Friday, December 31, 2010

Support "The Catholic Thing"

Anytime a year ends, we are inundated with donation requests. But there is one fine Catholic website that definitely deserves our (I have already contributed) help.

It's The Catholic Thing, well known in the Catholic blogosphere as the home of top flight Catholic thinkers.

Give 'em a donation!!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Marriage: Mererly a Social Construct?"

Princeton Professor Robert George and Ph.D candidates Sherif Girgis and Ryan T. Anderson continue their meticulous dismantling of any intellectual justification for counterfeit "marriage." We'd blogged about this back on December 8, when their essay "What is Marriage?" first appeared.

What follows is an excerpt of their December 29 response "Marriage: Merely a Social Construct?" to Northwestern Law Professor Ronald Koppelman's response to their original essay.

"Consider friendship. As with marriage, the particulars of friendship vary widely by time and place. But also like marriage, friendship is a human reality, a distinctive human good, with certain essential features independent of our social or linguistic practices. For example, it essentially involves each person’s actively willing the other’s good, for the other’s sake. And again like marriage, friendship (the human reality, not our use of the word) grounds certain moral privileges and obligations between its participants and even between the friends and others who might interact with them. So friendship, like marriage, is not just a social construct.

If we said that John and Joe, who just exploited each other, were not “real friends,” we would not just mean that a certain word did not apply to their bond, or that society failed to treat that bond as it does certain others. We would primarily mean that John and Joe were missing out on a distinctive, inherently valuable reality—a human good, for which other goods are no substitute—because of a failure to meet its inherent requirements, which are not purely socially constructed. Similarly, a relationship is not a marriage just because we speak and act as if it is, nor is a relationship not a marriage just because we fail to do so."

Read the whole devastating thing.

h/t Matthew J. Franck

"An Eclipse of Reason Has Taken Place"

Michael Voris on the Holy Father's Christmas Greeting to the Roman Curia.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

AIDS & Homosexuality

The average age of a homosexual man dying with AIDS is 39. The average age of gays dying of all other causes is 41. (The average heterosexual married man lives 75 years.) Only one percent of men who practice homosexual sex lives to be 65 or older. Gay men are three times more likely to have alcohol or drug abuse problems. Homosexuals are 14 times more likely to have had syphilis, and 23 times more likely to contract venereal diseases

Monday, December 27, 2010

What is the biggest liturgical abuse?

“The habit of sacrilegious reception”

(Editor’s Note: The following item was taken from the blog Stella Borealis, “a site for the exchange of information about the Catholic Church in Minnesota, neighboring states and provinces.” It addresses a problem, however, prevalent in many California parishes as well.)

The biggest abuse at almost every parish is the nearly 100% reception of Holy Communion by the congregation in parishes that have minuscule Confession opportunities and lines. ...

The requirement of being free from mortal sin should be announced by the celebrant immediately before Communion in every Mass for several years before the habit of sacrilegious reception can be minimized. [A similar announcement is generally given at Christmas and Easter Masses and at marriages and other events where large numbers of non-Catholics might be present.]

Ushers should cease guiding communicants “row by row” up to the front. Let them go up as they want, or don’t want. Then it won’t be so conspicuous if some don’t receive, putting an end to idle speculations as to which mortal sin one’s neighbor or pew-mate had committed.

Confession opportunities must then be increased for parishioners to more than just 30-60 minutes before the Saturday Vigil Mass.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


As we approach the new year I would like to remind you of the mandatory New Year's resolution. Here are some suggestons to help you formulate one for yourself:

Don't let your worries get the best of you;remember, Moses started out as a basket case.

Some people are kind, polite, and sweet-spiriteduntil you try to sit in their pews.

Many folks want to serve God, but only as advisors.

It is easier to preach ten sermons than it is to live one.

The good Lord didn't create anything without a purpose,but mosquitoes come close.

When you get to your wit's end, you'll find God lives there.

People are funny; they want the front of the bus,the middle of the road,and the back of the church.

Opportunity may knock once, but temptationbangs on your front door forever.

Quit griping about your church; if it was perfect,you couldn't belong. If the church wants a better pastor,it only needs to pray for the one it has.

God Himself does not propose to judge a man until he is dead. So why should you?

Some minds are like concretethoroughly mixed up and permanently set.

Peace starts with a smile.

I don't know why some people change churches;what difference does it make which one you stay home from?!

A lot of church members who are singing"Standing on the Promises" are just sitting on the premises.

We were called to be witnesses, not lawyers or judges.

