Sunday, January 29, 2006

Constitutional Rumblings

States Step Up Fight on Abortion

Anticipating a more conservative Supreme Court, lawmakers are proposing bans in hope of forcing the justices to revisit Roe vs. Wade.

By P.J. Huffstutter and Stephanie Simon

Times Staff Writers

January 22, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS — Taking direct aim at Roe vs. Wade, lawmakers from several states are proposing broad restrictions on abortion, with the goal of forcing the U.S. Supreme Court — once it has a second new justice — to revisit the landmark ruling issued 33 years ago today.

The bill under consideration in Indiana would ban all abortions, except when continuing the pregnancy would threaten the woman's life or put her physical health in danger of "substantial permanent impairment." Similar legislation is pending in Ohio, Georgia and Tennessee.

. . .

Republican Rep. Troy Woodruff, serving his first term in the Indiana Legislature, wrote House Bill 1096 knowing it would conflict with Roe vs. Wade.

That was precisely his point: He wants his ban appealed to the Supreme Court, in hopes that the justices will overturn Roe and give states the power to make abortion a crime. "On an issue that's this personal, it should be decided as local as possible," he said. "We either want these procedures, or we don't…. And I don't."

The debate unfolds as the Senate prepares to vote on Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr., a federal appellate judge. As a Reagan administration lawyer, Alito laid out a plan to overturn Roe vs. Wade. In his confirmation hearings this month, he declined to call the case "settled law," suggesting that he might be willing to reverse or modify it.

. . .

Louisiana sets out that "the unborn child is a human being from the time of conception." The Nebraska Legislature has said that it "expressly deplore[s] the destruction of unborn human lives." Pennsylvania seeks "to extend to the unborn the equal protection of the laws." Utah, Missouri and Illinois are among several other states with similar language in their constitutions or statutes.

Such statements are merely philosophical; they don't have the force of law. But at least a dozen states have criminal laws banning abortion. They can't be enforced as long as Roe vs. Wade remains binding. In theory, though, they could take effect immediately upon a reversal, subjecting abortion providers to penalties ranging from 12 months' hard labor in Alabama to 20 years' imprisonment in Rhode Island.

"What the public doesn't realize is that the building blocks are already in place to re-criminalize abortion if Roe is overturned," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York.

She and other abortion rights activists predict that abortion would remain legal on the East and West coasts and in a few states in between — among them Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada and New Mexico. They expect that at least 19 states across the Midwest and South would ban abortion.

. . .

About half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, and nearly half of those end in abortion, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

The nation's abortion rate has been falling since the early 1980s. Currently, about 1 million abortions are performed each year in the U.S. Few are done to preserve the woman's life or physical health; overwhelmingly, women say they seek abortions because they're not prepared emotionally or financially to raise a child.

Guarding the Flock

Want to know what a bishop sounds like?

National Catholic Register

Are Safe Environment Programs Safe?


Jan. 15-21, 2006

Bishop Robert Vasa wants kids to be safe.

But the Baker, Ore., bishop is not ready to institute programs in his diocese that pretend to protect children against sexual abuse. He says he is not convinced that the so-called "safe-environment" programs that exist are good for children.

He's assisting the Catholic Medical Association in an evaluation of such programs. (See story, page 2.) He discussed his concerns with Register correspondent Mary Ann Sullivan.

. . .

Have you selected a safe-environment program for the Diocese of Baker yet?

. . .

I haven't found a safe-environment program for children to be suitable yet. It gets into the whole issue of whether we should be doing this at all. The whole approach is backwards. Which 7-, 8- or 9-year-old kid is capable of protecting himself and not having a lapse of judgment about who can and who cannot be trusted?

What we are saying to them with these programs is, "You are responsible for keeping yourself safe." But safety is not the children's responsibility. They are incapable of resisting the attack of an abductor. They can maybe begin to avoid dangerous situations, but they can have a lapse in judgment as kids do.

It's the parents who are responsible. If we don't first inform and instruct parents to take seriously their responsibility to supervise and monitor their own kids, we are setting ourselves up for kids who are vulnerable. Parents might think because their child went through safe-environment training, they know how to protect themselves.

Experts with whom I've spoken in the psychiatric field say kids don't have abstract thinking mechanisms. It's not appropriate to try to force them to think abstractly about who is a good person and who is a bad person. They don't have the capacity to make those kinds of discernments, and to expect them to think beyond their comprehension is fruitless. It probably makes us feel good, but it's not good for the children.

There was a line in The Chronicles of Narnia: At the end of the seven-book series, two kids were sick and were given medicine that didn't taste good and didn't do any good. But it made the parents feel good. It's the same thing with these safe-environment programs. We have kids and we think they need this to keep them safe. We don't know if it is good or bad. We know it's kind of horrendous, but we think it's doing good and so we keep imposing it on them. But, we shouldn't jump to the conclusion that doing something is better than doing nothing.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Charity vs. Progress

The Holy Father, in his first encycical, has this to say regarding certain errors of modern political philosophy and theology:

b) Love—caritas—will always prove necessary, even in the most just society. There is no ordering of the State so just that it can eliminate the need for a service of love. Whoever wants to eliminate love is preparing to eliminate man as such. There will always be suffering which cries out for consolation and help. There will always be loneliness. There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbour is indispensable.[20] The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person—every person—needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need. The Church is one of those living forces: she is alive with the love enkindled by the Spirit of Christ. This love does not simply offer people material help, but refreshment and care for their souls, something which often is even more necessary than material support. In the end, the claim that just social structures would make works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man: the mistaken notion that man can live “by bread alone” (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3)—a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human.

