Cardinal George Looks to God in His Cancer Fight

Cardinal Francis George celebrates Mass at the tomb of St. Peter during his February 2012 ad limina visit.

Chicago, Ill., Aug 28, 2012 / 01:53 am (CNA).- Cardinal Francis George of Chicago is encouraging others to use his recent cancer diagnosis as a time to “reflect upon God’s goodness and grow closer to Christ.”

If people use his diagnosis for spiritual growth, he said, “then even my sickness and, at some point at a still unknown time and way, my death will be an answer to what I prayed many years ago: that I and all those God has given me to know and love here might live in such a way that God’s will for the salvation of the world will be realized.”

The cardinal said in his Aug. 26 column for the Catholic New World archdiocesan paper that he plans to say “little” about his cancer and his treatment even though it will “probably be a trying time for me in the next several months.”

“How can we know what to say when our knowledge is so limited?” he asked.

Cardinal George, 75, underwent a medical procedure Aug. 15 that discovered cancerous cells in his kidney and in a nodule that was removed from his liver.

In July 2006, at the age of 69, the cardinal underwent a five-hour operation to remove his bladder, prostate gland and sections of his ureters, the tubes which connect the kidneys to the bladder. (Read more here.)

Money Where Our Mouth Is: Five Things Pro Life People Can Do For Rape Victims

Platitudes are for the lazy ones.

Those of us who actually want to do something to help other people are often left floundering at the gate by platitude profferers. Our desire to help and heal dissipates in the wallow of insincerity and we go back to our internet-browsing. That’s what will probably happen with the media storm over Congressman Akins’ remarks about rape. People will wear out their outrage by being outraged and nobody will help anybody at all.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

If you are not one of the lazy ones, if you do want to help heal our culture, here are five suggestions.

Money Where Our Mouth Is:  Five Things Pro Life People Can Do For Rape Victims

1. Preach from the pulpit that rape is a sin. I was the spark plug behind the Day of Prayer for an End to Violence Against Women here in Oklahoma. As far as I know, that’s the first action of this kind, anywhere. My reason? I’d been sitting in pews for years, and I had never heard even one sermon, one homily, one aside, saying that rape is a sin.

When I brought this up in speeches to women’s groups, the result was invariably a firestorm of “right-ons,” “you-said-its” and “amens.” When I tried to talk to clergy about it, they either got angry with me for daring to question them, or they started talking about the evils of abortion.

That situation inspired the Day of Prayer for an End to Violence Against Women. The plan was to get the heads of denominations, as opposed to rank and file clergy, to come to a luncheon and sign a pledge against violence against women.

I don’t think it would have gotten off the ground except for my own wonderful religious leader, Archbishop Eusebius Beltran. Archbishop Beltran said yes immediately. His name had enough mojo with the other heads of Oklahoma denominations that they started signing on.

Archbishop Beltran also wrote a pastoral letter speaking out against violence against women from a theological standpoint. Father (now Bishop) Anthony Taylor came up with the idea of having the laity in all our parishes sign a petition proclaiming their support for an end to violence against women. The Priest Council, with Archbishop Beltran’s full support, got behind this and we ended up with over 20,000 signatures.

But the key thing from my perspective was that I finally got to hear a sermon saying that rape was a sin.

I remember Archbishop Beltran’s face as well as that of my own pastor. They neither one said it out loud, but you could see it in their expressions: That’s all you want? For us to say that rape is a sin?

The answer is yes. That’s what I want. I don’t know when clergy got so diffident about things like sin and hell, but they need to get over it. Rape is a sin. It is a mortal sin and those who do it can go to hell for it.

The Church needs to use its moral and prophetic voice to tell people that violence against women in general and rape in particular are sins. It may sound obvious, but we live in a culture that gives such mixed messages on this that it is absolutely essential. If you are a priest or pastor, nuff said. If you are a pew-sitter like me, maybe you should raise the issue with your pastor.

2. Agitate for laws that lock monsters up and keep them there.I know that this one is going to get me in bad with a lot of people. But so far as I’m concerned rapists are one of the best reasons for prisons that I know.

3. Agitate for laws that support and help pregnant women. Over on Slactivist, Fred Clark wrote a post on August 10 criticizing pro-life groups because they aren’t supporting the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (HR 5647.) The legislation intrigued me. I think I may author a similar bill on the state level. I had the staff at the Oklahoma House of Representatives analyze the bill looking for abortion funding or some such hiding under its skirts. There is none.

What that means is that while Mr Clark and I obviously disagree on the issue of abortion, we both support this piece of legislation and would like to see it become law. I don’t think that his criticism of “pro-life groups” is well-taken, btw. Most of these groups operate within a laser-like focus on legislation that directly affects the sanctity of human life. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, while it certainly will help create a climate that will allow women to chose life for their babies and is thus pro-life, does not deal directly with abortion, embryonic stem-cell research and euthanasia. Political action groups have to focus if they are going to be effective.

I know from personal experience that the leaders and members of these same groups do support legislation of this type as individuals. They’ve helped me when I tried to pass it in the past.

In my opinion, the reason this legislation is being ignored by pro life people in Congress is that they can get away with it. No organized group that put them in office is pushing them on it. More to the point, they are against it (although most of them wouldn’t admit this in public) because the corporations who paid for their campaigns and who own them almost like indentured servants don’t want it.

It so happens that the party which is the most completely owned by corporations (notice, I said the most owned; both parties are to some extent.) is the Republican Party. Those who get elected by saying they are pro-life also tend to be Republican. That means that so-called “pro-life” members of Congress are the ones most likely to oppose this bill.

