Call the Basilica Now

Call the Basilica Now September 13, 2010

I’ve never done this before, but I’m asking Vox Nova readers to make known their displeasure that one of this country’s preeminent Catholic churches – the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – will host a book signing by Newt Gingrich this upcoming weekend, September 19, 1:30-3:00pm. This has nothing to do with Gingrich’s political beliefs. I would have no problem with a book signing event by George Weigel or Robbie George (I might, however, have a problem with the books!). No, this has everything to do with Gingrich’s hyper-partisan nastiness, and his deliberate strategy of appealing to the worst in people with ugly and offensive statements – the latest being an attack on Obama for having a “Kenyan, anti-colonial” worldview. Even worse is Gingrich’s tendency to make insulting and inflammatory statements about Muslims, including by likening them to nazis. The Church has been rightfully speaking out about this recent wave of anti-religious madness fueled by the likes of Gingrich, and providing him a platform at the Basilica at this particular time would be sending a most inappropriate and unhelpful message.

I have sent a polite e-mail asking the Basilica to reconsider. You can reach the rector, Msgr. Walter Rossi  at The main number for the Basilica is 202-526-8300, and the full staff list is here.

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  • Michael Iafrate

    Done. How offensive. The u.s. Catholic Church has jumped the shark.

  • Then there is the matter of his rather public divorces. How is this person considered a “catholic” author authorized to use a basilica as his pulpit?

  • digbydolben

    Thank God that I am once again leaving this country in a few days; I could not stand to be an “American Catholic”–the “Republican Party on its knees.”

  • Anon

    I belive that Rossi was instrumental in brining Gingrinch into the Church, and so his personal affection for him might be clouding his (Rossi’s) pastoral judgment.

  • John Coalson

    I read and viewed your links. I found nothing in them ugly, offensive, insulting, or inflamatory. Gingrich raises and discusses issues.

    And I find your characterization of what Gingrich said in the video clip of “likening them to nazis” a bit of a reach.

    That you think Gingrich is nasty and appeals to the worst in people reveals more about you than it does him.

    But I’m new to this community, perhaps you’ve provided support for these statements somewhere in the past? I’ll gladly read it and try to understand your position.

  • R. Rockliff

    Concerning Newt Gingrich and his negative attitude about Islam, is it fair to ask if there is a difference between believing (on the one hand) that there are philosophical elements in Islam that make it a potential threat to Western civilization, and believing (on the other hand) that there are philosophical elements in Protestantism that have made it destructive to Western civilization? Are not both assessments uncharitable?

    Please note that, just because I have asked this question, it does not follow that I agree with Newt Gingrich, and it does not follow that I disagree with your prior assessments of the impact of Protestantism on Western civilization. In fact, I was writing two decades ago about the impact of Nominalism (especially Pierre d’Ailly) on Western civilization.

    Nevertheless, it strikes me as incongruous to assert that one religious system (Protestantism) has intrinsically destructive philosophical elements, and yet to be so sensitive when others suggest similar things about another religious system (Islam). Why is Islam above criticism? Is it a purely practical matter? One can criticize Protestantism with impunity, but if one criticize Islam, one might get a fatwa on one’s head? One would think that difference in itself might be illuminating.

    I know that people say that there is no “one” Islam to critique. One could say the same about Protestantism, and yet it has been critiqued, and I think the critique has been constructive. Why is a similar critique of the metaphysical substructure of Islam off limits? The Pope made a comment about the difference between Catholic intellectualism and Islamic voluntarism, and the Islamic world erupted into violence.

    What makes this all so very interesting is that the Pope hit the theological nail on the philosophical head: the difference between Catholicism and Islam, on a deep level, is very much like the difference between Realism and Nominalism, between Catholicism and Protestantism. One would think that critics of Protestantism would be interested in that, and that we could talk about it, without being called “intolerant,” and without being beheaded.

  • Frank

    So Newt’s made a few trips to the altar, the divorce court, back to the altar, back to the divorce court and back yet again to the altar. And maybe his thinking isn’t quite in line with church teaching, big deal. Only a bad Catholic would take offense at such minor breaches. The fact is that Newt belongs to God’s Own Party and says he is against abortion. Nothing else matters in the American Catholic Church, circa 2010. The man is an exemplary Catholic.

  • Magdalena

    Newt’s political opinions are pretty… gross. However in terms of his marriage he is absolutely in good standing with the Church, and it isn’t fair to imply otherwise.

