wDe Virtutibus
The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.
-St. Gregory of Nyssa; CCC 1803

De Virtutibus; or, Kevin's Kasuist Korner; or, Miller's Moral Musings.

"Why 'De Virtutibus'?"



wLinks, resources:
Worth browsing ...

Balthasar: a Sketch
Book TV.org
Center for Life Principles
Christian Classics Ethereal Library
Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics
Communio
Dominicans
Franciscan University of Steubenville
IntraText Digital Library
John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family
Junkscience.com
Christopher Kaczor
Life Issues Institute
Lifeissues.net
Marquette University Institute for Natural Family Planning
National Catholic Bioethics Center
National Right to Life
New Advent
Perseus Digital Library
Priests for Life
Ratzinger Fan Club
The Thomist
USCCB
Vatican

blogs4God

< x ? ChristBlogs # x >

<< # St. Blog's Parish ? >>

Select Catholic and other good blogs

After abortion
Being! Or Nothingness
Catholic Analysis
Catholic and Enjoying It!
Catholic Light
Catholic Ragemonkey
Dappled Things
Dawn Patrol
Disputations
Dyspeptic Mutterings
Envoy Encore
Fructus Ventris
HMS Blog
In Light of the Law
Open Book
Rerum Novarum
SecretAgentMan's Dossier
Sed Contra
Summa Contra Mundum
Thrown Back
Veritas
... and more ...

News and commentary

Catholic News Service
First Things
FOXNews.com
National Catholic Register
National Review Online
Town Hall
Weekly Standard
ZENIT News Agency

Some especially good moral theology reads ...

Aquinas, Summa Theologiae; Ashley & O'Rourke, Health Care Ethics; Cessario, Introduction to Moral Theology; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Christian Freedom and Liberation - Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian - Euthanasia - Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons - Procured Abortion - Profession of Faith - Questions concerning Sexual Ethics - Respect for Human Life in its Origin and Dignity of Procreation - "Theology of Liberation"; DiNoia, Veritatis Splendor and the Renewal of Moral Theology; Gagnon, Bible and Homosexual Practice; Kaczor, Proportionalism and the Natural Law Tradition; de Lubac, Brief Catechesis on Nature and Grace; Matera, New Testament Ethics; Melina, Sharing in Christ's Virtues; Pieper, Faith, Hope, Love - Four Cardinal Virtues; Pinckaers, Sources of Christian Ethics; Schindler, Heart of the World, Center of the Church; Schürmann, Ratzinger, Balthasar, Principles of Christian Morality; Sokolowski, Moral Action; Steck, Ethical Thought of Hans Urs von Balthasar; Vatican II, Apostolate of the Laity - Church in the Modern World - Priestly Formation - Religious Freedom; Wojtyla/John Paul II, Catholic Universities - Church in America - Dignity and Vocation of Women - Faith and Reason - Human Work - Hundredth Anniversary of Rerum Novarum - Gospel of Life - Letter to Families - Lord and Giver of Life - Lord's Day - Love and Responsibility - Mercy of God - Person and Community - Redeemer of Man - Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World - Social Concern - Splendor of Truth - Theology of the Body

Who is this blogging moralist?


Note. This blog adheres to the Welborn Protocol: All correspondence is bloggable unless it requests otherwise - and to the Shea Protocol: At my sole discretion, uncivil commenters will be banned.



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wSaturday, December 21, 2002


Where the TV industry goes for sex ed

"LOS ANGELES - When 'Felicity' discussed safe sex, when an 'ER' worker coped with HIV, when 'Judging Amy' debated sex education and abstinence, the Media Project was there. ..." more

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Criticism of Lott's replacement

This is just dumb:
... "Few senators have a worse voting record on civil rights than Trent Lott - but Bill Frist is one of them," said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women. "Frist has voted against sex education, international family planning, emergency contraception [the morning-after pill], affirmative action, hate crimes legislation and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act." ... full story
And I'm not sure about this either:
... Conservatives expressed concern that Frist was not as ideologically pure as they would like.

"He's a moderate Republican at heart, who's not really pro-life," said Paul M. Weyrich, president of the Free Congress Foundation. ... full story
in light of his voting record. Are we going to do better? Should we really work against him from the start?

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O Radiant Dawn, come.

Today's Vespers antiphon (see below):

O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. RealMedia RealAudio

Isaiah (9:1) prophesied: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone." The one who frees us from captivity in darkness (see yesterday evening's antiphon; note the related themes on the 19th and 18th also) comes as the Dawn. Indeed, it is his light itself that frees us, because it is this light that burns away all that is evil and makes possible our victory over evil; so, he is the Sun of Justice (cf. Mal. 3:19-21). And more: the light that he makes present in the world (cf. Jn. 1:3-5, 9; 8:12) is the Father's light also (cf. Heb. 1:3), and making the him and the Father known to us, it gives us as the reward for our victory (cf. Rev. 21:7) the eternal day (cf. Rev. 22:5) that is eternal life (cf. Jn. 17:3).

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North Korea, Yemen, those missiles, and the "axis of evil"

"Contrary to published reports, the North Korea-Yemen Scud missile transaction has stirred up 'a hornet’s nest of issues,' in the words of a senior administration official. ..." more

(See also below.)

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Joint call for Israeli-Palestinian peace

"WASHINGTON — The Bush administration joined with its European, Russian and U.N. partners Friday in calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians, and an end to terrorist attacks. ..." more

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Bush's Christmas message

"WASHINGTON — During this holiday season, Americans must remember the families who lost loved ones to terrorists on Sept. 11, 2002 and must reach out to those less fortunate, President Bush said ..." more

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The Lott ouster; his replacement

"WASHINGTON — In a week of lightning-fast action in the Senate, three veteran Republicans were instrumental in getting a determined Trent Lott to relinquish his leadership post and clearing the way for Bill Frist to replace him ..." more

"WASHINGTON — Republicans wasted no time in anointing Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee as majority leader after leader-elect Trent Lott announced his resignation Friday. But ..." more

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Women executives

"LONDON, DEC. 21, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Women are again making inroads in executive-level positions. ..." more

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"'Reproductive Health' and a U.S.-European Rift"

"BANGKOK, Thailand, DEC. 21, 2002 (Zenit.org).- A split over abortion, at least at the policy level, is widening between the United States and Europe. ..." more

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Christmas presents from sweatshops?

"NEW YORK, DEC. 21, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Chances are that many of the toys and clothes under the Christmas tree this year were made in Third World factories -- or sweatshops, according to those who criticize the substandard working conditions. ..." more

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wFriday, December 20, 2002


IVF and birth defects?

