The Enduring Costs of JFK's Compromise

By Colleen Carroll Campbell

What role should a Catholic politician's faith play in his governing decisions? After dominating U.S. headlines during the 2004 presidential contest between Catholic Senator John Kerry and Methodist President George W. Bush, the question has emerged again. The midterm elections of 2006 swept pro-choice Catholic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi into the third-highest position in the U.S. government, cost the pro-life movement more than a dozen House and Senate seats, and found Catholic voters migrating back to the Democratic Party despite its staunch support for legal abortion. Pro-abortion Catholic and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has informally launched a presidential bid, as has pro-life Catholic Senator Sam Brownback. And the U.S. bishops recently released a statement affirming that Catholics must uphold Church teaching in public life if they wish to receive Communion.

The controversy over America's Catholic politicians connects to a more fundamental question confronting dozens of pluralistic democracies today: Should religious convictions and religiously-based moral principles be confined to the private realm, or should they inform our public policy debates? And what role must the Catholic politician play in articulating those beliefs and principles?

The most prominent American Catholic politician to address those questions was President John F. Kennedy, whose landmark 1960 address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association indelibly influenced a generation of aspiring Catholic politicians. His speech, and a later address by Catholic New York Governor Mario Cuomo that applied Kennedy's arguments to the abortion debate, go a long way toward explaining the trend toward compartmentalization of faith and politics that prevails among Catholic politicians today—and offer clues about how it can be reversed.


The impact of Kennedy's speech can be fully understood only in light of the situation of American Catholics in his day and earlier. Ensconced in what has been called the "Catholic ghetto" – a pre-Vatican II world of May crownings, Corpus Christi processions, and Friday fish fries – Catholics were largely insulated from a larger Protestant culture that was deeply suspicious of their faith. Catholics had always been different from America's Protestant majority: They had their own schools and hospitals, their own holidays and heroes, even their own religious lexicon. In a nation shaped by the Protestant rejection of authority and tradition, Catholics looked to their priests, bishops, and pope for guidance on life's most intimate and important questions. American Anti-Catholicism had waxed and waned through the centuries – it reached fever pitch with the massive influx of Catholic immigrants in the 19th century – but Catholics had survived by relying on a closely knit religious subculture for shelter, support, and a sense of belonging.

That subculture had propelled Catholics to leadership positions in immigrant-rich cities like New York, but never to the Oval Office. Democratic presidential candidate and Tammany Hall political veteran Al Smith learned that lesson the hard way in 1928, when he lost in a landslide to Republican Herbert Hoover. Historians now agree that the nation's prosperity had made Hoover's victory inevitable, but Smith's Irish Catholic background did not help him. According to political scientist Lawrence Fuchs, an estimated 10 million anti-Catholic handbills, leaflets, and posters had been rushed into circulation within a week to defeat Smith. They reflected a widespread fear among Protestants that the election of a Catholic President would mean, in the words of an editorial in the mainline Protestant journal, Christian Century, "the seating of the representative of an alien culture, of a medieval, Latin mentality, of an undemocratic hierarchy and of a foreign potentate in the great office of the President of the United States."

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Power and Pride

By Rev. James V. Schall, S.J.

Walking across the campus to class, I saw a panel truck parked on the street with a sticker on the tailgate that read: “The Power of Pride.” Below the words was a red, white, and blue patriotic banner with stars on it.

The phrase struck me. It contains many paradoxes. Pride can be a dangerous power, just as power can be a dangerous title to pride. The term “power” can be a translation of the words potestas or capcitas. It refers to the ability by which we can do something. I have the “power” or the potential to pitch a ball game because I have hands and arms. But I am not a good pitcher unless I have control and strength and have acquired the habit of pitching. The capacity to pitch needs to be perfected by the craft of pitching before I am designated by that noble name “pitcher.” Likewise, I have a mind and therefore the power to think. There is nothing wrong with a tomato lacking the power to pitch, or a rabbit not being able to think. But something is wrong with a man taking no effort to develop his arms and hands for some skill, or making no effort to think clearly about the things that are.

The word “power” can also have political, even Machiavellian, overtones. Power means the coercive capacity that belongs to legitimate authority. It can also mean this coercive capacity without any definable legitimate use. The infamous phrase of Lord Acton, that “power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely,” implies that abidingly good use of political power is rare. Power as such is a good thing. But—like anything else—it can be used badly. Plato reminded us in the sixth book of The Republic that all virtues can be perverted if we do not use them for the good.

What about pride? Any dictionary tells us that the word can have a good and a dubious meaning. It can mean “inordinate self-esteem.” But it can also mean “justified self-respect” or “delight coming from some deed or possession.” We are supposed to be “proud” of our country, job, city, and children. The use of the word “pride” for both a company and a herd of lions, I suspect, is related—they are obviously noble and powerful beasts.

Yet pride is also the worst of the sins, the root of all the others. In this sense, “the power of pride” has a more sobering, ominous meaning. Pride here means the sin of Lucifer, the powerful but fallen angel. Pride is located in the mind and will, not just in physical force. But the power of pride in this spiritual sense explains the terrible energy and cleverness that we find in the forces of evil. It is an abiding mystery within Christianity that such energy and subtlety manifest themselves in those persons and movements that go counter to the rule of what is virtuous.

Pride means the deliberately chosen effort to substitute our own unbounded definition of what is good and evil for those definitions found in reason and revelation. Socrates said that “it is never right to do wrong.” Those who attack Socrates and Christ, who affirmed the same thing, recognize that they must undermine this principle to change the definition of what is evil to what is good.

When we commit ourselves in thought and act to carry out our chosen definition of good and evil, both in our personal and public life, we become resentful and anxious. We strive to eliminate any residual claims against the validity of our own definitions. This resentfulness is the primary source of the “power of pride.” It is, in this sense, first a spiritual power before it is a physical or coercive power.

Once pride is both a spiritual and a physical power used wrongly, it can only be opposed in two ways: by suffering evil that we can no longer resist, or through the use of reasoned power. Pride retains its power until recognized for what it is: a claim on the part of man for the status of the divinity.

An author once said, "If you really want to know the true character of a person, give him power."


The “R” Word and an Economic Stimulus Plan

By Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson

The dreaded “R” word—recession—is in on the tip of many tongues right now. Are we in a recession? Far be it from me to trespass on the sacred territory of the official keepers of economic data in Washington—those who officially decree the onset or end of a recession (although not until months after the fact)—but take a look around.

New home construction has declined nearly 25 percent in the last year. Those employed in the construction industry must feel like they are in a recession. Home sales have plummeted. Lots of real-estate agents are experiencing their own recession. In southeastern Michigan, the auto industry is doing so poorly that if feels more like a depression. Nationwide, not only are there record home foreclosures, but delinquency rates on auto loans and credit card debt are increasing at a worrisome rate. Retail sales are down modestly year over year. If this isn’t a recession, it sure seems like one.

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"The Fool On The Hill"

By David Orton

In 1967 the Beatles released a Lennon-McCartney song called ‘The Fool on the Hill’. I’m no doubt showing my vintage here, but it struck me as a genuinely prophetic statement then, and still does.

The lyrics go:

Day after day, alone on the hill,
The man with the foolish grin is keeping perfectly still.
But nobody wants to know him,
They can see that he's just a fool.
And he never gives an answer...

But the fool on the hill,
Sees the sun going down.
And the eyes in his head,
See the world spinning around.

Well on his way, his head in a cloud,
The man of a thousand voices, talking perfectly loud.
But nobody ever hears him,
Or the sound he appears to make.
And he never seems to notice...

But the fool on the hill,
Sees the sun going down.
And the eyes in his head,
See the world spinning around.

And nobody seems to like him,
They can tell what he wants to do.
And he never shows his feelings,

But the fool on the hill,
Sees the sun going down.
And the eyes in his head,
See the world spinning around.

Emerging from the revolutionary atmosphere of the era the song exposes the futility of human activity, and particularly of the status quo.

While the majorities are blindly accepting one is not. He has found a hill from where he ‘sees the sun going down and the eyes in his head see the world spinning round’. This ‘seer’ knows that all the ceaseless activity of the world is ultimately meaningless – it is only spinning around. He also sees the sun going down – there is a terminal point, and time is short.

So, in response, he speaks: ‘the man of a thousand voices talking perfectly loud – But nobody ever hears him or the sound he appears to make’. The world refuses to listen. In fact, they don’t ‘want to know him’, and worse, ‘nobody seems to like him – they can tell what he wants to do’. They are willfully deaf in defense of the status quo. Their comfort zones must not be disturbed. And so, he is dismissed as a ‘fool’.

The Man of the Spirit - "The Fool on the Hill"

This brings me to my message. Just replace ‘the world spinning round’ with ‘church’. Hosea cried out that, "the prophet is considered a fool, the man of the spirit insane" (Hos 9:7). Well, there’s not much new is there? The age-old strategy of shooting the messenger, if you don’t like the message, is still alive and well! And even recognized by secular songwriters. The prophetic person, the man or woman of the Spirit, it seems is regularly dismissed as the ‘fool on the hill’.