  • digbydolben

    Rockliff, the things that you and others say about Islam, and its need, essentially, to “grow up” in the same way that Protestantism and Catholicism have “grown up” (under the influence of the Enlightenment, I’d argue–and not because of any impetus given by such a hierarch as Pope Ratzinger, who can’t stand the idea of a non-Christian soteriology) demonstrates irrefutably that you do not have ANY understanding whatsoever of the enormous cultural and psychological damage that was done, historically, to the self-esteem and collective consciousness of the Muslim peoples by centuries of colonialism. I’d suggest that you really need to travel the world a little bit more, rather than whine about “why those people cannot be like us.”

  • John Coalson – to explain why Muslims should not be allowed to build an Islamic center near the southern tip of Manhattan, Gingrich likened it to Nazis putting a sign near the holocaust museum. In other words, American Muslims are like Nazis. Old Thrice-Wed Newt is rather fond of Nazi comparisons. He has called Obama’s “secular socialist” machine as a bigger threat to the United States than the Nazis. Even his fellow Republicans distanced themselves from him over this. And yet, here he is signing books at the Baslica…

  • I think it’s right to oppose this, if for nothing else than the book is a political agenda. We shouldn’t be pushing one agenda over another.

    However, that this is happening at the Basilica I think gives a flavor of what the bishops want to see happen the next few elections. While they’re not as Republican as some make them out to be, I think they’re rightfully angry at how the Dems stabbed the USCCB in the back on abortion funding in healthcare reform, and this may be a sign that the bishops are content this cycle to take a step back and let the GOP eat up Catholic votes so that the betraying Dems can be ousted.

    • Michael

      No, the bishops are not really saying anything about the Basilica. What is involved is that Newt’s wife is a member of the choir there.

  • R. Rockliff –

    I’ve seen this argument a number of times in comments and it’s time to address it. As a Catholic, I obviously find the theology of Islam to be flawed. In fact, when I stated blogging, one of the first things I did was defend Benedict for his Regensburg comments. His application of voluntarism made sense, even if he could have been a bit more diplomatic about it. Likewise, I see something dangerous not so much in Protestantism, but in that bizarre strand of American evangelical fundamentalism that mixes Calvinism, Gnosticism, and the weirdness of people like John Nelson Darby to come up with a theology that mixes imperial ambition with individual salvation. I find that more than a bit dangerous, at home, but especially abroad.

    So far, this is all at the level of intellectual debate, respectful, and based in the foundation of the freedom to worship without coercion. It would be a huge stop to claim that American evangelicals were the enemy of civilization, like the Nazis, and that we should protest the building of their churches. That would be wicked.

  • Jasper

    “This has nothing to do with Gingrich’s political beliefs.”


  • In fairness, I think all those divorces and re-marriages happened before he converted. So to cast doubt on the sincerity of his religious convictions seems a bit mean spirited.

    Still, men like Gingrich don’t separate their political ambitions from pretty much everything else they do in their life. So I absolutely don’t see how this could be construed as anything other a political activity. If I were a more vindictive man I would ask the IRS to investigate the basillica’s non-profit status.

  • Rocklliff – Oh, please. Gingrich is no philosopher.

    But he is a racist serial adulterer.

  • Jasper

    How about if the pro-infanticide Obama was having a book signing? Would you be outraged? oh, wait a minute, Obama got an honorary degree from ND….what a joke.

  • Cindy

    @John Caolson,
    Gingrich just said the other day that the President holds a Kenyan, anti-colonial worldview” that makes him unfit to be president. …

    He is so comfortable with himself that he feels it’s perfectly ok to liberate his inner racist and let it out for the entire world to see. So give me a break in your defense of that guy.

  • R. Rockliff

    Mr. Iafrate,

    I never suggested that Gingrich was a philosopher.

    To put words into my mouth that I never said is a cheap and cowardly way to “engage” my ideas though.

  • R. Rockliff

    Mr. Dolben,

    Your hysterical shrieking is really getting irritating.

    How do you know what stamps I have in my passport?

  • Austin Ruse

    Mr. Rockliff,

    Welcome to the world of Vox Nova!

  • Pinky

    I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it, but thanks for the info on the event.

  • R. Rockliff

    My observation is that most of the people on Vox Nova do not bother to read what anybody writes. They do not need to. They think they already know what the “other” thinks, better than the “other” does. Most of the “engagement” going on here is smug smirks and nods exchanged between people who subscribe to the same canned ideology, and elegant devastations of straw men. This place is so similar to the American Catholic that one could, in surreal moments, wonder if it might not be a false flag operation.

  • digbydolben

    Mr. Rockliff, I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that every stamp you have in your passport signifies a stay in a five star hotel where you don’t have to put up with any unwashed speakers of the local dialects. I, on the other hand, KNOW what I’m talking about, from direct experience with a plethora of the “heathens” and “pagans” on every continent on the globe but one.

    My “shrieking” may be “hysterical,” but your comments are worse–betraying an attitude of insufferable, racist-tinged and complacent superiority to the “other.”