"CHICAGO, Dec 20, 02 (LSN.ca/CWNews.com) - Proponents of in vitro fertilization (IVF) maintain that there is no higher risk of birth defects among test tube babies. ... But now, ... a study funded by the National Institutes of Health has found the opposite. ..." more (subscription required)

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New Congregation for Divine Worship prefect on liturgy today

"VATICAN, Dec 20, 02 (CWNews.com) -- Cardinal Francis Arinze, the new prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, has offered his first public comments on the state of the Catholic liturgy ..." more (subscription required)

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Irish cardinal sheltered priest-bomber

"DUBLIN, Dec 20, 02 (CWNews.com) -- Church officials in Ireland shielded a priest from prosecution after he became involved in a terrorist bombing in 1972, according to a BBC news report. ..." more (subscription required)

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Cuban Catholic dissident receives award from EU

"STRASBOURG, France, DEC. 20, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Oswaldo Paya, president of the Christian Liberation Movement, has received the Sakharov award -- the most important human rights award given by the European Union. ..." more

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Rabbi on need for Jewish overtures to Catholics

"ROME, DEC. 20, 2002 (Zenit.org).- An American rabbi congratulated the Catholic Church for its steps to come closer to the Jewish people, and lamented that there has not been a similar effort by the Jews. ..." more

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Cardinal George on pornography

"CHICAGO, DEC. 20, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Statistics showing pornography to be a $10 billion industry may be seriously underestimating the scope of the problem. ..." more

(See also below.)

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Papal preacher on celibacy and marriage

"VATICAN CITY, DEC. 20, 2002 (Zenit.org).- ... 'But, perhaps, the most important result obtained from speaking of virginity and celibacy in terms of a charism is to make the latent opposition between virginity and marriage disappear ...' ..." more

(See also below.)

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w


O Key of David, come.

This evening's antiphon (background information below):

O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of heaven: come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom. RealMedia RealAudio

God spoke through Isaiah (22:22) of Eliakim, who was to replace the unfaithful Shebna as master of the royal palace (36:3): "I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder ..." This key is entrusted only to those who put their trust in God. Jesus Christ, the "faithful witness" who conquered death, speaks of himself as carrying this key by which we are freed from captivity in death's shadow and enabled to enter into the new Jerusalem, where life-giving water flows and the tree of life grows (Rev. 1:5, 18; 3:7; 22:1-2). Jesus is this key. His coming frees us even now, so that we can pray, "Even when I walk through a dark valley, the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage" (Ps. 23:4). If we walk with him, he will lead us into heaven.

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Latest on the Saudis and terror

"A new report submitted to the United Nations Security Council explores the extensive ties between al Qaeda and the Saudi Arabia — something that should raise a whole host of questions concerning the future of U.S. relations with the House of Saud. ..." more

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Latest news, commentary on Iraq

"WASHINGTON — An international coalition was taking shape Friday for a possible attack on Iraq after the United States declared Baghdad was in 'material breach' of the U.N. resolution ..." more

And, final commentary by former US bishops' advisor (see previous installments below) on whether war would be just: "... The remaining elements of the just-war tradition are as follows. ..." more

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w


Latest (last?) news, commentary on Lott

"WASHINGTON — Mississippi Republican Trent Lott is stepping down as incoming Senate majority leader, but will continue to serve his country as a senator, he announced Friday. ..." more

Good, he's not going to take the Senate GOP down with him after all.

But, uh-oh: "CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Sen. Trent Lott isn't the only politico who has had a hard time holding his tongue when it comes to verbal snafus that could be portrayed as segregationist in nature. ..." more

And, thoughts from NRO: "We won't quite give him a NRO 'Thank you,' but Trent Lott belatedly did the right thing. ..." more

"The fact that Trent Lott's career-splattering comments came out at the 100th birthday of Strom Thurmond will be recognized by historians as profoundly symbolic. Here was an ancient living relic of a past nearly forgotten. ..." more

"With the open defections of John Warner (R, Va.) and Jim Inhofe, and the public declaration for the Senate Majority Leader job from Bill Frist (called 'the ideal choice' right here), Lott finally got the message. ..." more

"The Trent Lott affair was a profound test for the Republican party and the conservative movement. Both are susceptible to a blinding complacency on the one hand and a bitter defensiveness on the other. ..." more

"As a conservative, southern Republican who believes it's possible to oppose both affirmative action and the KKK, my Christmas wish was for Trent Lott to write himself out of the picture. ..." more

"One of the most promising developments on Election Day 2002 was the Republican surge in the south. Now that momentum may be halted. ..." more

"For Trent Lott, a proud man and an ambitious one, stepping down as Senate Majority Leader must be a particularly painful experience. ..." more

"Bartender, make mine the same as Jonah Goldberg’s. His column yesterday on which conservatives took the Lott affair seriously – and which did not – seemed to me exactly right. ..." more

"The Trent Lott affair has inspired many people to expound on their certain knowledge of whites, southerners, and Republicans. ..." more

"Peter Beinart of The New Republic wrote recently:
"National Review also seems to consider liberal criticism of Lott dishonest because liberals haven't been as critical of Democrats. In an article titled 'Selective Moral Outrage,' Mark R. Levin details Bill Clinton's praise for segregationist Arkansas Senator William Fulbright. But it's a dumb comparison. ...
"Actually, my contention has been that not only do liberals have selective moral outrage ... but that numerous conservatives are trying to avoid comparisons between Trent Lott's comment and segregationist (or neo-segregationist) Democrats ..." more

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w


21st-century child-support case

"HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The former lesbian partner of a woman who bore five children during their relationship must pay child support, a state Superior Court panel has ruled. ..." more



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Breakthrough: pig organs that'll work in humans?

"Partly because of sheer luck, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and scientists from a private company have overcome a critical barrier to using pigs as a possible source of organs for transplantation into humans. ..." more

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AIDS crisis coming in Asia?
In an article appearing in the current issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, the eminent demographer Nicholas Eberstadt argues that within the next few decades Russia, China and India will have the world’s largest number of HIV/AIDS victims, an event that “threatens to derail the economic prospects of billions and alter the global military balance.” ... more
One hopes that the article does not propose condoms as the solution.

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WTC site plan will be chosen Jan. 31; process criticized

"NEW YORK — A civic group concerned with rebuilding lower Manhattan said Thursday that while the new designs for the World Trade Center site were inspiring, the process for deciding what will be built there is flawed. ..." more

(See also below.)

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Stories of cloned babies

"NEW YORK — The race to produce the first birth of a human clone is nearing the finish line -- if you believe the public pronouncements. ..." more

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More objections to immigration policy

"LOS ANGELES — Gisroo Mohajeri clutched her pregnant belly on the steps of the downtown federal building Thursday and uttered a mother's lament: 'I feel so guilty,' she sobbed. ..." more

(See also below.)

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UN and US on Iraq
UNITED NATIONS — U.N. weapons inspectors put Iraq on notice that it must provide far more evidence about its weapons of mass destruction. But neither the inspectors nor other Security Council members joined the United States in declaring that Iraq has violated U.N. resolutions ...

But Secretary of State Colin Powell told a news conference in Washington that the Bush administration wasn't going to wait long for answers.

