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Vatican Says No to Communion for Divorced and Remarrieds

Rumors aside, it appears that Pope Francis is not going to overturn the 2,000-year-old Church teaching on the sanctity of Holy Matrimony.

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller published an article in the Vatican newspaper, putting that story to rest.

Archbishop Muller writes that marriage is indissoluble as is testified in both Scripture and Tradition.

From National Catholic Register:

That Pope Francis is not going to change the discipline that denies Communion to divorced-remarried people is established by the long article Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, drafted for the Vatican daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

In the article, published on Oct. 22, Archbishop Müller reiterates that a Christian marriage is indissoluble and that this is not simply a pastoral question, but a doctrinal issue that involves the Church’s theological understanding of the sacrament of marriage.

There are also other key passages. Archbishop Müller stated that the Orthodox practice of allowing second or third marriages under certain circumstances “cannot be reconciled with God’s will.” He rejected that the individual conscience can be the final arbiter on whether a divorced and civily remarried Catholic can receive Communion. And responding to the argument that Christian mercy mandates allowing such Catholics reception of Communion, he asserted that “an objectively false appeal to mercy also runs the risk of trivializing the image of God by implying that God cannot do other than forgive.”

The article seems a clear corrective to those who recently praised the Church for, they said, finally being open to bringing Communion to divorced-remarried under Pope Francis’ pontificate. And it also serves as a correction to numerous newspaper headlines that have misrepresented the theme of the next Extraordinary Synod of Bishops — “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization” — as meaning the 2014 synod will open the door to a new Church discipline on the matter.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/communion-to-divorced-remarried-catholics-the-cdf-says-no?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-10-25%2020:59:01#ixzz2isPprnKm

Sex Selected Abortions in Britain: What Does the CPS Decision Mean?

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As an American, I find British law confusing, which, I expect is equally true of the British when they try to consider American law.

My understanding of the current legal situation concerning sex selected abortion in Britain is, to put it in American terms, that the agency charged with enforcing the statute has determined that it is, if a single loophole is followed, unenforceable.

The decision was based on a request for prosecution of two doctors who agreed to perform a sex selected abortion that was part of an undercover operation by a British newspaper. The exception on which the decision not to prosecute these two doctors was based is a provision in British law that allows abortions for reason of the baby’s gender whenever two physicians certify that “continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the woman or any existing children of her family.”

That sounds very much like the health of the mother exceptions that have allowed terminations of pregnancies right up until the baby is born here in the US. In fact, it sounds as if sex-selected abortion was already legal in Britain, even before the Crown Prosecution Service decision not to prosecute under this law. If that is true, and the law I’ve seen reads like it is, then the CPS decision was a formality.

The report from the CPS talks about the difficulty the prosecution would face proving that the doctors in question were acting in bad faith. It describes this situation as “a narrow basis for any prosecution.”

Because of these things, the CPS declined to prosecute the two doctors in question. It also, so far as I understand these things, gave an explanation as to why any prosecutions for sex-selected abortion would be extremely unlikely.

In America, we would say that the CPS had made a de facto decision legalizing same-sex abortion in Britain. I’ve read comments, including a circular and  mush-mouthed statement from the Prime Minster, saying that there is no such thing as a de facto decision in British law. That leaves me wondering what they call it.

If the agency charged with enforcing a law says that they won’t enforce it because it is unenforceable, then it sounds to me like this agency has, de facto, repealed the law. In addition, if the quotations supplied by the CPS in their discussions of this decision are both accurate and inclusive of the British law on sex selected abortion, I think they are probably right. This law is unenforceable except in the rare case where a doctor is stupid enough to do a sex-selected abortion without getting another doctor to sign off on it for him or her.

So far as I know, there has not been any legislation passed in Britain formally legalizing sex-selected abortion. However, when the agency charged with enforcing a law says that they will not enforce it because the law is unenforceable, then it sounds like it’s been repealed to me.

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Britian’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, affirmed this even as he denied it when he answered a question that included the statement “a female fetus in the womb today is more vulnerable than she was last week” by saying

… But in our country we do have independent prosecuting authorities. It’s very importance that they look at the evidence and they make a decision on the basis of likelihood of getting a conviction and the public interest in making a case and taking it to court. That’s how things have to work in our country, but I share her concern about what we’ve read and what has happened and it’s absolutely right that professional action should be considered as well.

For those who aren’t fluent in the language, that’s political-speak for “Yes.”

The facts as I know them — and I will be happy to write about any difference in facts as they pop up — is that sex selected abortion is now free of the threat of prosecution in Britain so long as two doctors sign off on the sex selected abortion in accordance with the parameters established under the law.

I would guess that it is possible that this law will be re-written to make it enforceable in the future. However, that may not happen. I can not predict.

Quotes from CPS communications about the decision, as well as links to the original documents, are below:

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According to a letter from Keir Starmer, who is the Director of Public prosecutions to Dominic Grieve, MP, the loophole in the law is that:

The law does not, in terms, expressly prohibit gender-specific abortions; rather it prohibits any abortion carried out without two medical practitioners having formed a view, in good faith, that the health risks of continuing with a pregnancy outweigh those of termination. 

… the discretion afforded to doctors under the current law in assessing the risk to the mental or physical health of a patient is wide and, having consulted an experienced consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, it appears that there is no generally accepted approach among the medical profession.

There is also the difficulty that, on its face, the HSA/1 form which doctors are required to use to certify their assessment of a patient, does not require them to see or examine the patient before forming a view. Against that background, it would be very difficult for a jury to assess what may or may not be an “adequate” assessment by the doctor and there is a real risk that different juries would reach different decisions on essentially the same facts. 