  • Rodak

    To fully appreciate the nastiness of Mr.Gingrich’s remarks w/r/t Pres. Obama, one really needs to consider a term he did not use, but which comes to mind when considering the topic of “Kenyan anti-colonialism”, i.e. “Mau Mau.” First consider the history, then consider the implications of the term “Mau Mau” when used as a verb.

    Does this not make Gingrich’s implications a bit more clear?

  • Kurt

    The problem is the lack of consistency. The Shrine would refuse a liberal if he authored a cookbook, claiming that a booksigning would imply an endorsement by the Church of every public policy position the person has taken, while when it is a right-winger, well, it is just a man who has written an interesting read.

    The Shrine bookstore lacks the virginity of it’s heavenly patron.

  • American Catholics have been making excuses for the racists in their ranks since the beginnings of this country. It continues.

  • Cindy

    @Rodak, it makes perfect sense to me.
    Not to mention that Gingrich is the same guy who tried to paint Justice Sotomayor as a racist because she made some comment about being a ‘wise Latino woman’. That was so bad and he tried to label her a racist. Yet for Newt, he can say anything. He’s such a scumbag.

  • WJ

    R. Rockliff,

    I think that what you say (way) above is correct. There should be room for engaging Islam at its deepest philosophical and theological level, and for asking the kinds of questions which Benedict was trying (somewhat, I grant, infelicitously) to ask in his Regensburg address. I don’t want to speak for anyone else on this thread, but I feel pretty secure in my sense that nobody here is trying to deny this claim.

    I take it that Iafrate’s comment about your calling Gingrinch a “philosopher” was intended to respond to what could be taken (but need not necessarily be so taken) as an implicit analogy in your post: As the Pope questions Islam at Regensburg, so Gingrich questions Islam on MSNBC, or FOX, or wherever. (I am not defending Iafrate’s reading here, just saying that it might plausibly follow from your post.)

    In any case, I take it that you would grant that that analogy (which I’m not claiming you intended) is misleading; that, in other words, Gingrich’s comparison of Muslims to Nazis is not the same as Benedict’s pointing out a problematic voluntarist strain at the core of Islamic theology.

  • R. Rockliff

    Did I say something “racist”?

  • R. Rockliff


    What I said is misleading only to intellectually dishonest people, or to people who are so full of malice that they want to be mislead. Perhaps I used some words that had too many syllables, and therefore people decided to invent a new narrative of their own that they could comprehend, and then claim that I authored it.

    Please note that I said, in plain English, even with easy words: Please note that, just because I have asked this question, it does not follow that I agree with Newt Gingrich…</i.

    I, in fact, do not agree with Newt Gingrich, but around here, facts apparently are unimportant. The only fact that matters is that, if my thinking is not a carbon copy of the shrill Vox Nova narrative, I am a Racist.

  • Austin Ruse

    FYY…i am up at the UN today. Newt is here and is going to show his John Paul II movie. The Papal Nuncio and his staff will all be there. Maybe they don’t yet know that Vox Nova does not approve?

  • WJ


    Look, I agree with you; and I myself did not take your comment in the way that some others have taken it. But doesn’t this fact alone count against your overbroad conclusion about Vox Nova?

  • Pinky

    “The Shrine would refuse a liberal if he authored a cookbook”

    Kurt, would they? I’ve never noticed any leanings in any direction at their bookstore. It’s a little too touristy for my taste, but it’s supposed to cater to tourists. That’s a pretty harsh accusation on your part, so please cite examples of bias.

  • R. Rockliff


    I intend no discourtesy to you, or to the few people here who will hear a person out before making up their minds about what kind of person he is.

    I do find that there is an overwhelming tendency here to force all opinion into two boxes, and then to show no mercy to those forced into the wrong box.

  • WJ

    Austin Ruse,

    I don’t take MM’s position to be that it is wrong for members of the Church to *attend* an event featuring Gingrich. This would be a crazy view. The position is rather that Gingrich’s demagogic and ill-informed comments about Muslims run counter to the Church’s own teachings in this area, and hence that the Church should not provide him with a public forum for his book signing, as this would suggest, at least to some, that there is no problem with his views on Islam.

  • Austin Ruse


    A much beloved and respected non-Curial Cardinal got on a plane one night to fly to Rome. Upon take off he opened up the Koran. Upon landing he had finished it. He turned to a companion and said, “This is from the devil.” Would you say that this Cardinal should not be able to speak at the Shrine?

  • WJ


    No offense taken. Have a great afternoon!

  • Austin Ruse

    I mean it is rather funny taht you folks are getting all upset over Gingrich speaking at a Catholic Church when what he did certainly must pale next to a man who supports the murder of a million children a year.