If Iraq's "deception" continues in the weeks ahead, Powell warned, "then we're not going to find a peaceful solution to this problem." ... more
Let us pray for peace.

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More on science-and-politics front

"Silicone breast implants are coming back. That's good news for breast cancer survivors and other women who want implants. Blocking the way, though, are junk science-fueled, anti-implant activists and their personal injury lawyer-sponsors ..." more

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Michigan Medical Society cave-in
LANSING, Michigan, Dec 19, 02 (LSN.ca/CWNews.com) - The Catholic Medical Association has charged the Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS) with caving in to pressure from gay activists in its sudden decision to revoke Continuing Medical Education credits (CMEs) for a conference for health professionals ... more (subscription required)
This story has already been blogged elsewhere, and it is a sad story indeed. Talk about your politics trumping science.

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Bad state laws on cloning, "discrimination"

"ALBANY, December 18, 2002 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Republican-controlled Senate of New York state voted this week to ban so-called 'discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation' and the bill was signed into law by the Republican governor. ..." more (subscription required)

"NEWARK, Dec 19, 02 (LSN.ca/CWNews.com) - The New Jersey Senate on Monday passed the most radical bill seen to date allowing human cloning and research on embryonic humans. ..." more (subscription required)

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Russia lacks religious freedom

"VATICAN, Dec 19, 02 (CWNews.com) -- The prestigious Jesuit magazine Civilta Cattolica has delivered a highly negative assessment on the status of religious freedom in Russia. ..." more (subscription required)

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wThursday, December 19, 2002


EU rejects large abortion funding increase, approves small one

"STRASBOURG, France, DEC. 19, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The European Parliament definitively rejected a 200% budget increase for population control and abortion funding in poor countries, but approved a smaller boost ..." more

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Vatican condemned Nazi book in 1934

"ROME, DEC. 19, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Contrary to what some historians contend, the Holy See condemned Nazism publicly and severely, particularly its ideology, according to Vatican documents. ..." more

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New Vatican officials

"VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II appointed Salesian Father Angelo Amato as secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. ..." more

"VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II appointed Legionary of Christ Father Brian Farrell secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. ..." more

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Pope on EU and the young

"VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II appealed to the new united Europe not to disappoint the hopes of its young generations, especially at a time when the European Union is growing. ..." more

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Frist may run vs. Lott for Senate GOP leader

"WASHINGTON — Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott's political survival remained imperiled Thursday as aides to Sen. Bill Frist announced that the Tennessee Republican is weighing support for a challenge ..." more

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O Flower of Jesse's stem, come.

This evening's antiphon (background below):

O Flower of Jesse's stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid. RealMedia RealAudio

God had promised David (2 Sam. 7:12-16) that his house and kingdom and throne would endure and stand firm forever, even if some of his descendents required chastisement. Subsequently, ten of the twelve tribes of Israel broke away from the Davidic kingdom, and after two centuries of infidelity, were conquered by Assyria and exiled; less than a century and a half later, the remainder of the kingdom, also corrupt, was exiled to Babylon. The warning of chastisement for unfaithful kings and people had not been in vain. But neither was the promise of an everlasting kingdom to be in vain. And so, at a time of danger shortly before the Assyrian conquest, Isaiah prophesied (11:1, 10): "But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. ... On that day, The root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, The Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious." Even though the "tree of Jesse" would eventually be cut down, leaving but a stump, this would not be the end of Jesse's and David's line.

In fact, it would be greater than before. The Spirit of the Lord would be upon the new Davidic king; he would bring justice and peace (Is. 11:2ff), and he would restore the Lord's dwelling, in a manner prefigured by David's descendent Zerubbabel's restoration of the temple upon the return from the Babylonian exile (cf. Ezr. 3:2ff, 5:1-2ff; Zech. 3:8, 6:11-13).

We live in the new Davidic kingdom, inaugurated by Christ; but we also live "in this valley of tears," in "this exile," awaiting the fullness of the kingdom, awaiting the return of Christ, who by his resurrection made himself our restored temple, and who will take away all our tears as we worship the Father through him (cf. Jn. 2:19-21; Rev. 21:4, 22).

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Visa problems

"WASHINGTON — A powerful senator in Washington is wondering what's taking the State Department so long to get off its haunches and fix its visa-processing system to boost the nation's security efforts. ..." more

(See below.)

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Former official on missile defense

"It's been nearly 20 years since President Ronald Reagan unhinged the chattering class by observing that Mutually Assured Destruction -- MAD, for short -- wasn't so smart. ..." more

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Iraq and "just war"

"Would U.S. military action against Iraq meet the requirements of the just-war tradition ... ? ..." more

(See previous commentaries by this former US bishops' advisor below.)

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Bush and racial preferences

"The Washington Post had a front-page story Wednesday that began, 'President Bush's ... advisers are split over whether to take a stand on the racially charged subject of affirmative action as the Supreme Court prepares to take up a landmark case ...' ..." more

(See also below.)

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That South Dakota Senate election: full story

"On Election Day, Noma Sazama knew something unusual was going on the moment she arrived at her polling place ..." more

(See also below.)

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Yet more Lott thoughts

"ANY DAY NOW, the Democrats may come to regret deeply the moment the Trent Lott disturbance caught media fire. ..." more

"IN THE MATTER OF TRENT LOTT, time's winged chariot has surely arrived. ..." more

"Sources on Capitol Hill say Sen. Trent Lott has collected assurances from more than 20 Republican senators that they will support him ..." more

Lamar and Lott; Racicot and Lott.

"There isn’t a more inspiring political figure in America than Ward Connerly. ..." more

"Time magazine's premier race-baiter, Jack White, is using the Trent Lott controversy as a means of attacking Republicans across the board as a racist party. And above all he can't resist attacking Ronald Reagan. ..." more

"... I've argued that anybody who thinks Strom Thurmond would have made a great president is out-of-touch ... Such a person should not be Majority Leader. Nevertheless, many of the items in the official media/leftist litany against Lott are nonsense. ..." more

"The feeding-frenzy fallout from Trent Lott's now-infamous birthday-party gaffe could prove itself devasting to a party already vulnerable on race issues. But he most-serious direct casualty of all might be White House racial-preference policy. ..." more

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How to win Catholics and influence people

Karl is quite right. Go read him. I am praying that you find that job you need, want, and deserve, by the way, Karl!

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"Traditional Catholicism"

What does it mean? ENCORE's Pete and Catholic and Enjoying It!'s Mark have it right. Go read them.

Just one quibble with Pete, though. He suggests that all of Vatican II's teachings are infallible because an ecumenical council is intrinsically infallible, even if it doesn't explicitly invoke the infallibility of the extraordinary Magisterium, even if it does not (explicitly) "definitively" settle a matter. I think the premise about ecumenical councils is generally correct for the reasons Pete adduces, but I think there's a problem with its application to everything in Vatican II, because Vatican II seems to have expressly intended not to be doctrinal (but rather, pastoral), let alone infallible, on some points. I doubt that the bishops and pope can be infallible even if and when they intend not to be!