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The Crown Prosecution Service followed this letter with a more extensive analysis of the situation on their web site(emphasis mine):

Procuring a miscarriage is an offence contrary to section 58 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. However, section 1 of the Abortion Act 1967 provides that a person should not be guilty of an offence when a pregnancy is terminated by a registered medical practitioner if two registered medical practitioners are of the opinion, formed in good faith, inter alia, that “the pregnancy has not exceeded its 24th week and that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family”.

Thus the law does not, in terms, expressly prohibit gender-specific abortions; rather, it prohibits any abortion carried out without two medical practitioners having formed a view, in good faith, that the health risks (mental or physical) of continuance outweigh those of termination. This gives a wide discretion to doctors in assessing the health risks of a pregnant patient.

The BMA’s Handbook of Ethics and Law, published in February 2012, gives the following guidance, which is the same as guidance published in 2007:

Abortion on the grounds of fetal sex

 

Fetal sex is not one of the criteria for abortion listed in the Abortion Act and therefore termination on this ground alone has been challenged as out with the law. There may be circumstances, however, in which termination of pregnancy on grounds of fetal sex would be lawful. It has been suggested that if two doctors, acting in good faith, formed the opinion that the pregnant woman’s health, or that of her existing children, would be put at greater risk than if she terminated the pregnancy, the abortion would arguably be lawful under section 1(1) (a) of the Abortion Act. (see page 283) [Morgan D (2001) Issues in medical law and ethics, Cavendish Publishing, London, pp147-9]. The Association believes that it is normally unethical to terminate a pregnancy on the grounds of fetal sex alone, except in cases of severe sex-linked disorders. The pregnant woman’s views about the effect of the sex of the fetus on her situation and on her existing children should nevertheless be carefully considered. In some circumstances doctors may come to the conclusion that the effects are so severe as to provide legal and ethical justification for a termination. They should be prepared to justify the decision if challenged.” [p.287]

… The prosecution would have to be in a position to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that the assessments carried out by the doctors was carried out in bad faith or carried out in such a way that fell below a standard which any reasonable doctor would consider adequate. In the absence of any considered medical guidance it is extremely difficult for the prosecution to undertake this exercise. Equally, it would be very difficult for a jury to assess what may or may not be an “adequate” assessment by the doctor. 

It is questionable whether the interests of justice are served in bringing a prosecution where such levels of uncertainty exist.  In the absence of guidance a jury would have no yardstick by which they could measure the conduct of any doctor facing prosecution.  Where there is such uncertainty there is a serious risk that different juries would reach different decisions on essentially the same facts.

… As with the evidential stage of the Code test, the public interest in this case is finely balanced. But, if the narrow basis of any prosecution is kept firmly in mind, the public interest factors against prosecution outweigh those in favour. In reaching this conclusion, we fully consulted with the police who agreed with us about the public interest.

For additional information check out Frank Weathers at Why I Am Catholic.

Mikey Weinstein Makes a Call. Air Force Academy Makes “So Help Me God” Optional.

Deacon Greg has the story.

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Mikey Weinstein, former legal counsel to the administration of President Reagan, has scored what I would imagine is to him another big victory. Thanks to a phone call from Mr Weinstein, the Air Force Academy has made the phrase in its oath “so help me God” optional.

Just in case someone might be tempted to mistake Mr Weinstein for a civil libertarian, let’s consider an article I discussed earlier that he wrote for the Huffington Post:

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me tell you of monsters and monstrous wrongs. And let me tell you what these bloody monsters thrive on.

I founded the civil rights fighting organization the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) to do one thing: fight those monsters who would tear down the Constitutionally-mandated wall separating church and state in the technologically most lethal entity ever created by humankind, the U.S. military.

Today, we face incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces. Oh my, my, my, how “Papa’s got a brand new bag.”

What’s Papa’s new tactic? You’re gonna just love this! These days, when ANYone attempts to bravely stand up against virulent religious oppression, these monstrosities cry out alligator tears in overflowing torrents and scream that it is, in fact, THEY who are the dispossessed, bereft and oppressed. C’mon, really, you pitiable unconstitutional carpetbaggers? It would be like the utter folly of 1960′s-era southern bigots howling like stuck pigs in protest that Rosa Parks’ civil rights activism is “abusing” them by destroying and disenfranchising their rights to sit in the front seat of buses in Montgomery, Alabama. Please, I beseech you! Let us call these ignoble actions what they are: the senseless and cowardly squallings of human monsters.

Queasy with the bright and promising lights of the cultural realities of the present day, those evil, fundamentalist Christian creatures and their spiritual heirs have taken refuge behind flimsy, well-worn, gauze-like euphemistic facades such as “family values” and “religious liberty.” These bandits coagulate their stenchful substances in organizations such as the American Family Association  (AFA), the ultra-fundamentalist Family Research Council (FRC), and the Chaplains Alliance for Religious Liberty(CARL). The basis of their ruinous unity is the bane of human existence and progress: horrific hatred and blinding bigotry. However, when the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and others correctly characterize them as “hate groups,” they all too predictably raise a deafening hue and disingenuously bellow mournfully like the world class cowards they are. (Read the rest here.)

That, my friends, is hate speech directed at Christians. It is the same kind of hate speech that has preceded overt discrimination and violent persecution of groups of people all over the world. It says all anyone needs to know about Mr Weinstein, his organization and their goals.

Predictably, Mr Weinstein is not satisfied with making “so help me God” optional. He wants the phrase removed from the oath altogether. Also predictably, he claims that his motivations are based on his desire for “freedom.”