  • Kurt


    “pilgrims” not “tourists”.

    I recall Congresswoman/Georgetown Professor Eleanor Holmes Norton was disinvited from a booksigning.

  • digbydolben

    Austin Ruse, there is no possibility of “dialogueing” with folks who cannot “agree to disagree,” and there is really no possibility of living amicably in a society in which the “culture wars” have become so uncompromising and so fraught with an attitude of “take no prisoners,” and “show no mercy” to the opponents. I prefer to live in a more mature, more ancient culture with a tragic understanding that there are more than one definition of “murder,” more than one definition of “human,” more than one definition of “soul.”

    Another way of saying, in other words: “If Barack Obama had the same understanding of what a ‘child’ is that you do, you COULD reasonably indict him as a murderer, for his countenancing of abortion. However, he simply DOESN’T AGREE with you that a foetus is a ‘child.'”–And, for that disagreement, you are unwilling to live with him, in the same society. You apparently feel that you must cooperate with others, in destroying his Presidency, no matter how (mistakenly, in my opinion) he is willing to compromise with your faction.

    This is obvious, from everything you and your hard-Right Catholic compatriots write, here and elsewhere.

    It is largely for that and similar reasons that I am so eager to be now, forever expatriated from this increasingly violent, increasingly dysfunctional society.

  • I mean it is rather funny taht you folks are getting all upset over Gingrich speaking at a Catholic Church when what he did certainly must pale next to a man who supports the murder of a million children a year.

    Gingrich has and continues to support the murder of children. Just not the subset of children that are the object of your tunnel vision, Doctor Ruse.

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  • R. Rockliff

    Dear Mr. Dolben,

    I know, when a Muslim man beats the snot out of his wife, it is because of low self-esteem, and Colonialism.

    It warms my heart to know, that of all your liberal vices, feminism is not one of them.

    I lift my glass of Jack Daniels, that evil white Tennessee man, to you, and to your health. If only I could afford a five star hotel! Cheers!

  • R. Rockliff

    Mr. Ruse,

    Just as my friends on the left point out that Pope Benedict was indelicate in the way he criticised some aspects of Islamic thought, perhaps my friends on the right could concede that Mr. Gingrich has also been indelicate in the way he has criticised some aspects of Islamic thought. We do not want the Basilica blown up by some poor oppressed soul with low self-esteem, do we? That is exactly what will happen if Mr. Gingrish signs books there, isn’t it?

  • R. Rockliff

    Digby (I feel we are on first name basis now),

    Please. Expatriate. You have been threatening to do it forever. Make all your posts, from now on, in French, as a form of protest. S’il vous plait!

  • R. Rockliff


    I have a modest chateau, I guess you could call it, about halfway between Bordeaux and Perigueux, with a charming guest room, overlooking the Dordogne, if you need a place to stay while you look for a flat. That is where I stay when I am in Frnace and I am not in five star hotels. You are headed to France, right?

  • What does forgiveness have to do with this post?

  • Gregory

    Okay, I just called!

    I sent a polite e-mail to the Basilica telling them that Gingrich is:
    1. a good Catholic,
    2. is solidly pro-life,
    3. is faithful to Benedict XVI: the Pope of Christian Unity
    4. that he follows the Catechism of the Catholic Church,

    and in summary I told them that it would be an honor to know that
    he is signing books there.

    Just reading this blog really helps to clarify my mind.
    Thanks Vox Nova

  • ROAR!

    I win. You lose.


    God’s peace,


  • digbydolben

    Why is it that the moderators are allowing Rockliff to insult me over and over here, but not permitting me to respond to him, in even the most slightly acerbic way?

    Karlson, et. al., what is it about complacent American bigotry that you can so easily tolerate it, but a little bit of what I consider to be the justified outrage of one who can see things from an alien or a foreign perspective so miffs you?

    Look at this charge of anti-feminism, for instance, which is so wrong-headed, coming from an ignoramus who is claiming nobody reads his pontifications and who thinks that even a majority of Muslims “beat the snot out of their wives.” What can you do with such bigotry? And what can be done when a site like Vox Nova won’t allow it to be set straight?

    I think I’m out of here, actually…

  • Austin Ruse

    Another way of saying, in other words: “If Adolf Hitler had the same understanding of what a HUMAN BEING is that you do, you COULD reasonably indict him as a murderer, for his countenancing of KILLING JEWS However, he simply DOESN’T AGREE with you that a JEW IS HUMAN and for that disagreement, you are unwilling to live with him, in the same society. ”

    Yes, Dig. Now I get it!