Of course, some of the Council's teachings are dogmatic and definitive and probably "extraordinarily" infallible. Two of the Council's four constitutions (on the Church and on Revelation) are "Dogmatic Constitutions." And not all that remains of the Conciliar documents are merely pastoral. Only one of the other two constitutions calls itself a "Pastoral Constitution" (though even it, in n. 1 of its Preface, says that it "rest[s] on doctrinal principles" and that "a doctrinal slant is present in the second part"). The "Declaration on Religious Freedom" explicitly intends (no. 1) "to develop ... doctrine." Thus, for example, the remaining Constitution (on the Liturgy) and the Declaration are, I would say, certainly documents that are intrinsically infallible by virtue of being true exercises of the ordinary and universal Magisterium.

And of course, as Pete says, the (current) pope always has teaching authority and is the judge of Tradition. Clearly, this applies also to ecumenical councils. One has no right to dissent from Vatican II's teaching in any case. In matters of faith (and morals), we must be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and this means assenting to papal and conciliar teaching of every kind, as Vatican II itself teaches. Anything else amounts to fighting the Spirit.

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O Antiphons

Thanks to Fr. Jim for his links to my series! He is also blogging on the Antiphons; here are his posts on yesterday's and Tuesday's.

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CDC's new take on condoms and STDs

"WASHINGTON — A government fact sheet that long promoted condoms as 'highly effective' in preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases now offers a more neutral summary of the pros and cons of condom use. ..." more

NB: This is not "politics trumping science"; this is politics making way for science.

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More vacated convictions

"NEW YORK — Thirteen years after the brutal rape and beating of the Central Park jogger, a Manhattan judge on Thursday vacated the convictions of all five men who served prison time after they were found guilty of the attack. ..." more

(See also below.)

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Latest on Iraq declaration and inspections

"UNITED NATIONS — There are glaring gaps and 'not much' new in Iraq's 12,000-page declaration of its weapons programs, Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said ..." more (See also below.)

"WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Colin Powell will formally respond to Iraq's weapons declaration Thursday, and his language could indicate if the U.S. is ready for war. ..." more (See also below.)

"LONDON — Gaps in Iraq's weapons declaration are not in themselves grounds for war, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Thursday, despite his assessment that the document was an 'obvious falsehood.' ..." more

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More on latest NYC Ground Zero ideas

Here is the NYT article (registration required), with better pictures/media (see the "Interactive Feature") and including a link to an "analysis" finding the designs unrealistic.

By the way, I haven't looked closely at the new designs, but my thought is, the more like the Twin Towers, the better (although I would like green space at the old towers' footprint containing a subdued memorial).

(See also below.)

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US on Iran

"WASHINGTON — The United States has its hands full dealing with Iraq and North Korea's pursuits of weapons of mass destruction, but the third member of President Bush's 'axis of evil' — Iran — has been able to avoid the spotlight — until now. ..." more

(See also below.)

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More convicted murderers exonerated

"CHICAGO — Two men convicted in a drug-related kidnapping and killing were released on bond Wednesday after prosecutors proclaimed their innocence and announced indictments against the gang members they contend were the real killers. ..." more

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Immigration-policy protest

"LOS ANGELES — Hundreds of Iranian-Americans demonstrated at a federal building Wednesday to protest arrests of Middle Eastern immigrants who voluntarily registered with the Immigration and Naturalization Service ..." more

(See also below.)

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UN inspectors on Iraqi report

"UNITED NATIONS — Iraq's weapons declaration leaves many unanswered questions and further inspections are needed, the top U.N. inspectors are expected to tell the Security Council ..." more

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wWednesday, December 18, 2002


Hispanics less likely to dissent

"WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A greater percentage of Hispanic Catholics agree with church teachings on divorce, abortion and homosexual activity than do non-Hispanic white Catholics ..." more

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Bad Canadian stem-cell bill

"OTTAWA, Dec 18, 02 (LSN.ca/CWNews.com) - Dr. Dianne Irving, a PhD graduate of the first ever program in bioethics ... has delivered a stinging evaluation of proposed Canadian stem cell research legislation. ..." more

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Judge orders life support

"CLEARWATER, Florida, Dec 18, 02 (LSN.ca/CWNews.com) - Terri Schiavo, the woman whose estranged husband has been fighting to have her taken off life support, even though her family insists she could recover if therapy is resumed, has been given a reprieve. ..." more (subscription required)

These are among the most genuinely difficult medical-ethical questions these days, I think.

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Vatican progress on "Lexicon"

"VATICAN, Dec 18, 02 (CWNews.com) -- The Vatican will soon release a 'critical glossary' of terms that give rise to confused attitudes regarding sexuality and family life. ..." more (subscription required)

(See also below.)

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Interview with Cardinal Re on US norms

"VATICAN CITY, DEC. 18, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Vatican approval of the U.S. bishop's revised norms dealing with clergy sex abuse demonstrates the importance of the communion between the Holy See and a country's episcopate ..." more

(See also below.)

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Pope on Advent and life

"VATICAN CITY, DEC. 18, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Christmas is not just about remembering Jesus' birth; rather, it is understanding that our life is an awaiting for the final coming of Christ, says John Paul II. ..." more

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Thatcher decapitated by protester

"LONDON -- A man decapitated a statue of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher destined for Parliament because he felt it 'represented the ills of the world's political system' ..." more

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"Teen held in killing troubled"

Um ... yep.

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Judge cuts "excessive" damages to $28M

"LOS ANGELES — A judge on Wednesday slashed a record-breaking $28 billion in punitive damages awarded to a former smoker to $28 million, saying the jury's award was excessive. ..." more

(See below.)

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New WTC site proposals

"NEW YORK — Nine competing designs for the World Trade Center site were unveiled Wednesday ..." more

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Lott on his future

"WASHINGTON — In the space of a day, Senate Republican leader Trent Lott has changed his tune from one of remorse to one of hope ..." more

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Bush on Iraq declaration

"WASHINGTON — Saddam Hussein missed his 'last chance' to come clean with the world, the White House said Wednesday ..." more

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O Lord, come.

The antiphon for the Magnificat at Evening Prayer today (see below for background) is:

O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free. RealMedia RealAudio

The name "LORD" (Adonai) was usually used as a replacement for God's proper name, YHWH ("I AM"). The revelation of this sacred name was especially associated with the liberation from Egypt and the making of the covenant, which included the giving of the law (cf. Ex. 3:2ff, 6:3ff, 31:12ff). And "Jesus Christ is Lord" (Phil. 2:11): This name is as proper to the Son as to the Father (Jn. 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19; 18:5, 8), since the Son is one in being with the Father. Christ the Lord's birth into the world begins our ultimate liberation from bondage and the making of the new and everlasting covenant; his promised sending of the Holy Spirit gives us the new law by which we are able to live perfectly that liberation and covenant.