This also means that pro-life people are especially well-placed to advocate for this and similar pieces of legislation. After all, whose votes put these birds in office in the first place? Write them a letter. Then, check and see if they tell you the truth when they answer.

4. Donate to your local rape crisis center. 

5. When a political candidate comes to your door, sends you a survey, or asks you for a donation, tell them that you want them to do something to help rape victims. It’s ok — in fact, it’s good — to tell them that you are pro-life and pro-woman. Then follow through by asking him or her later what they did in this regard.

I could go on with this. I could tell you that when you talk to political candidates about this, they may lie to you. But you already know that, don’t you?

We’ll deal with that issue later. For now, it’s enough that you look at the Money Where Our Mouth Is list and pick out one thing that you’d like to do to help rape victims.

We are pro-life. That means we want to heal our culture. These are baby steps, but real steps, down that path.

The Child Isn’t The One That Needs Killing

The Child Isn’t The One That Needs Killing.  Rob Roy produced by MGM

We are at a stalemate on the issue of abortion. For forty long years we’ve yelled at one another across the cultural divide. If vitriol was virtue, a good number of us could warp off to heaven like a convoy of Elijahs right now.

Nothing revs up the combatants in this on-going war faster than combining the words “rape” and “abortion” in one sentence. That’s like sounding the bell for a group of race horses lined up at the starting gate.

The foot-in-mouth comments of a Missouri politician brought all this to the fore Monday. Here is what he said:

Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican nominee for Senate in Missouri who is running against Sen. Claire McCaskill, justified his opposition to abortion rights even in case of rape with a claim that victims of “legitimate rape” have unnamed biological defenses that prevent pregnancy.
“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

His comments are so absurd they would be funny if their impact wasn’t tragic. Morally callous biological nonsense coming out of the mouth of a pro-life politician makes pro life people sound like moral ingrates and idiots. His bizarre statement will be bandied about as proof of many of the prejudices that are used to destroy the pro-life movement’s credibility in public debate.

People we might otherwise convert to our cause will be persuaded that we are too heartless for them to listen to us. Every time someone like this exhibits such indifference to women, he makes it harder for the rest of us to convert the culture.

I’ve been fighting the battle to achieve justice for rape victims most of my adult life. I was one of the six founders of the original YWCA Rape Crisis Center here in Oklahoma. I’ve lost count of the number of pieces of legislation I’ve authored to either try to help rape victims or lock up their assailants. Along with the Oklahoma Coalition on Domestic Violence I helped put together the Statewide Day of Prayer for an End to Violence Against Women, the first such event that I know of in the country.

I can not contemplate the sheer indifference to the suffering of other people that rape represents. It wounds me when I try.

Despite all this, I have been hammered repeatedly by legal abortion advocates because I won’t kill a baby that is conceived in rape. They have gone so far as to claim that I want women to be beaten and raped, that I hate women.

I believe that the leaders in these attacks know that they are lying. They are, in the parlance of our pro-life movement, truly “pro-abortion” in that their motivations are to promote abortion rather than to help women.

I have never answered them in kind. Even though some pro-life people have criticized me because I won’t fall in line and call pro-choice people names, I refuse to do it. I do not research their histories to try to find ways to attack them. I never answer their ugliness with more ugliness.

I let them have the low road.

I’ve been on both sides of the abortion wars and I know that there are good and sincere people who feel pushed into a pro-choice position simply because they can’t see any other way to help women who are faced with terrible situations. These are the people we have to convert if we want to change the face of our society.

We can’t change the culture by high-five-ing one-another. We’ve got to change minds and hearts. We must convert those who are genuinely pro-choice rather than pro-abortion. We need to do missionary work among those good people who think abortion should be legal because of their concern for the welfare of women. We can not do this without changing some of our tactics.

We need to try to put another face on our movement than that of social bully. We have far too many people who say they are pro-life but who are more interested in winning arguments and dominating discussions than in saving lives. If we want to build a pro-life culture, we need to stop yammering about what terrible people those on the other side of the debate are, and start speaking about the values we believe in.

We believe in the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. We are working to build a culture that honors the value and dignity of every single person, no matter how young, old, sick or disabled. We are trying to teach the world the Sermon on the Mount.

That is a noble cause. We should advance it with noble means.

Our values are not about overpowering those who disagree with us with verbal nastiness. They are also not about enforcing some rigid pro-life political correctness that says we have to denounce those who disagree with us or be attacked by other pro-life people ourselves.

I will go a step further and say that we should never answer their unkindness with unkindness of our own. We need to stay on our great and glorious message of the sanctity of life for all human beings. That, and not name-calling and denouncing people, is what will win the day.

The question of abortion for rape victims is a case in point. We should never make unkind or dismissive statements about the victims of horrible crimes like rape.

Representative Akin is mistaken. Women do get pregnant from rape. And they suffer horribly. Rape is a monstrous, dehumanizing terror that frightens almost all women and can be a kind of psychological death for those who have to survive it. Rape is another of those mortal sins that, if unrepented, can send those who commit it to hell.

None of this affects the fact that it is wrong to kill a baby. From the moment of our conception, we are all unique and precious individuals, children of the living God. A baby is not a terror. A baby is a person.

I think there are a lot of good and compassionate people who honestly favor abortion in the case of rape because they care about the rape victim. I also believe that there are lot of equally good and compassionate people who oppose abortion in the case of rape because they care about the life of the baby.

If we are going to heal our culture and bring the abortion wars to a life-giving conclusion, we have to bring these two groups of good people together. We need to stop focusing on saving the baby OR the mother. We should focus instead on saving the baby AND the mother.

Rape victims need a lot of help recovering from what has been done to them. Above all things, they need Christians to accept them as whole, unblemished people who are worth as much as they were before the rape. If they become pregnant from a rape, they will need a great deal of support. They need our help. Most of all, they need our love.