From the Associated Press:

DENVER (AP) — Air Force Academy cadets are no longer required to say “so help me God” at the end of the Honor Oath, school officials said Friday.

The words were made optional after a complaint from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group, that they violated the constitutional concept of religious freedom.

Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson said the change was made to respect cadets’ freedom of religion.

The oath states, “We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and to live honorably, so help me God.”

Cadets are required to take the oath once a year, academy spokesman Maj. Brus Vidal said.

Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, welcomed the change but questioned how it will be applied.

If the person leading the oath includes the words, cadets who choose not to say them might feel vulnerable to criticism, he said.

“What does it mean, `optional’?” Weinstein said. “The best thing is to eliminate it.”

Vidal said the oath is led by the Cadet Wing honor chair, a student, and that person will also have the option to use or not use the words.

Academy officials did not immediately return a follow-up call seeking comment on Weinstein’s question.

UK Legalizes Sex Selected Abortions

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It began — at least for me — when Public Catholic reader Manny shared this link.

That led me to a google search where I found links from

National Right to Life

Belfast Telegraph

Susan B Anthony List

Zenit

Breitbart

Statement from the Crown Prosecution Service

all of which say that Manny’s link is correct. The UK has done one of those this-is-how-we-interpret-the-law laws that now allows doctors to perform sex-selected abortions.

I’m not going to comment about this right now. I feel like somebody hit me and I need to get my breath back.

However, just for your reading pleasure, I’ll include one last link. It’s from a “feminist” group explaining how killing baby girls is … well … too “complex” to be illegal. They think that it’s basically ok so long as it’s the woman’s choice to kill her baby because the baby is a little girl.

That’s feminism???

To paraphrase Lily Tomlin, I try to be cynical folks. But I just can’t keep up.

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Growing List of Countries Protest US Surveillance. But Nobody Speaks Up for American Citizens.

The Patriot Act Posters1

Brazil and Mexico have joined Germany and France in protesting American spying on their leaders and citizens.

When on when will someone in Congress take a brief timeout from attacking members of the other political party and speak up for the American people?

Why are we the only ones our government can violate without anybody speaking up for us? Why is the government listening in on our phone calls and reading our emails without any resistance from the people we’ve elected to speak for us in government?

That is their job, you know. They are supposed to speak for us – not their political parties and not special interests, but for us – in government. That’s why it’s called a representative democracy. The men and women we send to the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives are supposed to be our representatives in government. They are our voice at the table.

So why aren’t they doing their job?

Why are they so dead, flat silent about this?

Here’s a suggestion for these folks: Try representing the people who elected you, Mr or Ms Congressperson.

You’ll get roughed up by your colleagues and the lobbyists who buy your lunch and laugh at your tasteless jokes. You may even find out that your jokes weren’t ever all that funny. But you’ll never have to be afraid to go home and face your district again.

Who Will Call Obama for Us?

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Would you like to call President Obama and demand that he stop tapping your phone?

Some people have done just that.

According to a New York Times article, German Chancellor Angela Merkel dialed up the president and angrily demanded assurance that he was not tapping her cell phone. French President Francois Hollande summoned the American Ambassador and expressed “extreme approbation” over NSA spying on French citizens.

It’s too bad we the people don’t have someone to make a similar call to the president for us.

Oh wait.

We do have someone.

We have our elected representatives in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. The only trouble is that they’re in the bag on the plans to spy on us, right along with the Orwellian press.

So … does that mean we don’t have anyone to speak out for us?

Yes. It does.

From the New York Times:

BERLIN — The diplomatic fallout from the documents harvested by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden intensified on Wednesday, with one of the United States’ closest allies, Germany, announcing that its leader had angrily called President Obama seeking reassurance that her cellphone was not the target of an American intelligence tap.
Washington hastily pledged that the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, leader of Europe’s most powerful economy, was not the target of current surveillance and would not be in the future, while conspicuously saying nothing about the past. After a similar furor with France, the call was the second time in 48 hours that the president found himself on the phone with a close European ally to argue that the unceasing revelations of invasive American intelligence gathering should not undermine decades of hard-won trans-Atlantic trust.
Both episodes illustrated the diplomatic challenge to the United States posed by the cache of documents that Mr. Snowden handed to the journalist Glenn Greenwald. Last week, Mr. Greenwald concluded a deal with the eBay founder Pierre Omidyar to build a new media platform that aims in part to publicize other revelations from the data Mr. Greenwald now possesses.The damage to core American relationships continues to mount.
Last month, President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil postponed a state visit to the United States after Brazilian news media reports — fed by material from Mr. Greenwald — that the N.S.A. had intercepted messages from Ms. Rousseff, her aides and the state oil company, Petrobras. Recently, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, which has said it has a stack of Snowden documents, suggested that United States intelligence had gained access to communications to and from President Felipe Calderón of Mexico when he was still in office.

Yale University Holds First-Ever Pro-Life Conference

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According to a first-person account from LifeNews.com, Yale University recently held it’s first pro life conference. The conference was called Vita et Veritas.

The event was hosted by Choose Life at Yale, the campus pro life group. Speakers included representatives from the American Life League, Feminists for Life, and Secular Pro life.

From LifeNews.com:

This past weekend, CLAY hosted the first pro-life conference at Yale, called “Vita et Veritas” which means “life and truth” in Latin. Vita et Veritas is a conference that seeks to make the pro-life vision intelligible on college campuses. The event took place at the St. Thomas Moore Chapel with speakers who represented different pro-life perspectives on abortion.