  • Demosthenes

    See this is what I don’t even get. If The hard right Catholic portion of the church, is all about the Republican party. Let them have it. Let them back the Republican party up, so when they fail to measure up for the church, then the church once again will reap what it sows. I have sat here in suspended disbelief for the past few years and watched our country become more divided because of our wonderful 24hr news media cycle. Now we have the tea baggers and knuckledraggers winning their primaries. It’s only getting worse. Our society is losing it’s marbles one by one dropping through the pockets of time. Each and every day another crazy Republican gets on tv or the radio and spouts off more and more propaganda, another marble hits the sand box. All I can say is I am really starting to wonder if maybe the Mayans were right.

    I’ve never been one to petition the church for something. Seems to me it’s what they do on the right. The church is going hard right, and it’s going to lose more people through the cracks. It’s not a one sided world. Every single thing that goes on in the world isnt just about the fact that abortion is legal in this country. If that is seriously the mentality, I am beginning to check out.

    Science may be the alternative for me. It’s making more sense than any of the so called ‘religionists’ of our time. I’m so sick and tired of it all.

  • digbydolben

    Monsieur Rockliff, vous etes un vrai mechant, un espece de voyou, mais je n’ai pas besoin de votre “chateau,” car lorsque je suis en France je reste chez de vieux amis. Pourtant, maintenant, apres etre de retour de l’Allemagne, avec ma famille en Caroline de Nord, je m’eloigne en Inde, pour etre chef du departement des langues dans un ecole internationale a Mumbai. Ce sera mon TROISIEME sejour en Asie du Sud.
    Et vous ne devez pas m’appeler “Digby,” parce que je suis plus vieux que vous, et, pas de doute, d’un rang de societe plus eleve que le votre.

  • grega

    I hear you – it seems all pretty crazy – but what do you expect in tough economic times – people are confused – AMERICANS will sort it out -they always have – this is a free society -your kind of voice will be heard eventually- sure currently it seems that the most vigerous narrative is tilting to the tea baggers side – next year the economy comes roaring back and this nonsense will be gone.
    Remember Newts ‘revolution’ that was gone within 2 years back in 1994.
    Same this time IMHO- this tea bagger deal will be gone before you know it.

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  • Kurt

    Austin Ruse is a fine representative of why I left the pro-life movement after decades of activism.

  • Nate Wildermuth

    It frightens me to wade into this scandalous mess of a combox, but I did meet Mr. Gingrich at the shrine on a recent visit to DC. Purely providential, of course. I told him that it was impossible to be both a rich man and a good christian at the same time, and that he could look it up in the Catechism if he liked. He smiled and walked away. I found him later, not intentionally, had another small chat (“God bless you”, etc.), and we left with pleasant impressions of one another, I think.

    I suggest showing up at the book signing, and telling him I said ‘hi’, and that it is still impossible to be both a rich man and a good Christian at the same time.

    • Nate

      It is not impossible to be rich and a good Christian; many saints were rich. The question is not the riches, but how they are used (or not used).

  • David Nickol

    It is not impossible to be rich and a good Christian; many saints were rich. The question is not the riches, but how they are used (or not used).

    These saints (who were they, by the way?) may have been rich, but I’ll bet they weren’t hypocrites and demagogues.

  • Nate Wildermuth

    Henry, if ‘good christian’ means being a canonized saint, then I stand corrected.

    • It is not just a matter of how riches are used that makes one a good Christian. Newt Gingrich could do all sorts of good things with his money. But if he or any other rich person still contributes toward maintaining a system that makes people poor, then he is no Christian. One can be rich and a Christian only if he or she commits class treason.

      • It is true, if the rich (or poor) person helps contribute to a systematic sin, then they are helping with the problem; often, the people do so in ignorance and that mitigates some of the subjective guilt, depending, of course, on how culpable they are with that ignorance. Look to how many people who will support candidates and politicians which sound like they will help them, but whose policies run counter to what the people are looking for. They helped, objectively, with the sin, but subjectively the guilt might be slight (such as many who have had no chance for any sound study and education, and believe the general statements friends might make; thus, many people who would be helped by health care reform oppose it!).

        On the other hand, my point is that many who are rich do not have to see the mere fact they are rich is a problem; St Thomas More was rich and generous with his wealth, but he also enjoyed it himself. Many sainted rulers are of the same. I am not for a leveling of society; on the other hand, those who have more have more responsibility and it is more difficult with riches to not be diverted because of them.

  • Austin Ruse

    Good, Henry….

  • digbydolben

    Henry, the saints who were rich were mere custodians of wealth–for God and for their fellow humans. Just as Nate implies, they would have sold their books to devote the proceeds to charity or good causes–or they would have given the books away (especially if they believed their books would help others). Gingrich KNOWS what his books are meant to do, so he won’t be giving them away.