I get weary of empty-headed politicians and their callous statements. It tires me dealing with them and their indifference to human suffering.

As for rapists, I won’t go so far as Rob Roy and say that they need killing. But I do believe the unspoken sub-text of the statement that the person who should be punished is the rapist. The woman who was raped is innocent. A baby conceived in rape is innocent. The guilt, shame and the full punishment should fall on the one who did this terrible thing, not them.

Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus

What would it take to make you deny Christ?

Would you deny Jesus to save your life? Would you deny Him to save your child’s life?

What would it take for you to turn your back on Jesus?

Christians die for their faith all over the world, right now, this minute. Christians are raped, splashed with acid, stoned, beheaded, sold into slavery every minute of every day because they refuse to deny Jesus. They are the martyrs of our times, and we, who are not facing martyrdom, do very little to support them.

That doesn’t mean that those of us who are safe, fed and fat are not challenged in our soft and cozy faith. It just means that the challenges come at us in more subtle, less costly ways that we  don’t always recognize. Take, for instance, the insistent request in certain circles that we not “offend” people of other faiths or no faith by talking about our Jesus. This kind of gentle push to deny Our Lord can come from surprising sources, sources which disarm us by who they are.

My friend and fellow public catholic, Linda Cavanah, is an example. Linda is the founder and director of All Things New, an Oklahoma ministry which engages in the life-saving work of rescuing, sheltering and healing women from sex trafficking and prostitution. Linda makes a lot speeches about sex trafficking and prostitution in many different venues. When she was asked to speak at a large mainline church near one of Oklahoma’s two major universities, she assumed that this particular speech would be on Christian-friendly grounds.

A few days before the speech the church’s assistant pastor emailed her. He asked her to avoid mentioning Jesus or talking about her faith in her speech. He said that people from many faiths, including people of no faith, would be in the audience, and his church didn’t want to offend them by talking about Jesus. Linda emailed back, telling him, no, she couldn’t do that. If that was his requirement, he would have to find another speaker.

When the pastor did not reply to her email, she sent another. When he didn’t reply to that, she was in a quandary. Was she supposed to show up for the speech or not? She finally decided to go ahead and show up and see if they still wanted her to speak. She went, prepared to leave if that was what they wanted.

When she got there, no one told her to leave, but she wasn’t exactly welcomed, either. The associate pastor who had sent the email and his senior pastor huddled on the other side of the room, glancing at her while they talked and rolled their eyes in what anyone who’s been treated this way would recognize as distaste. Despite their obvious contempt and woeful lack of hospitality, they let her speak.

She talked about how Jesus had saved her from the same thing from which she was working to rescue other women. She said straight out that her ministry was based on faith in Christ. Of course, she also (and mostly) talked about the horrors of sex trafficking and what we can do to stop it. No one in the audience raised any objections.

So. Two “pastors,” men who are supposed to be shepherds of Christ’s flock, try to stop a woman from saying the name Jesus while speaking to a gathering in their church. They do this in a church that has the image of Christ in its stained glass windows and the name of Christ on its altar. I could do a whole post on that. But the real point is that my friend didn’t let them bully her into silence about Jesus. She stood firm. She refused. She got dissed by two “men of God” for her effort, but I have to think that God Himself was pleased with her.

This leads me back to my first question: What would it take to make YOU deny Christ?

Assuming that you are not one of the people who is facing death for standing for Jesus, what would it take to make you deny Him?

Would you do it to keep your job?

Would you do it to keep or get government funding for your ministry?

Would you do it to satisfy government regulations that conflict with your faith so you could keep your ministry’s doors open?

Would you do it to avoid having your classmates, co-workers, even your family, belittle, mock and make fun of you?

Would you do it to avoid the humiliation of a public trashing on the internet and by media talking heads?

Would you do it to avoid being labeled a “bigot,” a “hater,” or a fool?

Would you do it to get into a fraternity or sorority?

Would you do it to get a date with the best looking, most popular guy or girl in school?

Would you do it to get an “A” from that professor who talks about “theists” and claims that only atheists are rational?

What would it take to make you deny Christ? Before you answer, consider this: You’ve already done it. I have. You have. We all have.

I don’t think there’s one Christian in our entire American culture who hasn’t at one time or another gone along to get along in matters of faith. We’ve kept quiet; at family dinners, political gatherings, in the classroom, on the job. We’ve laughed at jokes belittling God or Christians, even when we felt dirty for doing it. We’ve joined in and repeated these jokes ourselves.

We have all denied Christ in the simplest way possible; by what we’ve said and what we haven’t said. I’ll talk another time about how we deny Him with what we do. For now, let’s just stop and consider how many times and in how many ways each of us has denied Him with what we’ve said or not said.

Public Catholics get pushed every day to deny Christ. We are bullied, badgered, belittled, mocked and shamed for our faith as a matter of our daily work. In the case of politicians, most of this is a not-so-subtle attempt to change the way we vote on issues of public policy. The interesting thing is that it works. Not with me. I’ve kept my mouth shut to keep the peace when I shouldn’t have. But nobody ever bullied me into voting against my faith. I just won’t do it.

Linda Cavanah is also a Public Catholic. She’s not an elected official, but her work and ministry place her in the public eye. She passed the test with that speech. I’ve seen her pass the test over and over again.

I think the reason the two of us are so stubborn about this is that Jesus forgave us for so much. He loved us from death to life and we know it. Deny Him? Deny the One Who saved us from the living pit of our self-made hells? No. The very thought is anathema.

