"WASHINGTON — Long before 'weapons of mass destruction' became a regular phrase on the nightly news, Sen. Richard Lugar worried about them, warning that deadly arms from the former Soviet Union could fall in the hands of terrorists and other enemies. ..." more
I've long liked Lugar. In 1986, back when I was a very liberal (except for being pro-life) Democrat, Lugar became the first Republican to whom I wrote a fan letter, to thank him for his support for sanctions against South Africa (he was instrumental in the Senate's override of Reagan's veto of a sanctions bill). Lugar has remained a generally very reliable pro-life vote (his lower marks in '01'-02 reflect his support for campaign finance "reform"). However, he does seem to have some history of supporting fetal-tissue research, and he has recently supported funding embryonic stem-cell research. In case this becomes a legislative issue again soon, it'd be nice if he could be persuaded to change his mind.
"A battery-powered heart pump, normally used to keep patients alive until a heart transplant, was approved this week by the federal Food and Drug Administration for use as a permanent alternative to heart transplantation. ..." more
Harley-Davidson: exemplar of corporate responsibility?
The area around Harley-Davidson's headquarters at N. 37th St. and W. Juneau Ave. is a patchwork of decay and determination: Boarded-up houses and empty, weed-choked lots sit cheek by jowl with well-tended homes and manicured yards.
Seeking its own form of backyard renewal, Harley plans to invest about $1 million over the next few years to improve housing stock and amenities in the area bordered by Vliet St., McKinley Blvd., and N. 35th and N. 40th streets. ... more
"WILMINGTON, Del. (CNS) -- When Kevin J. 'Seamus' Hasson was asked on his first day of law school at the University of Notre Dame what he wanted to be, he replied, 'I want to found a religious liberty law firm to fight the ACLU.' ..." more
"NEW YORK, NOV. 8, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The international community must help Palestinians and Israelis to put an end to the spiral of Middle East violence, the Vatican said in an address at the United Nations. ..." more
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Nov 06 - The results of a large population-based study provide "strong evidence" that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is not a cause of autism.
"There was a lack of association between MMR vaccination and autism no matter how we looked at our data," lead researcher Dr. Kreesten Meldgaard Madsen told Reuters Health. ... more (registration required)
... Israel still has a mission to accomplish today. We are in fact waiting for the moment when Israel, too, will say Yes to Christ, but we also know that while history still runs its course even this standing at the door fulfills a mission, one that is important for the world. In that way this people still has a special place in God's plans. ...
... But they are not simply done with and left out of God's plans; rather, they still stand within the faithful covenant of God.
... That does not mean that we have to force Christ upon them but that we should try to share in the patience of God. We also have to try to live our life together in Christ in such a way that it no longer stands in opposition to them or would be unacceptable to them but so that it facilitates their own approach to it. ...
... we know that they are assured of the faithfulness of God. They are not excluded from salvation, but they serve salvation in a particular way, and thereby they stand within the patience of God, in which we, too, place our trust.
Now, here are comments Cardinal Kasper made the other day. Perhaps a different emphasis - probably the same substance:
"... if they follow their own conscience and believe in God's promises as they understand them in their religious tradition, they are in line with God's plan, which for us comes to historical completion in Jesus Christ," he said. ...
Cardinal Kasper said that while Christians cannot "remain silent on our hope in Jesus" it is not a question of "targeting" Jews or others for conversion. For modern Christians, evangelization is accomplished primarily by living the faith and "giving testimony of Jesus Christ to all and in all places," he said. full story
As for "Reflections on Covenant and Mission," it surely isn't beyond criticism (perhaps more for what it doesn't say than for what it does), but it also isn't heretical in what it says about Covenant (let alone an indication of the final apostasy, as EWTN Scripture "expert" Fr. John Echert - more blogging on whom in coming days - had it), and neither is Kasper. Unless Ratzinger is heretical or apostate too. In which case everyone is except maybe the "Remnant" crowd.