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Book Club

This week's selection:
Stephen Schwartz, The Two Faces of Islam: The House of Sa'ud from Tradition to Terror (Doubleday, 2002).
I have been reading articles by Schwartz since shortly after 9/11/01, and was looking forward to the promised publication of his book. It has not disappointed me. As mentioned below, Schwartz's reading of early and medieval Islam may gloss over some things. However, even on those topics, he offers some helpful clarifications. And the seven out of nine chapters that cover Wahhabism and Saudi Arabia are fascinating and ground-breaking.

Schwartz does show, I think, that the Saudi Wahhabi ideology is rooted in what was a minority position in earlier Islam, as well as in 18th-century apocalypticism (this ideology soon allied itself with the banditry of the House of Sa'ud), and he lays out in detail its nature today. He also points out that, tragically, its survival and coming to power were possible only with British protection and help - just as today, tragically, the US is a key Saudi patron. (Also, I was startled to learn that what I had thought was a universal and traditional Muslim rejection of the term "Muhammadans" is actually a novel Wahhabi phenomenon.)

Probably very insightful, and perhaps especially inspirational, though, are these words, from Schwartz's Preface:
In 1999, I ... went to live and work in Bosnia-Hercegovina and Kosovo. There I was honored by the opportunity to collaborate with Jews, Franciscans, scholars and Sufis of Sunni and Shi'a inspiration, and Serbian Orthodox religious leaders in efforts for interfaith cooperation - the most rewarding experiences of my entire life. From Balkan believers and mystics, I have learned much - about Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - but above all, about Islamic spirituality. In Sarajevo, known as the "little Jerusalem of the Balkans," a city which has seen great evil, a solution to the "clash of civilizations" is to be found. A great tearing of the human fabric occurred in the former Yugoslavia, and it could be than an equally great healing could begin there as well. Religion can unite and heal as well as divide. There may be, then, only one solution to the present global crisis - a religious one, based on Abrahamic solidarity. ...

... Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani of the Naqshbandi Sufi order has called on President George W. Bush to support a global summit of traditional Muslim leaders, which would consult with Western intellectual and political figures in the beginning of a new Abrahamic dialogue. A "conversation of civilizations," rather than the much-heralded clash between them, could also contribute to a resolution of the Israeli-Arab conflict. But it cannot be posed as a political or diplomatic project. It must rather encompass a mission of Abrahamic reconciliation, emphasizing the common legacy of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and a common responsibility for the future of humanity.

The United States must take an historic initiative to welcome traditional, pluralist, mainstream Islam into the common spiritual and intellectual discourse throughout the world. This cannot be done merely by embracing Muslims as another flavor in the multicultural buffet. A meaningful effort to conterpose traditional Islam to Wahhabi extremism must also be supported by the West ...

A shift in Islam away from the Wahhabi-Saudi promotion of terror to the mainstream Muslim commitment to mercy and compassion would not only ease tensions between the Western and Islamic worlds but could also make a "believers' peace" possible in Israel. This means taking the Middle East conundrum out of the hands of the politicians on both sides who have a vested interest in the conflict ... Instead, it means encouraging rabbis, imams, Christian clerics, Sufi shaykhs, and ayatollahs to enter upon a regional and global "faith-based initiative" for peace. ...
By the way, this reminds me of John Paul II.

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More Cullinan on Iraq

(Cullinan is a former senior foreign-policy adviser to the US Catholic bishops. See below for Part I.)

"How does international law regard possible U.S. military action against Iraq? ..." more

"How can the U.S. escape the procedural trap set by France and Russia? Similarly, how can the U.S. avoid the likelihood of fruitless and inconclusive weapons inspections — and endless Security Council negotiations ... ? ..." more

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More NRO on Lott

"Trent Lott's ill-judged remarks about Strom Thurmond have, among other things, pushed the 1948 presidential campaign into the public spotlight after more than half a century. But the most-important and dramatic issue in that election is being forgotten. ..." more

"Even down here on Trent Lott's Gulf Coast, a deep and profound conservatism need not imply any racist sentiments. ..." more

"A parody. WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Trent Lott continued his quest to politically rehabilitate himself by appearing on Jesse Jackson's CNN television show and endorsing 'reparations for all African Americans to pay for the sins of slavery.' ..." more

"Senator Trent Lott told [BET] Monday night that his current troubles offer 'an opportunity for me to do something about years of misbehavior.' The Mississippi Republican inadvertently pinpointed why he cannot remain Senate GOP leader ..." more

(Yes, for the reasons explained below, I am dwelling on the Lott issue.)

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NRO on Santorum, et al., on Lott

"NR loves Senator Rick Santorum, but he has produced some rotten spin in the current controversy ..." more

(See also my comments on Santorum below. And see also NRO on Nickles, McConnell, and Frist on Lott.)

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The Times and the "new media"

"THIS MONTH, the New York Times became a story when another paper reported that its editors had spiked sports columns ..." more

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Catholic [sic] Charities

HMS's Greg blogs some concerns. From what I've heard, I suspect they're valid. See, e.g., Richard John Neuhaus's criticisms in First Things, here and here (scroll down for both).

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Advent hymn

This is a Byzantine hymn ("Kontakion"); it is probably one of my two favorite Byzantine hymns (the other one being the Easter Troparion, "Christ is risen from the dead ..."), and probably among my favorite hymns, period:

Today the Virgin is on her way
To the cave where she will give birth
To the eternal Word of God
In an ineffable manner.
Rejoice therefore O universe
When you hear this news,
And glorify with the angels and the shepherds
Him who shall appear as new child,
Being God from all eternity.
midi

I used to sing this with Karl when we were co-cantors at St. George's Melkite parish in Milwaukee.

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"Jailing the internet" unconstitutional?

"PHOENIX — A federal judge has ordered the Arizona Department of Corrections to stop enforcing a policy prohibiting inmates from corresponding with, or appearing on, Web sites. ..." more

Memo to the judge: we're talking prisoners here. People convicted of crimes. People who have given up some of their freedom. Compare restrictions on gun ownership by convicts, even when they're not imprisoned. Does the 2nd Amendment prohibit these restrictions? Hardly. As long as only the inmates (not, say, the webmasters) are punished, the Arizona law is surely constitutional.

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Bush: Iraq in violation of UN resolution?

"WASHINGTON — President Bush's national security advisers are recommending that he declare Iraq in violation of a United Nations disarmament order ..." more

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On idiotic Lidless-Eye criticisms of the "Novus Ordo"

See my comments blogged by Robert, and his own comments just below them.

By the way, is "Novus Ordo" any kind of official term whatsoever for the current Roman rite, i.e., that promulgated in response to Vatican II by Paul VI? I suspect not; I haven't seen any evidence that it is; it sounds like a term some critic latched onto because it has sometimes had Enlightenment and/or Freemasonic connotations ("Novus ordo seclorum" and all that - see under the pyramid on the back of a $1 bill).