Be ye fishers of men. You catch them - He'll clean them.

Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.

Don't put a question mark where God put a period.

Don't wait for 6 strong men to take you to church.

Forbidden fruits create many jams.

God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

God grades on the cross, not the curve. God loves everyone, but probably prefers"fruits of the spirit" over "religious nuts!"

God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.

He who angers you, controls you!

If God is your Co-pilot - swap seats! Don't give God instructions -- just report for duty!

The task ahead of us is never as great as the Power behind us. The Will of God never takes you to where the Graceof God will not protect you.

We don't change the message, the message changes us.

You can tell how big a person is by what it takesto discourage him.

The best mathematical equation I have ever seen:1 cross +
3 nails= 4 given.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas in 1776

"'Tis the season to argue about religion. Or more specifically, to feud about whether to say Merry Christmas or Seasons Greetings . . . to call it a Christmas Village or a Holiday Village . . . or to allow a crèche or menorah to stand on public property.

What would Americans at the time of the founding think about all this?

They would have been perplexed. Perplexed, first, at the ways that we fuss about the public role of religion. The Revolutionary era was shot through with public expressions of faith, from the days of prayer and fasting declared by presidents, to the chaplains employed by the Continental Congress and Washington's army, to the faith principles undergirding the Revolution itself, especially the notion that all men are created equal. The concept of a public square stripped of religion would have been deeply unfamiliar to Americans in 1776.

But they would also find our kind of Christmas strange, and probably unpleasant. We are constantly warned by the prophets of our age -- Charlie Brown and Snoopy chief among them -- that we should not become obsessed with commercialism at Christmas. Yet this is like warning fish about the pollution in water -- a world of consumption is what we Americans live and breathe in.

Christmas in 1776 was very different. One difference, of course, is that America was engaged in a terrible war with Britain. That is why George Washington and his army spent Christmas night of 1776 crossing the Delaware River through a blizzard of sleet -- to attack the Hessians at Trenton, New Jersey.

Wartime or not, Christmas was not a big public spectacle at the time of the Founding. One searches in vain through the newspapers and almanacs of the Revolutionary War period to find references to Christmas. It was almost never mentioned, even on December 25th itself. When it was, the holiday was usually only cited as a reference point. ("General Washington hopes that the war will be over by Christmas," and such.)

But let's not be romantic about their simple, subdued Christmas, either. One reason that Christmas was downplayed in the New England states is because the Puritan fathers had banned Christmas for much of the 17th century. This was not because they were killjoys, but because they did not see how the Bible taught a December Christmas. They believed that the festival of Christmas was invented by medieval Catholics -- and this, if you were a Puritan, was never a good thing.

You did see occasional evidence of commercialism in Revolutionary America, too, especially after the war was over. In the Christmas Eve edition of Rivington's New York Gazette for 1783, there was a screaming advertisement -- almost reminiscent of our "Black Friday" ads -- for "CHRISTMAS and NEW YEAR'S PRESENTS," which included gold and silver watches; goblets fit for drinking "Porter, Ales, Punch, Sangree" and other holiday beverages; and assortments of stockings that the merchant pronounced "Monstrous Cheap."

Christmas at the time of the founding -- for those who embraced it -- was mostly a family and church affair. Lauren Winner's delightful new book A Cheerful and Comfortable Faith shows how Christmas occurred naturally as a part of the household devotion of 18th-century Anglicans in Virginia. Wealthy families there often had sumptuous feasts. At one Christmas dinner, the menu of the Fairfax family included "six mince pies, seven custards, twelve tarts, one chicken pie, and four puddings." Twelfth Night, the evening signaling the end of the Christmas season, saw even bigger bashes, which could sometimes turn into drunken brawls. Devout Anglicans also made their way to church for the Sunday of Christmas week, where they would hear a special sermon on the incarnation and receive communion.

In modern America, outdoor nativity scenes and other Christmas displays became common after World War I, encouraged by the advent of electricity to light displays at night. Some of these displays ended up on government property, a circumstance that predictably elicited lawsuits by secularists. The first major lawsuit on this topic sought to remove a nativity scene from the White House Ellipse in 1969. A number of contradictory court decisions have followed, fostering annual feuding and court cases regarding Christmas or Hanukkah displays.

Americans of 1776 had no particular need for public manger scenes. Christmas, when observed, fit easily in the traditional rhythms of home and church life. Obviously, they had no secularists screeching for the removal of Baby Jesus from the public park, either. His image was not there in the first place, nor did it need to be. Their society was already pervasively religious, even though not every American was a saint. They lived in a serenely religious milieu that we can only approximate today. We certainly can't recreate it on today's fractious courthouse square.

