Tuesday, April 29, 2014

George Wesolek Has Gone Home to the Lord

Early Monday morning, George Wesolek, the longtime Director of the Office of Public Policy and Social Concerns for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, went home to the Lord. 

George had been suffering from cancer for a while, and in the last two weeks, unfortunately, it rapidly grew much worse. There will be many tributes to George: a man known, as our good Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone said, for "his kind and gentle spirit." 

That is so true, and George was so kind and gentle that it was easy to forget that he, like his namesake Saint, was a defender of the defenseless, and, if necessary, a slayer of dragons.

His great friend and comrade through many struggles, Vicki Evans, the Respect Life Coordinator of the Archdiocese, remembers George:

George Wesolek died recently. With him died an era. George was the Director of Public Policy and Social Concerns for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. When he took over this position more than 25 years ago, the landscape in San Francisco was very different from what it is today with respect to pro-life issues. There was no Walk for Life West Coast. There was no 40-Days for Life. There was little support in the local Church hierarchy for life issues after Roe v. Wade made its "statement" on behalf of America. Social justice issues were prominent and embraced and accepted; life issues were less significant and much less acceptable in polite company. But George championed both issues equally, a bit of a heresy for his age. He encountered opposition at USCCB conferences and on the Catholic Charities Board of Directors when he equated life issues with social justice issues. But his resolve never diminished. His love for the poor---and he deeply loved the poor---never eclipsed his support for the unborn, those who had no one except the Catholic Church to speak for them.  

Fast forward 25 years. We now have an Archbishop in San Francisco who considers life issues a top priority. Pro-life culture is now more embraced. Today it is easier to be pro-life because there is more widespread active support from a greater number of bishops. But it was not always so. Ten years ago when the Walk for Life West Coast came into being, George Wesolek was the one who believed in it, sanctioned it, argued on its behalf, sent resources to it and made it a priority of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. I would venture to say that the Walk for Life would not exist in its present form had George not stood with its organizers from day one, convincing the powers that be that it was all right to be involved with such a radical idea. George had vision, took chances, because it was right. He was called the "guardian of orthodoxy" in a derisive tone by some of the more politically correct in local Catholic circles.    

Today, the Archbishop of San Francisco and the Archdiocese of San Francisco have an easier road to embracing orthodoxy when it comes to life issues. George embraced it when it was hard. In terms made famous by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, George demonstrated costly grace, not cheap grace. We are where we are today because of his acceptance of avant-garde ideas when they were unpopular---even inflammatory. We shouldn't forget our history or discount those who made the sacrifices which are the foundation of what has been built. In characteristic human fashion, however, George's contributions will be discounted and forgotten by the world in which we live. But I am certain his reward is great in heaven.

I'm sure Our Lord had his arms wide open to welcome George, His good and faithful servant. Our thoughts and prayers are with George's family, his friends, and his many, many admirers.

Rest in Peace, brother! 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Mark Steyn: The Popes versus the "Empire of Lies"

On Saturday, in preparation for the canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II, Mark Steyn published this excerpt from his book Mark Steyn's Passing Parade. The "empire of lies," as Mr. Steyn indicates was not only the Soviet Union, but any totalitarian regime, such as the totalitarian liberalism that now dominates the West.

Truth and Consequences

"How many divisions has the Pope?" sneered Stalin of Pius XII. Uncle Joe's successors lived long enough to find out. John Paul II's divisions were the Poles who filled the streets to cheer him on his return as pontiff to his homeland in the summer of 1979, and the brave men who founded the Solidarity union 18 months later, and began the chain of events that within a decade swept the Communists from power in Central and Eastern Europe and finally Mother Russia itself. One day we will know the precise combination of Bulgarian Secret Service, East German Stasi and Soviet KGB that lay behind the 1981 assassination attempt on the Holy Father. But you can see why they'd be willing to do it. By then the sclerotic Warsaw Pact understood just how many divisions this Pope had.

Twenty-six years ago, one young physics student summed up the hopes he and his compatriots had invested in that Papal visit in this simple declaration: "What I want to do is to live without being a liar." The Soviet Union and its vassals were an empire of lies, and, while you can mitigate (as many Poles and Russians did) the gulf between the official version and grim reality with bleak jokes, living an epic lie day in day out is corrosive of human dignity. That Polish physics student had identified instinctively what would be the great over-arching theme of John Paul II's papacy: to quote the title of his later encyclical, Veritatis Splendor – the splendor of truth.
Too many western politicians of a generation ago – Schmidt, Mitterand, Trudeau – failed to see what John Paul saw so clearly. It requires tremendous will to cling to the splendor of truth when the default mode of the era is to blur and evade.