Judie "Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud" Brown has long objected to speaking of abortion or pro-life "issues." According to my Encarta dictionary, an "issue" is a subject or matter of concern or discussion or debate or dispute. It is true that abortion is more than an "issue" in this sense - it's not something about the rightness or wrongness of which which we ought to disagree. But in fact, we (society) do. Furthermore, exactly what to do about abortion is surely an "issue" even among those who agree it's wrong. This doesn't stop Brown from continuing to devote time and energy and resources (including EWTN's) to the "issue" issue. She ought to study some theology instead.
"NEW YORK, Nov 7, 02 (CWNews.com) -- A New York prosecutor has suggested that abortion clinics should be forced to comply with the state's law that requires reporting of all suspected case of child abuse. ..." more (subscription required)
The Supreme Court will then probably strike it down, as it did a state ban. So let's hope that some liberal justices will retire soon, and that Bush and the Senate will provide us with some good replacements for them (and indeed, for any who may soon retire).
"ROME, NOV. 7, 2002 (Zenit.org).- A war against Iraq would represent a humanitarian catastrophe that would bring shame on the international community, contends Caritas International. ..." more
(One charitable group had the same worry about Afghanistan last fall. They were mistaken. That doesn't mean that the worry about Iraq is now misplaced. This possibility does have to be evaluated and taken into account.)
"VATICAN CITY, NOV. 7, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II appealed for a review of the role of hospitals, especially Catholic facilities, so that they will be places where suffering and death are given their human and Christian meaning. ..." more
"Rick Carlson and Gary Stimeling, authors of The Terrible Gift: The Brave New World of Genetic Medicine, use futuristic examples from new research to generate a dialogue on the need for health management reform in the United States. ..." more (registration required)
FRANKFURT (Reuters Health) Oct 28 - The number of organs donated for transplantation is only a fraction of what is needed to meet growing demands, making it necessary to implement financial incentives to encourage people to donate organs, according to a German transplant surgeon. ..." more (registration required)
More Third World shenanigans from the land of the free and the home of the electorally challenged: The Justice Department dispatched more than 400 federal observers and lawyers to guard against illegal voting fraud at polling places in 14 states yesterday. ... Overlooked on Election Day, however, were the myriad examples of voter fraud -- and the undermining of American citizenship -- that government officials allow to go totally unchecked and unpunished. ... more
So police came across the sniper suspects at least 11 times during the long manhunt, but let them go every time. The D.C. police chief acknowledged that race was a factor in this amazing failure. "Everybody was looking for a white car with white people," he told The Washington Post.
Writing on his Web site, Andrew Sullivan said this was racial profiling. If a white killer had been let go 11 times because cops were looking for a black man, he asked, "Wouldn't this be the basis for uproar? Wouldn't the cops involved be fired? Wouldn't there be a massive investigation ...?" Yes, and the press would have erupted in high dudgeon. ... more
"Let us worship God, who speaks to us through the saints"
Today is the Feast of All Saints of the Order of Preachers. This is from the Office reading from The Mystical Evolution in the Development and Vitality of the Church, by Juan Gonzalez Arintero (1860-1928):
... there are some who think that, although all the members of the Church should increase in life, or what is the same, in virtue and sanctity, the Church itself cannot increase or mystically evolve, for it was holy from the very beginning ... The Church should grow in all things because it must always be built up more and more.
This building up is effected principally in charity and, therefore, in sanctity and justice. The Christian ideal is not a limited perfection but the true deification of the greatest possible assimilation and union with God. To achieve this we must strive to be identified in a certain manner with God's infinite sanctity, letting ourselves fully possess the Spirit of sanctification and be configured in all things with the incarnate Word.