Thankfully, believers can still foster an indisputably Christian Christmas in our homes and churches. I guess that is where Christmas is the most edifying anyway."

Thomas S. Kidd teaches history and is a Senior Fellow at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Vatican Issues a Clarification on the Condom Debate

From "Inside the Vatican":

Today in Rome, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF, the chief doctrinal office of the Vatican) issued a "Note" clarifying the Church's teaching on "certain questions of sexual morality," following "a number of erroneous interpretations" of a passage in the Pope's recently published interview book, Light of the World

By Robert Moynihan



On the trivialization of sexuality

Regarding certain interpretations of
Light of the World

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Following the publication of the interview-book Light of the World by Benedict XVI, a number of erroneous interpretations have emerged which have caused confusion concerning the position of the Catholic Church regarding certain questions of sexual morality.

The thought of the Pope has been repeatedly manipulated for ends and interests which are entirely foreign to the meaning of his words – a meaning which is evident to anyone who reads the entire chapters in which human sexuality is treated.

The intention of the Holy Father is clear: to rediscover the beauty of the divine gift of human sexuality and, in this way, to avoid the cheapening of sexuality which is common today.

Some interpretations have presented the words of the Pope as a contradiction of the traditional moral teaching of the Church. This hypothesis has been welcomed by some as a positive change and lamented by others as a cause of concern – as if his statements represented a break with the doctrine concerning contraception and with the Church’s stance in the fight against AIDS. In reality, the words of the Pope – which specifically concern a gravely disordered type of human behavior, namely prostitution (cf. Light of the World, pp. 117-119) – do not signify a change in Catholic moral teaching or in the pastoral practice of the Church.

As is clear from an attentive reading of the pages in question, the Holy Father was talking neither about conjugal morality nor about the moral norm concerning contraception. This norm belongs to the tradition of the Church and was summarized succinctly by Pope Paul VI in paragraph 14 of his Encyclical Letter Humanae vitae, when he wrote that "also to be excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means."

The idea that anyone could deduce from the words of Benedict XVI that it is somehow legitimate, in certain situations, to use condoms to avoid an unwanted pregnancy is completely arbitrary and is in no way justified either by his words or in his thought.

On this issue the Pope proposes instead – and also calls the pastors of the Church to propose more often and more effectively (cf. Light of the World, p. 147) – humanly and ethically acceptable ways of behaving which respect the inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative meaning of every conjugal act, through the possible use of natural family planning in view of responsible procreation.

On the pages in question, the Holy Father refers to the completely different case of prostitution, a type of behaviour which Christian morality has always considered gravely immoral (cf. Vatican II, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, n. 27; Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2355). The response of the entire Christian tradition – and indeed not only of the Christian tradition – to the practice of prostitution can be summed up in the words of St. Paul: "Flee from fornication" (1 Cor 6:18).

The practice of prostitution should be shunned, and it is the duty of the agencies of the Church, of civil society and of the State to do all they can to liberate those involved from this practice.

In this regard, it must be noted that the situation created by the spread of AIDS in many areas of the world has made the problem of prostitution even more serious. Those who know themselves to be infected with HIV and who therefore run the risk of infecting others, apart from committing a sin against the sixth commandment are also committing a sin against the fifth commandment – because they are consciously putting the lives of others at risk through behaviour which has repercussions on public health. In this situation, the Holy Father clearly affirms that the provision of condoms does not constitute "the real or moral solution" to the problem of AIDS and also that "the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality" in that it refuses to address the mistaken human behaviour which is the root cause of the spread of the virus. In this context, however, it cannot be denied that anyone who uses a condom in order to diminish the risk posed to another person is intending to reduce the evil connected with his or her immoral activity. In this sense the Holy Father points out that the use of a condom "with the intention of reducing the risk of infection, can be a first step in a movement towards a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality." This affirmation is clearly compatible with the Holy Father’s previous statement that this is "not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection."

Some commentators have interpreted the words of Benedict XVI according to the so-called theory of the "lesser evil". This theory is, however, susceptible to proportionalistic misinterpretation (cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Veritatis splendor, n. 75-77).

An action which is objectively evil, even if a lesser evil, can never be licitly willed.