And in that respect, across a turbulent half-century, there's more continuity between John Paul II and John XXIII than you might expect, and, indeed, with the intervening papacy of Paul VI. Shortly after John XXIII's death, Pope Paul's Humanae Vitae predicted that artificial birth control would lead to "conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality," the objectification of women, and governments "imposing upon their peoples" state-approved methods of contraception. You might conceivably claim that the collective damage they have done does not outweigh the individual benefits they have brought to many, but you can't argue that Pope Paul's summation wasn't right on the money - or that either his "liberal" predecessor or his "conservative" successor (after John Paul I's interlude) would have disagreed with him. It fell to John Paul II to defend veritatis splendor not only, politically, in the eastern bloc, but, culturally, in the western world, where it proved a tougher sell:

As The New York Times reported upon his death:
Among liberal Catholics, he was criticized for his strong opposition to abortion, homosexuality and contraception…
Shocking: a Pope who's opposed to abortion, homosexuality and contraception; what's the world coming to? The Guardian's assertion that Karol Wojtyla was "a doctrinaire, authoritarian pontiff" at least suggests the inflexible authoritarian derived his inflexibility from some ancient operating manual – he was doctrinaire about his doctrine, dogmatic about his dogma – unlike the Times and The Washington Post, which came close to implying that John Paul II had taken against abortion and gay marriage off the top of his head, principally to irk "liberal Catholics". But, either way, the assumption is always that there's some middle ground a less "doctrinaire" pope might have staked out: he might have supported abortion in the first trimester, say, or reciprocal partner benefits for gays in committed relationships.

The root of the Pope's thinking – that there are eternal truths no-one can change even if he wanted to – is completely incomprehensible to the progressivist mindset. There are no absolute truths, everything's in play, and by "consensus" all we're really arguing is the rate of concession to the inevitable: abortion's here to stay, gay marriage will be here any day now – it's all gonna happen anyway, man, so why be the last squaresville daddy-o on the block?

When Governor Jim McGreevey announced he was stepping down, he told the people of New Jersey: "My truth is that I am a gay American." That's a very contemporary formulation: "my" truth. To John Paul II, there was only "the" truth. To the moral relativists, everyone's entitled to his own – or, as the Governor continued, "one has to look deeply into the mirror of one's soul and decide one's unique truth in the world." Among liberal "Catholics" in Manhattan and Boston, the pontiff may be a reactionary misogynist homophobe condom-banner but, beyond those stunted horizons, he was a man fully engaged with the modern world and shrewder at reconciling it with the splendor of the eternal truth than most politicians. Western liberals claim the Pope's condom hang-ups have had tragic consequences in Aids-riddled Africa. The Dark Continent gets darker every year: millions are dying, male life expectancy is collapsing, and such civil infrastructure as there is seems likely to follow. But the most effective weapon against the disease has not been the Aids lobby's 20-year promotion of condom culture in Africa but Uganda's campaign to change behaviour and to emphasise abstinence and fidelity – ie, the Pope's position. You don't have to be a Catholic or a "homophobe" to think that the spread of Aids is telling us something basic – that nature is not sympathetic to sexual promiscuity. If it weren't Aids, it would be something else, as it has been for most of human history. What should be the Christian response? To accept that we're merely the captives of our appetites, like a dog in heat? Or to ask us to rise to the rank God gave us – "a little lower than the angels" but above "the beasts of the field"? In The Gospel Of Life, the Pope wrote:
Sexuality too is depersonalized and exploited: …it increasingly becomes the occasion and instrument for self-assertion and the selfish satisfaction of personal desires and instincts. Thus the original import of human sexuality is distorted and falsified, and the two meanings, unitive and procreative, inherent in the very nature of the conjugal act, are artificially separated…
Had the Pope signed on to condom distribution in Africa, he would have done nothing to reduce the spread of Aids, but he would have done a lot to advance the further artificial separation of sex, in Africa and beyond. Indeed, if you look at The New York Times' list of complaints against the Pope they all boil down to what he called sex as self-assertion.

