... Vining believes that practicing civil disobedience today is riskier than ever and that it's important for those involved in a protest -- even someone who may want only to march and not be arrested on principle -- to be aware of the potential dangers and prepare themselves. ... full story
The article is detailed and positive. Naturally, the acts of civil disobedience for which the participants were preparing themselves are anti-globalization and anti-war protests. Not, say, sit-ins to try to protect babies from abortionists.
"... Granholm has strong support not only among women but among men. She's backed by nearly a third of those who consider themselves abortion opponents, even though she supports abortion rights and Posthumus opposes abortion. ..." full story
Planned Parenthood: treaty establishes childrens' right to abortion
October 25, 2002
Volume 5, Number 44
IPPF Says UN Child Rights Treaty Endorses Abortion for Children
International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) has started distributing a brochure to informing children that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has established for them an international right to abortion.
According to the brochure, just posted on the IPPF website, both the CRC’s recognition of a child’s right to life as well as a child’s right to health can be interpreted to mean that children should have access to abortion. For example, the CRC’s broad right to health includes the right to “visit a doctor or nurse to receive the full range of sexual and reproductive health services that are available and legal in your country, including contraceptives [and] abortion services” Also, because children have a right to life, they must be protected from reproductive problems that could threaten their lives, “such as…unsafe [illegal] abortion.”
The brochure also informs children that the CRC frees them from any parental interference in their sexual education or in the provision of reproductive services. Because children have a right to health, “No one should turn you away or stop you from receiving services, or demand that you get someone else’s permission first (e.g. the permission of a parent).” The right to privacy means that “If you tell a medical person or a teacher something that you don’t want anyone else to know, then he or she should respect your privacy.”
According to IPPF, the CRC firmly establishes a child’s right to complete sexual freedom and autonomy. As the brochure tells children, “You should be given wide-ranging and easy to understand information on sexual and reproductive issues that will let you feel comfortable with yourself, your body and your sexuality. This information should enable you to make your own decisions about your sexual and reproductive health.”
The CRC is the most universally accepted UN document in history, having been ratified by every country except Somalia and the United States. Prominent international law scholars such as Richard Wilkins of Brigham Young University have argued that a significant threat posed by documents like the CRC lies in their vague language, which can be reinterpreted long after nations have ratified the documents. Abortion, for instance, is not mentioned in the original CRC document. IPPF admits that it is attempting to teach children about “the links between the rights, as laid out in the Convention, and sexual and reproductive rights – traditionally one of the most controversial areas in UN discussion.”
Both IPPF’s global reach and its prominent role within the United Nations system may render this interpretation of the CRC particularly influential.
IPPF, the world’s largest abortion provider, was assisted in the production of the brochure by Ipas, a US-based manufacturer of manual vacuum aspirator abortion devices, which claims to have supplied these devices to UNICEF, and by the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy (CRLP), which litigates for abortion on demand in every nation on earth.
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Has any Bush administration official flown to Riyadh to instruct Crown Prince Abdullah in the tenuous nature of power, as Secretary Powell did with Musharraf? Has anyone from the CIA, the FBI, or the State Department demanded to review in detail the Saudi intelligence and security files on the myriad institutions, some state-supported and some not, which spread Saudi money Wahhabism around the world? Seeking a "coalition of common interest and intelligence" with the Saudis on radical Islamic fundamentalism is a surreal endeavor. Reversing the lesson of Khobar, however, is more doable. Just ask the small Gulf sheikhdoms how the Saudis conduct power politics. Washington should do unto Riyadh as it does unto others. Whatever our intelligence take is from the Saudis - and Saudi intelligence was in the best position of any Arab service to penetrate al Qaeda before its bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa, attack on the USS Cole, and 9/11 - adherence to this "golden rule" could only make the relationship better. It couldn't make it worse.
There are problems with Gerecht's war-to-save-face line. But some of what he says makes a lot of sense, I think. And the House of Saud has got to go.