The Holy Father did not say – as some people have claimed – that prostitution with the use of a condom can be chosen as a lesser evil. The Church teaches that prostitution is immoral and should be shunned. However, those involved in prostitution who are HIV positive and who seek to diminish the risk of contagion by the use of a condom may be taking the first step in respecting the life of another – even if the evil of prostitution remains in all its gravity. This understanding is in full conformity with the moral theological tradition of the Church.

In conclusion, in the battle against AIDS, the Catholic faithful and the agencies of the Catholic Church should be close to those affected, should care for the sick and should encourage all people to live abstinence before and fidelity within marriage.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

God Bless Bishop Olmsted!

His Excellency Thomas Olmsted has exercised his duty as Bishop of Phoenix, and stripped St. Joseph's Hospital of it's Catholic designation. We heartily support His Excellency. From Catholic World News:

"When I met with officials of the hospital to learn more of the details of what had occurred, it became clear that, in the decision to abort, the equal dignity of mother and her baby were not both upheld; but that the baby was directly killed…In this case, the baby was healthy and there were no problems with the pregnancy; rather, the mother had a disease that needed to be treated. But instead of treating the disease, St. Joseph’s medical staff and ethics committee decided that the healthy, 11-week-old baby should be directly killed.'

In accordance with canon law, Bishop Olmsted said, he told Sister Margaret McBride, the administrator responsible for the decision to peform the abortion, that she had incurred the penalty of excommunication. 'I did this in a confidential manner, hoping to spare her public embarrassment,' he added. Knowledge of the excommunication became public as the hospital defended its decision to perform the abortion.

Since that time, Bishop Olmsted reports, 'subsequent communications with leadership at St. Joseph’s Hospital and CHW have only eroded my confidence about their commitment to the Church’s Ethical and Religious Directives for Healthcare.' Thus he felt compelled to take action.

Bishop Olmsted makes the point that the medical institutions performed many services that the Church condemns under the terms of government contracts. 'CHW and St. Joseph’s Hospital have made more than a hundred million dollars every year from this partnership with the government,' he reports."

This is very important and welcome. In related news, California Catholic Daily reports on a recent investigation by the American Life League which shows that problems similar to that which provoked Bishop Olmsted's action permeate Catholic Heathcare West, of which St. Joseph's Hospital is a member.

In more related news, we note that Lloyd Dean, president of Catholic Healthcare West, was honored this year at the (Jesuit) University of San Francisco. Dean was the Commencement speaker at the exercises for USF's School of Nursing.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Don't Ask. Don't tell!

Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services has written some months ago his reservations as to changing the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy:

The teaching of the Catholic Church is clearly expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
2357 USA Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,(140) tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."(141) They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

Consequently, those with a homosexual orientation can expect respect and treatment worthy of their human dignity. The prohibitions regarding sexual harassment and intimidation refer just as much to homosexuals as to anyone else. However, unions between individuals of the same gender resembling marriage will not be accepted or blessed by Catholic chaplains. Furthermore, no restrictions or limitations on the teaching of Catholic morality can be accepted.

First Amendment rights regarding the free exercise of religion must be respected. This means that Catholic chaplains must show compassion for persons with a homosexual orientation, but can never condone—even silently—homosexual behavior. A change might have a negative effect on the role of the chaplain not only in the pulpit, but also in the classroom, in the barracks, and in the office. A more fundamental question, however, should be raised. What exactly is the meaning of a change? No one can deny that persons with a homosexual orientation are already in the military. Does the proposed change authorize these individuals to engage in activities considered immoral not only by the Catholic Church, but also by many other religious groups? Will there be changes in the living conditions, especially in the AOR?

There is no doubt that morality and the corresponding good moral decisions have an effect on unit cohesion and the overall morale of the troops and effectiveness of the mission. This Archdiocese exists to serve those who serve and it assists them by advocating moral behavior. The military must find ways to promote that behavior and develop strong prohibitions against any immoral activity that would jeopardize morale, good morals, unit cohesion and every other factor that weakens the mission. So also must a firm effort be made to avoid any injustices that may inadvertently develop because individuals or groups are put in living situations that are an affront to good common sense.

I think that those questions require an adequate response. The effect of a repeal of the current legislation has the potential of being enormous and overwhelming. Nothing should be changed until there is certainty that morale will not suffer. Sacrificing the moral beliefs of individuals or their living conditions to respond to merely political considerations is neither just nor prudent especially for the armed forces at a time of war. Catholics believe that nothing will be done if there is a careful and prudent evaluation of the effects of a change. For years, those struggling with alcoholism have benefitted from Alcoholics Anonymous. Like homosexuality, there is rarely a cure. There is a control through a process, which is guarded by absolute secrecy. It is an equivalent to “Don’t ask don’t tell”. The process has worked well for some time without the charge that it is discriminatory.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cardinal Burke Adresses Catholic Higher Education

With a prayer that our catholic colleges and universities read this and have the courage to follow it’s path.