If you came to Christ by an “easier” way, you may not realize quite so graphically what He saved you from. You may not feel to the marrow of your bones that you owe a debt you can never repay. You may even think, as some Christians evidently do, that it was God’s lucky day when He got you. It may be easier for you to overlook the seemingly small requests to accede to the larger culture and keep quiet about Jesus. Maybe, down deep where not even you know it, the truth is that Jesus doesn’t matter to you as much as the good opinion of the people around you.

Besides, you ask, what good would it do? After all, you are just a drop of faith against the tsunami of secularism and nihilism that is rolling over our society. What does it matter in the great scheme of things what you do?

The answer is simple: It matters to Him.

We are called to be the leaven, the mustard seed, the light and salt that brings the Kingdom. It does not matter who you are or what you do, you will be faced each day with opportunities to speak for Jesus or keep silent. You will decide a thousand times in every thousand days you live to either stand up for Jesus or sit down and say nothing. That may seem like a trial, but it is in reality the great opportunity to speak for Christ which is available to every one of us in our present world. It is your chance to do something that matters for Christ.

I am not talking about being strident. This is not a call to lecture, hector, speechify. What I am suggesting is that we, all of us, every Christian man, woman and child, stop being silent when Our Lord is attacked, when our faith is belittled, when the only Hope of humankind is drug through the mud of incivility and debasement that has become our public debate. Most of the time, all you have to say is, “I am a Christian, and I am not comfortable with this discussion.” That will cause an uneasy silence, but it will also make the point.

Every once in a while you may come across one of those devil-driven souls who feel a sense of self-righteous entitlement when it comes to attacking Christians. They may turn on you and say ugly, degrading things to you and about you. If you are female, they may even band together with others of their kind in an attack on you as a girl or a woman.

I can tell you from personal experience, that is hard to take. I’ll blog another time about Christian men who stand by and do or say nothing while this happens. It’s enough for now to tell you that I have been called every degrading name our misogynist culture uses to attack women, including all the vicious names for women’s body parts. Ironically, most of this was done in the name of “women’s rights.” It was a way of punishing me for converting to pro-life.

It hurts. It has to hurt. But remember: They did the same thing to Jesus. He warned us about this. He said that if they did it to Him, they would do it to us, too. It is not a curse to suffer for Jesus. It is a privilege. As Jesus told us, “rejoice and be glad,” when people attack you for standing up for Him. They are giving you the Kingdom of Heaven.

There’s an old hymn that goes, “Stand up, stand for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross.”

In our world, we might better sing, “Don’t be embarrassed by Jesus. Don’t be ashamed of His Name.”

Survey: Increasing Hostility Toward Religion in USA

In what may be one of the more poignant stories of the week, Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council and Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Institute released a survey Monday that details the rise in hostility toward religion in America.

Just a week ago, a gunman attempted to enter Family Research Council headquarters in Washington DC, wounding a security guard. Law enforcement has treated this as an incident of Domestic Terrorism. That certainly puts an explanation point at the end of yesterday’s press release from the Family Research Council.

According to CNA/EWTN news,

Washington D.C., Aug 20, 2012 / 05:31 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A report examining court cases from recent years has found that hostility towards religion has grown to unprecedented levels in the United States.

The newly-updated Survey of Religious Hostility in America serves as “a testament to the radical shift in our culture’s worldview” on religion, said Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute, and Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council.

On Aug. 20, Shackelford and Perkins announced the release of the updated analysis, describing “more than 600 recent examples of religious hostility” in the U.S., most occurring in the last decade. Read more here

The full report on the rise of hostility toward religion in the USA can be found here.

Becket Fund to HHS: Tweaks to HHS Mandate Not Enough

Hannah Smith, Senior Counsel for the Becket Fund.

Washington D.C., Aug 28, 2012 / 03:58 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A slight revision of the federal contraception mandate offers some additional protection for certain religious employers but is not sufficient to ease religious freedom concerns, said a lawyer who is working to challenge the mandate in court.

Hannah Smith, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, told CNA on Aug. 27 that the Obama administration is governing by “sloppyexecutive fiat” and is failing to address the underlying problem with the controversial mandate.

She explained that for the third time in seven months, the federal governmenthas rewritten the guidelines for the “safe harbor” that offers a one-year reprieve from the mandate to some non-profit religious organizations that object to its demands.

“They’re making it up as they go along,” she said. “They haven’t really thought through these issues carefully.”

The Becket Fund is representing Wheaton College, a Christian liberal arts college in Illinois, in a lawsuit challenging the mandate. The controversial rule requires employers to offer health insurance that covers contraception, sterilization and early abortion drugs, even if doing so violates their consciences. (Read more here.)

My Heart Aches for America

America suffered another tragic shooting today.

The Reverend Billy Graham published a letter to America a few weeks ago that seems almost to speak of it when he says, “My heart aches for America.”  Here’s an excerpt of what he wrote:

Some years ago, my wife, Ruth, was reading the draft of a book I was writing. When she finished a section describing the terrible downward spiral of our nation’s moral standards and the idolatry of worshiping false gods such as technology and sex, she startled me by exclaiming, “If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

She was probably thinking of a passage in Ezekiel where God tells why He brought those cities to ruin. “Now this was the sin of … Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen” (Ezekiel 16:49–50, NIV).

I wonder what Ruth would think of America if she were alive today. In the years since she made that remark, millions of babies have been aborted and our nation seems largely unconcerned. Self-centered indulgence, pride, and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle. 

Just a few weeks ago in a prominent city in the South, Christian chaplains who serve the police department were ordered to no longer mention the Name of Jesus in prayer. It was reported that during a recent police-sponsored event, the only person allowed to pray was someone who addressed “the being in the room.” Similar scenarios are now commonplace in towns across America. Our society strives to avoid any possibility of offending anyone—except God.