Thoughtful atheists ought to be able to recognize that, whatever one's tastes in these areas, the Pope is on to something – that abortion et al, in separating the "two meanings" of sex and leaving us free to indulge in one while ignoring the other, have severed us almost entirely and possibly irreparably from traditional impulses, like societal survival. Given what Aids has done to African mortality rates and what abortion has done to European demographics, John Paul II's eternal truths look a lot more rational than those of the hyperrationalists at The New York Times. John Paul II championed the "splendor of truth" not because he was rigid and inflexible, but because he understood the alternative was a dead end in every sense. To Karol Wojtyla, truth was not just splendid but immutable: he proved his point in the struggle against Communism; one day the west will recognize that he got it right closer to home, too.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Charlotte Catholic High School: Austin Ruse Reports

Austin Ruse, the president of C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute), whose crucial work at the United Nations has made him quite familiar with the tactics of the sexual immorality lobby, explores what really happened last month at Charlotte Catholic High School. For those who don't know or don't remember, a nun named Sister Jane Dominic Laurel introduced the students to the teaching of the Catholic Church on sexuality. It was probably the first time they'd heard it! A group of dissenting parents, enabled and abetted by a media to whom immorality is praiseworthy and  the concept of normalcy is blasphemous, couldn't take it. 

What Really happened at Charlotte Catholic HS

The angry Tweets started before the nun’s talk ended.

“My dad doesn’t love me because I’m gay?” followed by a supportive amen chorus, “We got you, man.”

Such was the level of debate that began even before the end of Sister Jane Dominic Laurel’s talk to an all-school assembly at Charlotte Catholic High School last month.

The nun’s talked roiled the school, her religious congregation and the college where she teaches for weeks, became an internet sensation and a national scandal, and it appears to have started with students only half listening followed by a cacophony on social media, all the while egged on by faculty and a group of divorced parents...."

Read the whole thing in Crisis Magazine. Our bishops better be prepared for this to continue whenever Catholicism is taught in Catholic High Schools, unless they willing to abandon the physical and salvation of the students. The enemies of the Church command the highest places in American and European society, and, as Mr. Ruse said, they are aided and abetted by enemies of the Church within the 'Catholic' schools. It's not just Charlotte, of course: see here, here, here, and here, for California Catholic Daily's reports on the situation within our own Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Lovely and Powerful: Judge Tom Parker's Abortion Opinion a Restoral of Sanity

Following the absurd "reasoning" of Roe v. Wade (noted even by its supporters), wholesale self-delusion has been  required to support the position that a woman has a "right" to kill a child. Because the majority of the media and academia support this position, however, they have not been backward in supplying it. So it is almost astonishing to read an opinion so clear, so logical, so sensible, so compelling, as that offered by Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker on Good Friday.

From LifeSiteNews:

Unborn child has ‘inalienable’ right to life ‘at all stages of development’: Alabama Supreme Court
Children in the womb should have the same legal standing as other children, the Supreme Court of Alabama ruled Friday.

The decision upheld the prior conviction of Sarah Janie Hicks for “the chemical endangerment of her child,” when she exposed her unborn baby to cocaine. The boy, referred to as “JD,” was born testing positive for cocaine.

The 8-1 decision reaffirmed the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling in a similar case last year that the word “child” includes “unborn child”...

According to Justice Tom Parker, who wrote the majority decision, “It is impossible for an unborn child to be a separate and distinct person at a particular point in time in one respect and not to be a separate and distinct person at the same point in time but in another respect. Because an unborn child has an inalienable right to life from its earliest stages of development, it is entitled not only to a life free from the harmful effects of chemicals at all stages of development but also to life itself at all stages of development. Treating an unborn child as a separate and distinct person in only select respects defies logic and our deepest sense of morality...
'Courts do not have the luxury of hiding behind ipse dixit assertions,' which means that courts cannot rule simply to uphold the legal status quo but must, in this case, 'allow the law of non-contradiction' to come into play, in order to 'recognize a child's inalienable right to life at all stages of development.'

Until this is the case, the judge added, 'our grief is not for the Constitution alone; we also grieve for the millions of children who have not been afforded equal value, love, and protection since Roe.'

'In contrast to the reasoning of Roe and Casey, Alabama’s reliance upon objective principles has led this court to consistently recognize the inalienable right to life inherently possessed by every human being and to dispel the shroud of doubt cast by the United States Supreme Court’s violation of the law of non-contradiction,' said Parker."

Wesley Smith, a man we admire, covered the decision in National Review. He opened his article with the sentence:

"This will not impact the abortion issue because of federal preemption."

We disagree. It may not impact the issue legally, at least immediately, but laws change, and, not ignoring the millions killed through abortion, one of the most important consequences of Roe v. Wade has been the requisite denial of reality that followed. That is healed through truth compellingly articulated, something Judge Parker has done.Roe v. Wade will be overturned; Judge Parker has taken a significant step in that direction.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Yale Students Throw Pro-Life Group out of "Social Justice Network"

Legalized abortion undermines the structural integrity of any system of human rights or social justice.