But what is happening here? Why is the ‘man of the Spirit’ considered a fool? The people of God in Hosea’s time had become so devoid of the Spirit that when the genuine man of the Spirit appeared they could not recognize him. The ways of God had been so subverted by the ways of men that spiritual discernment had ceased. And to persecute these ‘insane’ people was actually viewed as an act of service to God. Isaiah declared: "Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at his word: ‘‘Your brothers who hate you, and exclude you because of my name, have said, ‘Let the LORD be glorified…’" (Isa 66:4-5). And Jesus warned, "…a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God" (Jn 16:2).

Now, we who consider ourselves serious Christians would never do that!

Are you sure? When Jesus confronted the religious system of his day, like us, they honored the memory of the greats of yesteryear. They said, "If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets" (Matt 23:30). They were perhaps even students of revival, knowing the names and the places of previous great moves of God and the men who led them. And yet they are the very ones who in a short time conspired to lead the very Lord of glory to the death of the cross.

So, what happened? And how can we be sure that we will not only not persecute the ‘man of the Spirit’ in our generation, but also actually be one myself?

The Problem of "Flesh" in the Church

To find some answers we need to look to Paul’s relationship with the Corinthian church. Which, by the way, was the ‘revival’ church of the day, excelling in all the gifts and ministries of the Spirit. Paul, in addressing this so-called ‘renewal’ church taught them, surprisingly, about the things of the Spirit!

But surely they were already experts! Yes, like Israel they had seen the acts of God, but unlike Moses did not know his ways (Psa 103:7). They had experienced the supernatural, all manner of utterances, and revelations, they even boasted of so-called ‘super-apostles’, but were, in fact, by Paul’s estimation not yet ‘spiritual’: "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual (pneumatikos) men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ" (1 Cor 3:1). So rather, he described them as ‘fleshly’ (sarx), which, in Paul’s language refers to those controlled by their fallen human nature (see Rom 7:5, 18, 25; 8:3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 13).

Now, we immediately think of ‘gross sin’ when we think of the ‘flesh’, of immorality etc. While this can be true it is not the full story. Paul’s description of the ‘works of the flesh’ also includes, "hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy" (Gal 5:20, 21). The Greek word used for ‘selfish ambition’, according to W.E. Vine ‘denotes ambition, self–seeking, rivalry, self–will being an underlying idea in the word; hence it denotes party–making’.

Wow! Does this mean that sectarianism and perhaps even denominationalism are ‘works of the flesh’? It would appear that dividing the body of Christ was viewed by Paul as a product of the ‘flesh’: "for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not mere men?" (1 Cor 3:3, 4; see also 1 Cor 1:11). While diversity is intrinsic to the body of Christ division is not. The dividing of the body out of sectarian agendas, and self-seeking, is categorically a result of the ‘flesh’.

As long as division remains in the body of Christ the source of the problem will always be found in the unbroken strength of our fallen nature – the ‘flesh’. Left unaddressed this will habitually undermine our attempts at unity.

The "Natural" Man

So, while the Corinthian church experienced all manner of ‘charismata’ they were still dominated by the ‘flesh’. How could this be? Paul not only described the Corinthian condition as the ‘flesh’, but also diagnosed the cause. And it was this: "… the natural (psuchikos) man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him..." (1 Cor 2:14, 15).

This was the underlying cause of Paul’s difficulties with the Corinthians including their rejection of his own apostleship for the so-called ‘super-apostles’. If we want to see the restoration of true apostleship in our day this lesson cannot be fudged. Otherwise we, like the Corinthians, will reject the true apostolic for the false.

Because the Corinthians operated out of the natural (psuchikos), despite their experience with the ‘charismata’, they judged Paul, and one another out of a worldly set of values – after the flesh, "comparing themselves with themselves" (2 Cor10:12). Viewing Paul through the Greek idol of beauty (expressed in the human form and in oratory) they concluded that "in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing" (2 Cor 10:7, 10; see also 5:12, 16). This short, bow-legged, bald, beetle-browed, stammering Jew did not measure up. Certainly no career either in our contemporary image-driven, status-conscious church!

More significantly, this same mindset caused them to not only treat the messenger as a ‘fool’, but also the message as ‘foolishness’ (see 1 Cor 1:18-23). The Greek, operating out of the ‘natural’, looked for ‘wisdom’ – something that would make sense, that would add up. But the message of the cross, of dying to self, of surrender, humility, and weakness was insanity to them.

The Issue in the Contemporary Scene

Therefore, the wisdom of God is ‘foolishness’ to men. This, in my estimation at least, is the issue right now in the contemporary scene.

Much of today’s church fits Jude’s graphic description: "These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded (psuchikos), devoid of the Spirit" (v 19). This is not to deny the awesome things that God is doing. However, on the whole, God’s ways have been subverted by man’s ways in the church. And also, I’m sorry to have to say the Pentecostal and renewal expressions of it. Jesus calls us to walk in his ways – to lose our life, to lay down our human way of doing things, our plans, formulas and programs for growth and success.

To truly follow Jesus, who is the Way, means we will be led into sometimes perplexing and unusual circumstances. Several years ago I found myself in that place. I had been pastoring and more significantly coordinating a national movement of pastors with a heart for unity across the larger church. But within a very short period I found myself resigning all my leadership roles – in the church, citywide, and nationally. While some brothers, to some degree, were unwittingly used by the enemy in this whole process I was faced with having to process my own hurt and bewilderment, slowly coming to the realisation that God had meant it all for good. To the natural mind letting everything go was crazy, and yet I couldn’t fight the irresistible sense that God was leading us in a different way and that it would ultimately fulfill his purpose for our lives. Now I wish I could say that this was an easy thing and that I’m a fast learner. The Scripture says that the flesh and the Spirit are in conflict with one another (see Gal 5:17 & Rom 8:5-8). Within myself there was a battle between the flesh – my need to defend and justify myself, to hang on to my reputation and position – and the Spirit, the call of God to forgive, to lay it all down, to humility, and to trust him for our lives, that he would bring to pass all that concerns us.

This warfare between the flesh and the Spirit is the one that rages in the church right now. First, in the hearts of men, and secondly, externally in leadership teams, congregations, across whole denominations, movements, and networks. Whenever we win the battle within our own hearts and bow the knee to the Spirit in a particular matter, we are immediately set against the flesh in the external realm. Just as Ishmael (representing the flesh) mocked the son of promise, Isaac (representing the Spirit), so too will those who follow the ways of men in the church deride (often humorously) those who seek to walk in the ways of God. Like the ‘fool on the hill’ they are minimized and marginalized from the mainstream of human activity.

But in the end it’s not human activity that counts. As ‘the eyes in his head see the church spinning round’ in its ceaseless round, the so-called ‘fool on the hill’ will also see God turning up in the most unexpected and insignificant places. Places like a disused store front in Azuza Street (Los Angeles), like an obscure island called the Isle of Lewis (Scottish Hebrides), or a tiny little Bible School way out in North Battleford (Saskatchewan), or a small unheard of church at the end of the runway at Toronto airport. Jesus suffered ‘outside the camp’ (Heb 13:11-13). Why do we think that the visitation of God in this day will be any different? He still comes to stables and abides in mangers. He still calls to himself insignificant and unlearned fishermen. As Paul reminds us, "Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards (ie. by the flesh); not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him" (1 Cor 1:26-29).

Living Out of the Spirit

Now, to take this home we must ask a question: What does it actually mean to live according to the ‘flesh’? As I’ve already mentioned Paul traced the problem to the ‘natural man’.

But, what actually is the ‘natural (psuchikos) man’? He is the Christian that operates out of the ‘soul’ (psuche), in contrast to the ‘spiritual (pneumatikos) man’ who has learned to live out of the ‘spirit’ (pneuma). This doesn’t have a lot to do with ‘moving in the gifts of the Spirit’ (as important as that is), but it does have a lot to do with hearing and heeding the voice of God in the circumstances of life. As we conduct our lives we are faced with the choice of living either out of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or out of the tree of life – out of the mind or out of the spirit. Through our choices we are either sowing to the flesh or to the spirit and becoming over time either predominantly a ‘spirit-man’ or a ‘soul-man’ (see Gal 5:8 & Rom 8:2).

Sure, you might go to church, you might even be a leader or a pastor, and even move in the gifts of the Spirit, but still be, like the Corinthians, a ‘soul-man’. You may be a person who depends on their gifting, or their native intelligence, or survival skills to dominate and control others. You may regard others after the flesh – after a worldly value system – respecting or disdaining them accordingly and only aligning yourself with those whom you feel fit the image. Or, you may regard yourself after the flesh – you may be satisfied by the pride of life – a sense of worldly accomplishment, enjoying a degree of prestige and reputation believing that you, or your church, or your ministry are the measure for others to attain to. If so, let us hear the apostle’s counsel, "Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a ‘‘fool" so that he may become wise" (2 Cor 3:18).

So, in closing, how can I be set free to be a man or woman of the Spirit? Through humbling myself. What man considers foolishness God considers as wisdom. And the only entry to the human heart for wisdom is through the door of humility – "with humility comes wisdom" (Prov 11:2). Only as I submit myself to the ways of God, in humility and brokenness of heart, will the inner light of wisdom and revelation be mine.