Yet the farther we get from God, the more the world spirals out of control. 

My heart aches for America and its deceived people. The wonderful news is that our Lord is a God of mercy, and He responds to repentance. In Jonah’s day, Nineveh was the lone world superpower—wealthy, unconcerned, and self-centered. When the Prophet Jonah finally traveled to Nineveh and proclaimed God’s warning, people heard and repented.

I believe the same thing can happen once again, this time in our nation. 

I believe that Rev Graham is right. Revival can come to our nation. But we need to stop waiting for a politician or a preacher on a white horse to bring it. It’s up to us, Jesus’ followers, no matter who we are or where we live, to do our part in bringing the Kingdom. We know the antidote to evil. It isn’t something we can “give” to other people like a dose of medicine. We have to live it out in front of them so that they will “catch” it from us. 

We can do that by living our faith in the simple dailiness of our lives. We can do it by not cutting corners, not cheating, lying, stealing, hurting others. We can do it by keeping our promises, including the ones we made when we said “I do.” We can do it by being there with our children in the dailiness of their lives.

We can do it by holding our heads up and being proud, not of ourselves, but of Our Savior, Jesus Christ. No American Christian should ever stand idly by while Jesus is insulted and degraded in front of them. Unlike many of our brothers and sisters, we do not face death for standing up for Jesus. We may be ridiculed or lose a few of the people we pal around with, but we won’t be burned alive or beheaded. 

Don’t let anyone bully you into behaving as if you are ashamed of Jesus. Be civil. Be courteous. But also be resolute. Uncomfortable silence in the face of deliberate mockery of Our Lord is a form of assent. 

We bring the Kingdom to those around us when we live it. Make no mistake about it; courage attracts, faithfulness slowly changes mockery into respect, and love heals. We should live our lives in such a way that other people know without being told that Jesus Christ is our Lord. That is our calling. 

Slander Is Murder With Words

Slander is murder with words. It can lead to social death for its victims.

It’s also a mortal sin.

You can go to hell for it.

Do you understand what I’m saying? I’m talking hell. Eternity in torment. Unending separation from light, love, hope and mercy.

If what I’m saying is true, and 2,000 years of Christian teaching says that it is, then there are a lot of people who are placing their own immortal souls in danger for the bitter pleasure of destroying other people with words.

I’m not talking about venting to your best friend or your spouse over your dreadnought of a boss. I’m also not talking about idle gossip. What I mean here is the deliberate, malicious verbal destruction of another person for gain, pleasure, entertainment or self-righteous self-satisfaction. I mean slander.

We, as a society, have become so inured to slander that we actually indulge in self-righteous anger at those who won’t join us in our verbal slasher parties. I’ve had long, circular debates with people who email me all day demanding that I call the president a communist or the anti-Christ. I’ve been challenged because I refer to those who think abortion should be legal as “pro choice” unless I am given evidence that they are, in fact, pro-abortion. I’ve lost count of the times someone or other has jumped on me because I refuse to say more than I know about another person’s beliefs or motives.

I could go on and on with this, but the specifics of my experiences don’t matter. I just use them to illustrate the obsessively aggressive nature of  the slander-with-us-or-else crowd.

When did being pro-life devolve down to the level of calling other people ugly names? When did it stop being about the sanctity of human life and become about us vs them? When?

When did opposing or supporting a political figure because of his or her policies cease to be how we engage in public debate? When did calling public figures names become more important than discussing the issues?

When did lies — and these things are lies — become so easy for us?

I’m not talking to the atheist/secularist crowd. I’m talking to Christians; to the people who sing Holy, Holy on Sundays and claim they serve a Risen Lord.

We do not have the privilege of indulging our fallen natures in public discourse. The dark satisfaction we get from slandering another person to the point that it becomes a form of social murder is straight from the pit. It does not make us righteous before God and it certainly does not bring the Light to the darkness of our world.

Do not allow yourself to become so angered by the vast injustices of our world that you fight those injustices in ways and with tactics that align you with the darkness. Do not fight satan with satan’s weapons.

Woman-friendly Catholic Business sues over HHS mandate

Woman-friendly Catholic business sues over HHS mandate
By Michelle Bauman
Mary Anne Yep, co-founder and vice president of Triune Health Group.

Chicago, Ill., Aug 24, 2012 / 04:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A businesswoman who has filed the most recent lawsuit against the federal contraception mandate believes that the government must respect her identity as a Catholic woman as well as a business owner.

“I’m a total integrated person,” said Mary Anne Yep, co-founder and vice president of Triune Health Group.

Yep told CNA on Aug. 23 that she cannot separate her identity as a woman, a business owner and a Catholic. The government cannot expect her to “carve out a portion” of herself during working hours, she said.

Yep helped found Triune Health Group in 1990, along with her husband, Christopher, who serves as the company’s president and CEO.

The company was recently named the Best Place to Work for Women in the Chicago metro area by Crain’s Chicago Business. (Read more here.)

Democrats reject move to allow pro-life stance in party platform

Now here’s a surprise:

The National Democratic Party Platform Committee refused to include pro life language in the party platform.

I also hear that it’s hot in Death Valley and the Pope is still Catholic.

Any other news?

Democrats for Life of America caused a ripple earlier this summer by managing to gain an audience with the 2012 National Democratic Platform Committee. (read their testimony here) If you doubt the hammerlock that pro choice advocates have on the Democratic Party, consider that this is the first time a pro-life group has been allowed to speak to this committee in decades.

Of course, the Democratic Party more than owes this to Democrats for Life of America. They’ve shamelessly used the pro-life imprimatur this group gives in swing district elections. They may not have much respect for pro-life Democrats most of the time, but they have no qualms about getting on the phone and asking for an endorsement when the votes are tight.