Some of the speakers included Clark Forsythe from Americans United for Life; Hardley Arkes, a faculty member of Amherst College, who was the main architect of the bill that became know as the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act and author of the book Natural Rights and the Right to Choose“; William L. Saunders, Senior VP for Legal Affairs at Americans United for Life; and Matt Bennett, founder and president of the Christian Union. The full list of speakers and their bios can be foundhere.

The conference had an interfaith panel that discussed the importance of cooperation in the pro-life community between religious and secular groups. This panel included Suzy Ismail from the Center for Muslim Life and Secular Pro-Life President Kelsey Hazzard. Ismail said that many Muslims don’t speak out against abortion, despite having pro-life views. She has been told herself to not talk about abortion when she’s spoken at Muslim conferences. Yet she believes that Muslims have a responsibility to speak out on the issue of abortion. Secular Pro-Life President Hazzard says there are 6 million Americans who are non-religious and pro-life. She represents their voice as she seeks to raise awareness.

Sally Winn, Vice President of Feminists for Life, was also a guest speaker. She gave a talk entitled “Refuse to Choose: Reclaiming Feminism,” in which she discussed how she became pregnant while in college and kept her child. Winn acknowledged how hard it was raising a child in college, with little support, no day care for undergraduates, and no changing tables at the university.

She discussed Yale’s basic health plan, which fully covers abortions yet doesn’t cover the costs of most deliveries. She stated that a student could have to pay $400 out of pocket for a delivery even with “Hospitalization/Specialty Coverage.” Those conditions make it much easier for students to abort than give birth to their children.

Winn is advocating the need for universities to improve their resources so mothers on campus will feel the freedom to have children on campus. She told the Yale Daily News, “I think the future is really bright if we focus on what women need[.] … In my daughter’s lifetime it will be more commonplace for pregnant women to be on college campuses.”

Obamacare as a Tax

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The Supreme Court says that Obamacare is a new tax on Americans. 

President Obama agrees. 

That is the basis for the Court’s decision to allow the mandates forcing the American people to buy insurance stand. They are not, in the Court’s view, a mandate to purchase a product. They are, rather, a tax on the American people. 

Ok then, let’s look at Obamacare as a tax. 

Based entirely on what I saw when I went to the website yesterday, this new tax is a hefty one.

Let’s look at the lower end of the income spectrum first. Based on what I saw when I visited the healthcare.gov website, if you have a family of four with two children under the age of 18, and your family income totals less than $35,000 per year, your premium for Obamacare will be somewhere around $1200/year. That comes to a hike in your monthly taxes of about $100/month. 

I am using Oklahoma figures for this estimate, and Oklahoma did not set up a health care exchange. It may be better for those in other states. I hope so. 

My husband and I had a monthly income even lower than this when our kids were little. We qualified for free and reduced lunches at school. A car with 100,000 miles on it was new to us. My husband did all our auto repairs himself, in the driveway in front of our house. I carefully balanced meals to keep us well fed and the grocery bills do-able. Both my husband and I went without clothes, new glasses (even when we were having trouble seeing) and dental work so the kids could have those things.

I can tell you that an extra $100/month tax hike would have been a big bite for us back then. It would have had to come out of necessity money. 

Now, let’s go to the other end. Consider those “wealthy” families of four with two kids under 18 who have a combined family income of $90,000 per year. Housing/automobiles/education/clothing/food/gasoline/etc are all massively more expensive now than they were even a few years ago. If the house hunter shows I watch on HGTV are accurate, home ownership (at least on the coasts) is totally out of sight for the family that makes $35,000/year and barely in sight for the $90,000 earners. 

If a simple three bedroom one bath house costs between $200,000 – $300,00 and even a modest new car costs over $20,000 and a community college with the kid living at home costs $4,000-$5,000/year and gasoline hovers around $4/gallon, as does a gallon of milk, then $90,000 only seems rich to those who are barely scraping by. 

Add another $6,000 or $7,000 in annual taxes for healthcare that was previously paid for by your employer (this is a bit of conjecture that employers are going to be less inclined to provide health insurance after Obamacare sinks in) and things start looking almost as dicey for these $90,000 earners as it did for my husband and me back in the day. 

The point here, at least for me, is that the primary winners in the Obamacare sweepstakes are the insurance companies and a few favored recipients such as Planned Parenthood. In exchange for guaranteed minimum coverage and paying for abortions they get government enforced enrollment in their wares and their premiums become a tax. 

I’m not talking here about the serious considerations of cost to the tax payer in terms of government expenditures to underwrite this plan. That is going to come around and bite us in a more indirect, but perhaps more damaging way as time goes by. 

I personally think that there were any number of better ways to provide health care for those who didn’t have it. I also do not believe that Obamacare is going to “contain” rising health care costs. I think that, by underwriting them, it will probably turn health care costs into something akin to the defense budget and largesse to corporations — an ever-enlarging pork barrel that devours the treasure of this nation. 

Will Obamacare “work?”

Probably. At least somewhat. 

I think that it will provide health care insurance for most Americans. 

But it is also going to eat into their personal finances. What our elected officials don’t seem to get is that the American people are stretched financially like a piano wire already. They’re having to work more than one job each, just to make ends meet. Every passing year, inflation (which government formulas no longer accurately represent) eats deeper into their already stretched budgets, and every passing year, their incomes stagnate or fall. 

Good jobs keep going away. For decades now, the news has been about this or that American corporation leaving this country to go use cheap labor elsewhere to manufacture its wares, which it then sells to the American people. 

We are being robbed. 