On April 17, the Yale Daily News reported:

"After spending the year as a provisional member of Dwight Hall, Choose Life at Yale (CLAY) — Yale’s pro-life student organization — was denied full membership status in Dwight Hall’s Social Justice Network for the upcoming school year.

The approximately 90-member Dwight Hall Cabinet, which comprises member group leaders and executive committee members, gathered Wednesday night to vote on CLAY’s status within Dwight Hall. After deliberation, they denied the organization membership, blocking further access to Dwight Hall’s resources, including funds, cars and printing services...."

Two days earlier, on April 15, 2014 Andre Manuel wrote an op-ed in the Yale Daily News:

"To allow CLAY into the Social Justice Network would signal that we consider its work social justice, and would compel Dwight Hall to divert funds away from groups that do important work pursuing actual social justice and helping communities in New Haven and around the world. Social justice means fighting injustice and discrimination, and working to provide everyone with the chance to live a full and enriching life."

"The chance to live a full and enriching life." It is not the first time Americans have defended injustice by an inversion of reality. Here's a little free education for the Yale kids, more, apparently, than they are getting at their university.  Mr. Manuel's statement is startlingly reminiscent to those made by supporters of slavery. One such was Senator John C. Calhoun:

"Slavery is indispensable to a republican government. ... There cannot be a durable republican government without slavery." (The Great Triumvirate: Webster, Clay, and Calhoun; Merrill D. Peterson, 1987)"

The proper response  to Calhoun was given by one man who did get it, Abraham Lincoln:

 "The Democracy (Lincoln was here referring to the Democratic Party) of to-day hold the liberty of one man to be absolutely nothing, when in conflict with another man's right of property." (The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol. II; Roy P. Basler, Editor)

Lincoln understood that what we had in conflict in the battle over legalized slavery were two rights: the right to property and the right to liberty. He also understood that you can't have a right to property unless you have liberty. The two rights are not equal. One comes first, the other can only follow.

Today what we have in conflict in the battle over legalized abortion are two rights: the right to liberty and the right to life. What the young people at Yale's Social Justice Network need to learn is that you cannot have a right to liberty unless you have life. One comes first, the other can only follow. If you believe a woman has the right to have an abortion, you have already conceded she has a right to life. If you are willing to deny her the right to life, you are at the same time taking away any and all other rights she has, including the "right" to an abortion. 

Legalized abortion undermines the structural integrity of any system of human rights or social justice. And such rights always exist in a system, never by themselves. 

Welcome to Obamacare: "What good is coverage if you can’t use it?"

Do tell.

"What good is coverage if you can’t use it?" That's the question asked by a lady named Thinn Ong, who signed up for Obamacare. From San Francisco's CBS News affiliate:

"MOUNTAIN VIEW (KPIX 5) – While open enrollment for coverage under the Affordable Care Act is closed, many of the newly insured are finding they can’t find doctors, landing them into a state described as 'medical homelessness.'

Rotacare, a free clinic for the uninsured in Mountain View, is dealing with the problem firsthand.

Mirella Nguyen works at the clinic said staffers dutifully helped uninsured clients sign up for Obamacare so they would no longer need the free clinic.

But months later, the clinic’s former patients are coming back to the clinic begging for help. 'They’re coming back to us now and saying I can’t find a doctor,' said Nguyen.

Thinn Ong was thrilled to qualify for a subsidy on the health care exchange. She is paying $200 a month in premiums. But the single mother of two is asking, what for?

'Yeah, I sign it. I got it. But where’s my doctor? Who’s my doctor? I don’t know,' said a frustrated Ong.

Nguyen said the newly insured patients checked the physicians’ lists they were provided and were told they weren’t accepting new patients or they did not participate in the plan..."

"Dr. Kevin Grumbach of UCSF called the phenomenon 'medical homelessness,' where patients are caught adrift in a system woefully short of primary care doctors.

'Insurance coverage is a necessary but not a sufficient condition to assure that people get access to care when they need it,' Grumbach said.

Do tell, again. Gee, you mean the magic word "insurance" does not mean people will get health care? The poor lady is worse off than before: FORCED to pay 200 bucks a month for nothing. Welcome to Obamacare. I do like that "necessary but not sufficient", though. Sounds like the good Doctor studied with the Angelic Doctor.

Those who can’t find a doctor are supposed to lodge a complaint with state regulators, who have been denying the existence of a doctor shortage for months.

Meanwhile, the sick and insured can’t get appointments.