Cardinal Raymond Burke is underlining the importance of Catholic higher education, and the need for these institutions to keep their identity strong. The prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura gave an address at the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, where he affirmed the importance that "the Church has consistently assigned to Catholic higher education, in order that 'the convergence of faith and reason in the one truth may be seen more clearly.

'"He stated that the Catholic university that "is true to her identity will help students to be strong in giving an account of their faith in their vocation in life, whether it be the married life, the dedicated single life, the consecrated life or the ordained priesthood, and in whatever field of human endeavor they engage, resisting the secularist dictatorship which would exclude all religious discourse from the professions and from public life in general."

"Without in any way neglecting the acquisition of useful knowledge, a Catholic university is distinguished by its free search for the whole truth about nature, man and God," the prelate affirmed.He continued: "In a society which is marked by a virulent secularism which threatens the integrity of every aspect of human endeavor and service, for example, medicine, law, government and higher education itself, the service of the Catholic university is more needed than ever.

"How tragic that the very secularism which the Catholic university should be helping its students to battle and overcome has entered into several Catholic universities, leading to the grievous compromise of their high mission."The cardinal noted, "At the Catholic university, students should be equipped, through their study and research, to address the truth of the Decalogue and of the Golden Rule to their own personal lives and to the life of the society in which they live."In this light, he referenced "Ex Corde Ecclesiae," lauding the Thomas More College for its compliance with the document and its efforts as a Catholic institution.Study and researchCardinal Burke affirmed, "At the Catholic university, the very manner of study and research should manifest the bankruptcy of the abuse of human life and human sexuality, which has come to be standard on many university campuses, and the bankruptcy of the violation of the inviolable dignity of human life, of the integrity of marriage, and of the right order of our relationship to one another and to the world, in general, which is the trademark of our culture, a culture of violence and death."

"The first and chief teacher at every institution of Catholic higher education is Our Lord Jesus Christ," he affirmed, "who is the fullness of the revelation of God to us.""A Catholic college or university, at which Jesus Christ alive in his Church is not taught, encountered in the Sacred Liturgy and its extension through prayer and devotion, and followed in a life of virtue is not worthy of the name," the prelate added.He stated that "the presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the campus of the Catholic college and university is not something additional to or even extraneous to the pursuit of truth."The cardinal continued, "It is, rather, he alone who inspires, guides and disciplines professors and students, so that they remain faithful in the pursuit and do not fall prey to the temptations which Satan cleverly offers to corrupt us whenever we set out to attain a great good."
MERRIMACK, New Hampshire, DEC. 15, 2010 (

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Still waiting on Judge Reinhardt

Today Ed Whelan reminds us that when Judge Reinhardt refused to recuse himself from the Perry v Schwarzenegger appeal, he promised to offer evidence of his ability to rule impartially "in due course." Here is Mr. Whelan's post. Emphasis added.

Is Reinhardt Just Blowing Smoke?--Two Weeks and Counting

"Two weeks ago, Ninth Circuit judge Stephen Reinhardt immediately denied the motion to disqualify himself from hearing the Prop 8 appeal—a motion based on his wife’s involvement (see here, here, and here) in the very case. In his cursory order, Reinhardt stated that he was “certain” that “a reasonable person with knowledge of all the facts would [not] conclude that [my] impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” But Reinhardt gave not a hint of the reasons that would justify his conclusion, instead promising that he would provide such reasons “in a memorandum to be filed in due course.”

As I explained, I strongly suspected that Reinhardt was just blowing smoke and that he had not in fact worked his way to his conclusion. Indeed, had he done so, it should have been a simple matter for him to set forth his reasons—and he should have seen the strong public interest in promptly dispelling the ethical cloud over his participation. In the meantime, a liberal commentator who opposes Prop 8 has called for Reinhardt’s disqualification, and I’m not aware of any legal ethicist who has defended Reinhardt’s continued involvement.

Every passing day makes it more likely that Reinhardt raced to issue his denial order merely because he saw it as in his interests to do so (for the reasons explained in point 2 of my previous post)."

Christmas Catechism Lesson

There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me. Who in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge that won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?

This week, I found out.

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

-The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.

-Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

-Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.-

-The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke &John.

-The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

-The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

-Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit--Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

-The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

-Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit--Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

-The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.