As has been known since Plato's Republic, what we read does matter. Lots of kids today are reading Harry Potter. Is that good or bad? The Potter series has been criticized as promoting occultism, and has been defended from these criticisms. Amy Welborn has blogged a recent defense of Potter as Christian fiction. The post has generated some comments, including a couple from Sandra Miesel, who at my instigation ("Fight! Fight! Fight!") has responded briefly to Michael O'Brien's Catholic World Report article critical of Potter and his subsequent response to Sandra's letter to that publication. O'Brien tries to distinguish the use of magic in the Potter series from that in Tolkien; Sandra finds the distinction unconvincing and the Potter books, like Tolkien, defensible.
My brief thoughts: I've never read Potter - or Tolkien. Just not my genre. Call me a Philistine. However, I would question the view that a book that shows good characters doing magic is a bad book, even while I would certainly agree that we ought to stay away from magic. Constructing a world in which magic is taken for granted, and exploring how morality would work in that world, just isn't the same thing as promoting it or otherwise encouraging people to dabble in it. It seems to me the real question about the Potter books is whether or not they successfully use a world of magic to teach a moral lesson. The answer to that question would turn on the details of the behavior of Harry and the other characters.
"VATICAN CITY, OCT. 24, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II says the enlargement of the European Union to include countries of the East should serve to overcome at last the divisions that emerged after World War II. ..." more
As the pope has taught elsewhere, our communion with each other in Christ must be expressed in solidarity in (and across) the world. Babel must be healed by Pentecost, including in the political sphere (with due regard for the principle of subsidiarity - allowing nations to play their proper role).
Archbishop Chaput on leadership and character in America
... in the wake of Enron, Arthur Andersen, WorldCom, Adelphia, Tyco and a national sex abuse scandal, I think it's fair to say that we've got two big problems. The first is a problem of leadership in all our public institutions, not just business and religion. The second is a much deeper problem in American culture at large, a crisis in personal moral character at the grass-roots level. ... full story
"Two years ago, parishioners in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh asked for better homilies. Yesterday, they got an answer: a 228-page guide to help their preachers inject more church doctrine into their sermons. ..." more
Backgrounds of Vatican priest policy panel members
... Church insiders say that while the Vatican officials probably reflect diverse views, they were chosen for their official duties rather than their personal views. Of the U.S. bishops, Lori is expected to defend the norms as they are, Levada may seek modifications, Doran is the canon law expert and George is believed to have the clout and diplomacy to bring everyone else to an agreement. ... full story
"PITTSBURGH The man whose reporting took us to the surface of the moon, to the front lines of the battlefields of Normandy and the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, says he would like to switch places with President Bush. ..." more
One "Lidless Eye" website linked the NCR article as follows: "Archbishop Pilarczyk Supports Pro-Sodomy National Diocesan Organization." That strikes me as unjust, given the affirmations quoted in the article that the "ministry is not about homosexual activity, but about homosexual persons," and that it "promotes and upholds the official teaching of the Catholic church, that homosexual orientation is not sinful, but prohibits homosexual activity," and suggesting its rejection of cultural assumptions "that everyone is sexually active."
At the same time, I think there are very good grounds to doubt that this ministry is fundamentally sound and deserving of episcopal support.
The article mentions that one of the ministry's groups "participated in a gay pride event and with other church groups had information available about the local association and its activities." If its "participation in [the] event" was only for the sake of making its information available, that might be acceptable. But if the "participation" went beyond that - if the group's members were themselves expressing "gay pride" - then that's not acceptable.
Why does this teaching matter so much? Well, if one takes seriously that homosexual acts are morally disordered, how could the inclination to those acts be anything but disordered? How can one take "pride" in having such an inclination? (What, indeed, is "gay" about it?)
And is it really true that such an inclination so defines one's "sexuality" as to be "an integral part of who we are," in the words of the ministry's co-founder? If so, then why, exactly, shouldn't people act upon it?
It's good that the ministry is asking people to go to Mass. What is it doing to prepare them for Mass, though?
The organization's own website gives further grounds for worry. Among them are its lack of references to support for living in ways conducive to chastity. At the heart of its "Mission Statement" is the following rather ambiguous language: "We urge those in ministry to: reflect on Sacred Scripture, reflect on Church teaching and pastoral practice, study the social and physical sciences, listen to and ponder the lived experience of lesbian and gay persons and their families." "Reflect on" Scripture and Church teaching to what end? "Ponder ... lived experience" to what end? And what does the statement that "lesbian and gay persons ... who are baptized are called to full participation in the life, worship and mission of the church" imply about the importance of chastity as integral to full participation in the life of the Church? This, too, is left ambiguous.