His ways are not mine – and at their heart is the way of the cross. My will, my strength, my opinions, even my dearest hopes and dreams, as they are pressed upon by the Spirit must be surrendered. Only as the Lord deals with me along a particular line to follow him – obeying his will, despite human opinion, or values, will I be set free to truly be a person of the Spirit.

Long live the "fool on the hill".


Why Blue-Collar Catholics Won't Vote Republican

By John Rossomando
Crisis Magazine

Florida might not be synonymous with hand counts and butterfly ballots if Catholics in Pennsylvania had preferred George W. Bush to Al Gore in Election 2000. If Bush had won the Catholic vote in Pennsylvania, he would have carried that key swing state, garnering almost enough (just two short) Republican electoral votes to win the White House without Florida.

Bush's undeniably strong pro-life credentials, along with his generally more traditional views on other moral issues, should have endeared him to Pennsylvania Catholics, a predominantly blue-collar group. Catholics in Pennsylvania, however, went 53 percent for Gore and only 46 percent for Bush, rallying around a Democratic candidate whose absolutist pro-choice stand was diametrically opposed to the social teachings of the Catholic Church. Catholics in other swing states that Bush hoped to carry voted similarly, nearly throwing the electoral college to Gore.

Catholics as a whole have begun to mirror the general population's voting habits, but blue-collar Catholics like the ones who predominate in Pennsylvania continue to side disproportionately with the Democratic Party, in spite of its support for abortion and gay rights. Herein lies the paradox of the blue-collar Catholic voter. Understand him or her, and you increase your chances of becoming president.

The Republican National Committee (RNC), well aware of this trend, has recently set up an outreach to this traditionally Democratic segment of the population. It is the first time the RNC has attempted to recruit Catholics outside an election cycle, and it represents a change from a reactive to a proactive posture with regard to the Catholic voter.

Many political scientists regard Catholics as a critical swing group. In a tight election, they say, Catholics can determine the outcome. Before Ronald Reagan ran for president in 1980, Catholics traditionally favored Democrats in national elections. But they swung to the socially conservative Republican Reagan twice, the second time helping him retain the White House in 1984. By 1992, however, Catholics were returning to their Democratic Party roots, supporting Bill Clinton, a doughty champion of abortion and gay rights.

Clinton won 44 percent of the Catholic vote in 1992, as compared with only 34 percent of Protestants that year. In 1996, 53 percent of Catholics supported Clinton, while only 35 percent of Protestants did so. Clinton locked up eight of the nine states with the largest Catholic populations in 1992 and 1996: California, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, while only Texas remained in the Republican column. Gore managed to keep six of these nine states in the Democratic column, while losing Texas, Ohio, and Florida to Bush. Gore's victories in these states with large Catholic populations came directly from the urban and industrial areas of these states, where blue-collar Catholics typically form a larger portion of the total population.

Microcosm of Catholicism

When it comes to the Catholic vote, Pennsylvania is a microcosm of the nation, the perfect place to pose the question: Why do Catholics vote the way they do? Catholics are the largest single religious group in Pennsylvania, comprising about a third of the population. There are ten Catholic dioceses in the state: eight are Latin-rite, and two are Byzantine-rite. Most Catholics in Pennsylvania are Democrats. Their clout is felt in Erie in the northwest, Pittsburgh in the southwest, the economically depressed Rust Belt, Scranton in the northeast, and Philadelphia in the southeast. All these places send a large number of Democrats to the state legislature. By contrast, parts of the state with a larger Protestant population such as Lancaster County in the southeast, and even outlying areas of Democrat-controlled Erie County, tend to elect Republicans to state offices.

One reason is simply a long-standing image problem Republicans face: Many blue-collar Catholics view the Republican Party as the party of the rich. Consequently, they vote with the Democrats because they view the Democratic Party as the protector of the poor and powerless. "Catholics," Rev. Nicholas DeProspero, pastor of St. John the Baptist, a Byzantine-rite church in Pottstown, explains, "vote for Democrats because their parents and grandparents were Democrats. Democrats are seen as being for the poor and workers, and the Republicans favor the rich.

"Labor issues and money trump everything else," the priest continues. "The Democrats have been extremely adept in waging class warfare and exciting jealousy of the rich. Moral issues [such as abortion] are not strong enough to break down old stereotypes. They think the Democrats will take care of you, and they think that government is the answer. The Democrats hand out things to win votes. They say, 'I'll give you this if you vote for me.'"

Democratic strategists have done a good job of exploiting class antipathy, while the Republican Party all too often has failed to make the case that it is now more the party of the people than the Democrats. "The Republicans only care about the rich. They don't want anybody but the rich to get anything," says a parishioner at the Latin-rite St. Thomas More Church in North Coventry, Pennsylvania. He is a retired member of the Teamsters Union.

"I voted for Al Gore because the economy is good, and we are not at war," says a member of the Latin-rite St. Agnes Church in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Another retired union member, he adds that a woman has a "constitutional right" to an abortion and "should only answer to God."

adjustrightMany working-class Catholics equate Republican-supported right-to-work laws, which weaken unions, with the loss of their jobs. In explaining his support for the Democrats, one Pennsylvania union man says, "When Reagan was president, all our jobs went out of the country." Other Catholics remember the implosion of American manufacturing during the 1970s and 1980s and regard it as a result of Republican policies.

The Democratic Safety Net

Blue-collar Catholics often say that they are closer to the Democratic Party positions on issues relating to assistance for the poor, health care, and a government safety net. The U.S. hierarchy itself sometimes seems to encourage this very position. In 1999, the bishops issued an influential document titled Faithful Citizenship: Civic Responsibility for a New Millennium. In it, Catholics were called on to consider a candidate's stance on abortion. Issues such as wages, assistance for the poor, and affordable health care, however, seemed to be of equal weight. Critics of the bishops' document have insisted that it did not adequately focus on the abortion issue, instead making abortion only one of many issues for Catholic voters to consider. Thus, bishops have, in many cases, set an overall tone closer to that of the Democratic Party than to that of the GOP by favoring such things as opposition to the death penalty, labor unions, rights for the sick and the dying, and opposition to the U.S. military buildup of the 1980s.

Many lay Catholics can't help but see the bishops forging an agenda that creates a natural alignment with left-of-center Democrats. As Rev. Thomas Reese, S.J., a former political scientist at Georgetown University and editor of America, the Jesuit magazine, noted in a 1995 National Public Radio forum, "The Republicans, with their position on abortion and their position on aid to religiously affiliated schools, are very attractive. On the other hand, when you look at issues like welfare reform, the earned-income tax credit, all sorts of programs that are aimed at helping poor people, the bishops and the Democratic Party are much closer together. In fact, the bishops are much more liberal than the Democratic politicians are today."

Paul Weber, a political scientist at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, wrote an article last year in America, saying, "A solid majority of Catholics are economic liberals, pro-safety net, pro-progressive taxation, pro-labor unions, pro-foreign aid, pro-environmental protection, and pro-government regulation of industry and consumer products-all traditional Democratic themes."

What this boils down to is that the Catholic voter often faces a special dilemma in the voting booth. A recent expression of this sometimes painful dichotomy came from an Ohio Catholic: "I am one of the Catholics who voted for Gore for president, and I believe that the right-to-life issue is the most important issue we face in our society today," Jack Keane wrote to the diocesan newspaper in Youngstown, Ohio. He added, "I believe letting a child die from hunger is a terrible thing. I believe letting our aged die alone, neglected, and in poverty is a terrible thing. As a whole, I consider the Democratic Party to be more in tune with the social-justice issues that our bishops have asked us to take into consideration when making our political decisions."

Pro-Choice Republicans

But the bishops aren't the only leaders whose positions confuse voters. The presence of vocal pro-choice Republicans has led some Catholic Democrats to conclude that there aren't any real differences between the two parties on the abortion issue. Indeed, Pennsylvania is home to a number of highly visible pro-choice Republicans, including Senator Arlen Specter and Governor Tom Ridge, who is a Catholic. Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pennsylvania, banned Ridge from speaking on Church property because of his pro-choice views. In the Bush cabinet, Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey and now Environmental Protection Agency secretary, is another prominent pro-choice Republican. Many Catholics look at it this way: The Democratic Party favors abortion, while I do not; but though the Republican Party officially opposes abortion, its members speak with a divided mind on the issue.

Some say that the Catholic voter is no different from others on the issue of abortion. While this may be the case for lapsed Catholics, Mass-going Catholics are likely to accept the Church's teaching. The truth is that people want clear leadership, not mixed signals. Like the bishops, the Republican Party in Pennsylvania often sends a confused message. Republicans in the state, and in the rest of the Northeast for that matter, don't speak with a single voice on abortion. "There is a battle for the soul of the party right now over the issue of abortion," says Julia McDonald, a Chester County GOP committee member who is pro-life. She says that pro-choicers constitute the majority of the Chester County Republican Committee.

This doesn't mean that pro-life forces aren't powerful. The 1990 gubernatorial election was a case in point of the Pennsylvania GOP's equivocal position on abortion's possibly costing the party the election. A staunchly pro-choice Republican, Barbara Hafer, the state's auditor general, ran against the late Robert Casey, a steadfastly pro-life Democrat. Abortion was a hot issue in the 1990 campaign. Hafer's support for abortion was likely the key factor in Casey's landslide victory, the largest in the history of the state.