. . .

b) Christian charitable activity must be independent of parties and ideologies. It is not a means of changing the world ideologically, and it is not at the service of worldly stratagems, but it is a way of making present here and now the love which man always needs. The modern age, particularly from the nineteenth century on, has been dominated by various versions of a philosophy of progress whose most radical form is Marxism. Part of Marxist strategy is the theory of impoverishment: in a situation of unjust power, it is claimed, anyone who engages in charitable initiatives is actually serving that unjust system, making it appear at least to some extent tolerable. This in turn slows down a potential revolution and thus blocks the struggle for a better world. Seen in this way, charity is rejected and attacked as a means of preserving the status quo. What we have here, though, is really an inhuman philosophy. People of the present are sacrificed to the moloch of the future—a future whose effective realization is at best doubtful. One does not make the world more human by refusing to act humanely here and now. We contribute to a better world only by personally doing good now, with full commitment and wherever we have the opportunity, independently of partisan strategies and programmes. The Christian's programme —the programme of the Good Samaritan, the programme of Jesus—is “a heart which sees”. This heart sees where love is needed and acts accordingly. Obviously when charitable activity is carried out by the Church as a communitarian initiative, the spontaneity of individuals must be combined with planning, foresight and cooperation with other similar institutions.

. . .

33. With regard to the personnel who carry out the Church's charitable activity on the practical level, the essential has already been said: they must not be inspired by ideologies aimed at improving the world, but should rather be guided by the faith which works through love (cf. Gal 5:6). Consequently, more than anything, they must be persons moved by Christ's love, persons whose hearts Christ has conquered with his love, awakening within them a love of neighbour. The criterion inspiring their activity should be Saint Paul's statement in the Second Letter to the Corinthians: “the love of Christ urges us on” (5:14). The consciousness that, in Christ, God has given himself for us, even unto death, must inspire us to live no longer for ourselves but for him, and, with him, for others. Whoever loves Christ loves the Church, and desires the Church to be increasingly the image and instrument of the love which flows from Christ. The personnel of every Catholic charitable organization want to work with the Church and therefore with the Bishop, so that the love of God can spread throughout the world. By their sharing in the Church's practice of love, they wish to be witnesses of God and of Christ, and they wish for this very reason freely to do good to all.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Religious Freedom

James Schall gives us this interesting summary of the Holy Father's recent statements on religious liberty:

In the December 22 address to the Roman Curia, the Pope gave a summary of the efforts to properly relate religion to civil society. Surprisingly, he concluded that "People came to realize that the American Revolution was offering a model of a modern State that differed from the theological model with radical tendencies that had emerged during the second phase of the French Revolution" (OR, 4 January 2006). The Church and state have different purposes, but they need not be hostile to one another in principle.

The Pope is quite concerned that religious freedom not only be practiced and permitted legally, but that it is understood correctly. He can identify those modern political states that prohibit or severely restrict religious freedom. He knows there are Catholic martyrs almost daily in some part of the world. He knows that what he says may make it worse for some of his flock in intolerant and oppressive states–which he usually hesitates to mention by name. To avoid justifying such states, "it was necessary to give a new definition to the relationship between the Church and the modern State that would make room impartially for citizens of various religions and ideologies, merely assuming responsibility for an orderly and tolerant coexistence, among them and for the freedom to practice their own religion." This coexistence did not imply agreement of doctrine or practice, but it did focus on the person and his own responsibilities to know the truth in freedom.

But if this coexistence is based on dogmatic skepticism, on the belief that truth could not be known, it was no longer religious freedom as the Pope understands it.

If religious freedom were to be considered an expression of the human inability to discover the truth and thus become a canonization of relativism, then this social and historical necessity is raised inappropriately to the metaphysical level and thus stripped of its true meaning. Consequently, it cannot be accepted by those who believe that the human person is capable of knowing the truth about God and, on the basis of the inner dignity of the truth, is bound to this knowledge. It is quite different, on the other hand, to perceive religious freedom as a need that derives from human coexistence, or indeed, as an intrinsic consequence of the truth that cannot be externally imposed but that the person must adopt only through the process of conviction (OR, 4 January 2006).

This theme of the intolerance in a democracy based in theoretic skepticism was already spelled out by John Paul II in Centesimus Annus, Evangelium Vitae, and Veritatis Splendor. In the above passage, the Pope indicates that the grounding of political religious freedom is not doctrine, which must be pursued in dialogue and freedom of discussion, but in the nature of a person to inquire freely what this truth is.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Canada Watch

For once, this column brings good news:

Canadians elect a Conservative minority News Staff

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper has won a minority government on Monday, putting an end to more than 12 years of Liberal rule.