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The Baltimore priest-shooting verdict

Mark is indeed not "a moral retard," but I still don't think he goes far enough. I agree with HMS's Emily. Stokes should have gone to prison.

(See also below.)

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Tolkien

Might as well out myself too. Like HMS's Greg, I'm not into Tolkien; apparently we're both Philistines unworthy of the Church. Presumably Robert will now burn my writings as well. (Especially since I'm not into Star Trek either.)

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No "glee" over Lott here

Pace HMS's Emily, who contends "that behind NRO and every other conservative's 'outrage' is the gleeful knowledge that Lott has finally given us the rope with which to hang him" (see also her original post). Not because I wouldn't be glad to see a better Senate GOP leader in any case. But because I am horrified that he said what he said. I sincerely wish we didn't have this reason to replace him. So there's at least one conservative to whom her generalization doesn't apply.

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Mark Shea on "Tradition" and anti-Semitism

He's correct, as usual. (See also below. And for the latest on the Judie Brown-"Social Kingship of Christ" axis, see her quotation [12/13] of Tom Droleskey's "reflection.")

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Senate GOP's No. 3, Santorum, on Lott

"WASHINGTON -- Sen. Rick Santorum ... yesterday said he was convinced that Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., would survive in that post. ..." more

I had actually thought Santorum would be an excellent replacement. And whether to keep Lott is, of course, a prudential judgment; and it might be better for good candidates to replace him not to appear to be "running." (Here are some other comments on the question of strategy.) This is troubling, though: "Santorum ... notes that he personally never viewed Thurmond ... as a segregationist." So what does Santorum think the '48 Dixiecrat ticket was about?

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School bus caught in crossfire

Not in Israel. In Milwaukee.

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If Lott stays

"Let me be clear. I do think that Trent Lott is a bigot. In a perfect world, he'd have been ousted in the late 1990s ..." more

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Confusion about foreign visitor registration

"NEW YORK — As foreigners lined up Monday to register with the Immigration and Naturalization Service as part of its new security program, confusion prevailed ..." more

(See also below.)

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wTuesday, December 17, 2002


Al Qaeda back in Afghanistan?

"UNITED NATIONS — New foot soldiers for Islam's holy war are streaming into Al Qaeda training camps that have been recently reactivated in eastern Afghanistan, a U.N. report on the terror group said ..." more

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Abortion-causing pill prevents abortions?

"Emergency contraception, or the 'morning-after pill,' is playing a growing role in reducing abortions in the United States ..." more

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Jesuit on mysticism

"OXFORD, England (CNS) -- A senior Belgian Jesuit has urged the church to 'rediscover the riches of Christian mysticism' ..." more

(See also below.)

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Notre Dame web site against Iraq war

"NOTRE DAME, Ind. (CNS) -- The University of Notre Dame's Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies has launched a new Web site offering alternatives to war with Iraq. The Web page at www.nd.edu/~krocinst/media/iraq.html contains research and commentary ..." more

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Pope, new Pontifical Council president, on peace

"VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2002 (Zenit.org).- In his Message for the World Day of Peace, John Paul II says peace calls for four essential conditions ..." more

"VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II warned rich countries that, if they want peace, they must fulfill the commitments made in international conferences ..." more

"VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The Middle East crisis shows the 'need for the correct use of political authority,' John Paul II says in his message for the World Day of Peace. ..." more

"VATICAN, Dec 17, 02 (CWNews.com) -- In his statement for the World Day of Peace, released by the Vatican on December 17, Pope John Paul II calls for 'a new constitutional organization of the human family, truly capable of ensuring peace and harmony ...'" more (subscription required)

"VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Disarmament is necessary to eradicate world hunger and to create conditions for peace, says the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. ..." more

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Lott on way out?

"WASHINGTON — Despite Trent Lott's latest 30-minute apology on Black Entertainment Television, more and more Republicans say the scandal-tainted senator must give up his leadership post -- and the sooner, the better ..." more

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O Wisdom, come.

Beginning this evening, continuing through December 23, the seven "O Antiphons" are used, one each day, with the Canticle of Mary (Magnificat) at Evening Prayer. Each addresses Christ with a different scriptural title corresponding to a different aspect of his mission in salvation history. Links to their Latin texts with notation, literal English translations, and sound files can be found on this Dominican page. I shall blog the ICEL translation (that generally used when praying the Office in English) of each evening's antiphon together with a few comments and direct links to its sound files (high and low bandwidth).

Today's antiphon is:

O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation. RealMedia RealAudio

The use of the figure of Wisdom in Old Testament books like Proverbs and Wisdom is commonly seen as a prefiguration of the New Testament revelation of the Son. So Paul calls Christ crucified "the wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1:24). The title is closely related to the title "Word" (Jn. 1:1, 14). Like "Wisdom," "Word" indicates that the Son had a role in the ordering of creation, as in the Genesis 1 depiction of God creating through his word ("Let there be ...," etc.), and the Psalmist's (33:4) "By the LORD'S word the heavens were made." Thus the Divine Wisdom or Word is able to bring his creation healing and fulfillment - salvation.

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Organ donation issues

"Nov. 22, 2002 (Washington) — Organ transplantation poses 'tough ethical problems' that have been greatly compounded by the growing trend toward transplants that use organs from living donors ..." more (registration required)

"Nov. 26, 2002 (Washington) — An aggressive public education program by the federal government and private agencies is beginning to boost the number of organ donations ..." more (registration required)

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MDs and executions

"Nov. 27, 2002 — ... In an educational debate in the Nov. 2 issue of the British Medical Journal, Jonathan I. Groner, MD, suggests that doctors should not be involved in executions. ... Medscape's Laurie Barclay interviews Dr. Groner ..." more (registration required)

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Darwin in Ohio

"After months of debate, the Ohio State Board of Education unanimously adopted science standards on Dec. 10 that require Ohio students to know 'how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.' ..." more

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GOP principles

"... Like most conservatives who have called for his resignation, I seriously doubt that Sen. Lott is a racist, closet, or otherwise. But he does have some serious issues — as does the GOP. ..." more

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Will Lott take GOP down with him?

"Girding for battle, Trent Lott and his allies are playing hardball — threatening to hand the Senate back to Democrats. ..." more

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GOP could take offensive on race

"... On the subject of race relations in America, the Republican party has become like the Hospitallers who surrendered to Napoleon: Lacking a sense of their own proud history and traditions, they have lost the moral will to move. ..." more

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So much for Judge Pickering

"It's almost ironic that Sen. Strom Thurmond's (R, S.C.) final 'fight' in the Senate was to ensure the judicial confirmation of a former aide who was unfairly attacked as a bigot. ..." more

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Lott's BET appearance

"... But judging from his remarks on Black Entertainment Television Monday night, the first stop of his Repent with Trent tour, Lott is as clueless as ever. Lott mostly reprised his utterly unconvincing answers about the nature of his comments ..." more

(See below.)