A small third party in Pennsylvania, the Constitutional Party, is composed largely of former Republicans who can't stomach what they regard as the GOP's wishy-washy attitude toward abortion. The Constitutional Party's founder is Peg Luksik, a pro-life Catholic and erstwhile Republican. She has run three times for governor, winning a surprising 14 percent of the total vote in 1994. This is a strong showing for a small, relatively new party. "We need the Constitutional Party because the Republicans are not conservative enough, and the Republican Party is not strong enough on the abortion issue," says John McLaughlin, a Catholic member of the new party. "The Constitutional Party has a strong Catholic leadership, and I think that it wants what is good for America. You just have to vote on your conscience.

The 'Caseycrat' Difference

As the relative success of the fledgling Constitutional Party shows, a pro-life stance can win votes. The career of Robert Casey is probably the best evidence that opposing abortion, when combined with attractive stands on other issues, is a big draw for the Catholic voter. Casey was an old-fashioned Democrat and the epitome of the Catholic pro-lifer who championed the right to life from conception to old age. Casey always showed courage defending his faith against his party's leadership, standing as a vocal critic of the pro-choice hierarchy of the Democratic Party. Ultimately, Casey's opposition to abortion made him a pariah among the most radical Democrats. He was banned from speaking at the 1992 Democratic National Convention in New York. He continued to insist until his death last year that only the pro-life stance reflected the Democratic Party's traditional commitment to the weak and the powerless.

When arguing before his party's platform committee that he had a right to speak at the convention, Casey said, "Our party has always been the voice of the powerless and the voiceless. They have been our natural constituency. Let us add to this list the most powerless and voiceless member of the human family: the unborn child. We have an obligation to protect and promote the health and well-being of all mothers."

While Casey strongly opposed abortion, he clung to traditional Democratic positions such as support for unions, expanded aid to poor women and children, an increase in funding for welfare programs, and state-supported health care. He pushed through the largest tax increase in Pennsylvania history to support his social programs. Casey made his Catholic faith the centerpiece of his political career, and like the Catholic hierarchy, he took staunchly conservative stances on abortion and other moral issues and very liberal stances on socioeconomic issues.

Casey represented values that many Pennsylvania Catholics still cherish. "Caseycrats" aren't comfortable with the Democratic Party that emerged during the 1960s as the party of alternative lifestyles and what Pope John Paul II has branded the "culture of death." While Caseycrats have an aversion to gay rights, pornography, and abortion, they still have high regard for the New Deal and don't trust the Republican emphasis on limited government. Like many other churchgoing Catholics, Caseycrats worry that Republicans are too materialistic, too fascinated with economic policy.

Wooing the Blue Collars

All of this suggests that if the Republican Party is to attract more Catholics, it will have to do two things: convince them that it's serious about the rights of the unborn and show them that the GOP is better for ordinary folks than the Democratic Party. Bush has admittedly gone a long way toward addressing some of these concerns. The president believes that the way to attract Catholics into the GOP is by focusing on issues such as education, taxes, Social Security, and Medicare, in addition to abortion. The Bush administration knows that it's going to have to change the way people think. For example, Democrats have long stood for higher taxes to support social programs. Bush believes that the burden of heavy taxation ultimately harms working Americans, preventing families from purchasing many of life's necessities.

To win over blue-collar Catholics, the Republicans are going to have to show that many of the programs beloved of Democrats are actually harmful to the poor. Marvin Olasky, whose work has influenced Bush's brand of compassionate conservatism, has been trying to help Republicans frame the issues in a new way. Olasky argued in his seminal 1992 book, The Tragedy of American Compassion, that the welfare state has had a devastating effect on the poor. Olasky's thesis is that the impersonal welfare bureaucracy has eroded values and the values-oriented concept that was once beneficial to the poor and vulnerable members of society.

"We want to put more money in the pockets of union households so they can take care of their families," says Ana Gamonal, a co-coordinator of the RNC's national outreach to Catholics. She adds that the Bush administration wants to increase the earned-income tax credit from $500 to $1,000, which would benefit families. "The Republican Party places heavy emphasis upon school-choice initiatives and testing as a way to help people who want to remove their children from failing public schools," Gamonal says.

Loyalty to unions has kept many Catholics in the Democratic Party. But are the unions still loyal to their members? "The unions no longer exist for the protection of workers," Gamonal insists. "They exist now solely as a fund-raising machine for the Democratic Party. They exist to promote a left-wing agenda that has nothing to do with protecting their workers. We will be working with pro-labor Republican officials in the Northeast to organize union members."

Furthermore, says Gamonal, the RNC has committed itself to the pro-life cause in keeping with the party platform and Bush's own pro-life beliefs. "There is no question of which party is the pro-life party," she says. The RNC points to Bush's suspension of federal funding for International Planned Parenthood as a visible example of the Bush administration's support for the pro-life cause. The RNC does not take a position on the pro-choice stances taken by individual Republicans, saying only that their views do not represent those of the party on the national level. "We cannot do anything about where individuals stand on the pro-life issue, but the Republican Party is unquestionably pro-life on the federal level," Gamonal says.

Will this be enough to win the king-making Catholic vote in heavily Catholic blue-collar swing states such as Pennsylvania in the future? Only the results of the 2004 election will answer that question.

John Rossomando lives near Washington, D.C., and is a staff writer for CNSNews.com.

Will Jesus protect prosperous Christian-lifestyles?

By Pastor Bob Chapman
Extreme Life Ministries

I was first introduced to the “One World Government or New World Order” in 1974. I was given a book entitled, “None dare call it Conspiracy”. During the years that followed I paid attention to world news and engaged in further study of the subject. When I shared what I discovered, both privately and from the pulpit, people reacted negatively. Though I was mostly ridiculed when I mentioned the subject during the seventies and eighties, I persisted with my studies and news gathering. Then in 1990, thanks to President George Bush Senior, the “New World Order” was officially announced to exist following his invasion of Iraq. Since then, believing in a coming New World Order or One World Government has become fashionable both in worldly and Christian circles.

Now, being in fashion is one thing, but the implication of its agenda is another. To take the “in vogue” approach to the New World Order is exactly what those behind the movement want us all to do. This allows them to implement legislation openly or subtly without too much attention being paid to it because it can easily be sold to the masses as necessary in order to maintain the status quo for the good of all mankind; particularly those in the first world nations. If any opposition arises against any national or UN legislation on the One Worlders’ agenda it is soon quashed in the interests of the overall good of the “majority”. Thus we now have Western societies that will accept any legislation as long as it promises, or appears to promise, that the present, prosperous, Western-lifestyle they are use to will continue forever. This even includes legislation that undermines the established legislation that has served to maintain the lifestyle they are now experiencing.

Multiculturalism, political correctness, hate literature, world religion, personal sexual preference, etc, are all contrived to contribute to the “planned” chaos we are witnessing around the world. Those who are most deceived and the most vocal are the Sodomites. A few years back they were encouraged to emerge from their “closet” existence and become accepted in society – fools! They are not aware of their coming fate at the hands of the One Worlders! The agenda of the One Worlders is for them to “come out” and identify themselves! Then, when the One Worlders make their move in the very near future, the majority of Sodomites will be known to them and easily rounded up. And they, along with all others who have no place in the One Worlders’ imaginary utopia for mankind, will be culled just as mercilessly as Christians, Jews, Muslims etc until the determined number of controllable, desirable, humans remain alive to serve their One World masters.

Christians are the most gullible regarding these matters. This is a result of refusing to believe for nearly forty years that such a “One World Government” agenda was underway; even in their denominations and congregations. And most frightening of all is the misguided belief that Jesus’ promised return will occur before any action by the One Worlders is taken because He will not let His people lose their current worldly-lifestyle to some Satanic plot by non-believers! Nowhere in the Bible does God promise to uphold the modern, Western Christian-lifestyle! How can those who are crucified to the world hope God will maintain their worldly lifestyle while 90% of the world is spiritually lost and living in poverty? Poverty which has been created in order to sustain first world prosperity! Are we not pilgrims passing through? Do we not look for a heavenly dwelling prepared by God Himself, wherein is righteousness? Is not God our sure reward? Are we not called to seek and save the lost? Are we not called to go and make disciples of the nations – not exploit them? Hebrew 11:13-17

History declares the foolishness of every generation. This generation will go in like-manner as those of past years who also hoped against hope that war, famine, destruction, depression, recession would not visit them; but it will!

What we and our children face in the not too distance future is more subtle than anything previously experience in the history of the world. The enemy will not be visible on some distant horizon or on some over-the-horizon radar screen. The enemy is already in our homes, our churches, our schools, our universities, our governments, our work places, our streets and our families! When the One Worlders make their final move to implement their plans, their forces will have undermined the fabric of Western, Christian society so effectively that the remnant, so often preached and written about, will indeed be all that remains! Though on the run, the remnant will overcome despite the overwhelming odds.

“But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, implacable, slanders, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof: from these also turn away.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Only one question remains to be asked: “How’s the oil level in your lamp?” Matthew 25:1-13.