. . .

Harper, Canada's next prime minister, has been re-elected in the Alberta riding of Calgary Southwest. The Conservatives dominated in the West, and took most seats in the Prairies, as expected.

But it was in battleground Ontario where the Conservatives made a big breakthrough, with most of the polls showing they're on track to take a dozen or more seats than the 24 they won in 2004.

. . .

In Quebec, the Conservatives seem to be making crucial gains in the province that shut them out in 2004.

Early results indicate the Tories are elected in eight ridings, while the Liberals are tied with the same number, and an independent candidate has secured one seat.

. . .

Martin ended up in the fight of his political life against Harper. His Liberals took a pounding in the polls with voters upset over allegations of government scandal and a rash of urban gun violence, including a brazen Boxing Day shootout that killed a 15-year-old bystander in downtown Toronto.

Harper capitalized on those concerns, promising to get tough on corruption and to crack down on gun crime with mandatory minimum sentences.

Just before the New Year, the RCMP announced an investigation into an income trust announcement by the Liberals. That's when the Grits dropped sharply in the polls and the Conservatives rose -- at one point leading the Liberals by 18 points in a Strategic Counsel survey.

In the end, Harper succeeded in convincing voters that it was, in fact, time for change.

Before the election, David Warren put it into perspective:

I’ve heard from so many of these people, who will not vote for the Conservatives tomorrow, because they are disappointed, even disgusted, by the Conservatives’ attempts to distance themselves, or by a local candidate’s “progressive” posturing. Most often, it is the Conservative commitment to the status quo on abortion that is costing them a crucial swing vote.

But the best is often the enemy of the good. Real policy options are not on the table in this election, and we must therefore choose among the modest goods that are available. That is in fact sound Christian doctrine. And once it is understood, I consider it our moral duty to assist in removing the Liberals from power, and replacing them with something a little better. That is the primary thing, tomorrow, and it means, unambiguously, voting Conservative.

I would vote for my local Conservative if he had two heads and five elbows and was married to a same-sex yeti in Tibet. And I would vote for him with a clean conscience.

Looks like Canada's conscience just got a bit cleaner. Cheers to them! And may it be followed by a genuine amendment of life.

Monday, January 16, 2006

A Must Read

By Mark Steyn.

A tiny sample:

This ought to be the left's issue. I'm a conservative--I'm not entirely on board with the Islamist program when it comes to beheading sodomites and so on, but I agree Britney Spears dresses like a slut: I'm with Mullah Omar on that one. Why then, if your big thing is feminism or abortion or gay marriage, are you so certain that the cult of tolerance will prevail once the biggest demographic in your society is cheerfully intolerant? Who, after all, are going to be the first victims of the West's collapsed birthrates? Even if one were to take the optimistic view that Europe will be able to resist the creeping imposition of Sharia currently engulfing Nigeria, it remains the case that the Muslim world is not notable for setting much store by "a woman's right to choose," in any sense.

I watched that big abortion rally in Washington in 2004, where Ashley Judd and Gloria Steinem were cheered by women waving "Keep your Bush off my bush" placards, and I thought it was the equivalent of a White Russian tea party in 1917. By prioritizing a "woman's right to choose," Western women are delivering their societies into the hands of fellows far more patriarchal than a 1950s sitcom dad. If any of those women marching for their "reproductive rights" still have babies, they might like to ponder demographic realities: A little girl born today will be unlikely, at the age of 40, to be free to prance around demonstrations in Eurabian Paris or Amsterdam chanting "Hands off my bush!"

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Parallel Church

Here is an article to inform the mind and turn the stomach. The headline reads:

Catholic group requests church where all Masses are in Latin

Although the plan would allow Diocese of Buffalo to save a church from closing, the issue is not without controversy

A Catholic group wants to rescue a Catholic church and might possibly be refused? How could this be? Are they heritics? Closet Satanists? Would that they were. Then they would stand a better chance than these poor folks, who have the misfortune of belonging to the most hated group within the Church today -- traditional Catholics!

Then again, the reporter himself has since insisted that there is doubt about the validity of the traditional sacraments despite the indult. He would not publish a correction to his artcile, anyhow. So the slander is being promulgated, whatever the cause.

Each Sunday, a small group of Catholics worships at a Tridentine Mass spoken and chanted entirely in Latin - the way of Catholicism for centuries prior to the late 1960s.
The lay group of traditionalists has quietly bounced among various city churches over the past 15 years. Now, group members believe they are large and stable enough to support a church of their own.

They think they can save a city parish destined for closure when the Diocese of Buffalo begins consolidating churches within the next year or two.

The unusual request would allow the diocese to save at least one of its many architecturally significant churches - and stave off criticism from city officials and residents who worry several big empty church buildings will be left behind in a diocesan downsizing.

But the scenario is also fraught with thorny church politics.

Some worry about a "parallel church" developing if a building is set aside for the traditional Latin Mass - a concern voiced by some clergy and liturgists since Pope John Paul II allowed the reintroduction of the Latin Mass in the late 1980s.