Will Obamacare fix this?

Does it even address it?

No and no. 

What it does do is underwrite a medical care system that is deeply flawed and overpriced. It puts insurance companies on the government dole and uses a new direct tax on the American people to pay for that. 

I have always believed that this country had to address the need for affordable health care. I am not a neocon. Far from it. I personally know people who forego necessary medical care because of costs. In fact, I have been one of them. 

However, this plan is more an accommodation to special interests than a solution for those problems. There is a limit on what the budget of the ordinary American can absorb. I think this plans pushes a lot people painfully close to that limit. 

The question, of course, is what Obamacare will look like in years going forward. The tinkering with this plan has not even begun. There is also the question of whether or not it will be repealed by future Congresses. 

Personally, I doubt it. Once the plan locks in and the special interests start getting their take, the political will to either repeal or reform Obamacare will vanish like smoke in your morning coffee. 

 See also: Obamacare Threatens to Hit Many Pocketbooks; Health Care Law Fails to Lower Prices in Rural Areas

I Didn’t Sign Up. But the Obamacare Website Seemed to Work for Me

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I didn’t sign up because I already have health care coverage.

However, I did go to the Obamacare website at healthcare.gov and put myself through the steps. I got to the point where I select a plan and click “buy.”

It worked ok for me.

I dunno. Maybe I didn’t go far enough with it.

Or maybe I have a magic touch.

What I did learn is that the premiums for health care are no bargain. If health insurance wasn’t affordable before Obamacare, it will become a major burden, at least for the middle class, after Obamacare. The premiums I was offered were actually higher than what my employer pays for my insurance.

I played with the numbers a bit, and if I had an income under $35,000 and a family of four with two children under 20, the premiums would become affordable. This is because the government pays a tax credit directly to the insurance company, which subsidizes the health insurance costs of the family. That’s part of where the huge increases in government spending come in.

Obamacare appears to be set up a lot like Medicare, except that Medicare actually is a big cost reducer for the citizen taxpayer. The best plan that I was offered also included the messiness of paying at least 10% of my health care costs out of pocket. Ten percent of the cost of treatment for cancer or something equally serious puts most people into bankruptcy territory.

Beginning in 2015, employers who offer health insurance are going to have to meet the coverage requirements of Obamacare. I imagine that will lead to considerable sticker shock for these employers and that many of them will stop offering health care to their employees.

That will push people who had previously had their health care subsidized by their employer into paying for their own costs through Obamacare. Many of these people will earn enough money that they don’t qualify for the tax credit. They will face a sudden increase in expenditure for health care, and, based on what I saw on the web site, it won’t be a small one.

I am not talking about wealthy people. I mean households with a combined income of say, 90,000 dollars or more. These are people who have to make car and mortgage payments, deal with ever increasing costs in everything from gasoline to tuition, and who fall through all the cracks when it comes to getting help. Obamacare is going to squeeze them.

To summarize: I think Obamacare will be an expensive problem for both the middle class and the government. The people it will help the most are lower-income working couples with young children who make too much money to get other forms of aid and don’t get employer-sponsored health insurance.

I need to add a serious disclaimer to these conclusions in that this is a cursory take on a complicated program. Also, I went through the web site as an Oklahoman and Oklahoma has not set up health care exchanges. Maybe I got higher premiums because of that.

But my takeaway from visiting the web site is that, yes, I at least can use the web site, and, yes, I think Obamacare itself has serious flaws regarding costs to the taxpayer, both in terms of coverage and the costs to our government.

Bishops in Disgrace and Whither the Church is Tending

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The so-called Bishop of Bling, Bishop Frantz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, has been suspended for what may prove to be misappropriation of funds. 

The charges against him are basically that he has been living large off monies that should have gone to Church ministries. 

Other bishops find themselves in situations like that of Archbishop John Nienstedt of the Archdiocese of St Paul Minneapolis. This bishop is in trouble for failure to remove priests with pedophile problems from active ministry. 

While the charges against both these bishops are serious, I don’t feel nearly as strongly about the things Bishop Tebartz-van Elst is accused of doing as those that Archbishop Nienstedt may have done. I am, as I said yesterday, out of patience with the refusal by some bishops to do their jobs vis a vis the clergy child sex abuse scandal. 

Both these situations highlight a simple fact: The Church’s way of dealing with the public failings of its bishops is going to have to change. 

The era of ignoring things is over. The reason it is over is that the world has changed. We live in an age where I can sit in Oklahoma and learn about the missteps of a German bishop right along with the people in his diocese. I know about what is happening in Minnesota as soon as the Minnesotans know. 

More than that, I learn about these things in an immediate way that makes me feel as if I am one of the parishioners in Minnesota or Germany, that this is my problem, as well as theirs. 

Unfortunately, vendetta-inspired lies and smears transmit with the same speed as facts. Different pressure groups, particularly gay marriage advocates, have used this ability to communicate at internet speed to punish, coerce and just plain injure those who disagree with them. 

Not only do we live in a world of instant communication, we also live in a world of self-entitled people who think that whatever they want is a moral imperative that justifies whatever they do to get it. 

What this means for bishops of the Church is that they are often the targets of vendetta-motivated smear campaigns. The bishops who speak out strongly for Church teaching against the forces that want to oppose that teaching are the most viciously targeted. 

Since bishops are human beings with human failings, there will always be things about them to criticize. Not one person on this planet can survive this kind of malicious scrutiny intact. We’ve all done something or other. Most of us have done lots of somethings or other, that would look gross when they are put in the worst possible light and flung out on the internet by those who hate us and are motivated to destroy our reputations. 