And why does the site's "Pastoral Resources" page list the USCCB's "Always Our Children" as one of only three recommended resources, but not the Catechism or the "Letter ... on Pastoral Care," which are considerably more basic?
I suspect that our bishops would do better to recommend and support Courage.
Archbishop and archdiocese on political responsibility
"DENVER, Oct 23, 02 (CWNews.com) -- In an unusually clear and forthright statement of Catholic political responsibilities, Denver's Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap, has urged Colorado voters to judge political candidates by their stand on legislation regarding abortion. ..." more (subscription required)
"SANTA FE, New Mexico, Oct 23, 02 (CWNews.com) - The Archdiocese of Santa Fe on Tuesday defended its decision to distribute a flier highlighting the views of gubernatorial candidates on abortion at all its parishes over the weekend. ..." more (subscription required)
Luke Timothy Johnson and William S. Kurz, S.J., The Future of Catholic Biblical Scholarship: A Constructive Conversation (Eerdmans, 2002).
One sometimes gets the impression that "biblical scholarship" is virtually synonymous with "historical criticism." And the latter is important and even necessary, as the Pontifical Biblical Commission has reminded us in its 1993 "Interpretation of the Bible in the Church." However, as the PBC also pointed out - drawing from the principles set forth in Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation and elsewhere - historical criticism is not enough. The reading of Scripture, if it is to be fully fruitful (and indeed, if certain wrong turns are to be avoided), must take place in the context of the faith and life of the Church. Too many Catholic exegetes have forgotten this, or dismiss attempts to read Scripture in this way as "pre-critical" and arbitrary.
Even while I have taught students some of the methods and conclusions of historical criticism as a way of enriching their appreciation of the distinctive messages of the various biblical authors, I have also explained and shown to them that their interpretation of Scripture can't end with historical criticism. Some years ago, I gladly joined Fr. Bill Kurz in co-authoring an article, "The Use of Scripture in the Catechism of the Catholic Church," defending a more fully Catholic way of reading and using Scripture.
And over the past few years, I have been hearing about the progress of the project in which Luke Timothy Johnson had invited Fr. Kurz to join: the co-authorship of this new book (which I have also recently mentioned to another blogger). Johnson, of Emory University, is a well-known and prolific New Testament scholar whose criticisms of "Jesus Seminar"-type "scholarship" and insistence that Catholic biblical interpretation needs to be more distinctively Catholic than is often the case have generated much controversy within the Catholic Biblical Association. (He has also generated some controversy in other circles by dissenting from some Catholic teachings, especially in the area of sexual morality; needless to say, I don't agree with him on those matters, but they're not what I'd call central to his work, and they figure at most very tangentially into this new book.) Kurz, of Marquette University, another New Testament scholar, has in the past focused especially on Luke-Acts and on developments in narrative criticism. (He is also a fully faithful Catholic, whose ministry includes support for natural family planning; see also his comments on pp. 148 and 154 of The Future of Catholic Biblical Scholarship.)
Serious conversation is indeed needed among Catholic exegetes and theologians if the vision of Vatican II is to be made real. This book is a much-needed beginning of that conversation. With chapters on Origen and Augustine (by Johnson), on the Bread of Life and forgiveness of sins (Kurz), it is, moreover, a rich beginning of that conversation.
BRUSSELS, Belgium, OCT. 22, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The human embryo is caught in the cross fire between medical reality and legal chaos, an international bioethics forum concluded.
Some 600 people, many of them youths, attended the two-day forum here, which ended Sunday. Medicine and the Dignity of Man, an international association that originated in France, organized the meeting.
The objective of the forum, as well as that of the association, is to "promote a medical ethic founded on the principles of the dignity of the human being and of respect for every human life" (see www.theembryo.com). ... more
"... 'When an allegedly Catholic senator like Tom Daschle can use his powerful position to stop pro-life initiatives -- while insisting that his Catholicism should not be challenged -- something is dreadfully wrong.' ..." full story (subscription required)
Ministry to Catholics with homosexual inclinations
will be the subject of a post later today. (Specifically, I'll explain my doubts that this is a wise approach to such ministry.) But it's a busy day here, so blogging will otherwise be light. Meanwhile, catch up on the many recent posts below, and add some comments. And pray for the needs of the Church and the world.