Who are these clergy and liturgists? Whence their fears? Are they among those who teach (as I've heard taught) that the Mass was originally in English anyhow, that Latin was only a 'mistake' the Church made for an odd millenium or so? No, I'm afraid the fears are echoed by those who ought to possess a bit more knowledge than that.

The bishop, too, expressed concerns during the meeting about a parallel church that could cause confusion among Catholics.

The bishop is worried about a 'parallel church'! But wait, it gets better.

The traditional Mass . . . [is] a whole different approach to the celebration of liturgy," said Monsignor Anthony F. Sherman, associate director of the Secretariat for the Liturgy at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

. . .

A separate congregation presumably would offer baptisms, first Holy Communion and marriage, among other sacraments. But the highest levels of the Vatican bureaucracy have yet to spell out clearly whether sacraments conducted in the old form are valid.

"That's somewhat of a hazy issue right now," said Sherman.

Let's get this straight. According to the good bishop, "the way of Catholicism for centuries prior to the late 1960s" if resurrected would constitute a 'parallel church'. According to associate director of the Secretariat for the Liturgy at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, "the way of Catholicism for centuries prior to the late 1960s" constitutes "a whole different approach to the celebration of liturgy", and indeed to the sacraments in general. So much so, that he soberly hesitates to say whether "the way of Catholicism for centuries prior to the late 1960s" is even valid any longer.

Sometimes traditionalists are accused of having schismatic tendencies. But notice who has displaced "the way of Catholicism for centuries prior to the late 1960s" with a 'parallel church'. And by whose authority was an ostensibly new church founded?

I would recommend the rest of the article, which contains more juicy bits such as this:

Proponents of the traditional Mass tend to lean conservative on social issues such as promoting pro-life causes and condemning birth control and same-sex marriage.

Apparently this distinguishes them from members of the 'parallel church' founded by . . . whom?

I'll take my Church from Jesus Christ, who Himself lived "centuries prior to the late 1960s".

Update I have since heard a possible explanation of Monsignor Sherman's remarks: because of the reporter's ignorance, there may have been confusion as to whether the subject was the indult or the SSPX. This would make his comment much more understandable, if nonetheless regrettable.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Vote Dishrag!

David Warren reports on some interesting, and hopeful, developments in Canadian politics. Yes, you read that right!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Actual Harm

David Warren paints a frightening picture of our friendly neighbor to the North, in which we can see our own possible future:

We had further confirmation of our new constitutional order just before Christmas, when the most significant question of public policy to arise since the beginning of the election campaign was briefly aired. This was the far-reaching decision of the Supreme Court to legalize group fornication in “swingers clubs”.

The significance of the decision was spelled out in the majority opinion, written by Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin. She declared a new principle of Canadian law, that would obviate all previous principles. Henceforth, the argument that an act could be considered criminal because it did moral harm to individual persons, or to society as a whole -- would be inadmissible. “Actual” harm to persons would have to be shown. And since the most obvious example of this -- the spread of sexual infections from the public acceptance of libertine behaviour -- was pointedly overlooked, the concept of physical harm was itself made vague.

. . .

Consider: this is a decision that will be invoked by lawyers to stop any municipality in Canada from preventing a “swingers club”, or other lewd establishment, from opening in any neighbourhood at all. It makes arranging public orgies into a conventional commercial proposition. It will put knowledge of this in reach of our children, and make them eligible for legal participation from the age of consent, which is fourteen. And henceforth, no one has a right to do anything about that.

This is how many of our own citizens want it to be. As we watch our civilizations decay, we may need to coin a phrase for the 'inactual harm' of twiddling our thumbs the meanwhile.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

What Was Saddam Up To?

Don't believe the word on the street . . .

Saddam's Terror Training Camps

What the documents captured from the former Iraqi regime reveal--and why they should all be made public.

by Stephen F. Hayes

THE FORMER IRAQI REGIME OF Saddam Hussein trained thousands of radical Islamic terrorists from the region at camps in Iraq over the four years immediately preceding the U.S. invasion, according to documents and photographs recovered by the U.S. military in postwar Iraq. The existence and character of these documents has been confirmed to THE WEEKLY STANDARD by eleven U.S. government officials.

Read on.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Courts Run Wild

A few illustrations of courts that have, or are about to, run amok over law and order:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Jan 5, 2006 — The Florida Supreme Court struck down a statewide voucher system Thursday that allowed children to attend private schools at taxpayer expense a program Gov. Jeb Bush considered one of his proudest achievements.

It was the nation's first statewide voucher program.

In a 5-2 ruling, the high court said the program undermines the public schools and violates the Florida Constitution's requirement of a uniform system of free public education.

. . .

[Governor Jeb] Bush said he will look for ways to continue the voucher programs, such as finding private money, changing state law or amending the Florida Constitution.

"I don't think any option should be taken off the table," the governor said. "School choice is as American as apple pie in my opinion. … The world is made richer and fuller and more vibrant when you have choices."