The question for the Church is when to stand by a bishop in disgrace, and when to remove him. 

This is not a small question. If the Church allows public witch hunts to provoke it into removing bishops, then it will destroy its own strength of witness in the world. On the other hand, if it leaves truly disgraceful bishops in place, it will — once again — destroy its witness in the world. 

I don’t have to make these decisions, and I’m glad I don’t. However, I do have one opinion. 

The sexual abuse of children by clergy has got to stop. 

Period. 

No arguments. 

No discussions. 

It has to stop. 

I understand that charges like this are sometimes flung against priests falsely. I also understand that each priest functions more or less independently most of the time, which means that bishops don’t know all that they are doing.

But when a bishop is given credible information that makes it seem likely that a priest is engaging in kiddie porn or other improper behavior with and about children, that bishop needs to act immediately. It is not necessary to ascertain if the evidence will stand up in a court of law. The safety of children demands that if the evidence is credible — as opposed to baseless vicious gossip — the bishop has to remove that priest from active ministry.

I’ve read several reports now of people within a diocese sending a bishop clear evidence of priests having salacious photos of children on their computers and the bishop brushing it off. This has happened with different bishops in different states. We’ve had to deal with a bishop in New Jersey who allowed a priest who had been convicted of child sex abuse to go back into ministry with children.

If the bishops will not remove priests who have these problems from active ministry, then the bishops themselves need to be removed. 

The safety of our children and the integrity of the Church depend on it. 

Is This a First? Bishop of Bling is Suspended.

Deacon Greg has the story.

The Vatican has suspended Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the so-called “Bishop of Bling.” This action is less than the calls from at least some quarters in the German public to dismiss the bishop, and it is more than the nothing which many people expected.

Rather than make a public statement about the bishop’s guilt or innocence, the Vatican confined itself to saying simply that “A situation has been created in which the bishop can no longer exercise his episcopal duties.”

From what I’ve read, that is an accurate assessment of the situation.

To read more, check out The Deacon’s Bench.

I Can Never Undo What Happened to Those Boys says Church Whistleblower

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Archbishop John Nienstedt

I can never undo what happened to those boys, and that hangs incredibly heavy on me, says Jennifer Haselberger.

That is evidently the motivation that led Ms Haselberger, who is the former chancellor for canonical affairs for the Archdiocese of St Paul Minneapolis, to turn whistle-blower against her employer.

Ms Haselberger found what she describes as child pornography on the computer disks of a priest who is still in active ministry. She resigned her position with the archdiocese after her attempts to get action concerning this priest from her boss, Archbishop John Nienstedt, failed.

Personally, I am all out of patience with the bishops who do this. When a bishop’s response to photos from a priest’s computer of a child engaging in sexual acts is to confiscate the evidence and refuse to act, there’s something wrong with that bishop as a man and a human being. That kind of behavior is also, at least here in Oklahoma, a felony, with serious jail time attached to it.

These bishops who do this are not following Jesus. Followers of Christ do what Ms Haselberger did and defend children from sexual assault, regardless of the cost to themselves.

This set-in-concrete, stubborn refusal to defend little children from sexual assault by at least some of the bishops makes no sense. They are contributing to the scandal which has so greatly damaged the Church’s moral witness in these perilous times. They even set themselves up for criminal prosecution.

This isn’t a lapse in either judgement or morals. It’s gone on too long for it to be a lapse of any sort.

Why do they keep doing this?

What is wrong with these men?

From Minnesota Public Radio:

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The church lawyer turned whistleblower at the center of a series of investigative reports involving the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis was described glowingly as “studious, thoughtful and extremely well prepared” by the archbishop who hired her in 2008.

As of last week, a lawyer for the archdiocese was referring to her as a disgruntled former employee.

Jennifer Haselberger, who left her position as chancellor for canonical affairs last April, was appointed to the post in August 2008 by Archbishop John Nienstedt. She resigned four and a half years later after a series of unsuccessful attempts to get her superiors to take action on problem priests.

One of those efforts, which she later described as the “nuclear option,” involved copying pornographic images that had been found on a priest’s computer onto a word document and sending them to the archbishop. Some of the images, she said, appeared to show boys engaged in sexual acts.

After Nienstedt failed to call the police, his deputy, the Rev. Peter Laird, ordered Haselberger to hand over the images. She did so, she said — and called Ramsey County authorities. She also contacted MPR News.

The Exorcist Author Signs Petition to Halt Georgetown’s Drift From the Church

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Georgetown student testifies before Congress on behalf of the HHS Mandate. Georgetown University began providing free contraceptives to students August 15

 

Many Catholic universities have become salt that has lost its savor.

They’ve drunk so deeply from the post Christian cup that if you took the word Catholic from their names, you would never guess they were anything other than another state-run school. Their alums, as well as the rest of us, feel cheated by this. After all, a lot of blood, sweat and tears went into building these schools, all of it dedicated to the proposition that a Catholic education was distinguishable from the education provided by secular schools.

It’s as if a great treasure of Catholic culture has been stolen from us, and the theft has been instituted by people we trusted to care for it — our priests and religious who run these schools.

Evidently, Peter Blatty, Georgetown alumnus and author of The Exorcist, shares these feelings. He recently signed a petition asking Georgetown to either implement Ex Corde Ecclesiae or stop the false advertising of claiming to be a Catholic university.

While I understand the emotion, I also think there should be more that we can do than just ask these schools to either be Catholic or stop saying they are Catholic. After all, this “drift” they’ve taken into anti-Christ secularism is not just a harmless thing. It amounts to the theft of the treasure of many people, as well as a violation of their trust.