As a greater number of the faithful is truly sanctified by realizing this sublime ideal, it is clear that the integral life and therefore the true sanctity of the whole mystical body are increased. During this development the perfection of the saints is effected more and more in the works of their ministry, and new and precious fruits of sanctification are continually appearing and ripening on this tree of life. In each new saint we can say that there appears a new form of sanctity, and in all of them together is manifested more and more clearly the treasures of virtue and life which are buried in Jesus Christ. Thus the feast of All Saints stands out in a glorious manner in as much as it manifests outwardly the hidden life of Jesus who is within. This excellence of perfection is nothing else than the overflowing of the Spirit which is poured out in them.
10-year-old incompetent for Milwaukee mob-beating trial
"A psychologist has concluded that the 10-year-old boy accused of participating in the fatal mob beating of Charlie Young Jr. is not competent to stand trial but could be 'brought to competency' within a year, court officials said Wednesday. ..." more
What do you do with a 10-year-old murderer? What do you do with those who were supposed to be taking care of him?
FAIRFAX, Va. — With another set of indictments returned against the sniper suspects, Attorney General John Ashcroft said officials are weighing who has the best evidence to deliver the "ultimate sanction" — death. ...
While federal prosecutors have yet to say which jurisdiction will try the pair first, a decision may hinge on where a death sentence can be obtained with the most ease. ... more
Why? Because justice demands death for them? That's not the Catholic Tradition. Because there's no other way to protect society from future crimes by them? Absurd. Try them where most of the murders took place and lock them up for life.
"HUNTSVILLE, Texas — The Supreme Court Wednesday night blocked the execution of a convicted killer following a last-minute appeal that questioned his mental competency. ..." more
Although I'm against the death penalty, I'm against judicial activism too. But the Court is right to hear this appeal. The man is seriously mentally ill. Maybe not wholly unable to control himself, but surely ill enough that his punishment should be mitigated (life instead of death).
"NO ONE should have been surprised when Terry McAuliffe, head of the Democratic National Committee, released a statement yesterday afternoon suggesting Republicans set out to intimidate minority voters. ..." more
"VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- By promoting chastity rather than condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS, Catholic health care workers are being faithful to their call to defend human life, spiritually as well as physically ..." more
"NEW YORK, Nov 6, 02 (CWNews.com) -- Archbishop Renato Martino, the Vatican's permanent observer at the United Nations, has raised a new appeal for peace talks in the Middle East, and for the care of Palestinian refugees. ..." more (subscription required)
ROME, NOV. 6, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Worldwide public opinion is discovering an age-old human rights issue: religious liberty.
According to a congress of experts organized by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) last week, "the topic of religious liberty, which in past years seemed to be almost exclusively reserved to John Paul II's unheeded appeals, is beginning to awaken a certain interest in public opinion." ... more
"NEW YORK, NOV. 6, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The United States has stalled a Franco-German proposal for a worldwide ban on human cloning that some pro-lifers reject as too narrow, U.N. diplomats told Reuters. ..." more
"WASHINGTON, D.C., NOV. 6, 2002 (Zenit.org).- A pro-life women's political group hailed the results of Tuesday's elections in the United States as a hopeful sign for the rights of the unborn. ..." more
"VATICAN CITY, NOV. 6, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The certainty that God intervenes in history and will have the last say, is what constitutes the foundation of the believer's serenity, says John Paul II. ..." more
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald, trans. Henry Taylor (Ignatius, 2002).
Although Ratzinger isn't the theologian from whom I most often draw, he is clearly one of the greatest theologians of recent decades, and I have read a number of his books and have liked all of them. This new 460-page "conversation" (which has also been blogged by others, e.g., here) is of course somewhat less technical than some of his other writings, and it ranges over a very wide variety of topics, in a prologue followed by three parts containing eighteen chapters. Here are a few brief excerpts:
On whether the truth of Christianity can be grasped by reason:
Yes, but within limits. It is true that the faith is not just a kaleidoscope of images, so that we could arrange it this way, or perhaps that. Faith speaks to our reason, our understanding, because it expresses truth - and because reason was created for the sake of truth. To that extent, faith without understanding is no true Christian faith. ...