Under the 1999 law, students at public schools that earn a failing grade from the state in two out of four years were eligible for vouchers to attend private schools.

Chief Justice Barbara Pariente said the program "diverts public dollars into separate private systems parallel to and in competition with the free public schools," which are the sole means set out in the state constitution for educating Florida children.

Good for Jeb. He doesn't seem to realize, though, that uniformity is more important than knowledge, virtue, the continuation of our civilization, etc.

And here is a judicial hijacking waiting to happen:

January 4, 2006

Supporters of same-sex marriage filed suit with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court yesterday to try to disqualify a proposed ballot question asking voters to ban gay matrimony starting in 2008.

In the lawsuit, Advocates & Defenders contends that Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly ignored a provision in the state constitution that prevents ballot initiatives that seek to reverse a judicial decision. The SJC legalized gay marriage in Massachusetts in November 2003.

''This proposed antigay, antimarriage amendment is meant squarely and solely to reverse that decision," GLAD's legal director, Gary Buseck, said yesterday.

David Guarino, a Reilly spokesman, issued a statement saying that GLAD's legal theory is flawed because the proposed amendment would not overturn the SJC's ruling and invalidate thousands of gay marriages that have already taken place. Rather, it would change the constitution so that no more such marriages could take place if the measure passed.

Not seeing the difference means believing that the proper task of courts is legislating or determining policy instead of applying the law.

On a related note, we have this:

Few priests sign name to ban gay marriage
Friday, December 30, 2005

Despite the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church urging support for a petition against same-sex marriage, only 20 percent of priests who work in the Springfield diocese signed the petition, according to a Web site tracking the issue.

Of the 154 active local priests, 31, or 20 percent, signed the petition that seeks to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Information about petition signers was gathered from the Web site of the pro-gay marriage organization,

Leaders of the organization said their Web site's petition database contains all the names accepted by the Massachusetts Secretary of State's office, which certified the petition.

. . .

The Rev. James J. Scahill, the East Longmeadow priest who has been outspoken critic of the church's leadership, said the clergy's lack of support for the petition reflects the refusal of priests to back an anti-gay measure. He said some of the priests are gay.

He said priests' refusal to sign the petition is an acknowledgment that same-sex unions are among people willing to make public commitments of genuine love.

We get the judicial activism we deserve, I think.

Friday, January 06, 2006

It is Zarqawi

More death in Iraq. But note the effect this is having:

Insurgents Kill 140 as Iraq Clashes Escalate

5 U.S. Troops Among Dead

By Nelson Hernandez and Saad Sarhan
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, January 6, 2006; A01

BAGHDAD, Jan. 5 -- The residents of Ramadi had had enough. As they frantically searched the city's hospital for relatives killed and wounded in bomb blasts at a police recruiting station Thursday, they did something they had never publicly done: They blamed al Qaeda in Iraq, the insurgent movement led by Abu Musab Zarqawi.

"Neither the Americans nor the Shiites have any benefit in doing this. It is Zarqawi," said Khalid Saadi, 42, who came to the hospital looking for his brother, Muhammed. Saadi said he hoped that sympathies in the city, considered a hotbed of support for the Sunni Arab insurgency, would turn against Zarqawi's faction.

. . .

Some of those killed were tribal leaders who had come to supervise the recruitment of residents into the country's police force, said Majeed Tikriti, a doctor in Ramadi's hospital. Local leaders have repeatedly demanded that U.S. and Iraqi authorities allow men from Ramadi to serve in Iraq's armed forces. They had argued that only locally recruited soldiers could bring a measure of control to the city of 400,000 on the Euphrates River, which is considered one of the key centers of the Sunni-led insurgency.

Though U.S. and Iraqi authorities have been reluctant to allow this, on the grounds that locally recruited soldiers are vulnerable to coercion by insurgents, they have relented in recent weeks. Pool said in the statement that since recruiting began Monday, recruiters have screened 600 applicants who met basic requirements to join the police.

The Ramadi residents responded to the attack with fury. Nearly everyone at the scene said they believed it had been ordered by Zarqawi's al Qaeda in Iraq, considered the most ruthless and best-organized faction in the insurgent movement.

"People in this city helped Zarqawi a lot, and I hope this would make them change their minds," said Saad Abid Ali, a captain in the Iraqi army hit by shrapnel in the legs.

Another group of people beat a doctor in the hospital after he told an Iraqi journalist that U.S. forces were to blame for the attacks.

Does Legal Reform Approach?

Democrats to delay vote on Alito by one week

Senators' strategy would slow confirmation process of high court nominee

The Associated Press
Updated: 4:57 p.m. ET Jan. 5, 2006

WASHINGTON - Senate Democrats plan to delay the Judiciary Committee’s vote on Samuel Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court for at least a week, slowing what could have been a quick confirmation process for President Bush’s pick to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter had hoped to hold a committee vote on Alito’s nomination on Jan. 17, a little over a week from the Monday start of the federal appellate judge’s confirmation hearings.

But Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid told Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., on Thursday that Democrats will invoke their right to hold the Alito committee vote over for one week, Senate leadership aides told The Associated Press.