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Bush pro-life stand loses at UN conference

"BANGKOK, Thailand — The United States lost a vote at an international conference Tuesday as Asia-Pacific countries rejected the Bush administration's stand against abortion and condom use among adolescents. ..." more

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"The Lord is close at hand"

In the last seven days before Christmas Eve, the Church's liturgy begins to refer more directly to the events that prepared for and led to Christ's birth. So, for example, today's Mass readings predict the greatness of Judah's line, and recall the genealogy of Christ (beginning with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah). And as our awareness of Christ's coming intensifies, so does our longing for him, expressed especially in the "O Antiphons" of Evening Prayer on these seven days. More concerning them beginning this evening.

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Domestic spies?

"WASHINGTON — A domestic spy agency should be established to root out and prosecute suspected terrorists in the U.S., a federal commission proposed Monday. ..." more

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Can university fire tenured terrorist-tied professor?

"TAMPA, Fla. — A federal judge on Monday threw out a University of South Florida lawsuit that sought court approval for a plan to fire a tenured Palestinian professor accused of having terrorist ties. ..." more

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Powell on North Korea

"WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Colin Powell offered assurances Monday to North Korea that the United States had no plan to attack it but he rejected an overture for a nonagression treaty. ..." more

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Israelis kill armed Palestinians

"JERUSALEM — Israeli soldiers shot and killed four Palestinians on Monday in the Gaza Strip, at least two of them armed, and Israel eased a key travel restriction in the West Bank. ..." more

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Bush will deploy missile defense

"WASHINGTON — President Bush has decided to begin deploying by 2004 a nationwide defense system against ballistic missiles, The Washington Times reported Tuesday. ..." more

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More talks among Iraqi opposition groups

"LONDON — Iraqi exiles reached agreement Monday on which religious sects and political movements should comprise the leadership committee they hope will become a transitional government ..." more

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Powell skeptical about Iraq declaration

"WASHINGTON — Iraq's weapons declaration bears out U.S. skepticism that President Saddam Hussein would come clean, Secretary of State Colin Powell said ..." more

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Men from more countries must register

"WASHINGTON — Men in the United States who are from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan will be required to register with the government ..." more

(See below.)

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Suspicion and paranoia

"... A new fortress mentality is being stoked by a media that dwells incessantly on every terrorist possibility, on every awful news story from anthrax to Catholic sex scandals. And so, we begin to view each stranger as a threat and each neighbor with suspicion ..." more

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Abuse victim acquitted in shooting of priest

"BALTIMORE — A sympathetic jury cleared a man of most charges Monday in the shooting of a priest who he said abused him as a teenager. ..." more

I don't buy "battered-wife syndrome" defenses, and I don't buy this man's defense either. Why did he bring the gun?

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Lott on BET

"NEW YORK — Senate Republican leader Trent Lott gave a 30-minute interview to Black Entertainment Television Monday ..." more

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wMonday, December 16, 2002


"Custody of the eyes"

"VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Averting one's gaze from pornography and images that present people only as objects of sexual desire is one of the most important steps in protecting chastity and celibacy ..." more

(See also below.) (And below.)

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Bethlehem as Christmas nears

"BETHLEHEM, West Bank, DEC. 16, 2002 (Zenit.org).- While the military occupation of Bethlehem continues, the missionaries of the Caritas Baby Hospital made an urgent appeal for the world to remember the residents of this 'cage-city.' ..." more

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Pope on volunteers

"VATICAN CITY, DEC. 16, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II says the task of Christian volunteers is to make people experience their selfless dedication as an expression of 'the tenderness of the heavenly Father.' ..." more

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Vatican on US norms

"... As Cardinal Re explains in his letter, this second writing, proposed by a mixed commission of representatives of the Vatican and for the U.S. bishops, surmounts the problems of the norms first approved last June ..." more

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Human reproduction today

"... Kinsey, conceived through highly technological assisted reproduction and raised by a lesbian couple, is now counting on another much-debated procedure to keep her alive. An aunt in Louisville is pregnant with Kinsey's biological sister ..." full story



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US bishops' former advisor on Iraq

"President Bush's repeated vows to eliminate Iraq's banned weapons of mass destruction (WMD) — by forcible 'regime change' if necessary — raise three sets of related issues ..." more

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SD GOPer attorney general on election fraud

"... South Dakota attorney general Mark Barnett on Friday denounced a National Review account of voting irregularities in his state as 'shoddy and irresponsible and sensationalistic and garbage.' ..." more

(See below.)

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The 10 Commandments and the Constitution

"On November 18, Federal Judge Myron Thompson ... ruled that Chief Justice Roy S. Moore of the Alabama supreme court had 30 days to remove the ... monument of the Ten Commandments from the ... rotunda in the Alabama state courthouse. ..." more

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GOPer Colorado senate president on Lott

"I am convinced that it is time for the party of Lincoln to reject the leadership of Lott. None of my business as a state elected official? ..." more

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The GOP and race

"Now that the race to be the first to call for Senator Lott to resign as Majority Leader is behind us, isn't it time to actually consider the issue of race? ..." more

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"The Truth about the Dixiecrats"

"Besides segregation, what was in the 1948 platform of the states-rights' Democratic party? ..." more

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GOP partial-birth abortion bill plans

"WITH THE 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade approaching and Republicans in control in Washington, the 108th Congress will likely take up the partial-birth abortion ban ..." more

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Lott's apologies

"AFTER A WEEK of confusion, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott held a press conference Friday in an attempt to clarify his position on segregation. ..." more

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Weekly Standard on Stanford cloning attempts

"TRUTH, famously the first casualty of war, is now falling victim to the latest skirmish in the biotech wars. ..." more

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GOP Senators to meet on Lott

"WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans will meet Jan. 6 to settle incoming Senate majority leader Sen. Trent Lott's fate ..." more

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Possible Dem candidate needs civics lesson

With Gore out in '04, Lieberman may be in. But he doesn't know the line of succession; neither does Stephanopoulos.

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More PCness

Alliance for Mentally Ill criticizes straightjacket in movie; Yonkers schools ban any "winter holiday" decorations; more.

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Bush won't ask Lott to quit, won't help save him

"WASHINGTON — President Bush does not think that Sen. Trent Lott should resign his post, even as Republican senators debate whether to hold a meeting on the future of the incoming Senate majority leader ..." more

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Latest US-China human rights talks

"BEIJING, China — A U.S. delegation was in Beijing for human rights talks Monday amid appeals by activists to press China to release political prisoners and rescind a death sentence imposed on a Tibetan activist. ..." more

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Clinton would have destroyed NK reactor

"ROTTERDAM, Netherlands — Former President Bill Clinton said Sunday he had warned North Korea in 1994 the United States would destroy its nuclear reactor ..." more

In a related story, Clinton's nose grew another inch on Sunday.