Certainly, we are not plunging ourselves into a superstitious venture when we become Christians. But ... faith cannot be understood in the same sense that a mathematical formula might be for me entirely comprehensible, but reaches into ever deeper levels of being, into the eternal nature of God, into the mystery of love. In this area there is a limit to what one can understand by merely thinking it out. ...
In this sense faith cannot be rationally demonstrated. I cannot say, Whoever does not accept this is just stupid. Faith has its own way of life, in which what we believe is gradually substantiated by experience and is shown to be meaningful as a whole.
On creation and the Word:
The world is created in order to provide a setting for the Covenant by which God binds himself to man. It is created, so to say, in accordance with the inner structure of the Covenant, and the Torah is the official document that sets out both the Covenant and the marriage. This first sentence of the Torah - "In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth" - is taken up quite deliberately by John's Gospel, indeed the entire account of creation is to some extent summarized in a single sentence: "In the beginning was the Word." ... The sentence in John serves also as a key to the interpretation of the account in Genesis.
On why God suffered and died:
That is the mystery of God, who did not come into the world as someone who was going to set up a just social order by force of power. He came down to our level in order to suffer with us and for us.
We will never be able to understand this mystery finally and completely. And nevertheless, this is the most positive thing that is told us about God: God does not simply rule by power. ... His power is that of sharing in love and in suffering, and the true face of God is shown, indeed, in suffering. In suffering, God bears and shares the burden of the injustice of the world, so that in our very darkest hours, we may be sure that God is then closest to us.
God becomes small, so that we can grasp his nature. So that we men can have set before us that principle, which is the opposite of the principle of pride and the principle of the idolization of self. He comes as someone who touches our hearts.
On the Eucharist and the Liturgy:
Once, in a sort of vision, Augustine thought he heard these words: "Eat me; I am the bread of the strong." Jesus is saying here that it is the opposite to how it is with ordinary food that your body assimilates. That food is lesser than you, so that it becomes part of your body. And in my case, it is the other way around: I assimilate you into me. I am the stronger; you will be assimilated into me. This is, as we said, a personal process. Man, if he abandons himself in receiving this, is in turn received. He is made like Christ, made to resemble Christ. And that is what is really happening in Communion, that we allow ourselves to be drawn into him, into his inner communion, and are thus led finally into a state of inner resemblance. ...
The liturgy is never a mere meeting of a group of people, who make up their own form of celebration and then, so far as possible, celebrate it themselves. Instead of that, through our sharing in Jesus' appearing before the Father, we stand both as members of the worldwide community of the whole Church and also of the communio sanctorum, the communion of all saints. Yes, in a certain sense this is the liturgy of heaven.
"Let us worship Christ, the light of the nations, as we celebrate this feast of the holy martyrs"
Today Dominicans celebrate the memorial of Bl. Francis de Capillas and Alfonsus Navarrete and Companions, martyred in Japan and China in the 17th and 18th centuries. Here is an part of the excerpt from the letter of Antoninus Bremond, Master of the Order, on the occasion of the martyrdom of some of the 18th-century Chinese martyrs among them, that is included in the Office for the day:
Surely if we congratulate them, if we congratulate ourselves, it is because their names, now written in heaven, have brought a new and eternal honor to our annals and have given us a new encouragement to virtue. For who would not be so stirred by these magnificent triumphs that they would not feel themselves incited, as by a sting, to set out on the apostolic way that our brothers have pointed out to us by coloring it with their blood? Are not our hearts inflamed within us when we hear these things. Do we not burn with zeal for the faith to go ourselves and die with them?
Hear are the desires of apostolic hearts, here is their boundless reward, here the glory of the institute wherein we labor, a glory acquired by our forebears, increased by our contemporaries and now proposed for our emulation.
Do not grow lazy, then, but imitate those who, by faith and endurance, have received the heritage of the promises. Let us hasten to the combat that lies before us, taking the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, girding our loins with the truth, clothed with the breastplate of justice and having shod our feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace.