. . .

Democrats have said repeatedly they aren’t planning to filibuster Alito, although they also have refused to promise to refrain from the stalling tactic on the federal appellate judge.

“I don’t think it’s wise for members to try and outline a strategy other than to make sure these hearings are comprehensive and they’re done with dignity and respect for the nominee,” said Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, one of the Senate’s leading liberals. “The future will take care of itself.”

. . .

Republicans say they’re ready to fight if Democrats try a partisan filibuster, including the so-called nuclear option, which would let the GOP ban judicial filibusters. “I will use all the tools I have to simply get an up-or-down vote on the floor of the Senate for the president’s judicial nominees,” Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said last month.

But experts said Democrats are not yet in a position to filibuster Alito, even if they wanted to.

A Sealed Case

Taranto quotes from an interview of "Rosa Brooks, a professor who teaches constitutional law at the University of Virginia Law School and columnist for the Los Angeles Times", by Hugh Hewitt.

Brooks: I think it seems to me that the NSA surveillance program on its face violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and--

Hewitt: Now, you have read United States v. United States District Court, right?

Brooks: Uh, Hugh, you're pushing me here.

Hewitt: It's--

Brooks: Refresh my memory.

Hewitt: United States v. United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, in which the United States Supreme Court specifically says, Justice Powell writing, we are not going to consider whether or not the president can, in fact, conduct surveillance of this sort.

Brooks: What sort?

Hewitt: Foreign agents communicating with their agents in the United States, even if those latter are citizens.

Brooks: OK.

Hewitt: So they specifically reserved the question to one side, and the foreign intelligence surveillance court appeals board, in In Re Sealed Case No. 2 [link in PDF], also said no, the president has the authority to do this. So given that the federal authority--

Brooks: Well, you know, Hugh, I mean, you've got the case law at your fingertips, and I'm not going to challenge you on it, because I don't.

In trying to scare Bush, she has proved scary all right. Maybe with the help of a Vermont judge she can lock him up for 60 days plus rehab.

It Just Corrodes Your Soul

Burlington, Vermont -- January 4, 2005

There was outrage Wednesday when a Vermont judge handed out a 60-day jail sentence to a man who raped a little girl many, many times over a four-year span starting when she was seven.

The judge said he no longer believes in punishment and is more concerned about rehabilitation.

Prosecutors argued that confessed child-rapist Mark Hulett, 34, of Williston deserved at least eight years behind bars for repeatedly raping a littler girl countless times starting when she was seven.

But Judge Edward Cashman disagreed explaining that he no longer believes that punishment works.

"The one message I want to get through is that anger doesn't solve anything. It just corrodes your soul," said Judge Edward Cashman speaking to a packed Burlington courtroom. Most of the on-lookers were related to a young girl who was repeatedly raped by Mark Hulett who was in court to be sentenced.

The sex abuse started when the girl was seven and ended when she was ten. Prosecutors were seeking a sentence of eight to twenty years in prison, in part, as punishment.

. . .

But Judge Cashman explained that he is more concerned that Hulett receive sex offender treatment as rehabilitation. But under Department of Corrections classification, Hulett is considered a low-risk for re-offense so he does not qualify for in-prison treatment.So the judge sentenced him to just 60 days in prison and then Hulett must complete sex treatment when he gets out or face a possible life sentence.

Thanks to James Taranto for pointing out this madness. Nothing that an impeachment, new legislation, retrail, and execution couldn't fix . . .

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Canada Watch

From the 50th Anniversary issue of National Review (December 19, 2005):

Here is a news item from the Friendly Giant to Our North — a country large and consequential enough, you would think, that a person who had once served as its minister of defense and deputy prime minister would be possessed of more than the average endowment of gravitas. Think again. Paul Hellyer, who held those positions under Prime Ministers Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau, recently told an audience at the University of Toronto that George W. Bush is planning for an intergalactic war against space aliens — you know, the ones in UFOs, which vessels are, averred the former SecDef and Deputy PM, “as real as the airplanes that fly over your head.” Warming to his theme, Hellyer accused the Bush administration of planning a forward base on the moon, the better to counterattack the extraterrestrials. “The time has come,” he concluded, “to lift the veil of secrecy, and let the truth emerge, so there can be a real and informed debate, about one of the most important problems facing our planet today.” The speech received a standing ovation. So now we know: Hatred of George W. Bush, in combination with the enervating effects of living in the world’s most boring country, can send you barking mad.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Intervention Part VII

By popular demand, I continue my column analyzing the Ottaviani critique of the Novus Ordo Mass.


We now pass on to the essence of the Sacrifice.

The mystery of the Cross is no longer explicitly expressed. It is only there obscurely, veiled, imperceptible for the people. And for these reasons:

1. The sense given in the Novus Ordo to the so-called "prex Eucharistica" is: "that the whole congregation of the faithful may be united to Christ in proclaiming the great wonders of God and in offering sacrifice" (No. 54. the end)

Which sacrifice is referred to? Who is the offerer? No answer is given to either of these questions. The initial definition of the "prex Eucharistica" is as follows: "The centre and culminating point of the whole celebration now has a beginning, namely the Eucharistic Prayer, a prayer of thanksgiving and of sanctification" (No. 54, pr.). The effects thus replace the causes, of which not one single word is said. The explicit mention of the object of the offering, which was found in the "Suscipe", has not been replaced by anything. The change in formulation reveals the change in doctrine.