... The Diocese of Palm Beach, twice burned by bishops who admitted to prior sexual abuses, may be particularly intolerant of heavy preaching, said the Rev. Richard McBrien, a theology professor at the University of Notre Dame.
"Let's face it, Catholic bishops have lost so much credibility with parishioners. They're the last people who should presume to tell others about how to think and feel about issues of human sexuality," he said. "I think it would be a mistake for Bishop O'Malley to think he can dictate to Florida Catholics how to vote." ... full story
Isn't it more than a little reductionistic to call abortion an "issue of human sexuality"?
And - bishops haven't safeguarded the faithful from unchaste priests, so now they shouldn't "presume" to teach chastity? How, then, are they supposed to clean up the mess and get their credibility back?
"NEWARK, Calif. — Three men were charged with murder Friday in the death of a cross-dressing 17-year-old boy ... [they] appeared in court Friday on charges of murder with a hate-crime enhancement. ..." more
First: for some problems with the notion of "hate crimes," see my post below.
Second: this boy had been a victim before he was murdered, and one suspects that his earlier victimization played a role in bringing about his sense of alienation from himself (our bodies are an integral part of ourselves) and his consequent unhealthy and dangerous behavior.
The story doesn't mention his parents, only his aunt. This leads one to wonder about his family situation.
The story also reports that he "had attended Newark schools from kindergarten, but as he grew older gradually stopped coming to class ... He enrolled in an alternate program in which students meet with a teacher once a week and study independently." Is this a sensible way to educate troubled teenagers?
One recalls another California youth who came from an irregular family situation and had pursued an unstructured education: "Jihad" John Walker Lindh.
We are rightly outraged at the murderers. Where is the outrage at those who allow or encourage our youth to live dangerously?
"VATICAN CITY, OCT. 20, 2002 (Zenit.org).- A 'cultural manipulation' that tries to bestow credibility on cohabiting and same-sex couples is seriously threatening the survival of the family, a cardinal warns. ..." more
Lams cites the "money quote" in this latest defense of the indefensible: "An authentic respect for life must embrace a whole spectrum of issues ... It is clear that in this decision Jennifer Granholm has chosen to follow her conscience. ..."
Let us grant that there are multiple life issues. How exactly does it follow that concern for some of them entitles one to ignore other, more basic ones? And, as Lams asks, what does a proper understanding of "conscience" have to do with legitimating such a pro-death stance?
The defense of Granholm is bizarre in other ways, too. Its authors repeat the canard that Catholic condemnation of abortion is of recent vintage since medieval authors like Aquinas denied that human ensoulment takes place at conception - never mind that those same authors also regarded it a sin to make intercourse non-generative (Summa Contra Gentiles III.122.9). Then they seem to try to read the condemnation of abortion as an "unspeakable crime" in Vatican II's Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (no. 51; cf. no. 27) as compatible with the view that very early abortion could be acceptable (what that would have to do with Granholm's rather less nuanced view is, by the way, unclear). Then they speak of the "refusal of [Granholm's Catholic critics] to present all the evidence"! Pot-kettle-black. Funny how attempts to defend the indefensible seem quickly to lapse into hypocritical dishonesty.
LONDON, OCT. 19, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Genetic selection, once discredited after Nazi experiments, is coming back into fashion. The growing popularity of pre-implantation genetic testing was revealed when scientists gathered at a conference in Chicago were told that the number of babies born worldwide using this technique had hit the 1,000 mark, the Associated Press reported Sept. 30. ... more
Archbishop Pell, false accusations, and "zero tolerance"
"SYDNEY, Australia, OCT. 19, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Vatican fears about the inadequacy of the U.S. bishops' norms on dealing with clerical sex-abuse allegations are not without foundation -- judging by the experience of Sydney's Archbishop George Pell. ..." more
Let's remember: some clerics are innocent of sexual abuse, and justice requires policies that take their rights into account.