If we cannot follow these courageous athletes of Christ in chains and in death, let us at least be their disciples in faith and charity, in knowledge and longsuffering, "preserving innocence in simplicity, concord in charity, reserve in humility, constancy in the defense of the truth, rigor in obedience. May we never stray from the path of exemplary conduct, but let our light shine before all and glorify our Father who is in heaven."
"The Republican victory in the battle for the U.S. Senate could produce dramatic payoffs for the Bush administration on a variety of vital issues, including ... dozens of judicial appointments. ..." more
... But fertility specialists worldwide are intent on making long-term egg storage and retrieval a routine procedure.
The possibilities are intriguing: A 21-year-old woman, fresh out of college and entering a time-consuming profession, could freeze her eggs for use 15 years later, after achieving her career goals. Or a couple that found true love in their late 30s could make use of eggs frozen years earlier. ...
Within two decades, some fertility experts predict, women will be able to safely freeze their eggs for years, giving them a hedge against both an uncertain future and the certainty that their natural egg production will slow in their late 30s or early 40s. ... full story
The importance of a Senate that will confirm good judges
"INDIANAPOLIS, Nov 5, 02 (CWNews.com) - A day before a federal appeals court was expected to order an abortion counseling law to take effect, pro-abortion groups asked the court to continue blocking the law ..." more (subscription required)
"... last week ... the US representative to a development conference ... said the US would refuse to reaffirm its support for the 1994 Cairo program of action unless terms which subversively push abortion were removed or changed. ..." full story (subscription required)
DENVER, Colorado, NOV. 4, 2002 (Zenit.org).- On the eve of elections that could affect pro-life legislation and policy in the United States, Catholics were being urged not to leave their faith out of Tuesday's voting.
"There can never be a 'wall of separation' between our religious faith and our civic choices," said Archbishop Charles Chaput, in a letter read at Masses over the weekend. ... more
ROME, NOV. 4, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Mary Ann Glendon believes the sex-abuse scandals involving priests in the United States points up a key lesson: the need for formation.
Glendon, a Harvard law professor and John Paul II's delegate at the World Conference on Woman, said she agreed with theologian Father Richard John Neuhaus, editor in chief of First Things magazine, "when he says that the crisis of 2002 is threefold: fidelity, fidelity and fidelity." ... more
HOUSTON, Nov. 3 — Barring an unexpected reprieve, James Colburn will be executed on Wednesday for the 1994 strangulation and stabbing death of Peggy Murphy. He admits he committed the murder, just as prosecutors admit the other salient point in the case: that Mr. Colburn is severely mentally ill. ... more (registration required)
First, if we are going to decide death vs. life by weighing aggravating vs. mitigating factors, it is, well, insane that such a serious mental illness wouldn't be regarded as an overriding mitigating factor.
Second, it is simply dishonest that jurors aren't allowed to consider whether a defendant will or won't be paroled in weighing future dangerousness as an aggravating factor.
Third, it is absurd that the jurors weren't informed of the details of Colburn's condition.
And fourth, it is deeply wrong that this man wasn't better protected from himself.
Enter Mrs. Brown. Accepting at face value the premise of a leading question about the race, namely, that Fisher "is for exceptions and has been very silent on the pro-life issue" (were his comments at the NRLC Convention delivered in sign language?), Brown writes:
When someone states, as has occurred in Pennsylvania, that someone like Fisher is "pro-Life" and a vote for a third party is a vote for the pro-abortion candidate, that individual or organization is acting erroneously and spreading false information. One many never do evil, even if a possible good may come from it. As one theologian just recently wrote, "One should not take the initiative of making oneself responsible for something in itself morally wrong in order that others do not do something worse."