In case the thread is getting lost here, the 'Suscipe' in the traditional Mass is as follows:

Accept, O Holy Father, Almighty and Eternal God, this spotless host, which I, Thine unworthy servant, offer to Thee, my living and true God, to atone for my numberless sins, offenses, and negligences; on behalf of all here present and likewise for all faithful Christians living and dead, that it may profit me and them as a means of salvation to life everlasting. Amen.

This clear statement of the nature and purpose of the Holy Sacrifice, which is indeed "the centre and culminating point of the whole celebration", along with several other prayers mentioned in our previous posts, has been replaced with this:

Pray, brethren, that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.

Nothing wrong with this. In fact, the same prayer (identical in Latin, subtly altered in the ICEL 'translation'*) appears in the traditional Mass -- after all the other Offertory prayers that have been suppressed. The question is, why suppress prayers that explain so beautifully what it is we are about to do as a Church, especially when that is the most important thing human beings are given to do in this vale of tears? Could someone give me a single worthy motive for this, or explain how it constitutes 'reform' to cast Christians further into the dark about what they are doing at Mass?

* The new 'translation' has 'our sacrifice' where the Latin reads 'my sacrifice and yours', thus erasing the distinction between priest and people and obscuring the individual encounter of the soul with Christ, which is lost in the group-think praxis of the Novus Ordo today.

It is these little details -- which can be found in virtually every prayer of the official Enlgish translation of the Novus Ordo Mass -- which make it abundantly clear that the dominant figures behind liturgical 'reform' are in fact heretics, despite their being unable to destroy the *validity of the Holy Mass.

2. The reason for this non-explicitness concerning the Sacrifice is quite simply that the Real Presence has been removed from the central position which it occupied so resplendently in the former Eucharistic liturgy. There is but a single reference to the Real Presence, (a quotation - a footnote - from the Council of Trent) and again the context is that of "nourishment" (no. 241, note 63)

The Real and permanent Presence of Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the transubstantiated Species is never alluded to. The very word transubstantiation is totally ignored.

The suppression of the invocation to the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity ("Veni Sanctificator") that He may descend upon the oblations, as once before into the womb of the Most Blessed Virgin to accomplish the miracle of the divine Presence, is yet one more instance of the systematic and tacit negation of the Real Presence.

That prayer is simply:

Come, O Sanctifier, Almighty and Eternal God, and bless this sacrifice prepared for the glory of Thy Holy Name.

Soon afterwards comes a petition to the Holy Trinity, quoted earlier, which is also suppressed.

Note, too, the suppressions:

of the genuflections (no more than three remain to the priest, and one, with certain exceptions, to the people, at the Consecration;

of the purification of the priest's fingers in the chalice;

of the preservation from all profane contact of the priest's fingers after the Consecration;

of the purification of the vessels, which need not be immediate, nor made on the corporal;

of the pall protecting the chalice;

of the internal gilding of sacred vessels;

of the consecration of movable altars;

of the sacred stone and relics in the movable altar or upon the "table" - "when celebration does not occur in sacred precincts" (this distinction leads straight to "Eucharistic suppers" in private houses);

of the three altar-cloths, reduced to one only;

of thanksgiving kneeling (replaced by a thanksgiving, seated, on the part of the priest and people, a logical enough complement to Communion standing);

of all the former prescriptions in the case of the consecrated Host falling, which are now reduced to a single, casual direction: "reventur accipiatur" (no. 239)

All these things only serve to emphasise how outrageously faith in the dogma of the Real Presence is implicitly repudiated.

One could add dozens of examples of how faith in the Real Presence has been lost. The synod of bishops was quite occupied with this recently, but few wanted to admit the simple cause, which Pope Benedict himself recognizes quite clearly: the liturgy of the Holy Church itself has drastically reduced signs of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, and the people have responded quite naturally by losing their consciousness of this sacred mystery. As this Intervention shows, this tendency was written in to the Novus Ordo and evident in it from the beginning. To laud the 'reform of the liturgy' as the bishops did while lamenting loss of Eucharistic faith is the height of self-contradiciton.

3. The function assigned to the altar (no. 262). The altar is almost always called 'table', "The altar or table of the Lord, which is the centre of the whole Eucharistic liturgy" (no. 49, cf. 262). It is laid down that the altar must be detached from the walls so that it is possible to walk round it and celebration may be facing the people (no. 262); also that the altar must be the centre of the assembly of the faithful so that their attention is drawn spontaneously towards it (ibid). But a comparison of no. 262 and 276 would seem to suggest that the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament on this altar is excluded. This will mark an irreparable dichotomy between the presence, in the celebrant, of the eternal High Priest and that same presence brought about sacramentally. Before, they were 'one and the same presence'.