I think anyone who can count votes knows that the Affordable Health Care Act would not have become law without the help of Democrats for Life of America. The HHS Mandate made a mockery of the promises President Obama gave to this group concerning abortion and the right to conscience. Democrats for Life of America has filed comments against the HHS Mandate, reminding the President of his promises and asking him to honor them.

So. This organization has certainly earned the right to give testimony to the Democratic Party Platform Committee. It’s too bad that the Committee chose to treat this testimony with the same contempt that the President showed to his promises to them about the Affordable Health Care Act. But, it’s not surprising. At least not to me.

I know these pro-choice Democrats. They aren’t going to give an inch. The only way we will change the Democratic Party Platform is by changing who sits on that committee.

Having said that, I can tell you that I do think the whole exercise was worthwhile. The reason I feel this way is because I know something that both parties want to keep secret: We are never going to overturn Roe v Wade and build a culture of life with half the people.

In the first place, neither political party — and I mean neither political party — wants to reverse Roe v Wade. They both benefit from it too much to ever do that. Forty years of getting nowhere should be our first clue to that.

Even if it was possible to somehow force a change in the law with half the people, that change would not stand. Power shifts back and forth in this country. Whatever one party did, the other one would undo. The truth is, we need both the Democrats and the Republicans if we are going to win this thing. The longer we take figuring that out, the longer the killing will go on.

That’s why Democrats for Life of America is important. I got exasperated with them over the Affordable Health Care Act. I didn’t then and I don’t now understand how anyone could be so naive as to believe those promises. On the other hand, pro-life Democrats, together with pro-life Republicans, are the key to winning the political part of this fight for life.

Anybody who’s ever been in a law-making position can tell you that it’s a lot easier to kill a bill than it is to pass one. All you have to do to kill a piece of legislation is to get the support of the right legislator. That’s it. One legislator in the right position is all it takes. But in order to make a law you need the majorities of both houses, plus the Governor or President. Looking on down the road; you need the Supreme Court.

There is no way — I mean NO WAY — that we are ever going to be able to change the laws on issues of life with just one political party. Oh, we can fiddle with it a bit. We can make a few requirements and issue some regulations. But given the hedge of protection that the Supreme Court has built around the “right” to legal abortion, that’s about it.

Overturning this thing is going to take something massive. That means we need both parties and we need them for quite some time. That’s why Democrats for Life of America is important. It’s also why the ultimate solution can not be entirely political. The amount of money and effort it would take to create two pro-life political parties so long as the people themselves are divided on the issue is unthinkable.

What Democrats for Life of America attempted is important, even if it didn’t succeed. Getting into that party machinery is a big part of how the pro choice people took the Democrats away from us in the first place. Democrats weren’t always pro-abortion. For at least ten years after Roe, the Democratic Party faithful were majority pro-life.

That was an opportunity that pro-life people threw away. If we’re going to change things, we need to make that opportunity for ourselves once again.

There are ardent pro-life Democrats. But as one of them I can tell you that what we mostly get from our party is abuse. Look at the photo at the top of this blog to see what I mean. At the same time, the role we play as pro-life Democrats within the legislative process is absolutely critical.

I know for a fact that there are a number of pro-life bills that would not have passed in Oklahoma the past few years if I had not been there and if I had not been a pro-life Democrat as opposed to a pro-life Republican. It’s a matter of strategy, tactics and positioning that is too complex to explain here. Let it suffice to say that pro-life Democrats are essential to pro-life efforts.

I am not trying to take away from the efforts of pro-life Republicans by saying this. I’m certainly not asking anyone to switch parties. All I’m saying is that if we want to stop the killing, we need to get it through our thick skulls that we will need all the people to do it.

Bi-Polar Extremism and the Universal Church

Joanne K. McPortland over at Egregious Twaddle had a few things to say yesterday about the superficial distinctions that we allow to divide us. These useless criteria tear at the unity of the Body of Christ in general and the Catholic Church in particular. They can make a mockery of Christ’s prayer that we “all may be one.” They also make us easy prey for the galloping secularism that seeks to push religious thought and religious expression out of the public square.

I could go on.

And on.

But Joanne says it so much better:

“The more I stewed in my rile, though, the more I recognized what really made me angry is the ease by which we Catholics have allowed ourselves to be reduced to this kind of stereotyping—and then played against one another as a consequence. “Social justice Catholic” (“the side of Catholicism that says take care of the poor and the oppressed”). “Family values Catholic” (“the side of Catholicism that says no to abortion”). These are not just handy MSM memes. They are, increasingly and frighteningly, the labels we ourselves pick up and apply to our lapels, our bumper stickers, and our minds.”

Read the rest of her post, The Great Both/And, here.

Prayers for the Family Research Council: My Comrades in the Culture Wars

I would guess that the person who showed up at the Family Research Council headquarters in Washington DC today with Chick-Fil-A materials, ammo, a gun and what appear to be very bad intentions is a hate-filled nut.

Does that about cover it? I hope so. Because I am not going to waste one more virtual word on this person.

I will say that I am very grateful in an almost personal way to the security guard who stepped up and stopped what might very well have been yet another tragic shooting. Bless him. I pray for his full recovery and long happy life.

I have partnered with the Family Research Council on legislation in the past, and I hope to do so again. They are great people who have zero problems crossing the Democrat-Republican divide to help a pro-life Okie pass pro-life legislation. I’m not going to mention any of their names here because I don’t think it would be a kind thing to do under these circumstances.

Another thing I am not going to do is start pointing fingers at everybody from the President of the United States to the doorman at Fox News in an attempt to blame them for something they obviously did not do. These horrible acts of violence against innocent people are tragedies. They are not opportunities for political demagoguery.