-The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

-The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

So there is your history for today: how that strange song became a Christmas Carol.
Sent by Bro. Noel De Bruton, S.D.B

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Adult Stem-Cell UPDATE: HIV-Postive Man Cured by Transplant

We just can't keep up with all the great adult stem-cell news. The latest: an HIV-postive man in Berlin has been cured. From Fox News:

"Doctors believe a 42-year-old man was cured of HIV after receiving a stem cell transplant in 2007, the medical journal Blood reported.

Timothy Ray Brown, an HIV-positive American living in Germany, had leukemia and was undergoing chemotherapy, when he received a transplant of stem cells from a donor carrying a rare, inherited gene mutation associated with a reduced risk HIV.

transplant appeared to wipe out both diseases, giving hope to doctors. Brown’s case was published in a February 2009 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"The patient is fine," Dr. Gero Hutter, who treated Brown, of Charite Universitatsmedizin Berlin in Germany said in 2009. "Today, two years after his transplantation, he is still without any signs of HIV
disease and without antiretroviral medication."

We repeat what has been one of our mantras here at "A Shepherd's Voice" ever since Prop 71 in California passed:

"Are California voters having second thoughts yet about shelling out $3 billion + for immoral & unproven embryonic stem cell research, which has yet to show a single cure, while adult stem cells are curing people left and right?"

Meanwhile, our President funds this useless and immoral embryonic reasearch.

For all of our stem -cell posts, go here, and, as always, check out the blog of Don Margolis for the latest adult stem-cell (or as Don calls them "repair stem cell") news.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

The good people of San Francisco marching in honor of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe on Mission Street this weekend.

h/t Whispers in the Loggia, where there are many more videos of marches around the country.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Kill,kill kill

"Kill, kill, kill," was the battle cry of suicide bombers belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq, a militant organization connected to al Qaeda in Iraq, as they stormed a Chaldean church in Baghdad. A spokesman for the group subsequently claimed they did so "to light the fuse of a campaign against Iraqi Christians." The assailants' more immediate grievance seems related to a demand that two Muslim women, allegedly held against their will in Egyptian Coptic Monisteries. Wen Iraqi government forces attempted to free approximately 120 parishioners who had been taken hostage, the terrorists -- who had already shot dead some of the churchgoers -- detonated their suicide vests and grenades, slaughtering at least half the congregation.

But the massacre in Baghdad is only the most spectacular example of mounting discrimination and persecution of the native Christian communities of Iraq and Iran, which are now in the middle of a massive exodus unprecedented in modern times as they confront a rising tide of Islamic militancy and religious chauvinism sweeping the region.

Christians are the largest non-Muslim religious minority in both Iraq and Iran, with roots in the Middle East that date back to the earliest days of the faith. Some follow the Apostolic Orthodox Armenian Church. Others subscribe to the 2,000-year-old Syriac tradition represented mainly by the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq…

A member of the National Council of Churches in Iran,
Firouz Khandjani, lamented in August, "We are facing the worst persecution" in many decades, including loss of employment, homes, liberties, and lives, he said, "We fear losing everything."

In Iraq, Chaldean and Assyrian Christian communities have witnessed
increasing violence by militant Muslims against their neighborhoods, children, and religious sites since the U.S. invasion. Even pastors are not safe -- two died in the recent Baghdad bombing; many have been killed by Sunni and Shiite Iraqis since 2003. In Iran, other clergymen, including members of the Armenian, Protestant, and Catholic churches, have been arrested, kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured, or even summarily executed, over the past three decades.

"Many Christians from Mosul have been systematically targeted and are no longer safe there," said
Laurens Jolles, a UNHCR representative, in 2008, after Chaldean women were raped while their men, including Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, were tortured and killed in warnings to Christians to abandon their homes and livelihoods. In Iran, Christian clerics have been targeted -- Tateos Mikaelian, senior paor of St. John's Armenian Evangelical Church in Tehran was assassinated in 1994, as was Bishop Haik Hovsepian Mehr, who headed the evangelical Assemblies of God Church...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"What is Marriage?"

There is a wonderful essay answering that question in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. The authors are Sherif Girgis and Robert George of Princeton and Ryan T. Anderson of Notre Dame. You can download it here. We've excerpted a portion below.

B) Real Marriage IS--And Is Only--The Union of Husband and Wife

As many people acknowledge, marriage involves: first, a comprehensive union of spouses; second, a special link to children; and third, norms of permanence, monogamy, and exclusivity. All three elements point to the conjugal understanding of marriage.

