state for the president-elect of Paraguay, a former Catholic bishop who had been suspended “a divinis.” Zenit News reports:

The apostolic nuncio in Paraguay announced today the Pope’s decision regarding Fernando Lugo.

Archbishop Orlando Antonini explained at a press conference that the Holy Father “granted [Lugo] the loss of the clerical state, with all the obligations, as a priest and bishop of the [Society of the] Divine Word.”

The nuncio said Lugo’s request was accepted because “the people have elected him” and “his clerical state is not compatible with the presidency of the republic.”

“Having examined all the circumstances carefully, His Holiness Benedict XVI has granted him the loss of his clerical state with the consequent loss of its inherent rights,” he added.

According to the Zenit report, Lugo made the original request for a reduction to the lay state in December 2006. In January 2007 the Congregation of Bishops announced “the suspension ‘a divinis’ of Lugo, for having declared himself a candidate for the Paraguayan presidency” which was prohibited by the Code of Canon Law.

On April 20, 2008, the day after winning the election, Lugo asked the Church, and Benedict XVI in particular, for forgiveness for the sorrow his disobedience to canon law had caused.

The Vatican now exhorts the President-elect “to be faithful to the Catholic faith in which he was baptized and to lead a life that is consistent with the Gospel”.

Leonardo Boff, Aleida Guevera (Marxist grandaughter of revolutionary Che Guevera) and Fernando Lugo – July 28, 2008. Courtesy of Fernando Lugo’s APC @ Flickr

In late January, Catholic theologian Leonardo Boff boasted to the Paraguayan daily Ultima Hora” that the former bishop and President-elect “fully identifies with liberation theology and plans to implement it in his government, the preferential option for the poor.”

On July 28, Lugo attended a talk by Boff on education in environmental issues at the National University of Asuncion in the city of San Lorenzo.

The Paraguayan daily La Nacion spoke with Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano of Ciudad del Este regarding Boff’s views:

“It’s not that liberation theology opts for the poor, as if the Catholic Church did not opt for the poor. Their manner of opting for the poor is exclusionary. For this reason John Paul II said the option for the poor is not exclusive or exclusionary, and he was referring to liberation theology.”


Commenting on the relationship between Lugo and Boff and the eventual application of Marxist liberation theology in Paraguay, Bishop Livieres said the two “have a relationship that goes back years. Liberation theology is an internal problem of the Church; it is not a guerrilla movement. It is a mistaken way of understanding the priesthood and all theology. Lugo has fallen into this error for many years, but it is not a political error; it is a doctrinal one,” he said.

The bishop also denied suggestions that there would be friction between the Church and the incoming government in Paraguay, as long as Fernando Lugo “does not meddle in Church affairs or the Church in State affairs.”

* * *

Speaking of liberation theology, Sandro Magister writes of Leondardi Boff and his brother, Clodovis Boff – “Separated Brethren” http://www.chiesa. July 14, 2008:

Leonardo Boff today calls himself a “theologus peregrinus,” without a stable home. He was banned from teaching in Catholic theology faculties in a 1985 sentence from the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, caused mainly by his book “Church, Charism and Power: Liberation Theology and the Institutional Church.” He left the Franciscan order and got married. He lives in Petrópolis, in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

Clodovis Boff, instead, is still a member of the Servants of Mary. He lives in Curitiba, in the state of Paraná, and teaches at the Pontifical Catholic University in the city. He has never been tried by the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, but during the 1980’s he lost his teaching post at the Pontifical Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro, and was banned from teaching at the “Marianum,” the theological faculty of his order, in Rome.

His brother Leonardo remembers him this way, during the years when he was a fervent supporter of liberation theology: “He spent half the year among the base communities, offering courses for ordinary people and going up and down the rivers to visit the people in the forest. He dedicated the other half of the year to teaching and research at the university of Rio.”

Today, instead, again in Leonardo’s judgment, Clodovis has passed over body and soul to maintaining “with naive optimism and youthful enthusiasm” the approach dictated by the Latin American bishops at their continental conference held in Aparecida, Brazil, in May of 2007, and inaugurated by Benedict XVI in person.

According to Clodovis, the “fatal” error into which Liberationi Theology — “as it really exists” — falls is establishing the poor as the “first operative principle of theology,” substituting them for God and Jesus Christ. “When the poor acquire the status of an epistemological ‘primum’,” asks Clodivis, “what happens to the faith and its doctrine on the theological and pastoral level? […] The inevitable result is the politicization of the faith, its reduction to an instrument for social liberation.”

Leonardi Boff of course disagrees, responding:

“It is not true that liberation theology replaces God and Christ with the poor. […] It was Christ who wanted to identify himself with the poor. The place of the poor is a privileged place of encounter with the Lord. Those who encounter the poor inevitably encounter Christ, still in his crucified form, asking to be taken down from the cross and brought back to life.”

According to Clodivis, liberation theology can be restored by returning to its original foundation, as expressed in the final document of the Latin American bishops at their continental conference held in Aparecida, Brazil, in May of 2007, and inaugurated by Benedict XVI in person (Available here, in Spanish).

But Leonardo isn’t feeling the love: “his is an intention that to me is the equivalent of saying: My brother, I stab you in the heart, but relax, it’s for your own good.”

Magister posts the full text of Clodivis’ article Teologia da Libertação e volta ao fundamento (“Revista Eclesiástica Brasileira”, N. 268, Vol. 67, Outubro 2007, pg. 1001-1022) and Boff’s rebuttal: Pelos pobres, contra a estreiteza do método.

Howbeit in Portugese. (Translation, anybody?)

* * *

A few days ago, Brazilian liberation theology advocate Leonardo Boff whined the Vatican was facing a “great internal crisis” because it fails to represent the people it serves, contending that “the zero growth of the Catholic Church in our planet” and a “lack of representation of Latin American Catholics” were responsible for an “internal crisis in the Vatican.”

Judging by Magister’s article, it would seem the crisis resides within the ranks of liberation theologians.

Some Background


  • Paraguayan bishops call on new president to defend right to life and the family Catholic News Agency. August 8, 2008:

    In an official statement published on Wednesday, the Paraguayan Bishops’ Conference called on the government of former bishop Fernando Lugo, who will take power on August 15, to defend the right to life and the family based “on marriage between one man and one woman.”

    In its statement, the bishops said that although the country doesn’t abide by a specific religion, “it should respect religious freedom, freedom of worship and of conscience. Likewise, it should take into consideration the values proper to the nature of the human person and of society, especially with regards to life, its promotion and defense from conception to natural death; the nuclear family based upon the marriage between one man and one woman; the care and education of children, and also, comprehensive aid for the poor, rural communities, indigenous peoples, as well as the elderly, the infirm and the abandoned.”

    The bishops’ comments come after the future Minster for Women’s Affaris, Gloria Rubin, announced her support for legalizing abortion in the country.