My prayers go with my friends at the Family Research Council. I’ve been thinking about you all day. I know that you are going to have trouble sleeping tonight, and that you will re-live this like a tape going in front of your eyes for a while. Just talk it out with your friends, hug your loved ones and say your prayers. It gets better in time.

Also, hug that security guard for me, will you?

He saved your lives. He also saved me and the rest of the world from losing you.

Good Morning Patheos!

I am Representative Rebecca Hamilton. I am beginning my 17th year as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. That means I have much more seniority than anyone else in the Oklahoma Legislature.

I was first elected in 1980, served three terms, then left office when I had my first child. Before I was elected, I was an ardent pro abortion activist. I helped found the first abortion clinic in Oklahoma and, during the early 1970s, was the NARAL Director for Oklahoma.

I was re-elected in 2002. I had experienced a powerful religious conversion which changed me concerning issues of life. I had also converted to the Catholic Church. The same people in the same House District who had elected me as a pro-choice advocate graciously re-elected me as a pro-life Catholic.

During the years away from public office I was a full-time, stay at home Mom.

I never planned on blogging. But the HHS Mandate requiring the Catholic Church to violate its moral teachings or face crippling fines, along with the many battles I’ve fought for the sanctity of human life since I returned to office, have changed my mind. Being a Public Catholic is not easy. Its not easy for anyone who takes it seriously. I fear it’s going to become more difficult as time goes by.

I want to add my small voice to the fight and I don’t know any better place to do that than right here at Patheos.

The Crazy People File

“Crazy People”

The folder with this name sits on my hard drive. Whenever I get an email that merits the title, I drag it into the “Crazy People” file. After 16 years in public office, the file has swollen to gigs of nutty emails that most likely would embarrass their senders if they read them today.

I have a theory that people don’t know how they sound in the emails they send to elected officials. They forget that other people are on the opposite end of these nasty diatribes; that they read them, react to them and file them away.

Several years ago, members of the Oklahoma House were spending what seemed like an endless day on the House floor. We were hearing one bill after another. Since it was close to the end of session, we’d voted on all these bills many times before; in committee, in the full House the first time, then again in the full House when they came back from the Senate, and now, in the full House again after they came out of conference committee.

We spend a lot of time together in the House of Representatives, kind of like people locked on a ship that’s adrift at sea. We’d heard each other’s speeches on these bills until we could all recite them together.

On that day, we were tired, over-stimulated and stressed; all combined with an almost numbing boredom. It gets like that late in every legislative session. Mainly due to the boredom, we started talking about the emails we get.

Now there are certain people who evidently get up every morning and fire off a nasty email to all the members of the legislature before breakfast, kind of like some people go to daily mass and others run on their treadmill. Their names and the names they call us become familiar to all of us.

We started trying to figure out whose district these emailers were from. Finally, I emailed the one who we all felt was the most flamboyant and asked what part of the state he lived in. Nobody answers these kinds of emails, and I think it was the first time any of us had clicked “reply” on one of his. The person responded and asked why I wanted to know. I said that we’d been talking about him and were wondering whose district he lived in.

If it’s possible to sound abashed in an email, this person did. I really don’t think he realized that people read the stuff he was sending. In all the years since, he has never sent another blanket email to the Oklahoma House.

Of course, this person, hateful and goofy-sounding as his emails were, did not rise to the level that gets someone into the “Crazy People” file. It takes a special kind of venom, and usually a couple of threats, to land there.

The point I’m making is if you’re writing your legislator in support of Christian values, remember that someone will read what you send. Do your best to sound like a follower of Christ and not an escapee from a wingnut radio talk show. You can make your point just as well without calling people names or attacking their intelligence, beliefs, children, parentage or appearance.

Remember: When you say your are a Christian, other people judge Christ by you. Don’t be a negative witness for Christ just because you think it’s clever and witty to degrade other people with your speech.

Civility will not only make you a better witness for Christ, it will make you more persuasive about the positions you are advocating.

It can also keep you out of the “Crazy People” file.

The War on Girls: NBC Pulls ‘Creepy’ Olympic Video After Backlash

They’ve done it again.

The depressing misogyny train keeps on rolling through the newsrooms of the world. NBC news has been forced to remove a “soft porn” video of women athletes from its website because of public outrage.

These perverse attacks on the dignity and value of female athletes are garnering far more public outrage than ratings for the news outlets who keep committing them. NBC had to remove their trashy video. Melbourne’s Herald Sun took down their poll on the woman swimmer’s body. Meanwhile, the ever-proud New York Times is hanging tough with its attack on female athletes who are “too pretty” and its story about women athletes’ breasts.

Why would self-proclaimed “legitimate” journalists go to such lengths to cheapen themselves in this way? My guess is that they do it because they are so caught up in their misogynistic fervor that they can’t not. In much the same way that all compulsive people-haters behave, they are addicted to hurting women. They do it because they like doing it. It makes them feel powerful, or at least more powerful than the young women they evidently want so much to cheapen.

The point here isn’t that the folks in the news rooms use their power to degrade women by reducing everything they do to the level of porn. I think that’s a little bit like proclaiming that gravity sucks. It’s too obvious.

The point is that Christians have no business supporting or participating in it with them. I am proud of the public for the outrage they have displayed about this mistreatment of young women.

There was a time when leaders in our institutions led us higher. Now, it takes public outrage to keep them from devaluing us to the level of the gutter. Fortunately, there are still enough good people in this world that there is public outrage over this kind of behavior.