Good as Gold? What is the Price of Gold Telling Us?

By Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson

Gold has opened 2008 with a bang. The price of the yellow metal has soared to all-time nominal highs, surpassing $900 per ounce. “So what?” you may ask. “Unless one works for a mining company or a jeweler, gold is a trivial or nonexistent factor in one’s life.” True. But do you use dollars for your money? If so, then you ought to be concerned about the rising price of gold (POG).

Gold is sometimes known as an inflation barometer. I prefer to characterize it as the most reliable indicator of confidence in our currency. When confidence in the U.S. dollar is high and people desire to hold dollars, then POG is low in dollar terms. Conversely, when confidence in the dollar is low and people’s desire to hold dollars has ebbed, then POG is high in dollar terms.

Why is gold a reliable monetary indicator? Historically, gold emerged as the preferred choice of money in countries around the world. Because of the painful hyperinflation of the Continental currency during the Revolutionary War, our Founding Fathers made the U.S. dollar a fixed quantity of gold. Indeed, that was the case for most of our history; thus, the saying as late as in the mid-1900s that “the dollar is as good as gold.”

From our everyday perspective, in which we habitually express economic value in terms of dollars, gold appears to fluctuate greatly in value. This, however, is an illusion, comparable to the illusion that the sun orbits the earth. If we change our frame of reference from the dollar to gold, we note that gold has maintained roughly the same purchasing power for centuries, and it is paper money that fluctuates wildly in value. Federal Reserve Notes, for example, have less than five percent of the purchasing power they had when introduced in 1914; yet, in not too many years, we will look back longingly on paying “only” three Federal Reserve Notes for a gallon of gas.

POG is telling us in no uncertain terms that confidence in the dollar is falling. As explained in my Dec. 27 “Anatomy of a Financial Crisis,” U.S. policymakers decided to sacrifice the dollar to keep the financial markets from grinding to a halt. Even before that crisis emerged, the demise of the Federal Reserve Note could be foretold. Americans are drowning in debt. Individuals and corporations hold record amounts of debt, but the greatest debtor of all is Uncle Sam. Only the naïve would think that Uncle Sam can indefinitely finance his $9 trillion of officially acknowledged debt, his other trillions of off-budget debt, and the tens of trillions of unfunded liabilities for Medicare, Social Security, etc. The only viable political option is to have the Fed inflate the money supply, thereby reducing the exchange value of each currency unit, and repay creditors with cheapened dollars.

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The One War, The Real War

By Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.
Originally posted July 8, 2005
Ignatius Insight

"If there is widespread, active opposition to these forces within the Islamic world today – and there is some – it is either too afraid or too silent to be particularly effective. Western Muslim spokesmen, whose position is rarely echoed within Islamic countries, generally deny any responsibility and seem to worry mostly about reaction, not about causes. On prudential grounds, we cannot expect Islam to cure itself by itself."

The London subway and bus bombings of July 7 killed some forty people and injured seven hundred others. Such acts are yet another wake-up call to people in every country who evidently need constant graphic reminders that a real war is being fought against them on a world-scale.

Public life will not go on "as usual" so long as militant, aggressive Islam, however statistically and comparatively small in numbers, is active throughout the world. Its analysis of the moral decadence in the West encourages it to think it can undermine the will of particularly its most effective military and principled opponents. They are not yet proved wrong. They think, with such methods, that they have a winning formula.

Just at a moment when many liberal western media and political sources insisted that this war was "caused" by overreaction on the part of President Bush to 9/11, the Islamic militants oblige us with another graphic incident. They will not go away until actually defeated. They do not negotiate or give advanced warnings. They kill the innocent, in cold blood, precisely because they are innocent and unprepared to defend themselves. They see and justify this arbitrary killing as a legitimate means to their religious and political end, the conquest of the world for Islam.

If there is widespread, active opposition to these forces within the Islamic world today – and there is some – it is either too afraid or too silent to be particularly effective. Western Muslim spokesmen, whose position is rarely echoed within Islamic countries, generally deny any responsibility and seem to worry mostly about reaction, not about causes. On prudential grounds, we cannot expect Islam to cure itself by itself. The President’s program of setting up a "democratic" government in Muslim states when possible has an outside chance of succeeding, but probably no more than that.

Religious public opinion in Muslim states needs to be much more condemnatory against such attacks. Certainly some not insignificant percentage of Muslim opinion throughout the world approves these terrorist methods and their goals, especially when they seem "effective." This conquest mentality is not something new but has a long and recurrent history that needs to be more clearly recognized.

The purpose of such sporadic attacks, from Bali to Moscow to London to Madrid to New York and elsewhere, is to undermine any effective will to use force in the West. It seeks to stop military opposition to terrorism in their political foundations. Till now, the forces defining "what Islam really is" are not the so-called "non-terrorist" Muslims. These latter themselves become targets when they manifest coherent and effective opposition.to these same Islamic radicals. We see this in Iraq almost every day.

There are not "two" wars – one in Iraq and one against the terrorists. There is but one war, wherever it is fought, including in London or Baghdad. The terrorists are fully capable of being everywhere. They are invariably Muslim radicals intent on a world mission at least claiming a religious duty. They are not primarily "caused" by poverty or any of the usual ideological reasons given to justify terror.

In fact, such Islamic apologists for this terrorist system see nothing wrong with what we habitually call terror. It is a legitimate means to their end to be deliberately and efficiently used. I have long considered suicide and other terrorist bombing initiatives to be cumulatively far more dangerous to world population than any threat once associated with nuclear war or other kinds of war. But I do not doubt that some of these terrorists would use nuclear weapons if they had them and were capable of delivering them. So this eventually must also be taken into consideration. In the long run, the terrorists will kill more people and cause more economic destruction and chaos than war, but it will be piecemeal, a little at a time, not easily noticed or calculated.

The London bombings, unlike 9/11, were apparently not suicide bombings. But it is probably just a question of time before we, as in Israel, see them in our streets. They are just too effective a propaganda and terrorist means. Suicide bombers are not needed against easy targets. I am, in fact, struck by how relatively little moral attention is paid to suicide and terrorist bombings as expressions of a religious purpose and what this view does to any truth claim. Pope John Paul II several times remarked on this incompatibility.

The main battlefield of the war is not Iraq or even London tubes. It is in the media and public opinion in the United States and Europe about whether the will to do what is necessary to prevent these attacks is firm enough over a long period of time. Civilian and suicide bombings have a political purpose and a religious purpose.

The political purpose is a calculated risk that continued bombings would show that Western powers cannot defend their own populations. Consequently, they should cease trying. They should rather, in return for "peace," submit to Islamic neutralization of their territories, a kind of compromised second-class citizenship. Likewise, they should withdraw from any effort to prevent such attacks in Muslim lands themselves

The religious purpose of this war, in the minds of its advocates, is to succeed in subjecting the world to Allah. This purpose, no doubt, sounds preposterous. But I think that we misunderstand the problem if we do not disassociate what these terrorists themselves say from our theories of "terrorism." The problem is not caused by fanaticism or some political, sociological, or psychological derangement.

The fact that not all Muslims in practice agree with this end is, in a sense, irrelevant. The more terrorism succeeds, the more it will seem that the Islamic radicals were right. Even in its own terms, however, a failure to conquer on a world scale causes widespread doubt within Islam because it seems that its world mission is defeated.

British leaders naturally see this bombing in the light of the attacks of World War II and the IRA of the more recent past. They know that within the bosom of every Western nation today are sufficient numbers of organized Islamic militants ready to carry out serious disruptions and killings of the citizenry.

We forget, however, that many, many bombings of various kinds have been prevented since 9/11. A prevented bombing makes no headlines. But we are wrong to think that effective security and military forces have not been in place. The terrorists themselves know that they are more and more under surveillance and pressure.

Al-Qaeda forces may have seen their reputation so questioned by the effects of the Afghanistan and Iraq phases of the war that they felt it absolutely necessary to show some flashy sign of strength. If so, this too is in effect a sign of their weakness. They revealed themselves for what they are once more. It has been taken as a truism that it is better to fight these forces on their own grounds and not in London or New York or Madrid. The war overseas does not prove that it is not effective, but that it is. But the latter three cities, however orchestrated, are part of the same war.

In this sense, we can be grateful that the Islamic terrorists in London again called our flagging attention to the real war, the one against those who first declared war against us in the name of their religious and political mission. The first effort has been and still is to undermine any effective opposition. Whether this purpose can be achieved by terrorism and its effect on public opinion remains to be seen.

I suspect that the Islamic radicals still think they are on target. In the end, they will see the London bombings as a stunning "success." But if it finally makes us see the real scope and nature of the one war, they will have miscalculated both our understanding of what they are about and our will to do something about it.

Faith, Reason and the War on Jihad

George Weigel's Call to Action
Westchester Institute - e-Column

Clear thinking on complex moral and cultural issues is a scarce commodity these days. George Weigel, Catholic theologian and one of America's foremost commentators on issues of religion and public life, has for years been responding to that paucity with a consistent output of robust, penetrating and cogent thought.