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Vatican approves policy

"VATICAN CITY — The Vatican gave its approval Monday to the revised U.S. bishops' policy to combat sex abuse in the clergy ..." more

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Teen drug use high but down

"WASHINGTON — American teenagers are cutting their use of illicit drugs, cigarettes and alcohol ..." more

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WV 4-H clubs and Indians

"MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Youngsters in West Virginia's 4-H clubs will abandon some American Indian traditions that a panel deemed stereotypical, officials said Monday. Other rituals, deemed respectful to the Indian heritage, will continue. ..." more

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Arafat rejects Bin Laden ...

... as "against our interests":

"JERUSALEM — Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat demanded Usama bin Laden stop using the Palestinian struggle for statehood as a reason for the Al Qaeda terror network's attacks ..." more

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High-school students learning better dress

"Waukesha - Christina and Britney wannabes walk the halls of Waukesha South High School as they do in many area schools - shoulders bare, belly-buttons exposed. ..." more

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Reactions to cloning attempts at Stanford

"PALO ALTO, California, DEC. 15, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Wide skepticism has greeted Stanford University's plans to produce stem cells for medical research by means of what it called somatic cell nuclear transfer. ..." more

"ROME, DEC. 15, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Stanford University's plan to establish a research center for 'somatic cell nuclear transfer' prompted a world pioneer in biogenetics to assail the move as a violation of ethical principles. ..." more

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Vatican paper on EU expansion

"VATICAN CITY, DEC. 15, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The European Union's acceptance of 10 new countries in 2004 means the continent 'has not missed the appointment with history,' says the Vatican's semiofficial newspaper. ..." more

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Pope on Christmas joy

"VATICAN CITY, DEC. 15, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II presented Jesus' birth as a 'joyful announcement' in the face of 'the difficulties of life, the uncertainties and fears for the future.' ..." more

(See also below.)

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Pope on Christmas and family

"VATICAN CITY, DEC. 15, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Christmas is above all a feast of the family, John Paul II said, as hundreds of children brought figurines of the Baby Jesus to St. Peter's Square for a traditional blessing. ..." more

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Rejoice!

Yesterday, the third Sunday of Advent, is traditionally known as Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday, from Phil. 4:4-6: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God."

Advent is indeed a time of both penance and rejoicing. We rejoice not only because of the greatness of the object of our hope, but also because that hope itself is already a sign of God's presence, through Christ, in the Spirit. It is in the Spirit of the Lord that we pray longingly, "Come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev. 22:17, 20; cf. Rom. 8:24-27, 1 Cor. 12:3). In our hope, "the Lord is near" indeed.

Our hope, then, is the beginning of its own fulfillment. If we if we hope for the life that that is now "hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3) as our treasure, our hearts will then also be already with Christ in God (cf. Matt. 6:20, Lk. 12:34); we will already be living the life Christ shares with us (cf. Gal. 2:20).

This doesn't mean we should expect, or be disappointed if we don't experience, a Christmas "emotional high," or even always a spirit of consolation, though. But God promises that if we make him the object of our delight, we will receive our heart's desire (Ps. 37:4). Even if we don't think we are experiencing that fulfillment, we should give thanks to God for the opportunity times of desolation may provide to advance in our awareness of ourselves and our need for purification and for a deeper and stronger faith, hope, and love - and so attain a deeper and stronger union with him than we may attain in times of consolation. And during Advent, we should even open ourselves to the possibility of desolation, depriving ourselves of some of the things that (seem to) console us, so that we can advance in that awareness and union.

We should imitate the Mother of God, who "uttered [her] fiat in faith" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, no. 13; cf. Luke 1:38), putting all human anxieties aside, all human consolations at stake (cf. e.g. Matt. 1:19, to welcome her Son and Lord and show his love to all.

So in imitation of her, let us "have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make [our] requests known to God" for his presence in our lives, and let us welcome that presence by living it out through our kindness to all. If we make this our Advent and Christmas focus, the Lord will surely not disappoint us.

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wSunday, December 15, 2002


Bush admin on "reproductive services/rights" at UN

"WASHINGTON, Dec. 14 — Taking its fight against abortion overseas, the Bush administration opened a sharp debate over a landmark family-planning agreement during a United Nations conference ..." more (registration required)

(See also below.)

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No. 2 GOP Senator wants new No. 1

"WASHINGTON — The Senate's current No. 2 Republican said Sen. Trent Lott has been weakened by the controversy surrounding his racially-insensitive comments and called for a new election ..." more

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No room at the inn for Arafat

"JERUSALEM — Israel's Cabinet decided Sunday that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat will not be allowed to travel to Bethlehem for Christmas ..." more

Say, why is he, a Muslim, so interested in doing this?

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High school's "cutest couple"

"CRETE, Ill. — Their story has played out like the name of a popular lesbian movie: The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love. ..." more

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Words of Law's temp replacement

"BOSTON — The man put in charge of the scandal-wracked Boston Archdiocese after Cardinal Bernard Law's resignation called for healing and reconciliation Sunday ..." more

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Interview with Iraqi deputy PM

"... I began by asking Mr. Aziz what his country wants from the United States. ..." full story

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Dealing with homeless in Pittsburgh

"When workers cleared out several homeless encampments late last month, officials said they'd followed the protocol laid out by the city's Homeless Task Force: They notified people in advance ..." more

"Ron Spangler was with state and city crews clearing out the dwelling of a man and his dog along the Monongahela River last month ..." more

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Point-counterpoint on Iraq

"The great debate is on. Americans are wondering what course of action their government should pursue toward the brutal regime of Sadaam Hussein. ..." more

"Poised on the cusp of possible war, we have become a people torn between legitimate questions of self-defense and the questionable justification of waging, unilaterally if necessary, a pre-emptive war. ..." more

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Woman gives life for child, and for alternative medicine

"Ask any mother if she would give her life for her child. Most would answer 'yes' without hesitation. Most never have to make that choice. ..." more

An abortion would have been wrong, and the woman did the virtuous thing by not having one.

An early birth and hysterectomy would have been justified; the woman did the heroically virtuous thing by rejecting this alternative.

I can't help but think her decision to continue to forgo treatment after the child's birth was a tragic one.

May she rest in peace; may God continue to console her family.

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Embryonic stem cell situation

"In the last week, two parallel realities have emerged in the field of stem cell research. ..." more

Let's all remember: the end doesn't justify the means.

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Troubled public school system

"Leadership, says Travanti Fowler, 'is when someone doesn't let other people fall down.' ..." more

When near the end of the article I read about strategies for persuading people to spend yet more money on public schools - whose budgets have increased manyfold over the years, while outcomes have decreased - I get nervous about whether the people trying to improve public education - a worthy and necessary goal - really "get it."

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Iran on visits to nuke plants

"TEHRAN, Iran — A day after canceling a trip by U.N. atomic inspectors to two Iranian nuclear plants, Tehran said Saturday it will renew its invitation to visit the plants ..." more

(See below.)

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