1) Comprehensive Union

Marriage is distinguished from every other form of friendship inasmuch as it is comprehensive. It involves a sharing of lives and resources, and a union of minds and wills—hence, among other things, the requirement of consent for forming a marriage. But on the conjugal view, it also includes organic bodily union. This is because the body is a real part of the person, not just his costume, vehicle, or property. Human beings are not properly understood as nonbodily persons—minds, ghosts, consciousnesses—that inhabit and use nonpersonal bodies. After all, if someone ruins your car, he vandalizes your property, but if he amputates your leg, he injures you. Because the body is an inherent part of the human person, there is a difference in kind between vandalism and violation; between destruction of property and mutilation of bodies.

Likewise, because our bodies are truly aspects of us as persons, any union of two people that did not involve organic bodily union would not be comprehensive—it would leave out
an important part of each person’s being. Because persons are body‐mind composites, a bodily union extends the relationship of two friends along an entirely new dimension of their being
as persons. If two people want to unite in the comprehensive way proper to marriage, they must (among other things) unite organically—that is, in the bodily dimension of their being.

This necessity of bodily union can be seen most clearly by imagining the alternatives. Suppose that Michael and Michelle build their relationship not on sexual exclusivity, but on tennis
exclusivity. They pledge to play tennis with each other, and only with each other, until death do them part. Are they thereby married? No. Substitute for tennis any nonsexual activity
at all, and they still aren’t married: Sexual exclusivity— exclusivity with respect to a specific kind of bodily union—is required. But what is it about sexual intercourse that makes it
uniquely capable of creating bodily union? People’s bodies can touch and interact in all sorts of ways, so why does only sexual union make bodies in any significant sense “one flesh”?

Our organs—our heart and stomach, for example—are parts of one body because they are coordinated, along with other parts, for a common biological purpose of the whole: our biological life. It follows that for two individuals to unite organically, and thus bodily, their bodies must be coordinated for some biological purpose of the whole.

That sort of union is impossible in relation to functions such as digestion and circulation, for which the human individual is by nature sufficient. But individual adults are naturally incomplete with respect to one biological function: sexual reproduction. In coitus, but not in other forms of sexual contact, a man and a woman’s bodies coordinate by way of their sexual organs for the common biological purpose of reproduction. They perform the first step of the complex reproductive process. Thus, their bodies become, in a strong sense, one—they are biologically united, and do not merely rub together—in coitus (and only in coitus), similarly to the way in which one’s heart, lungs, and other organs form a unity: by coordinating for the biological good of the whole. In this case, the whole is made up of the man and woman as a couple, and the biological good of that whole is their reproduction.

Here is another way of looking at it. Union on any plane— bodily, mental, or whatever—involves mutual coordination on that plane, toward a good on that plane. When Einstein and Bohr discussed a physics problem, they coordinated intellectually for an intellectual good, truth. And the intellectual union they enjoyed was real, whether or not its ultimate target (in this case, a theoretical solution) was reached—assuming, as we safely can, that both Einstein and Bohr were honestly seeking truth and not merely pretending while engaging in deception or other acts which would make their apparent intellectual union only an illusion.

By extension, bodily union involves mutual coordination toward a bodily good—which is realized only through coitus. And this union occurs even when conception, the bodily good toward which sexual intercourse as a biological function is oriented, does not occur. In other words, organic bodily unity is achieved when a man and woman coordinate to perform an act of the kind that causes conception. This act is traditionally called the act of generation or the generative act;if (and only if) it is a free and loving expression of the spouses’ permanent and exclusive commitment, then it is also a marital act.

Because interpersonal unions are valuable in themselves, and not merely as means to other ends, a husband and wife’s loving bodily union in coitus and the special kind of relationship to
which it is integral are valuable whether or not conception results and even when conception is not sought. But two men or two women cannot achieve organic bodily union since there is no bodily good or function toward which their bodies can coordinate, reproduction being the only candidate. This is a clear sense in which their union cannot be marital, if marital means comprehensive and comprehensive means, among other things, bodily.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Army, Air Force, Marine Chiefs Against DADT Repeal

Contrary to the statements in the local press, most of the officers of our armed forces are not in agreement with changing the Don't Ask, Don 't tell policy:

December 3, 2010 12:19 PM
At today's Senate hearing, three of the four service chiefs expressed opposition to repealing the Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy on gays in the military. "My recommendation is that we should not implement repeal at this time," said Marine Corps commandant General James F. Amos (watch his opening statement
here). "I cannot reconcile, nor turn my back on the Marines most engaged in the day-to-day work of operations in Afghanistan," said Amos. The Pentagon's survey showed that 67% of Marines in combat arms units--infantry, artillery, armor--believe repealing DADT would have a negative effect on their unit's performance.