Is it a falsehood to call Fisher "pro-life"? Hardly. "Life-of-the-mother" exceptions are poorly worded. But abortion law should somehow permit procedures that would indirectly cause a baby's death, like removal of a pregnant woman's cancerous uterus or of a fallopian tube containing an ectopic pregnancy. Indeed, current constitutional [sic] law would demand even broader exceptions.** And furthermore, our society doesn't exactly provide most people with the intellectual resources to grasp the distinction between direct and indirect life-saving killing. In that context, someone could surely be genuinely aware of the value of, and committed to protecting, unborn life, without having grasped that distinction or its implications. In short, I think Fisher is acting to the best of his intellectual and political ability in accord with John Paul II's teaching that "encourages political leaders ... not to give in, but to make those choices which, taking into account what is realistically attainable, will lead to the reestablishment of a just order in the defence and promotion of the value of life."
What of Brown's objection to the notion that it's better to vote for Fisher than for an allegedly-more-pro-life third-party candidate with no chance of winning? It's funny that Brown should mention what "one theologian just recently wrote." She is actually quoting the aforeblogged Ángel Rodríguez Luño, professor of moral theology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, whose essay is now online. Brown seriously distorts the essay by taking a quotation from it badly out of context. Rodríguez Luño says what Brown quotes in the course of evaluating the following scenario:
This is the situation of a country where abortion is illegal. Changes in public opinion, the position of political groups, and other factors make it reasonably certain that within a short period of time it will be impossible to prevent the approval of a very permissive law on abortion. The following problem then arises: would it be morally licit to take the initiative, with the intention of forestalling a further worsening of the situation, by promoting a law which depenalizes abortion in just a few cases - rigorously defined - and which would also contain serious provisions aimed at preventing abortion?
His reasonable answer to this specific problem is, "no," for the reason given in the sentence Brown quotes. However, this is only one of several scenarios discussed in the essay, and even a cursory reading will make abundantly clear that Rodríguez Luño does not mean to rule out support for 'imperfect legislation,' let alone for allegedly imperfect candidates. In short, such support does not necessarily entail "making oneself responsible for something in itself morally wrong."
"JERUSALEM -- What would happen if the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, the third-holiest in Islam and perhaps the most contentious plot of real estate in the world, suddenly collapsed? ..." more
The summer job at a Washington-state timber mill that put Brian Harvey through college four decades ago left him with asbestos fibers hooked in his lungs. He found that out in 1999, when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an incurable, fatal cancer.
Last month he went to Washington, D.C., to tell members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that thousands of people who also have asbestos fibers in their lungs -- but do not have cancer or any other illness -- are pushing companies into bankruptcy and depleting the money available for people like him.
Also testifying was a California lawyer who has spent his career extracting money from corporations that made or used asbestos.
"I have no sympathy for asbestos defendants," Steve Kazan said during his testimony. "Many of these companies exposed millions of innocent people to a deadly poison without warning them of the risk to their health, and they should pay for the harm that they did."
Nevertheless, he said, the flood of suits must be controlled or there will be nothing left to pay the people who get sick in coming years. ... more
"... Doyle, now an Air Force chaplain stationed in Germany, was a speaker Saturday at the national conference of Call to Action, a lay Catholic reform group formed in Chicago more than two decades ago. ..." full story
Does giving credence to a "reform" group that, to say the least, hasn't put promotion of chastity high on its agenda over the years, really help address the sex abuse crisis? And at what point does brave and foresighted advocacy degenerate into narcissistic and counterproductive self-promotion? (Rod Dreher, take note.)
... "The judicial confirmation process does not work as it should," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "Nominees are too often mistreated. Votes are delayed, hearings are denied and dozens of federal judgeships sit empty, endangering the quality of justice in America." ... full story
"WASHINGTON - The Bush administration has intensified its battle against abortion rights worldwide by stating that it no longer could support a landmark international agreement that established reproductive health care as a means to curb population growth. ..." more
"COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Mansour Bey credits a drug treatment program for helping him kick a crack cocaine addiction. Nola Tinkey says a tough love approach that briefly sent her to jail got her off drugs. ..." more