It seems we have to constantly fight against all of our once-venerable institutions, from the “legitimate” press to our government, to keep them from taking away our freedoms and violating our sense of fair play and decency toward other people. I don’t think I need to say this, but just to be sure we’re all on the same page, let me make the point that women are human beings. We are made in the image and likeness of God.

The people who run these news outlets appear to have a tremendous commitment to using their power to dehumanize and pornify young women. What they seem oblivious to is that their obsessively destructive behavior smears them, their organizations and their whole profession. You become what you do. If you use your position to abuse women, well, then, you become an abuser of women. It’s that simple.

There is no seat for any follower of Christ on board the misogyny train. We do not have the privilege of hating or abusing any of the people that God has made. Our call is to elevate human dignity, not participate in its destruction.

As I said a moment ago, women are human beings made in the image and likeness of God. We are also the life-bearers, the mothers, of the human race. When God became human, He did so by way of a mother. To put it another way, Our Lady, the Mother of God was and is a woman. These crimes against the dignity of women are in a very real way also crimes against her.

Human sexuality, this powerful attraction we all feel to one another, is a blessing and a delight. It brings us together and creates the wonderful, civilization-building bond that is man and woman, together. It was not given to us by our Creator to be used as a weapon by half the people He made to batter the other half of the people He made into diminished one-dimensional part-humans whose feelings and abilities no longer matter.

That is what these news outlets are trying with all their might to do. They are sending a message that is as clear as the focus on their expensive cameras that no matter what women accomplish they are still just sexual things and not full people.

Our job as Christians is to stand against this. We can write letters. Send emails. Stop buying the products of their advertisers. But before we do that, we need to get our minds right. We are the light of the world. That means we can not be part of this. Men and women are programmed to take genuine pleasure in the sight of one another. No one who is human can look at a beautiful member of the opposite sex without appreciating that beauty.

Appreciation is something almost everyone enjoys when it’s directed at them. It’s healthy. It’s flattering. And it’s kind. But this thing the news outlets are doing to the women Olympians is not appreciation. It’s degradation. It is the deliberate use of their talent and technology to send the message that female athletes are just body parts and that no matter what they achieve, their only value is for sex.

We were created by God to appreciate and be attracted to one another. That gift, if it’s used properly, will lead us to love, bond with and care for one another. The way these media outlets are abusing this gift leads us to despise, abuse and use one another. It gives half the people the idea that the other half of the people are only partial people without the full hearts, hopes and feelings of all human beings.

That’s why it’s wrong. It’s also why Christians may not participate in it. We can not be part of anything that diminishes whole classes of people to less than fully human.

As for the news people who are so firmly ensconced on the misogyny train, I think we should pray for them. They are on a train headed to nowhere and they seem determined to ride it to the end of road.

 

 

Death to the Different?

Thomas L. McDonald over at God and the Machine wrote a great article earlier this week, Should Autism Be a Death Sentence?

He raises the serious question of who gets advanced health care in an age of rationing. The article centers around the plight of Paul Corby, a young man who suffers from autism and a potentially fatal heart condition. The question: Does autism disqualify Paul from receiving a heart transplant?

This leads us into the uncomfortable who-dies/who-lives decisions that “ethicists” toss around. Only this isn’t a hypothetical for Paul Corby and his family. It’s life and death.

Thomas L. McDonald’s excellent article says in part:

Paul Corby is 23, autistic, and suffers from a potentially fatal heart condition called left ventricular noncompaction. He’s high-functioning enough to have written and self-published a novel for pre-teens, but he also has severe social problems, is prone to emotional outbursts, and suffers from various psychological and developmental issues. He spends much of his day playing video games and never goes anywhere without a stuffed Princess Peach doll. Although he needs 19 different medications (many of them for his heart condition), according to his mother he handles his own med management. His heart problems are serious enough to warrant a transplant.

And the doctors at the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania think he should die. Welcome to the wonderful world of 21st century medicine!

No one denies that there is a shortage of organs for transplant. Rationing is a sad reality, and each year several hundred people die while waiting for organs. Please note, however, that those people died while waiting for a viable organ. Paul Corby has been told he’s not even fit to be on the waiting list. Because he’s autistic … read more here

 

Shooting at Family Research Council: New Developments

New details on today’s shooting at Family Research Council from Timothy Dalrymple at Philosophical Fragments. Read below:

“He Said Something About Not Liking FRC’s Policies”: Domestic Terrorism Against the Family Research Council

August 15, 2012 By Timothy Dalrymple Leave a Comment

News broke around midday today that a lone gunman had opened fire inside the Washington DC offices of the Family Research Council.  Little was known about the shooter, the security guard who was shot, or the reason behind the shooting.  I’m actually able to report some new details, having spoken with a source close to FRC.  Although I have great confidence in the source, I’m not able to verify these details independently, so it’s always possible that corrections or other important details …[Read More...]

WordPress to Patheos, What’s Happenin’

Dear Friends:

Moving a blog is a little bit like moving to a new house. There’s a lot more to it than you thought when you bought the thing.

Public Catholic Patheos will have its formal debut next Monday. I’m going to start publishing posts at Public Catholic Patheos before that. In fact, I plan to start in the next day or so. I hope you come over and look at things and give me feed-back.

My understanding is that if you come to the old Public Catholic site you will be re-directed to the new one, but that this won’t happen until everything is up and running on Patheos. Let me know if/when this starts working.

In the meantime, the site, which will be all-singing, all-dancing in a couple of days, can be found at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/. We’re still polishing the rough edges, but go over, have a look and tell me what you think. I welcome your feedback.

In Christ,

Rebecca

PS: Be sure to add that link to your bookmarks so you can find me later! You can also get Public Catholic Patheos by rss feed and a number of other methods that are on the site.


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