Last September 11th, I dedicated this column (9/11, Jihadism and Reason) to highlighting some of Weigel's reflections on the occasion of the 6th anniversary of the attacks. Those thoughts were an excerpt from the sixth William E. Simon lecture which Weigel had delivered for the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington in January 2007. Happily, the elements of that lecture have now taken the form of a new book entitled Faith, Reason, and the War against Jihadism.

The book is, quite simply, a must-read for persons who are trying to be thoughtful, realistic and objective about the complex issues posed by Muslim jihadists to western civilization as we know it. If you think my posing the situation in such stark terms is hyperbole, then you will likely find Weigel's blunt assessment of things hyperbolic as well. "The challenge of global jihadism cannot be avoided," writes Weigel. "The war that has been declared against us -- and by "us" I mean the West, not simply the Unites States -- must be engaged, and through a variety of instruments, many of them not military."

The fact that many might discover hyperbole in such declarations takes us to the very heart of Weigel's message: it has taken far too long for the U.S. and other western democracies to understand the situation we are in.

Over the weekend, I interviewed George on a number of issues the book raises, and probed him for his take on the future of the conflict between Jihadism and the West.

FTB: You note that "Christians have taken an aggressive and bloody-minded posture toward Islam on many occasions over the past fourteen hundred years, an aggressiveness that has left deep resentments in the Islamic world..." (p. 21). Is this one of the root causes of Jihad?

George Weigel: Resentment of Western success ("the Great Satan" and all that) is certainly part of the motivational mix among jihadists today, although the endless references to "Zionist Crusaders" nicely mix 20th century hatreds with 12th century hatreds. But the basic point to be stressed is that jihadists have their own motivations: i.e., if "jihadism" is the religiously inspired ideology that teaches that it is the moral duty of all Muslims to employ all means necessary to compel the world's submission to Islam, that in itself is motivation enough.

FTB: We grew accustomed to Pope John Paul II reiterating the need to get at the "roots" of terrorism, which he identified as various forms of injustice. For instance:

History, in fact, shows that the recruitment of terrorists is more easily achieved in areas where human rights are trampled upon and where injustice is a part of daily life. This is not to say that the inequalities and abuses existing in the world excuse acts of terrorism: there can never, of course, be any justification for violence and disregard for human life. However, the international community can no longer overlook the underlying causes that lead young people especially to despair of humanity, of life itself and of the future, and to fall prey to the temptations of violence, hatred, and a desire for revenge at any cost (Address to new British ambassador, Sept. 2002).

Do you find in this notion -- particularly as it is insisted on today -- at all naïve or misguided?

Weigel: The jihadists of 9/11 were not the wretched of the earth; they were college-educated, middle-class people. The command structure of al-Qaeda is not composed of peasants or the Arab lumpenproletariat, but of rich men and professional men. This follows the established pattern of modern terrorism (which began in 19th century Europe with well-to-do anarchists). That authoritarian politics plus corruption, and a lack of economic opportunity creates a fertile field for jihadist recruitment in populations with a large "surplus" of unemployed young men, I don't doubt; the young men heading for terrorist training camps in Waziristan probably fit this profile. So yes, changed political and economic conditions in the Arab Islamic world are going to be a necessary part of winning the war against jihadism. But to repeat it again: the jihadists have their own motivations, and if we don't understand that, we won't understand the depth and breadth of the problem.

FTB: Is the problem Islam itself -- the religion (understanding that "Islam" contains "many worlds" as you put it)?

Weigel: That the great majority of the world's Muslims do not accept the jihadists' definition of a faithful Muslim's responsibilities suggests that the jihadist "answer" to the problem of Islam-confronts-modernity is not inevitable. Still, a frank inter-religious dialogue would recognize that certain core themes in Islamic self-understanding -- its supersessionism (i.e., its claim that the revelation to Muhammad effectively cancels the revelatory "value" of the revelations of the God of Abraham to the people of Israel and in Jesus Christ), its concept of a dictated sacred text, its tendency to detach faith and reason (due in part to its lack of a notion of God as "Logos") do, under certain historical, cultural, social, and economic conditions, tend to produce a very aggressive notion of Islam's relationship to "the rest."

FTB: Has Benedict taken a "hard line" with Muslims? How would you describe his approach to the problem of jihadism?

Weigel: The immediate problem, as Pope Benedict XVI has suggested on numerous occasions, lies in Islam's difficult encounter with the Enlightenment political heritage, especially with the idea of religious freedom as a human right than can be known by reason and with the idea of the separation of religious and political authority in a just state. Those are the areas where the dialogue should focus today, for those are the issues that tend to create what Samuel Huntington called "Islam's bloody borders."

FTB: Do you envision a future in which some modernized form of Islam-liberated from the jihadist element-will have accomplished a fruitful "encounter with modernity" (p. 33) and will be able to subsist at peace with the 'rest'?

Weigel: I think you can find places where the effort to broker a more fruitful engagement between Islam and modernity is underway: Indonesia, for example, or Bosnia. One of the great difficulties in all this is the inordinate influence of Wahhabism, the radical Islamist ideology that has been exported from Saudi Arabia throughout the Islamic world. Add the passions of Middle Eastern politics to the effects of Wahhabist radicalism, and you get the kind of problems that we've seen, not only throughout the Levant, central Asia, and southwest Asia; you get the kind of problems we see in France, Great Britain, Spain, the Netherlands, and elsewhere -- like in American prisons.

FTB: Will it take another catastrophic terrorist attack on American soil to provoke a broader understanding of "who the enemy is" and acceptance of the fact that we are at war?

Weigel: I hope not. That's one reason I wrote the book. But there does seem to be an odd, almost Victorian, reticence to name the unpleasant thing that's staring us in the face. If we don't learn to name it -- and if we don't understand that this is fundamentally a war of ideas, ideas about human goods and the human future -- we 're going to be surprised again and again. As for immediate dangers, anyone who doesn't think that al-Qaeda is working 24/7 to pull off, during our current election cycle, something similar to the attack on Madrid prior to the Spanish elections a few years ago simply isn't paying attention.

FTB: What would you respond to critics who would call your book "myopic," an "exaggeration," "neo-con war-mongering hype", and so on?

Weigel: I would invite anyone inclined to think I am exaggerating to read the book. The case is made there with evidence, calmly, and in a spirit that looks toward both a revitalized inter-religious dialogue and a renewal of American culture.

Rev. Thomas V. Berg, L.C., Ph.D. is Executive Director of the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person.


A Challenge to Seek a Higher Calling

By Pastor Bob Chapman
Extreme Life Ministries

"Surely the Father has tolerated our excuses, our weaknesses, our sins, our divisions and our failure to believe He is who He claims to be for long enough. Such ungodly practices on our part have kept us from preaching God’s command to repent to our lost world."

Recently I have become increasingly aware, through an intensifying urgency in my spirit, that the world is moving toward a “crisis” involving the kingdom of God, and that we, as Christ’s disciples, are to become intensely sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in order to subdue the evil that is perpetrating this eventuality.

We are to take bold and decisive counter measures against all insidious or blatant attempts by governments and New Age Denominational Christendom to pronounce edicts that suppress the preaching of the pure, fundamental Word of God. Such bold and decisive action by disciples should be initiated and conducted in the fullness of the power of personal holiness and the fullness of the divine power of the Holy Spirit as happened in the initial days of God’s kingdom once Jesus ascended and sat down at His Father’s right hand whereupon He was granted all power, riches, wisdom, might, honor, glory, blessing, and dominion, Revelation 5:12-14.

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The Christian's Response to Terror

By Adrian Rogers
Life Worth Finding

Many have asked how should Christians respond to what’s happening in America regarding terror. And I’d like to share you five things God has placed on my heart as to our response to current affairs of our nation and the war on terrorism.

The first thing I want to tell you is to trust God. He will see us through this. His anchor holds in the storm. Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God." America may go to war with manmade weapons, but our safety and ultimate victory comes from the Lord.

Second, we need to gather and pray. Gather your family and pray. Go to your neighbors and pray. We need prayer for God’s kingdom to come and God’s will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. God’s word says, “I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, then giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty, for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” (1 Timothy 2:1). We need to pray for and we need to work for peace.

Third, all the prayer in the world is not going to do any good unless we repent. Second Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” We, as a nation, must repent. We, as Christians, who have stood back in apathy and allowed our nation to slide into a cesspool of immorality, need to repent for our sins, as well.

Fourth, we need to reach out in love. Let the terrible wickedness committed on and after September 11 be the dark velvet upon which the diamond of God’s love can be seen in your life. This is an opportunity for you to share the love of Jesus with everybody – whatever their race, whatever their nationality, whatever their religion.

This is a time for a mighty baptism of God’s love. Romans 12:21 says, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” There is no person on the face of this earth that you have the luxury of hating and no person that you can rejoice when he falls into misery.

Finally, we need to speak up. As the night grows darker, the saints need to grow brighter. The attacks on September 11 were based on a philosophy and we can’t shoot down a philosophy with a bullet. The only thing that will overcome an idea is a better idea. And that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I challenge you to move out of your comfort zone and into your neighborhoods to share the love of Jesus. Oh, that we would live the truth, tell the truth, speak the truth, believe the truth, love the truth.