  • Austin Ruse


    I suspect you never really did anything in the pro-life movement…

    • Kurt, I suspect you never really did anything in the pro-life movement…

      Professional pro-life movement leader cookie cutter response.

  • Cindy

    St Francis of Assis was rich. He gave it all away to beg on the streets.

  • Cindy


  • Austin Ruse

    It actually has less to do with what one does with the riches, but how one is disposed toward them. Even a poor man can sin through greed.

    • Michael,
      It actually has less to do with what one does with the riches, but how one is disposed toward them. Even a poor man can sin through greed.

      This is an individualistic, and now typically Protestant, spirituality of wealth. Thankfully the Catholic Church has returned to a more social view of the matter. Read my review of Ben Witherington’s Jesus and Money, reposted here at Vox Nova. You sound a lot like him.

      • The suggestion that a “poor man” would sin through “greed” is pretty offensive and reveals nothing but a preferential option for the rich.

  • kirkland morris

    Lovely, people here are starting to sound as unhinged as certain politicians on their lesser days.

    Let’s beat each other over the head in VN to make sure the Shrine does not do itself harm. Good day, gentlemen…

  • digbydolben

    Someday, what the San Patricios understood will be well understood by all Catholic peoples:

  • Actually, plenty of people left the pro-life movement for the reasons suggested by Kurt. My dear friend and mentor, Fr. Richard Roach, was there at the founding of the pro-life movement. He left with disgust when he saw the damage wrought by the American right (back then, it was Phyllis Schafly and others). They were basically hijacking the cause of the unborn to foist their dubious agenda upon the public – an agenda that stood directly against much of Catholic social teaching. Incidentally, this was how Roach became good friends with Elizabeth Anscombe – both saw themselves as traditional conservatives amid a pack of crazy laissez-faire liberals and strident cold warriors.

  • Kurt


    I am almost SURE you have done nothing effective to protect the unborn. It is simply a tool to try to politically empower certain people. The babies are at best secondary.

    It is very similiar to the Communists, whose strategy was never to expand the Left or the Labor Movement. Their efforts were to contract it and liquidate the democratic left so that they would be in control.

    All the best to you and your family.

  • LPJ

    Kurt: Eleanor Holmes Norton was NEVER invited for a booksigning at the National Shrine. EVER.

    Also for all his past life problems, since converting to Catholicism Newt can be seen every Sunday going to Mass and even reading books by the Pope in the cafeteria before.

    Newt is coming to promote his DVD on John Paul II and is planning on keeping politics out of it.

    • Also for all his past life problems, since converting to Catholicism Newt can be seen every Sunday going to Mass and even reading books by the Pope in the cafeteria before.

      Newt is coming to promote his DVD on John Paul II and is planning on keeping politics out of it.

      For me, this is not about Newt Gingrich’s “past life problems.” Gingrich is openly racist. Also, he cannot “keep politics out of it.” His life is politicized.

  • SB

    Poor people are incapable of greed? That’s certainly never been a position that any Christian has held. By far most Christians in the history of the world have been desperately “poor” compared to the poorest modern Americans. Apparently there were only 6 deadly sins until the 1970s or so, because no one was capable of committing the seventh.

  • Michael Iafrate

    Always a pleasure to get a whiff of your logic, Stuart Buck.

  • Austin Ruse


    To be scared off from defending unborn babies because of Phyliss Schlafly makes me think your mentor was just making excuses. Fact is the left is now and has always been absent from this fight. The Catholic left lost this fightnwhen they let abortion become a political plank of the Democratic Party, to their eternal shame.



  • Austin Ruse


    Cardinal Martino used to complain to me, “Why can’t we get any Democrats to work with us.”. That we couldn’t did not stop this man of the left from working with Republicans to defend the unborn child. Your mentor sounds like he was making excuses. To be scared off by Phyliss? Please. The fact is that the Catholic left capitulated to pro-abortion feminists in thevDemocratic Party, to their ongoing and everlasting shame.

  • Austin Ruse

    Sorry for the double post. Could not tell if the first one stuck. Toss outbthe second.

  • Austin Ruse

    Or not.

  • John Kolar

    I’m filing a complaint asking the IRS to revoke the Shrine’s tax exempt status for holding a partisan political event. I’ve sent Fr. Rossi an email so informing him. And I plan to send him a copy of the complaint once I file.

  • Kurt


    It is not a matter of being scared off from defending the unborn. It is a matter of ceasing to participate in a corrupt organization that does not serve its stated purpose.

    As a liberal Democrat opposed to abortion I can tell you that I have been treated much more fairly in the Democratic Party than in the Pro-Life Movement.

    But the professional Pro-Lifers will continue to justify the purge of their Movement in order to personally enhance themselves. After all, the babies are less important than they are.