"What the survey did not identify is the risk to the force should repeal be undertaken while the Corps is engaged in its 9th year of combat operations," Amos said. "Assimilating openly homosexual Marines into the tightly woven fabric of our combat units has strong potential for disruption at the small-unit level, as it will no doubt divert leadership, attention away from an almost singular focus of preparing units for combat."Amos later quoted a Marine lieutenant, who wrote in a letter: "My team's effectiveness is directly tied to its cohesiveness. Despite differences, we are so close that we anticipate each other's next move in garrison and in combat. Our ability to do our job is predicated on this kind of relationship. If you were to add any element of sexual competition, inter-unit sexuality, or hesitance in trust, it would unquestionably prevent those bonds from forming or immediately destroy them if introduced."

While the chief of the Navy, Admiral Gary Roughead, supports repeal, the chiefs of the Army and Air Force do not.
Said Army Chief of Staff General George Casey: "Implementation of repeal of DADT in the near term will 1) add another level of stress to an already stretched force; 2) be more difficult in combat arms; and 3) be more difficult for the Army than the report suggests."
"I believe that the law should be repealed eventually," Casey said later under questioning from Senator John McCain. "I would not recommend going forward at this time."

"I agree with General Casey," said Air Force chief General Norton A. Schwartz. "I do not think it prudent to seek full implementation in the near-term."
John McCormack
Weekly Standard.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Seventh Annual Walk for Life West Coast!

Right here in San Francisco on Saturday, January 22, 2011! Here's the official video from the 2010 Walk:

For more information, visit

Friday, December 3, 2010

Judge Reinhardt rules against recusing himself--Pro same-sex "marriage" columnist says he should have

No surprise. Emphasis added.

"I have before me defendants-intervenors-appellants’ motion to disqualify myself from this appeal. I have not hesitated to recuse from cases in the past when doing so was warranted by the circumstances. See Khatib v. County of Orange, 622 F.3d 1074, 1074 (9th Cir. 2010); Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc., 586 F.3d 1108, 1109 (9th Cir. 2009); Buono v. Kempthorne, 527 F.3d 758, 760 (9th Cir. 2008); Sw. Voter Registration Educ. Project v. Shelley, 344 F.3d 913, 914 (9th Cir. 2003); Valeria v. Davis, 320 F.3d 1014, 1015 n.** (9th Cir. 2003); Alvarez-Machain v. United States, 284 F.3d 1039, 1039 n.1 (9th Cir. 2002); Coalition for Econ. Equity v. Wilson, 122 F.3d 692, 711 (9th Cir. 1997).

Here, for reasons that I shall provide in a memorandum to be filed in due course, I am certain that “a reasonable person with knowledge of all the facts would [not] conclude that [my] impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”
(see below) United States v. Nelson, 718 F.2d 315, 321 (9th Cir. 1983); see also Sao Paulo State of the Federated Republic of Brazil v. Am. Tobacco Co., 535 U.S. 229, 233 (2002) (per curiam). I will be able to rule impartially on this appeal, and I will do so.
(Well, that settles that.)

The motion is therefore DENIED."

Ed Whelan links to a column written yesterday by Ann Woolner on Bloomberg News. Ms. Woolner supports same-sex "marriage" but even she sees the problem with Reinhardt's not recusing himself.

"Like Virginia Thomas, (Ramona Ripston) can say whatever she believes about any case, even if her husband may eventually help decide it. But Ripston did more than that. The organization she works for advocated the same cause in a state court that is now being advocated before her husband in federal court.

No Recuse

True, the cases aren’t identical, as the current case claims same-sex marriage is protected by the U.S. Constitution, whereas the earlier one was based on the California state constitution.

Reinhardt said yesterday in an order that he’s not going anywhere.

'I will be able to rule impartially on this appeal, and I will do so,' he wrote.

It seems like a close call to me, and because of that, he should have stepped aside. The link between his wife’s legal work and his judicial work is too close.

The over-arching principle as to when federal judges should recuse themselves is whether the mere appearance of bias is reasonable. That’s according to the federal judiciary’s Code of Conduct and Supreme Court precedent. I think it’s reasonable in Reinhardt’s case."

According to Judge Reinhardt's satement, Ms. Woolner has just joined the ranks of the unreasonable.