We need, with all of our heart and soul, to preach the glorious Gospel of Jesus to a lost and dying world. If all we’re doing is enjoying our pursuit of happiness, we’re just making America a better place to go to hell from. Each of us needs to go to our family, neighbors, friends, coworkers, and business associates – and get them lashed to the cross.

We need to help them understand that there’s a God in glory who rules over all and come what may, “neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Source: Life Worth Finding - Christian's Response to Terror


Barack Hussein Obama?

By Jim Bramlett
Jim Bramlett - InJesus.com

"Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a President named Hussein? I cannot imagine our President with a Muslim name, especially such an infamous Muslim name and during the war with Islamic terror. I do not want my President with the same name as Saddam."

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By Ricky Carandang

When Barack Obama announced he was running for president, my initial reaction was to dismiss it because I didn’t think white America was ready to hand over power to a black man. I thought, a woman, yes, but a black man, no. Anyway, Obama’s campaign sought to make race as much of a nonissue as possible, and to a large extent he has suceeded so far. Obama won the Iowa caucus on the back of support from many whites who saw beyond his race and his foreign sounding name. It remains to be seen if he will win the nomination, much less the presidency but it showed me that there are many white people in America today (at least in the Democratic party) that can look past someone’s ethnicity if he can make an appealing enough candidate. Tolerance seems to be growing among many in the US. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that while race is no longer as much of a barrier to success in America as it once was, there are new forms of discrimination. Again I turn to the caucuses in Iowa for an example. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee won the Republican caucus on a surge of support from evangelical Christians. Many pundits thought that Mitt Romney was going to make it. Romney is an attractive candidate. A successful business executive who had the same kind of family values that conservatives look for. He is rich, articulate, intelligent, and reasonable. His problem is that he’s a Mormon. And to many conservative Christians, that’s the deal breaker. Despite being called the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints Mormons are not considered Christian by many Christian conservatives, and so despite the fact that he would otherwise be the ideal Republican standard bearer, he was junked by the Christian right that today has a stranglehold on the Republican Party. Instead, evangelicals chose Mike Huckabee, a man who thinks that Pakistanis are the largest block of illegal immigrants; a man who in this day and age, apparently believes the Bible literally.

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Those Iowan evangelicals

Who voted for Huckabee and why.
By Ted Olsen

The analysis you've probably read this morning or heard last night was that Mike Huckabee won the Republican caucuses in Iowa because of evangelicals. The WashingtonPost.com headline right now: "Evangelicals Fuel Huckabee in Caucuses." You probably also heard a lot of references to Pat Robertson's second-place Iowa win in 1988.

"Evangelical Republicans in Iowa chose one of their own in Mike Huckabee," writes Liz Sidoti of the Associated Press. "He made his religious beliefs and his rock-solid opposition to abortion, gay marriage and gun control central parts of his campaign — and it paid off."

The Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib agrees. "So much for the idea that evangelical Christians are a dispirited and declining force in the Republican party," he writes. "Last night they showed up in force -- in stunning force, actually. ... In a very real sense, evangelical voters, as much as Mr. Huckabee, won Iowa's caucuses on the Republican side."

Andrew Sullivan is fairly predictable, with the headline, "The Christianists Triumph."

ABC News explains the headlines: "Evangelical Christians accounted for a remarkable six in 10 GOP caucus-goers, and they favored Huckabee, a Baptist minister, over Mitt Romney, who's Mormon, by a broad 46-19 percent. Among the remaining, non-evangelical Republican voters, by contrast, only about one in seven supported Huckabee, and Romney won easily, with 33 percent."

But 46 percent of the evangelical Republican vote means that most evangelicals did not vote for Huckabee, notes Frank Lockwood of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Huckabee fan Rod Dreher of The Dallas Morning News notes on his Beliefnet blog that Huckabee "won just about every Republican demographic -- especially, please note, the middle-income voters and below. He was especially strong among younger voters. The only caucusgoers Romney dominated were the well-off ($100K+) secular urban moderates. If you think Huckabee's only a phenomenon of the religious right, explain those numbers, willya?"

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The Politics of Religion

What Church leaders should know in an election year.
Christianity Today

In order to maintain their exemption from federal income taxes, churches and other religious organizations must comply with several requirements specified in section 501(c)(3) of the tax code. One of these requirements is that the organization not participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office. Many churches have violated this requirement in the past with no adverse consequenses. However, the landscape is changing. The IRS suggests that this election year will not be "business as usual." It released a report earlier in 2006 summarizing the results of an examination of the political activities of several charities, including churches. The report concludes that prohibited campaign intervention by churches and charities is increasing, and as a result the IRS is "stepping up its efforts" to enforce the ban. Such developments make it essential for church leaders to be familiar with the consequences of political involvment.

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The Problem with Prophets

In their zeal for social change, some evangelical activists stand on shaky biblical ground.
By Paul Marshall
Christianity Today

Evangelicals apparently have so much political clout that they are poised to install a theocracy, according to some commentators. Such critics don't notice there is little distinctively evangelical about the evangelical approach to politics. The evangelical emphases—on conversion, the Cross, the Bible, and activism—do not themselves amount to a full, independent theological system. Nor do they take us far in understanding politics, which requires at least some grasp of history, government, law, justice, freedom, rights, mercy, violence, and war. Thoughtful evangelicals trying to understand politics often draw on the wider resources of Calvinist, Anabaptist, Anglican, Lutheran, or Catholic teaching.

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The Politics of the People of God

The Church has a unique role to play in our politicized culture.
By Darrell Bock
Christianity Today

The real danger in mixing or divorcing church and state is not to the Christian Left, Middle, or Right. The danger is to the church. Our cultures need communities that know no national boundaries, that do not depend on their legislatures being of one brand, and that are open to serving a neighbor's need. To be a member of the church is to recognize that there is more to our world than our culture or the state. God calls the church to be distinct from our culture, but to influence it in its own unique way, to be a visible, third influence in our world.

A recent poll by Ipsos covering 10 countries shows that the United States is by far one of the most religious cultures on our planet. While the new pope, Benedict XVI, laments how Europe has lost her way and is becoming a secular community, religious vibrancy among the masses is so high in the United States that one can hardly cover politics and not run into it. France was on the other end of the spectrum with the highest percentage of nonbelievers in God, while South Korea was second in unbelief. Only Mexico of the 10 countries surveyed comes close to the United States in religious fervency.

What do we do with our religious interest? In some countries, like Mexico, there is a concern about too strongly mixing faith and politics. The same hesitancy is true for Italy, the most religiously robust of the European countries polled.

One of the great calls to the faithful is that we must engage and influence our culture. Some critics credit the now-defunct Moral Majority with creating the newfound interest in integrating faith and civic life in the United States. But the United States has always integrated faith and politics. This was evident in the days of the Pilgrims. Alexis de Tocqueville noted it in the early 19th century in his famous study, Democracy in America. Faith in God deals with all of life, so culture and the state are inevitably a part of the equation. The question is, How does an individual believer best integrate faith into the surrounding political culture?

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On Being Neither Liberal nor Conservative

By Fr. James V. Schall, S. J.

The division of the world into "liberal" and "conservative" on every topic from politics to our taste in cuisine, clothes, or automobiles is one of the really restricting developments that has ever happened to us. If we are not what is considered popularly a "liberal," then we must, by some convoluted logic, be a "conservative," or vice versa. No third or fourth option is available as is usually the case in the real world. It has to be, we are told, either this way or that.

Such a view makes things very simple, I suppose. But it also reduces our minds to utter fuzziness. We are required to define everything as either liberal or conservative even when the two allowable terms of definition are not adequate to explain the reality that they are intended to describe.

Our political language is likewise amusingly confusing, especially when used to describe theological issues or currents. When I am asked whether I am a "liberal" or a "conservative," I reply that I am a "Thomist." Needless to say, Thomas, who was once considered a liberal Whig, is now considered a hopeless conservative, even though what he actually held defies such simple categories. In Thomas’s own methodology, the first thing he did was precisely to define what is a liberal or what is a conservative. He then explained why both, while containing some point of truth, were inadequate. Yet, it is almost impossible to escape this system of "either conservative or liberal," since whatever other category we use becomes merely grist for the liberal/conservative dichotomy.

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Some Atrocities are Worse than Others

By Mary Beth Bonacci
Ignatius Insight

The Gulag was worse than Gitmo. And abortion is worse than just about anything in America today.

Guantanamo Bay is the new Gulag.

So says the Secretary General of Amnesty International, a woman named Irene Khan, comparing the Soviet Union's labor and extermination camps to the U.S. prison for Al-Quada detainees. Never mind, of course, that residents of the Gulag were placed there for "crimes" such as growing too much grain or refusing to sleep with Soviet officials, while Guantanamo (or "Gitmo") is populated with militants waging war against America.

Never mind that millions were starved to death in the Gulag, while the United States not only feeds the inhabitants of Gitmo but also provides them with food that meets the strict requirements of their religion. Never mind that, while millions died in the Gulag for the simple "crime" of professing their faith, the U.S. provides the detainees at Gitmo their own copies of the Koran, the same "sacred" document that many of them used to justify their violence against the U.S.