  • WJ

    I don’t intend to become involved in what is fast becoming the latest flame war between Austin Ruse and some of the Vox-Nova regulars, but I do want to resist the suggestion that all those who oppose the Gingrich event did not also oppose, for different reasons, Obama’s receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame.

    I–and no doubt some others on this thread–oppose both–the first because Gingrich, as a Catholic in good standing with the Church, has publically promoted views that contradict the teachings of the Church, especially views about Islam and Muslims, and so we need to be careful, as Catholics, to avoid the appearance that Gingrich’s views are in accord with this teaching. (Ruse’s anecdote about the Cardinal is beside the point: the Cardinal was expressing a private view, in private, to a “companion”: he was not going repeatedly on talk shows comparing Muslims to Nazis. If he were to do so, I expect he would be censured by his superiors; and in any case repeated (hypothetical) behavior of this kind *would* be cause for concern, whether he is a Cardinal or not.)

    The scandal caused by the conferring of an honorary degree upon Obama is of a different kind, it seems to me. Obama holds false beliefs about abortion, beliefs which are either informed by a faulty philosophical assumptions regarding rights and personhood, or (what is more likely) crass political calculations about what is in the interests of his own party, and hence his own power. It is a scandal for a Catholic university to confer an honorary degree upon such an individual, because the conferring of an honorary degree suggests agreement with, or at least acceptance of, what is in fact a gravely and intrinsically evil position. (I am undecided about whether, given the fact that other Presidents have *spoken* at Notre Dame, it would have constituted a scandal even to have Obama merely speak there, and not receive an honorary degree. If it were up to me, no Catholic university would ever have a national politician of either party speak at a graduation, but I realize other people hold other opinions on this matter.)

    So I want to resist the assumption that opposition to Gingrich’s book-signing need be politically, as opposed to ecclesially, motivated.

  • WJ

    To anticipate a possible objection:

    Why is it (possibly) a scandal to give Gingrich a platform while it would not (possibly) have been a scandal to have Obama speak, absent the conferral of an honorary degree? Gingrich is a Catholic, and Obama is not. (My own view, of course, is that having any national politician speak is scandalous, but I don’t hope to persuade anyone of that here.)

  • Thanks, Austin. Here is what I posted:


    There are normative, principled reasons for a leftist opposition to abortion.

    There are descriptive cases of it too. Like this manifesto “Rechazamos el Aborto Porque Somos de Izquierda” (We Reject Abortion Because We Are of the Left):

    You are right that the Democrats have abandoned this position at the platform level, but they have principles reasons to stand on — similar to those of feminists for life — if they wanted to actually be leftists and give up their corrupt liberalism.

  • Pingback: Politicians and Church Platforms « The American Catholic()

  • Austin Ruse


    Abortion sadly is a left right issue in the US, Canada and Europe. It is not so in the global south. In Nicaragua, for instance, it was the Sandinistas who made abortion for any reason illegal. It was a unanimous vote of their Sandinistas led Parliament.

    It is a downright dirty shame the left in America has abandoned the unborn child. And there is no good reason for having done it.

    Stop whining, Kurt. It is tiresome.

  • WJ –

    1) I opposed Obama being given an honorary degree at Notre Dame, but I did not oppose him speaking there.

    2) Another difference that is being overlooked is that Obama spoke at a university and Newt is speaking at a Basilica. Let Newt speak at a Catholic university, sure. Not at the Basilica. Michael Denton seems to miss this obvious, gigantic difference in his recent post.

  • Another difference that is being overlooked is that Obama spoke at a university and Newt is speaking at a Basilica. Let Newt speak at a Catholic university, sure. Not at the Basilica. Michael Denton seems to miss this obvious, gigantic difference in his recent post.

    No, he’s speaking at a book store in the Basilica. It’s not as if he’s taking the pulpit.

    Blair, Newt, and Obama all spoke at platforms that while not themselves Churches, are closely tied to the Church (A Catholic university, the paper of the Vatican, and a bookstore on the grounds of a Church).

    • No, he’s speaking at a book store in the Basilica. It’s not as if he’s taking the pulpit.

      Blair, Newt, and Obama all spoke at platforms that while not themselves Churches, are closely tied to the Church (A Catholic university, the paper of the Vatican, and a bookstore on the grounds of a Church).

      I stand corrected. But he is still speaking at the basilica. He ain’t speaking at a Borders.

      You, and others, seem to miss the point about what a university is for.

  • You, and others, seem to miss the point about what a university is for.

    If the point is for a interchange of ideas and free thinking, one could make a similar argument about bookstores.