In many ways, this is the most important flaw in the new rubrics, which try to separate the celebration (conducted on the altar) from its result (the bringing of Christ into the world physically) by demanding that the altar be separated from the Tabernacle where Christ's Body and Blood are reserved. Formerly, the High Altar was 'against the wall' and centered, with the Tabernacle -- usually ornately decorated -- permanently fixed on it. From the moment one enters a traditionally designed church, one's attention is focused on the altar/Tabernacle, and remains there through all prayers and throughout the Mass. The priest had no choice but to face the altar/Tabernacle ('with his back to the people' in the vulgar phrase) so that all present were oriented toward Christ the whole time. The purpose of the Mass -- to make Christ and His Sacrifice present to his faithful people -- was impossible to ignore, no matter how unschooled one might have been in Catholic doctrine.

Today, by contrast, all focus is on the altar which by law must stand alone, away from the Blessed Sacrament it exists to bring forth. Even when the Tabernacle is visible at all, and not in a broom closet as it was in the church I grew up in, it is ignored throughout the Mass and even by most faithful as they enter the church and pray -- they ridiculously bow to the altar while ignoring the Real Presence of Christ among them! During Mass all eyes will focus on the priest himself and whatever laypeople are strutting around the sanctuary doing this and that, facing the people and show-boating in various ways. The result is obviously to eradicate any awareness of the actual purpose of Mass and its connection to the Most Blessed Sacrament and therfore to the sanctification of our lives.

I'm well aware that despite these massive flaws, many Novus Ordo Catholics remain devout and orthodox in their beliefs, and even receive many graces from the Mass in full consciousness of what it actually is. My point is that, having been hijacked by heterodox thieves, the Mass is currently conduced in such a way as to tend to prevent any of this from happening. (This is less the case where significant efforts are made to celebrate the N.O. in a traditional way, but such cases are in my experience rare and usually bring down the wrath of bishops and the lay committees they cater to. Besides which, as this letter shows, these efforts go against the spirit of the N.O. which was from the beginning heterodox.) Novus Ordo Catholics who are devout and orthodox are swimming against the stream, not only in the world (which must hate true Christians) but also in the Church itself -- whose m.o. is literally scandalous.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Feed My Sheep

USCCB reclassifies gay Western "Brokeback Mountain" after complaints

Washington DC, Dec. 16, 2005 (CNA) - "Brokeback Mountain," originally rated L (limited adult audience) by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has been reclassified as an O (morally offensive) after several pro-family organizations expressed concern for what they saw as an implicit endorsement of the USCCB film critic to the controversial gay western.

Brokeback Mountain is the story of two sheep-herding cowboys in Wyoming who begin a homosexual relationship on the range in the 1960s, and continue their affair even after they marry women.

. . .

In the original comment posted on the USCCB's website, the reviewer wrote that the Catholic Church "makes a distinction between homosexual orientation and activity," and that "Ennis and Jack's continuing physical relationship is morally problematic."

"While the actions taken by Ennis and Jack cannot be endorsed, the universal themes of love and loss ring true," said the original USCCB's review, which also called the movie "a serious contemplation of loneliness and connection."

"Looked at from the point of view of the need for love which everyone feels but few people can articulate, the plight of these guys is easy to understand while their way of dealing with it is likely to surprise and shock an audience," the original USCCB review said.

. . .

After several pro-life and pro-family websites strongly criticized the original review, the USCCB decided on Friday to change its classification, while still providing a very positive description of the film.

The new review is certainly quite sophisticated. A sample:

Use of the film as an advocacy vehicle to promote a morally objectionable message that homosexuality is equivalent to and as acceptable as heterosexuality does a disservice to its genuine complexity. While the actions taken by Ennis and Jack cannot be endorsed, the universal themes of love and loss ring true. The film creates characters of flesh and blood - not just the protagonists, but the wives, girlfriends, parents, and children -- who give the film its artful substance.

However, the physicality of the men’s relationship and the film’s inherent sanctioning of their affair necessitate an O rating.

The film contains tacit approval of same-sex relationships, adultery . . .

(Emphasis added.)

What complexity? The (new) review explains it thus:

The Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality is unambiguous. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered" and the inclination itself is “objectively disordered.” At the same time, homosexually inclined persons “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity” (#2357 and #2358).

As a result, Ennis and Jack’s physical relationship cannot be condoned. Of course, just as offensive from a Catholic perspective is the adulterous nature of their affair. And, in this regard, the film doesn't whitewash the pain Jack and Ennis cause their families, showing how selfish their trysts are, particularly when a befuddled Alma is left alone with the children. Both women are played with tremendous sympathy, but especially Alma.

So, apparently, a film that endorses homosexual relationships and adultery does in its 'complexity' depict the selfishness and destructiveness of those deeds. And just as apparently, the most important thing about the film from the USCCB's eyes is that very complexity which allows the film, ringing true, to juxtapose symptoms of objective disorder with tacit approval. In response to those too dull to understand such complexity, further clarification was needed.

"Feed my sheep" indeed.
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