And, of course, never mind that literally every story I've seen about the alleged "abuses" at Gitmo, when probed, turns out not to be abuse at all. (For instance, the "desecration" of the Koran, which turned out to be a case of a prison guard inadvertently relieving himself too close to an air duct. The prisoner whose Koran was "desecrated" immediately received a new uniform and a new copy of the Koran. Try that in the Gulag.)

William Schultz of Amnesty International USA, in backing off the story, said that the comparison wasn't intended to be "literal" but that certain similarities existed.

Yeah, like the fact that both the Gulag and Gitmo were located on planet Earth.

This is not generally a political column, and I'm not writing one today. But Schultz's comment goes to the heart of what I see as a larger problem in the world — and in the Church. People make comparisons that make no sense, and then they build entire belief systems around those comparisons.

Let's take, for instance, the abortion issue. I wrote a series of columns about that subject last fall, and received an avalanche of mail — much of it angry. The thing is, not one person attempted to defend abortion. Instead, they adopted what I call the "Yeah, but . . ." position. "Sure abortion is bad. But what about . . ." You can insert any issue into the sentence. The unemployed, the uninsured, the homeless — anything to steer the topic away from abortion.

So what about them? And what do they have to do with abortion?

I'm not in favor of homelessness, or joblessness, or any other "-lessness." Nor do I, contrary to what Howard Dean may say, want children to go to bed hungry at night. I work to rectify the injustices I see in the world, to the extent that I am able.

But when it comes to injustice, nothing going on in this country comes close to the abomination which is abortion.

Radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt summarized the problem in a nutshell when he said, "scale matters." There is a difference between Gulag and Gitmo. There is a difference between losing your job and losing your life. There is even a difference between one person unjustly losing his life and 45 million people unjustly losing their lives. Both may be bad, but one is a whole lot worse than the other.

45 million innocent unborn Americans have lost their lives since 1973.

And those lives have been lost in particularly brutal ways. They were torn limb from limb. They were burned. Their skulls were pierced with scissors and their brains were sucked out. And it all took place in the clean, sterile environment of our medical centers. It was legally sanctioned, and happened for no other reason than that those lives were inconvenient to us.

Who could dare to compare that to a round of layoffs?

As I said, many of the "yeah, but . . ." people I hear from are angry. I suspect that not a few of them are angry because they have personally been involved with an abortion somehow. They don't acknowledge the horror of abortion because they can't bear to acknowledge the horror of abortion. So they change the subject — to anything and everything else they can find.

That's understandable. Not constructive, but understandable. Each of those 45 million abortions represents a mother who was violated — whose child died violently inside her own body. It represents a father, grandparents — an entire extended family who will never see that child in this life.

We have a whole lot of walking wounded here. And many of them are using their anger as a shield to protect themselves from facing the unfaceable.

But we do ourselves no favor when we refuse to face reality. We deny God the opportunity to forgive and restore us. And we deny our nation the opportunity to face and address our deepest problems.

It's quite simple: anyone who says that Gitmo is the Gulag of our times doesn't understand the Gulag. And anyone who says, "Sure, abortion is bad, but . . ." doesn't really understand abortion.

Because some things are worse than others.

Scale matters.

Mary Beth Bonacci is internationally known for her talks and writings about love, chastity, and sexuality. Since 1986 she has spoken to tens of thousands of young people, including 75,000 people in 1993 at World Youth Day in Denver, Colorado. She appears frequently on radio and television programs, including several appearances on MTV.

Mary Beth has written two books, We're on a Mission from God and Real Love, and also writes a regular, syndicated column for various publications. She has developed numerous videos, including her brand-newest video series, also entitled Real Love. Her video Sex and Love: What's a Teenager to Do? was awarded the 1996 Crown Award for Best Youth Curriculum.

Mary Beth holds a bachelor's degree in Organizational Communication from the University of San Francisco, and a master's degree in Theology of Marriage and Family from the John Paul II Institute at Lateran University. She was also awarded an honorary doctorate in Communications from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and is listed in Outstanding Young Women of America for 1997.

Personally Opposed -- To What?

By Dr. James Hitchcock
Ignatius Insight

"Personally I am opposed to abortion, but I will not impose my views on others." This has become the favorite mantra of some Catholic politicians, but it does not stand up to analysis.

If the statement means anything, it has to mean that abortion is the taking of a human life, which is the most serious issue government can face. But those who repeat the mantra do not act as though they believe that.

If a politician truly thinks that abortion is a grave moral evil, but also truly thinks that he cannot support laws against it, that ought to be a source of great anguish to him, forcing him to ask himself how the lives of the unborn can be protected short of legislation. But I know of no politician who shows such anguish. Most seem to be more passionate about tax cuts than they are about what they purport to recognize as direct killing.

When this mantra was first formulated some years ago, I thought that those who repeated it could show their good faith by making passionate efforts to persuade people that abortion is wrong, using the public forum to change hearts and minds. But again, I know of no politician who has done so.

The closest such people come to trying to prevent the evil is to urge more programs to support pregnant women, especially the poor. But there are already a number of such programs, often run by pro-lifers, and it is simply not true that women have abortions only because they are poor.

But some Catholic politicians have indeed become emotional about the issue. If the taking of innocent human life does not arouse their passion, being told that they ought not to receive Communion does. The grave evil, it turns out, is not abortion itself but whatever consequences it has for those who support it. Abortionists are not to be castigated; bishops are.

"Personally opposed" politicians in effect acknowledge that they are complicit in a grave moral evil and argue that they must remain so because of the demands of politics, which is as cynical a view of politics as one can imagine. Bishops are accused of violating the Constitution, but it is those on the other side who are doing so, denying the Church the right to determine who is a member in good standing and demanding that it accommodate itself to the needs of politicians.

Since Senator John Kerry is the likely Democratic nominee for president, this has been defined as a partisan issue, bishops accused of tilting towards the Republicans. But this is an odd response. It would seem to make sense for Democrats to deflect attention away from themselves by pointing out that there are also Catholic Republicans who are pro-abortion, notably Governors George Pataki of New York and Arnold Schwarzenneger of California. Why Democrats went to define this as a partisan issue defies explanation. (The Republican Party is far more hospitable to pro-abortion people than the Democrats are to pro-lifers.)

Behind the "personally opposed" mantra is the implication that this is a matter of religious dogma, some odd Catholic belief which no one else shares. But the country is almost evenly split on the issue, and fully two thirds of the citizens oppose partial-birth abortion, which Senator Kerry and some other Catholics support. Pro-lifers do not ask people to accept a religious dogma; they ask them simply to look at the evidence, including photographs of unborn children and indications that they feel pain.

If the fetus is indeed a human being, the issue is not religious at all but political in the deepest sense. The undeniable fact is that there is no possible justification for the law's withholding its protection from any class of persons. Any politician who truly believes that the fetus is a person has an obligation to protect it, no matter how many voters may disagree.

Five Non-Negotiable Issues

[From the Catholic Answers “Voter’s Guide”]

1. Abortion

The Church teaches that, regarding a law permitting abortions, it is “never licit to obey it, or to take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or to vote for it.” Abortion is the intentional and direct killing of an innocent human being, and therefore it is a form of homicide.

The unborn child is always an innocent party, and no law may permit the taking of his life. Even when a child is conceived through rape or incest, the fault is not the child’s, who should not suffer death for others’ sins.

2. Euthanasia

Often disguised by the name “mercy killing,” euthanasia also is a form of homicide. No person has a right to take his own life, and no one has the right to take the life of any innocent person.

In euthanasia, the ill or elderly are killed, by action or omission, out of a misplaced sense of compassion, but true compassion cannot include intentionally doing something intrinsically evil to another person.

3. Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Human embryos are human beings. “Respect for the dignity of the human being excludes all experimental manipulation or exploitation of the human embryo.”

Recent scientific advances show that often medical treatments that researchers hope to develop from experimentation on embryonic stem cells can be developed by using adult stem cells instead. Adult stem cells can be obtained without doing harm to the adults from whom they come. Thus there is no valid medical argument in favor of using embryonic stem cells. And even if there were benefits to be had from such experiments, they would not justify destroying innocent embryonic humans.

4. Human Cloning

“Attempts . . . for obtaining a human being without any connection with sexuality through ‘twin fission,’ cloning, or parthenogenesis are to be considered contrary to the moral law, since they are in opposition to the dignity both of human procreation and of the conjugal union.”

Human cloning also involves abortion because the “rejected” or “unsuccessful” embryonic clones are destroyed, yet each clone is a human being.

5. Homosexual “Marriage”

True marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Legal recognition of any other union as “marriage” undermines true marriage, and legal recognition of homosexual unions actually does homosexual persons a disfavor by encouraging them to persist in what is an objectively immoral arrangement.

“When legislation in favor of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic lawmaker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.”

Dr. James Hitchcock, professor of history at St. Louis University, writes and lectures on contemporary Church matters. His column appears in the diocesan press. He is the author of several books, including The Recovery of the Sacred, What is Secular Humanism?, and Years of Crisis: Collected Essays, 1970-1983.

His two-volume book on religion and the Supreme Court is to be published by Princeton University Press.

This article originally appeared on June 27, 2004 on the Women for Faith & Family website.