I wonder if there aren’t civil remedies of some sort. I’m not sure what kind of lawsuit could be mounted against these schools, but it’s certainly worth looking into. I also wonder if it wouldn’t be possible to change their leadership. After all, many of the worst offenders are run by Jesuits. Surely they are answerable to somebody; maybe somebody in Rome.

All this is just musing on my part.

For now, here’s the story about Peter Blatty’s actions. From the National Catholic Register:

WASHINGTON — When William Peter Blatty won a four-year scholarship to Georgetown University in the 1940s, he arrived at the Jesuit campus with a sense of relief.

During his childhood, Blatty and his mother suffered through more than 20 evictions for non-payment of rent. For the first time, he knew he could stay put without unwelcome interruptions.

More than a half century later, after winning an Academy Award for the screenplay adaptation of his bestselling novel The Exorcist, Blatty still calls Georgetown “home.”

But his love for the pontifical institution has inspired him to support and sign a canon-law petition that asks the “Catholic Church to require that Georgetown implement Ex Corde Ecclesiae, a papal constitution governing Catholic colleges.”

If that effort fails, the petition signed by Blatty and 2,000 other Catholics calls for “the removal or suspension of top-ranked Georgetown’s right to call itself Catholic and Jesuit in any of its representations.”

Asked to explain why he has backed a petition that could damage the reputation of his alma mater, Blatty told the Register, “Today’s Georgetown isn’t Georgetown, but more like a living Picture of Dorian Gray.”


Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/william-peter-blatty-submits-petition-to-halt-georgetowns-drift-from-the-ch/#ixzz2iTOlkmQz

Are Christian Bashers Bullying Us Into Silence About Christian Persecution?

NewsweekChristianPersecution The reluctance of predominately Christian countries to speak out is remarkable.

That quote comes from a February 2012 article in the National Review.

The article describes a PEW Research study which says that over 200 million Christians live in countries where they are persecuted. The article also states that over 100,000 Christians are murdered each year for their faith. 

After going through all these facts, the National Review author comments that the reluctance of predominantly Christian countries to speak out is remarkable. 

Is it remarkable? Or is it an obvious result of the harassment and repeated attacks people who speak out about Christian persecution are subjected to?

Are those who tacitly support the violent persecution of Christians able to silence those Christians’ supporters in the West by the simple methods of mocking, deriding and slandering them into silence?

I think the answer is yes.

Every time I write a post about Christian persecution, I get a flurry of nasties coming on here to claim that (1) It ain’t so, and (2) I’m both a moral and intellectual demagogue for claiming that it is so. I’ve had other bloggers dedicate posts on their blogs to attacks on my intellect and my compassion because I wrote about Christian persecution. I have had fellow travelers of those who murder, rape, batter, abduct and terrify Christians join around the virtual campfire to take shots at me.

What does this indicate — beyond the fact that some bloggers aren’t so crazy about Rebecca Hamilton? I think that it’s a small sampling of what awaits those who try to stand up for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.  As such, it offers an explanation as to why the silence about Christian persecution from the Christian West is not so remarkable after all.

My advice to anyone who wants to take a stand against the atrocities that Christians suffer in much of the world today is consider the source of the insults they may receive and go ahead and speak up. Criticisms which are designed to tacitly support mass murder are not worthy of either answers or serious consideration.

Persecuted Christians are Christ crucified, right in front of us.

The mob yelled “Crucify Him!” and Jesus’ friends ran away from Him on that day. They ran away naked in the night, denied they even knew Him and went into hiding while He was tortured and murdered. Only the women and one disciple went to the cross with Him.

Don’t let today’s descendants of that mob scare you into running away from Him. His Passion is happening again in the suffering of our brothers and sisters. Don’t miss your chance to be one of the faithful few who don’t run away.

From National Review Online:

Perhaps the gravest under-publicized atrocity in the world is the persecution of Christians. A comprehensive Pew Forum study last year found that Christians are persecuted in 131 countries containing 70 percent of the world’s population, out of 197 countries in the world (if Palestine, Taiwan, South Sudan, and the Vatican are included). Best estimates are that about 200 million Christians are in communities where they are persecuted. There is not the slightest question of the scale and barbarity of this persecution, and a little of it is adequately publicized. But this highlights the second half of the atrocity: the passivity and blasé indifference of most of the West’s media and governments.

It is not generally appreciated that over 100,000 Christians a year are murdered because of their faith. Because Christianity is, by a wide margin, the world’s largest religion, the leading religion in the traditionally most advanced areas of the world, and, despite its many fissures, the best organized, largely because of the relatively tight and authoritarian structure of the Roman Catholic Church, the West is not accustomed to thinking of Christians as a minority, much less a persecuted one.

… The reluctance of the leading predominantly Christian countries to speak out against these outrages is remarkable.

Book Review: Building Christian Family by the Sacred Rules

To join the conversation about Six Sacred Rules for Families; A Spirituality for the Home, or to order a copy, go here

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Family life will either be the salvation of America, or the death of it, depending, almost entirely on whether or not American Christians begin living their home lives like the Christians they say they are. 

That has long been my opinion about both family life in this country and the future of the country itself. We are imploding as a nation because we have allowed our homes and families to implode along trendy lines. 

The authors of Six Sacred Rules for Families; A Spirituality for the Home, have written a simple how-to book for husbands and wives who want to create true Christian family and home for themselves and their children. There is no more important work than the rearing of little children to be strong, Christian adults who can take their place as the shepherds of the next generation after themselves. 