  • Kurt

    Austin has come as close as we can hope for admitting to the corruption and bias of the pro-life movement he helps lead. He declares abortion a left/right issue, justifying his politicl programme of attaching the pro-life movement as an appendenge of the right wing. And he suggests that anti-abortion progressives are insincere, thereby justifying our purge from the pro-life movement. Pretty close to an open confession.

  • If the point is for a interchange of ideas and free thinking, one could make a similar argument about bookstores.

    One could make that argument about bookstores in general, but not the basilica’s bookshop. I have been there.

  • Austin Ruse


    You are clutching at straws. And whining. “Prolifers were so mean to me. Wah. Wah. Wahhhhhhhh.” Grow up, dude.

    It is undeniable that abortion is a left right issue in America. This is not a confession but a profession of fact. Wussy lefties like you who claim to have been in the movement but were chased out of the pro life movement by mean girls? Seriously, Kurt. What a baby.

  • brettsalkeld


  • grega

    Austin are you for real?
    No class

  • Austin Ruse


  • Austin Ruse

    Kurt whining about how hurt he was by the big bad pro-life girls is just a little tiresome.

  • Austin, you are missing the danger posed by people like Schlafly. This is a lady who believes that the use of nuclear weapons can be virtuous, which is just as bad as defending abortion. In no circumstances can be be considered pro-life. Let me give you an even more extreme example – while pretending to be pro-life, Tom Delay and Ralph Reed were holding the can for Jack Abramoff’s sweatshop clients in Saipan, and these clients engaged in forced prostitution and forced abortion.

    Dear old Roach was right. These people are detrimental to the pro-life cause. They are using the unborn to further their own dubious agendas (sometimes wicked agendas). We must have no time for this.

  • Austin Ruse


    I do believe that Reed is a pox. Even if someone does not care about sweatshops in Saipan, Reed used social conservatives to close down a casino in Oklahoma all the while he was in the pay of Abramoff and a rival casino in Texas. Even so, Reed just held a conference in Washington DC and everyone went. Tony Perkins spoke. Deal Hudson spoke. Awful.

    Even so, as i have said many times before, the movement is huge and there is a place for anyone who wants to do the work. There is a place for lefties to run a campaign against insurance compnaies covering abortions, as you have suggested. this is perfect for a lefty who also wants to go after corporate America. I do not work with Reed. I don’t have to work with Reed. Neither do you!

    Reed, Schlafly et al are an excuse for those who really want to do something else.

  • Kurt

    What is telling is Austin’s celebration of the narrowing of the pro-life movement. Any legitimate group bends over backwards to reach out and include the “other” and support from counter-intuitive elements. The abortion rights lobby does do an excellent job in reaching out to elements of the Republican Party. In my own work in the labor movement I have long thought I should be able to count my chapstick purchases as a business expense given the time I spend kissing the a**es of GOP members of Congress. The Tea Party groups go wild in favor of the handful of African-Americans in their organization.

    Austin and the pro-life movement are almost alone in taking a “screw you” towards anti-abortion liberals. I say almost because they do match the behavior of the Communist Party, seeking to minimize the democratic Left so that workers are faced with a choice only of Communism or Reaction.

  • Pinky

    Kurt – Any response to LPJ? Any other examples of political bias at the Basilica?

  • Austin Ruse

    Oh yes, Kurt, very very very telling….

    What i am saying, if you can see through your tears, is that “SADLY” (you might have missed that through your whining), pro-life is a left-right issue in the global north. I went on to say that it is not so in the global south and went on to give a great example the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

    Please Kurt. Heel the hurt! Move on.

  • Winkyb

    Are you implying that a giftshop, because it happened to be at a Basilica, somehow certifies
    Newt’s legitimacy…and Newt politically???
    Sigh…get over it! A giftshop is not a religious platform.

  • Indeed, MM, what efforts are you working on that we can help with against private insurance companies covering abortion? Let us know how we can help.

  • As a liberal Democrat opposed to abortion I can tell you that I have been treated much more fairly in the Democratic Party than in the Pro-Life Movement.

    Really, Kurt?

    Has the pro-life movement put a statement in its platform expressing “unequivocal support” for a Supreme Court decision directly against your goals as a liberal?

    Has the pro-life movement treated liberals anything like liberal commentators like Rachel Maddow, etc., treated Bart Stupak during the health care debate?

    Does the pro-life movement brand anybody with liberal views as an “extremist” and work tirelessly to prevent them from being elected or confirmed to high office on just that basis?

    And also, in your conversations with people in the Democratic Party, do you make a habit of pointing out the deficiency in its policies toward the unborn to the extent that you point out the corruption and misguidedness you see in the pro-life movement at every opportunity?

    I suspect not, and that probably has more to with what you perceive as more hostile treatment.

  • Winkyb,

    Unless that gift shop is run by a religious group, in a religious building. The two cannot be separated in this instance.