'What good is coverage if you can’t use it?' Nguyen said."

A Blessed, Happy, Joyful Easter to ALL!

Are there any who are devout lovers of God?

Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!

Are there any who are grateful servants?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!

If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.
For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.

To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.
Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!

First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!
You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!

Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.

Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.
He destroyed Hell when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.

Isaiah foretold this when he said,
"You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."
Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.

Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.

O death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!

Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

The Easter sermon of John Chrysostom (circa 400 AD)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Homosexual Totalitarianism: Talk About proving a point!

Yesterday I commented on SFGate's (the website of the San Francisco Chronicle) latest story about Brendan Eich, the CEO of Mozilla, forced to resign because his support of natural marriage. You can read my comment, screen-captured from the SF Gate website here:

"Content disabled"--talk about proving my point!

I could only even do the screenshot when logged in through my SF Gate commenter account. If you go there you won't see the comment because "any though or action that challenges same-sex 'marriage' must be banished."

Friday, April 11, 2014

Archbishop Cordileone and Metropolitan Gerasimos Lead Prayer Service

Our good shepherd, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, met with His Eminence, Metropolitan Gerasimos, at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Cross in veneration of the relic of the Holy Cross of our Lord, April 8th, 2014. 

His Excellency sent out an email describing the meeting (which linked to an MP3 recording of his speech--I hope this link works. If it does not, the text may be found here). 

From the Archbishop:

"The Churches of the East and the West came together yesterday for prayer, and veneration of the instrument of our salvation, the Holy Cross of our Lord.

We recalled John Chapter 17 when Jesus expressed His desire for unity among believers, that we would all be one. There will be no unity without a healthy spirit of penance, and the cross.

How appropriate that our meeting was to take place during lent, a time of penance, in a year where we will sharing together the Pascal Mystery with coinciding calendars.

Also, within weeks a great historic meeting of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and His Holiness Pope Francis will take place in Jerusalem.

I am sure that these steps to bring our two churches together are pleasing to our Lord. Please continue to pray with us for unity among Christians."


His Excellency's entire speech was learned and moving. I repost the excerpt below, because it speaks to one of my (many) failings:

"How much poverty, how much violence, how much oppression is caused, at its root, by an incorrect understanding of the human person? If I see my neighbor as a means to achieve an end that I desire – even if that end is to assuage my conscience by giving from my surplus to respond to my neighbor’s need, and then I can then be rid of him or her – have I not undermined my neighbor’s God-given dignity? But when we understand and live by the sacramental principle that God created man and woman in His own image and likeness, then I see God revealed in my neighbor; I come to my neighbor’s assistance not to give something in response to need, but to make a gift of my very self. When I approach my neighbor not motivated by giving in response to need, but by love in response to love, then the encounter becomes act of true charity in which the true face of Christ is revealed."

Will the Holy Father be called a bigot? You bet.

By the disordered standards of this day and time, the Holy Father is a bigot. Why? Because he thinks it best that a child be raised by a mother and a father:

"Pope Francis also spoke about the importance of defending children's right 'to grow in a family with a mother and father able to create a healthy environment for their growth and affective maturity,' which includes 'maturing in relationship to the masculinity and femininity of a father and a mother.'"

It's called reality. His Holiness also took aim at the indoctrination of children in government run (and, scandalously "Catholic") schools:

"Parents have a right to determine the appropriate 'moral and religious education' of their children, he said, and should not be subject to school curriculums that are thinly veiled courses of indoctrination into whatever ideology is strongest at the moment.

The pope said he wonders sometimes whether parents are 'sending a child to school or to a re-education camp' like those run by dictatorial governments."

I don't think he really "wonders" if that's the case. He knows it is, he's just choosing a nice way to say it.

He also reiterated Catholic/Natural Law teaching on abortion, calling it an unspeakable crime:

"Pope Francis on Friday reiterated human life is sacred and inviolable during a meeting with Italy’s Pro-Life Movement (Movimento per la Vita), adding every civil right is based on the 'first and most fundamental right,' the right to life: which is not subordinate to any condition, neither qualitative, nor economic, much less ideological.

The Holy Father said one of the most serious risks of the present age is the divorce between economics and morality, so that as the market gives us every technical innovation, it neglects more and more elementary ethical standards.

'It is must be therefore reiterated the strongest opposition to any direct attack on life, especially innocent and defenseless life, and the unborn child in the womb is the most concrete example of innocence,' said Pope Francis. 'Let us remember the words of the Second Vatican Council: From the moment of its conception, life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes.' ( Gaudium et Spes, 51).