That is what parents are: Shepherds of the home. If they fail with their little flock, then nothing else they do in life matters. 

Let me repeat that: If you fail in raising your kids, then all the other things that seem so important — career, houses, cars, expensive vacations — all of it is for naught. I don’t believe that God ever created a person for the purpose of having a big house, driving an expensive car and taking lavish vacations. Those things, if they come your way, are the garnishes. They are not life. 

Child rearing is becoming a lost art. We are inundated with childcare books for the early years, when things are easy, and a stale silence for the drug-infested, sexual-experimenting later years of childhood, when they are not. Our cultural role models are all about dissolution, parental selfishness, broken homes and designer babies. 

True parenting is not about taking. The me-first, kids-are-tough-and-can-take-it philosophy has led us to the where we are today, which is the place where a huge number of our young people are not able or willing to form families and raise children of their own. From the throwaway kids of the inner cities to the trophy children of the rich and shameless, family life has far too often devolved down to a sad manifestation of the narcism of self-satisfying adults. 

How are Christians, especially those who were themselves shaped by this malformed and malfunctioning social milieu, going to learn the techniques for raising their kids in a true Christian home?

Possibly, from books like Six Sacred Rules for Families. 

This is not an in-depth book. It is rather, a faith-filled starting point. Sue and Tim Muldoon wrote a book that shares both their personal experiences of child-rearing, and the humility they faced in having to accept that they would not have children of their bodies, but would rather adopt children of their hearts. All this is informed by their professional work in the areas of faith formation and counseling. 

They built the book around six rules that can get parents started in a dialogue about how best to build a Christian home. The rules are:

  1. God brings our family together on pilgrimage.
  2. Our love for one another leads to joy.
  3. Our family doesn’t care about ‘success.’
  4. God stretches our family toward His Kingdom.
  5. God will help us.
  6. We must learn which desires lead us to freedom. 

If you want to learn what these rules mean, you will have to read the book. I will say that I found number 3, “Our family doesn’t care about success” thought provoking in a personal way. I’ve got some changing to do myself, and reading this book helped me see that. 

We’re going to have to be Christian in new ways in this post-Christian society. Perhaps the best way to begin that project is by resurrecting the lost art of Christian homemaking. Six Sacred Rules for Families provides simple direction on how to start down that path. 

The Bishop of Bling and the Pope

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Government money is not free.

It is a hammer than can beat people and institutions into the government mold. It is also a great corruptor.

The Church in Germany has been dealing with one particular manifestation of this corruption in the person of the bishop the press and people have dubbed “The Bishop of Bling.”

Germany levies a church tax on those who register as members of a recognized church. The government then cuts a big check to the church where these people are registered.

What that means is that the Catholic Church (among others) does not have to deal with the messiness of the people in the pews in order to get their do-re-mi. The government sends them a check to the tune (in the Catholic example) of billions of dollars. Not only does this lead inexorably to a Church that is out of contact with its people and content to be fat and indifferent, but it can and does lead to the personal corruption of individual bishops.

Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, bishop of Limburg, Germany, has been called to Rome to explain his actions regarding the finances of his diocese. The reason is that he has used the vast government monies that are dumped in his coffers for himself. He’s spent tens of millions renovating his house, flies first class, drives an expensive car and otherwise lives large.

There is also a question as to whether or not the bishop lied under oath about these expenditures. That is something I want to let the courts — rather than public outrage — decide.

All this runs counter to the kind of Church that Pope Francis is calling for. It harkens back to the embarrassing excesses of half a millennia ago.

It is also entirely different from the behavior of the bishops I have known. My own archbishop lives in an unpretentious ranch-style house and flies in the we-hate-our-passengers class at the back of the plane. I know. I’ve coincidentally ended up on several flights with him. He’s patient and kind to the people — including me — who come up to him in airports, and he stands in line with his roller bag along with the rest of us.

Behavior like that of Bishop Tebartz-van Elst denies the people in their diocese the rightful use of their monies, harms the trust that people should have in their Church and smears good bishops like mine whose behavior is the antithesis of these abuses.

The Holy Father has requested a report concerning Bishop Tebartz-van Elst’s activities. In the meantime, Bishop Tebartz-van Elst has been called to Rome to explain himself.

This is one time I would not want to be a fly on the proverbial wall while a conversation is going on. I’m happy to leave the bishop in the hands of our pope. I believe that the Holy Father will sort this out in a way that only a follower of Christ could.

From ABC News:

After being kept waiting nearly one week for an appointment, German Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst was able to meet with Pope Francis today at Vatican to explain his lavish use of church funds.

The Bishop of Limburg – now known as the Bishop of Bling — has spent some $42 million to renovate his official residence and is accused of falsifying expense reports.

The pope, who has used the Throne of St. Peter to preach for a “poor” church and has set the example by rejecting the opulence available to his position, released no statement following the meeting.

Pope Francis had been briefed last week by the head of the German Bishop’s conference. German press reports say the Vatican has asked Archbishop Robert Zollitsch to file an official report on the affair, speculating that the fate of Bishop Tebartz van Elst may only be decided after it is filed.

The bishop of Limburg admits using church funds to restore his residence but has defended his actions, saying the renovations of the church property involved 10 different buildings that had to be upgraded according to historical preservation laws. But the scandal has caused a great uproar in Germany, where a mandatory church tax for members brings in billions of dollars the German Catholic Church each year.

Christian Weisner, of the lay organization We Are the Church, said the bishop’s actions seriously damaged the reputation of the church.

Pope Francis: There is No Way to Avoid Growing Old

This one is for my precious Mama.

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